Monday, December 12, 2011

We're getting there!

I'll start off by apologizing for not taking any pics (was a little busy), but promise that despite the lack of pictures, it did actually happen! Here are some pics from earlier in the year.

I have been feeling like we are floundering in my training of Red. I felt like I was not communicating effectively what I wanted from him, not progressing greatly, etc... So I called out my old riding instructor (also starts, trains and finishes horses) to come out and help me with the getting Red going on the longeline.

I will admit, I have only put about 7 training sessions into Red since I got him. The rest was just messing around while moving him here to there, a bit of trailer training (after taking him to a hoof clinic off site and having difficulties with the trailering). But only 7 real sessions with goals in mind. He is coming 4 in March.

Anyway, she came out today and started by her putting him on the longeline. I told her my goals for him, and what I'd already worked on. Walk/ trot in hand, head down (has high head set), yield on fore and hind, back, accustom to lunge whip (once), turn on the long line with it down far side of his body, and beginning hobble training (2 sessions). So she attached my 30 ft line and started longing him. Took a few minutes, but she got him doing a circle (my attempts yielded a square, hexagon and an isosceles triangle before I gave up and called an expert!). Walk and trot, transitions up and down. Then handed him over, saying I did a great job of putting a stop on him. I basked in her praise, not wanting to tell her it took 2 sessions to teach him that. And I achieved it by teaching him like I do the show dogs to free stack. LOL. I can now whoa him and walk 10-15 ft away to grab the whip, etc. And it is due to his innate awesomeness, not any skills on my part. But I let her believe it was my great skills for a while.

So I longed him for another 10 minutes or so, working on getting a round circle. He tends to collapse in to stand with me when he is uncertain. Walk, trot, transitions; he was doing beautiful.

Then she asked if I had a second cotton line. I ran to get it. We attached a line on either side knot of my rope halter (a home made one with rings it the side knots) and she walked in ground driving position while I led off the side to get him used to it. We wandered around like this for a while before she took over, running both lines through the surcingle. Took him a bit to understand since he didn't like the pressure on his nose AT ALL! But he REALLY hates the cavesson, so halter works better. She got him going pretty good, but we found out he would absolutely ROCK at twister! Man, that horse is flexible!

Then she passed him over to me to ground drive. Whee!!! She suggested he would do better at this with a bit in as he did not like the twisting the halter did. The bit would clear up the signals. So I'll be bit shopping sooner than expected!

Then she casually asked if I had a helmet handy. I ran to go get it. Thinking; she can't mean to...

But she did! Said he was doing so well and is so calm and accepting that we could try if I was comfortable. I decided it would be better with her there than with my inexperienced husband! So she boosted me up to lay over his back. Then I hopped down and we did on the other side. Rinse, repeat. Then the same but with a few steps. Then a few more times with me sitting like I was side saddle. Then she asked me if I was comfortable with astride. I thought, well, we've gone this far! So we did that too! When he stood completely relaxed with me fully upright we quit for the day.

She came in for hot chocolate (we had been outside for an hour in the minus 5 with 35 km/h wind) and we chatted for a bit. She was impressed with his mind and willingness. I told her how much work (or how little) I had actually done with him. She was even more impressed with him. And in her opinion, she feels I am doing fine by myself. Whew! I'm not ruining him like I thought! But I will be asking her back often to keep us progressing!

I am feeling great about this horse again! Because I totally credit him with ALL his great progress. I have never dealt with a horse who tried so incredibly hard to please me and was so careful around me.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Breeder Report

This September, I finally went on a vacation with the whole family. First one in over 9 years! We borrowed my parents 40 ft RV and packed up the Sqwid and the Kuvs (dogs) and set off for Alberta and beyond. Boy, was it hard to come home.

But on our travels, I managed to squeeze in a trip to Red's breeder! That was a highlight of the trip for me! Bold Vantage Farm has one of the largest herds of purebred Akhal Tekes in North America. Cynthia very graciously came and picked me up at the RV park in High River and drove me around to the 3 sites with her horses. I had a blast with her. She is funny and loves to talk about Tekes. Me too! But I don't know near as much as she does!

We started at the old farm site, near town. Right away I met Murgab, in a paddock with a leased bay mare and her buckskin filly. The mare was of heavier build (not quite massive type – she did have a German? mare of MASSIVE type. She called her Cookie). Fun thing about Cynthia; she names all her horses funny barn names. The magnificent Murgab is Murray, there is also Cookie, Potato, Dinnerplate (Potato's part bred colt), Smootches, Covergirl, Cabbage, etc...

I liked the leased bay mare and her buckskin filly. Substantial girls! I think the filly will grow into a very nice mare! They may not be super “typey” but they are correct and will be sound! I'd rather that. I hate those Teke breeders that compromise proper conformation for typeyness. Another thing that struck me is Murgab has TONS of bone! I drooled. I would post pics of him, but he was INCREDIBLY uncooperative for photos.

Unfortunately, Mr. Murray was feeling lazy in the warm fall sun and he WOULD NOT MOVE FOR ME!!! I was really looking forward to seeing his awesome movement in person. No such luck. In fact, we saw 6 more PB (pureblood) Tekes at the old farm site before we came across one that would move out for me! More on her later.

We visited the broodmare pen. There were several of her broodmares in this pen, of all breeds. These were all the pregnant or without foal mares, most of them of other breeds. She had a lovely Welsh pony mare, cannot wait to see that foal! Bahilana was there (Red's dam). She has a really soft eye and while a little fat (hence the name Potato) she was very nicely built. She was bred to Kopeli last year, before his gelding, but did not take. (Not to worry, she did a collection on the old guy – 18 years – and has about 50 frozen tubes) So I am curious to see how his future foals come out!

Next pen over was a lovely, stereotypical golden buckskin Teke mare. At heel was her cremello (too bad) 2011 colt. He is a lovely boy and a stallion prospect. He was sold to Australia and about to be shipped when the prospective new owner has a reversal of circumstances and said she couldn't pay for him. So we loaded him and his mom to go out to the broodies herd a few miles away.

Last horse I looked at the yard site was another Murray filly, a coming 3 yo. They call her Smootch. She is stunning! And she actually moved when asked! Here are some pics... I am very eagerly awaiting news of her in the future, as I think she is very special. She is also Cynthia only filly of her favourite and foundation mare that she just lost this spring.

She is very bright and hot, and lovely to watch. She is very typey, but displays great conformation. For Murgab getting only a 7.5 for type, he sure throws typey foals!

We also put Kogan on the trailer, he was going to another site.

The next stop was the broodie herd a few miles away. Here I met Olimpic Gul, the mare that was for sale in foal to Murgab last winter. I looked at the foal and said... DAMN, shoulda bought her! While she is not hot stuff to me (though high marks in inspection) she makes REALLY nice foals! She improves very nicely. Unfortunately this was also a herd of slow pokes that day and they only moved a little, even when we let out the mare and foal off the trailer. But I did get some pics of what, to me, is a huge Teke herd!

Out in that field, I didn't spend time with her, was a PB Teke mare that sounds ideal for endurance. She is trained, but does not like going English. But put her out on the trail on a loose rein and she goes anywhere, anytime. She is forward, easygoing and confidant. Sounds perfect to me! Forgot her name though! Oops!

Our final stop was the new farm site. It is about 25 kms out of High River, on a GORGEOUS ¼ section of rolling land. I want to live there. They had just purchased it a few months ago and there was lots of work to do before moving themselves and all the horses on.

On the west side was her gelding pasture. It was gorgeous, with hills and gulleys and a nice big pond. There were 3 boys in there; a he-doesn't-count-because-he's-just-a-QH, SwiftSure (Red's full younger brother) and a very lovely flashy black yearling PB gelding. He was very typey (another Murray foal), but very conformationally correct. He was one of the top rated colts (if not THE top rated colt) in North America in the 2011 evaluation tour. I liked him, he was pretty, but also personable and friendly. AND A MOVER! Sorry no pics of him. Some are apparently angry Cynthia gelded him, but I think he will be an EXCELLENT ambassador to the breed. I hope someone with dreams of competition swoops him up!

Now SwiftSure, AKA Dinnerplate, named for the dishy head when born.

By the end of our little visit with him, I was ready to stuff him in my back pocket and try to smuggle him home with me. He has Red's (and their sire's, Murgab) wonderful temperament. They are really easygoing, but very responsive. Lovey, huggy boys. SwiftSure is more Arab-ish, rounder and less dry, than Red, and just a smidgen shorter (but a year younger, so...). SwiftSure takes after his dam, while Red really takes after his Teke sire.

We let out Kogan to play with the other geldings, and then drove over to the east side pasture with the mares. This had 2 older mares. One of which is not used because, while she is a very nice mare, she is the unfortunate colour of cremello! Lol. Cynthia is not fond of cremellos. And when bred to Murgab she has a 50% chance of another cremello foal. (She actually has 3 cremellos on farm presently)

I also got a tour of the buildings, one of which is an ancient old barn. It used to be the livery stable in High River, and was moved out to the farm decades ago. I cannot wait to see what they do to this place. It will be a stunning farm for them, I think!

I went inside to have tea and meet JK. I finally understood why he sold Red. He is well over 6 foot. I just sticked Red, he is 14.2 h @ 3 ½ years old. However, apparently he is working on an oil rig and claims when they strike it he is buying Red back. I said it had better be a gusher if you want to afford him! We enjoyed a delicious tea and a great chat about dogs (she has the shaggiest Springer EVER) and Tekes, before she drove me back to the RV camp.

Next year I am coming back for a ride in the mountains though!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Afternoon Project

This afternoon, when Sqwid went down for a nap, I felt like being outside. So I grabbed my camera and baby monitor and went to hassle the horses. I rarely have had time for this. My two 3 1/2 year olds are virtually untouched. I have not done half the groundwork I really should be doing. OK, I've done none of it. In the past year or so, since I got fat with baby and caring for newborn, I have just managed to feed and move the horses around for pasture once a day. Trim feet as needed. Oh, and build a home made automatic waterer because I am cheap. But that's it. Bad me!

So I go out with big intentions! lol

I halter and tie the two up. Give them both a swipe with grooming tools. Hmm. No crying baby yet. So I dug deep in the horse shed. Crawled over used feed bags, mountains of folded sheets and rugs (a bit obsessive about these). And I pull out the old saddle. This could be interesting. I have not done anything since putting the surcingle on that one time in the fall.

I grab a cavesson for Red. I plan to do a bit of work on our hit and miss lunging program. I do this about once every 3 weeks (or months). I do a bit, then haul over the saddle. He inspects it thoroughly. He could probably tell you the name of the sheep the pad came from. I pulled off the heavy stirrups and tossed the saddle over. Hmm. Nothing. So I go grab the cinch, do him up. Still nothing. I tighten it up. Is he alive? OK. Back out on the line. Backing, bending, disengage the hind end; on both the near and far side. All good, very responsive. I take it all off and let him go.

Still no crying baby. Must have been tired. Maybe it was stealing and eating all my ripe cherry tomatoes. (Grrr!) Over to Evil Poneh. Same treatment. Zero reaction to the saddle being tossed on. Same lead work (she HATES off side work - ears were pined the entire time). Always gives me giggles. But gives me lots of try, so I let her go too.

Now, I wasn't expecting fireworks. But I at least expected their feet to move a little. Red had the biggest reaction, he turned his head to watch me cinch up. I even tried to get a reaction by moving them around, letting them feel the saddle move with them. But no worries. He trusts me. I love that horse.

I even had time to scrub out the waterer before Sqwid woke up!

Oh, and pics of Oh-so-impressed ponies...

Saddle fit sucks. I need to make some adjustment to the saddle. I was planning to buy an industrial machine to sew tack, so I can "fix" the saddle later.

And yes, feet are in desperate need of a trim. Haven't done in a month, man are they ever growing this summer! Hubby comes home next week and can watch Sqwid while I trim. Yeah?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Clinics CAN be good

So, in the past I've been to a few clinics, and walked away shaking my head. It drives me nuts, the fanatics who say you MUST do it like their hero (this clinician or that one) or you are a terrible and abusive horseman. And you need to buy this fancy gimmicky piece of equipment or another.

It's usually not the fault of the clinician. Usually they are good people, out to help you develop a better relationship with your horse. But we've all met the Fanatic Followers. Oy.

I am a Fanatic Fan. I do admit it. But of a horse blogger, not of a trainer. Well, she is a trainer, but it is her musing on horses, training and living with horses that really sticks with me. It is from her that I have learned to take what I like from various training methods and incorporating them to what I am comfortable with. And I didn't even realize it until this weekend!

I audited a demo night of a trainer that came to Manitoba on Friday. At first it seemed kinda nuts what he was doing. And I'll admit it, I just stuck around to watch his exhibition of his gorgeous Andalusian stallion. But then I went home and thought about it. What he was actually doing and why; I think it was a gold mine of information! I may not buy his "fancy" Endo-whip. But I will think of a way to incorporate his theories into my training. Can't argue with the amazing results he got! And he doesn't insist you buy expensive whips, sticks or halters!

Check out his articles. I can see how I can use his theories to benefit me in what I want to accomplish with the horses...

And his his dog was ADORABLE! Next time he is in, you should check it out, just to watch the exibition at the end!

Gotta love horses

I woke up real cranky this morning.

The Sqwid kept waking up last night (he is teething AND just getting over a nasty cold). Each time he was up at least an hour. So not much sleep... again.

My wrist aches; I have DeQuervins Tenosynovitis, AKA "the Sqwid is a heavy lump that refuses to let me put him down".

Then I look outside. Despite the Almanac saying that it is now Spring, I see no sign that Winter is leaving. It is sleeting. Big, nasty, wet flakes. Mother Nature obviously hates me (Yes, I am taking it a bit personal). The horses are standing at the fence, wet, filthy and glaring at the house. They are PISSED! Good, I'm not the only one!

I sigh and start to bundle myself up against the cold and wet. I had best go out and feed and blanket them.

Evil Poneh is not too bad off, her coat is thick and long and fluffy; the wet rarely penetrates to her skin. But she hates rain. I know, she's a mustang that thinks she's a TB! I can practically hear her plotting nasty things to do to me.

Big Red is not as well off, while his coat is thick and plush it does not seem to repel water. He gets soaked to the bone quickly. And while it is amusing to watch him get pissed and beat up the Evil Poneh, I should blanket him against the cold.

I trudge out and pour their warm slop into their bowls and toss them plenty of hay to keep them distracted. I feed Red first, just to watch EP stomp around thrashing her head. And she does stomp. All four feet. I giggle. I'm mean. Bwahaha. I'm starting to feel a little better.

I pull out Red's shoulder slinky and fancy turnout shell. Swearing as I wrestle the slinky over his wet shoulders. It's like trying to pull off slim fit jeans while wet. Then I toss on the shell... then I chase after him to try and get it done up since I was to lazy to also pull out the halter and lead. More swearing.

Finally Red stands still and lets me do it up and yank on it to try and get it sitting right. Good boy, he gets a pat.

Then it's EP's turn. I pull out the old quilted blanket I got for $5 at a used tack sale and had to do major repairs on. It kinda fits. (See my priorities?) EP is very good and stands still while I toss it on, understanding that it keeps off the rain and is a good thing. I am almost bucked up when I hear a snort behind me.

It's Red. He has just spotted the "new" horse. He prances over to meet this pretty new burgundy coloured mare. She sidles nervously away. After all, she is at "his" hay pile. I flap my arm at him to keep him off until it get her safely done up. Then I stand back to enjoy the show. It goes something like this:

"Hellooo. My name is Redoubtable. I am a big, handsome boy. See my prancing side pass?"

"Uh, Mom?! What wrong with Red?!"

"Spring is in the air, pretty lady. Heh heh heh."

"MOOOOM! Save me! He's gone crazy!"

"I am strong and fast and have a pretty arching neck. See?"

"Ahh! He's chasing me!"

"Come back, mon cherie! It is love at first sight, no?!" (been watching lots of Loony Tunes lately)

I love horses. I walked away laughing. Beautiful day out.