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.