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!