Monday, May 19, 2014


It is beyond slow at work today, so I decided to go ahead and post a quick update on Melody.  Well actually I guess it will be more of a weekend update, however probably not as funny as the "Weekend Update" from Saturday Night Live.

I asked TC not to let me sleep late Saturday, and he didn't so I was able to get up early and get my pens mostly cleaned, water buckets scrubbed, and a few other things that needed done.  There was a big yard sale in our neighborhood that I wanted to check out. Our neighborhood is all 3-10 acre ranchettes, and is the oldest neighborhood in all of San Tan Valley, so as a general rule, if there is a yard sale in our hood, Its one I want to go to.  We have a neighborhood email that we all subscribe too, so if anyone has anything for sale, it goes out on the email, and that is how I knew it was coming up.

We headed down the road I knew it was on, and was both pleasantly surprised and also a bit dismayed when I saw exactly where it was.  This lady, who we will call N, has had a few estate sales and yard sales since her husband passed away.  He had a huge shop full of stuff, and she has been cleaning it out for months.  When she had her estate sale, it cost us several hundred dollars.  Not to mention, we also bought her water truck.  So although we were happy because we knew there would be good stuff, we were also dismayed because we knew we were going to be spending money.

When she saw us pull up, she laughed and said, "Oh here comes my easy mark!"  It was all in fun, she actually sells stuff at very fair prices, and has a lot of stuff we have needed. This time was no different, although we actually got away a little cheaper than usual.   However I did see a cutting saddle in the back, along with some other tack.  I decided to pass on the other tack but the saddle was in fair shape, and a good size for me.  However with no makers mark, and a small tear in a stirrup fender I was able to talk her down to half price. 200 bucks!  It was a super good deal, and TC found some stuff he needed as well.  Then I saw a metal hay feeder hanging on the fence, got it for 25 bucks!   At the very last minute we also saw a bunch of corral gates in the back.  To buy them new would have been at least 75.00 a piece.  We got them for 12 dollars each.  I have really been needing those gates. As some of you may recall I have a bad habit of smashing  remodeling our gates with the tractor.  Plus the decision has been made to divide my big pens and bring in a few boarders, so I will need gates for my new pens as well.

Anyway, I was pretty happy with the score, we managed to get lots of stuff done Saturday, without wearing ourselves out, and then that night TC and I went to the local mexican food joint where I got to have my favorite spinach enchiladas.

Sunday morning I got up early again and pulled Princess Melody out for some riding.  I wanted to try to new saddle out on her.  The last saddle I had on trial went back.  This one has a 7" gullet, and it seems that even though she is not a wide horse, all my horses do well in a wider gullet.  My Circle Y show saddle is also 7" wide and I can use it on any horse I have.

Anyway, so I tacked her up, made all the adjustments, and for the most part was happy with how it fit except that one side seemed to be a little tighter on her right shoulder than her left.  It wasn't terribly so, though, so I decided to go ahead and give it a whirl.   It is a super comfy saddle, I quite enjoyed the way it felt as far as leg position and the ability to sit my stops.  However I noticed that she seemed to be a bit reluctant to lope to the right and even kind of sort of crow hopped on me once.  I don't know yet if it is saddle related or not, it could have also been that we were coming close to the poles on the ground and she thought that I was going to try and make her go over. However I did not ask her to go over any poles.  I did ask her to walk through the poles when I was done riding, and she went through just fine.  Only hesitated once for a second and then walked through normally, so that was good.

When I say she crow hopped, I do mean kind of...I really couldn't even tell for sure if that is what it was. Sometimes when I ask for the lead change if I don't get it right, it feels that way too.  So it is possible also that my leg slipped and she thought I was asking for a lead change. I really don't know. I don't want to give the impression that she was trying to be bad, I really think she was just trying to say, "Hey I don't like this." but I still am unclear as to what "this" is.

At the end of our very uneventful ride, I looked up towards our drive way and a scenario popped into my head.  Recently we added chain link to the front of our property and long rolling gates. These gates roll on a track which is laid in cement which crosses our drive way.  It is very similar to a pole laying on the ground.  Eventually I am going to want to ride this horse out the drive and down the road. (as soon as I can find someone to ride out with me)  The likely hood of getting her to step over that track was pretty slim, and so I decided to see what would happen.

I walked her to the gate and went across myself like it was no big deal. She, of course stopped dead in her tracks. She sniffed and shuffled and sniffed some more.  Simon came out to help.  I decided to do the one thing I know is wrong, and bribe her with food.  So I went to grab some grain.  Before I could make it back Simon had her out in the road, she went right over for him.....go figure!

Still I wanted to reward her for being so brave so I gave her a snack. Then I crossed back over.  Princess Mellypalouza will sell out her entire kingdom for food.  Suddenly crossing things on the ground became the greatest thing ever and she couldn't wait to get to me....and have a snack  However, since I do learn...albeit a tad slowly, I did not run straight to the round pen with her.  I ended our lesson there, with her being very happy about crossing things. We will revisit the actual poles on another day, and I will also start by burying them a little deeper, so it is more like that gate.

I know that using food to bribe a horse to do something is the wrong way to do it.  It generally doesn't stick the minute you take the food away.  In my mind I was not bribing her as much as I was rewarding her.  I never held the bucket out and said, "Come and get the yummy grain".  But when she chose to cross I did give her a little handful.  My goal was to undo her previous bad memory with a good memory, that is all.  I will still go back to my exercises to get better control of her feet, and then go back to the actual pole.

I will say that I am starting to get a feel for her, I find that I am more and more comfortable on her each time we ride (duh) and I have to laugh at all of her little expressions, her ears are in constant motion.  I sure do like the way she gets up and moves those feet when I ask her too.  (flag work)  It is the one thing I have never been able to get Trax to do.

Speaking of Trax, I pulled him out once Melly had her bath.  His feet had not been touched since the trim clinic son I worked on them a bit.  Even with my new stand, trimming is hard hard work!  But Trax, was pretty tolerant of me and stood very still while I did my best to get his heels even, and bring his toes back a little.  Actually I am pretty happy with how his feet are starting to look. They don't look near as different as they used too.

It was starting to get pretty hot by then so I didn't plan on working him very hard.  Mostly we just dinked around, worked on loping pretty circles, small slow ones, and large fast ones, and then back to the slow ones.  He did really well.  we long trotted, and practiced our spins and roll backs.  He actually complete a full spin in both directions....more than once.  Now it is possible, once again, that he is still coke bottling a little, especially to the right, but it felt pretty good and I was really happy with him.

One time I decided to try and take a video of it, so I put the phone in my bra with just the top sticking out and asked him to spin again.  It was not a great video by any means.   His side passes are really coming along nicely. All in all it was a great ride and by time we were done, I could not have been happier with him.

As far as I am concerned he is still the coolest horse who has ever lived.

It is possible that I am a little bit prejudice!


  1. As a clicker trainer I am super happy using food. Why give up using such a powerful motivating tool? It does require certain routines if you use it a lot, and bribing is not generally something we do, since we teach the horse/dog/dolphin/goat/water buffalo to do the behaviour to earn the treat, but hey, when it come to this sort of thing, why the heck not? It is building a happy association for her between food and the thing she thought was scary. It is called classical conditioning, and it is a whole big part of training. It is especially useful for dogs who have reactive issues with other dogs or people. They see the dog far away, you cram food in their mouth, after a while they start to think, "Hey a dog, I love strange dogs because they mean yummy treats!" Then the fear is replaced step by step by happy feelings and bingo, no more problem. I loved the way my clicker trained horses saw new scary things as a fun game. They did that because of the treats they had learned they could earn.

    1. Thanks Keechy, I used clicker training on my dogs and wondered if maybe this horse would be a good candidate for that. I have the clicker so perhaps I will read up on it some and then try it. I'm okay with what ever works. :-)

  2. I'm ok with treats as a motivator too, as long as it is something you can progress beyond- and doesn't lead to nipping. I think it's working well for you.
    Saw the video on FB- so that's where you had the camera! LOL!
    Just thinking about that saddle fitting tighter on one side- you might want to get it checked by a saddlemaker, to see if there is a slight twist in the tree or bars. Also, go to a thinner pad if it's tight.

  3. $12 gates! Wow!
    I think of treats as just another tool. When I was doing obedience with dogs, I started out anti-treat. But then a trainer said to me "that's his paycheck. You don't work for free, do you?" Made sense to me, and now I use treats just like any other tool in my toolbox.

  4. I don't have a problem with treats, as a reward as long as we don't become a "pez dispenser " for our horses judicious use of treats are fine