Friday, May 31, 2013

Harley's Habits

Harley has a few quirky habits..

  • He pees directly before the ride, on the walk to the arena, 95% of the time.  And it's not a little trickle, either.  Running faucet.  Hard rain on a flat rock.  LOTS of pee directly before we get to the arena.  I can almost get him to pee on command if I take him to that spot and stand facing him. 

  • He licks.  My hands, my arms, my shoulders, my head if I'd let him.  After the rides, standing at the wash rack, hosing him down, he'll bend around and start licking.  Not biting, not even nibbling.  Just licking.  Like a dog on an ice cream cone licking.

  • He eats ice from my drinking water cup.  In these warmer temperatures now that summer's here, after the ride, I grab my Bubba water cup.  It's usually ice filled, water, and some MiO flavoring.  I can grab a handful of the ice, offer it up to Harley like a cookie, and he snarf it up.  Happily.  He'll go after the cup if he doesn't get as much as he thinks he should, too.

But, with all this, I always find some joy in catchign him in the pasture.  When he sees me, holding a halter or not, cookies or not, he'll nicker at me, and start walking towards me.  98% of the time.  He doesn't run to me gleefully hollering, and he doesn't crowd me when he does walk up.  He'll get about 6' from me, and stop, head down.  Happy to work, I suppose.


Testing Harley's knowledge, and my education.  Longed him for only a few minutes in the side reins.  It became apparent quickly that he was ready for me on board, and not chasing him in circles.

Rode a lot of walk at the start, lots of serpentines.  Lots of bending and stretching.  He was bending right, fighting left.  I got a little submission, asked for a few leg yields with decent results. 

Worked up to trot, and after a little while circling and turning, I asked him to step up the energy.  It got a little better.  I am seriously considering pulling out the pointy stick spurs just one time, see if I can't wake him up a little bit.  I started to think about some canter, when I saw a momma doe and two fawns in the pasture.  You gotta be kiddin' me!  I shoo'd them, well, sort of.  Momma went the way I wanted her to.  The fawns ducked into the trees.  crap..

So I hurried up & rode Harley three times each way over the canter distance in TL#1.  He fought that bit HARD going left, but was polite going right.  Okay .... interesting.

Back to trot work.  I rode the 3 circle pattern over trot both ways, and asked him to lengthen on the straight-aways.  Good results.  Asked him to stretch out down the diagonal for a direction change, and he really got moving.  Super! 

I saw the fawns squirt out of the trees away from the arena, so I figured that was a good time to try out the 3 circle pattern at canter.  He was much better.  One gait break going left.  I did learn something though... I am used to sitting deep and driving with my seat at canter to ask for more.  I found myself sitting super tall and almost driving from the front of my seat at canter-right.  I wasn't having to add a lot of leg, and I wasn't having to spur at all.  I tried the same thing at canter-left, with good results.  While still fighting the bit some, Harley was moving out without a lot of pressure. 

Note to self.. need to try that at the trot, see what happens.   

I rode him a while longer at the trot, asking for some straight lines, and some more energy.  I got some big trot (okay, big for Harley), and called it a day. 

Definitely more canter than we've been riding, but he seemed to be good for it.  :)  His breathing recovered at the end of the ride in the walk-out about as quick as mine did.  Fabulous.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm all about Honesty

And a bit of good entertainment.  :)  I wasn't hurt, Harley's fine.  He and I will be spending a lot more time at the canter, doing this "3 circle" exercise.  I thought the best way to show you what I meant by 3 circle was to show the video.

And, well, we rode it one direction already, then this way.  Harley's apparently tired by here, and decided NOT to pick up his feet.  I was just getting it processed in my mind "I need to half halt him quickly".  Didn't do it quick enough, did I?

Harley's Adventure Today

I owe much blogging updates.  However, I'm lazy.. No, correction.  I'm tired.  Today was BIG. 

Simply.. the last few days:
Harley LOVES the Myler D ring.  LOVES it.  Cooperative, obedient, and nice. 
His dressage work is coming along nicely.  If I don't use side reins in the warm up, he doesn't have the same energy that he has when I use them.  Weird kid.  The harder he works in warm up, the better the ride.

Here's a snippet of today.  I had the pleasure of a lesson with MrsN.  Neat lady, easy to understand, complimentary of H's quiet demeanor.  I have a LOT to work on...
More energy, Harley!  Keep him moving, off the forehand (*grin*, after a slight mishap, this is more important than ever), and some neat tips on increasing his canter energy.
*Coming out of a canter circle down a line, add inside leg, and lots of it.  Sit a driving seat, and add lots of inside leg
*Ask for the trot, get what he's gonna give me, and then ask him for more energy in that trot.  Let him settle in the gait before asking him for more
*Bend a bit,  Even on the lines, ask for a little inside bend
*Shorten the jump saddle stirrups at least two holes.  Ride more two point, and get my leg out a little in the trot at two point. Knuckles on the neck, resting quietly
 *He still loves his trotting over x's.  Today was a day, that, well, I smiled.  A lot.  He did great.  Here's proof. :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Monkey Mondays 5/26/2013

Chinese on the menu one Sunday afternoon.  PuPu platter (Anybody know why they chose that awful name?), WonTon soup - if you read the ingredients, I'll bet it says, "Stock broth, egg noodles, pork, and Chinese juju."  

Roast Pork with Vegetables, and Steamed Rich.

The staff here?  All wandered by, saw MoJo on the table, and laughed.  Yes, folks, that's exactly why I bought him.  He's bringing giggles everywhere he goes. :)  Totally worth the purchase price and the shipping.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Healing My Back

Chiropractor Monday, 5/20.  After work, I overconfidently boarded Mo.  He did his job, which was effortlessly take care of me.  He ignored my crappy balance, paid no attention to my leg cues, and fought every time I took up on the bit.  He wanted to just walk and jog me around.  I was appreciative of his stubborn nature.  Somehow, he knows when I'm physically not well enough to "work", and babysits instead.  I was fairly sore after the ride, and realized it wasn't my best decision lately. 

5/22, after another chiro adjustment, I was feeling brave enough to try Harley again.  Rather than ask him to work hard, only to lead to another rigid crummy ride, I hopped on bareback.  Helmet & bridle to the arena, with all his longing gear along, just in case.  He took the role of "Mo", and behaved perfectly.  No weird moments, just lots of long & low walk around the arena.  He was obedient when I took up contact as well, lifting his back and still moving out.  I think we accomplished a lot in the half hour of walking. 

5/23, back to the arena, longing only.  Lots and Lots and Lots of transitions.  I also did quite a bit of walk longe with him in the side reins.  A few times, I took the side reins off, and sent him back out at the walk.  A very nice long&low stretch walk resulted.  Super fantastic.  Lots of trot, not so much canter, but lots of walk & trot.

5/24, Romeo was back to work.  He was more obedient, less babysitter, more worker-bee.  A few simple lead changes, lots and lots of loose rein work.  No collected work.  He spooked as a bird rustled from the tree line, darted about 1' inside a circle, and with the extra space my endurance saddle gives us, I was able to stick with him.  He was at the canter when he bolted aside, and went right back to the canter after his 1' jaunt.  No biggie.  It felt good to be able to stay with him for it, and begin to practice how I'm going to stick it with Harley.  We did have some good "core stretch" trot work.  Drop the reins, hands behind the lower back, directing him only with legs (& spurs), trot trot trot.  It makes for some neat balance checks, and a nice way to "see how things are going" in my position.

Harley dressage.  I skipped the longe warmup, since he worked hard day before.  Really nice work.  Really nice.  Lots of transitions, and while I rode the pieces of TL test#1, I didn't ride it all together.  Towards the start of the ride, I got the longer canter work in.  Near the end, we finished with the center trot circles and stretchy circles.  It felt pretty neat to have a canter about 5 minutes into the ride without a warmup longe. 

Today, drizzle looms outside.  I won't let it stop me.  I've got plans for mid-day Tuesday, the last day of my vacation.  Anxious to see how Harley does then, so we've got to get crackin' before that arrives.  :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What's Been Going On

Harley has been after it, big time.  We've had a TON of good rides.  The scheduled schooling show was postponed.  Both covered arenas, along with most of Houston, got 5"+ of rain.  The covered arenas had standing water from the rain coming in sideways.  So, no show.  Next scheduled I'm registered for is June 2.  Training 1 and Prix Caprilli 1.  I hope to debut Harley's new hunt saddle if we have time to switch gear between classes. 
He hated his french link loose ring bit after all the time he's had in the Myler 04 combo.  So I "bit the bit/bullet", and bought him an 04mouthpiece d-ring Myler.  I hope he likes it.  If not, I'll keep searching.  It should arrive late this week, and we'll get switched over to it.  It's now show-legal, and with the same mouthpiece, I'm hopeful.

We've worked on some leg yields, shoulder-in, haunches-in.  I've had a LOT of terrific trot and canter work.  Jennifer came over to watch and lend a few tips.  As a result, now we're focused on increasing the energy of that trot for little bits of time, and increased straightness.  Harley is learning to keep his head straight, even on circles, and bend in the body instead of just on his neck.  It's a neat feeling when it all works out .

I had some ugly spooks and splats in the last few weeks, and now I've had one chiropractor visit and another scheduled.  He's spooked at one spot in the arena, usually when I'm asking for increased "GO!", and I suspect it's a newly born fawn deer hiding in the brush.  If he'd spook straight forward, or even up, I'd probably be okay.  However, he shoots forward one stride, and then starts to duck aside, and I just can't seem to stick with him.  The last really ugly splat, I was hanging on by one stirrup when I realized it just wasn't going to end well.  It's led to some ugly lower back pain and numb/pain shooting down one leg.  Chiro to the rescue, I hope to be better soon.

Romeo has been just Mo.  Some great rides, a few cute simple changes, and we're getting less trot in between them every time.  He has had great bareback walk/trot days, and others where I can feel the urge to run.  I've done a little work to compact him up and ask for a working trot.  Just not his thing, but he's going to learn to tolerate it at least a bit.  Another group trail ride coming in the near future, so he has to keep his mind going for that, along with some basic fitness. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Monkey Mondays 5/19/2013

This is what happens when MoJo helps me cook.  Frozen dinners, and there are holes in my beer. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Monkey Mondays 5/12/2013

MoJo wanted to go out somewhere nice. 
So we went to Hungry Thirsty Jacks, in Victoria, TX.  Nice quaint place.  Candles, well lit, as you can see.  I ordered a grilled chicken salad and fries.  

Then I realized why he really wanted to be there.  MoJo!  It's a week night!  Why on earth did you order the margarita?  
Uh.. American?  I can't order, see, I don't talk.  You did this.  It is yummy, though, and I thank ya for sharing.  any time MoJo, any time ..

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

5/3 Weekend

Friday, both guys got exercise.  Harley was re-introduced to his french link loose ring snaffle bit and flash noseband.  OooH!  Mad horse!  He fussed and fought, but finally relaxed some.  I kept him on the longeline, and let him figure out what he needed without my body weight interfering. 

Saturday, H got ridden pretty solid.  A nice long ride, and when he got past the warm up and relaxed riding, I checked the time.  About 25 minutes to "relaxed" work.  Good to know a week from now.

Sunday, both ridden again.  Harley got to play in his jump saddle.  His work improves every ride in it.  That day, we had a nice canter in 2 point down the long sides without him breaking gait.  Great progress for him to not over-react and break to trot every time my body weight moves up off his back.

Monday, both were trimmed, and have new shorter feet.  :) Weather's been good for hoof growth, so great progress there.

Tuesday, both ridden quietly.  Walk/trot for Mo in the arena.  Harley was going to go walk down the road, but the gravel road was too much for his recent trim.  I walked him out to the arena, where he seemed pretty happy to work.  Light walk/trot/canter on some light contact, some loose rein.  He worked out very nicely, stayed bent and quiet.  and all with zero warm up on the line or otherwise.  I stayed light and didn't ask much.  Heh.. didn't have my spurs on either, so I'm glad he wanted to do the job.

Tonight we'll be back to work.  Harley at a minimum in his show bit and dressage saddle.  Mo?  Well, we'll just see how much git'up'n'go I have after H is done. 

Otherwise, I'm working a lot, I'm riding a lot, and I'm forcing myself to take time to relax.  I owe ya'll a video of me at my guitaring skills, rookie at best, but it's getting more interesting every session.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Monkey Mondays 5/5/2013

Monkey insisted on going to work with me.  Then instruments started to break.  Naughty Monkey! 

 Our robotic "automatic" equipment broke.  I blame him.  I was able to get it fixed, though.  No help from him, he just wanted to ride around on the robot arm.

 Then, to make it up to me, he grabbed some tools, and offered to do some preventative maintenance.  As we say at work, "Better check the nut behind the septum."

He offered more to replace some parts.  Monkey, that little part right there?  Just about a year ago, I overheard a joke about you and that part.  Laughed so darn hard, I nearly got in deep trouble.  Thanks again, but no! 
Finally, he stuck his nose outside.  We're in the midst of a major construction project in my building.  He crawled up on the bobcat, because I refused to let him play in the drilled holes, on the dirt piles, and the crane?  Definitely No!

With Monkey watching, I was able to get that robotic equipment working again.  Co-workers are always joking, "I have the mojo to get instruments behaving."  So, I've named him. 

MoJo the Monkey

Friday, May 3, 2013

4.29 - 5.2

4.29 Rain!  We got a bunch of hard rain, and it was wonderful.  Water everywhere, filling up the pond, watering the grass and the flowers. 

4.30 We walked.  Harley got a brief longe warmup to check his soundness - check!  Finished him up with a bareback wandering walk all over the arena.   Mo got a bareback walk and trot.  He was less belligerent than his last ride, so I didn't ask for as much long trot.  Less head-flipping and protest, with more good obedience.

5.1  Came down with something at work, scrambled home, called it a useless day.

5.2 Would've needed a reverse super hi powered fan to ride, blowing opposite the front that was slamming into the region.  No rides.  I had trouble walking outside it was so windy, so a good honest ride was OUT of the question.

5.3  Maybe today I can get back into it.  I'd like a ride weekend.  You know, two a day F/Sa/Su, one a day M-F, back to two a days on the weekend?  I need to get back into it ...