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!


  1. I love your header photo. I can just feel the coolness under the trees. Now I'm going to go back and actually read your post. :)

  2. Sounds like a wonderful day, and two thumbs up for your two nice ponies. :)

  3. sounds lovely , and a day off is something we all need. I dont remember her backing in the video, but I dont remember much these days. The head up stuff is a big peeve of mine and often happens when folks don't know how to properly back a horse. The way I learned is that backing is simply a modified forward movement , essentially drive forward to the bit , then set your hands or lift up slightly and they will drop the nose and roll into the backing (probably explained that all wrong, but eh I think judging by how she backs for you , you have it

  4. Riding towards the poles/bridge/gate/log is much like driving Kat into the water. Keep them aimed at it, keep your hands wide to put yourself in the position to pull them back around aimed at the poles and wait. Encourage, drive, squeeze, push, coax and when you get one step forward, praise and repeat. You'll get there.

    Glad it went so well with both of them. You almost sound timid about asking things of the mare. Timid in a way of not wanting to mess up. You're fine and you need to give yourself more credit than that. Ride with confidence. Things get messed up for all of us and they can always be fixed. No shame girlfriend.

  5. I too like your header picture of Trax in the desert - just beautiful! You and your new horse Melody complement each other nicely and it's always fun to ride a horse who is made - they are great teachers.

  6. Sounds like fun!!! A nicely trained horse is a pure joy to ride...