Tuesday, February 11, 2014

So Easy!!!

I have decided that it is time for Sassy to get back to work.  Not super strenuous, race all over the place work (although she seems to have no issue with that in the pasture) but just light, easy, carry me around the round pen, and remember all the things that Jay taught you, work.

So today we did that.

I won't say that we picked up right where we left off, but seriously, for a horse that has not been ridden but maybe 2 or 3 times in 2 years...I am highly impressed with this little lady.  I even made her wear her snaffle today, something she has only done maybe 10 times in her whole life.  She did not love it, but she wasn't bad about it either.

I did give her some bute this morning, and next time I will actually dose her the night before and the morning of, because I think she could have used just a touch more in her system.  Then I also booted her.  Another thing I will do next time is cut a new set of pads and use those only for riding.  She did limp some, but I decided to just push her through it.  Here is what I noticed.

Although to the left it never went away, it did to the right (I think) and it definitely got better the longer we worked. So with that in mind I think this light exercise is going to be the best thing for her.

I ground worked her first, reminded her how to move her body parts from the ground, how to follow my cues, and really she remembers it all.  I have done so little with her (I know, bad horse owner) other than lead her around or ask her to do a few circles in the round pen, I really didn't know how she was going to do.  I can move her shoulder with a push of my hand in the air, I can move her hip by just focusing and pushing my energy that direction, I can back her up by standing in front and using the slightest of body language.  I can control her speed around the round pen by simply raising or lowering my energy and if I shut off my energy, she stops...like right now stops.  I never have to touch her once.

My friend Jay taught her all of that. Then taught me how to do it too.  He learned it from Dennis Reis. Not everyone agrees with Dennis's theory that if you cannot ride them from the ground, you cannot ride on their backs.  But I think there is a certain amount of truth behind it. The problems I have with Trax on the ground, are the same problems I have on his back.  Sassy's strong points on the ground are also her strong points when I ride her...and she has a lot of strong points.

So I got on her.  I took it slow of course, leaned over first, wiggled around some, rubbed my hands on her butt. She was fine, totally relaxed so I started over and mounted up.  Asked for the lateral flex just to see where she was at.  Light as a feather. Almost too light.  She likes to bring her head all the way to my toe, which I know is wrong, but hey, who's complaining? Not me!

I asked for forward, she walked right out, we went a round a few times then I quit riding and said "whoa". She stopped instantly.  I love this horse.  I asked for forward again, we did a lot of that. Forward, a couple of laps, stop riding.  I don't even have to say whoa, I just have to stop riding. No reins needed for that command.  How cool is that?

We worked on turns and we did some backing up. She was a little sticky on the backing up, in fact at first she fought it. But I didn't push and I didn't get big with her, I just waited it out and the second she shifted her weight back, I released.  Pretty soon I got a step, and another and then another.  Then I asked for forward again. Sometimes she got a little confused as to whether she should go forward or back, but I helped her out of those times by simply touching her neck and she immediately would take a step forward.  Using that and my body position she soon had it all figured out.

We did trot just a little, mostly to the right because it is harder on her with the left on the inside, and she was fine mentally.  I could have loped her I am sure, but am trying not to over do her physically.

We also just worked on a tiny bit of collection.  All I did was ask her to go forward, and set my hands. When she gave to the pressure I released and gave her lots of praise. There was some head flinging going on, and some other antics but I kept with it until her first choice was to give to me, and once she did that 3 times, we quit there.

I tried really hard to keep everything as soft and as slight on her as I could.  My cues were small and I waited for her to get it. I am doing everything I can to keep her from turning into a hard horse like Trax.

Lets face, I'm no trainer, but I am figuring some things out as I go and I have had, and still have, some great guidance from some folks who do know.  I know what I don't want her to be, and I think that really is making a big difference in how I do things with her.  It helped that Jay put such a good start on her, but then he always told me that she was one of the easiest youngsters he ever worked with.  He always said that her biggest hole was her lack of confidence, but I don't know that she still has that.  She is a big girl now, and seems to be ready to go out and see the world.   I will put a few more rides on her in the round pen and then we will move on to the arena.

I think I should probably also mention that the entire time I was working her the construction crew was over there with an air powered nail gun, and skill  saws, and banging on metal and just making all kinds of ruckus.  I won't say she never reacted, but no more than an occasional flinch.  She is a good good girl!

Looking quite pretty with her newly cut bridle path

"I am a good girl"

Sweaty girl!


  1. Excellent!!

    I would expect a little residual limp, as we talked about, her muscles are now 'set' on that, but working/riding her is the best thing to get rid of that. Horses so seldom push themselves out of their comfort area so we have to be the meanies and push them through. Think of it as physical therapy.

    Of course, you probably already know my thoughts on using bute. I think it's okay for most horses, but if you think you need to keep her on a little something-something, maybe look into picking up some B-L Solution or a White Willow Bark product. That kind of stuff can be fed daily without fear of the effects on the hind-gut and/or ulcers that bute can lead to. Of course, I am more paranoid than most about bute because Moon is so adversely affected by even a single dose and I've had to resort to using a multitude of other products on him. Frosty is regularly on B-L Solution for his hips (that crooked tail)...not daily...and not as often as he used to be, but there for awhile he needed some pain reliever and B-L solution worked really well for him.

    I don't think you are going to have to look far for your next prospect though. Keeping my fingers crossed that all of your persistence has paid off and Miss Sassy comes out the other side ready to take you to the next level. :-)

    1. With all the gazillion things we talk about (at 850 words per breath) the one thing we have never discussed is Bute. I do worry also about over using it, and the effects on internal organs. Much like I worry about Rhimodyl (sp) for my old dogs. So this is a conversation we will have very soon.

      Because she got better the longer we rode, I am willing to accept the physical therapy theory. Also her feet were not cool when I booted her, but they were after riding. (blood flow?) I left the boots on for a while but they will come off tonight, if they have not already. That seems to be the thing. As long as she is moving in those boots she doesn't get hot. I'd have thought it would be the other way. Funny.

  2. Nice looking mare. She sounds like a great horse. Glad her feet are getting better.

    1. Thanks, she is very pretty and just a great little mind. She is the only horse I have who is the opposite of barn sour. She would much rather go explore than sit at home. I sure do hope I can fix her. Its the first time I have been really hopeful in a long time. And to think, a month ago, I was ready to put her down.

  3. That's encouraging. You must be very excited. I occasionally ride Lostine when her arthritis isn't visibly bothering her, but I don't have a single saddle that can properly fit her old lady swayback. So, her rides are always short and sweet.

    1. I really am excited! I've been hopeful over her, but this time I am truly excited because this was real visable progress that didn't have anything to do with crap being nailed to her feet. She may never be sound enough to compete with (although I'm sure hoping she is- cuz she is "the one") but I think she will at the very least be sound enough to ride.

      Funny you should mention saddles. I'm having a hard time getting my saddles to fit Sassy as well. :-)

  4. It sounds like you have her to ride to fix you so that when you get on Trax, you know what you're looking for. The cues are the same, now you just need to get the same response from him.

    If she's working out of it, that's a good sign. Sometimes I start out stiff and creaky in the mornings too, but as the day goes on, things loosen up and work like they should. The horses aren't much different.

  5. Aww, what a sweetie. I hope the progress continues!

  6. Sounds good, she sure is a pretty girl.Hope she continues to improve, you have certainly put your heart into this horse

  7. What a lovely ride! I sure hope she comes sound for you, she is going to be such a pleasure to ride.