Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Whatta Birthday! Surprises!

Jen showed up at the house, and looked to be in a purdy big hurry-hurry to get going.  We had to get off to town... 11:00 for somethin'... Hmmm.. Something.. I wonder if I'll end up dancing on tables drunk or something youtube-worthy. 

We meandered through town, and then it appeared..
The spaaaaaaaaa...
I was surprised with an hour-long facial, complete with massage for neck, shoulders, arms, hands, calves, and feet.  oooh.. ahhhhh... I lost count of the different products applied to my face, and drifted off for a brief nap at least once. 
Completely refreshed, we loaded back up in the car, and headed off again...
Lunch!  Chicken and noodles and salad.  Entirely relaxing, complete with a wonderful glass of the house rescato wine.  Oooh... nomnomnom..
I was handed a gift bag, opened it excitedly, to find ...

Ain't it pretty?!  Browband, for Harley's show dressage bridle.  All purple and green and sparkly! :)  Can't WAIT to put it on his show bridle, and try it on him..
Again, back to the car.  It's a horse thing ... TSC!  Picked up pony cookies, and a fly mask for Romeo.. 

Then off to see R.  I wonder what's left in this wild birthday of birthdays!

Whatta Birthday! Rides 1st (Romeo)

Mo had so many "light walking days", I decided it was high time he work!  I mean, work!work!  Trot AND Canter WORK.

So we did.  A nice 40 minutes all three gaits.  He had some serious GO in his giddy up.  It makes me giggle when he wants to run like that.  Makes me wish I had some long flat (safe) straightaways I could let him fly around.  He got a little lazy turning at the trot, so we did figure 8s and little circles until I was dizzy. 

At least the rain had quit.  It left a steamy arena in its place.  It was rather hot & muggy by the time we finished.  I hosed Mo down, then watched him roll in delight.  HAH Mom!  You can't keep me clean!  I'm the dirty pony, 'member?  Yes, Mo,,, I know ... *sigh*

Monday, June 18, 2012

Whatta Birthday! Rides 1st (Harley)

Up bright crack of dark early Saturday.  Happy Birthday to me!  All the little furry four leggeds were well behaved while I waited on the sun to rise.  Caught Harley, decked him up in his R.E.S. boots and saddle, and offs we went to the arena.  I was a little dismayed at all the "prep work" I needed to get done, and Harley was in one of his "how slow can I walk" moods.  I got all the ground poles set for trot, the crossrail put up in its place, and finally started longing him.  He must've felt the frustration, and longed out very quietly and polite.

I hopped aboard, and sent him out on light contact, serpentines and circles around the arena.  Pretty quickly the dark-ish clouds overhead opened up, and we had a solid steady rain falling.  Really?!  Rain?!  With his full attention pretty quickly, I aimed for the trot poles.  No problem! (still raining)  Swung wide after them, and lined up for the big "X".  I got light hesitation, and a bit of an over-jump.  Funny anyways, since I had lifted the sides up one hole on the jump standards.  One little bitty hole, and you woulda thought I sent him over a 3' oxer.  Oh Harley...  By the four hop over the "X", the lazies set in, and he knocked both poles clear down.  I dismounted to fix it, and decided to change direction. (it finally stopped raining) A little work to the right, and after one big over-jump, he settled in for the poles and the "X" four times each.  No problems.  In fact, it was a bit funny.  Most of the "X" jumps, he'd enter at trot, land in trot a few strides, then canter a couple, and ease back to trot.  Never once did he rush into it, or away from it.  It *feels* like he enjoys it, and I can't quite explain it fully.  Very interesting.  I'm jumpin' in the rain, just jumpin' in the rain! 

We hadn't done much canter work, so after some solid walk break, I sent him out at canter.  One circle in the middle, followed by one lap around the arena, both directions.  Each canter brought the same result - he was reaching for the contact.  I don't mean lenghtening his neck & face just a little, I mean nearly falling on the ground looking for the contact.  He stumbled a couple times, which brought me to giggles.  Harley!  Pick your lazy self up!    I gave in both directions, and shortened my reins just a touch to let him find the bit easily.  When he reached the light contact, he backed off just a bit (enough to keep them loose), and kept on cantering.  Delightful! 

We finished up the ride with one more "X" left, since he toppled it his last left-attempt.  No problems.  I walked him out a good 5 minutes loose rein, and he was clearly pleased with himself.  Me?  I had a nice warm "hey, I did it" kind of feeling. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

6/15/12 AM

I was up at my regular time, 4:30am.  Don't laugh, I have to be at work at 6:30, and to make the 40minute commute, shower, make coffee, and feed this wild herd, it needs doing.  I fed the kids, even the horses a bit early.  I dressed to ride, drank my coffee.  Okay, I savored it.. I had time for that today.

At 6:15am, it was barely light enough to head outside.  I had to hunt for Harley, who saw me exit the house dressed.  Little bugger, I ate THREE spider webs this morning. I demonstrated some mad ninja skills on each one, too.  Least that's what it looked like, I'm sure.  Dressed him in all his garb, gave in to my hot little buggers half chaps, gloves, helmet, and headed out.

Warmed him up with the longe whip  and the side reins for a few minutes.  Again, after he realized I meant business whip PoP, he gave in and gave a beautiful tigger-springie looking trot.  It was cute.  I hopped aboard, and we got down to business. 

Another fantastic 30 minutes of solid, hard work.  His free walk was forward and stretched out, I got some nice relaxed canter work, and found the sitting trot more forward than posting trot.  anybody else have this happen, or is it me?  Bad posture?  Bad form from me posting making him get slow?  

I'm thinking now, he's ready for Intro C.  I don't think we have any opportunities to show it soon, but I'll start looking.  A bit more work to do yet on the stretchie trot circles before Training 1.  Anyways, we're sure getting there.


When I arrived home from work Thursday night, it was already cooler than it had been.  Heat Index around 99F.  Yes, hot.. HtH.. but !!!  By 6:20pm, it was almost nice.  Heat Index 95F.  I grabbed Harley, his dressage saddle, helmet, gloves, line, bridle..

Warmup was l-a-z-y.  No longe whip in the arena, left it at the barn.  Drat it.  After about 5 minutes, I gave up.  Hopped on.  You know, that "oh holy crap I hope I don't die for not warming the baby off of him hop on?  Yup... 

Harley was awesome.  A nice 30 minutes total.  The ride was relaxed.  I got some sweet trot to canter transitions, he stayed relaxed for them, and didn't need anymore than a lot of seat and a little leg. Most of the ride was on light contact, since there had been a 3 day break.  I asked for some collected walk, and he complied with a heavy sigh. 

I had more daylight remaining, and some burst of energy from somewhere.  I think I stole Harley's oomph all for my own.  I grabbed Romeo, tossed him in the bareback pad and bit and my helmet and headed to the arena.

He was awesome.  He was Mo.  Walk/Trot for 25 minutes.  He wanted to canter, my legs weren't in agreement.  what the heck was I thinking, second horse, no saddle. My elevator doesn't go all the way to the top, I swear. 

I got two great rides, all in a work evening.  How spectacular, plus the early Friday morning ride I had planned! :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More than Just Racing

Last night, Mo and I had a nice half hour walk down the road, away from the mailboxes.  Passed CRNG's now vast yard of buildings and other yard junk.  Passed Mr. T's driveway, and the crazy grandfather who pitched a fit when I called the cops on his grandsons for shooting at the arena.  Got another two driveways down, and halfway past the pond.  He was uncomfortable with a number of things by then, so we turned back for home.

At lunch today... Conversation between a coworker & I.

CW:  So, how are the horses doing?
Me:  They're good. Real good.
CW:  Have you been to any races lately?
Me:  Racing?  What for?
CW:  You said before you competed them.  You haven't done any more racing?
Me:  CW, you realize there's more to horses than racing, right?  You've not seen any of the equestrian events in the Olympics?
CW:  Nope.  I just thought there was racing in competition.

*big deep heavy sigh*  Yup.  I'm proud of me.  I made it out of the room without bursting into giggles.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer is Here, HtH

HtH --- Hotter than H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.  Yes, summer arrived, with a fire breathing dragon chasing me across the back yard.

I've ridden a little bit, mostly early early AM, or late evenings.  Harley had a light longe followed by a light contact ride, then a day of tough dressage work, and then a day of complete goofing off walking down the road.

I loved the dressage ride.  He was cooperative, and is in fact learning his lessons.  I know for certain he's ready for Intro C, and he just might be ready for Training 1.  Maybe not quite TL1, but close.  We've got time.  The summer "break" is here in the local show club, so we'll have more time to improve.

I really loved the walk day.  I saddled him up, tightened the girth, and hopped on.  Harley stayed at the walk, the entire ride.  We made it half way to the mailbox, including a jaunt in the highpower electric overhead right of way.  When Harley realized it was Mo he saw, and he was looking at the pasture from outside the fence, his ears and body relaxed near immediately.  Anytime his head would raise, his ears-radar would perk in one direction.  I'd ask for a halt, and let him stand, look, and sniff, right up until he'd relax.  After the third time, he looked hard, and when he eased and relaxed, he walked off on his own.  A trail rider will tell me, "That's not the best habit to have, where he goes without a cue", but I thought it was cute.

We then headed away from the mailboxes, back past the house, and passed CRNG's crazy yard.  Harley took a long hard look at all the little buildings, and listened to his loud rooster, then walked off.  He wanted to go farther than I did, but I realized we'd been at it for25 minutes, and decided that it's better to end when he wants more than have a spooky argument and *insist* that he go beyond his comfort zone just to train trust. 

Mo and I had a good argument Friday morning.  We walked past the mailboxes, down the road, first corner, second corner.  By then, he'd spooked at one deer, one horse, two bunnies, and a flapping plastic bag.  :-/ Disappointing for his age, but I also recognize we haven't been off-pasture much this year so far. 

The worst of the battles occurred at a muddy culvert pipe with water running up to it.  As Mo realized what it was, he stopped a way in front of it.  Locked up.  I hopped off, and hand walked him to the running water.  He snorted and spooked, but I forced the issue.  I "longed" him through it both directions, probably a dozen times each way.  Finally, each direction, he settled mostly.  I'll admit, it was muddy, unclear how deep, and he got hock deep a couple times.  Mud splashed everywhere.  I mounted back up, and made him carry me through it once.  I even got mud splashed on me.  So not the best place to train "it's just water and mud you dingaling, trust me!", but it needed doing. 

I suspect I'll get one to two "good hard rides" of dressage and/or jumping on Harley a week, followed by two walk-only rides.  Mo?  He'll be doing lots and lots of walking down the road.  I hope to take Mo (and maybe Harley) on an adventure trail walk in town or a local park sometime soon.  The heat gives us plenty of reasons to "just walk".  While to most that seems simple, riding in unfamiliar places, especially with inexperienced babyH, should lead to a summer of confidence building.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

6/5/12 Laughing at Myself

When the weather had cooled to around 95F ( yay,,, Summer is apparently here,, with a vengeance), I grabbed Harley.  Saddled endurance, regular bit, helmet, tightened the girth, took him to his pasture, and closed the gate.  Boldly I climbed on him "cold", recognizing it was still too toasty for a true longing warmup.  Now, remember, Harley had a wild bucking habit in this saddle, not so long ago.  As he started to walk through the pasture brush, I felt about 2' taller than I do on Mo.  Saddle?  Taller horse?  General "up" feeling?  All of the above.

Harley walked leisurely towards the back of the pasture, skirted around the pond, and wandered behind the arena.  He paused just a moment to look around, then kept on going.  I kept the reins loose, looking around myself, telling my body to stay relaxed for the "easy day".  He paused at the brush side of the property, and expressed some interest in walking down that side.  Hmm, I thought... "Brave kid today.. Well, here goes nothing.  Wonder how wild he'll get the first limb that rubs his legs, my legs, or the saddle."

He didn't even hesitate.  Harley picked his way along the slightly uneven pasture ground, stepped around the brush, walked through the edge of limbs, and as they rubbed him, me, and even the saddle pad, he didn't do more than flick an ear of recognition.  Delightful.  A few more overhead limbs scratched against my helmet, and I still only got an ear.  "Yeah, Mom, I know... I'm getting over it."

I dismounted at the gate, unlatched it, hand walked him through the gate, and hopped back on.  As I pushed him forward to walk, he almost immediately popped up to trot.  whoa there crazy baby.. easy dude  I was able to quickly get him back to his lazy walk.  We sloshed through the sand pile, and around the yard a bit.  As we came through the "ditch" in front of the house, he went to trot again.  uh oh.  I have a feeling we shoulda stayed in the pasture, you know, with the gate & all  I started to pay attention to what might be causing his up-energy.

CRNG was wandering around, in a speedo only (ew), but not making much noise.
I didn't hear any deer or other assorted wildlife around the area.
There weren't any cars on the road.
Dogs weren't barking.  Cows weren't moo-ing, donkeys weren't braying.
ooh , wait.. I bet.. it's.. perhaps...
I tucked my toosh under me, and deliberately "pushed" with my seat.
Harley hopped up to trot. 

Oops.  :)  No leg cue necessary anymore.  I now need to be aware of every part of my body, and deliberately relax even my seat, cautious not to give a "go hurry up" cue with my toosh. 

needless to say, it was a delightful 25 minute walk around.  We wandered up and down the road a little, back to the pasture to splash in the pond, and then returned to the wash rack for a hose & scrub.  I let him mow the front yard a little for me before returning him to his pasture. 

A really nice, "few days off and no warmup needed" walk around peacefully.  well, all except for that little "cue to go" thing I accidentally used.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

6/4/12 PM

I had all good intentions of hopping on Harley and wandering the pasture last night.  Harley looked less than amused with my idea, and stood with a somber expression.  Romeo, however, was "ears up", stood alert, and looked to me to be asking for the ride.  Bareback pad, bit, and helmet, off we went.

I'm pretty sure we covered all the nooks and crannies of the newly mowed pasture.  We found all the brush pushed around, and new clearings in places there hadn't been any.  Some really neat trails meandering through the trees, all of which Mo was eager to explore.  He hesitated twice.  Once heading towards the fenceline where the kids were shooting (who can blame him there), and again outside of the brushy longside of the arena, where he usually hesitates from inside the arena fence.  Mr J cut a path beside the arena, and now that should make riding inside the fence a bit less nervous... YaY!  We also wandered down the road by CRNG's house, which Mo found super amusing with all the new going-ons over there.  A very relaxing ride...

On to the Public Service Announcement for the month!  CHECK YOUR TACK!  CHECK YOUR GEAR!  As it turns out, one of my good-for-nothing splats off of Harley about two months' ago had a bad result - cracked helmet.  The inexpensive Tippery helmet I purchased about 5 months ago?  Is no more.  See, with all the extra ventholes, this also created a less than sturdy helmet (apparently).  There was a crack all the way through one of the helmet parts across the top.  :-(  Lovely..

Now, I'm in a ridiculously inexpensive (and slightly uncomfortable) Troxel Spirit.  It will work for now, and it's a delightful periwinkle blue (only because they didn't have purple or white).  I am disappointed the Tippery didn't last longer, for certain. 

Check your gear, fellow riders.  This means look at the saddle before you toss it on the horse.  Check the bit and bridle before asking your horse to wear it.  Look over your gloves - make sure they aren't falling apart.  And look the helmet over thoroughly before snapping the chin strap.  If you're not riding with a helmet, consider the risk ... Do you really think it's fair to ask your family to care for you as a vegetable in a hospital bed after a traumatic brain injury?  Don't just say, "I accept the risk."  Discuss it with your loved ones, make sure they accept that risk too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

New Hoofs and Happy Rides

Mr Eddie came to visit 5/24 mid-day.  Both boys were easy to catch.  Romeo had the tiniest bit trimmed off his hoof walls, and a little bit of toes rounded up.  All things looking good.
Harley's trim was quite similar.  Just a little bit clipped off, and a bit of rounding.  He stood pretty good, and I do have before/after pictures taken, need posting. :)
His advice?  "Ride them today, for sure!  Tomorrow if you have time.  Let me know if anything comes up wrong, so I can make a note before I show up again.  See you in 6 weeks."

Thursday evening, I rode both.  Results?  All good.  A bit of warmth in all four hooves for Harley, and front right for Mo.  Didn't seem to affect either of them, as there wasn't the slightest bit of acting out. :)

Saturday I had some time to ride Harley again.  I took him to the arena, and after a brief warmup, we trotted through the ground poles and over the crossrail a few times.  Not a single problem.  Just a happy cooperative horse. :)

Sunday I hopped on Mo bareback in the evening for a few minutes, and what did I get?  One seriously jealous Harley.  I made it up to him Monday morning early and rode him out for some work. 

Last week had a few good rides, and a few more over the weekend.  We're getting the hang of our new homework from the dressage lesson.  I'm getting anxious to show it off and find out what's next .

I owe some hoof pictures, some new splint boot reviews, and more good detailed videos of a few things Harley's up to. :)
OOh Yeah.. and a grim picture of my sad helmet before it gets replaced.  I will say this for now..
Check Your Tack!  Check your Safety Gear!  Don't use it if it's not 100%!