Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting Fancy

When Jen said in our last lesson that Buddy could benefit from going in a figure 8 noseband I immediately started looking for deals online.  I do have a flash noseband that I've been using on him, but figure 8's are so fancy and I've always wanted one.  I found this one. I have a HDR girth that I really like, so I thought I would try their bridle.

I got it yesterday, and it's lot nicer than it looks. The padding is very nice and I really like the one piece crown.  It took me a bit to fit it to Buddy, and he was not amused.  I think he looks very fancy!
I still need to tweak it a bit, but I liked it when I rode last night.  We have a lesson with Jen tomorrow so we'll see what she says.  I also want to see if I can get a regular noseband to swap out the figure 8 with when we show in the hunters.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Go kiss your pony!

Tonight at the barn one of the horses got himself stuck in a feed window in his stall door.  Red is a 16.2hand 24 year old QH gelding.  He's been abused in the past, and can be nervous and flighty but is generally very well mannered and level headed.  No one saw how he did it, but somehow he got his front end thru a 1ftx2ft (ish) window and got stuck at his hips.

Thankfully Rick and Connie were home, as well as Red's former owner Jake. We called the vet and she came out within 20 minutes and sedated him. Luckily Red didn't struggle too much in the 20 minutes. I ran to the boarding barn next door and got the owner Carl to help. They were trying to take the door off the hinges when Red's current owner Sharon and her boyfriend showed up.  I took Sharon away because I knew she wouldn't be able to handle seeing it.  Between everyone else they managed to push Red back thru the window with some ropes and pulleys.

The only obvious injury was a scrape on Red's right hip that the vet wasn't too concerned about.  She checked him out thoroughly and while he was still sedated he seemed fine.  She gave him some banamine and said just a bran/senior grain mash tonight for dinner after the sedation wears off.  Obviously there's a chance of internal injures as his pelvis was constricted for about an hour.  We'll all be keeping an eye on him over the next couple of days. 

Horses never fail to amaze me at how inventive they are.  After everything settled down I made sure to go kiss each of my ponies (including miss Zoe) and just spent a couple minutes loving on each of them.  It was hard enough watching Red struggle tonight, I couldn't imagine if it had been one of my own.

Phoenix in his old stall.  This is the size of the window Red got stuck in.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Naughty, naughty mare

On Tuesday Zoe bit me.  And not just a nip or something somewhat innocent, it was a deliberate strike.  I had be petting her, with her head hanging out of the stall door.  I turned away to answer a question another boarder asked and Zoe reached out and grabbed my shoulder.  I immediately turned back to smack her, but she moved to the back of her stall.  I had been planning on riding her, but I thought she needed immediate work so I grabbed my lunge line and took her out in the rain.  I worked her butt for a good half hour, until she was nice and tired.  Then I made her stand in a cooler in the cross ties while everyone else was fed their dinner. 

By that point my shoulder was starting to throb a bit, so I went in the tack room to take a look at it.  She managed to break the skin in a couple spots while biting thru a long sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt, and vest. It was already starting to bruise and had swollen up.  Unfortunately I like to sleep on my side so I didn't get much sleep Tuesday night. Wednesday I was pretty sore, but made it into work where a couple of my coworkers turned green when they saw it.
Wednesday morning
It doesn't hurt anymore, unless I bang my arm into something.  The bruising on the top of my arm is already going away and all the swellings gone.  Today Zoe got her feet done, and after warning my farrier I put a stud chain on her.  She was very well behaved.  Buddy also got his feet done and I had his shoes pulled for the winter. I'm giving him today off to get used to being barefoot then will take him out for an easy hack tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Switching it up

Yesterday I had Corie, another boarder at the barn, ride and jump Zoe.  Since I'm the only one whose ever jumped her I wanted to see her go and see how she does with someone else.  Corie's a really nice quiet rider who worked as an assistant trainer at one of the big hunter/jumper barns in Portland for a couple years.

I gave Corie a brief rundown on what I've been working on with Zoe, and left them alone to warm up.  After they warmed up, Corie and I talked about what Z still needs to work on; going forward at the canter and improving her bend and flexion. 

I set some fences up at 2'-2'3" and let Corie work on whatever she wanted to.  They did some single fences then went down the outside line and the bending line.  Corie let Zoe figure out most of and tried to stay out her way and it was great to watch!  Zoe looked so nice and steady.  I put a couple of the fences up to 2'6" and except for once when they got too deep Zoe jumped each one very nicely.  Corie really liked her, and said she thinks Zoe could go up to 3'!  I'm hoping Corie will be willing to ride her a couple more times.

Look at those knees!!

I love Zoe's expression!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tack Sale

Twice a year there's a huge 4H tack sale about an hour north of here.  I went today with some of the 4H girls and another boarder, and scored a couple good deals.  I was looking for a western bit for Buddy, draw reins, and a figure 8 (either just the figure 8 or a whole bridle.  Jen suggested putting him in either that or a flash for a bit and I've always wanted a figure 8).  I didn't find the draw reins or a figure 8, but we did find a nice western bit for $15 and a very cute new set of polos for $9.

Green argyle!

Buddy proudly modeling the new wraps.
Anna got a pink set for Phoenix.  I'm sure he's going to look fabulous in them!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Good Ponies

Both Anna and I had lessons tonight.  Anna went first, and I talked with Jen about what I've been working on with her.  They started doing circles at the trot and canter and Anna was able to get Phoenix round and soft.  He looks so much more fluid and sound when he's round, and it makes me feel better about letting her jump him.  Jen had Anna start with some trot poles then moved her to a little line of x-rails.  Phoenix was happy to just trot along and not jump the fence, but  Jen had Anna give him a little squeeze and cluck at the base.  He finally jumped the fence and Anna was able to canter down a line for the first time.  They did a couple times and called it good.

For my lesson, we started with the draw reins on Buddy and worked on the flat on a circle.  While he's defiantly improved, I was still having a bit of trouble getting him soft and round going left.  He was a lot less combative and I felt like I didn't have to work quite as hard. 

We took the draw reins off, and Jen set the fences up.  We really haven't jumped much in the past couple weeks, mostly focusing on our flat work so the jumps were around 2'3".  After a couple warm up trot fences, we started down the line trying to have a nice rhythm and maintain the softness we had during the flat work. Once I figured out the distance to the first fence, the line flowed really well.  We then added a couple other diagonal fences fora little course. 

The right to left diagonal fence was our hard spot for the night.  It was on a slight downhill, and Bud really wanted to fall on his front end and pick up speed.  Jen had me half halt with a lot of thigh, while being fairly soft with my hand.  It worked and he backed off, but then he was too behind my leg.  We finally figured it out, and were able to have a couple decent jumps.  By that time Buddy was pretty tired so we ended with that. 

I'm glad that I can see the progress we're making and hopefully it can continue!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Posting Canter

I rode Phoenix on Sunday, and we worked on getting him to go forward and build impulsion.  Anna had been sick and hadn't ridden him in four days, so I thought I would hop on and see how he was.  Considering it's been cold and wet, and he went from being outside 24/7 to be in all the time, he wasn't too bad.  He was pretty stiff warming up, so when I picked up the canter I went into a posting canter to help build impulsion.

For a posting canter, you two point one stride, sit one stride and repeat.  During the sitting stride, you push with your seat and leg to encourage forward momentum then let them come up to you while in two point.  It takes a bit to get it figured out, but once you do it really helps get the horse forward without too much work and it develops a nice rhythm.  I felt a difference in Phoenix by the end of our ride.

Yesterday, Anna was back out and I was hacking Zoe while she rode.  I demonstrated the posting canter to her on Zoe, then had her do it on Phoenix.  She didn't quite get it, but his stride still lengthened and he was moving better.  I also showed her how to ask for leg yields, and since Phoenix does those really well, she was able to get a couple nice ones out of him.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Being a bad blogger

Not much has happened this week.  Had a couple ok rides on Bud.  I worked him in the draw reins again on Wednesday and he was better.  Still not great, and still resistant to the left but I was able to see some improvement. By the end of our ride I was able to drop the draw reins and he would carry himself at the trot nicely both directions. 

Tuesday I had my last field ride with Zoe.  There were some x-rails set out that we worked over, and I ended up giving Anna and Phoenix a little lesson.  I've been pleasantly surprised with how sound Phoenix has been and he looked great working out on the grass. 

Yesterday it started raining, so we brought all the ponies in for the winter.  Luckily I only had to do a half day at work, so I was able to make it out to the barn by 1 to bring them in.  Phoenix and Zoe were utterly offended at being out in the rain.  Both of the trotted up to the gate to come in and Zoe was nickering the whole time.  Buddy could have cared less and seemed offended that he was left in.  I put coolers on all of them for a couple hours and gave each a pile of hay.  We got a new load of timothy this week, and it's super rich.  I'm slowly starting to wean them on it so hopefully no one gets colicky! 

Once I had their coolers on, I realized that I have bought the boys matching black ones with blue trim.  Wasn't my intention and I'm slightly embarrassed. 

Phoenix....he makes the 10x14 stall look tiny

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ranch Sorting

I took Buddy to a ranch sorting practice last night.  Another woman from the barn was going, and I thought it would be a good change for Bud.  I've never sorted before, but when Connie had Bud she did a lot of it with him.

Ranch sorting is basically taking a group of cows, one at a time, from one pen to another.  There are two round pens set next to each other with the middle panel taken out; the opening is called the hole.  One rider blocks the hole while the other gets the cow and runs it towards the hole.  The riders then switch and go back and forth every other cow.  There are a dozen cows and ten of them are numbered 0-9.  You have to go in numerical order and leave the two unnumbered or "dirty" cows in the first pen.  And you have to do this all in 60secs.

Bud was pretty tired from his workout on Thursday, so we did a light warm up when we got there.  Once they had the cows set up, he perked up a bit but was still pretty laid back.  Which was a good thing since Dar, the mare who came with us, had never been around cows before and was nervous.  Laura, her owner, and I walked around together and let Bud show Dar that the cows were nothing to be afraid of. 

There were about 20 people, and we wanted to watch the others go so we waited awhile till our go.  The man running it was very nice, and gave us about 5 minutes just getting Dar used to sorting the cows out.  We didnt' worry about getting them in the correct order, just moving them from one pen to the other.  Dar did pretty well, but Buddy got a little hot and bit one of the cows when it wouldn't move.  Bad Buddy!

The cows, and part of Dar's head.  You can see the while numbers on their sides
While we waited around for our second attempt, the barn hosting it opened up their kitchen and gave us free dinner!  There was a big pot of spaghetti, salad, and cake.  I held the horses while Laura grabbed a bite then she held when I went to eat.  Apparently they host the ranch sortings about once a month and always serve dinner. The food was good, and I thought it was awesome that they feed everyone who comes.

Our second and third tries were much better.  We were still slow, and didn't always get the correct cow in the correct order.  Dar gained more confidence and only had a couple little spooks.  Buddy didn't try to eat any other cows, and I was able to work on getting him to focus on a particular cow and move it where I wanted.  It was a lot of fun and we'll defiantly go back!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Breaking out the big guns

So in our lesson tonight, we basically stayed on a circle to the left the entire time.  Jen had me start trying to get Buddy soft and bendy by doing some figure 8's at the trot.  He was ok, but not great.  I was really having to thump him with my inside leg to keep him going. Same thing in the canter.  I dropped my inside stirrup to try and thump him and push him out to create the bend.  Still not working.

Jen got on him for  only the second time in the two years I've had him. She really got after him and boy was he pissed!  They duked it out for about 5 minutes with him occasionally giving in.  The whole time Jen was cussing him out and calling him names.  She had me grab a set of draw reins and we tried again.  I hopped on him again, and after figuring out my reins (it's been such a long time since I've ridden with two reins!) we tried again. 

I started with the reins loose and slowly started shortening them and asking for flexion.  He gave it to me to a point, then decided to fight me.  I was able to get him back and we moved up to the canter.  He was still pretty fussy, but better.  Jen decided to hop back on and took no mercy.  Once Bud gave in, they had some beautiful trot work.  He was moving forward and really stepping out and Jen was able to loosen up on the draw reins and have a light, quiet contact.  His canter was also miles better.  He was a little over bent to the left, but he was using his hind end and really driving forward with little effort from Jen.

The plan for now is to keep using the draw reins, but do short 20mins or so hacks mostly at the walk and trot while he builds up his top line.  Hopefully he won't fight me as much and I won't have to use the draw reins but we want  to make sure he gets the point.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Back to the drawing board

Unfortunately my ride on Sunday didn't go so well.  I couldn't get Bud to have a nice, soft, round, canter to the left.  He kept fighting me the whole time.  He was high headed, and every time I tried to drive him from my seat to my hands he would flip his head and speed up. 

I decided to try to keep him on a circle and try to spiral him out and create some bend. It worked and we got a couple decent circles but as soon as we tried to go down the long side he would loose the bend and flip his head up.  He was better to the right, but still not as nice as he could have been. 

On the plus side we had some really nice trot work.  He was stretching down into the contact and was moving off my leg pretty well.  We have a lesson Thursday where Jen can hopefully give up some pointers.