Monday, March 31, 2014

Goal Review - March 2014

Horse-Related Goals for March 2014:
- Be regular in riding Lady (3x per week). I averaged about 1.5-2 rides per week. Better than we had been doing. :)
- Film 2 sessions. Nope. Nada. Bad me.
- Keep up with care and exercise. Yup, at least on the care side of it. Exercise, not so much, but better again, so I'm not too upset.
- Study the Horse Riding Manual. Didn't quite finish, but got a lot of studying in. Happy about it.  :)

Horse-Related Goals for Spring 2014:
- Start working in Parelli Levels 3/4 OnLine. I've been improving some Level 1/2 stuff, so we should be able to start working harder on this now!
- Improve fitness so I can master the rising trot. Getting better. I'm stretching/working out more regularly and finally got to the chiro so I'm more straight!
- Start working in the canter. Getting closer. Sort of. :P
- Jump a course of 1 foot jumps. We've done more poles and tiny jumps in March. Slowly getting there too!

Horse-Related Goals for 2014 Overall:
- Maintain Lady at a healthy weight. So far, she is still at about the same weight. Fingers crossed!  
- Keep horse health records better. Uhh... nothing so far. <hangs head>
- Film regularly. Not yet.
- Attend/Audit 1-2 clinics. I've looked for some in the area. Rather broke right now. :P
- Go to watch horse shows. Again, I've looked around and have put at least two on the calender! :)
- Learn USDF Intro tests. I printed the Intro A test so I can start working on specific maneuvers.

Personal Goals for March 2014:
- Write for 15 minutes a day. So far, nearly every day. Happy!
- Practice piano daily. Not so good, but I have a few engagements coming up, so we'll see.
- Go back to taekwondo classes. Yup! I've gone nearly every week for about three weeks now.
- Study the Bible regularly. Definitely done better lately. Reading at least a chapter every night.
- Paint again. I didn't paint in March, but I drew and Prismacolor-ed a pretty awesome dragon! I say it counts! ;)
- Read Freckles, Anne of Avonlea, and Innocence (novels). Freckles is finished, Anne of Avonlea is half-done, and Innocence only came in a few days ago, so I haven't started yet. :P

Personal Goals for 2014 Overall:
- Maintain a posting schedule for my blog. Pretty happy. I have done 3 posts every month of 2014 so far. Big improvement.
- Read more books. So far, so good. I'm giving myself a reading list for each month. Helps a lot.
- Publish my novel. Currently revising and proofreading.
- Get a story published in a magazine. Uhhhh.... not really worked on this one yet.
- Win Camp NanoWrimo. Starting on April's camp tomorrow!  Wish me luck!

- Complete the Hanon exercise book (finger-strengthening!). Urgghhh... this is no-stirrup work for pianists. No report here.
- Create a decent repertoire. Currently working on remembering my old one. :P
- Be ready for my college audition in 2015. No progress.
- Play the violin regularly. And.... no progress.  Sigh.

- Graduate from Paris Junior College. Still depends on summer and fall classes lining up.
- Get my purple belt in taekwondo. I'm back in classes now, so this should work out!
- Get along better with my big sister. No comment.

So, it seems that as far as writing and horses go, I've done good so far. I'll be back tomorrow with goals for April.  :)  Off I go to play/ride Lady!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dealing with Distractions

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to have two friends come by on their horses. I was prepared and had Lady tacked up, and got about two hours of work in on her lack-of-focus and go-crazy-about-other-horse things. I learned a lot about energy, thanks to my special trainer, and drive versus draw. Draw is very important to keeping Lady "with" me.
My head was exploding by the time we finished, but I was very very proud of Lady. Yes, it helped that she was on her home turf, and that she wasn't dealing with a lot of hormones this week, but she still did better than she has the last few times we've dealt with something that is distracting or exciting. Much better. I was, and still am, very pleased.
Today, I did very little, but got Lady out for a walk, and rode her for a little while - bareback in a halter and lead rope.  :)  She did quite well, although she was rather distracted again and a bit pushy. I ended when she gave me a nice soft yield.

I'm still playing with different methods of getting her attention and focus back on me and have yet to figure out exactly what works, but we'll continue working at it. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Update and Blog Challenges

I've left out a couple of days this week, but here is blog challenge, day 10.

What is your favorite horse-related book? Movie?
Book is hard because there are too many! I love Black Beauty (who doesn't?) and the Black Stallion, and I love all the Henry books. If I had to pick one though, I would probably go with either King of the Wind, or Black Gold, both by Margaret Henry. The Black Stallion series is the runner-up, definitely! As a side note, I have National Velvet sitting in my room - never read it, but plan to do so in April.
Movies are also hard because I truthfully have not seen that many horse movies. Ummm.... I really loved Black Beauty and Black Stallion (again!). I'm going to pick Seabiscuit though, as my favorite. I cry every time, so it must be good!

In other news... I haven't ridden Lady since Monday of this week.  Eeeeekkk!  But I plan to do so this afternoon, and have a few ideas in mind already, so hopefully it turns out well. I'll probably write about it tomorrow. I've also got a goals review coming up for Monday, which I'm kind of dreading, since I haven't done so good lately.  <frowns at my efforts....>

Since I don't have anything else to put up, here is one of my Parelli auditions from five years ago. Of course, we've improved greatly since then, but its interesting to watch!  Enjoy! :)  Oh, and I finally updated the page about me, if you want to look.  ;)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Little Things Count

The weather was lovely today, but quite windy, so I didn't ride, but worked with Lady on the ground instead. She has been in and out of season the last two weeks, so I'm trying to find the balance between being too gentle and too sharp. As always, she gives me awesome feedback!
She has been a lot more relaxed the last two or three times I've played with her, which is interesting, but nice. Relaxed does not mean she isn't dominant however, so I still have to remind her of boundaries and limits. Tehe.

We walked for a little bit and then did some gentle lunging. She dropped her head quite a bit during the trot, and blew out a lot. When she gets into her trot like that, its lovely and soft and then I can ask for the canter and she is able to jump into it with power coming from the hind end. Its awesome :)
Point of irritation about myself - I keep trying to remember to watch and feel which side is Lady's stiffer side. I know for certain that she went much easier one way today, but for the life of me, I can't remember which side it was! Sigh... I'll try to watch closely again tomorrow.   :P

We did a few hills, which I'm trying to convince her to do at a walk only. The trot is good for hills, but she tends to hollow out at the trot and then her hind end drags, which we do not want! So, for now, hills are only at the walk. Makes her grumpy, but at least I know its good for her!

I played with something I haven't done in a long while and that is picking up one foot on command. I use my lunge whip (which might not be the right tool, not sure yet), and tap the fetlock of the leg I want her to pick up. Lady understands a bit better with her front feet, but is pretty much confused about the hind feet. She also tends to get worried and tries to evade the pressure. I think that 1) my timing isn't all that great, 2) the whip doesn't give the release she needs, and 3) my body language isn't quite right. Anyways, my goal is to have her lift the foot and hold it up when I tap her fetlock. We got a sort-of-correct response and ended there. Save the rest for another day.

We ended the session with some more circles and going over poles. Right now she really doesn't care about stepping on poles. She stands on poles.  O.o This has to be fixed. After all, I wish to jump with this horse!

The only other exciting thing happening is that The Pony has decided to be lame.  :(  I'm pretty sure that her hoof broke off a bit too short this time and she's just sore on it, especially since she walks okay, but her trot is majorly lame. I'll take a better look at her shoulder, leg, and foot tomorrow.

I've seen this around today, so here is my Throwback Thursday picture.  :)

Approximately summer of 2008, shortly after I got my first saddle.  :)
Not the best form, I know, but it was fun!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chore Day!

No riding or playing today... just extra chores! I caught both the horses (yay for being able to catch the wild pony!) and brought them down to the lovely grassy paddock for a treat while I worked.
Trying to find the best spot of grass, and being distracted!

Definitely something caught their interest... After all, its a different part of the property!

Happy horses :)
I checked on my flower beds, and they seem to be doing quite fine. None of the plants have drooped or look any worse for having been planted yesterday and the soil was still moist. I tend to have a hard time growing plants successfully, so I'm hoping these turn out!

I decided to finally get after some of the mess around the feeding area/stall/shelter/etc spot(s) in the horse's current pasture. I'm trying to work with the stall and get the footing more level, since it slopes up from the doorway and is very uneven. I don't mind the slight slope up, but once inside the stall I want it to be level, especially for my easily-sore Lady.  <wink>
I picked up lots of manure, particularly around the hay/water spots and from the track they use along the fence. The area around the manure pile is quite a mess, but between the pitchfork and the rake, I got a good portion of it cleared. It's still bare dirt, but the whole area by the shelter is much neater looking now.  I'm happy.  :)
I also picked up quite a bit of hay off the ground. Someone needs to teach my horses their manners. They drop a LOT of hay on the ground, and most of it good hay. I've decided to be stubborn - whatever they toss on the ground that is still fit to eat will go back in the trough for a second round. They don't trample the hay or anything, it just lays there, but they won't touch it unless its in the trough.  O.o
The tack room also got a bit of a cleaning today. It isn't very pest-proof (is that a term?) and so it can get pretty dirty pretty fast. I swept and tidied some and mostly got it looking better.
Before.....  :(

After...  :)

Blog Challenge, Day 8 - What would be your dream set of tack/equipment?
That is actually a pretty tough question. I am very very blessed to have most all of the tack I need. All my ropes are Parelli-brand and extremely good quality. My bridles aren't the most wonderful, but they are well made. I have an amazing saddle sitting right in front of me (my Wintec). Probably the only thing I need to replace soon are going to be Lady's boots, and I'll need a new saddle pad.
But.... if I had a "dreamy, perfect" set of equipment.... I would want a Parelli saddle, or a Balance one, or maybe a Pessoa.  Not completely sure. I would want fifteen different saddle pads, all in different colors, depending on my mood of the day! I would have the softest leather bridle, probably an Antares, or something similar. I really want those fancy stirrups, the ones that are flexible or something.
There's probably a ton of other stuff, but I can't think of it right now. I actually have such really nice stuff already....  :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Enjoying the Ride

Blog Challenge, Day 7  -  List all your tack and equipment.
- My dream saddle. A Wintec 500 All Purpose with Cair Panels. Black with a 17.5 inch seat.
- English baby saddle pad. Handmade with 1/4 inch foam. Hunter green with black trim.
- English girth. Local store brand. 52 inches. Black.
- Breastplate. Local store brand. Beautiful, sturdy, leather.
- Stirrups. Local store brand. Stainless steel with white inserts.
- Stirrup leathers. Local store brand. Nylon.
- Abetta Trail Saddle with round skirt. Black with a 15 inch seat.
- Navajo western saddle pad. Locally purchased. Red and green weave.
- Abetta neoprene cinch.
- Abetta breastcollar for a western saddle. Florescent lime.
- Western bridle. Tan oil. Locally purchased.
- English bridle with cavesson noseband. Dark brown oil. Local store brand.
- O-ring snaffle bit. Stainless steel. Currently in use.
- Curb bit. Stainless steel. Not in use.
- 3 Parelli rope halters. One red in Arab size. Two Regular size in Black and Hunter Green.
- Black nylon halter with breakaway headstall.
- Green nylon halter. Arabian style.
- Lunge whip.
- Parelli Carrot Stick and Savvy String.
- Parelli 45-foot Lariat rope.
- Parelli 22-foot Rope.
- Parelli 12-foot Rope.
- Parelli 22-foot Feather Line.
- Parelli 11-foot Finesse Reins.
- Bell Boots. Local store brand. Black.
- Splint Boots. Local store brand. Black.

Lady after our ride today. :)
We didn't do much interesting today. I warmed Lady up on the ground, saddled up and discovered once I had mounted that I had been careless and let my saddle slip back while moving her around. Sigh. Oh well. We did a few yielding exercises and then rode around the perimeter of the property, which is actually in itself a bit of a stretch, since the horses get worried even that far from each other. So, it was a good exercise, and I was actually quite proud of Lady. She listened to me and only tried to break into a trot one time. She did try to drift away from the fence, but wasn't pushy or upset about me reminding her. Good progress. :) She even did well enough that I took the chance to practice standing in the stirrups. I *will* be able to do a posting trot yet this spring. <determination... sort of>
The other thing that was interesting and went well was handwalking her. Our driveway goes out in two different directions, so we went down each way. She is confident up to the end of the actual driveway, so we pushed some thresholds today and went a bit further. The one way she was pretty good at and mostly wanted to eat grass.  O.o  The other way was the way we went the other week when she blew up on me, and I think she remembered that, or at least remembered that there were other horses that way. Anyways, her head came up and she got a bit tight, but still listened and was obedient, so I was pleased.   :)

Non-horsey thing to tell about - I put together two flower beds the other day. Today, I bought flowers and planted them. There is now a small flower bed on each side of the tack room door.  :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vary the Work - That's the Key!

Today was finally an enjoyable session with Lady. Not to say that everything went perfect, but I had more fun than I have had lately, and things just went better.
Our warm-up felt a lot better than usual. Today I did mostly circles at the trot, with a touch of canter, and then we walked some hills. Lady felt pretty relaxed and was moving quite well, with her head lowered too. I was pretty happy. Once she was tracking up better and stretching out, I brought her back in. I groomed her down pretty good and then saddled up.
Today I thought a little bit ahead and set up a few different things beforehand:  a Weave pattern with cones, two really small jumps made from bricks and planks, a big piece of plywood for a pedestal, and a sort of cloverleaf pattern from planks and barrels. While I was doing up the girth, I walked her around, over and between the different things. When I got on, she was pretty relaxed, and I was quite happy with most of the whole ride. I'm having trouble writing, so I'm going to do a bullet list about the ride.  <wink>

  • Lady did break into a trot several times, but was fairly easy to shut down.
  • I actually got her to trot with my aids several times, but I'm not very consistent with my aids.
  • When she would trot, she would start to hollow out. I think its because I'm not good with the transition and probably bump in the saddle.
  • She very easily bumps poles and jumps at the trot, but not at the walk. Hmmm.....
  • When we did the "cloverleaf pattern" she had little respect for the planks I had set up as lanes.
  • The Weave pattern was quite good. We even did a little bit at the trot.
  • She did a bit of rooting on the reins at times and wanted to go back towards the tack shed and the grass. We worked in the area, but I made the plywood (aka pedestal) the resting spot.
  • After working with the obstacles, we went out and walked the driveway a little bit. She was a bit difficult to get going at first, but soon got into the swing of things and enjoyed it.
  • While riding the driveway, I attempted to use only leg aids to keep her on course, instead of rein aids, since those seem to slow her down.  (how interesting....)
  • When heading home, leg aids definitely made her speed up. We'll do some work on that.
Overall, quite a nice afternoon. Much better than the rest of the week. I have to remember to keep the work varied this week, while still working on the same things. Quite a difficult thing sometimes. Some of my ideas for this week are: following the "rail" in the main pasture, doing transitions along the fence, and working over planks and small jumps.

Back to the blog challenge I decided to do, here is day 6 - Describe your dream equestrian facilities.
- at least one hundred acres, partially wooded, with miles of trails
- outdoor arena and manicured grass schooling ring
- large indoor arena, with lights, heating, and mirrors!
- oversized stalls, 20+ of them, at least 14 by 14 feet square, and traditional dutch doors
- a Paddock Paradise system, covering at least 10 miles, set up for rehabilitating horses
- barn with enormous tack room, wash bay, grooming area, etc.

It would be gorgeous, natural, and very very horse-friendly, unlike a lot of facilities.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Still Attempting to Solve the Puzzle...

I didn't write yesterday because I was not very happy with our session. I was hoping to ride, but I wasn't in a very positive mood and then when I started warming Lady up, she was a little stiff and more than a little grumpy, so no ride. Instead, we did lots of circles on the 45-foot line, getting her stretched out and feeling better. I'm trying to work on focusing my good emotions on my horse instead of taking out my frustrations out on her and so far.... it hasn't worked too well. What doesn't help is that although I have more confidence about riding than I had for a while, I still don't have very much. The last few rides have been pretty difficult too, which hasn't helped me feel too great about trying again.

Lady modeling her latest halter - Arabian style and hunter green.  :)

I'm working on teaching Lady about relaxation (acceptance and calmness) so today I took her out and tied her up for a while. I wanted to see what she would do and how long it would take her to relax and just stand still. It took a while, and I think I'm going to do that regularly for a few weeks. <makes note> I've never made a fuss about tying and almost never leave her tied up for any length of time because she is super good at not wandering off and even when she is tied up its only for 2-5 minutes while I run to the house or the tack room to get something. So, for the first while, she was fidgeting and watching my every move because she expected me to come back to her pretty quickly. I wasn't planning on it, of course, and she got rather bored and wanted to eat grass, but I had made sure that she couldn't reach it. I was looking for her to relax, drop her head some, and, for the most part, stand still and quietly. I left her there for about an hour and a half. Eventually, she got the right idea, but she didn't like it very much, so I waited until she was doing the right thing and then brought her a handful of feed and untied her. And that was all I ended up doing. The wind decided to pick up quite strong in the afternoon and I prefer not to ride in strong wind as it throws my balance off.
I'm having to work out where to do my sessions with Lady, now that half the property has been plowed up and isn't really available for working on. So.... ummm.... yeah, that problem has yet to be solved.  O.o

The view between a horse's ears makes everything alright.  <3

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mostly Freedom

So, I didn't have time to pull out all my tack and ride yesterday, but I did have a really good ground session with Lady. I caught her and brought her to the "round pen" (which is actually a square) to play at Liberty. She was definitely in a better mood than she has been the last two days, and had plenty of energy. Her tendency when at Liberty is to take off at either a fast trot, or a canter. She isn't trying to get away from me - I knew this for certain because a piece of the fence is currently down and she could have left at any time if she wanted to. Rather, she stayed for the nearly 45 minute session without once trying to leave.
Anyway, since part of the reason for this session was for her exercise, I let her have her fun, as long as she was in a reasonably good frame. Quite honestly, her canter looked better than her trot: less hollow and stiff. Maybe that is why I have such a hard time riding her at the trot. Hmmm....
Although her canter isn't completely even, and she loses the period of suspension about half the time, I was very happy to see her get off on the correct lead EVERY time, and for the most part keep a decent bend towards the center of the roundpen. I let her "get some exercise" by running circles (changing direction every time she started to look crazy and hollowed out) but I also worked on getting her to calmly walk a few circles as well as back up quietly without exploding off on the circle. The walk went well, the back-up not so much, but it was okay.
I let her stay in the round pen to soak for a few minutes while I went to clean up in the tack room. She was calmer when I came back out, and let me put the bridle on without fuss. I was very very happy about this. She has never liked wearing a bit and was actually a real pain to bridle when I first got her. She is much, much better now. On Monday when I rode I also tightened the whole bridle one hole, so I think the bit is more comfortable in her mouth. She seems happier anyways. Once I got the bridle on, I asked for a little more work and then tried to get some Figure-8 pattern in, which she didn't want to do. Oh well.
I attached reins to the bridle and took her out in-hand for a walk. Technically, I prefer not to lead her in a bridle, but I want her to become more yielding to the bit, so doing a bit of ground-work is how we're going to achieve this goal. She got a bit strong when we turned for home, but not too bad and I put her back in the correct position beside me to remind her that I am still the leader.
Today, I ended up being far too rushed to get much done with her, but we did a short few minutes at Liberty before I saddled up and got on to practice a few things. It wasn't the best time ever because of having to hurry, but it was alright. I wanted to work on my ability to stand in the stirrups so that I can eventually do the rising trot, and I did get to practice that a little bit, so I was happy. Lady didn't get a workout, but if the weather isn't too cold or bitterly windy in the morning, I plan to get my 45-foot rope out and get her to move for a while.  :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Solving the Puzzle + Blog Challenge Day 6

Blog Challenge, Day 6 - Describe your equine facilities.
I live on a 10-acre piece of land. There is an approximately 1.5 piece that is fenced arena-style, with a run-through 2 stall barn attached to it. This is where my horses are living currently. About 5-7 acres of the remaining land is fenced for pasture, but has been scraped recently and is growing grass. There is a good-sized pond in this pasture, which is awesome for keeping water bills down.  ;)
Attached to the larger pasture are several holding pens, which are the right size for playing at Liberty or even for solving a riding difficulty in a smaller space.
I'm planning to pull up some of our wire fences and "re-plant" them into a sort of track system so that the horses get some more exercise this summer, so some of what I just described will probably change in the next while.

Lady was rather put out by being asked to come back to me.
At least, so long as I wasn't holding a treat for her!

This morning, before tossing out hay and food, I haltered Lady and just did a few little things on the ground. We did the same leading thing as the other day - a few stops and starts to test her responsiveness - and then did a few basic games: tossing the lead rope all over her, steady pressure and rhythmic pressure yields, backing up on a very soft cue (that one really got her thinking!) although she didn't come back to me on a soft cue (hmmm....), small circles at the walk, and then sideways. I actually got her to come sideways towards me without a stick at all, just my body language and a bit of rope.  Pretty happy with that :)

I'm pretty sure that Lady is in heat (its hard to tell...) which would explain some of her crazy behavior last week on our ride out. She's rather grumpy and has an attitude right now.  ;)

This evening, Lady was quite pushy and frowny yet, but she seemed to feel okay besides that, so I warmed her up and rode for a while. I had set up 4 barrels to make a large rectangular shape and all we did was go from one barrel to the next.
What I'm looking for right now in our rides is Acceptance and Calmness. I need Lady to accept my leadership and today she was still pushing against the rein a lot. I also need her to be calm and today she was still fidgeting at the "halt" and veering around instead of aiming for the next target (barrel).
I did ride her today in a bridle and bit, which I've only done a handful of times, but I want to do it more. I'm not sure how much that affected her attitude about the session, but it may have done more than I thought. I plan to play with her at Liberty in the morning, and want to put the bridle on her for that, so that she can play with it without the pressure of reins or a rider.
What I'm aiming for in the future is the ability to do collected work, with contact on the bit. Right now she doesn't like consistent contact and pushes or tries to evade. When she's calm, she still thinks she is supposed to yield, which I like better. For the moment, I will just work part of the time with shorter reins than normal, but no real contact.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


It is raining!!!!

I'm so very happy about the rain - it makes everything so green and alive.  <happy, contented sigh>

The horses tonight at feeding time - in the rain :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Set It Up For Success + Blog Challenge Day 5

Yesterday was  not particularly interesting, but I caught Lady (with savvy, I hope!) and took her out for a walk. After lots of thinking and studying, I've decided to focus on improving my leadership, and *especially* my consistency as a leader, because that is where I'm falling short. At least, that is how I see it. ;)
So, all we did yesterday was work on some ground manners, namely leading and staying together. Lady tends to mostly lag behind, so I want to get her to stay at my shoulder, no matter what pace or speed I decide on. I tried a few different techniques to get her motivated, but I think what works best is bumping the lead rope when she starts to lag, and/or flicking the stick and string at her hindquarters. In general, she is pretty good about staying out of my space, but I'll need to keep an eye on that too so that she stays good about it. She's also pretty good about starting and stopping if I give clear signals.  <ramble alert>

I think that a lot of the issues I've been having and been frustrated with lately are due to me not setting Lady up for success, but rather for failure. I insist too much on an instantaneous response when its basically impossible for her to give it to me. If I don't warn her that I want to start walking, how is she supposed to start immediately with me? Yes, I can think of some circumstances where she might need to respond faster, but overall I think if I am more careful and set her up to do the right thing, we will have a whole lot more success.

She was licking and chewing and seemed a lot more relaxed when I put her away yesterday, so I think it made a bit of difference already, even though I only worked with her for maybe fifteen minutes total.
I also decided to start being consistent about feeding time and insisting on good behavior. This works a whole lot better when I separate them, although eventually I would like to have them both in the same pen and line up and wait for my signal to start eating.  That would be cool! :)  Anyways, what I'm looking for is "friendly" ears and preferably a question before I allow them to eat. Lady was pretty good, but then, I've been sort of working on that with her. Tempest was a bit more crazy - running circles and throwing a little fit before calming down. She isn't as experienced as Lady, so I was happy with her calmly approaching the bucket without a bossy face on and waiting for me to bow before eating.

Blog Challenge Day 5 - What is your ultimate equestrian goal?
Ummm.... I was thinking about this one last night and I'm really not sure, but I think I would like to have the confidence and knowledge to deal with any horse, no matter what their problem. It would be immensely cool to be able to take any horse whatsoever, work through their problems and bring them far enough for a basic level of competition.  :D

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blog Challenge Day 4

There isn't much to tell about today. We had a north wind blow in, which is very uncomfortable to be out in, so I've done the basic outside chores and that is all. I feel a little guilty though... I should probably have gone out to do a little rubbing on Lady since she is mostly likely somewhat sore from yesterday's adventure.
But, since I haven't kept up with my "blogging challenge" here is Day 4.

Who is your equestrian "idol" or who do you enjoy watching the most?
This is kind of bad, but I really don't watch that much. I need to, I really do, and if anyone can suggest a few higher level competitors that I should watch and learn from, I would be forever grateful!
That being said, I do keep an eye on Lauren Barwick - 2008 Canadian Gold Medalist in dressage at the ParaOlympics. She is an advocate of Parelli, the program I use as a basis for a lot of what I do, which is where I found out about her. AND, I have had the crazy wonderful honor of being in the same warm-up arena with her (she gave me a few tips on my lateral work) which was really really cool. She is a real champion, in all areas.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Going Crazy

So.... I did not blog at all over the weekend, mostly due to not spending a whole lot of time with the horses. However, that was due to having a rather bad attitude about going out to play/work/ride with them.
I decided, though, that I wanted to take Lady out for a ride and whether we could make a short trip without too much trouble. I mapped out a 3.6 mile route, not figuring it would be very hard at all.
I was very wrong. I had forgotten all about the fact that not a mile down the road from our property are three pastures of horse(s). And I did not anticipate the trouble it would cause. The first horse caused some trouble, but he (or she) was a good ways from the road. As soon as the second horse came into view (quite close to the road and our path, and the third and fourth horses were not far behind) things just went sour. Lady went way up on adrenaline and completely forgot I was there. I was already on the ground at this point, and even if I had stayed on her back, I doubt I could have sat the rears and bucks she handed out. She was not cooperating at all - pushing into me, reacting with rears and strikes whenever I tried to guide her in any direction. At this point, I was kind of thinking that if we got past the other horses she would calm down and we could continue our ride in a calmer fashion. And again, I was very wrong. We did get past them, but she was still in the same state, if not worse, and it didn't matter what I did. I was pretty scared now because I knew that my horse was not in a state of mind to care whether she hurt me or not. It wasn't going to work to continue on, and I knew that I couldn't lead her back. She would run me over if I was on the ground, and would bolt out of my hands if I got back on. Finally, I prayed to God to send as many angels as He could spare, and I turned my horse loose. It took her all of a millisecond to figure it out away she went. I followed on foot, terrified that she was going to get herself killed or injured, or jump into one of the horse pastures, or some other terrible thing.
Thankfully, nothing like that happened. She had some near-misses with cars on the highway and got a scrape on one leg from I don't know what, but other than that, she seems to have gone straight home and started grazing. My saddle is a bit scraped up and pretty dirty, but nothing lasting.
Yes, I blame most of what happened on myself, but quite honestly, I really don't know what I might have done differently. Maybe I should have played with her right after I got off, before we got far enough for her to fly off on adrenaline. Maybe I should not have pushed her on past the horses until she was "so far gone" that she didn't listen. Maybe I shouldn't have gone on the ride at all until we were better prepared.
Regardless, I do not want to go through that amount of terror again. I was so afraid that I would lose my horse. We definitely won't be going off the property that far for quite a while. In fact, it is going to take quite a bit of courage on my part to even try going off the property at all next time. The experience has shaken both mine and Lady's confidence pretty bad.

This evening, after a ton of thought (and a nap after all the stress of the morning), I went out and caught Lady again for a quieter session. I went a whole lot slower, trying not to pull on her or anything of that nature. We did a little bit of liberty, doing the basic 7 games, and then I put her bridle on and had a little bareback ride. It was a fairly good, and it made me feel a bit happier and not so uptight.

And.... that is all I have to say for now. Here is another older picture of Lady for your enjoyment.  :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blog Challenge Day 3 + Too Much Focus....

....on the wrong idea.
Although today's ride wasn't terrible, or a complete failure, it definitely wasn't one of our better ones. Of course, it all goes back to being my fault, because you can never blame the horse.
Even though, technically, we got pretty far from the house, it wasn't under the best of circumstances. I was pushing her onwards and was NOT listening. I had "accidentally" made it a goal to get to a certain spot down the road, and she was not ready. It was too big a step after yesterday's success, and I didn't spend enough time getting her prepared on the ground. 
Maybe I can blame a tiny bit of it on her much more dominant attitude today?  No, better not....

I had to get off at one point on the way back because I wasn't feeling very safe. She ran quite a few circles before calming down enough so that I could get back on her. We finally got to a fairly good point that I was (mostly) happy with and I got off to walk her down the driveway because my lower back and hips just aren't used to that huge of a swing - almost six inches at the walk. Ouch.

I also wasn't very pleased with her sweat pattern after I unsaddled her. It wasn't completely even, and she had a lot of ruffled hair, but that is all my fault too, from my bad riding habits that I'm trying to break. Overall, not too bad today, just a little disappointing after yesterday. I'm not sure yet about tomorrow. I might skip riding altogether, or just do a bit of position work for myself. Either way, I plan to do some more groundwork and get her thinking some more.

Blog Challenge - Day 3 - What do your family and friends think about horses and riding?
Overall, my family is very supportive. Not that they help me out a lot, but they take care of my ponies when I'm away and are happy for my successes. They may think I'm crazy for the amount of money and time I put into them, but its okay. My friends at school all think its rather cool and neat that I own horses and ride "all the time" and my two closest friends are horse-owners themselves, so that is pretty self-explanatory.  <wink>

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What a Lovely Ride....

So, earlier this afternoon, I brought my tack out in hopes of a wonderful time. I had thought about my plan for riding most of last night and this morning, and to be honest, I was a bit nervous because fifty percent of the time when I plan ahead, it goes perfectly and the other fifty percent of the time its a total failure where both Lady and I part ways a little disgruntled with each other.
Today was definitely as perfect a ride as I could have asked for. I didn't have much planned as a warm-up, but some Weave pattern and a little work at the trot and canter was enough. I'm still very very pleased about my new English tack: Lady is much more relaxed and doesn't hate to be saddled now. She has also been very patient with me while I learn all the new buckles and latches and things-to-know about English saddles.
So, happy with the warm-up and the saddling, I put her through a few more circles at the walk and mounted up. Reminder to self: work on mounting more smoothly and gently....
With lots of rubs and a few treats along the way, we walked AWAY from her pasture-buddy and around the main property line. She got a little bit excited for a while, but stayed pretty much on track with only a few reminders. Yay!
Trying not to be too enthusiastic and do a happy dance on her back, I set Lady on course down the gravel driveway. She doesn't really care for walking on gravel and wanted to veer off to the side, but it was mostly to get to the green grass on either side of the driveway. Once we got to the end of the driveway, she was still calm and relaxed, so I decided to push my luck and ask for a bit further. She is usually quite "herd-bound", and does not like to go very far from her friend or the pasture. Today, however, she was pretty happy to continue onwards. She stopped a few times to look around and then would try to sneak a bite of grass, and she is also quite nervous and wary of culverts. Cars, however, don't bother her in the least, and she thinks its fun to stand in the middle of the highway. o.O
Anyways, we finally turned around and headed back and I got a few steps of the trot at the end before stopping and unsaddling. I definitely need more work on my position for the trot.
I am quite pleased with the ride today. Since one of my classes is cancelled for tomorrow I'll have more time to ride again in the afternoon. Right now, I'm aiming to take a 5.7 mile ride next week since its Spring Break - hopefully Lady continues to be okay going off the property.

For fun, here is an older picture of my beautiful horse. Approximately 2 or 3 years old.

Blog Challenge Day 2 + Exercise Begins!

I didn't get a chance to write yesterday, so I get to double up today.  Fun!
Last night I started what is usually called a "legging up" program, or a very basic fitness regime. To start off, I did handwalking for 20 minutes, interspersed with 30-second periods of trotting. We did that last night as well as this morning and even though Lady does fine, it is me who needs the workout and is worn out at the end of it! <embarrassed grin>
Over the course of the next three or four weeks, I plan to increase the time of handwalking to 45 minutes with four 2-minute periods of trotting among it. I know that this will not be hard at all for Lady, but it will be for me, so in order to help her get a better workout, I plan to do some extra lunging and hillwork either before or after the handwalking. Of course, this is besides a regular training session. <wink>
This evening I'm hoping to saddle up and ride for a little while. Exciting!

Equestrian Blog Challenge - Day 2 - What is your pet peeve about riding, especially when watching others ride?
Ooooh, this is kind of hard, considering I'm always trying to find the good in people, and to be perfectly honest, I probably watch the horse more than the rider anyways. But probably what bothers me the most often is people who don't try to get better. So many riders do not pay attention to their position or what it is doing to the horse (unbalanced rider = unbalanced horse!). Especially in my area I see so much horses on the forehand, simply because their rider is preventing them from going any other way. I see people with heavy hands who complain about their horse being dull ALL the time. So, I guess my pet peeve would be people who don't attempt to improve.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Weekend Without Horses + Blog Challenge Day 1

Since I was out of town all weekend, there have been no horses involved for several days. <sad face>
But I have done quite a bit of studying and planning, and I think I have a fairly decent workout plan scheduled for Lady, plus a good layout of her care and management for the next few months. That is, if my computer hasn't lost my work overnight. Silly thing does that rather often, for some strange reason.

Equestrian Blog Challenge - Day 1 - What was your most recent fall from a horse?
I do not remember falling recently, unless getting tangled in baling twine and falling flat on one's rear end counts? But, of course, I haven't really been consistent about riding and its hard to fall when you don't ride.
Quite honestly, I've only fallen about five or six times total. Legitimately that is. I don't consider it a fall to misjudge your mounting distance and slide down the other side - as I've done too many times. It makes me feel like a pretty horrible rider to say I can't remember my last fall! <gasp!>

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Getting Relaxation and Rhythm

Thursday afternoon, I did not have time to ride (insert sad face) because I had to get ready to go out of town this weekend, but happily there was a little bit of time for me to get Lady out and do some circling - or in other terms, lunging. I'm really trying to work with her on balance, going in a nice frame, and raising the back so that more weight can be put on the hind end/the front end will get lighter.

LINK - This is what I'm wanting to see more of in Lady.
We had about an 15-20 minute session, and at first, I sent her back and forth over a little heap of dirt and then up and down some hills, most to get her mind relaxed and engaged.
Lunging - I started by asking for one lap of the walk, then two laps of the trot, but it wasn't working very well and Lady was getting kind of high-headed again (we were also across the property and out of sight of her pasture buddy), so I decided to count strides instead, which worked a lot better.  The canter is still pretty difficult for her, and at one point she slipped and half-way fell, so we had to trot and walk for several laps before she was confident enough to try the canter again, but when I asked, she gave and it was lovely! I mean, as lovely as a heavy, front-end-loaded canter can be, but she was trying so hard that I took her off the circle and ended the session there. Right now, confidence is what is most important. Once she's confident, the relaxation will come, and with the relaxation, rhythm and balance, and then I'll start to see that back come up and more weight shift to the hindquarters. Take the time it takes, right?

So, in order for me to write consistently on this blog, and also for you to get to know me and my horses better, I put together an equestrian/horse-owner's blog challenge to share, and hopefully somebody else will take it and do it on their blog too so that I can get to know other horse-owners as well! I also love pictures, so I'll be doing one question from the blog challenge every day except Saturday and Sunday, when I'll be doing the 30 Day Equestrian Photo Challenge.  I'll be starting this on Monday when I get home again.

Equestrian/Rider's 30 Day Blog Challenge
1) What was your most recent fall from a horse?
2) What is your pet peeve about riding, especially when watching others ride?
3) How do your family and friends feel about horses and riding?
4) Who is your equestrian "idol" or favorite person to watch?
5) What is your ultimate horse-related goal?
6) Describe your equine facilities.
7) Describe your dream equine facilities.
8) List all your tack and equipment, including colors and brands, etc.
9) What would be your dream saddle and tack?
10) What is your favorite horse book? Movie?
11) Tell about your grooming bucket and grooming routine.
12) What would be your dream trailer? Post a link.
13) Do you wear a helmet? Should others?
14) Who has been or still is the most influential person on your riding?
15) Who is your favorite riding buddy and why?
16) What would your dream horse be like? Find one for sale and post the link.
17) What is your favorite thing about your horse?
18) Post your favorite picture of your horse.
19) What is your favorite thing/exercise to do with your horse?
20) Your riding habits. Tell about 2 strengths and 1 weakness.
21) Post a good side-view photo of your horse. Critique his conformation.
22) What do you feed your horse?
23) Bareback riding. What do you think?
24) What kind of treats do you use for your horse?
25) Is your horse shod or barefoot? Why?
26) How many horses have you owned in the past? Which was your favorite?
27) What riding discipline are you in? What would you like to do?
28) Groundwork? What and how?
29) What "barn pets" do you have?
30) What has been your greatest equestrian success?