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!