Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekly Training

It's the last day of August and tomorrow I'll have a goals post up.

For today though, I'm just putting up my plan for the next week. I did well with  keeping up with my schedule last week, even with school starting. Up until Friday-ish and then I started slacking off.

Monday:  Hopefully a good grooming, but since I'm going out with my family for the day, who knows what will happen.
Tuesday:  Ride and work on getting through our dressage test.
Wednesday:  Take a bareback ride off the property and see how far we can get.
Thursday:  Groundwork. It has been a while since I've focused much on this!
Friday:  Either I'll give Lady the day off, or take her out for a "long and low" walk.
Saturday:  If I don't give this day off too, then it will either be groundwork and/or another runthrough of our dressage test.

What are your plans for the week?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Loose Ring Snaffle Update

The day after I wrote Friday's Tack Addiction post, I went out and rode in the loose-ring snaffle again.

It had been a while since I put her in this one, so I was kind of hoping there would be a change.
She wasn't too irritable about the bridling (she loves halters, but not bridles), which was a good thing, but as soon as I had adjusted all the straps and was preparing to mount up, she started mouthing it.
She yawned a lot, she rooted, she gaped, she resisted anything except what she wanted to do, and overall was just a huge pain to deal with.
Lady is sensitive and leans towards the Arabian "hot" temperament, but this was beyond her normal antics. She stepped on my foot twice while I was getting on. She was anxious, nervous, and antsy. All of her reactions were bigger. She usually tosses her head when we go through a patch of grass that had grasshoppers, but she was so bad that I lost a rein several times due to her flipping her nose and tossing it over an ear or something.
I tried to run through our dressage test, but there was absolutely no way it was going to happen.
Actually, the worst thing to me was the fact that I had little to no brakes. I know I tend to be light on the reins when I've put a bit on, but "light" was out the window. She was not focused at all.
I would chock it up to a bad day, except for the fact that she was lovely up until I got the bridle on.

Loose Ring Snaffle - Definitely not the bit for Lady. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday's Tack Addiction: Bits

In all honesty, I have never used a bit consistently with Lady. When I bought her, I was very dedicated to using the Parelli program (I still am, but I'm more open to combining methods now) and the Parelli program discourages the use of a bit in the early stages. So I started off with a rope halter and tied together reins and built from there.
Sort of.
I still ride 9.9 out of 10 times with a halter and my favorite reins, which by the way are the absolutely the best thing ever. I have the 11-foot length and have a hard time handling anything other than these.
However, I do want to start having something more precise to use with Lady since we are getting to the point that it is hard to communicate in a halter. I'm looking at bitless bridle options, but I'm definitely leaning towards just using a bit.
I have used a super plain western curb in the past since it was what worked for my first horse.

Mine has a slightly higher port.
Lady went okay in this bit, but she was so highly sensitive that I really did not enjoy using it. I might try it again, but I think having the shanks and leverage on it will only be a hindrance.
Plain Western Curb - Worth another try, but 90% sure its a no.
The second (and only other) bit I own is a simple loose ring snaffle.
Mine might be a little less fat, but otherwise identical.
Lady went okay in this one for a while, but I really think that she doesn't like the single joint or the "nutcracker" action that it has. She isn't the same "highly sensitive" that she is in the curb, but she argues and tosses her head in this snaffle. And Lady is NOT one to toss her head for anything except flies.
Loose Ring Snaffle - Not comfortable for her, so its a no-go.
I'm almost ashamed that these are the only two bits I've tried on her in 7 years! Now, though, I think I'm ready to find what she really approves of.
With that in mind, here are the bits that I have on my list to try out. I'm not sure how quickly these trials will happen since money can be scarce sometimes.

A French-link snaffle, possibly with copper. This one does not have the same action that the loose-ring snaffle does and should be more comfortable.

If the french-link doesn't work out, I want to try something with a port again, and the Myler bits, or something similar, would be my choice. I'm not sure if it was the port of my curb that bothered Lady or the leverage part of it.

I'm also interested in trying a full-cheek type snaffle since it applies a little more pressure to the side of the face, which is what Lady is used to having.
There is also another type of bit that I've been looking into at the local tack shop, but I can not remember what it is! :O

How did you choose the bit you use, and what made you choose it?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekly Training

This past week went better than most of the rest of August has. Thankfully.  :-)

Monday:  Walked 20 minutes in-hand.
Tuesday:  OFF
Wednesday:  20 minute schooling ride. Found out how to use the outside rein for turns!
Thursday:  30 minute schooling ride. Worked on trotting calmly and a few canter transitions.
Friday:  OFF because work got in the way.  :(
Saturday:  OFF as well because we went out of town.

Plan for this week, although it might get overturned by school and work keeping me busy. I have to leave at 8:30 for school two days a week, so it will be hard those days.

Monday:  Probably off, but I want to get out and at least lunge or something.
Tuesday:  Ride for 20 minutes. Drop stirrups, walk-trot-walk transitions, run through dressage test.
Wednesday:  Again, probably off because of school and work. Maybe I'll put in a bareback ride if I gave Monday off.
Thursday:  Ride 20-30 minutes. Use patterns to get her thinking.
Friday:  This won't be a training day. I want to work on her hooves and grooming and so on.
Saturday:  Walk for 30-40 minutes.

School starts tomorrow!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tack Addiction Friday - Saddle Fitting

Several years ago, I didn't really care what equipment I had. I was just pleased that there was a horse in my backyard and there was a halter and lead rope that I could use for leading or riding. Whichever took my fancy that day.

And then I started learning more and more. I wanted to do this and that and the other thing with my fancy Arabian pony. It just kind of progressed from there and now, it seems that I will spend my last penny on stuff either to make my horse feel better or look fancier.

The largest and most expensive piece of tack is usually the saddle. And I have been burdened blessed with not only a hard to fit animal, but also one that is extremely sensitive.

I purchased a Wintec 500 in February this year. For me personally, it is quite nice. I was a little worried that it would be the wrong size (I got a 17.5 seat) since it was my first English saddle, but I like the fit.

For Lady, on the other hand, it isn't quite so nice. It did fit okay when I first got it, but then I started working her more. I focused on her fitness and both of our health and skills. And.... her back changed. She actually built some muscles and lost some weight. And the saddle fit that was okay to begin with became not-so-okay.
Now the saddle is bridging and putting too much pressure on her lower back, making her sore.

Adding a shim in the center has helped a little bit, and my next plan is to get a half pad of some sort, something that I've wanted to do just for both of our backs.

But I'm likely going to be in the market for a new saddle soon. I need something that is short enough for her Arabian back, at least as wide as the XWide gullet plate, and curved enough in the panels to make contact all the way down her back.

Have you found it difficult to fit your horse? What problems did you come across and how did you go about fixing it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mind Blown

I finally did this thing this morning. A lot of you are familiar with it.

It's called... riding. In a saddle.

Yes, I did it! Aren't you proud of me? :-)

Lady says that it really wasn't that big of a deal....
I got my tack out again and actually saddled up. Yay for me not being lazy! Sort of.
Anyways, I added a shim of sorts to the middle of the saddle to see if it would help the fit. It kind of did. Before I got on, the pressure felt even the whole way along. But when I got off, she had sweat marks at the back of the saddle and dry spots in the middle again.
I'll be taking her for a longer ride yet this week that we can get some really honest sweat to happen and then it will be time to come up with a plan of action.

But that is not the point of this post! What I meant to ramble about was that I had a sort of mind blowing moment this morning while riding.
I finally recognized the purpose and importance of the outside rein, especially while turning!

She finds my discovery rather boring too.
I've read about the outside rein, but somehow always chocked it up as being something I would learn more about once I was more experienced. Once Lady and I were working better in all gaits and in different areas. Etc.

So far, I have always guided the nose with the inside rein and the rest of the body with my legs. It has worked. Sort of. Except that we have issues with drifting over, resistance to the inside rein, bad corners, and so on.
You would think I would have realized what I was missing, considering how well this horse neckreins. She was, after all, a rodeo and endurance pony.
Anyways, I tried it today when we were riding through the vineyard and making sharp turns. Basically, don't drop the outside rein, but use it lightly to support the inside rein and my leg.
Bam. There it was. I got a lovely round turn. No, it wasn't perfect, but it was a huge amount better than what I usually get.

This dressage thing is actually lots of fun. More on that later though.
And this horse. She is certainly no schoolmaster, nor is she a crazy maniac of a horse. She is forgiving, but she has no problems with showing me where I'm going wrong, and she responds so well once I figure out what it is she is trying to tell me.

What are your thoughts on the outside rein and its purposes?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

So. Much. Rain.

I live in East Texas, north of the Dallas area, and (apparently) this part of the world has been in a drought for the last several years.
Actually, I believe it.

 The water level in our back pasture pond has sunk well over six feet. I can remember sitting in one of the trees on the edge and touching the water with my toes. Now me, Lady, and The Pony can walk side by side between that same tree and the water level. Easily.
This year seems to have helped a little with pulling us out of this dryness though. Usually, at this time of year, I am worrying about the ponies tripping in the insane cracked ground.
Instead, I have been planning my schedule around rainy days and muddy ground, even now. And its past the middle of August!  :O

Anyways, that's all I have to say. It is strange that we are still having so much rain this time of year. :-)

Oh, and go check out Cob Jockey's contest. She got 100 followers on her blog and is giving away a fantastic gift certificate! :-)

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Better Update...

Since I've been really vague and quiet lately, I figured it was about time to give a better update on how Lady and I have been doing.

Neither of us are doing altogether wonderful. We're also not too terrible either.

Lady has overall been actually really good. I am quite pleased with how she's been looking. Her coat is shiny and soft, even her mane and tail feel softer and fuller, and her feet are actually wearing down on their own and look better than they have in a long while.  (I'm writing up another post on my hoof care beliefs, so I'll expand more then.)

I am also super pleased with her weight and conditioning this year. She is still carrying some weight over her belly and hip areas that wouldn't hurt to come off, but I'm not pushing it right now. She does not have excess fat around her shoulders or even across her back. And speaking of her back, I am loving the shape she has right now through her neck and back. So round and strong and lovely.

Bullet points to make my thoughts less rambling:

  • Her arthritis seems to be a lot better. It is usually better in the summer, but even so, I really think that focusing on improving her fitness has helped a ton.
  • Keeping the weight off of her also helps with the arthritis.
  • She isn't completely even on both sides, but I am very happy with how she is currently tracking up (see above picture). 
  • When she is having a bad day or obviously hurting, she doesn't hollow and resist like she used to. She is much more willing to let me help her feel better.
  • She has learned how to carry herself so much better, even just out in the pasture and it has helped her so much.
  • She gets bitten by bugs so very badly and almost always has welts on her neck. This has gotten worse over the past few years. Need to find a solution.  :-(
Health-wise, that is about all I've got for her. For me, its a totally different story. I'm not sure if I'm going to get into that here though. Maybe another day, since its a bit complicated.

I finally got a job at the end of July and it requires me to be on my feet for several hours at a time. Definitely not something that I am used to, and the high stress and fast paced environment wears me out very quickly. Next week I'm going back to school 4 days a week, plus attempting to hold down this job. It is going to be difficult, and I definitely won't get to spend as much time with the horses as I want.
My plan is to keep getting up by 7 or 7:30 in the morning and going out to ride as soon as possible, but since I'm working evenings and am often out late it is not easy to get up early all the time.

More bullet points, on me and our schooling as of late:
  • I made a fantastic, detailed schedule in July, and it has gone superbly terrible.
  • Lady has improved. A lot, actually. More than I realize.
  • Her attention span and attitude have improved especially.
  • We are actually working on the very edges of light contact! I am no longer jerking her mouth when I shorten my reins and she is no longer upset by it.
  • I am getting SO much relaxation, blowing out, confidence from her during rides. So pleased about this.
  • I need to be more consistent. Always more consistent. It's my fault...
  • She does really well with 2 days of work and then 1-2 days off (cycle).

I love this horse. She has taught me a lot lately, and we are becoming a great team. I couldn't ask for a  better creature than this little bay Arabian mare. :-)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Weekly Plan

This is the last week before my last semester at junior college.  <sad face>  Going to make the most of it though! :-)

So, for this week's plan...

Monday:  Walk for 40 minutes (fitness plan). Probably part in-hand, part riding.

Tuesday:  Lunge for 15 minutes. Liberty work for 10-15 minutes afterwards.

Wednesday:  OFF

Thursday:  Schooling ride. Play with contact, run through our test, and work on my two-point.

Friday:  Walk for 45 minutes (fitness plan). In-hand or riding.

Saturday:  OFF

There you have it! I plan to have a proper update soon. We've had some issues and problems again lately, but I've been too busy to keep up properly.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Weekly Training

This has been a very long week. It was the first full week at a new job, so I was getting used to that as well as trying to adjust usual routine things around it. And since I don't know what my schedule for the next week will be like, it will probably another long week coming up.  :-)

This Past Week:
Monday - 20 minute ride, bareback, working on patterns.
Tuesday - 30 minute fitness ride at the walk. 10 minutes of liberty groundwork.
Wednesday - 30 minute fitness ride at the walk.
Thursday - OFF
Friday - OFF, except for cuddles.
Saturday - OFF
Sunday - OFF

Coming Week:
Monday - 20 minutes lungeing. 20 minutes fitness walk.
Tuesday - 20 minute ride. 30 minute walk.
Wednesday - 30 minutes lungeing at all gaits.
Thursday - 30 minute ride.
Friday - OFF
Saturday - OFF
Sunday - 40 minute fitness walk.

Here's to everything working out well! :-)  How was your week?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Riding Bareback

I've had such saddle trouble in the past 2-3 years and Lady has had back issues for about that long too, that I have done a lot of riding bareback.

I've read conflicting opinions on whether or not riding bareback is harmful for the horse's back because of how the weight and pressure are localized under your seat bones instead of distributed evenly like under the bars of a saddle.
I have always digested these opinions carefully and thought about them a lot, but even so I have continued to ride bareback. Lady doesn't complain, she moves freely and is expressive. I am quite sure I would know if she was uncomfortable.
Besides... I can stick quite well even when she throws antics at me...

Like this one!
My balance is fairly decent and lately I've noticed that my seat and aids and just overall riding ability has improved. Probably because I've actually been working on doing things correctly.
I do think every horse ought to be taught how to be ridden bareback so that its not something completely foreign to them, and every rider should be capable of riding without anything between them and the horse. You know, in case some emergency comes up and you have to go careening off down the road with just a halter and a lead rope? Just kidding.... even I wouldn't ride then!
Not every horse is built to accommodate bareback riding. Some are just narrow, some have a spine that is rather painful to straddle, and some are just awkward to ride without a saddle. I know because I have ridden other horses bareback, and honestly, I do prefer to ride a new horse with a saddle for the first time.
Luckily I am blessed with a round barreled horse who has always been quite comfortable to jump on and ride around. Although tonight's ride made me rethink that blessing.... since she has lost weight and put on some correct muscling, I can actually feel her spine... slight ouch.

Everything I have ever done in a saddle I have also done bareback. Actually I have even jumped more often without a saddle than I have with one!
One of my favorite parts is that it is so easy to get out and ride. I just have to make sure her back and sides are clean and off we go! :-)

Do you ride bareback? Often, or very seldom? Why?

By the way, it makes for the absolute best no-stirrup work!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Weekly Training Plan

Training/Schooling plan for Monday, August 4th through Sunday, August 10th.
Possible adjustment due to work schedule.

Attempt at a conformation picture. She didn't understand it.

Monday:  Ride for 20 minutes. Work on 2 patterns.

Tuesday:  Walk for 30 minutes (leading and riding). Liberty in the roundpen. Work on steady pressure and Stick-to-Me game.

Wednesday:  Walk for 40 minutes (leading and riding).

Thursday:  Off.

Friday:  Longe for 20 minutes.  Walk and Trot. Use obstacles.

Saturday:  Walk for 40 minutes (leading and riding).

Sunday:  Ride for 20 minutes.  Passenger lesson at the walk and trot, and Figure 8 pattern.

Last week went haywire with family issues and new job (aka strange scheduling). This week will be crazy, but hopefully much less so.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Goals

July was so hectic, so I plan to make this month easy for me with only a few goals that are already well planned out. School starts back up the last week of August, and hopefully I'll be working a good bit.

Original link HERE.

  • Blogging
    • Keep up with schedule for this blog.
    • Complete the daily challenge I chose for my writer's blog.
Original link HERE.
  • School
    • Make an A in the summer geology course.
    • Be prepared and ready for my last semester, starting August 25th.
Original link HERE.
  • Log 12 horsemanship hours/10 rides
  • Workout again. I've slacked off really badly. :(
  • Journal every night.
  • Complete a cover for my novel.