Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First ride of the year

My first ride was cold cold cold!  Even inside it was very cold.  I also did not get ride long as the arena was very crowded with some girls doing jumping lessons.  I decided to go ahead and cut out early so they could have the room they needed to practice properly.

I took Killian and Trax.  Killian acted like he hadn't been in a trailer before.  Well not quite that bad, but when I took Trax out first Killian started pawing and kicking at the sides. When I went in with him to see what he was doing, he had his butt wedged against the side pretending like he was stuck.  (trust me he wasn't)  I went a head and pulled him out too then he calmed right down.  When I was saddling him he moved so far into Trax the saddle ended up going on both of them.  I wish I had got a picture of the look on Trax's face.  He was clearly saying, "Hey, what the heck bro, it's not like you haven't done this before!!!"  I have no doubt it was all an act hoping to con me out of riding him.

Here is Killian after I got him all tacked up. 

When we went in to ride there was a girl on a pony doing lessons, so I decided to start with Killian.  Even though he hasn't been ridden in 6 months at least, he is the least likely to have a melt down or a blow up, or even a reaction to much of anything.  Although now that I say that, his antics at the trailer suggest otherwise.  Trust me, he was bluffing.  Killian is a rock. He moves about as fast as one too. The only time I have ever seen this horse move faster than the speed of grass growing, is if he is after Danny, or there is food involved...wait...let me back up...nope not even for food.  He will move a little faster is food is involved, but truthfully he knows that he can push the rest of them away once he gets there, so being there first isn't really an issue in his mind.

But I digress.

We started with some ground work, no issues at all.  He was soft and easy in his transitions from a walk to a trot and back to a walk again.   I had such a small area to work in (because two more riders had just come in and were ground working their horses too) I really did not ask for a canter.  I asked for a flex left and right, no issue.  I asked him to back up with a jiggle of the lead rope, he balked for a minute but then when I "encouraged" he did wonderfully.  I lead him over to the bridge, he refused to go over it.  I had no help so I knew I would not win that battle, so I left it for another day.  Got up on him he stood quietly, did not move, did not even pick up his head.  We walked, we trotted, we did not canter.  Not because I am afraid too, well maybe I am but not for the usual reasons.  Killian is a rough gaited horse.  He has a slow trot which is nice, but once you start trying to get any speed out of him, he seems to get stuck between a canter and a trot.  You can prod him on to go faster, but you really have to peddle him.  Jay says he is just lazy.  Jay might be right, but until I get him a full physical to make sure he doesn't have something going on which is causing him pain, I'm not going to push him.  I don't have too.   I got the big ball and he pushed that thing around like a pro! I was actually quite impressed by how well he focused on it.  We did a couple of leg yeilds, which he does nicely.  then I got off and loosened his cinch and called it a day for him. 

Then it was Trax's turn.  Talk about night and day.  With Trax ground work is a must.  He starts his circles at a fast trot and stays there for a long time.  I have to audibly exhale out several times in order to get him to let his air out. Them I have to really think "walk" before he will.  The minute he does I disengage the hind end and we rest together on that side.  Then we go the other way, and it is the same.  Getting him to canter is nothing.  I think canter, pick up the pace of my own feet and he goes.  Getting him to a trot is easy enough, just a breath out and slowing my own pace and he is back to his favorite "million mile trot".  Then it is several more exhales, and really slowing my pace to get him to walk.  Disengage and rest.  Next I ask him to step sideways away from me.  He is so good at that. Lateral flex each direction...pretty soft, so decided to mount up.   Now, this is where I am always just a tad apprehensive. I know Trax, and believe it or not I trust him, but I also know that one of his previous owners did not like him because he had a bad habit of taking off when you mounted and jumping out from underneath you when you dismount.  I have been working on this and for me his about perfect 99% of the time.  But then there is always that 1% that I am unsure about.  Today he was solid.  Of course I know the things that will cause him to jump.  A boot toe in the ribs will do it every time, so I am always careful about that. 

So we started with a simple walk, trot, canter, trot, walk, then over the bridge.  He practically runs over that bridge!  We did the serpentine drill, some leg yields at a stand still, some backing up.  The usual stuff.  Since I didn't have an instructor there today I am just having to figure things out on my own.  So I had him at a walk, asked for a leg yield and he did pretty darn good to the left.  To the right we still had some trouble. But to the left he did a perfect diagonal walk with his legs crossing. I was pretty pleased with it.  I could only get it that once though.  The next few times the best I could get was forward, tap tap tap with my leg and pick up on the rein and he would just go straight sideways, then forward again afterwards.  I figure it is a step in the right direction.   By this time the other riders had jumps set up and were really needing the whole arena so I called it a day with a nice back up.  After I got off and had him tied I picked up one of the training sticks to just rub him with it.  He saw me coming with that and serious tried to bolt.  I talked to him while I rubbed him all over, but I swear he shook the whole time.  I couldn't believe it.  I have never hit him with a stick.  Not once not ever.  I have tapped him on the side when teaching him to "step away" but never hard and only a couple of times.

The last time I was down there with Kim, she had her horse Schnizzle, who is a young horse she is working with. She does really well with her horses except in one area.  She is afraid of a canter.  She cannot get a good canter transition in a round pen from the ground, so she does not a get one when she is riding.  She tried it with him and he ran her into a wall and she almost went over his shoulder.  She hurt her back in the process and got angry.  So she got her stick and started asking for it on the ground. When ever he "fell:" out of the circle she would hit him with that stick....hard. Her actions were "big" and it was ugly and she had asked Trax and I to stand in the area where he kept falling out to push him back in.  So naturally every time she wailed on him with that stick it was right in front of Trax.  Now keep in mind that this was the same day I came up with the brilliant idea of using a stick to get him to leg yield and he freaked out.   Of course I do not know if watching her wail on that horse affected Trax, but I think it might have, because he has never shook from me rubbing him down with a stick before.  Anyway, it made me so sad to see my guy stand there and tremble at the simple touch of a stick rubbing against him. I talked to him while I rubbed and promised him I would never let anyone hit him like he has been in the past. (barrel racers)  Of all my horses, he is the one I will do anything to keep. I will never sell him.  He will stay with me for the rest of his life. He needs me. I am his person.

Of course I have no pics of the ride but here are a couple of after pics.

 Look how nicely he ground ties.  What a good boy!

Big Killian, my rock!  

So although it was a short ride I was happy to have the day off and get to ride at all.  It was nice to have "Big K" out and about again.   When I put Trax in the trailer Killian was still in the arena.  Trax was calling and calling for him, and he was calling back.  When I put Killian in with him they touched noses, and you could see them say to each other, "You good?  Ya I'm good, you good?  Yup."  Then they both turned and looked at me as if to say, "Lets roll lady!"  So we rolled on out of there and down the road to home. 
What a great way to start the year!


  1. One of my friends had a mare that would start a snicker-fit when the other horse was unloaded before her OR if she was hauled alone. Cured by putting a radio shock collar for dogs on her. She rides like a champ. Only took a couple of zaps to correct the behavior.

  2. That would be a great idea for my neighbors horses. They are really really buddy sour.
    This was pretty unusual behavior for either one of them. Killian usually is fine in a trailer, either alone or with someone, even if he is left in for a while. Of course the last time he was in a trailer he went to Riverton and got his butt kicked by a bunch of bigger horses. Maybe he was protesting! LOL