Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Back to the Grind

B and I have been spending a LOT of time on the trails lately which I still can't believe we're doing. Between going out with A and Lucy or the BO and her stud Merlot, it's always a good time and Brantley really relaxes and enjoys himself. We did get to canter out on the trail as I posted before which was amazing, but it was time to ride for real and do some ring work.

Showed up after work the night before last and pulled out E's saddle that she left at the barn. Cute little 16.5" Collegiate. It fits the boy and I okay, but I'm not ready to put money in for an English saddle yet so it'll have to do. Regular pad, Lami-cell pad, KK Ultra Loose Ring, I was ready to ride. I even threw on E's polka-dot polo wraps for a bit of flare. We made it to the indoor and hooked up some music. Brantley has always had "mounting block issues" but we've made it this far and I think we were ready to do something new. I put the block next to the wall in the corner of the ring so he could walk around it, but not back up. It was NOT a problem whatsoever. So much not a problem that I had to get back off to get gloves (wicked blisters from the weekend) and jumped back on. Dismounting after every ride onto the block definitely made it easier. He's learning that may be where I get on, but it's also where all his "problems" go away.

We warmed up around the ring until he dropped his head and really stretched out in the cold. There are a lot of things that I want to do with him now that we've been using a bit like trying to get him actually on the bit and moving forward. I would pick up the rein and of course he'd stop but bumped my legs on him to ask him to move forward into the contact. A little confused at first and really started to work into it. We did a lot of trotting and I worked him the same way. Long, loose rein as always, then slowly work up a bit of contact. He kept his head up more than usual instead of dropping into the bit, but E's saddle is like a slip 'n slide compared to my barrel saddle that sucks you in like a race car seat. It'll be a lot of work for me and him to really get our balance together. That is one reason it's taken me so long to really start working him in the ring like this. I want to make sure that if I fall out of place or out of balance, he won't have a psych moment... Did a lot of half ring circles as well as serpentines and figure-8's. Getting him to work on the bit and bend around my leg was something completely different for the both of us.

Rode last night with Kate and Lucy before dinner and we had a great time. It was awesome to see her riding, especially to ride with me! Brantley walked side by side with his girlfriend without even giving a furry eye. A and I have been working on that out on the trail because it was another one of his "issues" before. He's getting better especially riding with Merlot. Lucy was very well behaved and willing to work for K. She likes Amanda but you can tell she misses Mom.

Rode again this morning in the indoor, used the wannabe rain clouds as an excuse. He was great and we worked on the same kinds of things, but a little more. I pushed him further and did some simple lead changes at the canter. Lots of trotting around the ring, getting him to move forward and out of his slow western trot/jog. Already excited to ride tomorrow.

Went home, picked up Chevy, and came back to watch Prudy's lesson with Niall. Can't wait to ride with him at some point. Have to make sure the boy and I are ready! Here are some pictures from today. Still figuring out how to play with the camera settings instead of just doing the auto button. I'll get it!


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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Wonderfully Needed Day

I don't have any pictures to share for this post which always makes them boring, but I had to write about today...

Step 1: Woke up late thinking it was going to be one of those lazy days off.
Step 2: Fed ponies, hands were cold.
Step 3: Hay guy calls during walk with Chevy... BREAKFAST! I love omelets...
Step 4: Clean stalls
Step 5: Meet BO for trail ride with new bright orange polo wraps.
                  So we're trotting down the path after doing our hill work and I had this thought in my mind that I'd love to be cantering. Without a second thought I kissed to my pony hearing the BO call out, "What are we doing Ms. Maddy?" And next thing I know we're loping down the trail calmly and rationally... No, I didn't cry... I wanted to, but I held it together.

We continued on our ride and went through some low branches and my helmet got caught *CUE ANGEL OF DEATH MUSIC* Brantley bolted and spun around a tree, I closed my eyes and pulled a one rein stop. Amazingly he came right back to me and took a few good breaths as if to say, "I'm okay, I'm okay". It was the first time in a while I was actually scared. We walked across the field back to the dirt road and he dropped his head and relaxed, so I picked up a trot and was in awe of how well he came back to me. The BO was also impressed and I went on to explain that it's not the bucking or the bolting that scared me. It was always that once he was gone, he was gone, and there was no getting him back. That was my biggest problem when on him, he'd lose it and it'd be all over. Knowing I can now get him back? Big change. Very happy mom. After that I decided I'd take the BO over to the train tracks (not too close) and over the neighboring street. We headed home and picked up a canter on the last stretch and I let him stretch his head and legs a little more. It was hard to get him to stop but we got there.

Deb met me at the barn and we got to play catch up with Kid's news. He's leaving to go to Meredith Manor with the girl who has been leasing him the last few months. The little girl who was interested in purchasing him we haven't heard from so he'll be going with Amy. Maybe I can talk her into blogging so we can keep in touch. He's a great horse, just needs a great rider to with the same attitude. I really think A will get a handle on him, not that she already hasn't done so.

Finally got out on the bike (motorcycle) with K's husband. Really really needed that. I was nervous about it but we rode around the neighborhood across the street and then we were off. Literally like riding a bike. I feel like I have a better handle on it but hopefully I'll be able to get back on before one of two things, 1) the cold and 2) my Dad decides to sell it (but for good reason). I was very attentive to what was going on around me which I like. For some reason on the way back I chose the path more travelled down a main road... With lights... And traffic... And seriously threw myself into the fire for my first day back on. But we made it!

To make the rest of my day even better, K called and asked if I'd go shopping with her and it was really nice to just go and be with a friend after the last week. Back to the grind between work and gym tomorrow. Dad comes home Thursday... Then the weekend off to do all the pony things I can!

Hope your Tuesday was as awesome as mine!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Puppies and Horses, and not my own!

Ain't we hott.
 I haven't been able to write or read in over a week. But it was all worth it because I have some free time coming up and now money to spend on me and the animals. Plus, the Equine Affair is around the coooorrrnneeerrr! Anyone else excited?

I've been home a couple of nights now but spending most of my time with a little pug on the other side of the bridge and a few horses at a local rescue. I keep thinking about putting my name out there for pet/horse sitting again and then I decide to be an idiot and work two jobs at the same time, with my real job on the side. Luckily, NAH was really good about my hours and I may have a three week job out of the rescue again! Just more cash to put in the truck and trailer fund, which may be closer than expected!

In between work and sitting I did get to ride here and there. Last Sunday morning I got a text from D about riding Kid in a fun show and I couldn't turn it down. We did this show last year (or the year before) and had a blast! Donut race? My favorite. After a few classes I had to walk him around the ring to show he was for sale which was kind of sad, but this woman was very interested for her little girl. Let's just say, this girl and him would be a perfect pair. She took him out on a trail ride with G and General, WTC. She loved him. After I left G rode him and he zigged and G zagged and hit the ground. I really hope that didn't scare the girl away because I fell in love with her big dreamy eyes after she walked around on kid. Girl seems fearless and the kind of rider that he needs. Fingers crossed!

After the show I met K in the field for some pictures of me and Brantley. Yes, I won't lie, I hadn't ridden in about 4-5 days so I was kind of nervous to go out by myself but he was like, "I got this". We even trotted most of the way! She got some really nice shots, and we loved being guinea pigs for her new camera. Search for Polar Square Designs on Facebook to see more of her stuff or check out her blog (even though half the people if not all the people who read this already do <3). K asked if I wanted to try to canter and I was like sure why not? Yeah no. One stride, buck, buck, one-rein stop. Maybe we'll wait. :) But he came out of it quick with no panicking! SUCCESS!

Ya'll remember what he USED to look like?!

I'm so happy to have a picture like this...
The next day was a "holiday" and a couple of friends trailered down and came for a ride. We were out for at least 2 hours! Brantley was an amazing leader and let Lucy lead when she needed too (Amanda came to ride). I think Amanda is doing an awesome job with Lu. I took them EEVVVEERRYYYWWHHHEERREE! ... Except the train track area which I'm really excited to explore again at some point! We all came back, put ponies on grass, and went out for lunch! Definitely and awesome day. I went back to pet sitting and did get to go out with the BO and her horse Merlot and we had a blast. Trotted around, wish I could've cantered but I didn't want to push B. I have a good understanding about the way he feels and when I think he's ready for something and when he's not. Go with my gut I say. Went out with Amanda again today and we just walked. Lu was a little out of character (well what her norm is of late) but B handled it well, even when two goldens came bounding through the forest at us. I was literally waiting for the boom when I saw them but then remembered Chevy running in and out from underneath him. I was calm, so was he. Went through the water, then headed home! Cantered around in the indoor. I was happy with that. Bought some bright orange polo wraps! Excited to use them tomorrow.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Trail Clinic and More Happy Tears

So last Sunday was the trail clinic with CB at Cherry Croft and it was a blast. Mason came along as my little pseudo-photographer assistant and got to take some pictures when I was asked to ride a horse... Named Diablo. I warmed him up for his O when he first got there and he was great. Later down in the jump field his saddle slid and he took a digger so he asked me to finish off the clinic for him so Mason took over.

Mason on Sky the Morgan (Looks a lot like Pretty)

Warming up Diablo
Awesome shot Mason took
Our fearless Leader
They started with the bridge and everyone did well, even the little Paso Fino named Mary. She was the only one who had a hard time with it but she finally went over it, nose down, calm and cool. That's what we like!

Tasha, cutest Halflinger ever!

The infamous Gigi
After lots of patience, Mary the Paso Fino finally made it over the short way.
My new friend Diablo
Beatiful mare!
On our way down to the field, Cherry Croft had set up a little water obstacle by the indoor. Everyone got to go through twice just like the bridge. Each person received the same directions from CB. With any obstacle a horse is going to want to inspect it. You can't just kick and push him over and rush through it because he's really not learning anything. It was really nice to see each person really give there horse time to think about their next step. As long as the horse was looking at the obstacle, the rider just sat. The horse backed up, he/she was asked to take a step forward. If they went, the rider let him alone but always pointing their nose to their goal. It's easier to take the time and not fight, then the second time around it's going to be easier and more pleasant for both horse and rider. Horses who rushed through the obstacle were asked to take a step and try again.

Splish Splash!
Even Missy wanted in on the action.

Mary is the baby of the group, but brave!
In the field the subject of horses not liking or getting antsy around other horses came up so each rider was set up next to each other with some space in between. The rider at the end of the line weaved in and out of the others paying attention to ears, tails, and attitudes. If a horse tried to turn his haunches towards the other, riders were instructed to turn their nose towards the horse and slide their leg back, disengaging the hindquarters AWAY from the other horse. If a horse pinned his/her ears towards the other as if to snip, the rider was instructed to pull the nose away and "tap" the horse on the neck basically to say, get over it. There were no issues here! YAY!

Next was walking around the field in a line and taking turns being leader. The person at the end of the line would come to the inside and trot up to the front of the line. There were a couple of horses that really wanted to get moving and go forward so they were instructed to bend their horses down in small serpentines. One rider's horse started to do mini-rears which really made her nervous but CB kept working with her one-rein stops and little mare finally let up. A lot of riders with horses like this hold back on their horse when all the want to do is move forward. The rear is a valid response because if the can't go back, or can't go forward, they want to go up. Another and better way to work through this is sliding your hand down and bending them. Yes, they're still moving forward, but they're not going to take off, it takes away the urge to rear, and they're not backing up without a cue. Plus, if your horse is rushing down the trail (like Pretty does), bending him down the trail like you're going around poles or cones makes them think and work. It helps slow their minds down.
Gigi jogging up to the lead!

Diablo's saddle slid when he went to spin and his O slid off and hit the ground pretty hard. After switching him out of a shank and into a snaffle, CB worked with him a bit and the O got back on. He rode around for a bit but wanted to call it a day for himself but asked if I would ride his horse for the rest of the ride. We took off onto the trail with the group and two by two went through each obstacle. The first was a stuffed cow set up on a rig like you use for cutting horse training. Each set of horse walked up and watched as CB pulled the rope and the cow danced across the trail on a pulley. Nobody had an issue which was surprising. The next step was going over lifted ground poles. We got to trot over them on the way back. After the poles was a forest of plastic bags and then a curtain of tarp pieces. Everyone took their time and made it through each obstacle without an issue.

All in all it was a really good clinic. I got to use a lot of what I learned today on a memorial ride I took Brantley to with the BO and a friend. I used his side pull and we rode through the trails and made our way onto the beach. I cried again... Happy tears. I know, I'm a pansy. I've been on these rides, I've been on the beach, but always on someone else's horse (except for one time on LB). To be out there, finally, on my own horse. I can't even tell you. It was like the moment I left the show ring for the first time. Or the first time I sat on him. It turned out to be an amazing day other than all the rain but luckily we didn't get too soaked! Tear Drop Winken: October 2013

Tear Drop Winken