Friday, August 27, 2010

08/26/10 Sweet Ransom Morning

I had the luxury Thursday morning of arriving at work late, and riding Ransom early. Why is this great? Because Thursday morning, the temps were in the low 70s, with moderate humidity, and a light breeze. I woke up to awesome weather. Thankful for it, I hurried out to feed, waited an hour with coffee & a protein bar, and then got to riding.

Ransom warmed up beautiful 5 minutes lunge on side reins each way on the circle. Then I got myself ready, and hopped on.

Magical. He was light on the bit, give & take on contact and collection. I didn't force tight collection the entire ride, but I did work hard on forward. His trot was super nice, and the canter, well, it's almost hard to put words. Tight, upright, small strides, and yet bursting with energy. It was amazing to ride - I didn't hardly move in the tack, as I felt my knees rock on the knee rolls with his strides.

It was an awesome 35 minute ride. I longed for more time in the saddle, and when we got all done, unsaddled, and hosed off, Mo nickered at me. "Take me too, Momma!" But I wasn't able, I had to get myself to work.

The entire day was shaped differently in my mind after my ride. This isn't something I can do every day, but every so often, it's really good for my mind. Start the day off feeling in control, in power, and able to make the situation exactly what I want. Very Very good for the mind..

08/24/10 The Teaser Solution

*laugh* I assume some of the readership looked at the list, and thought all kinds of things.

Feed Sack.
A simple, shaking, rattling Feed Sack. :)
Is that a riot, or what? R shook the feed sack, with Romeo standing at a distance. His head popped up, and he wanted NOTHING to do with it. So I let him walk over to sniff it, which usually works. No-go. I had R walk away from us, rattling it, and we chased it. Then, I turned Mo around, and let the "shaking sack" chase us. I allowed Mo to rest, and the sniff the sack again. Success! He touched it with his nose, realized it wasn't going to harm him, and issue over.

We followed R's truck down the road - Flashy lights, blinkers, rough rocks bouncing around, no spooks. R turned back to home, and we "chased the truck" to the house. There, he honked a few times, with no Mo reaction. Finally, I handed him the bag. He shook the bag, honked the horn, and moved the truck around a little bit. No reaction.

Mo and I played silly spooks for probably 25 minutes, if not more. I explained to R what we were doing, why, and how. He was a good help, and a great sport, noticing that as soon as Mo would calm even a little, he'd "up the ante", increasing the spook intensity. Mo's an easy teach...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Teaser for the Day

Hi everybody! Last night, I had a little help with Romeo and Ransom.. Ransom got a peaceful walk down the road & back - a non event. He was speedy heading away, and soft heading home. Nut!

But Romeo... :) *giggle* Dear Romeo... In antici-pation of the cow work next month, I had a few things to check & desensitize him to if necessary. Guess ya'll..

Which of these items needed work?
  • Starting the truck near him
  • Moving the truck around him
  • Truck moving, lights flashing
  • Honking the horn
  • Honking the horn & moving the truck
  • Feed sack shaking from the ground
  • Feed sack shaking from the truck
  • Feed sack shaking, truck moving
  • Feed sack shaking, truck moving, horn honking

I'll let you guys take a guess for a bit, then this afternoon, I'll fill in the details. I will tell you - YES he needed work on at least one of these from the list. It was BEYOND funny, and super easy to sort out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

08/22/10 Do-Over

I got up early Sunday morning, fed the boys, fed inside, munched myself a light breakfast, and got changed. Headed out, grabbed Ransom, and got him dressed dressage. Today, we're working. No light walks here, Mister Monster. You're working!

I hopped on and got him into a nice long & low walk. Slowly, lightly, I picked up the rein contact. After a bit longer, I asked him to collect & work. Nice working walk, good collection. Then I loosened the reins again, and asked for a nice relaxed trot. Easy peasy. Pretty. Asked for a shorter rein trot, he got a little fussy, then gave. Same went for the canter.

We rode for about 45 minutes. I actually lost track of time, due to the longer than average walk breaks. Ended out the work with walk/halt and trot/halt, with moderate success.

He's slowly getting back in shape again. Jen and I got the arena jumps & poles all painted & colored up. Those are back in the arena, set to four trot poles & one cross rail.

When am I going to take a try at that again? Shhh.. it's a secret! =)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

08/20/10 Just a Walk, Or

Ransom and I headed out mid-afternoon. There was a nice gusty breeze going on, and, in the shade, it was a tolerable time for a ride. Not super hot, and as long as the wind kept moving, and the shady trees were around, I figured we could have a nice short walk down the road & back.

Ransom had other plans. He wanted to trot trot trot away from home. "No sir. We're supposed to be relaxing! Didn't you see the saddle? And the bit? And Momma's Troxel helmet? We are r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g!" Nah, no-go.

So I walked him out in the pasture, to the arena. His "whoa" was ugly. I did light contact, and as long as he stayed relaxed, I stayed out of his way. Walk, whoa. Yuck. Trot, walk, better. Walk, whoa. Yuck again. Trot, Canter, Trot, not so bad. Heading left he tried to avoid the canter, but after shut down halt & back up twice or thrice, he realized that canter quick is a whole lot easier.

We ended up working. For nearly 35 minutes. That was so entirely not my plan. I wanted to relax, I wanted to ride light, I didn't want to work work. Grr...

Monday, August 16, 2010

08/15/10 At the Daybreak

Ransom had Friday to stretch & remind his muscles how to get to work. With our next show about a month away, it's time to start pushing through the heat & ride anyways. I'll keep them super early or super late, around every other day, and light as best I can. If he cooperates, I'll keep the next few weeks easy. If he's gonna be a grump, then the rides will be longer.

I got all the way to the arena with all my stuff, except the lunge line. Awe poop.. Oh well. Took side reins off & hopped on anyways. I gave him a good ten minutes walking, starting out on a loose rein, then some flex in, flex out, shortened the reins, tried a few halts with yucky success. Moved up to a long reined trot, which was a little stiff to start, too. Slowly gathered him up in a circle, and he lengthened. Sweet!

We rode for about 40 minutes, some on solid contact, some on a longer rein for stretching down, all with pretty good results. His canters weren't even - they were either short & steady, or big(!). The big canter was nice & forward, but not exactly the best stride for the dressage arena. It'll be nice to ride that over fences, though. His circle work was really nice, and the long&low trots were quite fantastic. Very impressive stuff, all stretched out, and coming back up to a shorter rein without too much protest.

He got crabby a bit towards the end, then realizing Momma wasn't playing, and I wasn't going to give him the break & hop off, he decided to cooperate for the rest of the ride. Lovin' my big old sweet horse!

08/13/10 Ransom Wanted To

Ransom and I headed to the arena late in the evening, saddled, but lightly padded and fitted with side reins. I was in riding pants and a tshirt, but no helmet - Purposely, as I had no intentions on riding. Why the pants? To give him the thought otherwise...

I let him lunge out a little while just in the halter, to "get the goobers out". He sneezed & snortled a little, then I added the bridle & side reins.

Oh my boy... My senior horse who has his "baby days".. He wanted a "gallop day". His behavior, his attitude, his "coupla bucks" up into canter-left, my goodness more than life that sweet old man wanted me to fix up the arena fence, "tie up" the gate, and let him go...

But I refused. I lunged him on side reins for about 20-25 minutes, evenly each way, a handful of direction changes. After our first left, then right, he slowed himself to a stop, and walked right up to me, head down, soft eyes, with this face that said, "Okay, Mom. I'm done, warmed up. Hop yourself up here! Riding lately has been easier than this, so I don't wanna lunge anymore." Sorry sweet soul.. back out there.

He ended on a good note, and finally quit the "bucking into canter left." Happy man, with new feet, a late evening work, and even a few deer sprinting across the back of the arena. Happy horse..

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Fill Ins

1. Music captures my thoughts almost perfectly.

2. KatzCoffee Jumping Mouse Espresso is what I like first thing in the morning.

3. The first thing I said this morning was: I don't wanna.

4. Chicken; it's what's for dinner tonight.

5. It's all been a "big mistake". At least that's what he told me.

6. Going home is what I feel like doing right now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

PSA - I Need to Improve, Too

Got another notice yesterday or so - a prayer request for a cowboy in the hospital, healing from a rodeo accident. Like Courtney King Dye, Graham was riding an "experienced, well trained horse" that stumbled, and went down.

I am praying for Courtney's complete recovery, and for Graham as well. I remember reading about Mikey taking a splat, and changing her habits, too.

I've gotten lax again about my helmet usage. It's hot, I sweat, and Romeo is 98% of the time the best of a saint in the saddle. Ransom hasn't seen me without a helmet in quite some time, no matter the saddle. But I read these stories, and if the experts can splat, so can I.

Strap One On!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What We've Been Up To

It's hot
Super hot
Stupid super hot

No riding since the last update. I did buy a watermelon for the boys, and that was a hoot to watch. I've got some pictures I'll work on getting posted - Ransom devoured his, while Romeo took a little nibble & left the rest go uninterested. Ransom was delightful to watch, pushing his whole mouth into the melon quarter, juice & slobber running out his mouth. :) Cute!

Went out to feed last night, and found Rans lost front left shoe. Not a surprise - they're a few days over due. Both are scheduled for trims (Rans reset) on Friday. With the heat, it's not heartbreaking we'll have to take it light.

Monday night, R and I went to a church-group house rebuild project, and helped out. He framed out a window & got the window set. I did light lifting, a little hammering, and some clean up of scraps & demo trash. Nice to "get out there & feel a little useful" in the community.

Where I'm Headed

I was here, and while not much has changed, a few things have. I've gotten a little medical attention, stress levels have risen, and I'm finally doing something about it all.

I'm reading The Confident Woman, by Joyce Meyer. I am working my way through the book, and have discovered a few things about self lately. Meyer says there is the aggressive, over-confident woman, and then there is the shy, timid woman. Reading her descriptions, I fall into the latter catetory. So, what needs done about that to become confident, yet not proud? To be what she describes as the positive, aggressive, take-action attitude?

1. I am loved.
I will cherish being loved, and recognize it.

2. I will refuse to live in fear.
"Do it afraid", but do it anyways.

3. I will be positive.
I am not a failure when I try & it doesn't work out. I'm a failure when I stop trying.

4. I will recover from setbacks.

5. I will avoid comparisons.

6. I will take action.
A mistake, is never making one to start with.
If I try something, and it's wrong, the only thing I've learned from it, is to try something else.

7. I will not live in "if only" or "what if".

I have a few friends & loved ones holding me to these seven. Next up in my reading is "The Perfect Woman" as described in Prov. 31. I've gotten through the first five verses, but nothing is jumping out at me worth sharing.

Hmm.. the Hymn "Farther Along" just jumped into my head. Heavenly intervention, I'm sure. If ya'll are interested & unfamiliar, I'll dig up the lyrics & share.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

08/05/10 Ransom In Action

I got up almost as early as I do for a work day, fed the kids inside, fed me, fed the horses. Ran outside, got Ransom, saddled him dressage, and prayed for a good ride. See, I took off three hours' vacation for this ride, and I wanted it to go well. I was on a time schedule, and for it to all work out, Ransom needed to cooperate. The last two times I rode him "in a hurry", he was a jerk, and I didn't get done what I wanted to. He got stiff, ugly, and generally a cranky old fart.

He was a saint. Obviously seeing his little Brother Mo get the last three rides in a row, knowing Mo got to "go bye bye", and he didn't, Ransom was committed to show me he's a hero, too. We rode all three gaits, but a lot of walk and trot. He was amazing. His trot was forward! The walk? Marchy! Really sweet. In fact, when he'd relax to free walk, he'd slow down. As soon as I'd gather up those reins, it was On!

A really awesome 30 minute cram session. I got to ride my big Super Star, and he got to show off for his Momma. I hand scrubbed the sweat & dirt off when I hosed him down. Didn't matter- by tonight, he was covered in dried sweat & dirt again. Booger needs to learn rollin' doesn't make ya feel better in this heat.

08/04/10 Romeo At Night

I have a dream to ride in the moonlight in my arena. Under the stars, on a clear, full mood night, at a big canter across the long side. We're not there yet, but, this is a step in the right direction.

I gathered up Mo in all his little-ness, and headed to the arena. In a recent HorseMaster episode, Julie worked with an experienced English rider who is starting a western adventure. She was learning how to teach her horse to stop in a western fashion- hips under, rear feet dragging dirt.

So I tested the lesson with Mo. Each bracey, tight stop from trot found him backing up long & hard, followed by a solid halt & wait. Each canter-halt that was bracey & on the forehand landed him in a tight trot circle on the opposite lead. After a half dozen or so of each drill, he started to get a little lighter.

Is he perfect already? Heck no! I'm no magic trainer, and I'm sure I didn't get it right every time. If he'd stop quick, but had his head in the sky, I'd back him up hard. Then, his head was level, but even that isn't enough for me. I want solid, steady, on the rear end stops.

And we'll keep working towards it. Romeo has learned quite a few lessons with me, and I bet I haven't gotten them all right. He is a well rounded critter, and will tackle almost anything if I aim him at it right.

Total lesson? About 35 minutes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

08/03/10 Weather, and PSA


It's been in the high 90s daily, with heat indeces above 100F, mostly closer to 110F, now for a few weeks. This week has seemed especially ridiculous, mostly because the winds have calmed to near-nothing at home.

This all leads to very little riding. I haven't done more than hose off sweat for the last two nights, and I'm hoping tonight I can at least get a little walking in on one or the other. The only times of day it's "reasonable" to ride is early mornings. This motivates me more to get my arena lights installed, as it gets a little better in the late evenings.

So I've done lots of reading, and living rides through the adventures of lots of other bloggers. I stumbled on a blog I used to read a lot, but having come to see what the blog author is really all about, I won't even do her the service of a link-back. What I will say, is this . . .

When you've fallen on hard times, and the job is lost, and you've found yourself with a horse you can't easily pay for, selling isn't always the answer. It's a sad story of horse got "accidentally pregnant", add in an injury, and suddenly, horse-owner is begging for donations to pay for critter care, and the foal in utero growing up. It sounds good from the sidelines to shout, "You moron! Sell the horse!" I can understand the comments that bark this, not realizing the current economic situation. With so many folks out of work, and a handful more barely getting by, we're not all out searching for problems to buy. If I can find an OTTB or a little hungry horse for cheap, why on earth would I go running out and buy an injured, pregnant mare? Sure, morally, it'd be the "right thing to do". But should Romeo find a new home, I'm not out looking for a near-dead rescue case. I just don't have it in me to feed, and vet, and feed, and vet, and maybe, if I'm lucky, mount under saddle four or five years from now. I'll admit it - I'm all for the moment when it comes to horses. I need my "saddle fix". Without the ability to, at a minimum, do a little in-hand work, and some round pen time, I'd look for something else for sale.

All that on my soapbox to say, freedom of speech says to me, "If somebody wants to ask for donations to pay their vet bills, they're free to do so." As for me? I'm free to not donate, and keep from hurling insults & crude remarks their way.

If you've read for any length of time here at HDTH, in the context of this entry, it's probably quite clear which blog I'm referring to. Don't go running over & comment to the hysteria. Comments here are gladly accepted, but I won't in any way encourage my readers to go on the attack. :) Show them how to be mature & responsible.

Monday, August 2, 2010

08/02/10 Romeo's a VBS Superstar!

We left home around 3:45, trailer packed, Romeo loaded. He's easy to bathe, easy to boot, super easy to load - aim & point. Amazingly relaxing to load him to go. Unloading? Same deal.

Arrived at the church for VBS around 4:40 - right on my mental schedule. Quickly met up with my friends & coworkers, found our spot, and got Romeo unloaded & settled. Boots off, haybag hung, water bucket filled, cookies applied. Got him saddled, and took him for an in-hand walk. He blew & looked at a large trash dumpster, but once his nose touched it and it didn't "bite back", he relaxed. Silly boy..

I set the leadline walk route - down the side of the pavement, up through the tall grass, back to start. There was another family there with about 5 horses, though one little pony was quickly set out of commission (how they didn't see pony was lame at saddling, I dunno. Two steps out on the asphalt, pony was refusing to hold weight on front left. Pony tied aside on a phone poll.)

Romeo, was an angel! He didn't balk, didn't refuse, didn't toss his head, didn't fight me one step. I had all ages of kids, probably all elementary school age & a few middle schoolers, but I really can't tell for sure. Some children spoke all English, some none (the church has adopted a mission group from another country, who speaks not English, or Spanish, but something else.. Corin? maybe? can't remember). My favorite had to be the little baby boy who spoke NO English, holding the saddle horn tight, leaning his entire little body against it, flip-flop feet near the back of the saddle pad. When I saw this with most kids, I'd say "sit up tall & look over his ears. Relax, you're having fun!" I said that to this little boy, and got a dead stare. "Oh Good Lord, keep the boy up there, and let this be Romeo's best walk yet." Romeo tip-toed, and barely crawled along the little walk route. I was SOOO proud of my Roan Pony. Good Boy Mo!

Romeo walked faithfully for an hour plus, with no breaks. One kid would unload, the next would load up. He didn't get a cookie, or water, nothing, during the entire work. He was a soldier. He figured out his job, and did it well.

Why again is he for sale? I had a blast riding him Saturday, then again re-tuning him Sunday morning. He took care of each child like they were his own, and made my job leading effortless. What am I thinking . . . .

08/01/10 Romeo Prepares

Romeo and I took a late evening ride, in preparation to "get the goofies off" before his Vacation Bible School debut Sunday night.

And goofies he was. As hot as it was, I expected a quiet horse. Instead, I got a running fool. All the little man wanted to do was gallop gallop. And so we did. I certainly wasn't pretty, but did my best to keep him upright & straight.

After about 15 minutes, he decided all that running really wasn't worth the effort. We settled into all our normal workout, walk, posting trot, sitting jog, canter, turns on fore/haunches, sidepassing, backing up. I ended each walk with a few steps of backup, hoping to reinforce something I saw and am testing from HorseMaster TV. Julie began the teaching of a solid western stop with backups and tight circles. Anytime you halt from walk, or trot, back up a few steps, and stand still a minute. Anytime a canter/lope halt is on the forehand, immediately trot a circle on the opposite lead. I haven't gotten to the lope/halt work yet, but I've been reinforcing the walk & trot to halt.

Romeo and I played goofy for about 45 minutes. When his canter is soft, it's amazing fun to ride. I can feel each hooffall, and swing my hips not only front/back but left/right to move with him. It's super relaxing.

Makes me wonder what the hell am I thinking trying to sell him ...

07/30/10 What Ransom Loves

Nothing makes my pony giddy more than a trail ride. Now, fences may do that, but I've jumped so few, and been so focused on my body position, I haven't watched his body language much. I'd need someone observing to comment there.

Friday, after work, which was less than pleasurable, I grabbed Ransom for a quick ride. Western saddle, baucher bit, I'm sure we looked quite the pair. I quickly mounted up, walked him towards the barn. He took a 180-turn, and headed straight down the road.

A few times, he tried breaking to the trot, head bouncing, ears flipping every which way, and generally springie in his steps. Never have I had a bouncing 10-walk like that in the arena, though some day I hope to. He certainly was stepping out, on light contact, looking every which way, and expressing to me a wild amount of happiness.

We walked around for about 25 minutes. Anytime we'd head towards the house, he'd poke along slow. Heading towards the house the first time, he tried walking down every driveway, making me tug him with reins & legs to stay on the road.

It's the funniest thing! Ransom LOVES to go for an adventure walk, even if it's just down the road. I've got to start doing this more often, as stress breaks from the dressage work. He hates coming back home...

Sometimes, so do I...

08/01/10 Gun Range Scare

My PSA for gun safety. Do I know everything? Heck no! I don't know much, at all. I know how to be careful myself, and general loading/unloading, along with all the typical cleaning procedures. I can tear down a Browning HiPower or a Kimber with ease (mostly, shh GunDiva,, shhh), clean, and assemble without help.

Saturday afternoon, after I assaulted a few paper targets, participating fully in gun powder therapy, I got scared.

I loaded the Browning.
Looked around, saw R busy with whatever he was middling with, and nobody else around.
Safety Off
"Whoa! Wait a minute, hold on! Hooold On!"
I dropped the gun, barrel towards the targets, took a step back, raised both hands, and looked to my right.

Somebody about 60ft off
At the rifle range
Started walking down range to get his target
Without calling "all-clear"
Scared the living snot out of me!

I asked R, "What'd I do wrong?"
"Nothing babe. But you look scared. Good time to practice, since you'll be nervous if you ever really need it. Empty the magazine quick, while you're still shook up."

And I'm pleased to report
My aim accuracy didn't change
I was still shooting good
(a little right & low - trigger finger ... grrr .. habit I MUST fix soon)
I was still in the target
And still repeatable

Okay, idjits! I know I don't know it all! But I do know you ask EVERYONE at the range firing line for All Clear before walking down range! Idjits! Scare the crap out of me for no reason! I could've seriously hurt that guy with a stray shot. oi vey!