Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10-26-10 Harley Quietly

I saddled Harley, wrapped legs, and walked him to the pasture. I prepared to lunge him just a few minutes, gauge his mood. He walked off from me, and as R latched the big gate, and turned around to watch, pOOf! Harley's spook button went off. He spun a scared 180, looked at me with terrified eyes. It took a few minutes lunging and calming him away from trotting down to a walk before he settled. Lots of soothing words, quiet body language, and oh! telling R to "stand still, and don't make any goofy crazy noises, eh?" I think the gate latching combined with some deer rustling in CRN's yard startled Harley all at once.

With Harley settled, relaxed, and ears/mind on me, I put his bridle on, and hopped aboard. With absolutely zero extra motivation, I squeezed my calves, and he walked off. We walked for about ten minutes, quietly, calmly, with very few halts. I patted his neck, talked sweet to him, with abundant praise for his quiet way of going.

We also rode a few minutes of light trot. R observed a few things for me:
He moves UP, but is NOT tracking under himself at trot - things to work on
He DOES track up plus at the walk - steady and evenly
He halts square, almost every time. If he doesn't halt square, he's backing to square up.
His eyes wrinkle and his ears point to a sound before he reacts in any other way.

Total ride was about 15 minutes. I unsaddled, praised with cookies and love, and turned him back out. A second great ride, even with the brief spooking.

10-26-10 Ransom Here We Are

I hurried home for an in-house vet call. I had a blown trailer tire, and couldn't get it changed quickly enough to meet their schedule, so they came to me.

Dr. Sam arrived, and, in his quiet inquisitive way, immediately starting watching Ransom, even as I walked him out of his pasture. His tech assistant, Bubba, took the lead rope from me. He walked Ransom up and down the side yard, and trotted him up and down the side yard. Bubba also lunged Ransom left and right, changing directions multiple times, maintaining a steady trot. He also performed flex tests on the left hind, where I have seen some of Ransom's stiffness. He hoof tested both front hooves.

And the verdict? It was almost gasping funny, folks. Dr. Sam's words were much like, "It's very obscure, it's very hard to see the lameness at all. He is shorter strided on the left hind, but not by much, and not all the time. He is a little sore on his right front frog today, and hoof-tested, it's either mild navicular pain, or just a tender spot today. I am having a hard time seeing what they are seeing, and it's frustrating." Dr. Sam prescribed a course of action for Ransom, and said he'd review the x-rays, and let me know if there's something obvious happening.

The vet diagnosis? Arthritis. The remedy? Mild pain management, and suggest a shoe change to my farrier for next week. Dr. Sam suggested I just go easy, work light, and short, and participate in this Saturday's show anyways.

I watched Dr. Sam and Bubba drive away, flabbergasted, and utterly confused. The judge 10-10, along with a few others, have mentioned him "lame, sore, too old to continue", and my vet whom I trust sees almost nothing. While I recognize dressage is a sport of perfection, and the test of the ultimate horse's movement, I'm starting to question the sport. These are schooling shows I haul to, guys and gals! NOT USDF rated competitions, and I'm sure not out there even trying to qualify for USDF competitions.

Furthermore, Ransom has never refused work. Now, he's been crabby some days, not wanting to collect, not wanting to stop lightly, and running through my little tender fingers, but he hasn't ever refused to go forward, nor has he ever run away with me. Ransom loves to work, he loves to show - seriously! This is one of the few horses, even watching other show participants, that doesn't fight his warmup, doesn't spook at the moon, doesn't act up when other horses cut him off or near run him over in the warmup ring. He doesn't pin his ears at me, or anyone else, for that matter. When Romeo gets the day of work, and Ransom doesn't work, it's a disaster. Ransom runs fence line, nickering, calling out, pivoting hard on front or rear feet, and works himself into a sweaty frothy mess. He panics, and even if Romeo stays in sight, just the visual of Romeo working, and Ransom not working, and Ransom needs more cooldown efforts than Romeo does. That to me displays a horse that loves to work, loves his job, and hates standing still. Ransom doesn't seem to me to be a horse that wants to retire.

So, yes, he isn't a bunch of 10's gracefully capturing the judge's hearts. He isn't a WEG-dressage potential. He isn't even a USDF rated competitor - I know that. I'm not trying to force him above Training Level!

All that being said, later in the evening, I tossed Ransom out at the end of the lunge line. I saw some improvements in his way of going after the vet's visit. Still, as the vet said, the "problems" are so very minor, it's also hard to see improvements.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

vet says

equioxx shot today, see how he goes. any lameness is very subtle and very hard to see.

Ransom Ransom, Sad Monday

I have sent out a few text messages, emails, and a Facebook private message. I talked to Barb last night about Ransom, and here's how it went..

First, in the email, I told her how the judge had reacted at the Sunday show, first calling him up lame, then awarding us that 65.2%. I told her I have registered for a show this coming Saturday, I'm qualified for HDS Schooling Show Championships, and then I will regretfully be looking for a new horse. Ransom's ready to retire, I think.

She called, and first we discussed Ransom's condition. Her suggestion was to retire him now, maybe take a few light trail rides, but quit competing immediately. "He's too sore to push him. You're only doing it for yourself, and it's not gaining you anything. Scratch this weekend, don't go to the show."

Then, after more discussion, she suggested I call my vet, and find a way to work us through this weekend coming, and the championships. I have the call into the vet (made it before we even talked), and will persist with them today until they call me back.

I'll be honest, fellow readers and riders - this sucks. I am a sappy emotional useless mess just thinking about typing it out here. I've gone from absolutely terrified to ride a canter at home, to nearly ticked off I didn't get my ribbon sash when I earned it at a show for high-score (more on that later). I know it's selfish to want to keep riding him, but I also know how ticked he gets when Romeo goes to work and he misses out. I know when he doesn't feel real good, and I go easy. When he's giving me his best, I ask for more. He's been stiff on his left hind since he came to me - I've got him on supplements, I've done hock injections, I've taken him for chiropractic adjustments. I've done everything I know to do. And I know, yes I know, he's old. I can't expect 8's at every show - this I know. Not once have I let it bug me when the judges comment his trot isn't quite right.

So is it time to "pack him up and send him home"? Do I throw in the towel today, and schedule his delivery back to BRM for retirement? Do I force myself to tack him up and trail ride alone? Or do I talk to the vet, and search for a temporary solution to manage us through the end of the year? I had already decided Ransom and I would part company at year's end, and I'd start praying for another miracle horse like him to land in my pasture. That was a given. What I didn't plan on was quitting now, with two shows left, the last being the biggest I've ever been in.

Feel free to comment, leave feedback. There isn't anything off limits, I'll entertain all comments, thoughts, and ideas.

Harley 10-24-10 Brave New Sundays

There are plenty of other updates that won't get mentioned, because honestly, nothing was so profound that I remember except this one ride.

Ransom's had a few dressage rides that hit the spot. He's also had a few crummy rides, fighting me on trot-to-canter transitions. But overall, we haven't done much in the way of magic last week.

Harley had one or two days last week on the lunge line, on one occasion I introduced him to a training tool called an "elbow pull", which I saw on Julie Goodnight's TV show. I tested it out on Ransom and Romeo first, to see if the muscled-up horse could learn it (Ransom = check), and if the older quiet horse could learn it (Romeo = check). When I put it on Harley, he fought it, but when he realized the release only came when he relaxed his head, he held it as long as his muscles would allow. None of these lunging sessions or "work sessions" lasted over 15 minutes, keeping everything slow, low-key, and relaxed.

Sunday, after a decent Ransom dressage ride (stickie into the canter, stringing out, and almost refusing to transition pretty), I grabbed Harley. Saddled him western for the first time, wrapped legs, put on his bit, and walked him to his pasture.

I put on my helmet.
I prayed, "God don't let me get too hurt if this is a bad idea."
And I got on. Mounted up, wiggled a little in the tack, and watched Harley's ears flicker as the saddle squeaked.
Mrs.Mom and I discussed at some great lengths about Harley and mine bareback adventures, and how he absolutely refused to walk forward. Mrs. M suggested I wriggle, wiggle, dance my little body all about, squeeze in pulses with my calves, and talk to him. Tell him, "Walk on, Harley. Walk on." In his lunging before this week, I hadn't been saying much to him, except the occasional cluck or kiss, and his verbal "whoa" cue. I wasn't telling him what gait I wanted, but releasing the cluck or physical pressure when he got it right.
So I tried it out. I clucked to him, told him, "Walk on." He didn't budge. I squeezed my calves, wiggled my legs, danced my toosh around in the tack, and told him again, "Harley, walk on", in a stronger voice.
And off he went. Harley moseyed a little at that wimpy walk I'd gotten bareback. So I ramped up the physical pressure, wiggling my legs and toosh. He picked it up!
Afraid I'd impede his forward motion, I didn't ask for a halt for quite a while, maybe five straight minutes of walking only. *laugh* Well, kind of walk only. When Harley would begin to ease up his gait, I'd start squeezing and wiggling. Twice he tried to break to trot, and got a stride or two out before I'd give him a heavy sigh and he'd come back to walk.
Then finally, I got brave. I asked for a halt. Sat back, heavy sigh, verbal, "Whoa." He stopped easily, but then backed up a step or three before settling. I pushed him up to a walk again, then halted again. Each "walk on" became easier and easier, with less dancing toosh from me. Great!

Feeling brave, or stupid, or fearless, I can't guess which, in the walk, I squeezed, and clucked. Harley's head popped up a little, and he settled into a trot. Now, let me try to describe the trot (without video, which I will explain in a minute). Bouncy, steady, slow, controlled. Harley didn't squirt out forward, his trot isn't at ALL flat, it's very 'Up&Down', and yet it's slow. I hope to get some video of me riding that trot, maybe not to post, but so I can watch it myself, and see exactly what his feet are doing. It felt like he was picking through the flat pasture, but staying in the gait. Knowing I could find his trot, I tried to find his slowdown button. I sat deep, and sighed. That was ALL it took. Harley broke to a walk, let out a heavy sigh, licking and chewing.

In the final minutes of walk, something rustled in the CRN's tree line. Harley stopped quick, ears pricked. I was able to wiggle, squeeze, dance my toosh, until he walked through it. To my delight, he didn't try to run through the scary spot, he didn't cock his head and neck sideways at it, he instead walked on by, very hesitant.

Satisfied with our ten or fifteen minutes of saddled work, I called him "done." Really?! The saddle was all he needed to get moving? I will guess he hadn't carried human weight bareback, and I was the first. Scared, he didn't buck, he didn't take off, he didn't try to get rid of me, he just stood still. Great! Is this how he will always handle fear, by stopping? THAT is something I can live with a thousand times more than running away scared.

Things that went great this ride:
Walking and trotting under saddle without a single "bad" moment
NO Lunging warmup (got on cold!)
NO babysitter - therefore, no video or pictures. Let me 'splain. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "First time under saddle, why in the pasture, why not the arena, and child! why nobody there to video?! Heck, why nobody there to watch you just in case?"
I'm braver when I'm alone. When I get these "wild hairs" to do something adventurous and new, they are sudden, and without thought. If I think about it long enough to call Jen, or R, and say, "Hey, I'm going to ___ today. Can you come babysit?", that's just long enough to chicken out. So when I get the notion I'm going to try something, I need to get after it pretty quick. I'd decided right after Ransom's ride, that I wanted to ride Harley for real, and I needed to act on it quickly, before I lost my nerve.
Biggest, Baddest, Best part? At no moment did I get scared, or did I have to remind myself to "fake calm". Harley never gave me a cause to be worried, and for that, he got ample cookie and verbal praise.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10-19-10 Romeo Demonstrates

I grabbed Romeo, halter, short lunge line, and walked him to the side yard. I let him show Harley "just how it's done."

We worked on all the showmanship pieces, all the in-hand close work. Turns were great, and how I love his showmanship jog. It warms my little heart.

Then I lunged him walk/trot, with LOTS of transitions, and direction changes. Romeo's second cutest trick? Planting his butt and turning sharp on the line at command. I love it! He almost looks like a cutting horse when he hops into the direction change.

We lunged and played for about fifteen minutes. The reason? I watched Harley almost as much as I watched Romeo during this work. I was paying attention to see if Harley was watching.

Now, I don't honestly know if horses learn from each other when humans are involved. That's up for debate. But I know Harley watched intensely, and didn't move much during Romeo's work. Romeo behaved like a saint, thank goodness.

Total, yeah, about 15-20 minutes. Romeo was privately rewarded behind the trailer, out of everyone's sight. Sneaking cookies to praise the littleMan.

10-19-10 Harley Regroup

I took a step back, and realized that Harley's topline back strength isn't increasing as quick as I thought it would. I had a long email chain discussion with Mrs. Mom, and changed my plans forward with Harley.

I caught him in the pasture, carefully applied fly spray, noting it was SO much better than last time. Yeah, he tossed his head, but he didn't explode and try to blow away from me, either. I put on the halter, and the shorter lunge line.

And I asked him to walk on the line. Quickly, he realized that "walk" was the only request I had in mind, he eased forward. After a few steps of the walking circles, he lowered his head.

I stared at his back, and concentrated. As he lowered his head, I could almost see the muscles moving in his topline. Neat! Concentrated, we worked on walk-only for nearly 7 minutes. I then let him trot just a little, again in observation.

A few great steps of trot with a lowered head, neck nearly level with his withers. Awesome. I poured on the praise in a tender voice.

Total "work", 15 minutes. We're slowing down, sort of. I still plan on adding a saddle here soon, and asking for walking forward with an eased neck & head. We're going to cancel side reins until there's more topline to appreciate, and ask mostly for only walk. Harley knows how to walk, trot, and canter, so it's not a "teach from scratch". Right now, my focus is muscle development, and memory impression.

10-19-10 Ransom to Work

Ransom's red toes have worn off, thank goodness. It'd look so tacky with his dark blue polo wraps and dressage saddle. =)

I rode him through all of his dressage pieces. Walk nice, trot a little stiff, but canter was just lovely. We did argue on a few up transitions, but after a hard half-halt or three, I was able to remind Ransom of his expecations.

With the "pieces and parts" completed, I worked through walk leg yields with great results. Then, I tried to decide between attempting a flying lead change, a simple change, or shoulder-in at walk.

I chickened out, again. The arena has grown grassy, and it's chunky. It seriously needs some discing to even out the dirt and soften the lumpy spots. So, no flying changes, no canter across the diagonal. I'm a chicken...

So I tried some shoulder-ins at the walk. FAIL. I'm not coordinated, or not bright enough to figure it out. This will need some teaching, and some assistance. But we sure tried. I think total I got about three successful steps each direction.

Total dance, 45 minutes.

10-17-10 Harley Moves About

I lunged Harley briefly on the halter, and with R there to help out and watch, I tried something fun. Harley was compliant on the halter, I believe happy to not be eating bit confusion.

I added the bit, and he was polite about taking it. I added a helmet, and attached the shorter lead rope to his halter. R and I had a little chat about "quiet, calm, peaceful, and do not over react."

I walked Harley to his pasture, fastened the gates, and walked him up to the little step stool.

Hop Hop Hop, launch.. I was sitting, on his back, legs apart. That's real riding. R was holding the lead rope, and I could see tension in fingers. I could feel tension in Harley's back. "Honey, You're going to need to relax for this to work. Just breathe." R eased, and so did Harley, licking and chewing with a heavy sigh.

Are we ready? Let's try it. I squeezed with both legs, and clucked. Two forward steps, and he stopped. C'mon Harley, need more than two, dear. Squeezed again, and clucked. He walked on another half dozen steps, before my helmet scraped on a tree limb. squirt! Oh crap! Whoa honey... Harley heard the tree branch scraping, and shot forward about a foot before I was able to get him relaxed. On the upside, he did move forward, he didn't really explode, and I stayed up.

We got a few steps of walk at a time, and the more we walked out, the easier it became. Harley walked out a handful of steps, changed direction nicely, and learned to understand R being on the lead rope, and me being up aboard.

Our first ride. Albeit about ten minutes, and total uneventful, easy forward go. Light, walking, bareback. Whatta way to start...

10-17-10 Ransom's Red ToeNails

I tacked Ransom up in hunt seat. In flat work warmup, I quickly realized I hadn't seen that saddle under me in quite a while.
It's slippery leather
It squeaks a lot
The seat is really shallow
Legs are super shorter
And it automatically perches ya forward if you're not concentrating
=) Fun!

After I got my hunt-sea legs back, R and I set up some trot poles on the circle. Ransom fumbled through them a time or four before realizing they weren't going to give, weren't going to move, and he needed to pay attention to his hooves. We hopped over the pole set a dozen times each way, at least. By the end, Ransom was not tapping them with toes, and I was giggling through them. He actually tried a few times to trot two, and canter OVER the last two at once. Anything to jump, I swear.. =)

Total work, about 45 minutes. When I was untacking, and brushing out the sweaty fuzz, I saw red paint marks on his toes. Okay Ransom, if you wanted your toes painted red, you coulda asked. No need to rub it on yourself off the poles!

10-16-10 Harley Tries Again

Knowing the lunge on bit only was over in his mind, I increased the effort required on Harley's part...

At the arena, I added gloves, his "baby bit" french link snaffle, and surcingle, side reins attached to it (but not the bit yet). I lunged him just a little on the snaffle only, and after he fought it just a little while, he realized it was much like the halter lunging. Same, but different.

After a few minutes, I added the side reins. Like it never even happened, Harley pressed forward, and lunged out. Leads me to believe this isn't his first experience with side reins, or something like it. He did leave his mouth gaping open to begin, but then settled easily.

I tightened the side reins once, looking for some sort of "mental feedback" from him. No reaction. No wrinkled eyes, no flappy ears, no stressful gaits.

Total work about 30 minutes. Neither of us broke a sweat. How cooL!

10-16-10 Romeo Shows 'Em All

Romeo, in all his Western gear, and I headed to the arena. I saw no reason to actually change bits, or force him to "work work". The morning air was humid, but cool, and dew covered the grassy arena.

For about 45 minutes, Romeo and I romped through the arena. All three gaits, turns on both ends, backing, side passing. Gawgeous. The last ten or so, I concentrated on the walk / halt, and trot / halt. He's resorted back to stringing out, hollowing out, and halting on the forehand. The longer we did it, the better it was. He also started relaxing heading forward, lowering his head at walk and trot as well.

Fun work, and refreshing.

10-15-10 Ransom Explores

First, I was going to lunge Ransom in side reins, only.
Then, I considered riding him hunt seat, on flat, and over poles.
Thirdly, I debated working him in a hard dressage ride, and trying a shoulder-in, or flying change.

Finally, I gave up every single one of those ideas. The weather was fabulous, and those all sounded like "Work"! I grabbed Ransom, cleaned quickly, tacked up dressage, twisted wire loose ring snaffle bit, added helmet, gloves, and a prayer.

And offs we went. Ransom and I explored the road away from home, all the way to where the co-op power lines cross over the street. I'd seen this before, and ridden just a few feet down it with Romeo. However, my curiosity was raging. Ransom had walked peacefully and slowly away from home, more calm than normal. Perhaps he sensed my ease and relaxation, and chose to agree with me.

Down the grassy lane cleared by the power company earlier this year, he didn't even flick an ear at the bunnies and squirrels. It wasn't long down the lane though, before I found a barking dog. oops! That's a neighbor's back yard. My bad.. U Turn Ransom! Down another grassy lane, more dog woof. Oops! Another neighbor's back yard. Okay Ransom, U turn one more time. We landed back on the dirt road, and headed for home.

As we approached home, my interest in stopping was non-existent. C'mOn Ransom, let's head towards the mailboxes, see how far we get today. We made it just a little bit farther than last time, before I could feel his tension. No sense in an argument, I insisted on about five walk steps ahead before turning us back towards home.

Total ride, all at a walk, 20 minutes. Either due to humidity, or a very forward walk, Ransom and I both broke a sweat, him more than me. We're quickly approaching "too much winter coat for a sweat happy pony", and I hear clippers running in the back of my mind.

10-15-10 Harley Learns the Bit

The Satellite TV installer arrived, much much later than I originally figured he'd be there. No matter, I had nearly all the laundry done, house was clean, and the doggies were off at the dog-spaaaa for the day. Translated- canine groomer / babysitter.

Knowing the Satellite fellow would be romping up and down the ladder, in and out of the house, I figured this a great time to work with Harley - around monsters and boogers.

I haltered him, bitted him, and lunged him a little off the halter. When that was a non-event, I ran the lunge line through the bit, over his head, and clipped it offside. THAT got a little reaction of fear and curiosity.

I was able after a little tug and cluck to get him lunging off the bit, rather nicely. Both directions, and after twice, he realized it was easier on him, and me, if he dropped his head for the line change.

Total of about 20 minutes, without spooks or goobers. Satellite TV guy asked me, "So what do you do for a living? Do you just ride horses?" I laughed.. "No, sir. I'm a chemist." I mused to myself "riding horses for a living.. would it still be fun, or then would it be too much like work?"

10-14-10 Ransom Back

After his well-earned vacation, Ransom and I gathered ourselves dressage, and headed to the arena. It was to be his first day back, and I promised him one thing..

If he'd stay light on the bit, head low, and respond to light pressure, I'd not ride collected. I'd keep a long rein, light hands.

We played for about 25 minutes, focusing on forward without speedy, and gentle, sweeping turns. I didn't expect perfect, and Ransom met his end of the deal.

Refreshing... to come off an intense two-day show, give the sweet man three days off, and find Ransom just as I left him - ready for action.

10-12-10 Harley Meets The Neighbors

Freakie Redneck Neighbor Dude, Meet Harley!

Geez, I really wish it had been such a cheerful interaction. I gathered Harley up, started to brush, pick hooves, and "dress him". The flies are back at the house, swarming faces and legs. I sprayed his body, sprayed his legs, raised my arm to spray his face, wazoo!

Harley tugged, and pulled, and blew a gasket. Took off, yanking the nylon lead from my tender fingers, leaving flesh behind on the rope. Straight towards the barn, Ransom and Romeo watching intently from their stalls, snickering at me, no doubt. I gathered him up with gentle voice, squirt bottle still in-hand.

I got close, I raised my arm with the bottle in it, wahzoo! There he goes again. Only this time, he ran towards the road, again, removing yet some more skin from my fingers. Of course, in his wisdom, Harley didn't retreat to his pasture. Nah, he whizzed right by the open gate, up the fenceline, and straight into the woods seperating me and my scary neighbor.

[Note: Scary Redneck Neighbor Guy has earned his name well. Among his feats, are swatting standard golf balls *towards* my house, one landing right in front of a jump when I was schooling Romeo, inviting me to his yard aboard Mo one day, while screaming at me on another to "stay off his #*&^$ property", and my all-time favorite, practicing his rifle skills *towards* Ransom's pasture shortly after his arrival. He has earned his name well. This spring, SRNG had some of that wooded peace cleared, leaving a visual path from his garage door, to my front porch. He's certainly freaking SRNG. YUCK!]

I walked through the woods, mulling over all the things I did wrong, and what I was going to do when I finally caught him. Because, face it, he can't get too far, before he'll either spook at the dog breeder down the road, or run into something else scary, and head back for home.

I found him, in SRNG's back yard. See, SRNG has installed a deer feeder, which had very recently dropped corn and other edible nummies to the grass below. Harley was helping himself.

I caught him, walked him back to the house, grabbed my gloves, and went straight to the overgrown round pen. An enclosed area, and a small one at that, secured fence, and far from the street. There, I showed Harley that, while he doesn't have to LOVE fly spray, he has to tolerate it, and the benefits that result.

Harley none worse for wear, and my fingers filled with raw skin, blisters, and burning pain, we swiftly called it a day after that.

*And I had big plans.. We were going to lunge in the bit for the first time, and hop hop hop around him and over him again. dagnabbing fly spray, and SRNG!*

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10-10-10 Training #3 D. Rochau

Training Level #3, D. Rochau, Judge

1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
6 = some irregularity in gait, quite straight

2. Track left at C, Left at E, circle left 20m at X
5 = Should be 20m, not 10m

3. Circle right 20M at X, B turn right
5 = on inside shoulder, not 20m yet

4. – 5. Circle right 20m at A, right canter lead first quarter of circle

4. Transition
7 = very smooth

5. Circle
6 = lays on inside rib cage and on forehand

6. E-B Half circle 20m, near centerline working trot, B straight ahead
6 = not enough from behind, more supple

7. A Medium walk
7 = very good activity

8. K-B free walk
8 = good stretch and activity

9. B-M medium walk, M working trot
6 = hollow in trot transition

10. – 11. Circle left 20m at C, left canter lead first quarter of circle

10. Transition
7 =

11. Circle
6 = circle small, but better balance

12. E-B Half circle 20m, near centerline working trot, B straight ahead
6 = well prepared. poll to get low dropping chest

13. C, circle left 20m, rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward, shorten reins before C
6 = show more bend

14. Half circle at E 10m to X
X straight ahead, G halt salute.
7 = some wiggly moment, but nice

Rider comments
Gaits = 6
Impulsion = 7
Submission = 7
Rider = 7

Pretty nice except for your 20m circles. Smile. Good luck

Absolutely elated! I giggled with some high glee when I finally retrieved all three tests, and saw this score. My first ride ever on TL#3, with a judge who didn't like my horse in equitation. It rode really easy, except for poor pre-planning on those first two 20m circles at X. Those were entirely my fault - I knew they weren't big enough, but I hadn't studied the test hard enough to know just how big to make them. Ooops!

In final thoughts, I have a better idea just how much I can cram into a two day show. This was all a bit much. I think that this weekend was the last of my Equitation classes. I won't put him, or me, through that, again. There's such a long break between Eq and the tests, and Ransom just has to stand and wait - which isn't good for his body, or his mind. It's horrible for my mind. I fretted and worried, and actually worried myself sick during the break, concerned if I should just pack up and go on home. I'm glad I didn't. I'm also very proud of myself for not running to the office after each test to get scores. I gave Ransom ample breaks, water, hay, and cookies, and rested myself with water and snacks. It was a huge learning curve, and a really awesome trip. Oh yeah, and a spectacular show!

10-10-10 Training #2 D. Rochau

Training Level #2, D. Rochau, Judge

1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
6 = tendency to lower poll close in front

2. Track right, circle 20m
6 = quite steady, could be suppler

3. Change rein working trot KXM
6 = very steady, needs balance in corners

4. Working canter left lead between C & H
7 = smooth

5. E Circle Left 20m
6 = on forehand

6. Between E and K working trot
7 = fairly smooth but dump on forehand

7. A medium walk
6 = lost clarity don’t push past point

8. FXM Long free walk down the diagonal
7 = good activity and topline stretch

9. M-C Medium Walk
7 =

10. C Working Trot
6 = not through from behind

11. Circle Left 20m
6 = needs better bend and suppleness throughout

12. Change Rein working trot, down the diagonal
6 = nice except deep in poll

13. Between C and M working canter right lead
7 = nicely through

14. B circle right 20m
7 = on forehand, more from behind

15. Between "B" and "F" working trot
6 = fairly active and through

16. Down "A" centerline, halt, salute.
7 = close behind, but straight

Rider comments
Gaits = 6
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6
Rider = 7

Some nice moments. At times really doesn’t look his age.

Wow, again. Look at that extra written comment. That was the near-highlight of my weekend. Doesn't really look his age. Nice! I serve my horse well - I don't interfere, and while we're not a "9 & 10" pair, we're snagging 6s, 7s, and even some 8s. What a deal! From remarking early in the day he was lame and stiff, to a closing remark like that.

10-10-10 Training #1 D. Rochau

Training Level #1, D. Rochau, Judge

1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
6 = fairly straight, square halt; slight drift before “C”

2. Track left, circle 20m
7 = good energy, nicely connected

3. Working canter left lead between K & A
7 = obedient

4. B Circle Left 20m
6 = falling on forehand

5. Between centerline and B working trot
6 = gets a little deep w/pole but nice flow

6. C medium walk
7 = nicely active

7. Long free walk down the diagonal
7 = good ground cover, and topline stretch

8. "A" working trot
6 = mouth open then relaxed

9. Circle Right 20m
6 = tend to lay on right side, not enough through back

10. Working canter right lead in the corner
7 = nicely on aids

11. "B" circle right 20m
6 = on forehand, needs better bend and suppleness

12. Between centerline and "B" working trot
6 = tend to run past rhythm point then balanced

13. Down "A" centerline, halt, salute.
7 = straight and square

Rider comments
Gaits = 6
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6
Rider = 7

Nice job. *smiley face* Sweetheart of a horse. Keep enjoying him.

Wow. Talk about a turn-around. She complimented him! She really complimented him! The comments were all fair, and well-spoken. However, I didn't know how I did until it was all over. I absolutely refused to get tests and scores until after all three tests were complete. I figured if she didn't ring the idjit bell, there was no reason to worry about numbers. We were going to put out our best rides possible, and I wasn't going to fret about scores. Talk about shocked when I read TL#1. And it got better. Shockingly better.

10-10-10 Equitation

We entered the arena, two Amateurs, and one junior. Ransom warmed up very, VERY stiff. I saw this coming, but didn’t do anything to prevent it. I regretted not making him more comfortable overnight, locked in his 12x12 jail cell. Turn out was going to be in a group, and it would’ve been a very dark retrieval. Not something I thought highly of. Ransom spent the night in his stall, and while he had eaten all of his hay overnight, there wasn’t time for breakfast before the class. He was crabby, and I understood. Still, a class judged on rider equitation – how bad could it be?

Oooh, bad. Really Really ReALLY bad. Pack yer junk ‘n’ go home bad.. Pout to your BFF bad.. call the BF-R in near tears bad.. Ransom was stiff, he wasn’t forward, at all. We broke gait at canter, and picked up the wrong lead. Just bad. Really bad.

And the judge, of course, saw the stiffness, the wrong lead, gait broke, all of it. She told me about it all, too. “He’s stiff, he’s sore, he looks a little lame, I hope you can feel that. Tell me, how old is he?” I quietly responded, “He’s twenty, ma’am.” I nodded at her remarks of his stiffness.

Would we recover? Could I really get myself out of that slump of crab that came from her comments? More importantly, could I find a way to loosen Ransom up? I hand walked him three times after Eq and before my three tests. He fought us for breakfast, and ended up not eating it all. He slowly munched hay, and some cookies. He even ate a little apple buried in his grain. But when Ransom decided he didn’t want to finish his grain, that was all there was to say about it. He faced the back of his stall, pouting, head over the waterer. I put hay on the ground beside it, and he munched occasionally.

I warmed up for the Training tests, and I prayed. At best, we’d score mediocre. At worst, she’d ring the idjit bell, and send us on our way, with Ransom called Lame, and out for the day. I was horrified.. Lame? I knew he was sore, but gosh me! He’s old! He won’t be 100% fluid like those younger horses that floated across the warmup pen.

10-9-10 Training #2 L. Cummings

Training Level #2, L. Cummings, Judge

1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
6 = uneasy towards C

2. Track right, circle 20m
6 = trot rhythm not always clear

3. Change rein working trot KXM
6 = slightly unlevel

4. Working canter left lead between C & H
8 = well ridden

5. E Circle Left 20m
6 = push out to 20meters

6. Between E and K working trot
7 = could be straighter

7. A medium walk
6 = needs fluidity

8. FXM Long free walk down the diagonal
7 = allow more time for legs to swing through

9. M-C Medium Walk
7 =

10. C Working Trot
6 = rhythm not pure

11. Circle Left 20m
7 = mostly steady

12. Change Rein working trot, down the diagonal
7 = show more bend in corner

13. Between C and M working canter right lead
6 = prompt, need more bend

14. B circle right 20m
6 = push out to 20m

15. Between "B" and "F" working trot
6 = unlevel

16. Down "A" centerline, halt, salute.
6 = undershot centerline, but square

Rider comments
Gaits = 6 trot?
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6
Rider = 6

Willing, obedient horse. Shows some unlevelness at trot tonight. Use circles and corners and bend to develop more suppleness and balance.

10-9-10 Training #1 L. Cummings

Training Level #1, L. Cummings, Judge
1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
6 = wiggly on C, maintain immobility

2. Track left, circle 20m
6 = trot rhythm not always clear

3. Working canter left lead between K & A
7 = shows balance

4. B Circle Left 20m
6 = moment behind vertical

5. Between centerline and B working trot
6 = behind vertical

6. C medium walk
6 = tense

7. Long free walk down the diagonal
5 = needs longer swinging strides

8. "A" working trot
7 = straight, but could be softer

9. Circle Right 20m
6 = sometimes unlevel

10. Working canter right lead in the corner
6 = obedient, then heavy on forehand

11. "B" circle right 20m
6 = push out to 20 meters

12. Between centerline and "B" working trot
6 = fairly straight

13. Down "A" centerline, halt, salute.
7 = almost straight

Rider comments
Gaits = 5 trot?
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6
Rider = 7

Willing horse. Some tense / stiff moments today lowers scores. Be attentive to geometry and allowing horse to reach to contact.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10/9/10 Equitation

Before even leaving, Ransom was in "the zone". I successfully clipped bridle path, feet, nose, and even ears, without a twitch which I normally need. He was anxious as Romeo was out of sight, but with everyone lured back into their stalls with more hay, he calmed right down. Booted up great, and loaded sweet like he always does.

The trip to the show was uneventful. Light traffic, and no accidents to navigate. Jen met me part of the way and followed me. That made the big exit in Houston very easy - just flip on a turn signal, and look in my rear view mirror. She cleared the path, and made my way easy and effortless. Way to Go Jen!

We arrived, unpacked, and settled for the first class. There wasn't much time before the noon dressage equitation. I watched a few higher level tests, and some pretty awesome horse/rider pairs. Neat stuff, those upper levels are. Those ladies sure made the rides look effortless. My favorite thing in dressage has to be those UPhill flying changes. The horses were almost leaping up in front as they changed leads. Sweet!

Ransom dressed for equitation, and I tossed on some show clothes. We warmed up for about ten or fifteen minutes when Jen said to me, "The ring steward wants you outside the show ring now waiting." HUH?! Waiting out in the sun? Um, why? We weren't really warmed up totally yet. I had ridden him for almost the entire warm up in his twisted wire bit, then switched to the baucher just before she called for us. We barely had time to ride in it - uh oh!!

The judge was the same from the 07/19 show. I had determination. I wasn't going to get the "idjit bell", and I sure wasn't going to embarass myself again with a tense horse and a tense ride. I gave her a cheerful greeting as we entered the arena, smiling a "Good afternoon!" her way. I rode the entire arena rail, greeting the scribe as well. I was the only Adult Amateur in the class, so it was kind of a non-event I be in there. Two younger riders joined me.

It became clear part way through the class, they had little experience sharing the arena with anyone else. I giggled through it, and did my absolute level-best to not have a wreck. Ransom was great. He worked all his gaits real solid, and steady. A nice slow canter that was easy to plant my butt on his back for. The judge asked at the end, "I don't know if you guys can sit the trot, but if you're comfortable trying, this is a great time to do so."
I sat deep, and Ransom met me with a nice collected stride. Atta boy! *whew*

Judge commented...
The ride was great. My seat is great. My position is great. I need to learn how to have a soft middle, but steady legs, and steady upper half. My whole body "wiggles like jello with his movements, and I need to only wiggle in the middle." Um.. Okay ....

We then enjoyed a five and a half hour break before warming up for TL1. Jen and I rested by her car, took brief catnaps, enjoyed watching other warmups, and mused to ourselves "It sure is nice having an older seasoned horse, 'cause we aren't spending hours lunging and working to get ready for the ring." We even got Ransom to eat his supper early before the tests began. He cheerfully plowed through half an apple and his grain. yahOO!

Friday, October 8, 2010

10/8/10 Lessons and Packing It Up

Jen came over after work, and found Ransom and I warming up in the arena. I'd skipped lunging on side reins, since I wasn't 100% sure I'd be doing that at the show. If highly crowded, there wasn't much point in adding a lunging horse into the chaos.

We rode mostly on the low arena circle, all three gaits. Ransom was being his normal pre-show butthead. He was fighting some transitions, and tossing his head way more than I would've normally accepted. Maybe he felt my anxious stress about the show, maybe he was distracted or stiff, who knows. As the transitions improved, I quit asking for ask many, and focused on steady but forward.

We rode through TL3 to close out, and it was successful. Not the prettiest thing in the world. But I had made a decision about TL3 - I was going to be riding it last of last of two days' show, and I wasn't expecting perfection. In absolutely no way did I expect to pin high in TL3. It was our first out with it, and at best, I wouldn't get the "idjit bell" rang on me for going off the test. Ransom would be sore after riding three classes Saturday, and three already Sunday. By the fourth on Sunday, there was no point in fighting for high collection, big forward, or easy transitions. I just wanted to get it Over with, and see what else we needed to work on.

Jen stayed around to help with Ransom's bath, which went well. I decided he would get a light touch up clipping, but not until Saturday morning. With Ransom in his paddock with water, hay, grain, and a light sheet, we fed the other boys, and she headed on home.

Much to do, I got the housework done, and the kids that were staying behind mostly settled. I got to bed later than I wanted, but with so much to accomplish, I wasn't too surprised. I was heading out alone Saturday morning, meeting Jen on the way. No R to help us along this weekend, and it felt nearly overwhelming, all the things that needed doing.

10/7/10 Harley and Romeo

Had a quick ride on Ransom (going through pieces of tests, and checking transitions), and unfortunately, it's gone from the memory banks. I don't remember anything really all that fantastic. Just a steady go..

Then I grabbed Romeo, cleaned him up, gave him a strong talking to, and tied him up. I walked into Harley's pasture, gathered him up easily, and did more of the same. With Harley secured, I put Romeo's western bridle on, and really told him how it was going to be.

I grabbed Harley's lead rope, and hopped on Romeo. I tried ponying Harley from Mo. See that word there? Tried? Yeah.. Harley wanted to follow follow. In no way did he want to bring his head up close to me, or Mo. Without much reaching or fussing I was able to scratch his head a few times, but Harley's behavior made it pretty clear he didn't want to get too close to BossHoss Romeo. Made me wonder what exactly they've talked about in the pasture these past few weeks.

To get Harley realizing I can control his feet from atop Romeo, I pushed Romeo into his hip. Sure enough, Harley moved away from the pressure. Did a little on the shoulder, with the same results. So we walked on again. Walking, walking, halt, walking, halt. All the same results, even with smooth direction changes, but Harley didn't want to come up close to Romeo.

I asked for the turns again and movement away from pressure. Harley resisted. I smooched to him, no reaction. I pushed Romeo forward towards him, still no movement. Hmm.. now what's am I going to do?

I pushed Mo directly into Harley's hip, and said, "Mo, help me out here." Mo attempted to nibble Harley's hip. Harley squeaked, and moved right away from it. I laughed. Goodness Mo, he's a horse, not a cow! I pushed Mo up into that hip again. Romeo apparently thought a lot of himself right at that moment, and reared up a bit off the ground before pushing Harley away. Again, I laughed.

We walked around some more, forwards, halts, backups, more turns on pressure, and I called Harley done. With Harley tied patiently, I put Romeo through some good solid trot-whoa work, and some tight turns, along with a couple steady rollbacks.

So the ponying work was done with decent success. On the downside, I wasn't in my saddle, so I couldn't really push for perfect. On the upside, I was wearing my helmet, and I stayed "sunny side up." .

10/6/10 If Your Legs are Together

*naughty readers... If you thought about anything BUT horses when you read that subject heading, go wash your brain with antibacterial soap, and go sit in the corner for fifteen minutes to think about it.* LOL

I caught Harley, got him ready to go, and added my hunt saddle. It's not near ready to fit him, as he's still waay too out of shape to carry it a long time. I very slowly cinched it up, and watched his ears. He didn't flip them, didn't even wiggle. Stood stock statue still. I walked him over to the side yard, asked him to walk out some, and tightened the girth. Still no reaction. Great! Lunged him a while, and he sped off. Quickly, though, Harley realized that, to make the saddle make less boogery spook noises, he needs to slow down. He halted with each "whoa", even with the saddle irons flapping on the sides of the saddle. I lunged him this way in the tack for probably ten minutes, and when he settled, I took him back to the trailer, and took it off.

What to do, what to do. Okay, a few turns on each end. Great job, Monster! Five steps in the back, four up front. Nice! Led in-hand at the walk a while.. still needs work to keep him up with me. He'd be MUCH happier toodling along behind. What to do, what to do. I stood beside him, grabbed mane, and hop hop hopped to simulate what it'll be when I hop up into tack. No reaction, at all. Both sides. now what.. good grief.. now what.. dumdeedumdeedum.. doodleydoo.. I've got it!

I grabbed my little plastic step stool, set it beside him like I would mount up. I stood up on the stool, no movement from Harley. I hop hop hopped, no movement. I took a solid hop, and leaned up on him, legs crossed together. Clinton Anderson say, "It's not riding the horse unless your legs split over him."

I repeated this, and almost went head-over-tea-kettle on one hop up. Oops! LOL .. Forgots is little horse, needs little propulsion upwards. OOPS! :)
I did it from both sides, and when my body weight was up there, I scratched, rubbed, fiddled, wiggled.. Still zero movement.. He didn't budge.

A total of about 35 minutes' work before I hit the mental "uh oh, I still need to eat supper & scramble off to choir practice.. Oops!" I don't know about Harley, but I sure had fun.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

10/5/10 Harley Conquers the Lunge Whip

Catching Harley has become a near non-event. If he does trot off, he's easily caught even so. Wrapped Harleys legs, brushed, grabbed the lunge line, and headed off. Ransom had been using the knotted rope halter, so we secretly borrowed Romeo's show blue transport halter. shh.. don't tell Mo!

Harley lunged out pretty, calmly, and minded well. All the turns were good. He's got the hang of the turns on the haunches now, giving me three or four steps with very little pressure to get moving. I'm actually able to keep the lead rope loose for turns on both ends, just waving my hands and applying mental pressure. neat!

I then grabbed the lunge whip, almost hesitating. Without unrolling the loose part, I tapped him with it, rubbed him with it, and had zero reaction. Good! I then unrolled the string, and started gently wiggling it on the ground. No movement. I lobbed it up over his back, and he took a few hesitant steps before settling. Same reaction both ways. Tossed it around front and back legs, and still no reaction. He has finally discovered the lunge whip will not bite him. *whew*

Total about half hour's work and play. He was content to be done at that, and even more satisfied when supper was delivered.

10/5/10 Ransom Yields

Gathered Ransom, lunged him in the side reins 5 each way, and hopped on.

Rode TL 3 pieces as a warmup. I didn't demand perfect collection, but wanted to ride the parts, and see how much I remembered. He did quite well, and I didn't screw up the pattern. *whew* Maybe I won't be dependant on a caller to make it through.. Maybe..

His canter has become more even, and it's not easy. It's taking a LOT of focus and concentration to keep it light on the rail, and balanced on the circle. Steady is the word here...

The walk? I only argued with him once as I shortened the reins. I think I've uncovered the secret. Forward Forward in my seat as I shorten the reins, but don't add leg. If I add leg, he thinks "Trot". So... I did this a good dozen times, both directions, lengthening into free walk only long enough to get it pretty, then shorten again, get five or six good strides, and lengthen again.

We did argue however... In halt straight to trot. Each tests calls for this, so I'm fooling myself if I think I can keep up walking three or four steps to start. Now, on TL1, yeah, I can probably get away with it. TL2, maybe. TL3, seriously,,, again, let's not fool me into thinking I can keep up with the easing shortcuts. Ransom thought it'd be real cute to ignore the leg, ignore the seat, pop his head into the clouds, and flat out refuse to trot out pretty. I backed him up, turned him on the haunches, got back to "X", and asked again and again. When he finally did it nice, and collected, I pushed him up the centerline, turned to the rail, and trotted a bit before slowing to walk, easing on the reins immediately, and a hearty pat pat "good Boy".

In the midst of that battle, R arrived. We remembered for each other how the video works on the camera, and he shot at least a dozen video clips of leg yield attempts. Those posted were the best of the bunch. Sad, I know.. They're not all GrandPrix perfect, legs crossing over three or four feet with each stride. But he is giving, he is yielding, and relaxing towards the rail, without having to bend his neck too much. I'm getting more left to right, but at least we're getting some now right to left. I'm satisfied that things are getting better over time, and the chiro work seems to have been successful.

Total work, well over an hour. I settled down on the lower arena circle, and asked for stretching trot, rode a circle of it, then gathered him back up. I asked R to video it, with the hopes of seeing how Ransom has been when I gather him back up. Does he overflex to get away from my hands? Is he nose-out, nose-in, vertical, or just hanging on my hands, leaning on the forehand? Well, leave it to Ransom to see the video camera, know I needed to see him do it, and I got a perfect return to working trot. His stretching down trot wasn't as stretchie as I would've liked, and have seen recently, but when I shortened my reins back up, he gave right to my hands. Probably hoping if he got it "right", I'd halt him & quit. Big Monster was right ..

Cooled him down, brushed out the saddle sweat marks, and stuck him in paddock lock up. Harley was waiting at the buckets, either to be fed, or played with. Either way, he wasn't tolerating being ignored any longer.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

10/5/10 Ransom Teaser

Here's a handful of videos of Tuesday night's ride, focused on leg yields at trot. Check it Out!
Leg yield left to rail.... facing camera

He's not great at it - but I think I see one effort in crossover there. He was NOT even easing over to the rail prior to the chiro work, so this is incredible that he's even limber enough to try.

Leg yield right to rail ... heading away

more in a while...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

10/3/10 Harley Says,"

Tphtphtphtpht! Hah, Lady! I see MissJennifer is here to watch me, so I be good boy! I make your owie finger look like a complete accident! Tphtphtphtptht!"

little fart!

With Ransom undressed, cookied lavishly, and hosed down, I walked out to Harley with the halter and lead rope. He scampered to the back of the pasture, but didn't play catch me for long. I was able to easily get him haltered and led back to the trailer.

Grooming? Success. Polo wraps? Non-event. Out to the arena we go.

He lunged excellent. Walk and trot to start out with. Then I showed turns on forehand and haunches, and a little backing up. The turns on the haunches are improving - I had two correct steps heading each direction multiple times. Walked him back to the trot poles, and bounced over those a few times without incident. Asked for canter with a kiss, and got the leads 5 out of 6 times. There were a few bobbles, but nothing that couldn't easily fix with an ease down to trot, and a kiss again.

Flexed him left & right, and swung the end of the lunge line over his back, around his neck, and around legs, all from both sides. Non-event as well.

Total about 25 minutes of exercise. Harley thumbed his nose at the entire prospect of not being able to lunge properly, and was a complete gentleman. Little fart! It's , um , Tuesday , and I'm still sporting a finger knuckle bandaid....

=) Back in action tonight with a brief lunge again, and repeat of all the old activities we've already done, with hopes of improving.

10/3/10 Ransom Lesson

The change in weather has proven to be the best thing for Ransom and I both. We were now on Day #3 consecutive, so I wasn't entirely sure how much "gas in the tank" we'd have. But I pressed on, lunged him briefly in side reins, and hopped aboard.

Jen arrived, and we worked through a few "bugs" in preparation for the weekend show. First, that free walk to working walk transition - can Ransom keep on moving in that beautiful free marching free walk into the working walk? Well, he insisted quite a number of times on moving to trot with any collection and leg pressure. Jen suggested, "Next time he does that, really get after him. Maybe you're not being forceful enough." As I shortened the reins, I added leg and seat, and he popped to trot. A very sharp halt (ugly head, but I did get him halted hard), and I pushed right back to working walk. He got a little better. It will take rides all week to improve it, and I might still be facing lower working walk scores. On the flip side, our free walk? Is phenominal! Perhaps the best I've EVER had on Ransom. It's very marching, very forward, and very fluid as he gently lowers his head without tugging the reins outta my fingers. I love it!

Next, the trot. We focused on what "feels good". What's forward enough to get his legs moving about, and motivated without looking speedy. The trick will be, to keep my posting cadenced, but keep enough leg on to move him on forward. This seems to lengthen the stride without rushing it. His transitions were just this side of amazing.

And finally, canter. Near the end of the lesson, we rode canter as it would be in Training 2. Pick up canter in the near short corner, ride the long side, canter circle @ center, and transition back down to trot after the circle. Again, I will have a focus - keep steady half-halts down the long sides, and add outside leg on the last 3/4 of the circle. This seems to keep the canter steady throughout, rather than speeding down long side, and poking through the circles.

To round out the lesson, I worked with Ransom on leg yields at walk, and trot. Jen is now the first person to see them, well, other than me feeling them. And the verdict?

*drum roll please, and a long deep breath, just for the pausing effect*

The Chiropractic work, well, worked! Once Ransom remembered what I really wanted him to do, we had great leg yields at trot, heading both right, and Left! The work Dr Robin did made a huge difference! I am anxious to get some video of his trotting leg yields, so I can really see for myself what they look like.

So, with Monday off to rest, and Wednesday off, Ransom will work the rest of the week at varying degrees of difficult. Tuesday night? Working hard work! Thursday, much of the same. Friday will only be as hard as he makes it. If he rides really light, collected, and behaved, without any obvious outbursts, I'll keep it short. Otherwise, I'll probably push until I get exactly what I want.

The pressure is building... *chuckle* Who am I kidding?! I'm not going this weekend to "kick tail & take names"... I'm going with the same attitude I had at Hearthstone - I'm just gonna have Fun!

Monday, October 4, 2010

10/2/10 Ransom and Concentrating

I gathered Ransom up, his twisted wire bit, and my helmet. The weather, well, more of the same awesome goodness. I took advantage. Yes, two days in a row, which in the heat I'd been on every other day, but gosh dernit. I wanted to enjoy the sunshine! :)

So bareback we went, and I hopped on with no warmup. Immediately, he bounded forward in this incredible free walk. Happy head, happy floppy ears, and we were going somewhere on a mission! I could almost hear Ransom whistling.

I concentrated a bit. What was my body doing? What were my legs doing (nothing, flapping around).. What were my hands doing (actively following his head, but relaxed).. What were my shoulders and back doing (not much, again, swinging along with him).

So the key to the free walk, is relax. I asked him to collect up a little, and the walk shortened. I felt his back collect, and hollow, collect, and hollow. I added leg, and started paying closer attention. It took a combination of a lot of seat, a lot of leg, and a little hand to get a good forward collected walk.

To ensure I still had the balance, and because Ransom was tired of just walking, I added in some good sitting trot, and a little canter. Sitting up tall, the canter was amazing. Sitting trot? Short. Understandable, since I was occasionally losing my balance in his big trot, and he would shorten his stride, and come to me, almost "catching me."

A sweet twenty five minutes of blissful uselessness. I mentally got a few things on record, but that was as motivated as I got. *grin* Weather weather weather.. thank you for making riding relaxing.

10/2/10 Harley Bad Dog

*giggle* That's a funny subject heading to even type out!

I caught Harley, I wrapped his legs, feet came easier to check, and off we went.

I got him lunged a little while at the trot, kissed to him, thinking I could extend the trot. Oop! He picked up a nice canter-right, correct lead, and in fact, my first thought was, "Gosh that'll be sweet to ride!"

I reversed him left, and asked again with a kiss. darnit. Wrong lead. I slowed him to a trot, asked again. Wrong lead again. Asked him to slow, he jerked, and pulled, and *zIp*! There goes the lunge line, right through my fingers. OWCH! I let go - well duh! It hurt!
stupid me for not leaving my gloves on. I assumed he was quiet enough he wouldn't pull me, since it hadn't happened. stupid stupid pitiful me.
Took a few minutes, but I caught him. I just asked him to trot out on the line. Pulled on me hard again. This time, gloves on, I felt the glove friction with the line burning. Oop! Then, I let go before the glove leather burned into my palm. OWch again! Bad dog Harley!

Deep breaths ruled as I walked towards him slowly. Muttering to my brain, "Shoulda had my gloves on to begin with. Maybe too soon to canter, dang it. Maybe I'm rushing. Okay, let's catch him, and back up."

I got the line, took him back to the arena middle. We trotted lunge circles, and all was well. His halt was not as great as days previous, but at that point, he was wide-eyed and worried. I got slows to walk, which was better than yanking my hand loose again.

I pointed him over his circular path at trot over two ground poles. At first, he avoided them. Then, he stopped right in front of them. Third trip, he walked through. Finally, fourth trip past, he trotted through. Bounce Bounce! I giggled and praised lavishly. Good Boy Harley! We found something new to do! Reversed, and repeated, with similar initial results, though without the refusing halt.

Finally, I tried some turns on the haunches, turns on the forehand, backing up, and flexing. All went well. Knowing all this, I asked for canter right again. Picked up his lead first try, and I stopped.

Time to desensitize. Lunge whip was nearby, so I grabbed it. Immediately, Harley paniced again. I had a good hold on the line, but that made no difference. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with that lunge whip. I tried not even looking his way while I barely wiggled the end of the whip. No-Go Spooking!

Finally, I got him calmed, as I led him around on the lunge line, swinging the whip tail side to side, letting him follow the whip. I turned, faced him, and swung it while I walked backwards, him forwards. Improvements.. So I barely wiggled the tail facing him, near his shoulder. He jumped, jittered, and worried, but I eventually, finally, got him to let me toss it up over his back gently, and when the deep sighs came, I would back off. A heavy sigh, a little lip licking, and I'd retreat.

By now, it'd been nearly an hour. Harley was a huffin' and a puffin'. I walked him around in hand a while, led him up to the house, and tied him. It took another half hour, with a lot of standing around, polo wraps removed, and then finally I could hose him off. Still a little winded, I let him stand a while longer while I removed some flybot eggs from his legs.

We had a bad day. The baby got scared, and while I didn't react, maybe I didn't do it quick enough. Maybe I went too far, too fast, expected too much.
Will it repeat on Sunday? Or will I have a lesson day with Jen that I can show off all our great achievements?

10/1/10 Romeo In the Arena

Go Pony Go Pony Go! I called out to Romeo on the lunge line, tail flung out, prancing about on the lunge line warmup. A complete and total ham.

Romeo sensed at this point in my day, as pony #3, I was getting a little slap happy. From being under water so much I couldn't justify grooming a horse, to a weather day encouraging me to ride all day long, Romeo knew I was happy to be in the tack.

With his western saddle, English bit and running martingale, off we went. He'd tossed his head quite a bit the day before, and I was curious if I could fix it (again).

He was great. He fought the martingale a while, before realizing it wasn't going to give, and then settled. His trots in and out of canter were nicer, smoother. A few disagreements about leads, but also corrected in the ride.

A very nice 45 minutes, serpentines, circles, direction changes, all trotting. Finally, I pushed him into his nice gallop down the arena long sides. Get it! WoooWhee that little guy can go fastfast when encouraged.

All three ponies, and exhausted me, settled in for a long night's rest . We all three were tired, but pleased with ourselves, and our weather.

10/1/10 Harley - Did He Remember?

Thursday, after work, I had found Harley's "scratch me love me" spot. Right under his tummy where the girth would rest. I scratched almost all over before I found it, and was cheerfully giddy when he stretched his head out, lip quivering.

When I finished up with Ransom Friday morning, it was Harley's turn. I walked right out there, and he walked up to me a good thirty feet before halting, facing me. He didn't walk away, but in fact nickered to me. "Come scratch me There, Lady!"

Friday, I approached with lead rope & halter. I caught him, haltered, and took him to the trailer. Added polo wraps - a successful first at my house. Not even a small problem. He was hesitant to pick up rear legs for cleaning hooves, but I finally got them.

I got us to the arena, and got my mind ready. Calm, relaxed, and focused.

I lunged, walk, trot, halt, and all was well. I got turns on the forehand, very nice, legs crossing in back very well. Turns on the haunches, I had to settle for Movement. Not correct movement, but to start, all four legs locked up, and only his head moved. Knowing I can now catch him, I thought poking or being ugly would just spook him again. So I kissed, and "slapped the air" by his head. Finally, his feet broke the ground, and he moved off the air-pressure. A few steps from each side, none of which done correctly.

Worked a few halts, a few flexes side to side.. all went well. Backed him a bit, and even that was good.

A successful 25 minutes. Catch, groom, dress, work. All without incident. He does remember! Cool!!!

10/1/10 Ransom Stickie

In what appeared to be morning protest, Ransom and I rode dressage. It wasn't pretty. It was in fact, ugly.

Transitions? Fail. All three gaits.
Walk? More like pokealong. In a free walk, he was decent. Working walk on any kind of rein contact? Dragging, tripping, ugly.

What finally shook the lazies, was the canter. Forward! Hello! I concentrated hard. What was I doing to encourage THAT much forward motion? My goodness, he was getting after it, hard!

And I caught it. Sit Up! If I slouch my shoulders, without realizing it, my seat is telling him, "go go go go go!" At one point, I sat up tall trying to evaluate what I had done wrong. Suddenly, Ransom eased his canter stride, shortened it, and became very uphill.

So I sat up through the rising trot. A serious improvement. Sat the trot a while - again, sit up tall from my waist up, and his gait improved.

Did the transitions ever get beautiful? Nah.. ugly. But we were going somewhere, and the moving collection improved.

09/30/10 A Needed Distraction

Wednesday, no horses. Stress. Lots of stress. More stress than I have had outside of my 9hr work day, in, um, a few years. I was nervous, I was uncomfortable, wait.. who am I kidding.. I was scared spitless. Let's not color this as a calm moment filled with silly girl scares. I was scared, and for good reason. I didn't sleep well, and my nerves were still fried. Thursday evening, on the way home from work, I was scared, again. Even moreso, because my Wednesday evening plan couldn't be continued on Thursday after work, for various reasons.

So Thursday, when I got home, I decided to not work Ransom, or Harley. It was the perfect day to just goof off with Romeo. And that's exactly what we did. Harley was owed another day off, and while Ransom could have worked, my mind wasn't in "work", even on horseback. My mind needed to relax. And, well, test some new equipment, which I did successfully.

Anyway, back to the horses. I caught Mo, dressed him in all his Western gear, made a few changes to my things, and off we went. Straight to his pasture. Rode all three gaits, focused on rhythm and direction. I didn't force him to be collected, though in canter he couldn't have his head up in the sky. He did very well - well behaved, well relaxed, and still alert to all going around us. Why? A little more "up" than normal? Romeo could feel my tension, he could feel my heartrate, and he knew I wasn't happy or comfortable in my situation.

A solid 30 minutes, and I was done for. Wore out, had enough. Mo was a good babysitter, took my mind to other places, even for a short time. Exactly what I needed for the moment.