Saturday, November 16, 2013

Assisted Boot Camp

I have three major goals to reach by the end of the year. 

1) Assaloosa will go FORWARD with a whisper of my leg. He will go forward into a faster gait and go more forward within those gaits. We had a glimpse of this when I first arrived I at new barn but need real obedience. 

2) Safety while riding with other horses in the arena. We didn't get a chance to share the arena much with other horses because lessons occured in an arena packed with jumps. Jumps on both rails, jumps on the diagonal, jumps on the ends of the arena, jumps on the quarter lines. Not the safest configuration for baby horse riding alone let alone with other critters. 

3) TRAIL RIDE!!!! We have miles of gravel roads just outside the barn door and I am dying to get out there. Trail riding is the best cure for arena boredom and a safer way to condition baby legs. 

I was starting to feel like these things wouldn't happen until boot camp occured. As I shared earlier I was supported into action by BO and my eventer friend. Enough was enough and I had two rides with a ground person encouraging forward with a whip and voice. Step two was event friend bringing her horses out. She brought her dead calm grey the first day. We practiced following and walk and trot to make arena time fun. Then we worked on passing his new friend and leading the way. We went back and forth Dickie in front then Carson in front and made it a game. There was also some liberal spotted butt kicking. 

Ride #2 w my friend was a week later with her spunkier bay TB Frankie. Frankie is level headed but a but a little spookier and energetic. After the ride w grey horse I kicked it into high gear and had been riding with purpose so he was already a different horse. I decided to be on and riding when she arrived and instructed her to be loud and disruptive as the trailer pulled up. He's seen a trailer before so it wasn't like it was his first expirience. I want him to get used to things that might occur while we are in a clinic or show. He was very intersted in Frankie and asked if we could please go say "Hi" but didn't completely blow me off. We went about our buisness while she rode big brown horse and practiced passing, following, and being left behind. Then WE WENT ON A TRAIL RIDE!!! We just walked right out that arena door and went down the road. Dickie likes to follow and dawdle a bit but isn't spooky and seemed very happy to get out on the road. 

So now I have achieved all three goals (more about goal #1 soon) so everything else between now and Jan 1 is gravy. I never thought I would get this far so fast and I can't thank my wonderful assistants enough. Thanks Frankie and Carson and my human friends of course. 

This scenery is why I can't wait ot hit the road. 

Mom let's go see where this leads. 

This was from one of our trail hand walks and he's trying to eat the reins because he can. 

Bre's awesome lessee getting led on road. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Just in time for Thanksgiving I have a gobble gobble story. When I first moved to the new barn there was a family of turkeys. Momma, poppa, and five babies. Pops left and two babies disapeared. We decided to start feeding the turkeys because they are pretty cool birds. They make the sweetest little chirping noises and are pretty dang friendly. They follow me around the barn like dogs. I am sure that I will get people cringing and telling me how dangerous boy turkeys are. I know and I don't care. I love these turkeys. They come to "turkey turkey turkey" and when I had apples would meet me at my car door. They have decided our barn is the place to be and never go past the horse pasures. Even the horses seem to like our turkey friends. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Boot Camp Results

I had planned on putting this post up later but I am so proud of Dickie I will share it now. Posts of our last three weeks will be forthcoming so you are kind of getting the final product then going in reverse :)

I have had the YHG (young horse guy) ride Dickie three times so he wasn't sitting around during my work stretches. Normally I think it is just find for a young horse to be lightly worked. However, at this stage he really needed some steady work for things to stick in his brain. Between YHG rides I was getting on him every day so for two weeks he had five rides a week. The results are fantastic. Dickie starts a ride ready to go. He seems happy and relaxed. He is even being a big well behaved puppy dog when I am not out there.

Here is a video of just before I decided we needed to get it together. He was very much protesting trotting or any leg whatsoever. He was also very offended at not being allowed to gaze at himself in the mirrors. I wasn't riding him in a bit yet because he was acting like he had a sore tooth. I had the vet out a little over two weeks ago and his teeth are just fine. All of his 3.5 yo teeth are in so we are in a clear until Spring when I do the big teeth float.

YHG came out on Tuesday and I was excited to watch him ride. I hadn''t seen him ride Dickie yet because my main reason for using him was to increase under saddle time. If I was at the barn I was doing the riding. He has been feeling great but is is hard to get photos and ride at the same time.Very forward (I actually ride him more forward with less circles than YHG) an is even starting to give to the bridle. Now that we have come to an agreement and I am allowed to use my leg he is actually really light off the leg. It only took a few times reinforcing with voice to help him understand seat cues for walk.

Here is video evidence of post boot camp: Dickie walking from first warm up  and Dickie from the first trot of ride 

Jackpot of Resources

I left my old barn and some awesome friends due to difficulty finding quiet jump free arena time. The new place has been a perfect fit in so many ways. The barn owner was a long time eventer turned dressage queen after a head injury that cause major health issues. She has a wealth of knowledge working with youngsters and has four homebred warmbloods from yearling to 5yo. She also has several OTTBs in various stages of training. I have been able to ride some of those horses and glean a wealth of information from BO. An added benefit to my location is several wonderful trainers who live nearby and are willing to come to me. Some of them even come to the barn for BOs horses routinely. 

One of my resources is an old school bad ass event rider. I made friends with her at the old barn and she has been a great support. She has evented all the way up to Rolex. Currently she has two OTTBs she events at prelim and teaches a handful of students. She is tough but a kick in the pants. She doesn't run a major training buissiness and just teaching who she likes. Her rates are a steal. She hauled her horses to my barn and added in an extra ride on Dickie when I had a long work stretch for barely more than the price of one lesson at most barns. 

Quailhurst Stables  is located about five minutes from my stable. The BO is friends with Quailhurst barn owner which means I get the lowdown an clinics. It also instroducted us to one of the Quailhurst young horse riders. He worked with Buck Branaman and showed Arabians. He is now learning dressage and is a natural. He's calm, relaxed, and looks like he was born riding dressage. I love that he still shows up in wranglers and a sweatshirt even though he rides at one of the fanciest barns in our area. When I started to get my act together I realized Dickie needed a month of stead riding to really "get" what is expected of him. That gets hard in weeks where I work more than three shifts. Awesome young horse guy (we shall call him YHG) has been riding him during work stretches at less than a steal. I don't even want to say what I am paying him because as soon as word gets out he will be out of my price range ;) 

Yet another person who stops in our barn is a local Grand Prix jumper. Sadly I have yet to cross paths with her because she always seems to be there on a day I am at work. She jumps BOs horses since she can't jump herself anymore. I hear she is great to work with and excells at a dialogue with owners about what she is feeling up there. I can't wait to watch her ride sometime soon!!

Fancy vineyard/horse farm right down the road. 
GP jumper I can't wait to watch ride. 

Eventer trainer on her super cute OTTB I might get to take a lesson on :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sometimes the Peanut Gallery Knows Best

The last time I left you I was reluctant to push him. I felt like he didn't have the attention span for it to be fair. However, I have seen changes that make me think it is time to get this show on the road. He stands on the cross ties, can focus with chaos in the arena, and is mellow during our trail walks. He had also started to be a big stinker under saddle. He had the very basics down. Walk, trot, stop, turn. Forward trot however was not something he was very interested in. I realized that I was holding back on pushing him partly because I wondered if his heart was bothering him. He had been entirely cleared from the cardiologist for hard work but it was nagging at me without even realizing it. I wondered if he was being sluggish because he wasn't getting enough oxygen. I decided to take his heart rate after I had lunged him hard. I also took his heart rate after a lunge/ride session. I discovered something very very interesting-his heart was barely above resting. He is also never very out of breath by the way. BUSTED!!!! Dickster was being a trickster.

The barn owner had been nagging me to get his arse in front of my leg. I finally gave in and let her get behind me with a whip. I finally feel like he has the attention span and the fitness to handle putting his big boy pants on. I also had a friend and local advanced level eventer in the area come out. She brought her horse so we could practice focusing with other horses in the arena. She also rode my ass hard. She had me hold my crop like a jockey and whack his spotted butt. And she yelled at me to sit up and stop babying him. It was magic. I needed some tough love. Apparently so did Dickie. Three weeks later he doesn't even feel like the same horse. He moves off the leg immediately, will hold the tempo until told otherwise, and is even starting to give to give to the bridle.

Sometimes it is hard to have the peanut gallery telling you what to do and how to do it. Especially when you have experience and have a long term game plan. Things are often not so pretty when riding the babies so there are often times when you look like a hot mess even though things are on track.  I also have to admit I am a bit stubborn because I had terrible experiences with "helpful" bystanders with Bre. Bystanders who thought I should be rougher, put a tie down on her, or steer clear of her altogether because she was dangerous. When Bre was Dickie's age I wouldn't own her for another year and had to balance what I knew was the right way to bring on a youngster and what I was being forced to do. I get a bit pigheaded because this is my chance to do it right. I own Dickie so I can shield him from things that permanently traumatized Bre. I need to remember though that these days I surround myself with others who share the same horse care values as I do. And in the end it is OK for me to take what works and leave the rest.

Treats? Now?

Between cow kicking and tail swishing in protest over being told he can't just hand out and admire himself in the mirror. 

Midtantrum pre boot camp days. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thank all of you my wonderful blog buddies!

I have been away from blogger quite a bit this last summer. However, I do check in and try to keep up on how you all our doing. I see that some ponies are now barefoot, people have new babies, others have sent their ponies on to new wonderful homes. I wanted to go through and comment but I have been such a delinquent commenter that I have months to catch up on. I just wanted you all to know how inspiring you are. I appreciate all your stories. They keep me motivated and inspired.