Monday, December 7, 2009

Groundwork Issues

So, before doing our riding out in the neighborhood, my trainer has had me lungeing Licorice. She's typically pretty responsive on the ground, but for some reason has been giving me guff the past few days. I really wonder if she's sore, or just being a snot. She walks, jogs, and trots both ways nicely. The extended trot is kind of heavy on the fore, but for now, I'm just trying to work on responsiveness. Trouble comes when I ask for a canter... she spins toward me and gives me a snarly mare face, even going so far as to bite the lungeline! She goes to the right easier than to the left... she wasn't doing this before, so I wonder if it's a soreness issue. But.. yesterday I worked her through it... basically, I kept bringing her back in to me and sending her out every time she balked, and after about 10 repetitions of this nonsense, she cantered on the left lead. She was also trying to canter to the left in a right lead... then finally switched to the left.

Trainer thinks she is just testing me, and says she has seen horses go out on the wrong lead before because "they know they aren't supposed to," and it can be another way of testing the owner or trainer, and that they anticipate being stopped and asked again for the correct lead... basically, another way to get out of the work. Licorice is well known for trying multiple ways to get out of doing something before finally giving up and doing it. And the thing is, she looks fine, not lame or gimpy, once she finally complies, and in fact, can collect nicely on a loose rein.

Anybody have any ideas for how to really tell if it's pain versus just attitude? I live in a small area and I'm not sure how readily available and equine chiro would be just for a consultation.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trail Ridin' Fools

The last few weeks, Lic and I have spent a ton of time on the trails. I mean, from 4-6 hour rides, alone or in a group. It has been a blast! We have tackled steep, rocky mountain trails, seen Javelina (scary!) and Coyotes (not so scary), and covered miles of flat high desert. This Sunday we are going on a group canyon ride- I can't wait!

We are back in training, and this week, we are working on de-spooking to residential hazards... that is, residential hazards in my rural town. Last weekend, I feared for my life while riding down the street. Lic kept spooking, and these were not little spooks. These were OMG-bolt-then-buck spooks. The high point of our ride was me not falling off *rolls eyes.*

So, we are taking it one step at a time. Instead of just doing it and trying to make Lic deal with the dogs, and cars, we are starting on some easier routes with, say, plenty of dogs but fewer cars. Whenever Lic shuts down in nervousness or fear, my trainer has hopped off and gotten her attention on the ground, either lunging on one rein or, if need be, smacking her to get her eyes back where they need to be. Well, duh. Guess if I had thought about it for a second, I could have done that.

Part of her spooking issue is my own amateur riding, too. I have the involuntary *GASP* my horse is spooking CLAMP ON WITH YOUR LEGS AND DON'T FALL!!! reaction. Not helpful. I am going to ride with my trainer the next couple days, and hopefully we'll work on my issues as well.

It's funny, because out on some really challenging terrain, Lic is fine. It's the man-made stuff that terrifies her... garbage cans, dogs barking against fences, kids on bikes, um, about a 10hh pony... no, I am NOT joking about that... sheep, other horses, cows... but put her out on a wide stretch pf state land, and she's good. I think she gets claustrophobic, or it's just one scary thing after another while going down the street.

It's okay, I know with my wonderful trainer's help, we can get past it. :)

I will add some new pics soon, it's amazing to me how much she has bulked up (muscle, not fat) with all this daily work. Dutch is looking good too, and has been a champ about going out and being ridden after just sitting around for so long.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I need a better seat!

Yesterday was a bit frustrating for me. My 30 days of training is up, and it will be a few more weeks before I can pony up for another 30. I was working Lic in the arena area I have available (basically it is shaped like a large round pen, but no rail). She was good at the walk, we did a lot of practice being responsive to the leg and stopping with my seat only. I like to practice my own posture at these times as well. It took a couple times, but eventually she got to where she was stopping on a dime when I settled back. I try to make a point of driving my seat bones down, as my trainer instructed, but somehow it has lost some of the finesse it had when she was here coaching me! I'm not sure if it's a me thing, or a Lic thing (she was very distractible yesterday).

Finally, when we got it down, I moved on to some jogging work. She would be good for a while, but she tends to hollow out and rush at a couple of corners, but not the others... I'm not sure why. I made her jog small circles into the corners every time she did this, and then she would be good for a lap or two and do it again. In fact, she was trying to run out on me (like I said, this arena has no rail) and run up the hill that borders the arena area. Once again, I would put her back and make her do circles where she had run out until she was clam and soft. The problem was, I have seen my trainer do this until she is soft and jogging well, and she makes her jog nicely for quite some time before quitting time. I couldn't get more than one or two nice laps at a time out of Lic... she kept getting strung out and falling into a high-headed, rough trot. Sometimes I could settle her with my seat, sometimes not. I tried circles, I tried halting, backing, and pivoting (she can pivot on the hind now, it's not pretty, it needs practice, but she does it), I even tried making her circle at an extended trot for a while and then go back to the jog (I definitely need to take some English lessons- my posting trot position is awful! I was flopping like a fish and Lic let me know it with her pinned ears, too). I finally settles for a good 2-3 laps each way and quit before it could fall apart again.

Then, like a fool, I pushed my luck. I was actually attempting to end on a positive note. On this property are a couple of straightaway areas that Lic likes to canter. She cantered up one, nice as you please. Then, after looping around to the other straightaway, I asked for a canter and got the death-trot. After she continued to ignore my cue, I reached for the over-under and slapped lightly behind my asking leg (this usually works for her). Well, on this particular day, she decided to throw a good hard buck. I normally could have sat it, but apparently, luck was on Lic's side. She bucked, half-reared, bucked again, and I was on the ground.

I landed fine, but the problem is, this is Arizona. I don't have a nice, groomed arena. I have flat areas I make do on. If you've never been to the southwest, you don't know what it's like to fly off a horse and land in tumbleweed. In my particular area of AZ, tumbleweed is more common than dandelions were in Ohio. So, falling off your horse in AZ sucks way more than falling off your horse in OH. Just thought that would add some context, LOL.

Unhurt but pissed, I hopped back up and walloped her ass around, not hard, but enough to make her work to keep moving her hind away from me. And then I climbed back up and cowboyed her ass around and MADE her canter until I decided we were done. In retrospect, I'm not sure this was exactly the right thing to do, but I had already been working her for over an hour and a half at this point, and I guess maybe making my point and getting it done with was the best thing to do? I'm not sure. On the way back home, I flapped the over-under nonchalantly and made her just keep walking... I want her to respond to ME, not the rope, so I thought maybe swinging it around without cueing would help in that regard.

Oh well, got to take the bad with the good. I think I might lunge before riding today, LOL.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Match made in heaven

Today I asked my trainer, "Who is this horse and what have you done with Licorice???" Today was my first lesson since training started- the trainer wanted to work her through some of her attitude before I got on. She was amazing! She tested me a bit- balked a little, and gave a little buck when I popped her with the over-under for flat-out refusing to move. After that, she was actually really good! A few times I had to back her hard and fast (we decided that is a pretty good consequence for balking/snotty behavior) but otherwise, she listened so well. We were moving almost entirely off the leg, although a few times I had to follow up with the rein. She responded to neck reining nicely though. At her problem spots, we circled and worked off the leg... overall, I couldn't be more pleased and if anyone in Northern AZ (Prescott area) needs a trainer please leave me a comment, I'll be happy to recommend her.

I also got plenty of direction as far as my riding goes... I know I need work, but it would seem that mostly trail riding has gotten me lazy as far as equitation... and somethings I just never got down to begin with. Like any good riding instructor, I was reminded any number of times about legs position- heels down, lean back, sit on your pockets... my main thing was my leg position was such that I was always putting pressure on Lic's side... I am going to have to rethink and relearn how to sit in order to keep the pressure off so she listens better when I do cue.

So our 1st month of training is done. The plan from here is, I'm going to work her for a couple weeks at the walk/jog. I go on vacation this weekend, but I am going to work her before and after. Then, starting sometime in the next couple weeks, we will start with some lessons, and once I recoup my money losses from vacation, we will do another month of training to get her going on some canter work. My goals until then are:

1. Body position- keep my butt where it belongs. I am singing to myself... Head, shoulders knees and toes- knees and toes!
2. Consistency- I must make my lazy ass get up and work her every day, or work her every morning before bed (I work nights). The trainer said she needs that 5 days of saddle work per week, or she will start to slide back.
3. Timing- she gets two chances to respond to my ask, then tell, and after that, if she still doesn't listen, she's going to either back as fast as she can or get popped with the over-under, depending on if she's just being lazy or actually being defiant and nasty about it. I need to get over the little hesitation and get automatic on my cues and follow-through.
4. Goals- pick something to work on, get it done, and move on. This might mean either being done for the day, or working on another task.

Yesterday I was feeling frustrated after a tough trail ride (it was cool and windy, so Lic was fresh and spooky, meaning, of course, it was hell to get her to pay attention to me). Today, I am thrilled... we might make a successful little local show horse out of her yet!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Training update

Well, today marked the start of week 2 of training... Lic was a champ! Which I didn't expect, seeing's how she was a PMSing mare all weekend... presenting for Dutch one second and the next, pinning her ears and trying to bite anything that came within 5 feet... including me, if I dared to groom her. She got a few swats with the dandy brush for that shit and quickly learned to be quietly grumpy about it.

Last week, Lic had a sharp learning curve. She gave the trainer shit for a few days, but the trainer was consistent and persistent, not stopping until Lic was a good girl and doing whatever was asked with a happy face. There were a few impressive tempter tantrums though, and a come-to-jesus meeting on the first day of trot work. After balking and ignoring cues for about 20 minutes, the trainer hopped off and made her walk, whoa, back up, and repeat several times on the ground. Finally, Licorice decided it was easier to trot.

On Saturday, she had the day off from training, so I rode out to state land and let her run. It's really amazing that she can be such a lazy, resistant cow at times because on Saturday, you would have sworn she thought she was a racehorse. We galloped about a mile until finally, I couldn't take it anymore, I was starting to lose my seat. So we finished out at a canter and walked 2 miles home so she could cool out. I could tell she had a blast with it though.

Then, today... she was wonderful. She walked/jogged wherever she was told. The trainer said she does a lot better to her right, the only balking she did was while going to the left. So she kept things positive today and worked more on her "good" side, and tomorrow she is going to work on going to the left without stopping at the same place every time. But overall, I couldn't be more happy with the job this trainer is doing or with the progress Lic is making.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Pics

I took these pics on my cell phone, so if the quality isn't great, sorry.

Chubby Girl munching on hay after a bath.

Looking nice and shiny!

Dutchy boy after his bath- 25 years old and lookin' good!

Out on state land, looking at cows. I always leave her halter on for trail rides, so I can get off and lead her up to or through scary stuff.
And finally... just chillin' at the barn.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bucked off, lessons learned.

Well, I ate some dirt last week. I was cantering Licorice around a field, and she was going nicely in the direction toward home... and balked at going away from home. So I simply insisted, yes, you will go away from home... not meanly or anything, just was firm with her. She complied, and cantered the way I wanted, for about 3 stride... and erupted into a bucking fit. Usually she bucks once or twice, not a huge broncy fit like this. So I had that "oh, I'm losing it moment;" the moment when riding it out is no longer an option and you start planning for the fall. Anyway, I was essentially unhurt, although I did get faceplanted into some tumbleweed... for those of you who've never been in the desert, let me assure you- not fun.

So, I brushed myself off, got my bearings, and caught my horse, who was purposely meandering away from me just barely faster than I was walking... LOL. She, of course, is calm as can be now, munching on some weeds. So, I hop back on and continue down the street. She was fussy about exactly where she wanted to go, but I worked her through it until she was listening. Something still felt off though, so I hopped back off. Lo and behold, I found a small cut on one of her heel bulbs. I'm not sure if it was an overreach or if she just stepped on some trash in the field, but suddenly, I wasn't crabby with her anymore. Once again, Licorice proves that she is not a pain in the ass (admittedly, this was my thought as I was pulling tumbleweed thorns from my face) but actually, a very good girl for doing as I asked even with a sore foot.

Moral of the story- check your horse from head to toe if you get bucked off. The cut is tiny, no lameness or even any obvious bleeding, and it's healing well. It was very hard to spot- because of the sand that covered it, it honestly just looked like a dirty horse booger got on her foot until I looked closer.

So, after this incident, I finally broke down and bought some easyboots- so far, so good. She has no problems at all with them and no more ouchies over rocks. I had been hoping to find used ones, but simply got sick of waiting and ponied up the cash. For anyone who is thinking about them, the Easyboot Epics are working really well for us.

First day with the new trainer was today, she is training at my place and a super nice lady. She is firm but very kind to Lic, constantly encouraging her and fixing any problem or misbehavior with no fuss, and then praising as soon as she is being good again. She worked her in long lines today and said that although Lic seemed unfamiliar with long lines, she picked it up quickly.

I will update with pics again soon, both horses are looking shiny and healthy. I rode Dutch the other day as well... riding the old guy was great! I love his push button gaits and rocking chair canter, and he is very forward as well... as opposed to Lic's slow, plodding walk and resistant upward transitions at times. I'm hoping with persistence and training, Lic will eventually get to the point where she is as easy and fun as Dutch to ride.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I know, it's been forever...

But summer is busy and between having houseguests, being out of town, and just generally doing stuff this blog fell on the backburner. So hopefully I'll get back on track here.

Mostly I've just been trail riding, and trying to convince Licorice that certain things are just not going to kill her. The two main things we're working on right now are water and cows.

We were making some progress on water. I had gotten her to where she would cross puddles and such. Well, back in July, I ran into a couple of people trail riding out on state land. Being that we had had monsoon rains for about a week straight, there were some large puddle (read: ponds) that had formed. Well, my new riding buddies had horses that just loved water, and plowed right in to one. Licorice offered to follow, and even though I had a saddle on trial that I was using (a $900 saddle no less) I figured that since the water wasn't quite up to the other horses' bellies, it would be fine. After all, I figured, what an opportunity to get her in the water.

Except that when we got in the pond, she veered right of the path that the other horses had taken... and we were suddenly halfway up my thighs in water... oops. My initial reaction was to panic about the expensive-ass saddle I had on trial... that worry was quickly subsumed in the blossoming crisis of Licorice's panic... the pond, after all, was trying to eat her. So, we buck out of the pond in a glory of flying mud, rodeo style, me with on hand on the horn and the other hand making a feeble attempt at a one-rein stop... finally, I managed to stop her, and I have no idea how I stayed on, lol.. I was totally off-balance for this bucking fit, and I'm sure my entire body looked like a big pathetic noodle... And as I'm sitting there, both me and Lic getting our bearings (poor girl was shaking from head-to-toe) one of the guys I was riding with goes, "That's what you're supposed to hold onto the reins for. Heh." I'm sure I gave him a very pleasant look as I thanked him for the advice.

So, this little incident soured Lic to water a bit, and then the rains stopped for a few weeks, and only started back up a couple weeks ago. I went riding one day after it rained with my friend down the street, and we were going to take our normal little route through the wash, except when we got there (duh) the wash was flooded... not badly, probably less than a foot deep, but the water was rushing by pretty quick. Well, I was going to take Lic through it. In fact, I was going to dismount and lead her back and forth through it a few times, but before I got the chance, she panicked. She started backing up (which is a habit I need to break her of, as evidenced by this story) and ended up backing up into a ditch. I thought for a moment she was going to flip over on me, but good girl that she is, when it counted most, she took care of her rider. Instead of rearing backwards, she kind of reared and pivoted about a 180... which would have been fine except... the dirt in the ditch was so soft from the rain that her feet plunged in up to the elbows! Mind you, this all happened so fast all I know if that I'm on my horse, with my feet both in the stirrups and on the ground at the same time, my friend is going "holy shit!" and he 4 year old daughter is sobbing. My response- the only response I have to such a shit-flipping situation on a horse- calmly saying "whoa, take it easy girl" and assessing my next plan of action.

Well, poor Lic cannot get up with me on her... so I dived off to a side, terrified she had broken a leg. Lo and behold, as soon as my fat ass was off of her, she managed to clamber up the side of the ditch, uninjured except for a few scrapes. Once again proving that she is such a good girl, she turned and looked at me, rather than bucking off into the distance like I half expected her to. I got up and went to her, and other than being terrified, she was fine.

So, needless to say, after those two incidences, we have some work to do on water. In fact, I had to dismount and walk he back and forth on the trail where this whole ditch thing happened, even though the wash was dry, because she was scared just to go down the trail. But today, we made progress- she walked through a puddle, first I led her through, then we walked through it. Seems like when she sees it won't eat me, she's not so scared.

Her other big thing to get over, that we are working on, is cows. Just the sight of a cow is enough to send her spooking across the street. (No joke, people have cows in their yards here, and she will simply fly across the street to get away from one). Well, today, out on the state land, we saw a small herd- like 8 cows. Lic, of course, went batshit. Like absolutely flipped her grits, to the point where I could barely control her, because the fact that there was a human on her back didn't seem to register over the fact that there are cows, over there!!!!! OMG!!!! *Snort* *SNORT* Ahhh! They're looking AT ME!!!! It was pretty dramatic. I finally convinced her that we were just going to stand and LOOK at them, from a distance. They we all females with babies, and two were longhorns, so I didn't want to take any chances. Well, we were there watching the cows for like half and hour. They came up to the pond we were near (plan A had been working on crossing water, until the cows showed up), and Lic finally calmed down enough to approach within about 20 feet of them... until one of the (**cute!**) babies kind of ran around the pond... then it was *spin* *bolt* *snort* all over again. I think what I really need is to find someone with a cow in a corral and throw her ass in with it for a few days. But short of that (no friends with cows) I would appreciate any tips on desensitizing to cows.

There is a new training barn near here that supposedly has "introductory" rates, I emailed to inquire about them. Lic still hates arena work, and still needs work on rating her trot down to a jog and her heavy, on-the-forehand gallop into a lope... I'm hoping I can maybe even afford to put 30 days on her if the rates are low enough. I will update on that later, including a review of the barn if I do decide to do it.

Thanks for reading, the few of you who do!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The slightly less cranky mare

Things have been going well for Lic and I. We are cantering all over the place, and my consequence for her bucking seems to be very effective. She bucked twice this ride... for her, that's not bad at all! Once, I think she scraped her leg on some brush, and once, she was pissed because I was slowing her down out of a dead run. (I blame myself for that one in the first place for letting her get away from me.) But, here are some things we have accomplished in our past few rides:

-A pleasant canter and lope
-Rating the canter with my seat
-Half-halting out of a too-fast canter (almost a gallop, really) into a nice lope
-Backing using mainly alternating leg pressure with a supprotive rein
-Practicing/improving her jog

Best of all, she has learned that upward transitions without a command means work... I can actually feel her "thinking" about trotting, and changing her mind without my intervention. Also, we had a couple good spooks, but she is getting better at spooking in place, since my reaction to a bolt is an immediate one-rein stop and making her walk, calmly, past whatver spooked her several times. She still transitions downward without command, that will be the next thing I tackle, but for now, I'm happy working on one thing at a time. These are victories for me, too- I am still a relative newbie to riding and owning horses, so Licorice's improvements are reflections of improvement in my own riding and horsemanship.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Learning to be effective

The last two times I rode, I did something I felt bad for- I was caught off guard and yanked on her mouth because I was left behind. Oops. At least both times I got left behind it was for an undesirable action (a spook and a bolt). Meaning, at least I didn't pop her in the mouth for doing what I asked.

The first ride was the other day after it had finished raining. Somehow that day, I forgot to bring my common sense, because a storm had just passed, it was 20 degrees cooler out, and it was close to feeding time. In my mind, that meant it was a great time to throw on a bareback pad and hack down the street, without so much as lungeing first. Ah well, I remembered my helmet.

Shocking as it is, with all of those factors in combination, Licorice was a little on the fresh side. Yes, unbelievable, I know. It was go, stop, *snort,* spook the whole ride. We saw a coyote, which made her edgy but thankfully didn't make her explode. Finally, about 15 minutes in, she was wired and freaking out. I asked for a canter (have we lost count of the stupid decisions I made that day?) and she literally leapt into it, like she was jumping a fence. Recognizing that my poor little mare was out of her mind nervous, I decided that a *walk* would be more prudent. Unfortunately, she started trying to bolt at every little thing. A dog, another horse, the wind. So, my plan of action became clear, as I imagined my trainer in my head saying "Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult."

Okay, so every spook or attempt to bolt was met with a one-rein stop, bending each way, and backing three steps. One our way home, Lic kept trying to break from a walk to jog without being asked. Stop, bend, back. It only took about 5 reps before she got it. By the end of the ride, I could feel her "thinking" about jogging, and by lightly lifting one rein just shut her down. I cued for a jog for the last block as a reward, and she jogged slowly and smoothly on a loose rein like such a good girl.

The next day, I rode out into a field. The ground was still soft from the rain so she was more than happy to canter when I asked. (This is making me think even more that I need to buy some boots for her when riding on hard ground.) Everything was fine until we turned back toward home- she threw two big bucks and tried to bolt. So, i met this with the same technique as the day before, but with a little more oomph, since I want to teach her that bucking and bolting is a big no-no. We stopped, she got to spin three times each way (not like a reining spin, obviously, but a tight turn) and then back about ten feet. The she got to canter back to where we started (this, too, was initially met with resistance, and she was given the same stop, spin and back routine) and try again. This went out for about ten minutes, and finally, a light went off in her horsey head, and she realized it would be easier to just canter than all this spinning, backing, and repeating. So we cantered back through the field, good as gold, no bucks!

Long story short, I feel like something clicked in my head- to calmly but firmly redirect her to doing something hard and repetitive when she's bad. She's a smart cookie, if I'm consistent, I know this will work. And even though she wasn't perfect, we made progress, which is the most important thing to me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Had our lunge-line lesson yesterday, and everything was great until we asked for a canter. Lic fell into the strung-out death trot, pinned ears, tail swishing, some minimal bucking... She really hates cantering in a circle, and I don't get it. My trainer said sometimes it can be a balance thing, but I didn't look unbalanced to her... and then we switched places and got the same thing... attitude. Both times we eventually got a canter, but it was an on-the-forehand, really unwilling type of canter.

She canters just fine on a lunge-line if there's no person on her back, although she will sometimes throw some attitude about it, it's not nearly as bad.

Out on the trail, it kind of depends on the day, and on her mood. Sometimes she'll canter amazingly, right out of a walk, calm and collected. Other days, I get attitude, bucking, balking, anything to avoid it. I don't understand how it could be pain if literally she's good one day, bad the next, good again the next. I'm baffled, and so is my trainer. She has suggested getting some Easyboots, as there is some possibility of her being tenderfooted on the rocks... but still, some days we'll get a nice canter, and the next day, an attitude, on the exact same stretch of ground.

*Sigh* I guess I'm continuing on my search for cheap, used boots.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Different approaches

Well, Someone else on blogger gave me the idea to work with Licorice's innate talents (eating and being lazy) when training. Deer Run Stables gave me the idea to use buckets with treats as a training aid, and so far, it seems to be helping at least. Licorice likes to walk down the driveway as slowly as possible. Putting a bucket with a carrot at the end of thr driveway seems to be goading her along- now we're only stopping for no reason once or twice instead of ever 3 steps. Hooray for progress!

The other day, while doing this exercise, my stupid goats escaped. As we were already at the end of the driveway, I decided to test out Licorices herding talents. It wasn't a very successful attempt (actually, I ended up leading Lic while I chased the goats through a neighbor's yard... *rolls eyes*) but she was game to try... I just don't think she had any idea whatsoever what I wanted. But she didn't balk or argue with me. My trainer has told me that with ehr type of personality, if she senses there is a purpose to what I ask, she'll be happier to comply. It's the endless drilling that pisses her off. So she must have sensed my sense of purpose, I guess.

Yesterday I went on a trail ride (well, in my town a trail ride is basically a ride down the street) and hid a couple buckets along the way. I also carried carrots with me to treat good behavior. We ended up on state land, and another thing I noticed is that while Licorice does this sort of stop and start thing on the road, she didn't balk once on state land. I don't know if that's because cars and activity still makes her nervous, or if she just enjoyed the vast oppenness of the state land. Either way, she was good as gold.

I have a lesson today, we're going to do a lunge-line lesson to try to get Lic more comfortable with cantering in a circle with a person on her back, and for that matter, to get me more comfortable. I'm actually kind of excited.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The terrible things we do to our horses...

Look at that face. Clearly, Lic's bath is the worst possible thing that could have ever happened to her. LOL... she actually wasn't too bad, but I ended up leaving conditiomer in her tail because anytime I got remotely near her hind end with the hose, she would just spin away from me. I ended up using a bucket to rinse as best I could, and she kind of squatted and cowered her back legs, like omigod I need to get away from this water but I can't run because I'm tied this is SO scary. I did my best to convince her it really wasn't horrible, but girlfriend wasn't buying it. I can't wait to try getting her into a body of water... that should be interesting. We have a small lake with trails around it, and I think horses are allowed. I just bought a trailer, which needs some minor repairs before I can use it, but as soon as it works, we're going to the park- it's about 20 mins away. But, for the sake of my own pride, (and the safety of others, lol) I think we'll save this whole "let's take the horses swimming" thing for a time when the park is pretty dead. Dusk maybe?
Speaking of trailers, Lic is hesitant to go into mine, but I'm sure with just some time and patience this will be pretty easy to deal with. She's been trailered a number of times before, but this is an old clangy trailer, and it's also a smallish two-horse straight load, so I'm sure she's feeling a bit claustrophobic. Plus, we're just hitting our stride in terms of getting along and getting her to trust me, so it may take a bit of work. Today I fed them breakfast in the trailer (they got to stay out on the ground but had to stick their heads in to eat). Afterward, Dutch loaded with just a bit of hesitation, and I managed to get Lic about 3/4 of the way in. Lot's of good girl (and good boy- Dutch was super good) and then they got to eat some hay. So, we're on the right track.
And, as an aside, compared to a week ago, Lic has finally decided that her fly mask really isn't that big of a deal. I can put it on with just minor fussing now.
Minor things, but good things. Baby steps and all. This weekend we are going to work on flexing and collection- something we both need practice on.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Finally- a good trainer!

I had a riding lesson a couple days ago from a wonderful NH trainer. It really was a combination of a few things- a saddle fitting, training, and riding lesson. According to her, Licorice has a very solid base of training- it's just a matter of getting me properly trained now!

I learned that I definitely need some refinement in my groundwork. There are times (for example, when yielding the forehand) when I start too "big" with my cue, and it surprised me to see just how "small" I can be with that cue and get a response. But, in contrast, when I am cueing, say, from a trot to a canter when lungeing, I need to spend less time in each "phase" of cueing, and be more precise and forceful- like when I pick up my stick (yes, I use a carrot stick style thing, and I love the way it feels) picking it up needs to be one phase of pressure, and when I use it, I need to USE it- none of this nagging at her hind end. It's listen to the "nice" cues, or your ass is getting stung. When I saw the trainer work her, Lic woke up and always had an eye on her, within one minute. This is opposed to her kind of la-de-da attitude she has with me, like "okay, well, I guess if you won't leave me a lone, I may as well canter." With this trainer, it was "Yes, Ma'am! And how fast would you like me to go?" Awesome.

Under saddle, we mostly worked on me using my seat more effectively at slow speeds, for walking and halting. We picked two spots in my riding area for transitions, so Lic can "listen" for my seat cue to stop. So far she has been picking it up in the arena area, but not on trails. Practice will make perfect on that one. I also learned that part of her bucking issue is my body position. (Part of it is also attitude, and part of it is probably also saddle fit, at least in my Aussie saddle). I tend to lean back at a walk and trot, and then lean forward when asking for a canter, which makes it difficult for her to lift her shoulder. Which explains perfectly why she bucks when I ask for a canter but can pop into it very nicely on her own volition. And which also explains why she randomly sometimes will throw one or two canter steps into a trot. She's not being bad, she thinks that's what I want!

So yesterday, I practiced what I learned. I still got attitude about cantering in a circle, so either my balance or her balance or both are still off... or it could be that she expects me to lean forward and get in her way... or she could just be pissy about it. But when we went on our trail ride- cantering straight lines was so easy! She didn't pin her ears or offer to buck once! It was amazing for me, because my horse actually responded like "Oh, you want me to canter? Cool! Sounds like fun!" I was wooping and laughing the whole time, it was amazing! The only little oops we had was when I thought we were clear to go around a bush- Lic clearly had other ideas, because she jumped it! (I stayed on this time, lol). I did get left behind and I'm sure I popped her in the mouth, which I felt bad about, but she was a saint about it and simply landed in a nice balanced canter. I can't wait to get an English saddle and learn to jump on her!

Today I'm going to work her in a bareback pad and see what kind of results I get. Here's hoping... and I am definitely taking more lessons with this lady!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fun Stuff

Licorice now has an older female role model- an 18 year-old QH mare named Honey. She belongs to my neighbor, and we have been riding together a few times now. Honey is pretty damn bombproof, which is great for building Lic's confidence so we don't spook at every little thing. Anyway, the weather was great, and we went out for about an hour and a half. We were disappointed to find that someone had locked the gate to the BLM land, so we rode the dirt roads. (That really pisses me off, BTW- that's not any one person's land, so don't put a fucking lock on it! We all have a right to enjoy that land.)

Anyway, Lic was pretty good, a little pissy about picking up on a canter when cued- until she saw Honey canter, then she was all too happy to canter along. The way she acts when I cue her, I would suspect a pain issue, because she throws her head up and hollows her back out to avoid the cue... but why, if it is pain related, can she pop into a beautiful, smooth canter when she feels like it? I think it's a training/respect/attitude thing... but the good news is, I have a lesson scheduled tomorrow with a new instructor- fingers crossed, I hope it's better than the last lesson I had.

Lic did have a couple of bucking snit fits- the pad for the Aussie saddle got kind of bunched, so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt there. But with my trusty Syd Hill Aussie and my all-terrain half-chaps, I was glued in the saddle. I just got my new pad for that saddle anyway, and I'm excited to try it out. I'm going to check with this new trainer on my saddles and how they fit her. And the trainer is bringing some of her saddles too. I'm going to start taking English lessons eventually, if everything works out with this new lady. I am so not a preppy person, but for some reason the prim little English outfits appeal to me, and damn if jumping doesn't look like a blast.

Oh, and Lic is in heat- amazingly, she was sweet and wanting to get all cuddly. I expected mean and pissy. Dutch has been very studdish, walking around with a hard-on and talking at her. And even though Lic has put on her "come-fuck-me" stance, I have yet to witness any real action between the two... hopefully this is over in a couple days, because it's really annoying.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just do it!

I have been working with Lic, just getting out and riding. The other day it was windy as hell (thank you, April in the high desert) and Lic was acting very retarded. Walk two steps, balk. Walk two steps, balk. Then- Omigod tumbleweed- run runRUN!!! Stop, head sky high, snort. I struggled to not get pissed, and just consitently cued her to keep going after she stopped with light pressure, increasing to heavier pressue, using my blunt spurs. For probably about the first 15 minutes of our ride, this is how it went.

Finally, we got over to the wash, and she relaxed and actually walked without being nagged. It ended up being a really nice ride, and she even cantered a few times with minimal bucking. I think we cantered about 4 times, with 2 total bucks. Woohoo! Getting better. And once was through a field; she cantered slowly, nice and collected, it was great.

Today I rode Dutch and ponied Licorice. It was nice to ride a horse that consistently responds to his cues... well, most of the time. As we got close to home he started being a hothead and not wanting to proceed calmly- couple that with Licorice contstantly stopping to eat grass and after school traffic, and the alst two blocks were really annoying. Once back home, Dutch got to work a bit as a reminder that home does not always = laziness and food. But... working is not a good deterrent for him, being that he likes work. But riding Lic so much made me forget how lovely Dutch's canter is. He's still a little stiff in his back legs, but seems to loosen up with work. Dutch also reminded me that spurs are for lazy horses, not for forward horses. I touched him with one spur, lightly, and like that we went from lazy walk to huge Arabian endurance style trot. Licorice had to canter to keep up.

I so wish I had Dutch ten years ago. I think 25 is a bit old to start endurance riding.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Just for fun... picture time!

Smiley horse. :)

Chunky girl.

*Sigh* Must you take pictures?


Friday, April 3, 2009

Eh... Reality check.

Things have been going well with Licorice. We have been making progress... slowly, but it is progress. The biggest issue we're having is respect under saddle... I have trouble being authoratiative enough to get her to listen when I'm on top of an engergetic, 950 pound animals. The other day, after some advice from the I Hate your Horse blog: http://http// I decided to hop up and quit being a pussy! We actually made some progress that day... Licorice likes to stop at the "gate" of our "arena" (really just a flat area on some vacant property next door- there's a little trail leading off of it, and she likes to stop there). Well, every time she stopped, I simply cued her to go again, with my legs, voice, and the lunge whip I had. She got pissed, she pulled some of her ear pinning, mini-rearing, bucking bullshit, and she got yelled at and smacked with the whip. This went on for some time... walking was fine... eventually, we got to where trotting was fine. I started out at a posting trot (yes, in a western saddle) to keep her balanced and to set a pace. She slowed down, I kept posting at my pace... eventually we got to where we could trot past her "spot." Even if she slowed down, as long as she was trotting, I gave no "speed up" cues, just posting. Then, I would set a place (different place every time) to stop, praise, and allow her to rest.

Same approach to cantering. I think part of her issue is a balance issue, trouble balancing in a circle, as well as a laziness issue. I kept cueing, smacked when she bucked, until I got a willing canter, buck-free, both ways. This took some time... and it wasn't pretty... we were not collected, she cut through the middle of the arena. No problem. I figure I'll get her willing to work, and then work on refinement.

So, I was feeling pretty good when I hopped on yesterday. Just bareback, and in a halter, in my new half-chaps. Now, I'm not an English person, but I bought an Aussie saddle, which chapped my legs raw in just jeans... and I found a nice pair of Ariat all-terrain half-chaps on clearance. They are suede on the inner leg... which is nice for grip... but apparently not nice enough... LOL.

Really, this is my own fault. I had already been up all night working, then up all day doing errands... so my mind set as I trotted around my property was about equivalent to that of a person with a 3-4 beer buzz. AKA, stupid.

I decided to ask Lic to hop up a small terrace in front of our house. Now, I am admittedly not jumper, though I'd like to take lessons. I have jumped Lic over logs and such on the trail, and I routinely lunge her over this terraced area... it's got to be a foot or less high. No problem, I thought. This will be fun, I say to myself.

Wrong! I lean forward a bit, and Lic takes off like she thinks she's a Grand Prix jumper. She is, in all actuality, a 15 hand paint. But not yesterday... no, yesterday she was a 17 hand warmblood, and it felt that way coming down, too. My floppy, non-jumper self bounced off her back like a bouncy ball... once, twice, three times. I actually don't know if she was bucking or if I was just all over the place. I grabbed for mane, I prayed for a soft landing, I took one final bounce on the ground, and I layed there and whimpered. I rolled over and looked at my horse, who was all too happy to calmy eat weeds, watching me from the corner of her eye.

Well, I can't say I didn't deserve it. I'm lucky, I actually hit my non-helmeted head on our walkway, but emerged from the incident no worse for the wear, mentally. I'll be hobbling on crutches due to a sprained ankle for a few days though. I'm emailing today to start lessons. I'll consider this my first.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A word to the wise...

If you are a nurse, and upon getting home from work, you decide it would be nice to hop on your horse bareback for a few minutes, don't do it while still in your scrubs. The really do not provide any grip. Now, I know this seems like common sense, but I thought I'd share just in case there are any other stupid nurses out there.

The good news was, Licorice was an angel. I did some ground work with her, practicing sidepassing (for some reason she sidepasses much better to the right than to the left) and also trying to get her to leave her front end where I put it. She likes to always turn and face me... this was recently a topic of debate on FHOTD. I personally do not think it is a problem for her to face me when stopped or when "whoa"ing on the lunge line, as long as she doesn't try to "crawl into my lap," as it was stated. And yes, she likes to do this. We are at a point where when she even shifts her weight towards me, a sharp look and a flick of the leadrope will change her mind.

Anyway, I digrees. This morning I worked on moving the forequarters. She yields the hind great, but she's not as automatic with her front end. When we got to where she would stay put for a good 5 seconds, I called it quits. This will definitely be a frequent lesson.

Anyway, I hopped on bareback, in my well worn and too-big scrubs... we walked all over the paddock with a minimum of attitude... I mean, there's still attitude but it's getting to where it's manageable. But stupid me, I decided to ask for a trot, which is normally no problem... but as my ass had no grip to it, being that my clothing was a little inappropriate, I proceeded to flop all over her back like a toddler. Oops. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not entirely blaming a wardrobe malfunction... if my seat were better, this probably wouldn't have been an issue).

But Licorice did exactly what she should have done... she kept trotting, because her retarded rider had told her to and hadn't asked her to stop. This, of course, didn't help my foolish ass up there scrambling for balance... but the point is, she was a good girl, and when I finally righted myself, I stopped her and told her so. Then we finished our little jaunt at a walk. Ears pricked forward and all.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Follow the Leader

I had an "aha!" moment today.

Watching the Parelli Level 1 stuff has made me think about some things. First of all, I think there is probably something valuable to get out of just about any training program. Well, one of the points that was made is that your horse gains respect for you and considers you to be his "safe place" (ie: not the barn, or his stall, or the pasture) when you are able to protect him/her from other horses. This makes sense- you are proving yourself to be the boss of other horses, so your horse assumes you are alpha above all horses, and is less likely to challenge you.
I realized I hadn't been doing much with Dutch because a) he was out of commision for a few months and b) he's not my main riding horse. Being semi-retired, I figured it wasn't a big deal if he got a little rusty. But I realized... what if it's a big deal to Licorice? I mean, I expect him to retain some basic ground manners- do not run me over, do not try to snatch hay out of my arms, stay out of my space, etc. But I hadn't been actually focusing any groundwork on him.
So this morning, I was playing some of the Parelli "seven games," which are really no different than any other training method, much as they may claim it is. The Driving and Porcupine games are yielding to indirect and direct pressure. The Yo-Yo game is practice backing and coming back in. I will say that watching the discussion about how your horse may respond to these has been helpful though. I worked with Licorice for about 10 minutes, and then decided to do the same with Dutch. It's amazing how unresponsive he has gotten! He doesn't "argue" like Licorice, he just tunes me out. I had to get pretty assertive with him to drive him back and yield his hind- and forequarters. He finally started listening, responidng, licking, and chewing, but it took some doing.
Interestingly, I stole glances at Licorice, and she was watching us intently. When I did some leading practice and jogged Dutch around the yard at a trot, Licorice looked postiviley jubliant. She ran around bucking and farting. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I'm pretty sure it means something. I wonder if she had an "aha!" moment too?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I rode Lic yesterday and she was so good! We walked, trotted, cantered. She did spook a couple times... it's funny, because we passed two big dogs and she was fine, but she spooked at this yard with 4 little ankle biter dogs. Then I stopped to talk to my neighbor (the one with the three horses) about riding together sometime... well, she was having some kind of family get-together, and there were like 7 dogs running around, and some guy playing football... it was too much for Lic, she attempted to wheel around and bolt... but once I stopped her, I had her stand there until she calmed down, and she did fine. We are still having that issue where she bucks going into the canter sometimes- I have found that pushing her through it is more effective than stopping and trying again, but that, of course, means I ahve to sit out the bucks, and I think I need to work on my seat. I didn't fall or anything, but talk about spanking yourself on the ass... lol. Once I consciously told myself I HAD to lean back or I WOULD fall off, it was fine- I got my balance and Lic cantered instead of bucking. So I think her issue might be as much with me as anything else. I also worked with her on the scary white cement on my neighbor's driveway. She put two feet on it, and we're going to work again every day this week, even if I don't have time to ride.

I went to a local horse show on Sat. I could only stay for the morning classes, which were English, but it is super beginner friendly. I'm out of town for next month's show, but I'm thinking about entering in the April show. They had some weanlings (I guess soon to be yearlings now) on the farm... and I fell in love with one. It was a buckskin, and he had a splint on his leg and a shaved spot on his neck where it look like he had an IV before or something... anyway, he came up to see me over the fence, but he was very hand shy... poor baby. But he gave me several nuzzles/kisses... I thought I would die from the cuteness. Hopefully in two month's time we can enter the WP walk/trot or novice classes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finally... progress!

The past couple weeks have gone really well with Licorice. I have had about 3 good rides on her- rides where I felt like progress was made. The first good ride was a couple weeks ago, and I actually walked her away from home, because she throws a fit if I try to ride her away from Dutch. I know this will eventually have to be remedied, but my goal right now is to build confidence for both of us and to show her how much fun a good ride can be. We went to a field about a mile away, and I lunged her until she settled down- she was very full of it, so we spent about 20 mins cantering around in circles. When I mounted, she was a pain in my ass for a few minutes, bucking and acting foolish, until she realized I wasn't going anywhere. Now, this field is about 90 acres, and has some pretty established ATV trails we were using- there are gopher holes everywhere else. But I figured the ground was soft enough that if I got dumped, I most likely wouldn't suffer any mortal injuries. So I was pretty comfortable asking for w/t/c. She really threw a fit at the canter, but once again, I just plopped my ass down and kept it there like it was made of velcro. By the end of our ride, we she was trotting and cantering (in the correct lead) with very little attitude. Our only downfall was when we came across a small bridge with a white colored concrete- she was convinced it was going to eat her. Being that there was traffic coming and going, I didn't push the issue- we just cut across a field.
Then, this past week, my friend Sarah who I bought Licorice from came to visit. She gave me a couple of riding lessons on her, especially focusing on her balking and biting issues. My left leg is currently several lovely shades of purple, red, and yellow, incidentally. But my new method of getting her through the nasty biting is a good hard kick on the side she is biting at, a pop in the mouth from the opposite side, and continuing to cue for forward movement. It took me a few tries to get all three of those movements down simultaneously, hence the gnawed-on leg. It took some doing, but I got her through it. Yesterday, I was riding her bareback around the yard, and she was doing her biting crap, and I just tried to stay very consistent with my cues until she would walk without any attitude. When asked for the trot, I got the same thing (she's not a dumb horse, she knows that a faster gait+bareback rider=less balance for me when she acts up. Doesn't help that I'm still working on balancing her trot bareback- she has a much bigger trot than Dutch) and we worked on that until the farrier got here, but it's definitely going to take time to convince her that I'm not going to back down.
She was, however, a perfect angel for Sarah, much to my chagrin. We took both horses out on some state land (Dutch is coming back form a hock injury complicated by arthritis, but he actually loosened up and looked more comfortable after being ridden) and Licorice seemed to have a blast. She did buck a few times at the canter for Sarah, but other than that was very good.
So, having someone more experienced here helped me a lot, and having her talk me through some issues helped my confidence. I just figure I have to keep plugging along. And Sarah gave me her extra Parelli Level 1 and Level 2 stuff... I figure I'll give it a chance and try it out... and just keep pushing Licorice and myself. But the progress we've made has really given me then confidence and determination to keep working with her.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's a mini, not a mounting block.

Ok, I was with this girl until she started playing jumprope with her horse (wtf) and using her mini as a moutning block.

For the record, I am not as anti-Parelli as a lot of people are. That said, I'm not paying a month's salary for a stick with a rope on it. I read a book by Parelli once, and when I was done, I was left scratching my head and going "huh?"

My personal take on Parelli is this: I think he is gimmicky beyond belief and out to make a buck. No surprise, isn't everyone? If someone wants to pay up the wazoo to play his 7 games or whatever- far be it for me to criticize. Know why? Because other than a couple dumb things the girl does, in that video I see a cooperative horse willingly doing whatever his owner asks, at liberty, and without coercion. That, to me, says something about Parelli works. Just not my thing.

I personally prefer Clinton Anderson. I will probably get some shit for that, but, oh well, everyone has an opinion. I have one of his books- his writing style is very accessible to me, and his ideas make sense. Now, I also didn't pay $75 for his stick with a string either. I paid $7 for a lunge whip. And I didn't pay whetever he charges for his special rope halter with knots on it... I paid like 12 bucks for a rope halter from the feed store. I could have paid less and made my own, but I'm too lazy for all that.

I guess my point is, even the most gimmicky trainers (and yes, both these guys are gimmicky) will have something valuable to take from their programs. Anderson's groundwork is working pretty well for Licorice. She knows she needs to lead like my shadow, and is getting better about lungeing all the time. Some of his exercises have made her very respeonsive to my body language. She's not a perfect horse, and I would say I'm not a perfect trainer, except I wouldn't dare to call myself a trainer. I guess, I'm not a perfect owner? I know a lot of her issues stem from my inability to demand respect, and now I have to learn how to earn, and insist upon, her respect and trust. So without a good trainer to rely on (and frankly, withou the hundreds of dollars it will cost to get one) we are muddling along, and I am taking ideas from wherever I can find them, and adapting them to our situation.

Hopefully, somehow in all the steps we make, forward and backward, we'll get somewhere.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I am such a nerd.

I never read blogs until this past year. And I have to admit- I love the horse blogosphere. Yes, the previous sentence is proof that I am a huge nerd. I have always loved the internet and have always posted at message boards- for poetry, music, politics, that kind of stuff. But now, I'm just reading (and posting) about something I like... not because there is some agenda or point to prove... but because I always wanted a horse, and now I have two of them. And there is this really cool community of people who I can read and learn from.

And then I can blog my dorky little heart out. If only my husband knew... when he finds out, and he will... I will never live down blogging about horses. I will be teased mercilessly. Oh well.

Hopefully I can work with Licorice this week and post something soon. Her originaly trainer is coming to visit me next week, and hopefully she can help me figure out where I've being going wrong.

Happy blogging. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

There are no words...

... for how appalled I am.

The new trainer came today... and OMG...

Okay. I'm going to take a deep breath, and start with the good. Because there were some good things she did, and I feel like I did learn something today. At first, on the ground, we lunged a bit, and she commented that Lic seems nice and willing on the ground. There are definitely some things I have been lax on- I need to tell her what to do, not simply ask, and insist on a response. Something she pointed out to me was that I cue her several times for, say, a canter on the lunge line. When I get it, I'll be satisfied with just one lap or so around, the stop her and praise. She told me that when she is slow to respond to my cues, I need to really work her until she is tired, then cue her to trot, then walk, try again the other way, insisting on a good response. I also need to get a longer lunge whip, because when she moves out far enough to get into a canter, and I cue her, but she doesn't respond, I don't have anything to back it up with because I can't reach her. That makes sense to me.

While riding, we worked on balkiness and stubbornness. Something that seemed good in theory but didn't quite work out was when she balks, cue to walk, if she doesn't respond bump harder and tap with a crop until she moves, then release all the pressure. Worked a few times, and she actually seemed like she was giving up on the bucking when she realized all she got was a one-rein stop and continued pressure to walk on... but eventually she seemed like she just went totally numb and desensitized to the cues. She would just stand there, pin her ears, and swish her tail, but refused to move. So I would pull her head around, make her turn around, make her back, still nothing.

So at this point, my thought was to get off, lunge, and get back on. Trainer agreed, so we did such. It was going okay, until Lic decided to do what she does sometimes- stand planted and bare her teeth at me. Trainer encouraged me to get more aggressive with body language a pop her with the lunge whip- which I'm okay with, she does need to learn that she can't just stand there and give me that nasty attitude. Anyway, it seemed like an okay idea, until Lic reared (she does that too sometimes when she doesn't feel like responding to my cue) but this time, she flipped herself over onto the saddle, and of course I hear CRACK! Now at this point, I’m concerned that my horse is okay, I go and check her out, and she's fine, although she had this very sheepish look on her face.... Saddle was fairly damaged, but I think it might be salvageable- the tree is cracked up by the pommel but I think it's only the outer surface- the actual structure of the saddle seems okay.

So at this point, we simply lunged for a good long while, working on trying to get her to maintain gaits without me nagging at her- she seems a little unbalanced at the canter, but she also has gotten a little pudding under her skin, so hopefully as I get her fitter that will improve.

As for the bad... while this lady had some valuable pointers and instruction that I agree with, I was appalled at her attitude. Let's see- for starters, when Lic pulls that nice little stunt where she tries to bite my leg... she suggested popping her in the mouth with my reins "as hard as you can." I personally feel that while it's okay to correct, I just don't like the idea of essentially ripping her mouth up! I did pull on her to correct, but certainly not "as hard as I could." She also suggested a Tom Thumb bit to me, which I know nothing about, so I'll do some research before I consider trying one.

As this did not exactly cure Lic’s attitude, the trainer proceeded to ask me, "Do you ever just beat the shit out of her?" Ummm, no, I do not ever just beat the shit out of my horse. Thanks. I correct her, but I do not beat the shit out of her. If it takes a thousand years for her to respect me, that's fine, I'll plug along and err on the side of too soft or lenient- yes, I know that's not a good way to train but OMG!

Her other brilliant suggestion was that I needed to buy a shorter crop so I can beat Lic in the face when she bites at me. WHAT? Okay, first of all, I'm not too fond of the idea of, say, treating corneal abrasions or (god forbid, not that I would EVER do this) broken face bones. Second of all... if I'm already having problems with control under saddle, and Lic has already shown a propensity to rear, SELF-PRESERVATION tells me I should really avoid "beating her in the face." Third of all, I like the ability to halter and bridle my horse. So far, she's fine with that. Somehow, I think beating her in the face might give her a bit of a head-shyness problem...

but what do I know, I'm just a newbie horse owner and this lady is a show trainer, a western please show trainer no less. Ugh. I love riding western but the amount of abuse that goes on is nauseating. So no, I will not be "beating the shit out of" Licorice. And although I got something out of today, I do not believe I will be asking her back.

Sorry for the rant. I'm not a happy girl right now.

An Introduction

This is my 6 year old paint mare Licorice. On the ground, she is the absolute sweetest thing. She follows me around, leads well, lunges *okay* (could be better) and has endearing habits like carrying her food bucket around. She is healthy, if a bit chubby, and happy. She has bouts of attitude that I consider normal- sometimes turning away when she sees me coming with a halter, a little tail swishing or ear pinning if her gelding friend comes to close while she’s eating or tied, nothing too terrible.

It’s when I get her out to work with her that I have problems. She will lunge, but it somewhat balky at times, and she has reared and charged. (This is not acceptable or accepted- she is corrected and made to work hard afterward.) She’ll also aim a little side-kick or buck in my direction if she knows she is out of reach of the lunge whip. These are things I need to work on, I know this.

Riding is where we have our big issue. It started small, but has escalated, which I consider to be my fault due to my inexperience. Refusing to ride out, turning to bite my leg when bumped/cued, bucking, tail swishing, you name it, she does it. The only problem I don’t seem to consistently have is rearing- thank god because that scares the shit out of me. Bucking is not something I like, but *on the plus side* I have gotten very good at riding bucks out, first of all, and I have even progressed to halting her with a one-rein stop and turning in a circle. It’s not much but it’s progress.

This blog is simply me chronicling our *fun* adventures. I would love suggestions, as the crop of trainers in this area are either too expensive, too unavailable, or too “good ole boy” for my liking.