July 31, 2013

He Thinks My Tractor's Sexy!

I started off last Saturday looking at the arena ground and watching the sky with Ross, our Gymkhana guy.  Way before the fire I’d been trained on the tractor to drag the arena.  The biggest down side to the job is that the arena has to be wet and the club has an archaic way of wetting the soil.  They run a 1000 gallon water jug around the arena 5-6 times to wet it down…then they can run the groomer on the arena and it’s done.  A full 4-5 hours of work to get both arenas ready for the gymkhana!!

They have a sprinkler system on one zone for the whole arena and the water pump can’t do that.  If they had three zones it might work.  I have a former boss that is still a licensed plumber….hmm.We received decent rain Saturday though so there was no need to water the arena but there sure was a lot of waiting around and wasted time trying to figure out what we were doing.  I groomed one arena and then the next.  You start on the outside and then go down the center, then you move to the left of the outside line and go around and down the left of the center line…..circles, circles and the thing ain’t that fast but it was fun.  I only did a small retouch after several of the games halfway through the gymkhana.

The rest of the evening I was able to get Dani out and ride her around all the activity.  She was pretty alert and several times kept trying to break into a trot.  She tossed her head a lot and pulled hard on the reins nearly ripping them out of my hands at times.  I tried to do changes of direction, backing up etc.  She responded well but it didn’t keep her occupied long enough before she was back to looking around and quickening her pace.

I’m also still having some issues with my saddle.  The stirrup turners, I got different ones that stay put, work nicely but I still have my foot falling asleep in the stirrup.  The ball of my foot hurts and it just feel really restrictive.  Not sure but thinking that an angled stirrup may help?  A thinner stirrup more like the English ones I’m used to?  Or should I get synthetic Fenders and leathers to ease up on the amount of resistance?  I just don’t know what is causing the discomfort. For the most part the saddle feels comfortable in the seat it’s just a lot of leather for the fenders/stirrup leathers compared to English.  I don’t want to keep having to try different tack items to find what works.  It just seems that my foot can’t find a flat foothold on the stirrup easily without having to push out hard on all that leather.  Western fenders have like three layers of leather right at the ankle area, especially when you have them on the shortest hole so perhaps the angled stirrups are the way to go?  I guess I can always return them if they don’t, I will read the fine print!

Not me.  This was one of the trainees when I got trained up

Anyways, sorry for that tangent....I tried to end the Saturday ride on a good note but with Dani trying to trot off or not responding to a stop it was nerve racking.  She just needs more exposure to this noise and activity.

 So Tuesday I went out and round penned her for a short time then mounted up and rode in there.  We trotted a couple times and I posted in the western saddle and tried to keep my cool about it.  I haven’t trotted much with her, feel like I need to get the brakes and steering solid at the walk first before progressing.  It only makes sense.  The round pen trots were fine, not really graceful but I think it’s the way to go as we practice.  I then got her out onto the grounds and walked her around.  A couple showed up with three horses and their truck/trailer.  Cool a little bit of “excitement”.  I walked her around and noticed she was still alert, just being in new surroundings was exciting.  We did some changes of direction and neck bending exercises.  Near the windmill on the property there was a bit of a scary spooky sound and movement of a trashcan lid????  She was nervous about that so I’ll have to continually expose her to that.

Steve wasn't there to film me in action but next time I'll make
sure someone does!
We practiced several stops and I even worked on lowering her head with sponge squeezes of the reins as we walked.  As soon as she lowered her head a bit I released the pressure.  This is something we’ll have to do in the arena during some concentrated training.  If a horse is lowering their head generally they are calmer and less tense, so teaching them to do this under saddle is helpful…Julie Goodnight just had an episode about this not too long ago.  We will keep working and I can always walk her around at other gymkhanas or have her in one of the pens near the activity. 


Marissa Rose said...

Your stirrup extenders are turning the stirrup so you can put your foot in it, but not turning the leather fenders so that's probably what is kinking your ankle. What we do to an unbroken in saddle is take your stirrups and turn them a full turn (so hold them where they should be for your foot to go in, perpendicular to the 'horse' and then turn them once more so that it is still perpendicular to your 'horse' but twisted around) and stick a broom handle or a stick through them both and store that way. That way the leather is turned where it should be.

Kalin said...

Love that picture of Dani, so pretty!! :) I literally *just* starting feeling comfortable trotting on Red and I'm finally beginning to work into a canter. I've had him since September-rode him once before, though-and it's taken me that long to figure everything out. The confidence will come in time. I tend to push myself into stuff I may not be ready for-like the first time I trotted, lol-especially when I'm around other people who are trotting around, having fun, and Red wants to trot, too. Lol!!