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.  


  1. glad you found a place for her to settle, and congrats by the way she looks and sounds like a lovely horse

    1. I think she is going to be, yes. I can't wait to get her into the riding rotation!

  2. You said something that reminded me of this... I had an equitation instructor who could watch someone ride for a couple of minutes and tell them which leg is stronger than the other based on how the horse behaved. Horse's are one-sided as is, but so are people.

    I bought Lostine from my neighbor, and she paced the fence line closest to her old home across the street for years. She did not like me taking her away from her mare friends. I'm glad Melody worked through it quickly.

  3. Oh yeah, and I was going to say that you may need those helper stirrups you lent me with her. You're taller and stronger than I am, though. I can mount 14.2 from a slope, but must have a mounting block, boulder or bench for anything taller, and she is tall.

  4. Sounds like it's all working out. As far as posting goes, let the horse do the work of pushing you into the rising position. When you are circling, rise when the inside leg is coming forward. If you count cadence, 1-2, 1-2, it will help you get into the rhythm. Also when you do a figure 8 and want to change your posting diagonal, and you are always sitting on the 1 beat, change your count from 1-2 to 1,1-2 which means you are sitting for 2 beats and then you will be on the correct new diagonal. Easy peasy. Sometimes it helps to watch the horse's shoulders to pick up the correct diagonal, but you can train yourself to do it by feel, for example if the horse is circling right, you want to be rising when the right front is coming forward, so watch for a bit, count cadence, then don't look and start posting.

  5. When the horse is moving properly, in balance and has a steady rhythm, as Shirley said- they will do the work for the most part and almost literally throw you up out of the saddle. Once you feel it, you will 'get it'.

    It's not all about the thighs either and if you do find yourself gripping with your thighs, posting more off your knees, your legs will be letting you know about it. If you are having trouble with your lower leg, it sounds like you may be doing this already.

    You also had issue with your one leg needing to come back down and under you. You tend to tense up and your leg comes off the horse, sticking out to the side. I think it was the left one?