January 30, 2011

A new first!

No, we haven't made a giant stride forward in our training, but after a good, although excruciatingly painful ride (for me*),  I decided it we should have a little fun. One of my fellow boarders JM was at the barn with me this evening. Since I wasn't alone, after our ride I jumped at the opportunity to strip Rose of her saddle and hop up...


She was such a good girl. Mostly she was perplexed as to what I was doing, but seemed content when she realized that all she had to do was walk and keep cooling down. Her back is super comfortable and it was so neat to actually feel her back muscles working. She was far more responsive to my seat sans saddle, which was fun to play with in terms of transitions. We did a little bit of sitting trot, but my abs couldn't take much more and I had to call an end to our ride. She was such a good girl and I was so pleased with her!

*Sore abs & everything else:
I woke up this morning from rolling over in my sleep which caused a lot of pain generated from my abs, legs, bum. The reason? I literally worked my bum off on Saturday. I had a lesson with my trainer on one of her school masters, Percy, and then also rode Rose afterward. Percy is a very cool horse. He's shown Grand Prix and I believe he is the horse that she won her gold medal on. The point of the lesson was to work on me, my aids, and my position. These are things that I struggle with when I have lessons on Rose, because it tends to be all about her. The hope is that a few lessons on Percy will help me get my fundamentals down. It was a great lesson, and I learned a ton. I also got to do something very cool...


Yea! It was definitely the coolest thing I've done on horseback in a long time/maybe ever...well except riding Rose bareback for the first time. Maybe it's a tie, but I'm thinking it would be a very rewarding day if Rose ever gets to the point where she could do passage and perhaps we could do it bareback too!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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January 29, 2011

No backing out now!

I have officially registered Rose and I in the February schooling show! Now that I know it is really going to happen, I have a slightly elevated heart rate and a lump in my throat. I know that it will be exciting, one way or another. Either she'll be crazy bouncing off the walls, and it will just be a good learning experience for her, or she will be calm and chill and it will be a good learning experience for us all. That is the whole point of this show though, to see how she'll be before the real show in March.

This is also my first dressage show ever, and as an overachiever I get terrified at the prospect of failing something or doing anything less than perfect. I did a couple one day eventing trials back in the summer of 2000, which incorporated dressage tests, but that is it. My horse and I at the time (Bronze Gal) did great, for novices that were just starting to learn dressage and a horse that didn't like to walk (she had the OTTB jig). I recall our scores being okay though, I think we got lower 60's.

Given that it's been a LONG time since I filled out an entry form, I had to reel myself in. I am accustomed to entering in 2-3 classes per day, but Rose is not ready for that, and I can just picture my husband's head exploding at the cost...even at the lower schooling show rates. So, one class per day and stabling for the weekend. I honestly think that just being there will be the best experience for her. We are going to haul in Friday night, show Intro B on Saturday, and do Training Level 1 on Sunday. I plan on hopping up and just walking her around the grounds for a while on Saturday so she gets nice and accustomed to the scene. Hopefully my ride time won't be first thing in the morning. I keep picturing the chaos of a hunter/jumper show, and everyone tells me that dressage shows are WAY different and much quieter. We shall see. This will also be a good exercise in braiding. I know that you don't need to braid for schooling shows, but I need to practice up on my dressage buttons before the March show...and I'd like her to get used to wearing them too.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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January 27, 2011

Camped Under? I think not.

I've noticed in a few of Rose's photos she looks camped under in front (like she's leaning forward). I never gave it much thought before, because I knew when the photos were taken she was always wiggling around and walking forward. Literally we would have a split second to take a photo before she moved. However, it occurred to me that anyone looking at the photos wouldn't have that knowledge and might think she has some sort of funky confirmation thing going on. I looked at all her photos of her standing, some show her standing straight and then some show her looking camped under. At inspection the judge didn't say anything about her front legs being camped under...so I wasn't concerned that it is a conformation thing. However, I've never really delved into the intricacies of confirmation, other than uphill, downhill, long back, butt high, etc. Apparently there is something to the whole showmanship thing, and although I don't have plans to ever show her in hand, learning how to get her to properly set up probably is a good idea.

Wednesday night I decided to take her in the arena and attempt to take photos of her after our longeing exercise. Just for fun, here are the results.

NORMAL (bored) ROSE.

Not Camped Under - sort of "set up"

Looking a bit camped under - trying to sniff me.
In order to make Wednesday night's photo shoot happen, and after pondering Rose's inability to stand quiet and square for more than a millisecond, I decided that after longeing we would work on "stand". First we worked on whoa and stand on the longeline. After that it was time to try it without the longeline. I have been working on ground tying with her, and she sort of does it. Her ability to ground tie tends to be more of an issue of does she want to listen today, rather than, does she know what she's supposed to do. Regardless, Wednesday night she chose to listen and I was so proud of her for being such a big girl and standing nice and quiet, without having anyone hold the reins, for an extended period of time while I took photos. Gold star for Rose!

I tried my best to get her to set up nice and square. Bare in mind that I know nothing about showmanship or how to correctly set up a horse, and we board at a dressage barn, so there isn't a wealth of showmanship knowledge laying around to absorb. I've just seen my western show cohorts do it on occasion, so I mostly made this up as I went along.

I asked Rose to halt and to stand. With a long dressage whip in hand I started with her front feet and asked her to "back" and "step up", simultaneously tapping the back or front of her foot with the whip as I asked. Eventually I got her front legs square, but struggled with the back legs. Every time she moved a back foot she'd move the diagonal front foot. You can see that I eventually called it good enough for one day and we got the front legs square, but not quite the back legs. I think I will have to do some research and learn how to really properly train her to set up. Any tips, or am I at least on the right track?

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 25, 2011

Show prep begins...T-24 days!

The first schooling show of the year has finally been announced (well actually the second, but the previous one was canceled due to lack of entries). We are looking at February 19th & 20th. At the very least I want to do two of the Intro tests on Rose, but maybe one Intro test and one Training Level if she's ready. Our first recognized show will be in March, and there is only Training Level and above at that show, so I'd like to see if maybe, just maybe, we can tackle Training level. If not, there is a 4-5 Mare Material class at the March show, so at the very least I'll definitely take her in that class. However, I think we can do it.

We've been practicing Intro B mostly, as that is the only test I've memorized, and we've started doing the Training level canter half circles...but I haven't actually practiced any of the tests. I am usually alone when I ride so having a reader isn't a possibility. I've resigned to the fact that I'm just going to have to get my old brain to start memorizing things again. My goal for this week will be to memorize and practice Training Level Test 1. I won't be expecting a perfect ride, but at least to start memorizing the pattern.

Rose has completely stopped balking at the canter. Her back seems happy once she's warmed up and she's been very calm and quiet for the last week. So much so, that when Gatsby's owners arrived at the end of our ride on Sunday I had his Mom hop up on Rose. They looked great together and she had fun. A set of spurs might have helped though, as Rose had already worked and was tired and was being VERY lazy. It was the second time she'd gotten to ride one of Gatsby's babies, and she was just thrilled about it. Hopefully next time Rose will have a bit more energy for her though.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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January 22, 2011

Stretching through the back

Wednesday night was a good exercise in longeing. Rose has developed a bit of a "play time" attitude on the longe as of late, due to being out of work for two months. I've been cracking down on the behavior, as I don't feel it is appropriate for her to buck and kick out and screw around every single time she's longed. I know a lot of people see nothing wrong with this behavior on the longe, and quite frankly I don't necessarily either, as it is good for them to get the bucks and kicks out of their system. However, I view the arena environment as a place where we behave and work. The paddock is for playing and kicking up heels. So, I'm bringing this whole screw around on the longeline thing to an end.

I got her to focus when she started bucking up by giving a light yank on the longeline to get her attention and then sending her on. It worked very well. She got focused and was listening well and I felt comfortable that she had given up trying her antics within about 10 minutes. At that point I attached the side reins. It's been a few months since I've used them, and given her recent attitude on the longe I've been a bit weary of using them. Images of horses flipping over backward always run through my head. However, as soon as they were on she dropped her head and got to business. We ended up having a very productive session on the longe, and it has left me looking forward to next Wednesday.

The following night, Thursday, I wanted to address an issue we had under saddle this past Sunday. Rose really hates cantering to the right, and especially if she has to bend to the inside at the same time. Earlier last week she tried to avoid this by stopping and not moving. Well, I've been there done that before on other babies and I wasn't going to let that door open. I turned her head to the side with my reins, made her move in tiny little circles just to keep her feet moving and gave her a couple meaningful smacks with my crop and she gave up her little plan. We then cantered to the right some more and worked on transitions and going forward for the rest of that session. Then last Sunday rolled around, and of course I had some friends out to the barn to see her go and my friend BA wanted to hop on her. I warmed her up for BA first though, during which then she decided to try a new plan. As I asked her for the right lead canter transition, she threw her head up, started crow hopping, so I got after her, and then she tried to sort of half buck/kick out. It was kind of cute, and I'm quite happy she doesn't know how to really buck. Images of Pia suddenly ran through my mind. I swore up and down to my friends that she'd never done that before. Isn't that always the case? When you really want them to be good they decide to put on a show for guests. At any rate, her plan didn't work, so she tried the stopping thing again, that didn't work and she gave up. I got her through it and again worked on transitions and forward. My friend who rode her though, wisely decided to not re-open the cantering battle once it was her turn to ride the mare.


I've pondered this a lot, as it is a sudden development. She's never liked cantering to the right, but she's never really gotten stubborn about it before. My theory is that I've never really made her balance herself before, or bend to the right. I would get conned into hanging on my outside rein and putting my weight on the outside to counter balance her, allowing her to badly fall into the inside and throw her shoulder out. Not a very attractive picture. Recently my trainer has had me start riding her correctly on the right lead canter, and really asking her to balance herself and bend. In addition, I've been working on my dressage position and she has me sitting deeper and leaning back farther. Ding Ding! I realized that I'm trying to sit deep in the canter right of the bat, when her back is not warmed up. She's only acted up on the days that I haven't longed her first.

On Thursday night I decided that, dressage be damned, I would warm her up at the canter in my two point. My theory was that this would give her the opportunity to stretch through her back and warm up the muscles. Then later in our ride we would work on the canter in our dressage position.


I love my mare and I've learned that, hormones and all, she is actually predictable. When she suddenly does something out of character that it means she's trying to tell me something. So the human has learned that if I don't longe her before a ride she needs to warm up her back at the canter with me in two-point before she has to do the hard work in the canter. Simple, obvious, and easy to do.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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January 19, 2011

Spring Schedule

Rose is still growing, and she does it in the typical see-sawed butt high fashion. Looking at the most recent photo of her with her clip job I realized that she's evened out again. She's been butt high since November and was still butt high the beginning of December when the vet came out to do her teeth and measured her. She was 16.0h solidly on the line (using a real stick with a level on it). I wonder what she measures now? Everyone that meets her thinks she's bigger than 16.0h, but I have to wonder if it's just because of her HUGE personality? She's also nice and round and is filling out as well, which certainly gives her more presence. I intend on sticking her again, as the stick lives at the barn, but I need to get her accustomed to it first. She wasn't having it before, so we took the easy road at the time and waited for the vet to sedate her out for her float. If I can train her to accept clippers on her ears this should be a cinch!

Since she is still growing I've decided to dial back my training schedule just a bit. Now that the extra energy has gotten out of her system and she's got her head in the game again, I don't think she needs to be worked 5 days a week at the moment. My plan is to ride her 3-days a week and longe her on a 4th day working with a surcingle and side reins. That should be plenty of work for her little brain and growing joints. Of course when we have a show coming up I might ride her an extra day for a week or two just to get her really tuned up. Tonight though is our first longeing only night and it will be her first time in side reins in over two months.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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January 18, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

We've been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award by In2Paints over at R Lil Bit of Cash! A big thank you from Rose and I, as this is our first award ever! Hopefully more to come this show season.

There are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

I'll start by sharing 7 things about myself...
  1. I hate cooked carrots, but love the raw ones.
  2. I participated in my first horse show when I was 18 and won my class.
  3. I have a bad habit of looking at my self in reflective surfaces and so does Rose!
  4. I love drinking a beer while mucking stalls.
  5. I really want a pony; a cute little hunter pony and I think is as good a reason as any to have a child (just kidding, I take parenting more serious than that, but it would definitely be a good excuse to finally get a pony).
  6. I love going dancing...country swing that is.
  7. I taught my dog to sit on a bar stool and order a beer (the result of several years of being without horse). 
      The Blog Awards go to...
      1. A Tale of Two Buckskins
      2. Eventing-A-Gogo!
      3. Equine Artists
      4. The Many Misadventures  
      5. The Fitness Foodie
      6. A Fearsome Beauty
      7. A Work In Progress
      8. Adventures of Painted Creek Farm
      9. All Gear No Skill
      10. Barefoot Horse Blog
      11. Mugwump Chronicles
      12. Spotty Horse News
      13. A Collection of Madcap Escapades
      Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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      January 17, 2011

      Irish Clip

      Rose - Trace Clip (November, 2009)
      Rose - Irish Clip (January, 2011)
      I finally got to try out an Irish clip. I've been wanting to do one of these for about a year now, ever since I stumbled across a photo of one on the internet. Rose has been awfully sweaty after our rides of late, so some of the hair needed to come off. I also tried something new...a longer blade, specifically it is called a full tooth plucking blade. I don't know what the name comes from, but it is just like any other clipping blade just a bit longer. So instead of clipping down to an 1/8th of an inch it clips to 3/8th inch. My reason for doing this was to try to avoid getting the grey skin/coat color (see the 2009 picture) that usually results when you clip a bay or chestnut. It was amazing while clipping her to not see a color change! In addition the longer blade seems to make it impossible to leave track marks. I am very happy with my longer blade and would highly recommend it. If you are curious and would like to try it yourself the actual blade model is: Oster® Full-Tooth Plucking Blade. It is harder to find and more expensive, but I think it is worth it. You only buy the top blade and use it with your regular 83au bottom blade (buy a new one or use a newly sharpen one).

      On another note, Rose was fantastic about getting clipped. She was remarkably good about it last year, but I wasn't confident that she'd be good again. Also, I had someone hold her with a stud chain last year as she didn't even know what cross ties were yet. This made me worry that perhaps last year was a fluke. Regardless I was really hoping she'd be good and I could clip her in the cross ties, and I definitely wanted to give it a try. Just in case though my good friend BA came out to help me with her. She also hopped on Rose for a quick ride and I have to say they made a handsome pair. Unfortunately I was having so much fun watching I didn't think to grab my camera and take a picture of them. Bad DS! Anyway, I'm sure just having BA there kept me more relaxed, and that certainly reflected on Rose. She stood nice and quiet in the cross ties the whole time, seemingly enjoying the clipper massage. I was so happy with her. It's great to have moments where you physically stand there and realize your baby horse is really growing up...one clip job at a time. Speaking of which, look how much she's changed since last year!

      Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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      January 14, 2011

      What bridling issue?

      Last night Rose was back to normal and stood perfectly still in the aisle way and accepted the bit like nothing had ever happened.  It's amazing how babies try new things, or have a bad experience, but if tackled right away they forget all about it. One day, when she's more predictable and becomes the "been there done that" horse that I know she will be, I'm sure there will be some weird part of me that is going to miss the daily challenges that we currently encounter. However, for now, I can't wait until that day comes.

      She was all around a complete gem last night. Just perfectly quiet on the ground, bridling, standing at the mounting block, and under saddle. There was no need to longe her, and I had to pinch myself to make sure this was the same horse I'd been dealing with for the past two weeks. Yep...it was indeed still Rose.

      I think the cause of her recent exciting behavior has been the combination of four things:
      1. Two months off
        Lots of pent up baby energy.
      2. Cold weather
        This week it's warmed back up to the 50's here.
      3. Being in heat
        Apparently all winter this year...so much for a break from the hormones.
      4. Wrong feed.
        Due to recent barn staff turnover, she'd been getting fed the wrong food. I discovered this on Sunday night when I fed, but just assumed it was a simple mistake. When I fed on Wednesday I realized it wasn't a one off thing. Note left and problem fixed. The new barn manager is a very nice and accommodating person. Apparently there had been a turnover/communication breakdown, which is fine. Two weeks of the wrong food certainly won't hurt her, but it might explain all the extra energy.
      I'm looking forward to attending a USEF 2011 test demo clinic tomorrow. As my trainer is currently looking/interviewing for a full time assistant/groom, I'm giving her a hand and playing groom for the afternoon while she participates as a demo rider. Should be fun! Notes, pictures, and possibly video to come!

      BTW, if anyone out there is looking for full time work as an assistant dressage trainer working with an amazing trainer and great barn full of awesome adult amateurs, you can find out more details by clicking here.

      Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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      January 13, 2011

      Bridling Woes

      On New Year’s Day Rose came off of her vacation and I started riding her again. After our ride while I was un-tacking her, specifically removing her bridle, something startled her at the same time I was dropping the bit from her mouth. She threw her head up and clenched her teeth on the bit. However it was a bit of a sideways movement, so she actually clenched down on the ring of the egg butt. The strange feeling intensified her moment of panic. I was able to calm her with a few whoas and finish removing her bridle.


      However, the past couple of times I've ridden her she has thrown a fit about taking the bit. So much so that I've had to take her from the aisle way into an empty stall and bridle her there. The aisle way allows her to back up and move forward endlessly all while doing her giraffe impersonation. I am tallish, but not THAT tall! Last night I decided that we needed to approach this like she was learning all about the bridle from scratch. So, I brought her into the wash stall, closed the gate, and took it slow.


      I stood there with my right hand on the bridge of her nose holding the top of the bridle and my left hand holding the bit against her muzzle with my left thumb in her mouth. At times I had to be firm with my right hand to keep her head down. No giraffes allowed! Eventually she knew I meant business and slowly took the bit from my left hand. (Note: I didn't force the bit in her mouth, she already knows what to do with it, I just waited for her to make the decision to take it. Immediately upon taking it she got praise and a release via the removal of my right hand from the bridge of her nose).

      "Whew" I said out-loud, coincidentally as a fellow boarder walked by wondering why I was bridling my horse in the wash stall. With a chuckle I explained to him that "It's the baby issue of the week". Once on, I took the bridle off and repeated two more times, making sure that she did not throw her head as I removed the bridle. And yes, she tried to each time. Silly mare, she's inadvertently causing her own issue. The third time, as usual, was the charm and she very nicely and easily took the bit. After our ride I made sure that the un-bridling process was smooth and comfortable for her, as I'm positive that that is what caused this bridling issue. Hopefully that will be the end of this issue, but we shall see what tonight brings.

      Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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      January 11, 2011

      Saturday Lesson

      Saturday Lesson, originally uploaded by dockstart.

      Here is a short video of our lesson from Saturday. My sister arrived near the end and surprised me with some video. Unfortunately she didn't have much battery, but I'll take whatever I can get. What a nice treat. Enjoy!

      January 10, 2011

      Saturday Lesson

      We had our first lesson of the year yesterday. Rose had finally settled down on Thursday, was quiet on the longeline and worked hard under saddle, so I was anticipating a well behaved mare when I got to the barn Saturday morning. I was a bit early and the previous lesson, Diva's mom, was a bit late, so I had a luxurious amount of time for getting ready. I hung out with Rose in the cross ties, cleaning up every little piece of dirt from her coat and even had time to fluff up her beautiful thick tail and forelock.

      I decided to go into the arena 15 minutes early to longe her before our lesson, which resulted in both my Trainer and Diva's mom got an entertaining show. Well, wouldn't ya know it but some horses were turned out in the paddock that is near the far end of the arena. Rose decided that this required her to run amuck and be a fool. It was very entertaining and my Trainer asked if she had to ride that or if I was gonna be getting on her. Worry not, I had full intentions of getting on the wild thing...but not until I was done longeing the crazy out of her. Per usual as of late, she slipped in the hogs-fuel after a nice buck, kick-out, twisting movement and then settled down.

      Our lesson was amazing! Now that we have steering, downward transitions, half-halts, and leg yields I finally feel like I have an actual horse to work with...and I can work on my position finally too. Also, my new saddle is so comfortable and fits me so well I just can't be happier. It is much easier to work on my position when the saddle I'm riding in works with me rather than against me. So here is a quick list of homework items from our lesson:

      1. Work on Rose accepting contact consistently. Rose has a tendency to throw her nose in the air or to pull her head way behind the bit to avoid having to accept contact. So I need to be very consistent and insistent that she listen and do it, and I need to be a bit more forceful about it than I have been. I am being a bit too nice and giving into my pushy bold mare.

      2. Work on my position at both the sitting trot and canter. I need to remember to really push my hips forward and into my saddle and bring my shoulders back behind my shoulders stretching through my abs.

      3. I need to keep my lower leg relaxed and heels down. If she doesn't listen to my seat for the upward transition, I need to get after her with my whip...even when she's tired.

      My sister happened to catch a little bit of our lesson on video. I'll post it later tonight once I have time to upload. I hope your Monday is off to a good start.

      Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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      January 5, 2011

      Cool weather makes for fun ponies...

      Rose looking cute and
      innocent before our ride.

      Based on Sunday's escapades I decided that Rose would get longed before I rode last night. As I pulled her from her paddock, she was half asleep so I was hoping that it would just be a short pointless longe and then we'd get to work, but regardless she'd be getting any extra energy worked out on the longe. The down side of longeing her first is that she runs out of energy during our rides and runs out of attention span.

      I put her on the longe and she just walked. "Humph" I thought to myself as I figuratively scratched my head "perhaps she's got it out of her system". Then Val stood up in his stall from sleeping and exploded out of his paddock. That sent Rose off into a full blown Seattle Slew gallop with some Gin Fiz bucks for good measure. I let her continue on, not reacting, as I think in the past my reaction due to concern for her safety/legs would just fuel her more. I think she viewed this interaction as "play time with mom". I also saw her eying my dog, whom in the past she would entice into running around with her due to his herding dog concern for my safety as he would sense the concern in my voice as a giant animal ran around acting a fool in my close proximity. Since I stayed calm, he just looked in my direction, and then scampered on his way to sniff something outside. Rose continued her dramatic escapades until she had a full blown wipe out, slipping out from under her hind end in the hogs-fuel. With a noticeable thud, she landed rump-belly first and did not hurt my saddle.


      She looked a bit stunned, and I'm pretty sure she was trying to figure out how I caused her to fall. Luckily no damage was done to Rose at all. She walked/trotted off without an indication of soreness or pulled anything. After that, she settled down and I made her work more at a controlled rhythmic canter and down to trot transitions. She does well listening to voice commands up and down for walk, trot, canter, but more or less ignores me when I ask for a whoa. So, we spent a lot of time walking, asking for a whoa, being ignored, sending off into a couple trot circles, and repeating. Eventually she started listening and we ended on a very nice whoa and stand. By the time she was settled, stretching down, blowing out her nose, and listening, a half hour had passed.

      I new that I would not be able to ride her long, as she would now be tired and lacking attention span. I saddled up, she stood perfectly still at the mounting block (obviously deciding after all the whoaing that listening to me was easier than ignoring me), and off we went. She was vastly improved under-saddle from Sunday and really tried to cooperate, bend, balance herself, and yield from my leg. We practiced Intro B test a few times and have a lot more work to do on our 20m circle. She always tries to cut in and throw her shoulder out during the final 1/4 of the circle. We also need to work on our free walk/medium walk across the diagonal.  Otherwise she's doing good at both the upper and downward transitions, and the halt.

      Tonight she gets the evening off, as she's getting her feet done and it is feed night for me. I may still longe her though, and put her in side reins...once she's got the nonsense out of her system of course. Here's to hoping she's calmer due to warmer weather and that the barn waterers are turned back on so I don't have to manually do buckets again...yea 40ºF weather!

      Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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      January 3, 2011

      And....she's really only 3.5

      Day two of having Rose back under saddle and I couldn't wait to get to the barn. Sunday morning chores and brunch out of the way, I swiftly made my way to the barn. The weather remains brisk and sunny (love the sun) and that made for a still energetic Rose. She was much better in the cross ties on Sunday, and so I foolishly thought that she didn't need to be longed, but that I would just ride her at the walk and trot instead. I like to slowly bring them back into work, adding a bit more intense work slowly over a week.

      BAD IDEA

      Our ride started fairly well. I mounted up and started out on a nice warm up at the walk. I like to let her walk, stretching long and low for a good 5-10 minutes. I think this helps to stretch her back, and get her joints flowing making for a better workout. About 5 minutes into our warm up and Rose woke up and decided that the smallest amount of leg pressure meant TROT. "Nope" I said "just walk". Then she'd try to trot again. Eventually she gave it up, and once she was listening we were off at the trot, working on bending to the inside and moving out from my inside leg. She's not a fan of balancing herself, but rater trying to goat me into holidng her up instead. She doesn't like it when I won't cooperate. She gets a bit snarky and stubborn about it all at the same time. I am more stubborn. We worked through it and she began cooperating. All was going well, so I decided that we should start practicing the Intro B test. Off we went with a relatively nice halt and salute and back into the rising trot. We were halfway through our 20m circle at E when...


      Darn Diva! Rose wanted to play too and forgot the difference between working under saddle and playing in the paddock. My instincts instantly kicked in and I sat back and deep and brought her to a screeching halt and gave her a good spanking before asking her to resume work at the trot on our circle. Rose was not happy about neither getting to play nor getting reprimanded. She tried to be a bit more of a brat, but got the same result and gave up the ghost...for the moment. I try to forget about these sorts of little outbursts just as soon as they happen, and resume work immediately. I don't ever get mad at her, I just make my point and continue on with our session. I strongly believe that human emotions have no place in training horses. A few minutes later and Diva started running around the paddock again, and Rose gave it another try, but not as whole heartedly. In true Rose form I new that she'd try one more time, which she did, and then she gave it up all together. We finished doing our test one more time, with Diva cantering around and calling all the while, and then called it a day after a solid 40-minute ride.

      So, someone must have reminded her that she's still just 3.5 and not really 4 and she didn't want me to forget it. To that end, I have to say I am so proud of how secure I have become with any little outbursts she has. Given that I am generally riding all alone at night, it is good to know that A. she doesn't have outbursts that are huge or out of my control, and B. we've had enough of them slowly over time that I've become completely comfortable with my ability to deal with them. I'm fairly certain that yesterday's tantrum had more to do with her feeling good in the cold weather and wanting to canter and GO more than anything else. As much as I prefer to slowly warm her up, I may have to go from walk right into canter on our Tuesday ride, and/or longe her first and let her get out all that extra energy.

      Babies...so much fun!

      Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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      January 1, 2011

      A new year and back in the saddle!

      It was a beautiful, sunny, dry, chilly winter day here in the PNW...and I couldn't think of a better way to rein in the New Year than riding my fuzzy girl. I know, I know, I said she'd get a full two month off, but we are only 1.5 weeks away from that date and our barn manager had a very good argument for me to get her going again...two local schooling shows coming up this month! The first one is January 16th, and the test is Intro B. I think we can manage to throw that together fast enough...so long as we get going asap, and that is just what we did today.

      I pulled Miss Thing from her paddock. She seemed in a relatively good mood until I pulled out my saddle. I very nicely and gently set it on her back, with my new beautiful Ultra Thinline Trifecta pad (christmas present to myself), and she abruptly decided to freak out, jump up and down in place, and throw a pointless fit in the cross ties resulting in dumping my new-to-me saddle on the concrete aisle way.


      At least she stopped and stood in one place. She didn't bolt, try to break her halter, or break the cross ties. A year ago, that is what would have happened. That's an improvement at least. Maybe someone told her that officially she turned four today? I decided that after her little episode she would definitely get longed before I sat on her. The saddle seemed to be scratch and damage free, so I can only hope the tree didn't crack. I quickly saddled her back up, instantly attaching the girth this time. After attaching the first buckle on the second side of the girth I finally breathed.

      Tacked up and ready to go we entered the arena. I got her all set up with the longeline and off she went. She walked for about five strides and took off cantering and bucking in circles. "Oh well", I thought to myself "she'll settle down once it's out of her system". I pirouetted in place as she did her best to kick up her heels, mid minor slip after slip in the hogs-fuel. As she got under herself to push off into her hoppity canter stride, I appreciated how much muscle she still had on her bum. Six or so minutes of this passed until she had one really good slip and scared herself just enough to give it up and she slowed to a trot to catch her breath. "Okay" I said to her "no breaks for you, now you have to work more" and I sent her off into a canter for another repetition.

      We did a few trot walk transitions and then switched sides. At this point our trainer entered the arena to longe one of her geldings. I haven't longed her much with other horses in the arena, nor have I ridden her while other horses have been longed, so I was not sure how this would go. Regardless, it couldn't be worse what I was just dealing with.


      Tired from her recent escapade, she focused on me, stretched down, blew through her nose and relaxed. After 15 minutes I decided she got "it" out of her system, so I mounted up and got ready to see how rusty she was. Aside from the expected "out of shape" stiffness, she remembered everything from our last lesson/session and picked right up where we left off. I love how smart she is! I had as good a ride as I could possibly have had and I am so excited to get on her again tomorrow. After our ride, I hung out with her in the cross ties for a while. I put some durasole on her feet (she's been ouchie from all the frozed pea gravel in her paddock), and started pulling that very thick mane of hers. She was nice and calm and just a pleasure to be with.

      I certainly do love my fuzzy mare, and it's a pleasure to be back in the saddle. 

      Happy New Year!

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