Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our first ride...

Yesterday was quite the day.  It dawned clear and sunny, and was 17 Celsius when I went outside at 8am.  In mid-March! Hubby was home and we spent the whole morning outside with Sqwid and the 4 dogs.

As noon drew nearer, I got more and more excited.  I was to meet the trainer for my first ride on Red!

So at 11:30 I put on my riding pants (to which hubby said, "Boy, those are tight!" Grrr...)  But I didn't smack him, I was in too good a mood.

It had warmed to 23 C and a warm wind had really picked up.

When I got to the barn, it was empty and the trainer's car was missing.Then someone walked in and mentioned her horse had gotten loose and she was out looking.  Luckily, soon afterward a woman walked in asking if we knew anyone with a horse matching her description!  The mare had almost made it back to the barn, but had turned in one driveway too early!  Trainer came back and then went over to get her mare as I went out to bring Red in.

I took the time to check his feet and a touch up on his heels and bars.

He was dropping a bit of condition along his topline, with being in work.  So feeding adjustments are in order.

I started to tack him up as the trainer went out and grabbed Evil Poneh.  She had a bit of a "pony" moment as she hopped up to ride her to the barn.

Evil Poneh getting ready in the barn

I am really happy with how Narra is looking.  She has gained lots of muscle and lost her hay belly.  Wish I had gotten a picture of her being ridden.  She is adorable!
Red wearing his saddle
We scraped off as much hair as possible and tacked up.  Red in his Torsion saddle and new bit (she had been using a different one for simplicity).  EP was just wearing a bridle, as I had only sent one saddle with the two horses (the Torsion fits both).   We both hopped up and left for the park. 

15 minutes later we were still heading down the driveway.  No, it is not that long.  But they were doing a great impression of dumb and dumber. 

Red politely said "After you" 

To which EP replied, "No, after you!"

Ad nauseum.

The trainer was horribly embarrassed.  I laughed and said I was not surprised.  And thought, "hey, this is only their 11th/ 12th ride!"

We eventually got to Sapton road and rode the 200 feet down the ditch to the highway.  They crossed the busy highway with no worries.  Red took the lead, and Miranda let me set the pace.  Once I got a good feel for his walk and he calmed down (because I was calming down lol), I asked for a trot.  He has a big trot!  It will take getting used to a trotting horse again.  Not that he is rough, just springy!

Then I asked for a canter.  He was calmly trotting, I lightly cued with leg and seat and kissed and he immediately stepped into a smooth canter.  The first 2 strides had me thinking "nice".  Then he started to reach under with his hind legs and his front end lifted and we did about 10 super comfy, rolling, uphill strides before I asked him to slow, which he immediately did.  I was exstatic!  It was beautiful!

,Unfortunately things didn't stay that way.  My trainer has much better hands than I, and she rides him primarily on seat and legs, as he needs very little pressure on the bit.  But I found myself nervous about being more than a passenger on a horse for the first time in a two years.  And I was pretty clutchy.  Sigh. 

He started to get confused and nervous with me.  No big surprise.  Then we reached the edge of the polo field.  The wind was up.  Narra trotted to catch up and Red jumped into a trot, I tried to slow him, but the saddle had started to slip (too loose), and so ended up clamping with legs to stay on. Which had him confused and cantering.  I eventually got him to stop, hopped off to straighten and tighten the cinch.  Looked back as poor Miranda and EP cantered up.  EP was not impressed with having to do all that work to keep up!  Lazy beast!

I took a deep breath and hopped back up and off we went.  We came across a deer, but neither spooked (too tired?).  Then we made our way over to the CDE obstacles a distance away.  We decided to try the bridge.  No go on the first try.  We both got off an lead them over.  She got right back on and turned around to go back over.  I lead Red over and EP followed, then the trainer battled with EP (she was earning her name that day) to get her over again.  I just stood there with Red and watched. 

I called out a warning she was going to try and roll int he sand.  Miranda kicked her (she ignored it), so she smacked her with the rommels (she ignored it).  She had to step off or get rolled on.  At which point she really yelled and smacked her with the reins!  EP got up and shook like nothing had happened.  Brat!  the trainer joked that sometimes she has to "beat" EP, I completely understood.  (I say joked because she is patience personified with her!  Way more than I would manage to be!) I was glad I sent her to Miranda then.  Not sure I would have managed what she did!  She eventually got her back over and stood her on the bridge.

When she asked if I was going to try again, I put on the big girl panties and mounted up and guided Red over without too many problems.  Whew! 

We then went over to wade in the big pond.  It has obstacles and lots of interesting things.  It wasn't too deep.  Red immediately waded in and drank.  I warned Miranda she may roll in the water (I have had a sweaty Gotland do that to me).  So she didn't let her stop long.

We crossed the big field to Pope's Mound.  We both got off and walked them up the stairs.  I joked she was training EP to come up the deck into the house.    At the top she got back on and rode down, but I continued to walk for the next 10 minutes to try to loosen up my knee.  I forgot how stiff it gets with riding. 

This turned out to be good for Red and I.  I calmed down and so did he.  When I got back on he was his regular (according to Miranda) soft self again. 

So it IS me that is the problem, not him!  I will have to work on my hands and confidence again.  Likely dressage lessons will be in order again.

We got back to the barn with no real incidents on the ride.  We had been gone 2 hours!  And had probably done 5+ miles.  Both horses were real sweaty.  So we did a quick once over and put them out in the paddock.  They have  nice dry sandy paddock.  So they both had fun rolling their sweaty selves in the the sand ground!  I took lots of photos!

Red says; ahhh! I prefer sand baths!

Narra is a super wiggly roller.  Very amusing!

Red was very thirsty.  Good drinker.

Narra's priority was to eat.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trainer's Day 16 report

Narra on Friday was SO good! I took her for a ride in the ditches and had NO problems with her being lazy. She trotted and went through huge puddles and then had 2 GREAT canters which she enjoyed and held like a champ. She was a very happy girl. She knows her way home because she got a little quick on the way back and was doing little jigs here and there which I hate but she was great at the end. Her breaks are MUCH improved as well as her steering. She is a little apprehensive with the steering.

I worked Red in the ring again and worked with ground tying. He is not taking to it as fast as Narra because he just wants to follow. Narra seems to take pride in standing nicely haha. It's cute. He did well though and let me untack him without moving and then go away from him and open the gate. His steering was excellent as well as his pace. You could really tell he was waiting to see what I was going to ask next and almost was trying to be one step ahead. for his breaks I just have to say whoa and relax and he stops. No rein pressure. The steering in the canter was great and I will be starting to get him moving off the leg right away so that he starts to take a bit more shape and get the proper bend. He is a bit barrel horseish with a slow pace right now.

Very comfortable gaits for both horses!

Great progress for both horses.  Since these would be rides 8 for both horses. 

Mommy Mental Health Morning

Today hubby was home, so even though Sqwid is pretty sick, I abandonded them both and went to the barn.

I stopped at Canvasback on the way to the barn and got myself a Groomer's Stone. Great for shedding hair and polished the coat too. So much better (and kinder) than a shedding blade! The horses loved it (they both hate the shedding blade).  I liked the stone too.  It is a porous "stone" made from recycled glass.  It is oblong and fits nicely into your hand.  And with the rounded sides, it's softer on their body and legs.

Red also got a big massage.  Red stood for the curry and brushing, but then wandered off. Narra loved all the attention. I shedded her out pretty good with the groomer's stone, and gooped on lots of Ecolicious DeStress on her mane and tail. Then I went over to Red who was laying down. I gooped some DeStress on his mane, then gave him a 20 minute massage. It was funny, he kept grunting and stretching his head forward and nodding off. Eventually he leaned against my leg, and nearly knocked me over as he really relaxed. Funny boy.
Lord do they need a bath.  Once they are home, I plan an Ecolicious makeover.  I am planning to add a hot water tap outside beside my regualr tap, so I can give warm water baths, for horses and dogs on my washrack.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Trainer's Day 15 report

Red: I worked Red again in the outdoor ring. He was a lot better with his steering and his breaks were great. I just had to sit back, pick up the reins a bit and give the cue and he would slow and stop. We worked on the figure 8 to sharpen his steering even further and then tried out some canter in the ring. His transitions up into the canter were better than most horses at this stage and he was very responsive to the whoa. His steering of course needs work at the canter while he works on balancing but I will be working him on the lunge to help him out with that. His canter was uphill and forward. He did buck a couple of times but nothing to try to harm anyone. Just 1 buck twice when I had to get his attention with my leg. I gave him shit for that and he realized it was bad and didn't do it again.

I LOVE THIS HORSE!  He sounds so honest and just what I need to get back into riding.

Narra: Narra was so keen and did great with the walk and trot. Her steering faltered a little because she was interested in a couple other things such as, playing in the puddles and other horses. We worked on a small figure 8 and she got over it. She is quite lazy and needs a lot of reinforcement with the leg. With a LOT of transition work she should get over this no problem. I decided to see how she did with the canter. I FINALLY got her up into it and she bucked into the canter with a little leap but then settled and had a beautiful round canter both ways. After this I tried to ask her again and she just slowed her trot. Very lazy. I think we had only done 6 strides each way. I FINALLY got another 6 strides out of her and ended there. She was a sleepy girl. Very happy though. She has not been bratty at all. Just lazy but if she would rather stop than bolt, that is much more desirable for a kids pony. Still want to get her on an even forward pace though. I will be working her on the lunge as well to get her keeping her rhythm a little better and keeping the canter without me having to dislocate a hip. haha.

I hate lazy horses! Ahhhh! Oh, well.

She has also been ponying the two off each other (must look hilarious when she reverses things and ponies the 15h gelding off the 13h mare! lol) It bothers them not a bit. Next she will try to pony them off a strange horse.


Trainer's Day 14 report

Got a great email today.

Evil Poneh may yet become Not-so Evil Poneh.  Her ride last night sounded like a big improvement.

...her shortest ride yet! I rode her in the riding ring and she did amazing. We just worked on the circle at the walk and trot. worked on keeping straight and relaxed. She kept a good pace and was a little bit lazy even (we will work on that). I was able to get her stopping at the "whoa" cue while sitting deep and putting very little pressure on the reins. At the trot and walk she was reaching down into the bit and she had no issues with stubbornness.

Red was also very good. He was also reaching down into the bit at the walk and trot. He kept a good pace but was more inclined to speed up. He will do very well at dressage. You can feel a little pause in his trot! Some suspension happening there. He was a little apprehensive with the steering today but his breaks are great! By the end he was trotting in relaxed circles and beginning to drop his poll. After this I decided to take him on a little 15 min trail ride. So Red had his first canter! I had to urge him into it the first time but he kept his pace and was very honest about it on a loose rein. The second time I asked him he basically stepped right up into it. I cantered him about 10 strides each time. He was VERY happy about this!

I am SO looking forward to riding him!  He is shaping up to be exactly the horse I wanted when I went shopping.

And while I had wanted to start him myself, I am not regretting sending him to this woman.  For one thing, she is working him so much more often than I could and he is learning so quickly!  And keeping me in the loop the entire time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Trainer's Day 11 report

Red went for a ride in Bird's Hill Park!

I was able to walk him right across the highway without issues. He did give the rock at the trail entrance a little look but passed it after I let him relax for a second and then gave him a little squeeze. I walked him on a loose rein and did a little bit of trot as well. He did require some half halting but was thoroughly enjoying himself! We came across some deer which spooked him but he just did the "on the spot" spook and then carried on without any further worries. His breaks were excellent and he learned to back up so I could get him pushing off with his hind a little more and getting it to tuck under. I basically plan on backing him up a couple steps after every whoa to sharpen his breaks up a tad.

OK, that sounds like fun!

Narra was not ready for a ride in BHP.

...worked on being relaxed and willing in the yard. We did a bit of trot and she even softened to the bit at times! She threw a couple of "I don't want to" fits just by stopping and becoming numb but I gave her a moment to think and then she carried on and I petted her for continuing. By the end of the ride there were no issues with steering or stubbornness. She still has a few things to learn about breaks.

She is also planning to work on clipper training this weekend.  I said she can clip whatever she wants to, to keep them cooler.  I don't mind giggling at their expense if she does a funny clip (like an "endurance clip" I have heard others doing).  She said she would just clip the head and bridle path, as she wants to do pictures as they progress!  That's just fine with me.  She is an amazine equine photographer!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Trainer`s Day 9 update

I decided I would just hop up and walk around the yard. She had her initial stubborn streak with not wanting to go forward (not a big issue) and then once she went forward she was super proud of herself again. No attempts to buck or bolt. She was wanting to go wherever she wanted but did not get away with it so by the end she was moving forward with a very small cue and turning in both directions as well as stopping and standing. She was very happy and we even went for a little walk in the ditch where there was some VERY deep snow but she did not hesitate. She scooted up a little snow hill to get back onto the driveway too. After the ride, when I put her out, she followed me around. Looks like she is learning that listening is fun! YAY!
I think Evil Poneh is her favourite, since she always starts with her.

Red is progressing faster:

I did the EXACT same thing but with a saddle. He made no different reactions, other than him not wanting to turn to the right. He got over that though and was relaxed and happy by the end. Very easy to work with! He even started to look for contact at the end. But when he wasn't wanting to turn, I was blown away by how far he can get his head back. That was the only head tossing he did though so phew.

Trainer`s Day 8 update

Sounds like things are progressing nicely.  Between managing the barn (while owners away) and her full time job, she has been working them after dark mostly. Good thing the nights were so bright! But they are handling wallking in strange places, doing new things, in the dark, with little worry.

I worked again with long reining. [Evil Poneh] was much better but still extremely stubborn. All she did though was not want to go forward and then when she did, she decided to do her own little serpentines. Not a big deal since she was at least going forward. We covered 4x the distance this time! By the end she was responsive to me asking her to move forward and seemed quite pleased with herself. After this I took her in and groomed her. She is MUCH calmer in the barn now. She stood ground tied while I groomed her and then ate her food and munched some hay calmly in the stall while I went to get Red.
She was actually born in a barn and spent her first month in a small barn with attached run. So really barns are not the problem. Listening is!

I rode Red! I did not have a saddle on him for this time though. He was very good but a little confused. I took him through the ditch and around trees, working on steering and moving forward. At first he was a little apprehensive to go, but was very much enjoying himself at the end. He was walking on a loose rein at a good pace and did not hesitate (as Narra did) to turn away from home. When we got back he was very snuggly in the barn and kept his eye on me. It was very cute.

Training update for Red and Evil Poneh

I have been getting regular emails from the horse trainer on how the horses are doing with training.  I'm finding this great not just because I am a control freak and nosy, but because this way I also get to "see" how thay are responding to being pressured.  So far her assesment is exactly what I expected they would be like.  But I find this so much better than coming back a month later to pick them up and just getting "she didn't like this, but got over it".  I like details.

I've gotten my trainer's permission to share her email snippets of their training progress, so I will just get you all caught up...

Trainer's Day 3 report:

I worked with your babies today. Since they got out last night, and got into a burr patch (knocked rail down) there was a lot of ground tying and patience work for them. Narra got to work on being in the barn because she decided to jump out of the stall, likely just due to being herd bound. I did some sacking out with both horses who were at first a little twitchy but calmed pretty quickly! I worked on the lunge with both as well and used the cues walk and whoa. Both horses were quite attentive (especially Red). Narra was doing a lot of testing today so we worked a lot on getting over that. Just by keeping her attention on me and then making a HUGE fuss so she realized I'm not so bad. She was pretty cuddly after all of this!
Tomorrow I will be taking them both for a walk with a saddle and bridle (with halter over top), and work again on lunging.
As for the escaping, they met me at the barn door this morning and were VERY excited. Red was confused... Narra wanted to play with EVERYONE! Both horses were uninjured and happy. As for Narra jumping out of the stall, she is ok after that as well. I don't think you have to worry about her being game for jumping or not.
Both horses have also been eating and drinking well.

And that is why I call her Evil Poneh.

Because I know it was her who knocked it down, and promptly led Red astray. And yup, when I went out to visit with the Chiro that day, there was a bunch of poop in the hay shed. Where she had likely spent the night.

I was embarrased.

But EP is soaking up all the attention, everyone thinks she is just adorable, especially her hair cut!

Trainer's Day 5 report:

...was relatively stress free for the horses. We went for a walk down the road with a bridle and saddle on. Both horses seemed like they didn't care at all. Narra did not like to idea of having to listen to the bit at ALL. But got used to it.
I had let her wear a bridle a few times, but just low stress stuff, while grooming, etc... Red had never worn one before. His bit arrived in the mail just days before he went to the barn.
I got brave and sat on both of your horses bareback yesterday and today. In the pasture yesterday we just fiddled around and did some circles. Both seemed to like the attention except Narra was mad that she wasn't allowed to eat. Hah. I rode both horses back to the paddoc after their lesson today Again both were good but you can tell Narra just wants to do what she wants. Getting better though. Oh...rode them bareback by the way. I did not get on them with a saddle on. I like to do those separate. Now that they know both I will be getting on with a saddle in the next few days once their steering and breaks are a bit better.

Red had been sat on before, EP never. But I was not expecting the sitting to be the problem with her!
Today was long reining day. Narra was not a happy girl about that. She tried to fight and I let her tire herself out and just kept her facing straight. About an hour later she finally felt that it was better worth it to just walk up the driveway. And she was good. Although she is herdbound she did not trot home. Her steering and breaks improved a lot! I put her in a stall and she did not try to jump out this time. She pawed a bit but I ignored her and she stopped. She was cuddly afterwards.

Are we seeing a pattern here? lol "We did this... Narra was not happy.  We did that... Narra was not happy"
Then there was Red. His steering and breaks were quite decent to begin with. I walked him on the long reins and he even got to trot a bit. He stopped to the command of whoa with a little bit of pressure on the reins. He was happy and listening. This is good, I will be able to progress a little faster with him and he should be good to go for you by the end of the month! I will likely be backing him within the next couple days

This is what I was expecting of him after working with him. I knew he would need a few days to begin to trust her, then he would try very hard for her. Evil Poneh would try very hard to still do what she wanted.

I mentioned to her I was glad I had apparently gotten her over one her (more amusing) bad habits; when she cannot get her way, she throws herself on the ground and rolls like a toddler having a tantrum. This habit developed after I convinced her that kicking at me when she does not get her way, was a Very Bad Idea!

She went "huh, at one point I thought she was going to roll, then I thought: Nah, that was silly"

Narra may need some more time for her rebellious attitude to subside. I knopw why you call her evil pony now haha. I expected this though. I have been letting her realize a lot that it is better worth her time to and energy to listen. I have a feeling that she will be one of those horses where it will just click with her one day and then she will be quite a good pony!

Red is quite the catch I would say! Very good boy. Narra is just a classic pony!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Manitoba Horse Council membership

How awesome is that?! 

MHC just added a way to buy or renew you membership all online!  You can even print it off right away.  In case you needed it ASAP for an event. 

Just select the "My MHC Online" tab at the top of http://www.manitobahorsecouncil.ca/ and it walks you through the process.  Easy peasy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bye Bye horses

Kinda wierd here now.  There are no horses at home for the first time in over 2 years. 

The trainer's other client horse was not able to come by, so she asked if I wanted to bring Evil Poneh by as well, have them both trained at the same time.  So I packed her up and was on the road 2 hours later!

Evil Poneh waiting to be loaded

EP was a dream to load.  Zero issues.  But she did not trailer so well.  There was a lot of trailer shaking goin' on!  Even though I always tie my horses, and drive slowly.  By the time we got to the Barn, she was drenched and hollering!  

Boy, was she happy to see Red!  And I was happy to not be dealing with her herd bound self!  That will be one of the trainer's challenges with her.  And I will be building fencing this year to be able to occasionally seperate the two, so they are more used to it.  My bad.
Narra checking out her new home (for a month or two, at least!)

The trainer has promised to keep me updated with occasional emails on their progress.  I'll be sure to share!