April 30, 2014
April 28, 2014
April 25, 2014
Yipee!! I've reached 50 followers! How exciting! I truly feel loved.
As promised I have a cool little giveaway prize, I've been needing a new key ring and fell in love with this one. I think others may like it too so here's the free giveaway! Email me within a week of posting this post, so by 12pm (mountain standard time) on Friday May 2nd. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org Make sure the subject says "50 Follower Giveaway"
After the deadline I'll draw a name at random from the emails and contact the winner to get a mailing address.
This started as a blog for just me but I'm glad there are others interested in this journey. I've learned from them and hopefully they've gotten a few ideas from me as well. I'll announce the winner and post their blog link (if they have one) once the winner is selected! Thanks everyone for following Dani and I's journey!
April 24, 2014
Dani is a great little mare to ride. She’s responsive and pretty calm most of the time. She doesn't throw her head way up in the air like Willy did but she’s still not as relaxed in her going as I’d like her to be. I’m not overly worried about headset since I’m not a big dressage rider but I've learned a lot of those principles behind dressage and many boil down to a horse utilizing their body properly. If they hold themselves in a certain way, which as a results means a lower head set, they are less apt to get injured when carrying a rider. The “frame” is not just for looks but mechanically lifts the back thereby enabling a horse to better carry the weight.
This is important for a trail and pleasure horse too. As I haven’t been concerned with her mode of moving thus far I decided to work solely on her from the ground to start. Julie Goodnight has what is called an elbow pull. When trainers “bit up” there horses for lunging work they often utilize a side rein to teach a horse self carriage and to lower its head. This works where a horse then learns that if they give to the bit they find release aka, the correct frame. I like the elbow pull, similar to a chambon rein where there is pressure at the poll and via the bit.
The elbow pull puts alternating pressure on the bit as the horses legs move the strap. Below Julie explains it best.
From Julie Goodnight:
"The beauty of this device is threefold. One, it is self-correcting meaning that the instant the horse gives the right way he gets slack. Two, the elbow-pull creates a rhythmic alternating pull, rather than a static pull on both reins (like side reins) and it is far more effective to use one rein at a time rather than two (a horse stiffens his neck and leans into it when you pull on both reins at the same time). And third, once the horse has learned to respond correctly and carry himself in a collected frame with no contact on his mouth, you can mimic this action on the reins when you are on his back."
"As you walk, you'll feel your hips moving in a side to side action which causes your leg to close alternately and rhythmically (R-L-R-L) on the horse's sides. When you want the horse to collect, you'll first feel the rhythm in your seat and legs and then increase the rhythm in a driving fashion, then add small squeezes with your fingers, alternating R-L-R-L, using the same side hand as leg. Your seat and legs will keep the horse moving forward at the same time your hands are applying resistance to his front end with alternating pressure and causing him to shorten his frame. It is critical that the horse finds a small amount of slack when he makes the slightest effort to collect and it is also critical that you time your hands with your seat and legs. When done properly, the horse will hold himself in this frame. Remember; don't ask him to hold it too long. You'll want to release the horse before he becomes uncomfortable and resistant and gradually increase the time you ask him to hold the frame."
So I've done several sessions with Dani, the picture and video are from the first session. She certainly had her head high up at times but she learned quickly where the release was. Obviously the next step is to ride and apply the “half halt” with her gait rhythm. I’m still not perfect at this myself but it will be easier to work with her on it with her knowing what the proper response is and knows what’s expected when I administer the cue. Doing the groundwork first will also allow Dani to work on her muscle development for this carriage without having the added weight of me up there.
April 23, 2014
At KCRC I've not seen Dani laying in the sun. I’m sure she does a lot but she here’s the gate and my car and knows it’s either play or food time. Well today for some reason she was laying down, flat on her side, when I drove up. It gave me a start because at first I wondered if she was sick. She wasn’t, she rolled onto her stomach and chest to look at me. I walked up slowly and swung between her pen railings and pat her soft forelock.
She was obviously still waking up, she must have been fast asleep dreaming of handsome Friesians or cute appaloosa boys. Who knows. It’s fun to love on her when she’s laying down. I feel the trust from her, she knows I’m not going to do anything to her. She eventually got up as I went into the back to get ready for some round pen work. I noticed on her offside hock that sore developing again. The ground has become compacted and hard again. It could use more sand I’m sure so I’ll have to get going on redoing her pen to prevent her hock sores from coming back.
I may be looking for another boarding place soon though I've enjoyed KCRC there are things in my life that may begin making it more difficult since the self care situation isn't in my backyard but a 25 minute drive away. I can envision us being here until fall but things may change if we put our house on the market!!!! Yep…hoping to sell our house and perhaps buy or lease horse property!!! It’s a pipe dream but the housing market is getting better, we shall see!!
April 22, 2014
With spring and muddy weather starting in Colorado I decided to tidy up Dani's feet. I wanted to check her skin too and make sure no issues were starting. Thankfully she's healthy as a horse! LOL.
This picture above shows how her fetlocks get in the winter (this was from when I was at Whispering Winds). They get very fuzzy and keep her warm.
I am so not good at trimming fetlocks, I may need to get a different blade. I have a 10 which is nearly to the skin and then one that I use to trim my dog which is a 5 I think. It's a little too long. I need to find one that will leave about a fourth of an inch of fur so it's close but not skin close.
Overall I did okay. If you look really close you can see rougher looking edges and I'm sure I could have contoured the fur a little better but her fetlocks look cleaner now. Dani is very good about getting trimmed at least. I still did a quick desensitizing to the trimmers. I moved the clippers around her body, touched her with it on both sides and all areas. She was fine with it...good girl.
The only issue was with trimming her ear. She gets a really long tuft at the base that I wanted to trim up. Dani didn't like the trimmers near her ear but I held them up there until she moved her head downwards and I was able to trim her ear hair. Since it was just a small tuft at the bottom of each ear it didn't take to long trim. With fresh oil on her hooves my mares legs look neat and trim.
April 21, 2014
April 14, 2014
I always feel very ungraceful when mounting. As a child I was taught to stand at the shoulder facing back place your foot in the stirrup and then hop and swing around and up. Very much like the Julie Goodnight video below.
Recently I was taught this other method where you stand behind the stirrup facing the horses head and then swing up from there. That can work well but with my short arms I find it hard to reach for the mane and not grab the saddle so much.
They both have their benefits. Since Dani has done the whole moving off when I mount I haven't had much ability to really concentrate on the way I mount. This is my goal.
First I will send Dani away at a brisk pace in a circle the second she moves off while I try mounting. I'll do this by keeping a lead line on her halter bridle, looping it on the horn to get it out of the way and using it to send her in that fast circle at the right time. Julie also shows that technique and it worked quickly the one time I tried it. I just need to get consistent and always reprimand her when she is a bad girl to mount. She's not terrible, it started with the mounting block at Whispering Winds.
Then I will practice each style of mounting and figure out what works best for me. Part of it is I;m out of practice since I don't ride regularly anymore. The spring is here and so are the light in the later evenings so I've been able to do a little more.
Sometimes it's over whelming with what I want to work with Dani on. Mounting, being softer and more on the bit when asked and trailer loading. I just have to take it bit by bit. I have fun riding even if it's not perfect form or a perfect ride. Really she's a great mount and listens well and I enjoy it. The mounting and trailer need to take priority. Her stop is good, the control at the trot is great so far. I'll be getting my trailer set up so I can practice loading during the week.
But I digress. Mounting. How do you mount? Facing the front? Facing the back? Always from a step?
April 02, 2014
Occasionally the weather is nice and then we have a bout of snowy weather. Oh spring in Colorado. The other day was nice so I got out the western saddle, dusted it off and wiped the bridle too. Dani and I went for a little ride in the arena.
I'm having mounting issues with keeping my left hand on Dani's neck and reins and the right hand steadying the saddle. She is always taller feeling too with the western saddle, I don't think I have this issues as much with the dressage saddle. LOL. I feel like my appendages aren't long enough to reach where they need to reach. Plus with regular jeans I have trouble getting my left foot in the stirrup. Time to bring out the jods I'm thinking; nice stretchy fabric. Dani was better about standing still for the mounting, I only had to move her in a circle once and then after I said whoa if she thought about moving and she listened.
We walked around the ring relaxing. I had Dani flex to both sides and worked on halts. She responds really well with just the seat. I love that it can be a long time between rides and yet she's still a good girl.
We also did a few trotting spouts. I'm still facing that fear of any speed. Being mostly off this winter hasn't helped since I haven't had as much saddle time but as this weather gets nicer that will change. Dani has a big ground covering trot, I haven't even started to try sitting trot. Dani's responsive at the trot but I can feel our tension. Something to work on. It's good to be back in the saddle and here's hoping the weather and all my other obligations will allow me to ride more often this spring and summer.
After our ride I kept Dani tied while I finished some chores like setting out her hay and tidying the stall. Even after a grooming the mare just has to shake and there is dust all over her again!!! Anyhow I think it's good for her to realize that right after her ride doesn't automatically mean feed time. She stood very well with little stomping and showing of impatience.
Dani is such a good girl lowering her head to get the halter off, something we have worked on for a year and something she learned really quickly. A couple weekends ago I was holding Dani's lead while talking with Lisa, one of the few English riders in the club, and Dani kept trying to get me to remove the halter. She lowered her head near my hips and softly nudged me a couple times. It was so cute. When she realized that we weren't taking her halter off she went back to grazing.
April 01, 2014
I should have known. I should have gone with a proven pond filter to begin with. There were design flaws in the actual trough filter (such as the area that sucks in the water was on the bottom! huh?). I got a great filter set from Tetra. It's actually a filter/fountain combo. The pump sits away from the filter box that you can add additional types of filter heads. The only issue is the filter box needs weight but I got some larger gravel to put in the bottom and it weighs the unit down plus offers more filtration, not a really strong negative against the filter at all.
I don't extend the fountain head up above my water but there are three different fountain patterns you could choose. I just have the first piece attached to the pump which simply agitates the surface; a great thing for mosquito prone areas.
This pump makes the water CLEAR!!! It does a great job. It's also easy to just disconnect the filter box from the pump and then rinse out all the gunk. I'm pretty happy with this filter. It works with my new water heater too since the tube connecting the filter to the pump runs right below the heater. I'm please not having icky sludge or an oil slick type layer on the top of a horse trough. That usually happens to most tanks within a day! They are so hard to keep clean from all the stuff horse mouths drop into them but this baby is making me giddy with how clear the water is staying. It's a great way to maintain the water quality between major scrubbing sessions.
My dream is of course a small automatic waterer but I know that they cost around $500 alone, add in the electrical and plumbing....that's pricey. An automatic waterer will eventually be worth it in the future but this baby will suffice for now and the near future.