Thursday, January 24, 2013

Harley Update

I was fuming when I walked towards the pasture yesterday.  That !@^# saddle cost $100 to ship!  Sonufa.... I can't believe that!?!  What the heck did they do, wrap it in gold foil first?!  Freaking crying out loud.  Sell one, and I've already lost money for the shape it was in, now I've lost another $50 just to get it there!  Dangit!! I opened Harley's pasture door ...

And he nickered, turned 180 hard, and trotted up to me, head down.  Well dag-nabbit.  Can't be in a bad mood when my horse comes up to me THAT happy to see me, now can I?

He must have known I was coming out there with my breeches in a twist.  He got the boogers out on the longe line short and sweet, and when I hopped up to ride, was the purest gentlemen he's been in a long time.

Ten minutes longing, and thirty minutes riding, he was awesome.  We had our best left-canter transitions yet on the shorter reins, the least amount of fuss and fiddle in the trot work.  I switched directions every time I got what I was asking for.  He was incredibly delightful.  Both of us were a bit unhappy with the warm humid, especially Harley in his thick winter coat.  Still, even in the sweat and sticky, he was cooperative and obedient. 

The fantastic ride more than made up for the outrageous UPS shipping charges.   That being said, the Collegiate is on its way to Maine, and I have pictures out for the HDR and the western barrel saddle... here's hoping they sell too!!

Monday, January 21, 2013


Mo is up to his old work routine.  Everything seems back to normal.  There's still a slight bit of heat in that tendon, but that's probably how he'll be from here forward.  He moves out nice, and I'm slowly getting his canter back under control, and relaxed.  It started out head-high, short, choppy, and felt disorganized.  With more miles, it has been improving.

Harley and I got some video Friday afternoon of our ride.  I need to edit/chop/cut/mute and I will try to post clips of it.  Here's the things I learned from it:

* He's bending nicely at the poll.  He's not over-flexing "nose to chest" like it feels sometimes.  His canter looks more consistent than his trot.

* The trot is almost tracking under, even when it feels slow.  This must be the beginnings of collection, to have him feel like he's poking along, yet the video shows rear toes almost reaching front heels. 

*  Attemps to get shoulder-in on video - fail.  Harley saw the camera I believe, and decided not to play fair.  I felt a few strides of it, but have no videographic proof it actually occurred.  Something to keep working on.

*  He is learning from all the transitions, but now it's time to stay in the gait until I get consistent work collected.  Harley holds it for about three strides, then becomes fussy - throws his head, swishes the tail, and hollows out.  He's waiting for a "long & low" break, and when it doesn't occur, he expresses his disapproval in many ways.

I'm watching the schooling show calendar, and making a list of our choices this year.  I don't know how many I will attend.  I'm also considering joining USDF and taking in a registered show, to see how he'd do under the extra pressured atmosphere.  I think if I go in with the same "doesn't matter" relaxed attitude, Harley will be the same. 

Time Consuming

If you've been reading regularly, you probably saw my one or two sentences about the saddles for sale. 
16" barrel saddle
17" HDR event Pro , medium tree
17" Wintec 500 dressage, convertible gullet
17" Collegiate close contact, convertible gullet

This seems like it'd be simple enough to see these four.  $400 for the barrel saddle, $300 each for the HDR and the Wintec, and $450 for the collegiate.  Honestly, entirely fair prices for their condition, especially given the new purchase price, and the fact that all but the HDR look almost brand new, hardly used.  I'd guess the Wintec and the Collegiate aren't even "broke in" due to low use and good care.

Yet the economy stinks, and everyone wants "something for nothing".  I've been buried in questions, emails, and persistent emails.  No, I don't want to sell them for less, I'm not that desperate for cash.  No, I'm not going to google them brand new for you and get a "what they cost everywhere else" estimate - that's your job.  No, I don't have serial or registration #s for them.  One potential buyer and I exchanged 16 emails before she said "oh nevermind, I'm buying a different one".  Another wanted specific measurements with a ruler, and when I told her, "If I do that, it costs my time and help to measure and take pictures of each measurement.  Price increases to reflect you don't believe me on saddle size", she explained "she'll go buy somewhere else".  Knock yourself out, ma'am, doesn't hurt my feelings. 

If you're interested in any of these four saddles, please ask.  I've got pictures, but I don't feel like paying for photo ads.  The Wintec is listed on eBay as a trial for me, first item on the sale list.  If it sells on eBay, I'll list the rest of them there too, one at a time.

Why am I selling this collection?  None of them fit me, or Harley, for our given purposes.  He's stocky, and the convertibles don't seem sturdy enough for his conformation.  The barrel saddle has sat inside for over two years now, not been used, and takes up space.  I'm hoping all four will sell so I can make a generous payment on a new jump saddle to fit Harley and I both. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1-11-13 I thought I could

Harley longed in side reins, one ground pole set on the circle.  He's slowly starting to learn to canter over the pole, not break to trot, canter back after the pole.  I longed him for about 25 minutes in the side reins, then took them off.  He immediately went out at a walk, long&low, stretched down.  Fantastic.

Mo out on just the longeline, absolute friggen nut.  Bucked and kicked out, then galloped like a wildman for 10 minutes.  There was no stopping him, and if I tried, he'd just kick out more.  He settled, he relaxed, finally, and after 25 minutes total, I turned him back out in to his pasture.  He rolled, immediately.  *sigh*

Since, it's been entirely to wet to consider riding.  When it was dry enough, it has also been bitterly cold for South Texas.  Wind Chills in the low 30s, with a nice stiff wind, moderate humidity, and the occasional drizzle.  Yuck.

Tonight may finally be dry enough for some light longe and ride.  I don't anticipate the daylight for both horses, and I'm pretty sure Harley won't see the side reins.  Just a nice slow day, warming us back up to routine riding.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I set up a low crossrail, a higher crossrail, a set of three trot poles, alternating ends elevated 4", and one pole alone, elevated 8" both ends.  The last time I attempted this mess with Harley, he stomped through the fences, and knocked down more than I care to admit.

Last night, hop hop hop.  I warmed him up in the side reins to stretch his body and continue his new muscle training.  When I mounted, he walked off nose tucked and body up and round.  As he reached down and out, looking for the bit, he was still trying to be "dressage pony".  Harley found the contact, on a fairly loose rein, and settled nicely.  We must have gone over each of thsoe obstacles, spread out over the arena in various places, a dozen times each way.  I worked him evenly, trotting over everything.  Didn't see a reason to force the canter, since there wasn't much set up for that.  It's something to work up to, for sure.  Nothing was knocked down, nothing stumbled over, and when we completed the cavaletti work, everything was set just as when we started. 

A bit of canter on the dressage rein, more transitions than actual canter, and he was done for the day.  About 40 minutes total, since every pole he saw was "clear", I didn't see a reason to insist on more.

Romeo?  Snarly grouch.  He was more concerned with the blowing trees and weeds (and the dogs he could hear and not see next door) than with my leg or seat.  So I pointed him at the trot poles.  "That oughta wake him up."  Instead, it woke me up.  Thump, splat.  Mo knocked down *every* single pole he saw.  The three trot poles?  Knocked down and tipped over.  The 8" vertical rail alone?  Knocked down and rolled away.  Total monster.

So he worked.  Hard.  Lots of long trot.  Quite a bit more canter than he's done since the injury.  His head was high in the sky, and I realized in the long trot/canter work, Romeo is ready to go back to his snaffle ring bit, and "get back to work". 

Both boys will be back in action after the heavy rains that start today and finish late Wednesday.  Well, after the rains finish, and the puddles soak into the ground. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Completion

Romeo is back to work.  We've been working 3-5 days a week, in the arena, focused on increasing intensity and time at each gait.  This past week, I finally let him be a nut on the longe line for about 15 minutes.  Why?  Because he was being a nut in the pasture, and it was better I could control where he was than him running wild.  The other two days I rode him, I cantered.  A teensy little bit.  30m circles, once each way the first day, twice each way the second day.  I expected some wildness, but was delighted to get a hesitant canter.  He feels a little stiffer going left, expected as the left front had the injury.  Still, he's moving nice, and will now be able to start getting back to work more often.

Harley and I had a nice lesson at BRM.  I was hoping to ride some jump basics, but that sure didn't happen.  I arrived there to 40F temperatures, and a brisk wind.  He handled it really well, more interested in all the other horses than the weather.  Me?  I was froze, and tense, and knew full well this wasn't a day I could calm down in a postage-stamp saddle enough to push him over fences. 

Instead, we wandered to the covered arena, and had a dressage lesson.  And a lesson it was!  I rode a little, Barb rode a little, and she decided it would be easier to teach him true shortened dressage reins and beginning collection from the ground.  Barb reintroduced him to longe line with side reins, quite the feat.  I explained Harley had been hollow and tense on the side reins with me.  She showed that's because they were too long, and he "had an out".  After 20 minutes of longing, she put me back on top.  Myler combo bit, and the reins are now on the bottom hole.  I laughed when she said, "You know, I think, in your hands, even on the lowest hole on that bit, you've got less leverage than a real snaffle!" 

I was praised for my leg control.  And seat control.  And core body position.  However, from the elbows down, I'm losing it.  I'm not "holding on to him".  Harley gives just a tiny bit at the poll, I release all rein pressure, and he pokes his nose back out.  We rode for at least another half hour, lots of transitions.  LOTS.  Mostly trot/canter/trot.  Biggest focus?  MUCH shorter reins, and quiet hands.  I found myself ignoring everything else, and trying to keep my hands soft but steady.  I even realized I let my hands reach forward with every try Harley gives.  Now, I'm focusing on keeping them steady front-to-back.  Barb put some white tape on the reins, so I wouldn't go home guessing, "So is that where they go??"

We checked my jump saddle.  No-go on saddle fit.  This has been an ongoing problem, and it's not getting better.  I have one more gullet to try, but based on some other efforts at home, I don't think it'll help.  I've got three 17" English saddles and one 16" Western barrel saddle for sale... Ask me for details. 

Harley *does* now understand what a stretchy trot break is.  We had a serious argument our first ride back home after the lesson.  I think he was hoping for "business as usual" back at home, and hoped an argument might get him out of work.  The next day (after a jump saddle near-disaster), I hopped straight on bareback, and shortened up the reins to the tape.  Outstanding.  Harley relaxed immediately, came up to the bit, and stayed there.  Steady for walk/halt/walk and walk/trot/walk.  I kept things short, hoping he'd make a connection to his good behavior.

I do hope soon to have some video of the new reins and my hand position.  At least for my own reference.

2013 goals coming soon.. if I can figure out what I want them to be.