Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I definitely want an Indian pony for Halloween.  Have a great day!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

TBT: Snow!

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.  :)

Probably about 3 years back...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Shameful Post...

... that tells you that I am running short on time and have been unable to ride or otherwise spend time with horses. They are getting fed, but that is about it.

Picture from back in the spring.

I made it home at one-o-clock this morning from rehearsal and am headed out in just a few hours to another one. Note that I live two full hours from the large city in Texas that starts with a D and today will be my first real big city driving experience.  *panics and runs in a circle*

I got pony snuggles this morning (from both equines) and won't have the time for them probably until Friday, other than feeding.  *insert very sad face*

Once again, I am SO grateful to have my horses at home.  :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Besides Horses: The College Life

I haven't really said this out loud, but besides being a horse owner I am also a college student. I'm extremely blessed that our town has a junior college so that I can still live at home, save some tuition money, and still pursue a lot of my hobbies without having to stress like I would living on my own and attending university.

Something that I've talked about even less than being a college student is the fact that I am a music major. My parents were absolutely awesome in that they started me on the piano at the age of 4. I'm 20 now. You do the math.

Obviously my major of choice was music and even more obviously a specialization in piano. I am actually graduating with my Associate's degree this December and have had an amazing 2.5 years at this college.

I haven't yet had the full dose of "college life" that many have had, but its been interesting nonetheless. We live in the country, so I have a 20 minute drive into town (sounds pitiful compared to what some of you drive to the barn!) to go to classes. 

The music and theatre departments are closely linked here and often collaborate and work together. I've been in choir the entire time and I've been able to learn a little bit of acting through a few shows.

Last fall was one of the biggest collaborations when we put on the famous Broadway show Les Miserables. It is different from a lot of musicals in that there is constantly music playing and everyone sings. The. Entire. Time.  And I was thrilled to be one of the three pianists.
Definitely one of the most exhausting best experiences of my life. 
I've been able to assist with several other musical/theatre shows since then and I blame it all on that French show!

The plan is currently to move off (eek!) next summer and start at university in the fall and continue with piano. I've come to love doing accompaniment for solo singers and choirs as much as I love working with theatre and that will probably be my career route alongside teaching piano. 

I was homeschooled my entire life and actually started at junior college in my last year of high school so I have yet to be out of school for a semester! I really don't know what I would do without having something to study and learn all the time.

Try to learn something every day. Do any of you play or sing? :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

17 Years - Pictures

Today is my wonderful horse's birthday.  Or so we think (not completely sure).

Anyways, today Lady is turning 17, which sounds a whole lot older than 16.  

She's definitely getting older, but there are so many years left in her. Enjoy a bunch of pictures from over the years that I've had her.

Bareback and bridleless! 

All sweaty :)



Jumping at liberty!




Being cutesy.  :)

Abscess from two years ago :(

I love this horse. So much.  :)  Happy Birthday baby-girl...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October's 10 Questions

Courtesy of Viva Carlos again, here are 10 questions for October. This is my third blog-hop thing this week, which might not be a good thing......

1. How many pairs of breeches/jods do you own?

None, although I want a few. I ride in jeans and cowboy boots.  >:)

2. How many horses have you ridden?
Well... I don't know exactly. I probably rode about 5 or 6 rodeo horses when I was younger, and then one of my cousins let me learn on at least 4 of his roping horses. About 8 on trail rides, another 10ish through friends and helping people with their mounts and my own four. So... between 30 and 40?  Not too bad :)

3.  How many trainers have you had?
Uhhh... I've only ever had natural horsemanship instructors, so.... 3.

4.  How many barns have you ridden at?

5.  What is the horse you consider yourself to have the greatest bond with?
Lady. No questions asked.

6. What is your favorite show name that you've encountered?
I have to say that I love Wyvern Oaks' Paddington Bear.  :)

7.  What do you consider to be your greatest flaw or weakness in riding?
I'm not good at relaxing and still focusing. Either I ride with no purpose or I try to be perfect. There is an in-between that I sometimes get and need to become better at.

8.  What do you consider to be your greatest strength?
My seat - I've never been thrown! ;)  No, really I think my strength would be in the fact that I am pretty good at handling most any horse and not getting upset.

9.  Have you ever leased a horse?
Nope. It's not common in this area to lease, and I've always been able to own anyways, so its never come up as an option.

10.  What is the name of the first horse you rode?
I'm ashamed to say that I don't remember... I only remember a few years of riding everything that anyone would let me onto.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Short Hack

I didn't get outside until shortly before dark tonight, so there wasn't a lot of time to ride, which was in a way, for the best.

It would have taken me until dark to get tacked up (weird saddle issues) so I grabbed my bridle and went out to the pasture. The ponies were very sweet and trotted to the fence to meet me. Nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they expect me to throw them hay.

I dragged some poles around and loved on them both for a minute and then bridled Lady and mounted off the fence. I've been super proud of her the last few times I've bridled her. She doesn't really like wearing a bit and doesn't like to let it into her mouth, but surprisingly has continued to stay quiet and doesn't raise her head at all. Thankfully.

She was mostly quite soft and we walked around for a few minutes. I was really focusing on staying "on the buckle" and not nit-picking at her. When she was responding better I asked for a little bit of trot. She's getting a lot better at not bolting or bracing whenever I ask for anything faster, so my goal right now is to have a nice trot-walk transition since its really awful at the moment.

We did some figure 8s with ground poles (which she hates) but I had set it up a little too tight and it didn't work out as well as I had planned. Lady was awesome though and cooperated.

I felt safe and confident enough at that point to try a canter. We haven't cantered in probably almost three weeks. She was reluctant to pick it up at first, but the second time around I just asked for more speed and we soared for a little while.
Best. Feeling. Ever.

And then she came right back to me and we continued to walk quietly on a loose rein. This horse is awesome. :)

I'm so happy that I can brag on myself because I did a LOT better at not bracing in my body and just going with the flow today. I don't always do a good job about making decisions while I'm riding and I usually have a few frustrated moments. Nothing major today and I'm so proud.
I'm also proud of Lady for being so willing. I know part of it was me doing better, but she's also improved lately.

In total, we probably worked for about 15 minutes, but there was enough improvement to make it much more than worth it.  :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hand Gallop Blog Hop: Fit to Ride

I love blog hops!

The awesome Stephanie over at Hand Gallop posed this question last week and I'm finally getting around to answer it.

What do you do to stay fit to ride?

I'm probably to write this up and then crawl into a hole in shame because I have been so inconsistent with my own fitness lately.

-- Walking.  I've been trying to up my endurance level so that I can ride longer without getting tired. I can't run very much at all, so that is a goal. So far I only do good on this if I stay consistent and run every day. Some days I just do a cardio video instead.

-- Strength training:  I do this about 2-3x per week and I usually use videos to help me. Without the videos I'll give up and quit halfway through a routine. Usually, I focus on my legs and back/abs. I'm trying to work on my shoulders more, but they are so weak that I still have trouble with pushups, so its a slow process. I do a lot of squats, calf raises, planks and any ab exercises that do not involve crunching.

-- Stretching: I am horrible in the area of flexibility so I have to remember to stretch daily. I also ride better if I stretch beforehand (which I rarely do...).

-- Diet:  My health issues are a subject for another entire post, but suffice it to say that food allergies and their subsequent results make it difficult to eat in general. That, and I am in love with ice cream. Yummy. When I focus on cutting all corn and corn byproducts out, limiting breads and sugar, and eating lots of vegetables, then I'm doing super good and can keep my weight up.  :)

Thank you Stephanie!  I need this boost to get me back on track and do all these things again.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mostly-Good Ride

Saturday was the day I finally saddled up and rode again! It took me all week to get out there for enough time to actually ride more than back and forth between pastures.

Since I got my stirrup leathers punched with more holes I was able to properly work on my two point some. I didn't time anything (boo!), but I'll try to get that tomorrow. So far, working on 2 point has been frustrating because my balance is SO bad... I do best at the halt and the trot, but have to concentrate or I fall forward or backwards.

She looks so chubby!  I promise, its not that bad...
Lady is always so people-oriented when I ride that she kept wandering over to the spot where my dad and brothers were building a porch (at least I think it was a porch). Of course, once she would get close then she would get worried about the power tools and such like and want to leave. Crazy equine.

I didn't have a good enough plan to work with, so we went over some basics. She's been a little disrespectful about listening to my aids under saddle and acting like she can't hear my legs through the saddle flaps/girth.

We worked especially on moving the hindquarters around and not just moving the whole body over. Legs in different spots mean different things, Lady-horse. She was getting better about that when we finished.

Modelling her new hackamore. I like it!

The other issue that I'm trying to solve is her bracy-ness against a direct rein. Being a former western horse, she neck reins well, but just basic steering through putting pressure on her head makes her bracy and stiff. Maybe this is part of the bitting issue?
I'm not ruling out a physical issue on this, but I will continue to insist that she put some effort into bending when I ask for it with a rein. I'll also talk to the dentist about it whenever I get her out to balance Lady's teeth. There could be something going on inside there.

We had a little hack out after we finished schooling and I probably rode for about 20 minutes. Nothing strenuous or difficult, just basics, but I do want to slowly up the bar for her fitness and mine (as well as training). Soon.

I changed things up. Now we're both redheads!

The only selfies I take... lol!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

SFTS Blog Hop: That One Thing

This blog hop is totally to satisfy my hidden desire to buy ALL THE THINGS for both me and my horse.  Since I can't actually do that, I have to write about it.

It comes in two parts...

First, I wanna know: what is the ONE piece of tack (or clothing) that you simply cannot live without? Put function aside for a moment and try to decide which piece of your tack ho collection is your favorite. It can be anything for you, or for your horse. Second, I'd like to know what you're currently saving up for or lusting after. Basically, what item do you have your eyes set on right now? If someone handed you enough money, what would be the first thing to buy on your list? 

My favorite thing right now has to be my saddle. It's the first leather saddle I've owned and even though it isn't a super high quality saddle or anything, I love the smell and feel of it. 

I'm not saving up right now for anything that I want, but if someone gave me the money, I would just love to have a pair of fancy tall boots. Real, pretty, fancy leather tall boots.  Just....  *sighs dreamily*

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Horsemanship Challenge!

One of my favorite sessions of the Parelli clinic last weekend was the Four Savvys Challenge.  In this one, Linda brought out four different horses and riders and had them go through a set of challenges. It was intriguing to watch and learn.
Here they are for your interest... 4 sets of "can you's".

On Line, or working with a horse on the ground with various lengths of lead.

  • Can you back your horse across an arena, quietly and straight?
  • Can you send your horse sideways down a fence at a trot?
  • Can you put your horse's nose and then their front feet on an object?
  • Can you keep your feet still, put your horse on a circle around you, and make 3 trot-walk transitions?
Liberty, or working with a horse on the ground without a halter or lead at all.
  • Can you pick up all 4 of your horse's feet from one side (one at a time, of course!)?
  • Can you get your horse to stay with you in an open arena and walk, trot, and canter alongside you?
  • Can you send your horse sideways over barrels laying down?
  • Can you send your horse out and away from you in an arena and then bring her back without moving your feet?  This one is hard!

Freestyle, or riding either without reins or on a completely loose rein.
  • Can you, without reins, do a turn/pivot on the forehand, and one on the hindquarters?
  • Can you circle the whole arena at the walk, trot, and canter?
  • Can you move sideways over a barrel?
  • Can you push a big ball across the arena?
Finesse, or the art of riding with a soft touch/connection to the bit.
  • Can you jog around the arena on a loose rein and come back to a walk without reins?
  • Can you, while walking, pick up a soft touch, stop, and back up 6 steps?
  • Can you trot in a large circle with a soft touch, spiral in on the circle and then leg yield back out?
  • Can you do a hand gallop around the arena, come across the diagonal and do a flying change? Then loosen reins and come down to a walk/halt?

How many of these can you do successfully?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Parelli Clinic - Day Two

Sunday, day two of The Future of Horsemanship tour was equally as good as the first day, if not better in some ways.

The first session of the day was about the elements of performance, something that I hadn't heard or learned about before. A good part of this session focused on being barn or gate sour. The horse has to learn to find relief from you and not from the gate or the barn and this is usually done by creating other sweet spots in the arena.

  • When passing the gate, ask for more speed, or more effort.
  • Head towards the gate, but turn away and ask for more speed.
  • Go past or turn away from the gate and then stop or give relief.
  • The middle of the arena is a good sweet spot to have.
Super awesome performance demonstration  in between sessions.
Other points that I took home:
  • The horse has to yield to pressure not only with his head and neck, but also with his feet. No brace anywhere.
  • The horse should yield without a change in rhythm or energy, especially when yielding from the rider's leg.

Linda came out to do the second session with her gorgeous horse Highland. This horse has an amazing story. He has had major issues from past training experiences and is just super talented, especially in jumping.

He still gets worried sometimes, but is so adorable now. He jumped just about everything in the arena. The session with him was a lot of demonstration about how to get rid of tension and keeping the horse connected to you at shows or in show-like environments.

In between, Pat came out and did the most beautiful spotlight with his son Caton. The two of them had just come in from the Quarter Horse Congress and both were in top form. Tear-jerking indeed.

Love these dogs of Linda's!  So cute :D
It's been years since I got a picture.  Happy now :)
The last session of the day was quite amusing. They brought out a bunch of scary stuff and worked with a whole group of horses on bringing up confidence.
My pictures are horrible, but you get the idea.

These zebras. Absolutely the best thing ever. I Want One!

Working with a tarp.

Some takeaways from this session (besides really seeing approach and retreat in action):
  • Turn the tail away from what scares the horse.
  • Allow curiosity.
  • Don't allow bad experiences. Let the horse try and set it up for success.
  • Confidence training is not the same as desensitization.
Lots of great things over the weekend.  I've got one more post about one of Saturday's sessions to write yet, and its very relatable, so stay tuned.  :)