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 http://thewellgroomedhorse.blogspot.com/ ... 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: http://mugwumpchronicles.blogspot.com/2010/03/there-is-never-enough-time.html . 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.