April 30, 2015

April Goals - Recap

April was a fairly successful month for Gentry. We focused on ground work issues.

  1. Politely and promptly picking up hooves. - Success!
  2. No-pawing in cross-ties. - Still in progress....it's hard to work on because he doesn't do it all time.
  3. Girth sourness. - Success! 

Now I will give myself 24hrs to decide what to focus on for May. In the mean time...I have been having  a blast watching the IHSA National Finals live online. You can as well! Here is the link: http://www.theepcogroup.com/live-webcast.html

Go Mount Holyoke College!


April 27, 2015

Ride to the Summit

When Mother nature decides to play a cruel prank and cause you to wake up to 5" of snow that is still falling, what do you suppose one should do?

Laugh in her face and go for a trail ride, of course!

Posers...at the summit.
The Spanish Peaks in the distance are hidden behind clouds.

EB and I decided to explore and ride the boys up a road that goes all the way to the summit of the big hill behind my house. It was a MUCH longer ride that we anticipated, but not too long. Once we were on top I took a few photos and, thanks to the communicative technology of cell phones, Hubs got a couple photos of us from our house. It was a really nice ride and great hill work for the boys. I can't wait to do it again.

View of my house, the tiny thing right in the middle.
The hills behind my house is Ted Turner's Flying-D ranch.
View of our posse from my deck.

Time for our "close-up", courtesy of the telephoto lens.

One thing I love about where we live is that all of our roads are gravel, and there are a lot of roads, and no through traffic! This means, that even when the fields and arena are muddy or snow covered, most of the time the roads are still terrific for riding.

Let me tell you my friends, there is still a lot of leg yielding, halting, backing, transitions, stretching, balance, rhythm etc. that can be worked on while riding on gravel roads. For this reason, I have developed a great fondness for riding on the roads. Never in my wildest imagination would have ever thought that would have become the case. But it has, so there you go. I still prefer working on these things in the arena, but it is nice to know that I still have good footing on the roads in wet weather, and therefore can still ride and work on training exercises.

I am however looking forward to the sunny and warm (70ºF) extended forecast that should arrive starting today!


April 20, 2015

Creek Crossing

That's right my friends, I rode Gentry through our creek for the first time yesterday. It was clearly his first time walking through a creek. There was lots of snorting and questioning of the water, but after EB rode Hugo through it Gentry marched right on through and up the creek bank. I think my blood pressure went through the roof, as it was definitely the first time I've ridden through a creek in years. Probably about 15 years. Wow...I am getting old. We did it twice in total, once again on the way home and that time he continued his position as lead horse.

In other news, I am really sore today. I have actually ridden Gentry three times this week and longed him once. That is four days in a row of work for the little man...and me. His tendon appears to be holding up just fine with the walk/trot work we've been doing under saddle. In fact, the "lump" of scar tissue seems to be breaking down and smoothing out. Woo-hoo! All good stuff.


April 8, 2015

Just a Little Vacation

Vacation Time

It is time I take a little break from blogging. I am not disappearing from the blogosphere all together, but lets be real about this for a moment. Gentry isn't a colt. He's a green bean. A lot of the basics of bringing on a colt have already been covered with him. Despite that he is green and we still have a TON of under-saddle work to take on, with the tendon injury, this year is going to be pretty non-eventful in regards to training. Given that that is the focus of this blog...it seems a little pointless to be grasping at straws to try and post relevant articles three times a week.

Moving Forward

My plan is to pop on here once a month, or more often if we do anything truly exciting, and chronicle what we've worked on/accomplished that month. Also, if the unlikely happens and I end up with a Gatsby colt in my pasture anytime soon, I will be back to blogging full force. I am very much looking forward to that! For now though, it's time I focus more energy on my business and a little less on blogging, when in fact I have very little to blog about at the moment.

I hope that you will all hang around, as I look forward sharing our goings on with you. For my part I will be checking your blogs and enjoying living vicariously through everyone else's show seasons this year!


April 3, 2015

Picking Up Feet

Gentry already somewhat knew how to pick up his feet, he just didn't do it willingly. I would have to lean into him to push him off balance and them physically pick up his feet after which he would try and pull them out of my hands and stomp them back down. Not cool horse. Not cool.

On the bright side he didn't attempt to cow-kick when asked, Gentry just seemingly acted "stubborn" and didn't want to pick them up. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that he wasn't being stubborn, he'd just never been taught to properly and nicely pick up his feet when asked. Well, it was high time that we addressed that little training "hole" and I decided that picking up feet was going on our April goal list.

It took him ONE day to figure this out. Seriously guys, I know that I sound like an annoying person here, but I LOVE this friggin' horse. Here is a re-cap of what I did.

How To Teach a Horse to Pick Up Feet Politely (and Safely)

1. I put Gentry in the cross ties and stuffed small treats in my pockets, then went about grooming him as normal. You could obviously do this tied to a post or something as well, but since I am also working on not allowing him to paw in the cross-ties...I figured I would kill two birds with one stone!

2. When it came time to do his feet I took a deep patient breath (the kind I take when my almost three year old human child is throwing the fifth tantrum of the day because I asked him if he wanted juice...and he didn't, sigh), pinched his tendon right above the fetlock, and waited. Then waited some more. Eventually he tried to figure out what I was wanting and lifted his foot a little.

3. I immediately rewarded with a pat/"good boy" or a treat, and repeated until he got the picture and instantly picked up his foot when I lightly pinched the tendon. Upon setting the foot down, I was prepared and did not allow him to put his foot down on his own accord, but made him wait for me to place it down gently. Then I moved onto the other legs.

4. Once I got him to lift all four feet pretty good, I gave him a break (the uber reward) and groomed him some more.

5. Then I went back to the legs and asked again, working on getting a more polite response each time and of course always pretending to pick his feet once I picked them up.

6. Gentry became willing and nice about picking up his feet really quickly, so this didn't take long and we called it a day.

The Results

The next day (and all days following this week) I asked him to pick his feet up per our usual routine, while he was eating his breakfast. To my delight, he immediately and politely picked all of his feet up, didn't try to pull them out of my hands, and waited until I set them down where I wanted.

I am not used to a horse that just willingly figures things out and sticks with them. He is a rock star. I love it!


Now, if you have horse that has never been taught to have it's feet handled and does try to cow-kick you, you will need to precede all of this "refined" training with the good ole' rope method. To do that, grab a helmet, long lead rope and read this old post of mine: Hup, Hup, Hup



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