Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Herd Divided

I tried to let all the horses out together yesterday.

It did not work out so well.   Killian treated Princess MellyPalouza like she was poor white trash....or a spy....or some sort of forbidden interloper who must be driven away.

She gave him a pretty good double barrel shot right in the chest and then moved away.  She was happy to mind her own business and graze away from Killian and Sassy.  I had not even had time to get Trax yet.

 But he went after her again and he was not playing around either.

I stepped between his charge and my Princess.  He altered course and made a big circle back to Sassy and kept his distance while I grabbed Melly and put her back in her pen.

These are the times when I am really glad that we work on ground manners.  There are not many things that Killian is truly afraid of....I'm glad that I am one of them!

So for now we are back on rotation, which is probably for the best. My grass when weeks with no water and needs fertilized badly.  I don't know that it can handle more than 2 at a time right now.

Eventually I will try again, but first I'll try putting them next to each other so they can become friends over the fence.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Double Dip with Spots and Sprinkles

Since I was lazy as all heck yesterday, I decided to get up early and ride the spotted ponies today.   I don't know why I do things like this except that some days I just need a day to do as little as possible.  Sunday was that day, and I spent a good amount of time sitting in a lawn chair on my back porch watching my beloved equines (who spent that time trying to convince me that they were starving to death- and if I was going to be out there I may as well bring them food) and dinking around on my phone.

The hard part of getting up early today is not the "getting up" part. That part is always easy on Mondays.  It is the staying awake till midnight that kills me on Mondays.  If I was able to keep my work hours going when home on the weekends, my life would be easier, but alas....I enjoying seeing my family and my friends, and enjoying being home.

So anyway, back to today.

I started with Melody.   We tried various different bits and bridles, trying to find just the right combination for her. As it turns out, the low port mylar knock off seems to suit her best right now.  She might have enjoyed Trax's bit, the real Mylar, but his bridle is waaaay to short for her and is already let out as far as it will go.  So basically she is sharing with Killian right now.  Her head is as long as his but his jaw is about three holes larger.

Today was a lot of fun with her, we started out sort of floundering around, but pretty quickly developed a level of communication.  Of course WTC is there, just a squeeze of the legs and or a sit in the seat gets you the desired transition.  Today was about a little more refinement.  I said "trot" she said, "Sure"  I said "collect yourself"  She said, "Do what?"  Even though I know she is used to being ridden one handed, when I asked for collection with one hand (at first) she wasn't responding. So I went back to what I know.  I went to 2 handed again.

I swear I am not backing up.

I simply reminded her that when she feels pressure, please drop your head and collect.  Whether it be forward or backwards or even sideways.

It took just the slightest little reminder and very soon if I said "Trot" she said, "Would you like me to collect as well?" and I would say "yes please" and never touch her face at all.   I asked her to extend the trot, and she showed me how a big girl does it.


Well most of it was.  The part that wasn't was that I found myself having a hard time staying solid in my stirrups.  This is the same saddle I have been riding in for almost 3 years.  I won't say I've never had this problem but I found myself wondering if I need a different saddle.  In that respect I felt like it was my first time on a horse ever, and I was riding in my Dad's saddle.  It was weird.

We did loping in circles. Big circles and little circles, and practiced my stop cue.  What I learned with her is to remove the "whoa" just sit and lift with my hand just a touch. With that we did much better.  Still fumbling with the lead change but it is getting better.

One thing I never liked about her for sale video, was her back up.  She threw her nose in the air and moved backwards.  She does not do that anymore.  When I ask now, she drops her head and backs smoothly.  I do my best to ask with the slightest pressure imaginable.  I really don't want to mess up this horse!

I did ask for a spin because we are struggling with that cue.  I am not asking for her to spin fast, or even very many times. One time around is good for me right now, I just want to get the cue down.  I felt like we made progress on that.

The entire time we rode, the billy goats gruff next door were a point of contention, so of course that is where we rest.  Another point of contention is any foreign object in her reining arena which she feels does not belong. This includes bridges, poles for trotting over, logs for dragging,  barrels and poles in a double L shape pattern.

After I cooled her down, I decided it was time to visit the dreaded poles on the ground.  When she stopped dead in her tracks I decided this was best done sans headstall and bit, so we got the halter and tried again.

She said, "Uh no!  I don't like those"

I said, "Trust me, just one step forward." while applying pressure to the halter.

She took a step, I released, and we both took a deep breath.

Lather, rinse, and repeat and before she knew it she was standing in the "11's" of the L.  I leave it open on one end so we can walk through if we want.  However that opening is about 4-5 feet from the arena fence as well, so even once she got through the 11 she was still "trapped".

Apparently Mellypalouza's are slightly claustrophobic.  She darted through and almost ran me over trying to get out from between it and the fence.

So we did it again....and again.....and again.....and again, until she lead through and around without bolting.

I suspect that what I am doing now, and will actually include asking her to walk down and alley way of panels, will eventually help her with her trailer loading.

Then we were done.  She got a lovely hose down and her new XL fly mask back on, and went back to finish her breakfast. I expected her to roll, but Mellypalouza's are also little princesses, and do not care to be dirty!

Then was Trax's turn.

The billy goats gruff have a jungle gym now.  They like to climb and play on it with their little smelly butts and clattering hooves. When they are on top of the jungle gym they are much more intimidating.....according to a paint horse.

This became a real point of contention for me, because I really wanted to just ride my horse, and not spend a half an hour desensitizing him again.  The jungle gym has been placed right next to my arena, and right next to the gate I practice with, and is also very distracting when working that gate.  I understand that it is important for him to learn to do these things even with distractions, but still I found myself annoyed.  Maybe I'd be less annoyed if they didn't smell so bad.

Anyway, Trax did his best to prove to me that even though he likes having a new friend, I really don't need another horse to ride.  He was super super good.

Today I did something I have not done in a long time.  I loped him.  Not just a little...we loped a lot!

We probably did 20 big laps, each direction at one end of the arena. Every so often I'd slow him down to a smaller circle, and then back up to a full one, and he stayed right with me the entire time.  He was soft and easy, never chargey and it-was-AWESOME!   When I asked him to stop he actually tried, and I think I actually got my timing right.  It was pretty darn cool, and I found myself asking, "Where have you been Trax?  I've missed you. It is so glad to have you back again"  Because I remember having lots of rides like this in the past.  I love these kinds of rides.

We did some other stuff too, the usual stuff, lead changes, and side passing, trail obstacles, long trotting, and short trotting and transitions. Sometimes we floundered, sometimes we didn't, but we ended each exercise with successful improvement, and that was good enough for me!  

Now here is the really strange part.  I thought I was needing a different saddle, but on him, in the exact same saddle, I have no problems keeping my feet in the stirrups.  So WTH is up with that?   I was speaking with BEC about shortly after and we discussed the possibility of it being from Melody being a narrower horse than Trax so the stirrups hang a little longer.  Perhaps it is just enough to throw me off balance.  I will try shortening them just a touch and see what happens.

I know it seems like all my rides encompass the same stuff every single time, but really I am just trying to refine what we are doing, and it really is coming together nicely....or that is how it feels anyway.  Pretty soon it will be time to have a trainer or someone watch us again, to tell me how it really looks.  (or perhaps video)

All in all though, this was like way up there on my favorite days ever list!  That is how I got my title...Its like a double dip ice cream cone on a hot summers day, just loaded with sorrel spots and little red sprinkles!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Trax Takes Melody for a Walk on the Wild Side, and Our First Ride!

Melody got her new shoes on Friday.  My farrier is in love with Miss Mellypalouza, as she never once gave him a lick of trouble while being worked on.  She has the best manners of any horse I have ever known.  It is kind of refreshing to say the least.  She was very uneven on her heels not to mention they are very contracted.  He actually set her shoes to where he wants her hoof to grow too, rather than where it is now.  She was very happy to have that pressure released from those one-size-too-small shoes.

Saturday I was all set to go riding, but woke up to cloudy skies, and pretty strong winds, then came the rain.  Of course being AZ rain doesn't usually last long, so it was gone by 11:00am.  Still it was pretty darn windy. 

 I decided to throw the spotted ponies out to the pasture. 

I put Melody out first, and then went to grab Trax. With the wind and chilly temps, he was feeling good and the minute I turned him loose he took to bucking and farting and racing around the pasture. Melly followed him around but never bucked.  It was clear by the look on her face that she was bothered by all this bucking.  
"Trax!  What are you doing? We aren't supposed to buck, only bad horses buck!"

Trax stopped, turned around and looked at her with a clearly smug look on his face, shook his head a little and said, "Come on girlfriend, have a little fun, kick you your heels, take a walk on the wild side!" and then took off at full speed while executing some of the most gorgeous bucks I have ever witnessed.  Clearly, he was showing off his best form for his new friend.

Melly did her best to frolic with him but bucking is not something in her vocabulary yet. Being a horse is just not something she is used too. Still it was fun to watch and soon they settled down to enjoy a snack. 

I decided to go ahead and ride Killian a little.  Killian who grew up in SD, and WY, who has dealt with wind his entire life, and who continually loses his mind when ever there is wind.  When I put the saddle pad on him he pulled back on the lead rope which was tied to the tack shed.  He kept pulling and pulling and almost pulled his halter off.    

Luckily I was taught early on how to tie a rope halter so that even if a horse pulls back on it, you can always get it undone.   I scolded him for being so goofy, finished saddling him, and took him to the round pen.  Killian is another one of those horses who doesn't really buck much on his own. However, he does do a little bit of crow hopping which he did on this day as I moved him around the round pen.  

Then we went to the arena.  He was all over the place, but eventually settled down and we had some nice trot collection and even some nice loping on the correct lead.  However I was not really enjoying riding him in the wind so I was very happy when company showed up and I was able to just put him away.  

We spent some time visiting and drooling over my new horse, then the wind died down and we decided that it was the perfect time to put the first ride on her.   When I went to get her in pasture she was at the water tub which has an auto waterer on it. 

OMG talk about funny!  She would touch the water with her tongue for just a second and then pull back real quick like she was going to get bit. She kept testing and testing until finally she got brave enough to take a drink. When she did, the auto waterer turned on and she jumped at the noise.  Clearly she has never seen one of those before either.  

As always she came right to me, and I took her to the tack area. I was hoping that my Circle Y Flex was going to fit her, but it doesn't. In fact it doesn't really fit any of my horses now, so I think it is time to sell that one and find one that does fit.  So I put "show saddle" on her.  (show saddle is not really a show saddle. It may have been at onetime, but I use it on Trax, always, for everything, so it is not in tip top show shape anymore)  It fits perfectly, and her head is the same size as Killian's, so I used his bridle.  

I did lead her around the arena again, and past the goats.  She really tries to avoid going over there, so I can see that will be our resting spot from now on.  Of course I can't blame her, those billy goats are the smelliest animals I have ever encountered, and of course every time we go past the big guardian dog has to come and bark at us.  These are things I want her to be used too, but I can assure you, it is really annoying to be barked at in my own arena every single time I try to ride. 

So I rode her around some, we did the usual WTC, a couple of lead changes, did one spin.  What I learned from this ride is that we have much work to do.  Not on her but on me.  I am so used to having to always "work" my horse, with her I do not, and I have got to learn to just ride.  

When backing she tends to hold her head up.  I'd like to see her drop it a little better, which is something we can work on.  She isn't really used to having to extend her trot, so we will be doing some of that as well to build some of those muscles.   I on the other hand am going to have to learn the proper cue for stopping and how to sit my stops better. If I don't she is going to pitch me right over her shoulder, simply because she stops "right now". 

I did ride her past the goats but again she really did not want to go anywhere near them.  I didn't force the issue, but we will continue to work on that.

I did not ride her long enough to even work up a sweat, but that is ok.  We will have plenty of time for that.  I went ahead and put her back in the pasture.  But not before a quick photo.

I am hoping to ride her again today, but since my son waited until the very last minute to tell me that he has a mandatory science fair project due tomorrow, whether or not that happens remains to be seen.   In my day, science fairs were voluntary, now they are mandatory. Of course there are a lot of things about today's schools I do not understand.  But that has nothing to do with horses, so I won't go into it here.

The main thing is that I got the first ride (the nervous part) out of the way. She was a total dream and I just know I am going to have lots of fun riding her.  I won't be nervous next time, and we can just get to learning each other.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Paint Horse Day

I made the commitment to ride today the minute my feet hit the floor. Not that I was going to ride that early, but just that as soon as I awoke, I made the commitment.   I seem to be lacking energy these days.  I blame it on sugar.  I went for several weeks where I removed all processed sugar from my diet and was starting to feel good. Then I was "lured" to the land of casino's and amazing breakfast bars by a certain barrel racer, and my whole plan fell apart. What can I say.  I'm weak!  LOL

Since then I seem to be out of control on the sugar intake, kind of like a binge drinker, and the constant high and crash is wearing me is my late night schedule.

But I digress. 

So I rode Trax today.

He was a little wound up.

I could tell because he wouldn't canter on the long line.  I know seems like it should be the opposite but truthfully, if he won't canter on the long line, it means he isn't connecting with me, and that means pent up energy.  

I was kind of proud of myself for recognizing what he was saying and heading to the round pen rather than opening ourselves up for a fight once in the saddle.  

Once in the round pen, I took off the halter and moved him with energy.  It took n-o-t-h-i-n-g to get him to go.  He was a race pony.  I made the right call on that one.  

I let him go until he locked back on me, and then we worked on speed control  When I could turn off my energy and get him to stop and come to me, I knew we were ready.  

In the saddle he was nice. Plenty soft- most of the time. His leg yields were stellar in both directions.  We trotted a while then I asked for a lope,.  I could not have been any happier with him.  We loped the full circle of the arena and although his head carriage was not as low as most people would like, he never pulled on me, he never attempted to charge through my hands, and when I said whoa, we did.  It wasn't a pretty whoa, but he listened and sometimes with him that deserves a reward.  There will come a time when I expect more from him in terms of stopping, but today was not that day. 

We did that in two directions, and each side was just as good as the other.  If you live in AZ you probably saw that bright flash of light that filled the sky.  It was my heart beaming with pride.  

We stopped, we rested, and then when I asked him to walk he wanted to lope again, but I said trot and he said okay, and we did lots of long trotting and pretty serpentines, and life was good.  

We did a little flag work, and by golly he is trying, but I can see that I am throwing him off again. My stop cues are all over the place...I have GOT to fix that!

We rested at the rope gate, and I picked up the rope, held it for 3 seconds and then put it back. He didn't bat an eye.  GOOD BOY! 

We did some lead changes, still making progress on those. I think he is almost ready for the flying change.  I just wish I was ready.  

We did some trail obstacles- no problem.  Then we worked on stopping again.  I kept trying to ask for a nice stop. I know he can do them, but I just couldn't get them.  I really think the problem is me. My timing is off, and my cues are off.  I know I am repeating myself, but it really bothers me. Not that he isn't doing it, it bothers me that the real problem is me.  I feel sloppy.  

Since I knew we weren't making progress on that I went to something else he could do with success...side passing.  And then I called it a day.   

We went for the hose down and he was all nasty on the inside of his hind legs.  I have been insisting that he be more tolerant of hands around his guy areas, but today I had to wash all that icky off.  So I got a handful of liquid soap and scrubbed the inside of his legs. He got a little squirrely about it, so I smacked him on his side and then he stood still.  He even let me wash his sheath opening.  I didn't want to get soap up in there so I just washed the opening.  

Then I rinsed him off and how he is shiny clean under there.   I always laugh at him with the hose. For a horse that hated baths, he now loves to drink out of the hose.

I had thrown the redheads out to the pasture, so Miss Melly was all alone for a while. At first she was bellering and hollering, but then she settled down and acted totally cool. 

When I put Trax away I took her out and took her for a walk around the arena.  

Guess who has never seen a goat!  She handled it pretty well, all things considered.  I also tried to walk her over the bridge, but she was having none of that.  Of course the bridge is also right next to the goats.  

There is a back gate to my pasture which goes to a catch pen for cows. I leave it open so horses in the pasture can get to shade.   I sold my stripping chute and have not replaced a panel there yet, so there is a five foot gap in my arena.  Guess who came through the gate and through the opening to visit with Melody.....yup, the redheads.  

So I tied Melody to the fence, while begging her to not tear down my fence while I shoo'd the other 2 out.  I watched her pull on the rope just a touch, and the minute she felt tension, she moved forward again.  Oh my what a good girl!

Now it was Trax's turn to be the cry baby!  Oh these horses!  LOL

Now that we are getting to know each other better I am getting more and more excited to put my first real ride on Melody. My point of walking her in the arena today was to see how she was going to react to things.  I think we she be fine, however I will go ahead and give her another walk tomorrow after she gets her shoes.   

Even when she spooks it isn't a big spook.  It is just a little side step, so that will be a nice change of pace.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finally Some Saddle Time

It seems like forever since I have ridden, and although I am sure my horses don't mind one bit, it does bother me when I have to wait as long as I did.   So today after doing some chores I finally grabbed a halter and saddled up one of my "trusty" steeds.

No I did not ride Melody.  (Mellypalouza)

I actually rode Killian today.   Melody still needed to get acclimated a little before I rode her, which I will talk more about in a bit.

Killian was his usual stoic self.  No real trouble but plenty of half-assed attempts to convince me that riding was a bad idea.  However, it took a lot less time this time for him to start acting like the broke horse that he is.   Mostly we just trot though.  My biggest concern with him right now is that he is starting to get a little sway backed.  So we trot and I ask for collection.  I have to remind myself that he is not Trax though and cannot hold it for very long yet.  If I ask for him to hold it too long, he will remind me.  He grooooaaaaanns.

We did a little bit of moving off my leg and asking to give his face to the left and the right while moving forward.  He is like Trax, easier to the right than the left.  Common denominator is the rider I suspect!

We also did a small amount of cantering, and correct lead departures, and then simple lead changes.  He did pretty well.  After his nice hose down I let him roll in the round pen. As I watched him roll I found myself admiring the horse that he is.  So big and stout.  In his youth I'll bet he was stunning!  

Recently someone told me of an older woman who is looking for a horse that she can trail ride on at just a walk.  She has an injured back and cannot ride any faster. I considered offering up Killian for sale to her, as he would be perfect for that.  Just not sure I can let him go.  He is my steady Eddie, and probably the only horse I would feel comfortable putting Tom or Simon on, for those rare occasions that they ask to ride with me.

Plus there is something else.

Something I noticed today.

I have things to learn from this horse as well.   Something I don't know if I have ever mentioned is that one of the reasons I don't post when trotting is because I suck at it.  Killian is a horse that you almost have to post on.  Which is probably one of the reasons I don't enjoy him as much.  But I am on a mission to become a better rider.  So today while trotting I did work on my posting. One of the things I seem to have trouble with is keeping my heels down.  Once I did that, it all was so much easier.  Plus I am also trying to use my thighs more and my feet less.  Did that make sense?  Feel free to throw in any tips on posting that you have.  I can use them.

So now for news on Miss Melody.

She and Trax were perfectly content while in the pasture. She followed him around, he showed her where the water was, and where the best grass was at.  I suspect she made the mistake of touching the hot wire, because she knew exactly what it was when I went to bring them in.  She was not going anywhere near it. In fact she is now a little timid about all fence lines. If another horse touches it first then she is okay, but other than way! This is not a bad thing!

So I put her back in her pen which is slightly separated from the rest.  She could still see everyone but no nose touching.  When I took Trax down to his opposite end, she became highly agitated and started pacing back and forth and calling to him.

I had been planning on moving her next to him anyways so I went ahead and switched everyone around. Sassy is on special footing so she has to stay put, but I moved Trax to the middle, Melody to the end, and Killian to the top pen where Mel used to be.  I thought that being next to Trax would keep her happy.

I was wrong.

She paced and whinnied, and he would go to comfort her and she would pin her ears at him, and Trax being highly intolerant of abuse, did what he does best....leave.

He went to the far end away from her and she called and called and paced and paced until he finally came back. Then she played nice for a while, but never stopped pacing.

I went to work.

About 7 pm TC called and said she was still pacing, and not eating.  Insert worried face here.

I got home at 12:30 am and she was still pacing, although a little slower at least.  I went in and talked to her, and she stopped long enough for some scritches, and conversation. I tried to explain that she was fine and nothing was going to happen to her. Trax was standing close and she nodded her head as if she understood. (yes I know she didn't really understand- but its my story, let me make it up as I go- lol)

When I went out the gate she went back to pacing.

When I got up this morning she was still pacing.  I gave her a yummy breakfast, and filled her water, which she drank and she would take a bite of soaked pellets, and then chew while she paced.  At least she was eating and drinking.

As I drank my coffee I formulated a plan, and here is how it went.

First I took her from the pen to the round pen and we did a little work. She has pretty good round pen manners.  Whoa means stop right now.  Smooch means pick it up a little, and a stick/whip means OMG don't hit me!  Which of course I never did.  I did, however, use it as a brush at the end and rub her all over with it.

We had a small bonding moment, and then I went to go clean pens.  As soon as I left she started going crazy again.  She is a very people oriented horse.  I went to clean pens, and each time I went by her all I had to do was say her name, and tell her to relax and she would stop and take a breath. Of course she may have just been waiting to see if I was coming to the gate, but she did seem to respond to me some.

Trax was in a postition where he could see her and her him. Occasionally she would call out to him and I think he answered once. But mostly it was just her churning up a huge cloud of dust.  On the bright side, I needed my round pen worked anyways, so it was kind of a win for me.  Killian was directly across from her and I saw him watching her like she was crazy.

Once I finished her pen, I moved Trax into it, so basically moved him back to his own home.  Now she could not see him and really started going nuts.  I kept thinking, she was going to try to go through the fence and even said to her, "If you go through that fence you'd better break a leg cuz I can't afford anything but a bullet right now." Which I know is terrible, but seriously it was getting a little ridiculous!  She never did though, just lots of pacing and churning of dirt.

Once I got the middle pen cleaned then I went and got her. I had 1 tube of Quietex left from when we moved so I went ahead and dosed her with it.  She was funny about that.  No way would she let me do it from the left side, but the right was fine.  Then I took her to the middle pen, where she was between Sassy and Trax.  I walked her in, took her halter off, and she let out a big sigh.  I know it wasn't the calming agents because they had not even had time to enter her system yet.  She took a long drink, said hello to Sassy, they exchanged a couple of squeals, and then she walked to Trax's end, said hello to him. then came back to her food.  Suddenly being calm in a pen next to other horses is the greatest thing in the world.

The pacing is over with.

Here she is, actually enjoying her food, and acting like the big girl that she is.  Speaking of big...this horse is huge!  I think she might be taller than Killian. With the weight she lost from pacing and not eating she almost looks like a TB.

I am learning that she is bothered by vehicles driving buy so we make a point of driving in and out of our circle drive right by her every chance we get.

What I like about her so far (besides her push button training) is that even when she was really nervous and upset, she knows her place in relation to people.  She was always respectful of me and my boundaries and never came close to trampling me, or pulling on the lead or anything like that.

I might ride her in the arena tomorrow. I know I am riding Trax, it just depends on how much time I have as to whether or not she gets ridden as well.  I'm not even sure if I have a saddle that will fit her, although I suspect the flextree will. I doubt I will do much on her. I want to give her just a little more time to get acclimated before I ask too much of her.  That may sound silly, but I think it is the right thing to do.  The farrier comes on Friday to put some shoes on her, and then Courtney comes on Sunday to see Sassy again.

Now my lunch break is over and I must get back to work....ugh.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just In A Melody

After many conversations, a lot of back and forth both internally and externally, and watching a video ten thousand times, I finally came to a decision.

I wanted that horse.

I have no qualms about her training, no qualms about her temperament, but I was a little nervous about her soundness.  I could see from the video that when she was doing her spins that she was sore in the hind, and not really wanting to reach up under herself when trotting.

The day I went and rode her, I watched meticulously for any signs of lameness, uneven hips, or things like that.  I could not see any.   She had just spent 2 hours working cows, so in my mind it stood to reason that if she was going to be sore, that would be the time.  But I just didn't see anything indicative of a crippled horse.  Older horse, who has been competed on...yes. Crippled no.

I went home that day, really thinking on it, watched the video a thousand more times, slowed it down, froze it in spots, memorized every single foot fall.

Then came the back and forth conversations, and an agreement on a price.  We talked some trades, we talked this and that, and finally worked out a deal that we were both comfortable with.

When I was at the trim clinic I showed the video as best I could on my phone to Laz.  He confirmed what I saw, and told me things to check to see if she had serious issues, or just minor stuff that could be fixed.  One thing I knew for sure is that she had a terrible shoe job on her, and that in itself clearly had a lot to do with what I was seeing. However there was no toe first landings, or anything like that.

So today we hooked up the trailer and headed south again.  It was funny when I went out to start the semi to let it air up.  Trax immediately went and hid in the corner of his pen.  Once he realized I wasn't coming to get him, he came back to the gate.  Silly old horse.

When we got there I went to her pen, she came to me, and sniffed around me. We put a halter on her and took her out. I poked and prodded, felt down her legs for heat.  There was none.  I palpated her hip joints, no reaction. I checked her back for sore spots...nothing.  I asked her to move her again and was very happy with what I saw.  She was actually reaching up under herself with her hind feet more than she was in the video.

We talked about that.  The gal has been riding her regularly since she got her 3 months ago. (keep in mind that these folks make their living buying, tuning up, and selling horses)  She has been asking for more collection and really working her on cows a lot.  Where as before, her 70 year old owner was not riding her at all and the person who was being paid to ride her was not following through with her commitment.   So with that in mind, the video that I have studied for weeks, was taken on her first day out of semi retirement.

That would be like asking me to to be physically fit for volleyball or soccer right now today.

Yeah, that would not be pretty!

We talked about food and at 15 she has just now been started on MSM.  So it is possible that is also helping with her soreness. I will also have her on MSM as well some some good quality supplements, as well as vitamins.

One thing the gal said was that if I did not buy her, then she was going to go ahead and ride her in the National Sorting Finals in Texas this June.  She spent a lot of time talking about how much she has enjoyed riding her and having her because she is so well trained you don't even have to really think about what your horse is doing. She knows her job and does it.

That is exactly what I need right now. A horse that knows its job.

So we finished the deal and switched out halters and took her to the trailer to load her up. The gal had told me that she has only been in a trailer with a rear tack once before and it was a little scary for her. She is used to loading into a trailer with a ramp.  She did load but just as she made the decision to jump in, the guys had their arms locked behind her butt. They pushed as she jumped and she ended up on her nose!  Poor thing.  When she jumped up from that she caught her shoulder on one of the dividers and scrapped it up a little bit.  Nothing serious, but clearly we are going to have to do some trailer loading exercises.  I'm sure that little incident traumatized her just a little.

We got her home without incident, when I went in to get her I expected her to be a little more nervous than she was. She turned and looked at me, rested her head on my arm for a second, and then when I untied her she waited until I asked her to turn around. She is so big she got a little bit stuck, which kind of freaked her out, but even freaked out, she did not try to run me over, she waited when I said "wait", and then we unloaded together. She vaulted her self out the door, I had to laugh my butt off.  I think we will start next time by being backed up to a hill.

We did a quick meet and greet with the rest of her new herd. There were no pinned ears or squeals, just nose touching and pricked ears.  Not even Sassy, who has a tendency to not like newcomers, was very polite.

I walked her around, took her to the pasture, we had a quick photo shoot, and then I put her in her new temporary pen.  I say temp, because I want to move her next to Trax.

Now here is the cool stuff. She has never had a pen bigger than 16x16 in her life.  Now her pen is 16x42.  Eventually she will get moved to one that is 30x30.  She has had turn out, but never had pasture that anyone knows of.  EVER

When I had her in the pasture I gave her the opportunity to nibble a little, but she wasn't very interested yet.  Too busy checking our her surroundings.  Tomorrow I will let her out with Trax to graze for a few hours.  I always start with him when it comes to newcomers. He always gets along, never acts mean or bossy, and is the perfect guy for helping her feel at home.

Now for pics:

So here is the deal in a nutshell.  She is 15, and will need some special maintenance but I don't think it is anything I am not already doing for Killian.  I am not expecting to just run out and win a bunch of ribbons on her. She is still a little out of shape and needs conditioning.  I will need to learn how to ride her.  Hopefully I won't ruin her!  We will spend the summer getting to know each other, maybe go to the next ASHA clinic in Flagstaff in June.  Actually I'd like to take both her and Trax.

My riding schedule will now just include one more horse, and as long as everyone gets ridden once or twice a week, for the heat we are about to have, I think that will work.  I probably will not ride her until I get her in some good shoes.  She has never been barefoot in her life so I'm not sure that I want to do that just yet.  I am not ruling out the possibility in the future but not yet.

So there she is, in all her glory! What do you think?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Trim Clinic

Yesterday was the low budget trim clinic, which for me right now, is perfect. I am very much on a low budget right now.  LOL

I was taking Trax, and only have one trailer to use....the big we hooked up the entire rig and and I made the long drive of .75 miles to the Hoofbeats for Hearts facility, 2 streets over.   I rolled up looking like a full on show rig, and unloaded by one lonely, dirty, a little scraggly looking paint horse.  I did at least brush him first, but compared to the Lipizzaner that was there, he looked like poor white trash.  However, I did take a certain amount of internal pleasure when I realized that my scraggly little paint is in top notch shape, not an ounce of fat on him, where as the gorgeous big white horse, was a little on the soft side. It didn't make him less gorgeous though.

The facility was a regular beehive of activity with therapy rides, riding lessons, troubled youth cleaning stalls and brushing horses, not to mention A LOT of horses.  We had to walk through the breeze way of a mare motel in order to get to where we were doing our clinic.  Guess what was living in there.....A DONKEY!

Guess who froze and started blowing like crazy when he saw that?

I did ask him to come close to the donkey but he wouldn't.  The area was very closed in so I chose safety over training, and we moved on.

The clinic was very informative.  I purposely had not touched Trax's feet in a couple of weeks for this clinic. The clinician used Trax as the model for proper measuring techniques, and  good angles and bad.  He told me that I actually am doing a good job with Trax, but that I was a little high on the outside on one of his hind feet, and  then of course we addressed the  two different feet issue, where one heel is still high and the other is still so low and very under run.

Now interestingly enough, when Courtney looked at my trim job the day after I had done it, she also said I was high on the outside on that same hoof and she brought it down a bit for me.  Now 2 weeks later he is high again.  Common sense tells me that he has something going on in his hip which is causing that.  Perhaps it is time for another chiro adjustment.

I loved his measurement system and even more his measurement tool  Nothing fancy, just a 20$ digital micrometer from Harbor freight.  We used that to measure the length of the fetlock, then the length of the toe.  From that we measured the length of the apex of the frog to where the heel should be.  He says that they should all be the same.  Then we talked about dividing in 3rds, and halves, and I'll be honest I can't recall what that was about, but will be able to refer to the video he will be posting next week, so I can refresh my memory.

We moved on to the next horse, which is a horse he works on regularly.  This gal takes her horse back and forth from Oregon every year.  Every year her trimmer in Oregon ruins the angles on the horse, the horse will not perform correctly, and then when she bring him down here, Laz works on him and fixes him and he performs beautifully.   Now this is where it can get a little controversial.  Laz is a farrier.  He is not an Iron vs. Barefoot guy. He says, "I'm about the horse"

The other trimmer in Oregon tends to throw the horses heels too low, and the toes too long.  In order to bring those heels back up in a very short amount of time, he shoes the horse for 2 rounds, trimming in between rounds of course, then pulls the shoes.  The horse does not have to wear shoes from then on.  Now the horse is down here for good so should not ever need to have shoes again.

I know that some people will call that short cutting, some people are completely against shoes.  I am not. I believe it is horse specific, and rider specific as well.  Killian is shod because he does not grow hoof and cannot handle the terrain of az.  He does well in shoes, especially now that I have a farrier who is not trying to crunch the heels in.   Once we get enough hoof underneath him, I may try to transition him back to barefoot, but if he cannot handle it, he will go back to being shod. FYI, my current farrier is Laz, who put on the clinic.

Then the lady saddled up her dressage Lipizzaner and showed us how well he moved. The horse, who is a big scaredy cat, was very nervous and I could tell that she was too.  As I watched her move her horse through the area we were at, and there was all kinds of stuff going on around us, I could see she wasn't breathing.  I wanted to yell out, "Breathe!"  But I didn't.  Her horse was moving short and tight.  Then she let out a breath, her horse did too, and he started to move.  It was much nicer and he was reaching up under himself pretty nicely.

Okay, here comes the conciete.   It may have been that she never let her horse really move out because the area was not huge, or it could have been because she was so nervous...but I have seen my little scraggly pain, move out in a collected frame which was ten times nicer.  But again, she may have been holding him in. I was hoping to see some fancy dressage moves, but she didn't do any.  Bummer!  LOL

After that, we did the trim on Trax.  Now one of the things that Laz, mentioned was that we could fix Trax's mismatched heels pretty quickly if we did a little corrective shoeing for one or 2 rounds.  He offered to do that for me, and I am not totally against it, but opted to wait.  He did however go ahead and to the trim.

Before the trim Trax was doing his usual "flop" of the left front.  Afterwards he did not.  After the trim I moved him out and boy did he look nice.  At that point Laz said to me, "I may have been jumping the gun with the suggestion of temporary corrective shoeing. This was a major change off of a very slight trim. If you are diligent in your work and keep on him about once a week to keep his angles correct, I think you can fix him without the shoes.  That is what I suggest at this point."

We also discussed the problems we have with our side passing from right to left.  He told me, "Look at your horses feet.  He is not physically capable of performing the task you are asking because he is so uneven.  His shoulder is jammed up and he can't move it like you want him too."

I said, "Well he will do it after a bit if I really keep after him."

"That is because he is trying very hard to please you, but it is hard for him physically. Once you get him fixed, he will do it for you every time.  I'd bet money on it."

Then we broke for lunch had a bite of pizza and then went inside for a lecture.

We watched a slide show of some very bad feet and discussed what had been done to fix them.  Some with shoes, but most without.

One thing he kept saying that I though was cool, was that he hates when people label stuff.   In fact he jumped on me for calling my horse crazy.

People label these horses as, this, that or the other thing. Once they label the horse as bad, or broken, or unathletic, they stop there because in their minds they have identified the problem and that is it.   For everything that a horse does, there is a cause, and it is a reaction.  It is our job to find out what the cause is and the fix the negative reaction.  

I had to laugh when he was saying that. I found myself thinking of BEC, who I know thinks the same way.

His own personal system when "fixing" a horse is to start at the feet, make sure he has done his job correctly and then go up from there.

Another thing he talked about which I thought was pure crap at first, was that if you look at a horses mane and it goes all over the place, it means there is something going on with the neck, back, or hips.   I almost called bullshit- but then one of the other gals spoke up and said, "I thought you were full of it, and then I googled it, and there is a ton of research supporting that theory."

I thought of Sassy whose mane went in 3 different directions when I got her.  Now it all lays flat and I have never tried to train it to go one way or the other.  It just does.   Interesting.

Once we were done, I lead Trax back to the trailer.  But this time the donkey and a mini where in a turn out.  I took Trax over to meet them and he sniffed noses with both.  "A" got pics of it for me, but I can't seem to get them off of my email.  :-(    He handled it like a big boy though and I was quite proud.  He didn't even get upset when the mini tried to bite his nose!!!!

So that was my clinic, and the big thing I took away was the angles and the measuring system.  I haven't ridden yet today, but hopefully will later this evening to see if the trim helps any with his ability to move while under saddle.

Friday, April 18, 2014


It is no secret that most people who are close to me think that I should send Trax down the road.  The number of people who even have an inkling of what it is that binds me to this horse are few and far between.  To be honest I am not even 100% sure if I know what it is.

The one thing I know for sure though....IT IS.

When I first got Trax, I was convinced that he was the coolest horse that ever lived.  I still don't know that he isn't, but I have come to recognize that he is broken.  Perhaps that is what connects us. I know how it feels to be broken.  I know how it feels to have every one you care about completely give up on you.  I know how it is to be on a road of self destruction and wanting to stop but not knowing how.

Sometimes that is how he seems to me.  Like he is on a road of self destruction.  Of course in his mind it is probably more like a road of self preservation.  But do you suppose it is possible that he is, in his own way, addicted to the fear?  When I read the words, or hear them come out of my mouth, I know it is a stretch. I know that horses can become "addicted" to certain things...cribbing being the best example, but I wonder if horses can get addicted to that rush of adrenaline that comes from the natural fight or flight response?  Just something to ponder on I guess.

It has been said that some horses use fear tactics to get out of working.  I suppose that he could be one of those horses.  In fact it could be very likely.  He has learned how to cope with anything he doesn't like by blowing it way out of proportion and losing his rider in the process.  Unfortunately for him, he did not count on someone like me who refuses to give up. I refuse to give on him and on me.  Lately his fear responses get him more work instead of less.  Calmness gets rests, blow ups get work. I wish I could tell if he is making the connection.

I was telling BEC once that sometimes I feel like Trax and I are in an abusive relationship.  I have been in one before so I know what the cycle feels like.   There is the big blow up, where someone gets hurt. Then comes the false apologies and empty promises of change.  After that is the honeymoon phase where everyone is all lovey dovey trying to make up for the hurt. Then there is the tea kettle phase where the heat slowly rises and the tension builds until they are back in the blow up stage.

The difference is Trax doesn't know how to say he is sorry.  He only knows that "this" is what happened and it was scary.   I also don't think he is capable of making false promises.  The best he can do is promise to try to not be so afraid.  Truthfully though I don't think he would even promise that. After all, all he knows is that he was trying to stay safe.

We do have our tea kettle phase, and then the blow up comes.  I do believe that it is more my fault than his.  I get him to a point where I think he is past something, so I don't worry about it much, and then introduce it again and he isn't ready.  It has happened that way more than once.  I get complacent and bad things happen.  He does usually try to warn me before the blow up happens, but I often don't recognize what he is saying to me.

Trax is who he is, and who he is today is not the horse he was when I got him.  When I got him he always had a crabby look in his eye. Especially when work was involved.  He did not care for human contact at all.  He just wanted to be left alone.   After I had had him a year or so, I noticed a change in him.  He started following me.  I would be in the pasture doing stuff and would turn around and he would be about 20 feet behind me. As soon as he saw me look he would turn and go the other way.  Once I went back to what I was doing, he was on my tail again.  No horse has ever done that to me before.

Now he doesn't do that as much. It is different now.  If I am in the pasture and he is too, he looks up and sees me.  Sometimes he steps my direction, but usually he just stays put.  Usually I can go out to him and pet him and love on him and he just lets me.  No running away any more.  Occasionally if I am going to ride him and he is in the pasture, He will make a half assed attempt to not be caught, but all I am required to do is step in front of his eye, and he knows I'm not going to give up so he stops and waits for me.

Even in the round pen, in the beginning, he was just running away from me.  He would not even put an ear on me.  Now there is always and ear cocked my way, and even if sometimes it takes me a bit to stop him from moving his feet, the mean, crabby look in his eye is gone.  It is replaced with something that remind me more of curiosity...."What is she going to ask me to do today?"

When I trailer him up to go some place, as I tie him in, he always rests his head on my shoulder and looks me in the eye.  I guess he is asking where we are headed, so I always tell him.

The other day I rode Killian and I swear Trax stood in his pen and looked at me as if I was a traitor.  The next day when I went out to ride Trax, he saw me coming with the halter, walked to the opposite corner and turned away from me.  It wasn't a "I don't want you to catch me" look in his eye.  It was more of a, "Well if you'd rather ride that old guy, then what do you need me for." sort of look.  (he usually comes to me as soon as I go in the pen, I rarely have to go to him)

I said, "Trax, turn around."

He turned his head and looked at me.

"Come on, don't be that way, Killian needs exercise too. You are still my boy."

He let out a big sigh and turned towards me again.  I went to him with the halter and he put his nose down in it.  I gave him a big hug and whispered to him.  "You will always be my favorite, don't ever forget that."

And then we went to work.

I love this horse more than any horse I have ever known. I have known quite a few.  I think the next year will be a defining year for us in which path I choose for us. No matter if I bring Melody home or not, Trax is still my boy, and he will be with me until one of us kicks the bucket.

I still don't think I managed to explain the connection....but I guess it doesn't really matter.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Not Much to Talk About and A Super Cool Story About Real Life in the Old West

While things at my house have been quite hectic, it isn't anything blog worthy unless you include the fact that I have been cleaning out the tack shed and putting everything for sale that isn't being used. That includes my fancy Circle Y Breast collar and head stall, 3 saddles, and then the roping shoot, head and heel box which came with our property. (no those were not in the tack shed)  I have already sold the roping stuff, they will pick it up in the morning.  And then there is someone coming to look at 2 of the saddles as well. For some reason TC decided to sell his saddle and buy a different one.  His stuff, he can do what he wants. It was the first one to get asked about.

Also put one of his old flatbed pick ups for sale.  Not many bites on that yet, but I just put it up today.

I still do not have money to buy Miss Melody, although we are still working on brokering a deal, keeping my fingers crossed!

I did ride Trax yesterday, and tried hard to remember that if I can laugh at Killian I can also laugh at Trax.  Although he did pretty well, so there was no laughing needed.  He kind of lost it when I reached back and touched his butt with my hand, but we got through it, and he is okay now.

I do always laugh at him when he gets hosed down.  He used to hate it, now he loves it, and even likes to drink out of the hose.  Silly horse.  I love him most of all!  People keep asking why I keep him after all the crap we have been through.  My answer is always the same....because he is mine.

I have been in touch with a gal I know here who does endurance and ACTHA, who is willing to do some conditioning rides with me, and will keep me posted on any clinics coming up. Pretty excited about that.  Every time I ride my horse I become more and more convinced that it is his calling.  He is a long trotting fool!

In other news, completely unrelated, I'm going to urge everyone to click on the link below and go read this blog.  It is not so much about horses as it is about real life in the Superstition Mountains, back in the day.  One of my favorite AZ historians is Tom Kollenborn.  He writes about his life and experiences growing up in Apache Junction as a child. He still is the go to guy if you want to know anything about the area.  I love his blog, follow his facebook page, and used to read his newspaper column as a kid.

Here is his story.

Saturday is our Trim clinic and I am oh so excited about that as well!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where in Killian is Forced to Get Off the Couch

As I sit here very impatiently waiting for one of my vehicles to sell, I am trying to keep focused on the ponies at hand and what needs to be done here.  It is hard some times. I find myself wanting to watch the video of Melody over and over again.

 Since I was a little under the weather, my routine of riding Trax everyday kind of fell by the way side.  I have decided that since he is pretty much at a good place mentally, I can back off of him just a little and start cycling the other two into the routine. 

Today was Killian's turn.   I always have to laugh at this horse.  There is something about his expression that just cracks me up.  I gave him a nice brushing, sprayed him with some spray, and saddled him up.  The saddle I use on him has a nylon latigo.  I hate it.  I must remember to get a new one. I'd almost rather dig out one of my old crappy leather ones, than keep using this one. 

Killian in his fat guy- lay on the couch and drink alfalfa beer attitude- made it quite clear that he had no intentions of actually working.   Through out the entire ride he threw as much crap at me as he could in an attempt to make me want to get off...with out actually resorting to bucking.  He is not a bad horse, he is just lazy as all hell. My fault, I let him get that way.  

It started with walking away while I was mounting.  So I pushed him sideways about 30 feet from each side.  I got on again, and he stood perfectly still.  Good Boy. 

He immediately tried to trot away with me after I asked him to walk. I backed him up, I turned his shoulder one way and then the other.  Then I asked him to walk, and we walked.  

Then I asked for the trot.  He trotted off just fine, head high-bone jarring- can't even post it-worst trot ever!  I asked him to collect, he fought it.  I suggested he collect, he said "just for a step". I insisted he collect, and finally he did. I did not make him hold it too long but would ask and release, ask and release.  Finally he smoothed out and we just trotted around the arena.  

He saw the goats.  "ER MY GAWWWD!"  

"Killian, you have seen goats a thousand times."

"Oh so you aren't going to get off if I act scared?"

"No I'm not."

"Okay I guess I'm not scared then."

We kept trotting.

I asked him to stop, he kept going. I made him stop and back up.   Then we trotted off some more.  I asked him to stop again. This time he stopped just like he knows he should.

Then I asked him to lope.  When I got Killian, I was totally dumb about leads, and lead changes, and such "fanciness" that horses should be able to do.  He rarely got loped anyway, as he was TC's horse and TC does not lope much.  So when I ever I loped him in an arena it never occurred to me that the reason he was so rough was because he was in the wrong lead.

Well now I know, and now I ask for the correct lead.  I even help him by starting our circles so that he almost has no choice but to choose the right one...right?


I can honestly say that if I didn't know better, he purposely chooses the incorrect lead so that he is so rough to ride, eventually we will just give up and put him away.  I cue for the lead departure, I turn him so he knows which way we are headed, and let him start the lope when he is in position.  He still goes for the wrong one.

Now here is the one revelation I had today that I think is odd.  If Trax pulled some of the crap that Killian did today, I'd be so pissed. But with Killian I just laugh my butt off.  I wonder why that is?

So eventually we did get some correct leads...sort of.

So we trotted some more, practiced stopping and just tooled around the arena.

Since I like to mix things up a bit with my boys, we went back to a little bit of loping.  This time he thought that perhaps he should just go ahead and make a mad dash for the gate.  I turned him once, and then he tried it again.

I laughed at him and said, "Sure lets go ahead and go to the gate."

When we got there he found himself being forced to side pass, back up, roll back, side pass again, roll back again, back up again, and then we did loping small  figure eights and guess who suddenly forgot that he "didn't know how" to do a lead change or departure.  In fact I'd be willing to bet that if we had kept it up he'd have been doing flying lead changes with out even missing a beat.  (next time for sure)

I laughed again and then we went to opposite end of the arena to rest.  That is now his new favorite spot.

He was puffing pretty hard by then so I went ahead and just let him do his Eyore walk around until he was breathing normal.

Then I saw a pretty rock laying in the dirt and all forward progress stopped because I had to get off and pick it up.   I suspect it was actually in my pocket earlier and fell out because it looked familiar.

Anyway, we called it a day, and he got a nice hose down.  He doesn't usually love baths but today he was more than happy to stand there.

I love the look of utter exhaustion and trauma in his eye here!

He was sweating all down his neck, you can almost see it here. 

"You aren't going to make a habit of this are you?"

"Oh boy, I need a nap!"
All in all it was a great ride, and yes Killian, I will be making a habit of it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Riding Quietly

The other day I posted a video of Mark riding Trax, and how I wish I could ride quietly like that and like others that I have seen.

Here is another link of someone I have seen who rides quietly.

I guess the correct term would be "with proper equitation".

That is one of my goals as a rider, so today when I rode I tried to analyze what the heck it is I am doing.

Now I know.

But first let me back up just a hair.

You see, the horse in that other video, she is for sale.  If you have not watched the video, please go back and do so now....I'll wait.

Okay, so if you saw my comments on youtube under the video you know now that I have contacted this gal about buying this horse.

(I wonder how many of you are don't have time for the horses you have!- and you are right, luckily this is not a young horse who needs constant training and riding every day.)

 I was sick on Saturday so did not go to the clinic.  I knew Friday I was not going to make it, because I felt like crud then too.

However by Sunday I did feel better, and so I did make the trip down to see Miss Melody, the mare.

When I arrived the gal was just finishing up with a sorting practice and the mare was a little wound up. Not like fire breathing dragon wound up, just a little hot.   She put her through her moves, then hopped off (with perfect grace) and asked if I wanted to ride her.

Well duh!

This mare is quite tall.  I really had to haul myself up to get on her, about like Killian I guess.  And we set off in cute little circles around the arena.

Now I know what it really feels like to ride a horse that is truly soft in the face. My horse is not soft yet.  He is getting there, but he isn't there yet.

Now I know what it feels like to ride a horse that truly understands and accepts what leg cues are.  With this girl, it is all leg.  The owner kept having to tell me, "Ride her one handed!"

I squeezed gently with my legs and we were trotting, another slight squeeze and she had the sweetest little lope I have ever felt in my life.  All I had to do was sit there....

...and I was riding quietly.

Yes ladies and gentlemen we have a winner!

I fumbled around with asking for a lead change, a couple of times I got it right, most of the time I did not, and in spite of me, she figured out what I wanted and gave it to me.   She was a very patient horse.

Then I asked the gal how to do the spin.  I will admit to being a little bit nervous.

I should not have been. Melody took fantastic care of me.

"Drop your hand, push with the outside leg."


Then I heard, "Release your legs!"

So I did and wham!  We stopped.  Then we went the other direction. This time I did not need help.

I rode her around a little more.  In all that time, there stood TC with not one but 2 phones that take video. I finally asked him to take some video and he did.  The only video he actually got was one of us standing there and even then he cut our heads off.

I am in love.

She will be mine and I will learn much from her, and I will hopefully be able to transfer that from her to Trax and Sassy...and maybe even Killian.  Right now I am trying to move heaven and earth to make this happen.

In the mean time, I went back to riding my boy. He is a good boy and he is trying really hard....except when he isn't.

That's okay, at least he is trying some of the time.

His new favorite thing is long trotting while collected. I have not yet decided if he likes showing off his skills, or if he likes it because it is as close as he is allowed to get to loping.

Not that I never lope him, but I never lope him for very long.   Anyway, he did good today, we struggled with our lead changes, but finally sort of mastered them.  I know now that I am teaching him wrong. But I don't know how to get around that yet.

We did side passes, and leg yields and his version of spins, which he is starting to do pretty well as long as I remember to sit down in my seat.

I tried my best to just sit still and ride him, but it just isn't possible. He requires constant manipulation or he just goes off and does his own thing.  This true with everything we do except long trotting.  I can ask him to hold it, and just ride it out, and hardly move a muscle.  I guess that is progress.  I can speed him up or slow him down with just a shift in my weight, however walking has become non-existent again, so we went back to "rail classes" where we did lots of walk, trot, extended the trot, lope, trot, walk, and stop. Turn around and do it again.    By time we were done he was loping nicely, head down and not chargy at all.  We did some stops from the lope, they were fair, not perfect, but decent enough for now I guess.

So that is the key, I can see that now. When my horse is doing his job, I can ride just fine. When he isn't then I am all over the place just trying to keep control of his feet....and brain.  This isn't about me not trusting him either.  When he acts like a horse I can trust, I do so implicitly. When he acts like he could go either way...well self preservation takes over, and I take control.   I think I would be a fool not too at this point.

We did do some ground driving yesterday.  I did he and Sassy.

Sassy being a big girl

He never did get quite as nice as he did the
first time. However, he had been ridden
just a few horse before the first time as well. 

Here he is thinking about it all.
At one point he kept trying to spin around into the
the long reins. So I let him.
When he finally calmed down, I used my reins to turn him
round and untangle himself.  

So, I have much to learn, much to do, the weather is getting warmer now, and I'm less motivated. However the next clinic is in June in Flagstaff, and I would still really like to go.  I am developing an understanding about Trax.  I am asking him to walk before he as even learned how to crawl yet.  I am really start focusing our time together on the basics, and quit worrying about the fancy moves and such. For now, lets just learn how to ride correctly together.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Work was really slow last night, and I ended up watching some more videos at the very end of the night.

There was one in particular that I watched several times over.

This is my former trainer Mark on our second or third lesson.

I really want to ride my horse (any horse) this nicely.  His hands are quiet even when he is using them.  He brings out the best in my horse.

I watch video's of horses for sale, and wish I could ride like those people.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

No title cuz I can't think of one

Today's ride was short although not so sweet.  I think I was the biggest problem in the equation today. I just wasn't into it.   It is an odd thing to hear those words come out of my mouth, but then in light of all that has hit me in the last couple of days, not too surprising.

I was all set and oh so excited to be able to go to a Dick Pieper clinic this weekend.  Yesterday we learned that Mr. Pieper is ill, and will not be able to facilitate.  They have found someone else to fill in, and I am sure she is more than capable, but she is not (cue angels singing) Dick Pieper.  So at this point I am kind of on the fence about going.  Yesterday I was still going for sure, today I'm more like "meh". Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  I have decided not to make my decision until Friday morning.  Yup, nothing like waiting till the last minute.

On a side note: I do hope that Mr. Pieper is going to be okay.  I do feel kind of selfish putting my own desires above another persons health....kind of.

Then there were some personal issues going on within in my household which tends to take the wind out of my sails.  In fact it is down right depressing.  But I shall not dwell on that here, either.

So I did finally get off my butt and go ride.  But my heart wasn't into it. My head was some place else and there was very little connection between the my partner and I.   Still we muddled through.

However I did manage to come to terms with a few topics that are floating around the blogesphere.  Over at BEC's several of us are waiting patiently on a post about on and off switches.  And I have been thinking about those team penning horses I saw last year.  Those horses went from being baby sitters to fire breathing, cow eating dragons, and back to baby sitters in a matter of seconds.  On top of that, those horses were the ones who were REALLY good at their jobs. Where as the horses that were wound up all the time had a really hard time focusing on the task at hand. They were just too amped up.

So then I took that information, the information that BEC is starting to lay out, and what I know about my horses past and started piecing things together.

It used to be that we did laps around the arena to get him "warmed up" but pretty soon I came to realize that all that did was take him up (on) and keep him there.  He went to far and bringing him back was next to impossible.

So then I went to avoiding loping at all costs, which was good.  It kept him at a lower energy level, and made it much easier to keep his brain engaged and on me, rather than on the dark place he goes when he leaves town.   On the down side of that, getting him to move his feet with any sort of urgency was also next to impossible.

So my next goal is to find the happy medium for this guy.  Today, even with my lack of desire to even be there, we kind of had a little tiny bit of a break through.

It started with a couple of slow circles and lead changes.  He was getting chargey and a little high headed and out of control.  I wasn't digging it AT ALL.  So when he refused to break down for a change I ended up just driving his butt into the dirt and making him stand still.  While we sat there I thought for a minute.

I left the lead change exercise, took him back to long trotting and then we went back to lead changes. He was better but still head high.   So we went to the serp drills, and then back to lead changes. At one point he even did his own flying lead change, and I was like "Hey! What just happened here???"  But getting him to do it again...well I wasn't sure how we did it the first time, so repeating it was not happening.  But he did finally give me some very nice one or two step lead changes, and I was happy with that.

Then we went back to long trotting, serp drills, and leg yields none of which were what I would call nice.  After a bit we just walked around a little and then tried our imaginary flag work.  He got too hot too quick and I started to lose him again. This time we went straight to long trotting until he was soft again. After I had him soft for a while, I asked for the flag work again and this time...he moved his feet with purpose...was following my lead...was giving me the best stops that I am capable of asking for...and although he still got a little head high, he never got out of control.

From there I went straight back to long trotting until he got soft again, then we walked, then we did leg yields and they were pretty darn nice.  Then I called it a day.  I think we were out there 45 minutes.

So what I am learning about Trax is that he can and will flip like a switch, but the results are generally disastrous or even dangerous.  Trax is a horse that needs to be brought up gradually, not pushed past his breaking point, and then brought back down slowly.  If I take him up, then just stop. He will stop and stand still (most of the time) but the minute I ask for forward movement is balls to the wall because he is still wound up so tight.  So if I bring him up slowly, monitor his mental state constantly, and then bring him down slowly (before he blows a gasket) it will slowly allow his "rubber band" to gain more elasticity.

I wish I could take credit for all of this super cool revelation...but I can't.  I have to be honest and say that I had some help (okay- a lot) from BEC. She is the first one to introduce the rubber band analogy to me (quite some time ago) and we did have a long talk today about Trax and the best way to help him turn on and off and how to push his boundaries without pushing to far.  I would strongly urge anyone who is more interested in the subject of the on/off switch to keep a weather eye on HER BLOG.  I'll bet dollars to doughnuts  there is a killer post coming up that really breaks down the entire thought process.  The girl has her training brain in 4WD right now, and good stuff always comes out of that! (No pressure BEC- lol)

Tomorrow I will go back to ground driving...and not just Trax....very excited about that!  I'll try to set up the tripod and get some killer video of it.

Oh one thing I forgot to add earlier is that I am noticing one really big change in Trax and this has nothing to do with the supplements, the chiro, or anything else.  It is everything to do with what I have changed in our training sessions.  When we lope now, he is always waiting for the stop cue.  He knows it is coming, and I can feel him "reading" me every second waiting for that cue.  (okay well most of the time anyways)  This is a huge step for him.  It is how I know that he really really wants to get this stuff right. I still don't think it is because he is just so damn happy to make me happy, but he has suddenly decided that stopping is awesome and to me....that is awesome.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Maybe....Just Maybe

I knew I had lots to do Sunday, and since Saturday,  my ride on Trax had been cut short by having to give "lessons" to the "experienced" rider who came out to ride Killian the day before, I decided to try to hit the desert early.  I had to be back before noon to go with my son somewhere.  I had to get home and get pens cleaned, and I knew that CNJ was coming at 3:30 to help me with my ground driving.

So as soon as I could we were saddled up and ready to go. I rarely ever ground work him before desert riding. This time was no different I saddled up, and we headed down the road.  He is so ploddy when we ride out alone.  A little barn sour I'd say.  I don't really fight the issue except to ask him to walk a little faster, since most of that portion of our ride is concrete or asphalt.

But once we hit the gate it is all business.  He knows it, and doesn't seem to mind one bit.  We kick up to the long trot and head out.  I'll tell ya, one of the things I love most about my horse is that when I say go....we go, and there is no peddling required.  The only time he even considers slowing down is if we hit a rocky area and it hurts his feet.  but I generally try to steer him around those.

At first we just go in straight lines.  He always starts out head high, I assume looking for predators, but it doesn't take too long to get him to drop his head and stretch out. Once he does that then we start weaving our way in and out of trees, through washes, up and down hills. I am constantly looking for ways to make our work in the arena translate to desert riding.  We never take the same path twice so he can not anticipate what I am going to ask. He has to follow my cues.

Every so often I will throw in some loping with some lead changes and lots and lots of stopping.  I especially like to turn him towards home, ask him to lope, stop him after 20 feet and then turn him back the other way.  He doesn't love it when I do that, but he handles it.

At one point yesterday, we were loping a long and I dropped my rein.  I instantly went to the bad place in my head, a million bad scenarios flashed through my mind in an instant I thought I was going to be sick.  This all happened in a matter of 2 seconds.  By the tick of 4 seconds I had my completely calm horse standing still while I reached down and picked up my rein.  Meanwhile praising the hell out of my horse.

Say what?????

Filed that away for one of those "Huh, imagine that." moments, and moved on.

We worked on our leg yields and he still struggles initially from the right, but if I can get him to give me one good step and release, then we are golden from then on.

We tootled around, moved some cows, talked on the phone, stopped for a pee break, and of course a photo shoot

Did you hear that?

I definitely heard something!

Seriously...I could stare at my horse all day long! 

Then we started riding again. Of course the minute we head towards home he really stretches out that trot, which is fine with me as long as he carries him self correctly.  He does not get a choice in the matter.  However, because he basically is just making a beeline for home, this is when we really mix things up.  I do so much stopping, bending, pushing, transitions, and lots and lots of backing up.  Because he is just wanting to ignore me and go forward, this is when it seems to be the most important that I keep his mind engaged.

 At one point I backed him into a little dead tree which reached up and poked him right in the butt. Normally he would have left town and looked back 100 miles later.  This time he jumped forward just a touch, turned around to see what was behind him, and then stood there.  Again I thought, "Hmmm, that is strange."

Once home I threw him out in the pasture and got some other stuff done.  Then I went out to the pasture with my halter. At first he ran to the opposite end of the pasture, I walked towards him some, then I backed up and he came towards me.  I walked forward again and he trotted back to the front of the pasture.  I thought, "Crap gonna have to send him down to the catch pen."  Then he stopped and so I stopped. He took a step towards me, so I waited.  Then he let out a big sigh. So I walked right up to him and put the halter on him.

This sort of behavior has been completely unheard of in the entire time I have owned this horse. I have done it with a string before, but a halter means work to him, so usually he runs.  I took him to my spare pen and gave him a treat for being such a good boy.  Then I kicked the other two horses out so I could start cleaning pens. You should have seen the look on his face when they got to go out and he didn't.  Ya know how some times you can look at your horse and hear exactly what they are thinking?  This was one of those times.  Basically it was WTH???

So then CNJ arrived and we got right to work.

He was a little confused at both of us in the round pen, but it was necessary so that she could get a feel for what cues I use for him.  Then she put the surcingle on him, and I stepped out to let her do her thing.

Here is video 1, where she was just starting out.   I seriously expected more of a reaction out of him with the long reins and having someone behind him.  He was bothered and unsure, but handled it like a big boy, waited for instruction, and once he understood what was required, did exactly what was expected of him.   He almost makes me out to be a liar about his rope fears. But I assure you, other people have seen him lose it over ropes.  I swear it really does happen.

Here is video # 2  Where he is just flipping awesome!  We also did some stuff where we were directly behind him.  He never once over reacted to anything.  He was just cool about it all.

Here are some pictures of me trying my hand at it.  I am not near as handy at this as CNJ. She has mad skills! But with her guidance I did manage to muddle through.

Can you say, "Oooooh Pretty!"

So Thank you CNJ for taking the time to help me with this. This is definitely something we will be working on more.

Now, as you all may recall, I just started Trax on his Mag-restore about a week ago. I started him a loading of dose of 4000mg a day.  2 days ago I upped it to 6000mg a day.  Yesterday I saw a horse that was more like a normal horse.  I think that maybe...just maybe, it is making a difference.

I won't keep him on that high a dose, I will just keep him there for a few more days and then I will taper him back down.

I think I am going to have to start giving him just a little bit more food.  He is lean and fit, but I can see his ribs.  I don't like to see his ribs.

So that was our day yesterday.  Today all the ponies get some pasture time (even the other two got worked this weekend) while I get some of my human responsibilities done.  Like housework, and blogging, and!