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!


  1. I WISH you could have gotten pic's or even better- VIDEO of that bold, forward movement we got towards the end. He was moving really, Really, REALLY NICE! Me thinks the masses would have been stunned. Did you know you had such a fancy cow horse? Maybe you guys should look into dressage.... Seriously

    That movement, that is what you are aiming for. Get that movement and help him hold it as long as possible. As he builds those muscles, he will be able to frame up like that earlier and easier, holding it longer and longer. When you can get it from the ground for longer periods, we will move towards getting it in the saddle and not just at the trot. When he is light in the front end like that, the lead changes will come a lot easier, the spins will improve and overall, he is going to be one tough horse to beat. You guys are going to be Smokin Hot! If you need anything, you know where to find me... Hahaha

    1. I'll have to look harder and see if I did. However, I don't think so.

    2. You were too busy drooling if i recall correctly...

  2. No ropes in dressage either. :) Maybe some cowboy dressage could be his thing? Gee he looks happy in those pics out in the desert. His eye does look calmer and he just looks in general less cheesed off. A good day for you both! Go the Mag!

  3. That's awesome that he did so well. I have really enjoyed long lining my horses, I can SEE when they are using themselves properly and watching them make really correct movements and properly use their muscles is exciting. Yes, I am weird that way. LOL

  4. He does look good. I agree- cowboy dressage might just suit him, and you might really like it too, Here's a link to their Facebook page

  5. How cool, sounds like he is turning into what you knew he had all along. I havent long lined in so long Im not sure I know how anymore but all this talk (writing) has gotten me interested I wanna try but no time now so it will wait I spose.