I'm owned by two horses. Romeo is a 17 year old AQHA gelding, who will be putting his trail buddy / babysitter status to good use. Harley is a 7 year old AQHA gelding out of Skys Blue Boy, and this year, we're going to try all KINDS of new things.
Of course, it's a prediction, scheduled to change at any random moment between now and landful Fri night/ Sat morning.
So what does this mean for my house? All loose items that could blow with any significant wind will be moved to the barn, or inside. I'll get some wire prepared to tie shut stall doors so they don't get wiggled open in the high winds. Water buckets will be filled outside for the horses, with extras full, just in case I lose power. (What, you say? Lose power, lose well pump.. no well pump, no water) I'll secure anything that might move, and relocate things that could launch airborne and damage the house.
And what's the good in all of this? We're in a severe drought. How severe? We're in the double-digits in rain we're missing out on this year. My pastures are increasingly barren every week that goes by without significant rainfall.
So I'm hoping it rains, but praying we don't all blow away.
Longed Harley in the neck stretcher, but with really only one thing in mind, Canter Left. He had enough trot work to relax his neck and reach forward with his legs, but then we quickly moved up to canter. About two circles right lead, but six or more left lead, two circles at a time, trot transitions in between to relax him. He had the incorrect lead once, but eased back to trot and quickly corrected himself.
I hopped aboard, got some relaxed and forward trot, and asked for canter right to start. We rode in the back 2/3 of the arena, and I pushed him to canter on the rail straightaways. At first, I got all kinds of hesitation, us having not cantered really more than big circles so far. I kissed, squeezed, sat deep, and he continued on. Two "laps" canter right.
Back to the trot long enough to feel a relaxing, and then to walk for a breathing break. I loosened the reins at the walk, and he reached down and through. I felt him stretch from neck to tail, and praised him verbally and with a scratching pat and love. YAY... The first good work at a free walk. Understanding how we got here, I didn't leave him the free stretched out walk but for 7-8 strides before regathering up the reins. Another ten strides collected walk, and back to a free walk, similar results, a good stretch down. Success!!
Up to left, and I started out at the trot. Knowing our assignments, I squeezed to canter. Ugh, wrong lead first request. Back to trot 3-5 strides, then kiss/squeeze again. Left lead! On the circle, I aimed him down the long side. As soon as he realized he wasn't going to continue on the circle, he broke to trot. I asked again, wrong lead. Hmph! Trot, ask again. Left Lead... I pushed him down the other long side, and rode 2/3 of the lower end of the arena. We rode canter for at least 2 big laps of the lower 2/3, settled to a trot, and a little walk break. When he gave up a heavy huge sigh, I halted. I noticed his heart was pounding, and he felt like he was shaking a little. Harley turned his neck towards me, and I saw a very nervous eye. Poor kid, he was scared of all that canter. I noticed my heart was pounding, too. We walked a while to catch our breaths and relax. "It's okay, Baby Harley. I'll get us through this, somehow..."
Recognizing he's depending on me to keep him up in the canter left, and he absolutely needs me to be rock solid confident, I pushed him back to trot. A little anxious, I could feel the tension in his neck and mouth. A few circles of varying sizes, and I saw the eyes relax, as he gave me a very heavy sigh. I squeezed and kissed again. Correct left lead.
Another 3 laps or so of the back 2/3rds. I used the longe circle to initiate the canter, and then immediately pointed him down the long side. It took a good squeeze and kiss to let him realize I really meant go straight. A bit of uncertainty in his legs, but he kept on going. When we settled to trot, he immediately stretched forward on the loose rein, searching for the bit. I adjusted just enough that he could find it quickly, and then asked for a stretchie down trot. Success again...
To work on his confidence beyond the circle, I asked for trot on centerline and quarterlines. Amazing... The kid who used to be wobbly outside the circle, was nearly perfectly straight on those imaginary lines. I no longer have to look up to the treeline straight ahead, but can concentrate straight eye level for me, and he stays straight. Fantastic!
About an hour's work. Harley was rewarded with lots of walk on a loose rein, followed up by ample cookies and praise. He's learning, and it's pretty cool he's depending on me to teach. *mush*
Harley was longed Thursday, and he absolutely let me know how he felt about the cool-er evening after three days off. I had at least 3/4 of a circle each way a combination of bucking, kicking up, and galloping off. He threw quite the little hissy fit. He didn't tug hard on the longe line, he didn't run off with me, but he sure let me know he felt happy go lucky with the break and the return to work. Total, about 40 minutes, 20 of it on the longe line.
Friday, Jen came over to offer ideas on our less than successful left lead canter work. I was a little anxious about the whole thing. I expected to hear, "heels down, shoulders up, quit hunching over his front end, he'll never get the left lead if you don't ask for it correctly".
Instead, it's Harley. He isn't confident in picking it up, and let us know that by nearly a dozen requests heading left. I tried it on a circle in the corner, I tried it going straight, I tried it tilting his head inward, I tried it tilting his head outward, I tried asking with both legs evenly, I tried asking it with outside leg back. Finally, probably on a stroke of luck, he gave me the left lead on a squeeze and a long kiss. Goodness. At that point, I probably rode the canter 7 circles long. Lots and lots of canter left.
Our homework? Canter Left. Pure, simple, plain. The minute he gets the correct left lead, keep him in it, don't let him break gait, and force him to keep moving. Doesn't matter if I sit, two point, no issues. I'm asking him correctly, and while my heels aren't perfect down, I am sitting back and pushing from my seat without leaning on his shoulders. I'm not the problem, his lack of practice is. The only thing I've done wrong, is not ask for it often enough, and not keep him in it long enough when he does pick up the left lead.
I was frustrated he got it incorrect so many times, but at the same time, a bit delighted with myself. Previously, I have been the problem. I've hesitated, I've gotten nervous, anxious, curled up into a saddled fetal position, kissed under my breath, and while a little bit of my body said "Canter, please", the rest of me said, "Oh goodness, please don't kill me when you launch into it". Absolutely satisfying to know I'm confident enough to get him through this.
Canter right? Short, sweet, pretty. Trot work? A little stiff, not as much bend at the poll as he's had. Cause? Probably stiff and a tad sore from his hissy fit Thursday evening.
as I drifted to sleep Friday night, I had a sad moment, missing sweet Ransom... grateful that old man taught me how to correctly canter, enduring all those curled up requests with a steady rhythm, and still a part of me longing for those big canters all around the arena with his toosh pushing us all the way
5:25am this morning, I pulled out of the driveway, and meandered down the dirt road. Got to the paved road, made the left turn.
Travelling about 5-10mph, I saw one of the doe dart across the road. I eased up on the speed, 2-4 mph, and looked left, where she came from. Saw two more doe looking to cross. One took a step forward, then she hesitated.
I slowed down even more. Without much warning, she darted out to the roadway. First, headed behind the truck, so I kept on moving.
Thunk... Crunch... I heard her run straight into the side of my truck. I eased up a little, expecting to hear my tires thump over her. Nope. Stopped, got out, didn't see any obvious truck damage, and she wasn't laying on the side of the road.
I eased backwards, headlights onto that side of the road. Didn't see anything moving. So I proceeded on to work.
Surveying the truck this morning, a few scuff marks, maybe a small scratch on the step. I suspect doe is okay, and the others in her herd are laughing at her this morning for "being so sleepy she ran into a slow moving human transporter."
So, I'm filling out paperwork for a rescue. "Applications", pictures of the property and the horses, apparently all normal. I only have my eye on one in particular, but see a handful of others that aren't too bad, either.
In the middle of that rescue search, I stumbled on one on the brink of disaster. Too many hungry horse's mouths to feed, not enough donations or income to feed them all. Pictures I've seen are sad. Many attempts by many others to close the place down have been unsuccessful. Other folks trying to do right by the horses by adopting them out are being turned away. It's pretty sad, but from the eyes of a random person wanting to help, it's utterly frustrating, too.
I have a new four-stringed Toy in the house! R surprised me Sunday after church with a used bass guitar. A left-handed one at that! It's awesome. Well used, well loved, and plays great. Needs a little work here & there (new strings, cleaned or replaced pickups, probably new frets eventually), but it's incredible. I have a "basic beginner book" with an accompanying CD at home, and I've been plunking away on it. After 16 years of piano lessons, and a break from playing of at least 10 years, as I told R, "I have music back in the house again, and that's a great feeling." Plunk Plunk Plunk!
7/15 Harley longed. Did really good. Lots of transitions. I tried to keep it simple, since he was obedient and quiet.
Mo.. Rode in the DARK. Okay, so I'd looked at the calendar for a MONTH. FULL moon Friday night. I was stoked , excited , happy happy! As it settled into "good n dark", I went outside, expecting the same mostly clear skies I saw at dusk. FAIL. It was cloudy, and what little moon we had, was lurking under a thick cloud. Hoping the cloud would clear and we could enjoy some moonshadows, I longed Mo out quickly. He didn't want to do more than trot, I didn't argue with him.
The ride was way beyond nifty cool, it was awesome. I couldn't see much, thanks to the moony cloud cover, but Mo could see it all. He carefully plodded around the circle at the walk, stopping on body cues. To my utter delight, he trotted with the same caution. About 35 minutes total working, and we had FUN doing it.
7/16 Harley longed up beautiful, and rode great. We had LOTS of nice trot work, and some really sweet transitions without a lot of fuss.
Mo worked in the arena, (in daylight, heehee), all three gaits, lots of goodness.
7/17 short rides for both. Harley had 10 minutes longe line neck stretcher, and I got down to business. Walk was good, trot was sweet, even got a bit of willing stretchy trot. I got brave, asked for canter left. On the *first* ask, he had the correct lead! One big circle, back to trot. Canter right, delightful as well. I didn't ask for more, but went back to relaxed working trot and a hint of stretchy trot.
Mo I hopped on cold, expecting lots of walk and trot. He moved in a lazy jog, and when asked, stepped up the trot even some. Again, bravery. I squeezed him up into a canter, but it sure was speedy! Mo wanted to run run! I let him some, but didn't want him overheating and being crabby for it.
7/18 Nothin'. Rain showers tickled the edge of the county, but never made it to my house. Bummer, dude.. better luck tonight.
Last year July, Ransom and I went from actively riding 3-5 a week (weather and schedule) to barely at all. Harley and I have been averaging 5-6 rides a week, Romeo and I about 3-4 rides a week.
But the summery is here. It's brought little to no rainfall, and my pastures are showing it. Both of my horses are fat & sassy, so they aren't suffering for the lack of fresh grass. Their bodies, however, are showing the effects of the heat and humidity. When I come home, there's at least some sweat, somewhere, on both boys. That's before I feed, and they're still sweating when I attempt to ride. Lots of huffing and puffing at work, though both have pretty quick recoveries on walk breaks. Thanks to perhaps the most awesome birthday present ever, I'm able to stay pretty comfortable in my coolvest, provided I ride super early morning or late evening.
I've thought about it for over a week now, and a few changes are coming for the rest of July, and probably into August, until the summer sun eases even a little bit.
Here's the new schedule Fridays Off - Harley longe, Mo ride Saturdays - Both ride Early Sundays - Both ride, One early, one late Mondays - Harley ride
Fridays Working - Harley longe Saturdays - Both ride Early Sundays - Both ride. One early, one late Mondays - Mo ride
This gives Mo his 3 a week, and Harley 3-4 a week, depending on whether I work a Friday or I'm off. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be freed up for other activities of the indoor variety.
I've admitted in my mind Harley and I won't be making the progress we are currently enjoying. I'm alright with that. I'm not "head over heels" in love with the idea, but it's also too hot to expect an hour plus of hard work out of him on the week nights. True temperatures have been in the mid to upper 90s (F) in the evenings, heat indeces from 90F all the way to 105F when we begin our rides. That's too hot to ask Harley to "work hard".
This is perhaps the hottest summer I've experienced since moving here from SC. As a PA-Yankee native, it's unbearably hot & humid. When my Yankee-up-nawth friends complain "It's Hot outside!", I laugh. 80F plus a little humidity? Huh.. that's what I woke UP to this morning , ya'll.
How do you cope with "hot summer" where you live? Do you change your ride times? Work level? Expectations? Do you quit completely, and wait on it to cool off? Or do you say "Screw it!", dress in as little as possible, buck&up and ride bareback, or saddle up in your finest and work until you and your horse are literally exhausted?
*editor note: the 07/11/11 entry was the 1,111th post. weird, huh?*
Tuesday night, with pizza and veggies in my tummy, and a bit more motivation, I headed out to the arena with Harley near dusk. Just as it was finally cooling off outside. Good quiet free longe, good quiet neck stretcher longe. Cooperative, and quiet.
I hopped on. Walk to halt, walk, to halt, to walk, to halt. Not too bad. A little rough around the edges still, but better than head-in-the-clouds. Walk to trot to walk to trot to walk to .. You get the idea. Things there are improving as well, just not quickly. The transitions on the neck stretcher / longe line look awesome, can't say the same for riding. I realize the "rein tension" is a little different, but it's almost like he forgets when he's carrying body weight. Strange, for sure.
Total work time, about 40 minutes. When we got back to the house, a snake slunk under the house. Ew. I wasn't able to muster the courage to get close enough to ID, but what I saw didn't look good. We. Need. Rain. or snake season will continue. I doubt they really want to be that close to the house, but it's cooler under the house, and there's at least a better chance of finding mice and/or vermin searching for food/water at the house.
I had good intentions. I got home from work, fed everyone early, warmed up leftovers for supper. Ate early. Washed up all the dishes, got my water jug ready. Then, like much of the afternoon, my tummy started to protest, and took my motivation with it. Bah humbug.
I decided to skip the ride. Looking back, I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't get a little motivated and at least longe Harley, but oh well, it's done. Instead, I grabbed four cookies, and wandered out to the pasture.
I got halfway to Harley, when he stopped grazing long enough to notice me. With a nicker, he walked right up to me. I walked to a clear part of the pasture, and stopped to find he'd followed me. Cookie flex left, cookie flex right. A little snuggling and rubbing. Harley stood still and enjoyed, licking & chewing in gratitude.
Romeo was still out in his pasture, so I had to navigate through the rosehedge and weeds to get to him. ooch ouch ooch! Cookie flex left, cookie flex right, a little praise. Harley nickered at me from his pasture.
Back under the fence to Harley, I rubbed on his withers, scratchie scratchie. He gently rubbed my waistline with his nose, then barely opened his mouth to nibble. I waved a hand at his nose sharply, and he very quickly backed a step away from me, lowered his head, licking & chewing. I explained, "Harley, let me scratch on you, but I'd prefer you not nibble-groom on me. Thanks, though, for wanting to love on me." I rubbed on him a little more, and found Romeo had come up to the fenceline, curious. "You want some too, Mo?"
I slid under the fence one last time, and tried to scratch on Mo. Quickly, he twisted his head towards me, as if to bite at me. I popped him in the nose, and he squirted away from me. Romeo turned to face me, arched his neck, and tucked his nose in. He hopped up a little bit in front, and tucked his nose again. Cute, he wants to play.
I took a step away from him, and he hopped up in front again, and trotted away a little bit, tail up. Uh oh. He *really* wants to play, and we can't play this game anymore. I acted 100% uninterested, and reached through the fence for the poop fork. I pointed it at him, now the end of the fork tines were about 3ft from his nose. Mo arched his neck, tucked his nose, and took off a little happy trot again. He really wanted me to play the game.
Darting into his stall, I pushed him out of it from outside the stall, using the handle end of the poop fork (again, no physical contact, just the mental pressure of it). Mo took off out of his stall, and came back around to the gate. Then I saw it.
He had this puzzled look in his eyes, completely confused as to why I wouldn't play the game. Harley came up to his side of the water trough, near the gate, pinned his ears at Romeo, pointed them up and happy at me, then pinned his ears again at Mo. hmmm...
Romeo stood almost out of reach, at the gate, facing me, worried eyes. I reached out, scratched his nose. He took one step towards the gate, but wouldn't let me scratch more than his forehead through the gate. Harley settled down, and took a good drink of water, then let out a huge heavy sigh, licking & chewing & slobbering water everywhere.
If I read it correctly, Romeo really wanted to play, and Harley saw the danger. Harley told Mo in no way did he want Mo playing with Momma, and he didn't think it was funny. Interesting. They share a fenceline, but I think I saw signs of a herd heirarchy beyond what I thought existed. Harley was protecting me, or at least I think he was. Cute...
And Mo really wanted to play "the game". It's going to be hard to explain to him "we can't play that game anymore, Mister Mo..."
Role Reverse! Sunday early morning, before the world woke up around my house, I saddled Harley up western (*gasp* I know, I'm a chicken that wanted the ohsh!t handle if I needed it), longed him only long enough to tighten the cinch, helmet clipped tight, and hopped on.
We didn't flex left-right, we didn't work on halts, I just sent him forward, down the road, away from home. He was awesome. A bird flapped out of the treeline, and he stopped to look. We walked down three houses, cut a U-turn, and headed back towards home. At the house, he hesitated, so I stuck a leg on him, and turned his mind towards the mailboxes.
We got through the treeline, just up to the overhead highpower e-line, and I stopped him. I wanted him to get a good look at the clearing, and at the neighbor's new swimming pool (that I remembered Romeo had a hard look at the first time he saw it). Harley glanced around, licking and chewing. Okay, then. Around the corner, and down the straight, mailboxes and paved road in sight. We got all the way to the plumber's house driveway, and he still had more "go" in him. I didn't push it. We stopped, let him have a good look 'round, and turned for home.
At the sharp corner, he stopped, and something rustled in the right-side treeline, just before the e-line. I dismounted, because I could feel Harley shaking with fear. He doesn't shake like that when he sees deer or hears deer, and I didn't need a train wreck on the dirt/gravel road. Then I heard it, a wild hog snorting, rustling through the brush. No sense in having that argument by getting back on, they're nasty monsters. I didn't know where the hog was heading, so we hand walked back to the house.
Total ride of about 40 minutes, including the hand walk. When he did startle at the hog, he didn't run off or do anything silly, but he did get scared. Cain't say I blame the little guy, I was a little startled too. Wild hogs are one of the only reasons I've considered carrying a .38 revolver on the dirt road and out on a trail. They're nasty, they can be aggressive, and sometimes hard to get away from.
Later in the evening, I hopped on Romeo in the bareback pad, jr cowhorse western bit, and headed to the arena. He was being a bit of a butthead walking to the arena, wandering around behind me, so I longed him a little in the long lead rope. Butt head. He quickly realized I wasn't in the mood for games when I picked up the longe whip. Little snot.
I hopped on. Rode walk and trot of varying lengths of stride all over the arena. Nearly 20 minutes. I was up there feeling a little proud at all we'd accomplished, and how quiet he was. FAIL! I stopped him to try & see what the neighbor's cows were doing in the distance. Without warning, and for some unknown reason, Romeo spooked, and hopped sideways about 4ft. I was so startled I didn't have time to think about falling. I wrapped both legs around him and grabbed a wad of mane. Stayed aboard, though. I looked around to see what happened, then asked him to walk on. A large grasshopper sprung from the weeds, making the chitter-chatter noise they do. Mo spooked again. That time, I stopped him hard and gave him a slap on the neck. "Okay, jerk! That's enough of that crap! Knock if off!"
For all that energy to spook at a grasshopper, it was ON! I took him down to the low circle, and we cantered circles for about ten minutes, a bit each way. Breathing hard, tired, and my legs crying for mercy, I quit. I asked him to walk and trot around the full arena, and he was more than ready to be done cantering in the evening sunshine.
Role Reversal! Harley was the quiet one, and Romeo was the nutcase. Those two.... *muttermutter* Boyz! and yes, I had my helmet on riding Romeo bareback in his pad. doofus little fart
07 Harley had a good longe. He longed quite a while before I hopped up there. Good solid work, neck stretcher the majority of it. We focused on walk and trot, me not wanting to argue with him on his first "work hard day" back. Things went well, nothing spectacular. Kept it short sweet and simple, since he was in his Myler combo bit. Things with the combo bit are going better. He still doesn't love it, but it's a nice refresher to have something different in his mouth / on his face. Keeps his mind fresh, and ultra observant.
08 Warmup on neck stretcher only. Things went well. I hopped on, and we focused on some transitions, but when he got fussy throwing his head and flipping his nose around, I suspected boredom. We did a BUNCH of serpentines, circles small and large, and on the straight lines I asked for some serious forward collected trot. Very nice results once I took him off the boring "dressage circle". I asked for canter left on a circle. Correct lead! GO Harley! I asked for canter right on the circle. More like a pleasure lope it was so slow, cadenced, and delightful. Way to Go Baby Boy! I should've stopped right there. I really should have. I asked for canter left. Wrong lead four requests in a row. Frustrated, I hopped off, and put him on the longe line. Asked with a kiss. Got the left lead first ask. Eh? Rider needs help now instead of the horse. harumph!
09 Longe work was all transitions. No particular gait more than 3/4 of a circle without a change. I'm working on transitions riding, might as well work on them on the line too. Things went well on the line. Under saddle, there's still work to be done. I don't know if he's confused by the neck stretcher vs. human hands, or I'm sending mixed signals. It seems the longer we do it, the fussier he gets, and the more he avoids the down transitions, just dragging through them hanging on me. A solid hour of goodness, anyways. Didn't ask for canter riding. I've recently decided to try not doing it every single ride, so each one isn't ending in an argument if the left canter isn't what I'd like it to be.
This morning, early(!), Romeo and I went for a half hour saddled walk down the road. Made it halfway to second corner of the paved road. He startled Dinner-deer and her twins. Argh.. Dinner ran, Romeo just shuttered a little. Highlight of the ride? Leaving home, he was just scooting along, walking briskly down the road, head down relaxed. Suddenly, he tripped on a front hoof and about did a face plant in the roadway. I think I heard "Oops. guess I better look where I'm going" through the heavy sigh that followed. *laugh* Good going, Mo! Glad you did that today, and not the day we went bareback to the mailbox. :)
We played with an exercise ball from the ground. Absolutely zero fear, and a tad bit of curiosity.
Then we did this ..
For those of you who say "eh, no big deal, you freak!" Let me remind you.. I've only had him since September He did NOT get a warmup of any kind He's not dead broke, but a bit past green broke. To call him 'Bomb proof', would be a huge lie. There's no bit... and we had zero luck with brakes when I first got him without a bit. He turned 90% of my legs that night Yes yes I know.. no helmet. I didn't intend on riding, but he was so quiet with the ball.
We actually did work on a few things. In that halter set like it was, it was easy to work on turning off of leg cues. He did great.
A good day to feel successful, that all our hard work together IS getting me somewhere.
I lost track of time. Whoops. I was supposed to ride Romeo to the mailbox and beyond tonight. Darn it. It's 7:00pm, and I should be at R's house at 7:45 or so for supper. Shoot!
C'mon Romeo, let's go dude. I tossed the cribbing collar off, slid the bit in his mouth, clipped my helmet chin strap tight, and hopped on. Go Mo Go! We hopped off in the trot down the little dirt road. Very quickly, I realized my shoes were slipping off. Dummy! I'm still wearing my little sandals. If my toes are down, or legs relaxed, the sandals threaten to slide off. If I tuck my toes up, heels down, the sandals stay on.
3/4 of the way there, he got LookieLouie at something. Who knows what. I didn't have time to debate with him and risk splat. I slid off, and hand walked him to the mailbox. Grabbed the mail, slid it into the back of my waistband.
Back at the spook-spot, three doe deer and their four babies sprinted across the road and into the neighbor's pasture. OH! That was your problem, cool. Romeo's head came down, he eased and relaxed.
I looked at the little shallow ditch, and his back. I pushed him on the ground to the lowest spot, grabbed a wad of mane, and pulled myself up aboard. And we're off!
Back to the house, and at the trailer, I brushed quick, checked for rocks in his toes. I found one teeny pebble in the white line, but it wasn't even wedged in, just sitting there. The rest of his soles are shiny and rock solid. Sweet!
Pulled the bit out, offered him cookies, and with the reins serving as a makeshift leadrope around his neck, we walked back to the barn. I turned him out off the reins, put the collar back on, another two cookies and a little hug.
Good Job Romeo! All in 15 minutes or less, we sprinted off to the mailbox and back. Yay! Sandals are a good "heels down" teacher, if any of ya'll are looking for a quick way to learn.
It's peace, and quiet... Dream with me, of an imaginary land where sheeple don't attack others at random, and imaginary boogeymen don't assume the worst in all the world... A land where horses don't have to be 100% perfect, world champions to reproduce. A land where kids can show freely and relaxed, where they can drop videos on youtube to share with gramma when they're just learning how to ride, without fear that someone at random will tell them how terrible they are.
Shhh... it's so quiet ... Don't wreck the karma, dude! :)
Harley warmed up on the longe line neck stretcher, deciding on one of his canter-lefts that he didn’t really need to stay on the circle. He fought me, and pulled the line from my hands. Gloves and all, I let go, refusing to argue with him & hurt myself. Caught again, he had a total of about 20 minutes on the neck stretcher. Each request for canter left, he took off at a near gallop. Sheez.
Walk and trot work only in this ride, and things went mostly well. He had some moments of beautiful walk, and beautiful trot. I tried to improve his transitions from halt and walk and back, showing him that tossing his head up in the air was not the right answer.
That ended up taking thirty minutes. A half hour, just to get a little lower head for halt/walk/halt transitions. His halt into walk is now pretty good.. Walk to halt? He’s 100% certain he needs to toss his head up and brace into the halt.
When I got a decent effort, I dismounted. The phone rang. In my conversation, I tried taking his bridle off and putting the halter on. As I tied the halter, he put his head up in the sky. I tried to lower it with poll pressure like he’s been taught. He backed up, spun on his rear end, and took off. Seriously?! He played that game for another ten minutes before realizing the only way out of that arena, and out of the saddle, was to be caught, and lower his head.
Unsaddled, hosed him off, and tied him to the patience pole for about 40 more minutes.
I’m taking tonight off with him, I do believe. Romeo and I have been riding all weekend (Friday bareback w/t arena, Saturday saddled up solid work-work all three gaits, Sunday more bareback goofing off), but we took yesterday off. I think I’ll make it up to him tonight. As yesterday was day 6 for Harley, given the extreme heat & humidity, maybe a day away from work will be good for both of us.
Harley got a little more zip in his giddy up Sunday evening. His warmup, again about fifteen minutes on the neck stretcher, he looked absolutely delightful.
All three gaits, both directions. Heading left, he had the right lead three times before realizing what I really wanted. Coming back to trot all those incorrect times, he was zippy, and really rough. I did not ask for canter again until he was relaxed and accepting a little bit. Finally, when he had the lead correct, we rode about two circles and I eased down to trot. Heading right, firs t ask, correct lead, circle and a half, and done.
Total, about an hour. Took a while to argue with that left lead, mixed in with lots of walking breaks so we could both catch our breath in the heat.
Grabbed Harley early in the morning. The sun was barely peeking over the treeline. Perfect.
Harley got a good fifteen minutes on the neck stretcher longe warm up. He gave a little half hearted buck on the longe, but decided quickly to settle to down to work.
I hopped aboard for the ride, and we got walk, trot, and a little effort of the leg yields at both gaits. They aren’t perfect yet, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if he’s really crossing legs over, or just turning his hooves towards the rail and his head inside.
Total ride, about 40 minutes. He settled good and quiet. Acted like the day before hadn’t even happened. Little monster
Harley says Wheeeee(!) on the 29th. I free longed him a little, then as hooves were trimmed on the 27th, it didn't take long before his body language wimpered a little.
I gave in. Softie me. Put on my helmet, and hopped aboard in the bareback pad. Rode at the walk, transitioning collected walk to free walk and back every few strides. He was agreeable to it.
Much better than his last trim, when he was sore and off for nearly a week. Romeo, on the other hand, is having "first new trim" blues, being sore and stiff since Monday evening. He'll be alright, probably by this evening.
Last night, 06/30, Harley got his good standard longing warmup, and without neck stretcher. Ten minutes of warmup (or less), and I hopped on. That's awesome, and I realized it this morning - I'm not doing the standard 20-30 minute "get the boogers" out anymore. That's either a result of him growing up a little, frequent enough work that he's quiet, or just a byproduct of it being awful hot outside.
The ride work was great. Picking up canter left, he got it two out of three tries, but both of the good ones were super speedy and strung out. I rode it until he relaxed, pushed him a little bit further, then eased into a trot. His canter right was really nice, slow, easy, so I think it's just a "food adjusting , saddle adjusting , I'm a baby and I warmed up quickly" thing. I don't believe it's a soreness / stiffness problem. I'll keep an eye on him.
We completed our steamy ride in the 95F+ temperatures by splashing through the pond. I rode Harley over to the arena gate (one strand of un-hot tape fencing), and undid the fence from the post from his back! YAY! It took a few tries to get his body close enough to the fence, but he didn't wiggle when I got the fence loose. With only a mild hesitation, Harley dropped his face to the water, and splashed on through. Three times heading away from home, and three heading back to the house. SPlish SPlash! Much fun.
Total work, only 50 minutes. How delightful is that?! All three gaits, turns on fore/haunches, backing up, give to the bit, gate opening, splashing through the pond. In less than an hour! Fantastic Harley! We've come a long way, with a long way to go.
I tossed my tack on Romeo, longed him on the lead rope quick enough to do a fit check, and hopped aboard. :) Days like this, when he's quiet like he was Sunday, I can smile, "Yup Mo, that be why you still live here with me!" We wandered the roads, scooted through the hi-power electric right of way, and enjoyed maybe 20 minutes together walking. Nothing special, nothing long. That was day 4 consecutive for Mo, and since Saturday'd been such a rough one with the travel, tire, and fitting ride, I didn't want to push my luck.
Then it was on to Harley. Saddled and ready, off to the arena we went. I warmed him up longe free quickly, and then stuck him in the neck stretcher. He swiftly settled down into his forward trot, and gave a little nice soft canter as well. Delightful stuff.
I hopped on. What a ride. Like he'd done it his whole life, I walked a little over a circle, trotted two or three, then cantered one, back to trot two or three, back to walk. Reverse, repeat. We did this three or four times, and in the middle somewhere got out a couple nice turns on fore/haunches and back up baby steps.
R arrived just as I was about to finish. "Hey, Harley. One more time, baby. Let's show off how great your new saddle fits ya." Walk, trot, canter. Reverse, repeat. Fan-freaking-tastic.
The new saddle fits my horses, and it fits me. I can canter Harley in it with no problems, sitting squarely in the middle. yay!