Sunday, May 23, 2010


Last weekend my friend from work and I packed our horses up in her spiffy new LQ trailer and drove over to Payson (about 2 1/2 hrs with trailer) for a competitive trail ride with ACTHA. (Horse and Rider did an article on them recently, which got me interested.

We got there friday afternoon, and the ride was Saturday morning. So we went for a ride Friday... we were on this huge ranch and it was very pretty... unfortunately my camera is broken so I didn't get any pics... and Lic was being a fool anyway so I wouldn't have had use of a free hand anyway... LOL.

Lots of people were riding so Lic would stop and stare every time she saw more people on horseback. No matter how many times I explained it to her, she still thought they were gonna eat her. At one point, there was sort of a round area and my friend was trotting her mare, who was being lazy... Lic trotted circles around them, which was good to burn off some energy. Then my friend wanted to sidepass her mare, so I sidepassed Lic... she sidepassed to the right just fine, but apparently she had crossed some wires in her brain that made her believe my cue for "sidepass to the left" really meant "throw a hissy fit and rear." Mares. The left is her "bad" way to sidepass anyway, but usually at home she just shakes her head a bit. Finally got her to take a few steps over and left it there. We also managed to spook at a cattle guard, and when we got to the river, I got her to go in, whereupon she suddenly realized she was in water and blew up, spooking her way out of it... I made her go back in but the mud was kind of deep and sucky which also freaked her out, so I left it alone. But this time it was going on 6pm so we headed back to camp.

It was Lic's first time on a tie-line and I was worried a bit about her and my friend's mare, especially since she is a bay paint and Lic notoriously hates anything spotted... but they actually got along together quite well. By the end of the weekend they were inseparable friends.

The next morning, before the ride I took Lic over to a field and lunged her for like 20 mins, and then got on and loped her both ways for another 20 min or so. I was the only asshole with a sweaty horse when we started, but she was still acting a fool! She kept spooking at a tent, wouldn't hold still and kept goofing off and getting in other horses' space... I ended up having to circle her for like 15 minutes waiting our turn for the first obstacle. My friend then did the obstacle first and Lic was so upset that she had to wait her turn and not just follow her friend that she threw a full-blown mare hissy fit... trying to bolt after the other mare, spinning, stomping, rearing... it was literally all I could do to keep her under control, and barely, at that... by under control I mean we didn't just bolt into the obstacle.

The first two obstacles, BTW, involved sidepassing both ways... I was like "Oh, great. Because sidepassing went so well last night!" Amazingly enough, she aced the first obstacle... the second one was a bust. Her friend went first again... We had to sidepass through cones. We got halfway through, and Lic reared straight up... it was a pretty impressive rear. She was just so wired she couldn't listen or deal with the excitement.

We continued to ride for a while without any more obstacles... everything was okay until we came to the river again... this time it was a rocky river bed with just a stream of water running through it. Lic decided it would be so much easier to jump the stream several times, but finally there was no choice for her but to go through, as the river literally was the trail for a while. She finally put a foot in, and lowered her head to sniff... which I hate because I have to give her her head to figure it out, but it means I have to reel in my reins if she blows up... but that fear was for nothing, she started pawing at the water and realized that rather than eating her, water would be great to splash around and play in. It was our big accomplishment of the weekend.

The rest of the ride went about how I expected... Lic settled in, but she was still a bit hot- we had a few rodeo moments when she would spook at one thing or another, but no major disasters. She was definitely trying to play catch up, and would have trotted to the front if I had let her, so loose reins were out of the question. She wasn't the only one though, there were a lot of hot and excited horses. We completed the water crossing, the log step-over, and the log-jump... which was really a step-over because I am terrified to jump her... we have been working over teeny-tiny raised poles at my trainers, like 18"... trainer can get her to jump, I just trot them. I am too scared she will do something dumb while I'm off balance and throw me. We flunked the gate obstacle- we were able to open it and get through, but not close it, so we got zero's for not completing... I think we should have gotten partial points though, because some people couldn't even open it, but oh well, no big deal.

At the end of the day, we took 38th out of 45 riders. I was thrilled- we weren't last place!!! LMAO! And I finished, and didn't get dumped, which is an automatic DQ. We are doing one in Dewey in June, I am only hoping the wind will cooperate, it was very calm and pleasant in Payson.

And on a totally different note, I won 2 two-day passes for Clinton Anderson's tour, in Vegas June 12-13th...I cant use them, if anyone is interested, I'm trying to sell at half-price... the passes are $40 each, I will sell both for $40 OBO, or possible trade for ???

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's in a Name?

Thanks to Fyaahchild for the inspiration. :)

Licorice and her momma were saved from a kill pen when Lic was a yearling by a kind family in Michigan. A friend of mine bought Lic's dam from them- Melody is a registered solid paint. We don't know who Lic's sire is, except that he was supposedly some black and white paint "guaranteed" to throw color. Well, the color he threw was sorrel, but that's okay, I like my redhead. I really wish I could find out her sire's bloodlines, but oh well. Lic is definitely built shorter and stockier than her momma- Melody is 15.3hh, and Lic is only 15hh.

This family had children, and their children, of course, had friends. One of these friends was a little girl who had cancer, and had always wanted a horse named Licorice. So, they named the sorrel horse Licorice.

When Lic was 4, she was sent to be broke by my friend who had bought her mom. A year later, my friend bought her because the family was unable to keep her, and she didn't want to lose track of her horse's daughter. Around that time, I was taking lessons at the barn and helping my friend with a camp for kids, and I rode Lic a few times out on the trails and really liked her. She was (and still is) a phenomenal trail horse, once she settles in... she's usually kind of hot and spooky for about 20 minutes, but if we are out on the state land or trails, she is an absolute blast.

Since I was already planning on shipping Dutch, who I was leasing at the time, out to AZ with me, it was an easy decision to take Lic too. My friend sold her to me for a good price, and the rest is history.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another 30 days

I have been working with Lic on cantering. Just as it was with the walk, jog, and trot, she has been throwing hissy fits about cantering... she'll be going just fine at a trot and when you ask for the canter, she will balk and snarl, and if you hit her with the crop, she will buck. She pulled this a week or so ago at my trainer's house, and finally I put on some blunt spurs and used that to get a canter out of her... I know people say not to use spurs for forward, but we were at the point where nothing else was working.

Since then, I have been working her in a canter, some days she is wonderful, some days she is a cow. Last Friday was one of those days. It's my own fault, really... she cantered several laps both ways, nicely... I brought her down and let her trot, and tried to canter her again... and she just shut down. She started rearing up on me (this is a new habit, my trainer thinks she is trying new evasive maneuvers since bucking no longer works) and reverted back to her nice habit of trying to turn and bite... I was not pleased. At one point, she actually, in one swift motion, reared and turned her head to bite my leg. I'm ashamed to say she got me, too, since I was so focused on not falling or throwing her off balance (I am really not liking the idea of being flipped over on).

So, I called my trainer, and she started again today with another 30 days. Lic was great for her today, willingly cantered both ways, although the left lead is a bit harder for her. She threw a bit of attitude but no bucking. One thing I noticed is that my trainer worked her at an extended trot for quite some time. She explained to me that she wanted a willing, forward trot out of her before the canter, and didn't want to her to always associate trotting with cantering. This makes sense- I need to be more patient and work her longer before I try to canter her. I also am going to take a few English lessons while Lic is in training again- I need to develop my leg strength. Whenever Lic tried to die out or balk on the trainer, she just put a lot of leg on her to drive her forward. When I try to do that, the mare just bucks or rears! (Not all the time, it's getting better, but obviously I still need to work on my riding).

I am very glad the trainer is putting another 30 days on her... I figure we can get her into some good habits at the canter, and then I can take over and work on my position and cues. The trainer thinks Lic can still sense I'm not quite as confident a rider as she is, and is taking advantage of that situation to pull some of her stunts. Hopefully we will get her out of that habit.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saddle Fit and Picture Time!

Well, crap, my pictures got all out of order, and I'm having trouble fixing it.. oh well! I wanted to upload some pics of Lic's saddle and the padding I use for Cut&Jump over at ... So here they are. Anyone's comments would be appreciated... I have her padded up so that there aren't any dry spots, but now the damn saddle slips.... I'm going to have to experiment with reversing the pads or something. I am always on the lookout for a new saddle, but I have found that regular QH bars are too narrow, and FQHB are too wide... and I can't really afford anything custom right now. The saddle is a Fabtron FQHB flex tree Ladies Trail saddle.

Apologies for some of the pics being bad- little miss Lic wanted nothing to do with holding still for grooming and saddling, let along picture time! And also sorry about the bad formatting... I'm not all that computer literate.

Just for fun... Dutch sez... "Oh, HAI!" I recently found his registration info... he turns 30 this June! He looks so much better since putting him on the Integrity feed and Rice Bran!

Poor Lic after her ride... life is tough! Not sweaty enough to really eval sweat patterns, but no obvious dry spots... this is after an hour and a half of lungeing/riding, she's just not that sweaty of a horse!

Saddle on, with double pads

Another pic of the saddle on, excuse the dust! Lic was trying to dig her way out, and it's too muddy to groom at our usual spot outside...

Just the double pads, with the built-up (in the front) Cavallo pad on the top.

And a wool blend felt pad on the bottom... excuse the Cranky Mare's pawing and head tossing.

Just the saddle... kind of hard to see here, but she has very little withers clearance due to the front of the saddle being too wide. (I think.) I don't know though, maybe I should put it on her with just a thin blanket and lunge, to see exactly where the pressure points are... thoughts on that? Oh, and yes, she is pooping... very photogenic and ladylike. :)

And after grooming, but before tacking up. She's standing funny... she's not usually tha high-headed, hollow-backs, or butt-high... she is a bit butt-high, but she's all backed up on a hill her, but refuses to put her back feet on the cement behind her... *rolls eyes.* But hopefully it is apparent how far she has come in terms of muscling, compared to other pics I have posted.
Anyway, C&J, feel free to use any or all of these for a padding discussion, I am okay with suggestions and critiques too!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Not-So-Cranky Mare

It's been forever... let me start by saying that in the last Month, Lic's attitude has completely turned around. She has suddenly become much more happy to work and more tractable... we have actually been making progress on some things, most notably really getting collected at the walk-jog, and even cantering in the arena. My trainer thinks she has just finally gotten through to the mare... I attribute, at least partially, adding the supplement Source to her diet. It's cheap.... I would suggest anyone try it.

I just finished reading a post on Mugwump chronicles: . I found it so interesting, I thought I'd post my thoughts here.

When I started this blog, Lic was a very desensitized horse... she ignored my leg, and eventually found that bucking, biting, and acting like a complete shit would get me off. This was my own fault... I looked for a trainer, and couldn't find one I liked. So I did groundwork, Clinton Anderson style. I did goofy things like walking her like a dog, and hopping up to ride back home. (Bareback, no helmet, and in a halter, on my shit of a horse. Smart, huh?)

Finally, I was able to ride on the trails, but dammit, I wanted to be able to do arena work too! She was a total nightmare in the arena... balking, bucking, biting, I just could not get her to go.

I finally found the perfect trainer... my trainer knows when to push, when to reassure, and when the horse just needs to get laced with a whip. When I first started with horses, i thought it as mean to hit a horse. Now I realize that it's mean NOT to hit a horse, if they need it. I saw my trainer back the mare up, flex her laterally, put a (short, english) spur in her side to get her to move, yell with the "pissed-off mom voice," and make her do endless circle... I also saw her lavishly praise even the tiniest improvements. She's a keeper.

Now, finally, Lic is at that place Mugs mentioned... sensitive enough to respond to light cues, but desensitized enough that she won't wig out if I make a mistake. Case in point:

The other day, I was working Lic in a large round-pen sized area in the lot next door. She had given me a good day- a flawless walk/jog warmup, and I actually got about 3 laps at the canter, each way... there was some bucking involved, but nothing outrageous. She is also starting to understand that bucking=getting popped in the mouth with the bit. So, as a reward, I allowed her to canter up a little path in the 2 acre lot. At first, she got excited and threw a bucking fit when I wouldn't let her all-out run. So, after another 5 minutes of cantering circles, we tried again... and she was fine, almost hitting that rocking-chair cadence. This is a huge stride for he, she has a lot of balance issues at the canter, and I take these improvements as a sign that all of our hard work is paying off. So, we go up one side of the property, and double back to go the other way. We were cantering again, and all of a sudden we're OMGI'MGONNA DIE! running, with her head in the air.

I breathe, and sit back, and slowly pull back on the reins. (It was really hard for me to learn to relax when my horse is wigging out!) We stop, turn and face the threat.... a boston terrier. *Sigh* Okay, so we go up, Lic puts her head down and snuffles at the thing, and I turn her, and we continue cantering the way we were going before. We round a corner (I live in a hilly area) and we suddenly see a car pulling away from the school that is adjacent to the yard.

This time, I didn't sit the spook so pretty. As we were already cantering, Lic very nimbly changed her direction... from forwards to SIDEWAYS. Nice. Well, I lost my seat, meaning my ass was about 1 foot to the left of the saddle... but my feet were still in the stirrups, and my hands were still on the reins. I ended up literally sitting on the mare's side, hanging on her mouth with the reins. (I know, I should have let go, but it was a bad moment).

The point of all this is that Lic would have had a legitimate reason to launch me... instead, she stopped after about 4 strides, allowing me to unceremoniously drop to the ground. Of course, the lady in the car witnessed the whole fiasco.... she felt bad, but I assured her it was no big deal and I was fine. I got back on, rode for 10 more minutes, cantered the damn straightaway one more time without incident, and called it a day.

The point of this story? My mare, who can be very laid back one moment and spooking like a bat out of hell the next, responded to my screwed up stop cue, without responding to the whole "rider hanging off of her side" thing. I'd rather she had either not spooked, or I had ridden it better, but with practice, I know that better riding on my part will translate to more confidence, and less spooking, on her part. And compared to six months ago, when asking her to canter in an arena would have been a complete disaster? Her improvement so far is amazing, and I expect more amazing things to come.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Good Day!!!

Lic and I had a lesson today... our trainer's arena is too wet for cantering, so we worked on collection and headset. The way she had me do it was to set my hands low and wide and keep them there, giving Lic enough rein to release the pressure if she would break at the poll but not enough to have her head.

And by golly, it worked! After an initial attempt to kill me (she spooked at the dogs) she jogged around the arena, tossing her head against the bit and generally being pissy and fighting the bit. But after a while, she settled down and realized she was only bugging herself, and I wasn't going to give. We actually had a few laps each way of what my trainer called a perfect western pleasure jog... and it felt great! Completely floaty and even harmonious, with Lic moving off the leg nicely. Of course, we had attitude intermittently, but it barely even registered to me... I felt like we made such great progress!

So, does anyone else want to share how they get their horse to break at the poll? Our trainer said we were basically simulating sidereins, but that now I know how to get her head under control... which, as an added bonus, will help prevent bucking! Anyone else have any ideas or methods they want to share?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Collection, cantering, and sidepassing

Well, we officially know now that Lic CAN canter in an arena... the problem is, she doesn't want to. I took her to my trainers arena... our first day of cantering, she was great... no resistance or anything. We cantered one whole lap, and I praised her, and she got to be done. Good day, right?

The next two days, she seemed to realize that she was being tricked into being a good girl, and wanted none of it. She had to be worked into the ground... she was awful, bucking, balking, etc. She got lunged, she got smacked with a crop, she got spurred... these are not new aids to her, and were not used indiscriminately or carelessly. She really and truly wanted to fight.

We had a bit of an "ah-ha!" moment the next day. She bucked, and I pushed her through it, and was able to put her right back into the canter. Woohoo! My trainer noticed right after that though that she was acting still on her right hind, so we ended it there.

A few days later, we were trail riding, and she cantered nice as could be on the trail. *sigh*

We have also been working on collection and lateral work... Lic can now sidepass both ways under saddle- yay! It's harder for her to the left, but every time, we get a bit more out of her. Her head is coming down and nose is tucking in better at the jog, and she will jog around endlessly without complaint. We still have to work on consistent speed... or I should say, I have to work on it... my trainre can get a consistent trot all day long.

But overall, we are making progress with every ride. It is very encouraging. :)

Monday, January 4, 2010


Oh no... A Parelli term! Per the Parelli model, Lic is very much a Left Brain Introvert. She has more whoa than go, and if you pick a fight with her, she has more fight than flight. She does much better when convinced to do something, rather than being forced into it. Oh, and food. She loves food.

She can, however, go "right brain" in 0.2 seconds. Dogs? OMG, must run. Garbage bags? Trembling like a leaf. Cold and windy? Have fun!

Our trainer has taught me that sometimes, you have to fight the fight. Mare turns and snarls at you instead of moving off the leg? Not cool, and she HAS to learn to move off the leg. So she gets MORE leg pressure and gets to circle until she listens.

Other times, it's best to avoid the fight. The trainer has me lunging before trail riding to take the edge off... I forgot the other day, and that was... Interesting. We had several turn on bolt moments due to scary doggies. The next day I lunged the crap out of her (pony not listening means pony can work her ass off, LOL) and amazingly enough, she was good and listened to me.

It all boils down to having the patience to work with a young and willful horse. I have decided to embrace her sometimes witchy mare attitude, and laugh at her grump faces as long as she complies. She also has her sweet and endearing moments.. she's very respectful of space, but can be quite entertaining when she comes up to explore... the other day, I was late going out to feed, so Lic needed to see if my Blackberry was, in fact, a treat. She is also extremely tolerant of me playing with her ears and lips, and making her make kissy faces... I know, it's so not ladylike! If I stroke her ears slowly, she goes almost into a trance, and I've been playing "friendly game" and massaging sensitive spots, like her cinch area and udders, so that she won't be so pissy about grooming there. And her back seems much better, but I've continued doing some massage. I'm hoping my fancy orthopedic pad comes today or tomorrow, can't wait to see if it helps!

Some pics of lazybones:

Midmorning snooze

With Dutch

Whatcha doin?

Leave me alone! I'm sleepy.

Dutch is a total Right Brain horse. He's so active, full of energy... wish I would have known him when he was young. :) He's also the lead horse in his herd of 2, he has some very "studly" behaviors and is always nipping Lic and bossing her around... however, they do get separated to eat because Dutch will wander away from his food and let Lic have it. To ride, Dutch is still a little spitfire. Holding him back when he wants to trot or run home (he's a bit barn sour, and buddy sour for Lic) can be a total chore, and he's been known to practically canter in place because he's to antsy to hold still. He is a little lazier at home, but has always been a great arena horse. If he acts a fool, you just kick him up a bit and he's like "Oh.. Okay! Sorry! I'll quit jigging now!"

Working on pics of my old sweety as well, he is in much better shape than he was when I got him.


Hmm, what's going on over there?

In his blanky.

What little quirks do you love about your horses?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Updates and Plans

It's been a while since I've posted. In that time, I had an equine chiro out to look at Lic re: her bucking, and general pissiness at times. Well, I have to say... really, it didn't help much. According to the chiro, the was out in her withers, lumbar, and pelvis, and really tense in her shoulders from compensating. Adjustments were made, and it was fine for a couple days.. I lightly lunged her, owing to me being busy at work. Then, she came up with lumbar back pain- her lumbar spine had slipped back out, and now her muscles were really tense.

The chiro was unable to came back out in a reasonable time frame, so I took Lic to the vet. (Lucky her, she got to have her teeth floated too!) The vet said he's not a big fan of chiro's, because in his opinion, they muck about with things that aren't necessarily meant to be changed. So, basically, he told me that Lic is what she is, and to get a batter saddle pad to keep the pressure off of that area. So.. huh. I'd be interested to hear thoughts on your guy's horses, back issues, experiences with chiro's, etc. She still has the little bump on her lumbar spine, but the soft tissue swelling and tension has diminished, and she doesn't seem ouchy there other than being sensitive to grooming... but then again, she is kind of sensitive all over to grooming. Anyway, long story short, trainer and vet said just leave it alone since she's not showing any obvious lameness, and not sore after riding. I did order a Cavallo pad, one of the built-up ones, because my saddle is slightly too wide in front and tips a little bit. I'm hoping the better pad material and fit might improve her performance a bit.

So, between bad weather and Lic being sore, we made only intermittent progress this month. We worked on de-spooking, manners while lungeing, and ground poles. Just yesterday, the trainer had her sidepassing over poles under saddle! I was so flippin' proud of my little mare, I don't think she's ever sidepassed with a rider. I saw her working it out in her head... I love my trainer, because if Lic is just being a shit, she gets after her (in fact, she had a come-to-Jesus meeting the other day for bucking) but if there's genuinely a problem, she just eases through it. She just talked soothingly- it's okay, you and do it, move your hind, now move your front- until we got the sidepass. Lic was a little confused, and she gets mad when she gets confused, but the trainer pushed just enough to get her to think and not blow up.

We are hoping to finally get her cantering this month, the weather didn't allow for a whole lot of consistency last month. My trainer says she still has some balance and confidence issues to work on, hence lots of pole work and lateral work. Plus, doing things that make her think but aren't necessarily physically beyond her reach is so good for her... if she's thinking, she can't be a bitch!

Last year with Lic, I had a horse that was hard for me to handle... I was green and not used to a horse that would BUCK to get out of work. I went through trainers, I bought books, I made some progress one my own. I went from being practically unable to ride the horse to able to ride her on trails... but since I've been working with my trainer, I realize a lot of that was still on her terms, and I needed to step up and really learn how to ride a young horse.

Since working with my wonderful trainer, my horse will now settle in and do arena work just fine. She moves off the leg. She learned that "MOVE OUT" really means move out, and while she still has hissy fits at times, she doesn't win. I have learned a more effective leg and seat position, so I can deliver consistent cues.

This year, I plan to keep up with the trainer. We'll see how this month goes. Regardless, even after I take her out of full-time training, I plan to keep up with lessons. I want to take Lic to a local show this year, even if it is a lame walk-jog class. Yes, even if I get my ass kicked by a bunch of ten-year-olds. I've never been to a horse show, and Lic's jog is SO comfy. I don't care if she's not a peanut roller, her jog is truly a pleasure to ride. Hopefully her lope will be comfy as well. I enjoy cantering, but since I can't get her to lope in an arena, all I've experienced is a fast, fun, "Whee!" canter. And I can't get that all the time... I'd say 60% of the time she lugs around on her front end at the canter... so we have work to do.

I plan to really enjoy our wonderful trails around here. I plan to go horse camping, and go out on more "real" trail rides- she does great on the long trail rides, 5-6 hours doesn't faze her. She might be a chunk but she's in good shape.

And I plan to improve my own riding, so I can be more effective, and more confident. I don't want to get bucked off anymore! It sucks! I would love to get to the point where I'm more comfortable riding Lic bareback... I rode her around the yard in nothing but a halter the other day, and she was great... I want to expand on that.

Anyway, sorry to ramble! Feel free to share your plans for the new year!