Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
We have been very busy at Golden Curls Ranch getting ready to bring our new BLM Adopted Curly Mustang mares home so I have not had a chance to post pictures and updates. But, our three young fellas (two geldings and one stallion) have been working wonderfully on their ground training and learning subtle commands. Golden Curls has a fabulous trainer who is calm and gentle while firm and encouraging....sounds like a perfect parent! His name is Fillaberto Blanco . Filly has been wonderful in encouraging Cinnamon River to come out of his shell and be a wonderful riding partner. Here is a few photos. Best wishes everyone - keep up the good work. We love to read all the new adventures and hope to share lots of fun with the RAC Mini-Contest! Angie
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I went to see Dolly yesterday afternoon (I start to say "today" later in this post, because it's actually the middle of the night right now). It turned lovely out -- half cloudy and half sunny. Dolly was great at first. The young boy was there again -- he comes out every time I'm there now. I thought it was great at first, because I viewed it as a great opportunity for Dolly to get used to more new things. There was one small hitch, however, and I'm rather embarrassed to even admit it. In hindsight, there are so many things I could have done differently. But I'm learning.
You see, I have no experience with children. None whatsoever. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. My natural state of being is extremely passive. I've gained tremendous amounts of assertiveness skills through training my dog, Dolly, and interactions with my husband, but I'm still a total blank with children. (I've actually had some terrible experiences in the past when unable to set boundaries with young people.)
In this case, it was the bb-gun that needed controlling. It took me several hours to gradually escalate in my own assertiveness. I know what I did wrong in hindsight, and what I could have done differently. NEXT TIME I'm there, I'm going to face it head on. I'll set a new rule right away. Absolutely no bb-guns outside of his grandma's house whatsoever when I have Dolly outside of her pen. Period. I'm going to try to enforce this without asking his grandma to intervene, because I want to do it myself. I want to prove to myself that I can set a rule with a child. I feel that I NEED to do this, for myself.
At first, the kid was shooting the bb-gun at a fairly close mud puddle. It made Dolly nervous, but I judged that it was within tolerable levels. She was tense at times, but would also relax. The boy also put the gun down for a while and came over to pet Dolly and feed her a handful of hay. I put the harness and stuff on Dolly.
Meanwhile, I'm struggling the whole time to control the kid/bb-gun. He's in 2nd grade. I tell him in gradually stronger ways that he can't shoot the bb-gun within earshot of Dolly. I tell him he can go down to the end of THAT driveway over there and shoot it. He says he won't shoot it. He tries 800 different ways to get around that -- for example, he dumps out all the bb's, thinking the gun won't make sound then. Wrong. And a dozen, "Can you hear me now?" Ugh. My bad. Dolly was getting anxious. The kid puts the gun away for a little bit. I work with Dolly and she's calmer again. She's focusing on me, and is line driving GREAT. I actually try to sit in the sled, since it's right next to me and she's already used to pulling me. But there wasn't any snow right there, just grass, and I was too heavy at that moment. So I had the boy sit in the sled, and Dolly pulled him wonderfully. I'd already told the boy to jump out at the first sign of Dolly acting weird, and to run away from Dolly as fast as he can. When we approached the evil snow drift, Dolly started to walk sideways, and the boy jumped ship immediately and ran. It was great. I was able to work Dolly through it and get her turned back around so we could keep working. She really did wonderfully. I was able to work with her a little bit more and I was AMAZED by how well she was turning, stopping, and even backing with the driving lines. It was the first time she's REALLY listened to me through the lines.
I let her circle me a little bit, as if I were lounging her. I couldn't figure out why she was trying to go faster and faster, though. I asked her to walk and she slowed a little bit but wouldn't walk. She slipped because the grass was wet underneath. She slipped a second time and fell over. She stood back up and blinked. I made her walk forward so that she wouldn't associate the harness or something with the fall. She was fine (thank goodness!!!). I walked her in both directions. Finally I figured out why she was so anxious -- the boy was shooting the gun again. I was finally able to ask him to stop at this point, because I had a little anger, and that sometimes helps the impossible become possible. He did stop at that point.
I then made her do some s-curves all around the yard. She was still feeling extremely insecure. I directed her back to where I make her stand for brushing and hoof picking and stuff, thinking that was a 'safe' place for her. Well apparently it isn't anymore -- she treated that particular spot the same way she treats the evil snowdrift. After a while of turning her this way and that, and seeing how insecure she was, I finally called it quits when she took just a couple of steps in the direction of that spot, and lead her the rest of the way there (about 10 feet). She was afraid of that spot because it obscured her vision of the kid, it seemed. So I took everything off her, gave her the vitamins that she loves, pet her and told her she was wonderful, but then put her away quickly because I felt that I was not going to be able to undo her insecurity at that time. She trotted to Athena and basically used Athena as an equine shield from the scary kid. Ugh. I did damage today. I hope I can undo it next time I'm there. I won't do anything unusual next time - I'll probably just pet her and feed her the yummy vitamins and brush her, practice some lateral flexions, and then put her back in her pen.
On the bright side, I asked of Dolly a lot today, and she did really well. Tension was high at times, and she didn't give up or shut down. But I failed to foster her confidence, and undid the confidence she'd gained in the new experiences. [Once her confidence in me is back up, I'm going to see if I can borrow the bb-gun to desensitize her to it in the proper way.]
Are my posts too long?
Much of the road/trail was water, snow and ice-- which was pretty sturdy on the way up-- on the trip down, the horses were breaking through quite often as it had warmed up a bit. Neither of them even broke stride with each break-through.
About three quarters of the way there, we meet our first big break in the treeline. Views from here are great -
Back on the wooded trail again-
Then out past the last treeline, almost to the top.
I am not sure which is the best-- the trot up, or reaching our goal. It was a wonderful ride-- and on the way, as usual, Zoe and I planned our next trip out.. which will be a trot up to the top again-down over the opposite side where we can loop back around to a lower mountain trail to head back home. next week !
Saturday, March 28, 2009
She had her lesson this morning, which went well. She did some dressage basics, i.e., straightness, balance, riding from behind. She had some nice canter departs today! She will likely go to a show in mid May, w/t/c and possibly some cross-rails, we'll see about that. She's excited, to put it mildly.
Then we came home and had some lunch, and headed out to play with our girls before the two, yes TWO inches of rain that is supposed to start tonight.
First up was Lakota, who heard us come outside. And as I was cleaning up the yard from winter debris so we had a safe-ish place to ride, she came over to the gate and was watching us and calling. So cute. So today we tacked up properly which hasn't happened since last summer. Today, she decided the yard was scary. Maybe because it was cleaner? lol! Who knows.
So we spent a little time snorting at all the corners before settling down, which actually didn't take all that long. I decided to try ground driving, after chatting with some friends about Lakota's issues with trust in me when I'm not in front. A first for both of us.
It went better than I expected. I did have to swing the tail end of one of the reins at her rump a few times so she understood forward. She did a LOT of thinking about this, as it was quite new to her. Once I got her going forward, she moved along nicely. Whoa didn't go as well. I usually use my body, not my hands to whoa, and she whoas on a breath out and when I stop riding. Well, I couldn't really do that with ground driving, unless I turned myself into something like an anchor. When I asked for a stop, I did "breath out" which she responded to somewhat, and then I just closed my hands, and when she ran into that, it was upsetting for her. She fought the pressure a bit, then she turned sharply and wrapped one of the lines around her hind pastern and stepped on it. She didn't freak out, but she hit the pressure, felt it on her leg and wasn't too happy about it. I easily got her out of the mess, but after that she wasn't really a fan of this game anymore. She was ready to head back to the barn, which is so NOT like her, so I knew she was upset.
So I asked for one more circle, and then we took off the lines, and I mounted up.
Riding wasn't all that exciting, the roundpen was still pulled apart, I didn't feel like taking even more time to put it back together, and we're trying to get away from that crutch, anyway. So since it was only our second time out of the paddock since last fall, we stuck to just some figure 8's inside the pen, although both ends of it were open. She softened and relaxed into the pattern nicely. So after that, we called it a day. She was quite warm and sweaty considering she did nothing more than a walk. It was warm, around 55F, and she still has her full winter coat, but I think it was more emotional sweat than physical sweat, she really didn't do much at all, and the sweat was in her armpits, and her chest and underside of her neck, and behind her ears.
Mandy got this shot, which cracks me up. And of course shows how much more relaxed she was with the riding as opposed to ground driving.
Then Mandy took these two shots, which I like.
Lakota has never been a fan of kisses, but she has learned to at least humor me and tolerate them, as is obvious from this photo.
Then it was Jen's turn. She was eager for her turn to get to play. Mandy tacked her up with no problems, other than her bracing and getting worried when girthing up. I suspect that will take a good long time to overcome the old "kick in the gut" girthing process. But we went slow, one hole at a time, with a lot of reassurances, and she never moved a foot. I also remeasured Jen for the gullet size, and she measured right on the wide side of medium wide, so I decided to put the wide gullet in the Wintec with the thicker fleece pad (I really hate changing that thing, "easy-change" is a misnomer and it takes quite a bit of grunting, slamming, and swearing to get it back together). I looked more objectively at Jen's back, and she has the same conformation as Lakota, which is not a good thing. She has those huge shoulders that rotate about 4 inches under the saddle, and the same weird long withers, short back and forward girth-groove (sigh). But I was hopeful this would work for her.
So Mandy led Jen around a bit to make sure her mind was connected, and they did fine.
We made it out to the yard, and checked it all out. She was nervous, I could feel it, but she was well-behaved and tried to be brave. The ducks were flapping around, as were chickens, the goats, the goose was playing it up, it was a lot to take in for a horse that hadn't been out of the paddock in a year, and had only been out two or three times in two years. Then I took Jen for a bit, and asked her to move her feet around me, and we meandered here and there and I asked for her attention. Then Mandy laughed, and she teleported a bit, so I knew then that she was quite tense as I had suspected, but was trying to stuff it down and be brave. So I slowed down then, and just spent some time standing and petting her, chatting with Mandy, and relaxing. And then Jen started to drop her head, blow, lick and chew, and relax. Her head was about at my waist level now. I decided that was enough emotional stuff for her today, so we slowly brought her back to the barn, stopping along the way to look at this or that.
Then Mandy hopped on her for a short bit in the paddock. Jen was a bit anxious about that, and she had a real grumpy face as we walked through the paddock. Then we stopped for a photo op, of finally trying to get a pic of Mandy in the saddle. Jen didn't look real happy, and she kept biting at Mandy's foot.
So I decided that the saddle still wasn't fitting well, and asked her to hop off. After untacking and putting our gear away, I decided at the last minute to toss the Barefoot London treeless on her, just to see how it looked. It looked OK on her, so then I asked Mandy to hop on. We went for another short walk, and I was really blown away by the difference in Jen.
So that was our day. I really hate saddle shopping. And its not in the budget, either. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I suppose I can sell both our Wintecs and see how much I can get for them toward a Treeless for Jen. For now, I guess Mandy can share my London.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Like Willie Nelson's "Back on the Road Again"- I guess this could be our new theme song "Back on the Sidewalks Again" !! The Chester Green is a typical traditional small town "green" lined with shops and cafes - very touristy and quaint.
Monday, March 23, 2009
After what seemed like and ENDLESS search, I have found the saddle of my dreams!! It is the new Bates Elevation DS+. Absolutely the most comfortable saddle I have ever sat in-no break in time just hop on and have a great ride. It is a close contact/jumping saddle-just fits me like it was made for me. Someone once told me a saddle should feel like one of those playmobile people and their horses that the kids play with-you should click right in like they do-I never thought I would find that click but I did with the Elevation. I tried every new and used saddle in 3 tack stores and a few I trialed from catalogues - I even had the Stubben rep out and she tried me in all her saddles - nadda, Zilch....until the Bates. It is a brand new model and I would highly reccomend it!!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Today, Dolly got dewormed. Yum yum... She was surprisingly patient with me about it. She let me open her mouth to stick the syringe up there, squeeze in the paste, and she barely complained (well, she made it clear that it was completely disgusting, but didn't struggle or anything). We had a handful of vitamins ready to wash it down (she likes them).
Children. There is a young boy who was hanging around the other day. The kid hung around me & Dolly when I was getting her ready for the farrier. He had a b-b gun (unloaded) that he was playing with. Although it made me uneasy, I didn't ask him to quit because Dolly needs to get used to such antics. She did really well, doing no more than raise her head high when he made sudden movements at times. When the farrier got there, the farrier had the boy hold Dolly, so that my husband and I could look at the hooves and see what he was doing. The farrier taught the boy how to hold Dolly and how to make her back up if she started creeping forward at him. AMAZING. A completely inexperienced, young boy held Dolly while she had her hooves done! The farrier has a lot of faith in Dolly being good-natured. (We did have to help him make Dolly back off a couple of times, when she decided that she wanted the treat bag that was a couple feet away.)
The child also said that he's been using my horse trailer as a target for his bb-gun. :-/ I wasn't too pleased with that, so I asked him if he's noticed any paint coming off of it. He said that his father stands on the porch watching him, so it must be okay. I didn't know what to say to that. So I asked him to look at the paint every now and then, and to stop shooting at the trailer if he ever notices paint getting dented or coming off.
The farrier doesn't take off enough hoof to cause Dolly to be sore or anything. I got into the saddle after the farrier finished. I just wanted to try walking her around for a couple of minutes. She stood still for me at first, because the barn owner was there. The barn owner walked us around a little bit, until her ears nearly froze off of her head. Once she was gone, Dolly pitched a small fit. She didn't want to go where I'd directed her, which was in the direction of a large snow drift. I wanted her to walk around the snow drift; she wanted to walk up the hill to the side of it. She actually reared up a little bit. I'm not a good rider and I have no courage, but it wasn't a scary rear or anything. It took a lot of mental control for me to convince her that I wasn't asking her to walk through 10-foot-deep-snow. After that, I had to ask her to circle that property and try it again-- because I'm a big chicken, I know that I have to repeat the tough tasks so that I don't fear them later. We did it. By the end, she was behaving much better and almost listening. (I haven't ridden her in a very long time, mostly because of my chicken nature.) But we ended on a good note, and she wasn't stressed or upset or anything.
Today, the young boy came out when he saw us. He told me that his father's friend thinks that Dolly looks like a sheep. :) I thought that was cute. I had the boy hold the vitamins that we gave Dolly after the deworming, and he did a good job of holding his hands correctly for her to lick them up out of his gloves.
Today I put on a surcingle and attached some driving lines to the halter, fed them through the surcingle and held onto them behind her. I haven't done this with her in years, but it seemed like the next step to try with her since she's been so good pulling the plastic sled. I had her walk out in front of me. She did great at that, although I could see her tilt her head a little bit from side to side with her ears facing backward, watching me -- she does that when she's insecure. At first, I had the lines attached to the base of the halter. It took me WAY too long to realize that that was making things much more difficult. (She was fighting me a little bit -- I think she was confused about what direction the pressure was coming from at times.) Once I hooked them to the sides of the halter, she didn't have any more troubles. She did so well! I walked her all around like that. We did circles (again, she was HYPER and wanted to run). We went straight (which tends to be more like, "a little to the left, now a little to the right, etc."). We went around that property again, and again she threw a fit at the sight of the giant snow drift. What's silly is that she actually side-passed ACROSS the snow drift to throw her fit (I had asked her to walk beside it, so as to avoid it completely). But today it was so frozen that she didn't sink into it anyway.
At one point, we reached a wind-swept patch of grass large enough for her to circle at a distance, so I let her trot. That's the only time she gave a couple of small bucks (I had the tail piece on her [crupper?], which she doesn't particularly enjoy).
All in all, I think it went great! I had to quit because my shoulders got so tired. The driving lines are not light weight, and I exhausted myself prior to clipping the lines to the sides of her halter.
So I'm stuffy-headed, headachy, low energy, and have occasional bouts of light-headedness. (sigh). I trimmed hooves this afternoon, and when I was sitting down on the stoop waiting for my back to quit hurting so I could actually stand up straight, Lakota came over and was begging for attention. She stood next to me and kept touching my arm. Then she started to paw. I took the hint that she really wanted to do something.
So I went inside to gather my clicker/treat back, and while I was doing that, Lakota decided she was going to start without me. I had the camera with me, so shot some video. I had so much fun, I'm glad she talked me into playing.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Here's the part of the road which has been abandonned- this is a pretty rough trail even in summer and with Teasel's recent fall into the deep ditch scare.. he's understandably skeptical of the idea. The snow is deeper than it looks and there are rocks and brooks to navigate.. so I did not get any photo's of the actual slog and trudge as we "waded" through to the other side. It was fun, but the horses were definitely ready to walk when we reached the other end-
We got out onto Route 11 and trotted briskly up the long hill on the highway toward home... all of us happy with our great ride out.
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