April 28, 2015

Springtime Woes

The grass is green, the sky is blue, spring showers are creating a world of gorgeous blooms.....everything is perfect!  Well, not so much for the poor chestnut mare.  Springtime means grazing muzzle.

I made some bright pink fleece covers to prevent rubs.  N wanted to make sure if the muzzle came off or the pieces fell off she could find them.  Last year my dark green ones....those blended well with the ground so several have been lost to be never found again.  The fabric store had a perfect fleece scrap for me to buy, pink with flowers on it.

No matter the color, Dani hates it but she has to wear it during the day when the grass has the highest sugar content.  Here's hoping she loses some weight and then maintains a good body weight or we may have to have her wear the thing for a longer period!

April 25, 2015

Trailer Loading

M and I took Tuesday afternoon, after our stable shot clinic, to conduct some trailer training with our horses.  What is it about trailering loading that is so darn scary?

1) Confined space
2) It moves
3) It makes noises
4) Separation from the herd, including the owner
5) Trailers used to be aliens that ate horses until humans domesticated them?

Dani has always had an issue with trailer loading but I didn't have a trailer when I got her and figured I could work on it when the time came.  Now that I finally have a trailer in good working order I can!!  She willingly stepped up several times but didn't want to go in.  I worked her outside and away from the trailer then would ask her again.

It went like this for a while with her stepping in and me having to ask again.  A couple times there were some attitude adjustments that I needed to conduct with the mare and she got spanked a couple times but nothing too bad.  Eventually she did go in all the way, turned around and stood.  We ended the training for her there.  I'll pick up next time where we left off and just keep going forward.

With Scotty it was just a matter of getting him used to a new trailer and then the dividers.  M and I worked with him to get the front divider closed.  He was a very good boy.

I was very happy to have M there so we could work together and encourage each other!

The above picture is a reference picture since we will be having the grazing muzzle on Dani everyday.  She'll have it off in the evening and into the night so here's hoping that she will lose a little weight and that this will prevent any founder issues.  So far she's done well but her weight is always a fight, she's such an easy keeper to the point of danger!

April 24, 2015

Finishing up the Trailer Mats

The mats fit well in the trailer with a little additional cutting.  Steve came out to get them perfectly fitting in the back of the trailer.

Love that the man is willing to come out and help when I need it.  It's easier with two people, you hold the two edges apart as you cut to get the mats sliced.

Around the poles that hold the dividers is the hardest area to cut.  Steve ended up slicing pieces away with an exacto knife to get the mats sitting perfectly around the poles.  Now it's done and complete.  I still want to get rubberized paint up the sides of the trailer to help protect from pawing hooves.  That will happen on a warmer and dryer day.

April 18, 2015

Tired and Matted

Last weekend I purchased 5 new tires for the trailer.  They are Range Load E, Special Trailer tires.  So glad to have shoes that are secure on my trailer.  The other ones were already older when I bought the trailer and you could see a little bit of dry rot as in tiny cracks.

I also got some RV tire covers to keep on the tires when the trailer is not in use.

Today I also picked up three new matts.  These matts will need to be cut for the interior of the trailer of course.  What's neat is they have little nubbies on them to help horses keep traction while being hauled. 


Now if only the windy and rainy weather would cooperate so I can get working with my mare on loading!

April 16, 2015

Missing Lytha

Suddenly I can't access Lytha's blog.  Anyone else having this issue?  I don't think I've ever said anything on her blog comments that would offend.  If so it was not intentional.  I miss hearing about your progress with your mare Lytha!

April 15, 2015

I Want Rhythm

I had the hubby come out to film Dani and I trotting.  I wanted to see if I could determine what I was feeling at the trot.  Sometimes it feels like Dani lurches forward into the trot at the beginning or sometimes in the middle.  I want to work on getting her trot steady, I'm looking for rhythm.

Doing some of this trot work I also noticed she anticipates and even if I just turn her at the walk she'll want to start trotting.  We have to do lots of turns, circles, figure 8's and serpentines to keep the trot from speeding up.  I need to also do that at the walk so she understands it can be at any gait.  Since she hasn't really had formal training most of her life it seems she needs to retaught cues.  I think I have to be overly "dramatic" when I cue to make her understand and then back off.  I also need to correct her firmly if I didn't ask for a trot or movement.  We are getting to some difficult areas, nothing I can't handle but I may want some eyes on the ground at some point to help us through this.

These are two videos filmed early in the 30 minutes we rode.  I was happy that I'm getting the sitting trot to work better and more often.  I still get out of whack and sometimes revert to the posting trot to get back in sync.  I really can't seem to see the speeding up I feel that Dani does, the thing that M says sort of lurches me forwards at times.  I need to keep watching both the regular time and slow-mo.  Perhaps Dani is just changing stride tempo but not really speeding up?  She's certainly not balanced but she's not that fit either.  We need to build her muscles up before I can even really work on collection and I need help with how I'm supposed to eventually teach her that!

In between bouts of trotting we walked and I focused on getting her move where I need her to go.  She often seems to turn her head like she's looking at me and walking with her body crooked.  More to work on.

Most of the time I can get Dani to halt with my seat but she still has a high head when we halt.  Steve caught us in the perfect moment of awkwardness.  At least she was listening and not needing me to pull on the reins to stop.  

I'm not looking for perfection or to make Dani into a dressage horse.  I'm not even trying to get her to the level of Divine (former lesson horse).  I just want a nice relaxing ride where I am in control.  My dream is to ride Dani on trails and have fun with EXCA or trail competitions someday.  I don't think I have the patience, time or knowledge to get a horse to a completely collected level and I really don't want to reach for that.....too boring for me.  Now if I wanted to work on that type of riding I would find a horse that was already trained that way.  I just want to have fun and good communication with my mare.  Piaffes and perfect sidepasses are great but not the be all end all of riding.  Fun and safety are my desire.

Below is another video of us.  It's in regular time and then slow motion.  I try to stay off her mouth but I think some of the bouncing has made me pull more than I should on her mouth at times.  I need to work on more independent hands at the trot.  That's hard when you are tense and working on a million other things! We just need practice.

I feel like we have worked on the trot a little bit in the past but now it's a bigger desire plus we are rusty.  I don't feel as nervous so I can concentrate on what we need to work on rather than making sure I breath and don't freak out.  I think we did pretty well together considering.  We have a long ways to go but I love that she is willing and trying.  It will click for her if I keep working on the trot and stay consistent with my aids.  Also making sure she understands when I'm not asking for the trot.  I need to remember to not concentrate too hard and actually coo to her when she is doing exactly what I want more often.  I try to tell her she's so smart and a good girl, I can always improve on that though.

Steve took a little ride on her after I was done but that didn't last more than a couple minutes since she wasn't listening to his directions and tried to trot a couple times.  The anticipation is something we have to stop, "Horse, this is your Captain speaking!" (Julie Goodnight saying!). Steve needs to do some actual riding but I don't know if Dani is really the horse for him to learn on.  Honestly I don't want to be the one to "teach" him to ride so I think when we get another horse it will have to come with lessons too.  I hopped back on Dani and made sure to get her into a state of listening.  We even worked on some turns on the forehand.  She's maybe at 50% in getting those done well, I'm very happy with the progress there too.

I'll keep working with her.  M is good to ride with since we seem to be on the same page with our desires for riding and some of our struggles.  She even suggested her riding my mare and me riding Scotty sometime.  That could be interesting.  He's such a petite Arab looking Morgan but seems to naturally carry himself well; we'll both be in for a change in ride for sure!  But perhaps with M riding Dani she'll give me some insight into things I could try as I work on these areas with my girl.

Isn't she the cutest little red mare?

April 13, 2015

Trot flag

I did a little bit of ground work with Dani today and played with an Italian flag in the wind.  She didn't seem to have an issue with it.  We'll work more with it attached to her at some point and me carrying it while on her back.

We also worked on the trot some more.  It was rough but it's been over a week since we last worked on it.  Consistency will help, I just need to get my butt up in the mornings early enough to ride the pony and still get home to do all the stuff I need to do at home!  Towards the end I did have a really good sitting trot round of circles.

Steering is still really loosy-goosy when it comes to the trot, another thing to work on.  I felt like I was off her mouth more today though and was working really hard to prevent pulling even when she suddenly decides to lurch into her quick speedy trot.  Overall it was a very good ride with her.  It was a wonderful day outside with just a little bit of wind, nothing like we've had the past couple of days.  This past week I only groomed her or had a farrier appointment when I headed to the barn so it was good to get some ride time.  It's slowly greening up so I'm ready to get that grazing muzzle out soon....ugh.

April 12, 2015

April 02, 2015

Turn that Rear Around

Dani was much calmer when I went out the next time.  I think her issues were with the new horse.  Still I want to get back into regular groundwork with her since it helps us both.  I worked her in the round pen on her long line at the trot.  I've noted that she doesn't turn into me as quickly on her off side so the long line worked well to help me alert her to me signal of stepping and backing.  She got much better.  I'll probably continue this a few times before a full on round pen exercise, I want to instill in her that as soon as I step to the side and back that she is to turn inwards on the circle.

After a about 10 minutes of round pen work I moved onto the turning on the forequarters/disengaging the hindquarters exercise.  The requirement for this exercise was to have her cross her hind leg over her other hind leg and her front inside leg should remain in place, where she just pivots.  We started with one step, then two, then three then four etc.  It went well, I was very please with her.

The next disengaging of the hindquarters exercise is more of a salute.  You make a stalking type circle towards the horses hindquarters and tap with the stick in the air counting 1-4 to make them turn quickly and face you.  The first couple of times you have to whack the horse on the butt at the 4th count to get them to understand.  Then you rub them on the face and butt.  Then you ask again.  Dani learned it quickly at least with minimal whacks on her butt.

The I decide to grab a tumbleweed and attach it to the stick so I could make it "scary" in various places around the round pen.  Nothing phased her!  The tumbleweed crawled up her leg and onto her head.  It wiggled and quickly moved from where it was laying peacefully.  I tried to make it like a darting animal and Dani just blinked.  Really?  Now how am I gonna get her prepared for the real world killer tumbleweed if she doesn't even take this seriously?  

LOL.  Horses!

April 01, 2015

The Tumbleweed, Shadow and Bunny...

It was a slightly breezy day.  I wanted to do a little riding with Dani, not sure what I was going to work on with her.   When at the barn I noticed a new horse.  There was a female Arab named Bella in the pasture that had just arrived about a day ago.  Her owners are from the area but don't have their property horse ready just yet.  Apparently she'd climbed through the fence in the morning to be with Beyjo and cut herself up a little bit.  Her owner was arriving shortly.

Dani was certainly in a more excited mood, perhaps from the new horse.  I rode her on the property but by the fence line near the road.  Dani has been pretty good with traffic driving by.  We stopped near the fence and something caught her eye....was it another tumbleweed?  Was it her shadow?  She tried to wheel away in a shy but I didn't let her get away with it, we faced the area again and we kept walking  by the scariness.  I still have no idea what scared her and she didn't seem to calm down much but at least she didn't try to shy away or bolt.

We rode back to the arena after chatting with the new owners and seeing their horse.  In the arena the same old bunny that darts around was in there and he caused Dani to start again.  Wow.  What's up with this today?  We rode around and I made her do many changes of direction and yielding of the hindquarters.  We kept walking by where the bunny was and at least there weren't any issues with Dani being nervous.  She calmed down and we walked the arena for a bit.  Today was just exciting I guess.  New horse, exciting event of her climbing the fence into the pasture and then Beyjo neighing his head off while her new owners took care of her injuries.

After the ride I decided it would be best to do some groundwork next time I was out.  I also want to do some more desensitizing.  I wish I knew what things, aside from the darting bunny, were causing her concern.  We'll have scarier things that she gets exposed to in the future so I want to make sure that we are well prepared!