Two down…none of them me!

Disclaimer: For those who are going to have a cow about my lack of a helmet, this has been covered before. You aren’t going to change my mind and I fully support your right to have different feelings on this than I do. Please don’t bore the class…

I did it. I put the first ride on the Small Spotted Gelding, and without any of the shaking and silliness that characterized the VLC’s first two rides!

(Am I actually getting over myself? Probably just until I get dumped, LOL!)

I was much more nervous about this one, though I wasn’t showing the same physical signs of freaking out. A lot of it is just that I don’t know him as well. Cheesy though it sounds, the VLC and I have a bond and I really did not ever believe he would hurt me. (At least not, you know, in a get-the-fuck-off-my-back sort of a way). This one has a bond to his mom, Josie, and seems to tolerate me only because she would like him to.

The good news is, this meant he dealt with the very new experience by cozying up to Mom and trusting her. I am not quite sure what happens when we have to actually leave Mom and get to work, but I guess we shall see! For tonight, he was more than happy to walk quietly as long as Mom was at his head, though he did display the drunken sailor walk I am used to with green horses. The VLC never did that – I am not sure that, given his size, he really notices my weight at all.

All in all, a nice uneventful ride. Walked both directions, first being led and then on our own. No goofiness at all. Even dealt with a little use of leg. Couldn’t use the Stubben as planned because we failed to plan for a pony girth!

(See, you all have to admit, this is my size to ride. This is me on 13.3 hands. Looks much more sensible than me on 16.2 hands, doesn’t it? Damn hunt seat judges…)

The SSG’s training will continue, but he is for sale and we’d love to find him a great home so please feel free to inquire if you think you might have a use for a large spotted pony! He has really fabulous ground manners and has had a lot of ground work. He is half mustang, half some kind of PMU draft/spotted draft sort of cross. At 13.3 at age 3, I think it’s a safe bet he’ll stay a large pony.
Published in: on May 29, 2008 at 5:12 am  Leave a Comment  

One down…one to go today!

I am having a wonderful week off of work at present, so I headed out at noon to ride the VLC. I love working green horses in the warmest part of the day. Let’s face it, they don’t have any more energy than we do when it’s warm. Your odds of getting a drama-free ride are greatly increased when it’s warm and humid as it is here right now.

Can I just say again how much I love this horse? He was absolutely perfect today and…we cantered! We didn’t really mean to but a loose cow (yeah, that sort of thing happens here) came up to the arena gate and bellowed at him just as I was getting into the trot and off he loped. He didn’t seem to have any desire to combine any sort of misbehavior with said lope, so I let him go down the wall before easing back into a trot for the corner.

Oh…my…god…he is so smooth!

Everything else today was good also. He loves being ridden in the halter and was displaying far fewer dramatics about the evil piece of metal in his mouth. I rode with the reins on the halter again; maybe next ride we’ll put a pair on the bit as well and start playing with that, at least at the walk. He was just in one of those good, really responsive moods – which surprised me as just minutes earlier he’d been screaming at the mares in the field and galloping around the indoor like a bat out of hell. I am so happy to report that he seems to really understand the difference between appropriate times to act like a stallion and times he had darn well better act like a gelding.

Oh, and he stood perfectly still for the cinch. Didn’t move once today. Mounting, still antsy but I think in time he will realize resistance is futile – after many years of riding OTTB’s, it truly doesn’t faze me a bit if you walk off. I also did a more traditional dismount today, where I kept my left foot in the stirrup until I swung my other leg over, and he didn’t care about that. I haven’t mounted from the ground yet but I do need to work toward doing that. Maybe I need some yoga first…that stirrup is certainly way up there on him!

So now I’ve decided I’m having a good day and I should get on the SSG (Small Spotted Gelding) this evening. You may recall I’ve been procrastinating this for several weeks now. Never mind that the SSG has had ten times the ground work and prep that the VLC ever had, the SSG is fast, scooty and half mustang and I am a tad bit intimidated. But hey, his owner has a Stubben Siegfried for me to ride in, and really, the day I fall off one of those overstuffed couches is the day you can all laugh at me with my blessing. So I am definitely going to do it tonight (was thinking about it last night, but then we had a foaling here – and yes, I will post pics later!) – wish me luck, everybody!

It’s funny how we all have our fear zones, isn’t it? I am totally comfy on OTTB’s. I never worry about getting on a new one. What scares me is anything mustang-y or grade with that look in the eye – you know the one – or the kind of Arab that spooks at every falling leaf. Do you have a certain “comfort zone” type of horse, and conversely do you have a certain breed or type that you always worry about having to ride?

P.S. Welcome to the world little sis! This is a full sibling to the VLC except this is destined to be a VLF. 🙂

Published in: on May 28, 2008 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Time to pull out less artillery!

As you loyal readers know, on rides #13 and #14 the VLC, having previously been utterly perfect, realized he was bigger than me and proceeded to develop some unpleasant behaviors including rubbernecking me into the middle of the arena and balking and refusing to move.

I realized a lot of this was due to having been lazy about getting him flexible in the neck. As a result I had a stallion with a big thick neck that was locked up and refused to flex. It was like pulling on a rhino. Nothing was working. Obviously I had to fix that problem or we weren’t going to progress.

So, today I went back to square one. I started off with groundwork, asking him to turn circles around me both directions and flex his nose into the circle and give to pressure. That went very well. I put the headstall with the bit on him and while he still wasn’t thrilled, he wasn’t as angry about it as he had been the previous night. He mouthed it and made faces but it was just normal colt stuff – not “OMG GET IT OUT OF MY FACE!” So I decided we would try to ride with the bit on, but I’d just snap my reins to the halter. After all, if he was responding to pressure on the halter on the ground, why wouldn’t he respond to it under saddle? I love the bitless bridle, but because it crosses over underneath the horse’s head, it doesn’t provide the direct pressure I needed to fix this problem. A sidepull would have been nice, but for some reason they seem to size them for teeny tiny little colt heads – it’s like they only come in cob size. I have never seen one that would fit the VLC’s very large head and massive forehead.

Good about girthing today (I did go back to the western saddle), bad about standing still for mounting. It’s amazing though, when I finally growled HO! right in his face, he caught on that Mom meant business. Works wonders.

Well, I can’t say enough good things about how riding in the halter worked out. He rubbernecked off the wall once, I pulled him right back to it, he never balked or stopped moving, and after a few more halfhearted attempts, he flat out gave up and was perfect again. Hooray! We’ll be doing the next few rides this way and then I think I will probably attach a second set of reins to the bit and start getting him used to that.

Like most of our rides, this one made me think. How often, when someone has a problem like this – a big strong horse buffalo’ing right through their aids – do they pull out the heavy artillery? More bit. Draw reins. Drop noseband. ‘Cause damn it, they’re not letting that horse pull them around – no sirree! Of course, what do these tactics usually produce? Yup, a horse that learns he can barge through more bit, despite the draw reins and the drop noseband! The problem here wasn’t that he was trying to be a beast – he was simply inflexible and wasn’t really connecting the pull on the left rein with turning his nose left – he was taking it as an invitation to stop. He’s basically lazy and he’s really happy with stopping! Going back to the halter made it super simple for him and I got the exact results I wanted. I was extremely pleased and he got a nice bath and I hand grazed him out back where the deep clover grows until he was dry.

And how was your holiday? Did you ride? All of my friends went on a trail ride and I thought about it, but these folks like to go out for 4-5 hours and neither he nor I are fit enough for that yet! I need to get my friend with the Cute Spotted Stallion to haul so we can go on the wimp’s trail ride (an hour max, somewhere flat and well maintained!)

Published in: on May 27, 2008 at 3:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Want a quiet horse? Be quiet!

I’ve mentioned Halfpassgal here before. From what I’ve seen, I’m a huge fan. Yeah, she’s young enough to be fearless but I think we can all – fearless or not – benefit from watching how she handles explosions. Watch how quiet she is, how straight her back is, and how she sets up her upper body so that she stays on the horse. She does not lose her temper. She disciplines when appropriate but then it’s over and she’s back to being quiet. The horse is always rewarded for doing the right thing. I know someone already posted here that they thought about her riding and it saved their ass when their horse did something unexpected.

The thing I love the most here is that as far as I’m concerned, she’s a rescuer. If she wasn’t able to work through these horses’ issues, eventually they were heading nowhere good. She is proof positive about what I always say – it’s not the horse. A good enough rider really can work through the issues with virtually any horse. Riding lessons for you will fix so many issues that you think are the horse’s – you just won’t believe the difference, particularly if you’re self taught and haven’t ridden with a good trainer before.

I’m going to see a mare tomorrow that was also reformed by the right young, talented rider. This mare was decreed to be “untrainable” by a Big Name Hotshot Kinda Trainer. Um, yeah. Well, now she’s basically dead quiet and works cows and trail rides and crosses bridges and…you get the picture. The whole thing makes me giggle. I think Big Name Hotshot round penned her to death and shook ropes at her and all of that silly shit, and this girl’s had the common sense to just be quiet with her and not expect bad behavior.
Look at the wild, untrainable mare. LOL.

Published in: on May 26, 2008 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Things we truly do need to get a picture of…

It was just too dark in the arena tonight so you’re going to have to visualize this. We finally found a saddle that fits the VLC.

It’s a saddleseat saddle, left at the barn by a boarder many years ago. Use your imagination and picture a 16.2 AQHA stallion with a cutback saddle on. It’s hysterical. I seem to recall many years ago there being some kind of AQHA saddleseat classes, weren’t there? Or was that just weird shit that happened at 4-H shows? I swear I remember it. Either way – good God it looks ridiculous. But at this point I was happy for anything that allowed me to get my damn legs on the horse and definitely was not pinching him in any way.

Of course, he still doesn’t like the idea of the English girth. I do not know why it is worse than the Western cinch, which he is fine about now. I have fleece girths on both with elastic on the english girth. I guess just because you can do the western cinch so loosely to begin with. He’s so round that if I put an English saddle on him, I have to at least connect it with contact on him at first or it rolls right off. He didn’t kick at me but he did paw way out in front of him twice. I growled, he stopped.

He was antsy about mounting again but gave up and stood after a few tries. He’s funny – he will resist something a few times and then just give this big, long-suffering sigh and give up! It cracks me up. Oh, poor, poor abused colt! You might actually have to walk-trot in a bitless bridle with a petite woman on your back! My heart bleeds. Do you have any idea how many colts your age are being ridden into the ground by some 200 lb. man with a twisted wire snaffle in their mouth and spurs? You’d better be grateful, young man. You do not know how good you have it!

OK, first comment on saddleseat saddles: How the hell do you people ride in these things? They are freakin’ SLIPPERY! My landlord had helpfully dumped a pile of sheet metal next to the arena door and when the VLC sidestepped away, I thought I was going to slide right off. Fortunately he realized that while the Scary Sheet Metal Pile looked funny, it was not actually moving or making noise and therefore was safe to pass by. It was nice to have my legs on the horse and stirrups the right length again.

We did have another couple of balky incidents tonight but he gave up more quickly. I am not being shy about going right to applying the rein ends to his ample butt, and he’s figuring out that it’s easier to trot on the wall than make mom mad and get growled at and smacked. I think he’s bored with the arena, and I think now that it’s warm out and he actually has to break a sweat, he’s testing me a bit to see if he really has to keep trotting. Answer: Yes.

He really hates it when you pull on his face, so I am trying to redirect him mostly off my legs. This doesn’t come naturally for me. I’m more of a traditional hunt seat rider, not an AQHA hunt seat rider – pitching them away is not exactly second nature to me. I am comfortable on high-headed Thoroughbreds that you ride right between your legs and your hands and they’re fine with that. Well, that’s not going to work here. The VLC wants to be pitched away all the time and I know that I need to ride him like that, but it’s something I have to remind myself about all the time. Like let’s say he’s getting really fast at the trot. I can circle but there’s only one place I can circle (I can do half-arena circles but nothing smaller – we have this fence in the middle of the arena that is open at the two ends and has one opening in the middle) and that’s kind of a big circle, not really small enough to slow him down very much. He does not care for half-halts. This is when he’s most likely to overreact and just stop and grow roots, ignoring my legs. If I had a normal arena, I’d spiral in for smaller circles, spiral out when he slowed down – that’s something I can do on very long reins, but I just don’t have the room to do that here and it’s frustrating.

I think I am going to try to talk my friend into hauling us down to the big public use arena this week, where I can do all of those things. The only question is, how will he behave at a new place? And with other horses riding with him? And if I don’t find another saddle to use, will other riders fall off their horses laughing at my saddleseat Quarter Horse?

Tune in soon…and in the meantime, tell us all how you’re doing with your horses!

Published in: on May 25, 2008 at 5:35 am  Leave a Comment  

What, now we’re channeling a mule?

I knew I spoke too soon about my perfect colt! Today, since of course I wanted to get done and go over to Juliane’s to watch the news, we had our first hint of attitude.

(As Juliane pointed out, being in a hurry is why I got attitude. Touche.)

Anyway, he just started out with that look in his eye. You know the look. The F-U, Mom, I really don’t want to cooperate look. Of course I thought, okay, it’ll be good to work with him in that mood. After all, what if he’s in a mood the day he has to go to a show? Better learn to work through it now, right? So I forged ahead.

I’d decided tonight was the night I was going to hang a bit in his mouth, so I set up a plain ring snaffle on a working headstall. He already decided that looked like a good toy – as I was grooming him, he picked it up by the bit and swung it. There you go, colt – your mouth is exactly where that goes! However, when I actually put it on him, he was less than thrilled. Well, that’s an understatement. He wanted it out, out, out of his mouth. Now. Even though it was loosely adjusted, he shook his head to the ground and slung it around and tried to rid himself of the annoying thing in his mouth. He bit the post, he made faces like I was killing him. I only left it on ten minutes but I’m pretty sure I managed to put him in an even pissier mood with that little exercise! I’m really clever that way.

Then he decided he was going to regress totally and refuse to stand to be mounted. I started off doing the natural horsemanshippy thing where if they don’t stand, you send them out to longe. Well, we probably did that six times. He wasn’t getting bored with it or apparently learning a thing. Finally I decided it was time to revert to Traditional Horsemanship.

“Goddamnit, HO!” I finally yelled and smacked him in the chest.

He gave me a surprised look…and promptly gave up and stood still for mounting. OK, so much for being open minded about new methods, in the future we will go straight to the chest smack.

Once I was on, he started out fine. We walked our usual circles and figure eights. The trot was quick but I was expecting that as it was cold and windy outside and he’d had two days off. I figured he’d start to soften up as he got the edge off like he usually does. Instead, as we came through the center to circle, he just plain…didn’t turn. Um, what?

Thus began Rubbernecking Night. And I admit, I was annoyed as hell because, damn it, I wanted to get OFF and go watch myself on the news, and now I knew I had to do the responsible thing and work through this. He’d be good and trot along and then all of a sudden, he’d veer toward the middle like a 25 year old lesson horse having a pissy day. This was a completely new behavior. Well, I think we saw shades of it on ride number 2, but here we were at ride number 13, and ride 12 I had been trotting him around on the wall with one hand on the reins, chatting with my friends and not even having to pay attention.

We have a fence in the middle of the arena and he ignored my directions and simply drifted to a stop facing the fence. Now we were stuck. He wouldn’t turn left. He wouldn’t turn right. He wouldn’t back up. He didn’t care what I did. It was like sitting on a stuffed horse. Uh-oh.

I looked at the ends of my reins with the little leather pony whackers on them. Clearly they were going to have to be employed and I was going to have to face the consequences. I sat back, heels down and smacked him.

I think he yawned.

So I smacked him harder.

He twitched an ear. I was sure I could see his ears growing longer as this went on.

At some point I remembered that I used to ride a filly by his sire, and she also had an amazing ability to grow roots and totally ignore any temper tantrum taking place on her back. You had to outwit her, confuse her, and distract her to get her back into forward gear. I leaned forward, grabbed the cheekpiece and turned his head. Finally I got the all important forward step and then he gave up and walked out of it.

Before we quit, we (1) trotted down the wall once and stopped when I wanted to stop, not when he wanted to stop and (2) walked a very straight line without succeeding in pulling away down the wall he didn’t want to go down.

I know exactly why this ride happened. I was in a hurry. I wanted to get done and get off. That’s never the frame of mind to ride a greenie in. It also happened because I had been sloppy about some major building blocks of his training. He’s so quiet and well behaved normally that even though I knew he didn’t have much of a bend to the left, I hadn’t really been making an issue of it. Oh sure, we’d trot circles that direction, and I’d reward him mightily for turning his nose into the circle, but I hadn’t really worked on loosening him up in the neck. When he decided tonight to simply set his neck and refuse to move it, I didn’t have any strategy other than trying to outpull him and you know how well that works!

So, now we know what we need to work on! My friend is coming to visit tomorrow and bringing me a Wintec which should fit him, which would be great. I know I ride for crap in the purple cordura saddle and it should make a huge difference to have an english saddle on him where I can get my leg on him and I don’t feel like I’m tipping forward due to those strangely far-back stirrups.

Then again, it does occur to me that if that is our bad ride, I probably shouldn’t complain, right?

Published in: on May 22, 2008 at 4:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Check in time: How are we doing?

OK it’s been three weeks since the Post Your Goals post…how are we doing?

I am pleased to report that I am a bit ahead of schedule. I said I was going to have a solid walk/trot on the VLC and be riding him inside and outside in the round pen by Memorial Day, and we’re already there. Plus we’ve done our first bareback ride! The progress has very little to do with me, LOL. He is just a great horse and I got lucky!

I need to add some goals here. The way it’s worked out is that the VLC is so freakin’ easy and enjoyable to ride that I have no problem at all riding him regularly. I want to ride him! He’s easy, he’s sweet, he’s smooth, what’s not to like? I’ve ridden 15 year old show horses who were less broke than he is after 12 rides. So now I have to kick it up a notch. Now I have to make myself get on the Small Spotted Gelding – who has a stubborn streak, and is pretty darn fast, and is half mustang and for some reason that alone makes me nervous. I seem to have a deep seated belief that all mustangs are wild asses, probably due to the fact that in all of these years, I’ve never ridden a mustang. Not once. I have heard lots of wild mustang breaking stories from trainer friends…but, again, this is a half mustang that was born in captivity and has actually had much more consistent and extensive ground work than the VLC. He doesn’t know he’s a mustang, and he’s a large pony, and I love that size!

So why am I procrastinating just getting on? I think I’ve decided that I can’t possibly get lucky with a greenie that does nothing wrong twice, and this is the one where my luck is going to run out. So I’m gonna put myself on the spot – I will get on the SSG by Memorial Day. I will.

OK, what about the rest of you? (And if you’ve already posted, or put it on the message board, just update us again – I have a mind like a sieve lately!)

Ellen, how’s your herd? You have got your hands full! So glad SOMEONE is making an effort to break out the old broodies. We need more like you – those old girls need the help!

Fssunnysd, got that saddle on the horse yet?

Masquerade, I know you’re on the same schedule as I am – how’s the walk/trot coming?

Skint, have you got that mare coming when you call yet? (The VLC comes like a well trained dog. Carrot whore.)

Beautiful Disaster, how is the silly mare doing?

Which_Chick, you started yours about the same time as mine, how’s yours doing?

ChipNCharlie. did the PITA boarders move out and can you use the arena now?

Whoa Mare, how’s it going? I want to lose another 10 lbs. too – today is day two of eating in a manner that will accomplish that and not stuffing my face full of Taco Bell because it’s cheap and convenient!

Icepony, I know you got on the horse – did you do it again? 🙂

Fanoffugly, have you gotten on the big one yet? Neb, have you taken a lesson yet, or at least investigated trainer possibilities?

Twisty, how is Stanley and have you held it together for that lap around the ring yet? Stanley sounds adorable by the way, you should post pictures. (HTML is what works for those wanting to post links – you can’t use the IMG tag but you can use the regular link tags)

3CatCrazy, did you get back on your horse? (I got a 4th cat, BTW. I am more crazy than you!)

Queen Skankarella (great handle!), how is your greenie coming along?

Artdoc, are you on track to start riding yours next month? How is your knee feeling?

DC, have you gotten on yet? If you need a blog reader for moral support/ground person, post your location – odds are we can hook you up!

Barngal – did you start your Big Cool Guy back to work? How is your knee holding up? (I swear, one day we’ll just blog about our age related aches and pains and whine to each other. My damn back is killing me.)

4Horses&Holding – you’ve got your hands full too! How are they all coming along?

Char, how are you doing? I think you should make your mom ride the spooky gelding if she gives you any crap, LOL!

ReadyToRide – how is the Appy metamorphosis coming along? Has he figured out the jog yet? (The VLC has not. He now wants to long trot – or stop. I was pleased that the trot was more relaxed tonight. He is figuring out he can cover ground without being quick.)

Char, did you find a place to ride?

Truthseeker, did you manage to adjust your work schedule so you’d have more time to ride?

Lisa, how is your filly doing? We are aiming for our first show in August, too!

Gorillakeeper, have you put those cool boots into stirrups yet?

Liri, is project horse realizing the sunscreen is not pepper spray? 🙂

Crazyhorse, you’re already ahead of me if you can put a western saddle on the Doofus yourself. I need to go to the gym, too! How are you guys doing?

Ellie, is your boy staying sound?

Morganhorselover, did you get your mouthy boy to knock it off? That can be a hard, hard habit to fix.

Dante, you and your pony sound like a match made in Heaven! Have a fun summer.

Danielle, hope you were reading the day we determined, um CnJ determined, that my colt was leaning because I was leaning. Yours probably is too! Throw a little more weight into your outside stirrup and outside seat bone and see if that fixes your going-left issue.

Liz, well, we can all read your blog to see what you’re doing! BTW, guys, I think blogging is a really good way to keep yourself on track. People will bug you if they don’t hear from you. Trust me.

ApocalypsePony – how is the VSG and has he figured out that you are not a mountain lion?

Jackie – retraining those sour overschooled show horses is a pain. How is your girl doing? Starting to listen to heels that don’t have points on them?

Cutthecrap – Have you started working with your OTTB mare? How is she doing?

Heidi the Hick – I know you’re progressing on your certification. Are you riding three times a week? That is about what I’ve been riding… 3-4. I need to step that up (not all on the VLC but the others who need it)

Quietann – Have you survived the dreaded hacking out alone session? I feel the same way. I don’t like the open but I REALLY do not like it when I am alone!

I Am Who I Am – Have you ridden yet? That birthday is coming… 🙂

Horsegal984 – Are you going to do the May 31st show? Let us know, and of course we want pics!

Redsmom – Did you do the May 10th show? How did it go?

BigPaintHorse – Showing really isn’t that scary. That is why they have schooling shows, where you can wear what’s comfortable and it’s just not that much work. I’d start there!

Oh and congrats to KarenV who just got herself the most gorgeous OTTB gelding ever…with a show record a mile long. He is a bit thin but nothing stays that way very long at her house!

And the rest of you…come on, let’s see your goals! If I am going to risk humiliating myself on an international level by chickening out of any of mine, so can you! 😉

I am gonna hit publish post and then I really do have to get on that very quick little part-mustang critter within the next twelve days…

Published in: on May 19, 2008 at 5:11 am  Leave a Comment  

What are you procrastinating with your horse?

I’ll bet each one of us has something – some specific thing – that they know they really need to work on with their horse, but for whatever reason, we just don’t want to do it. Maybe it’s scary, maybe it’s hard, maybe it didn’t go well last time and now we’re intimidated. Maybe it’s just not something we enjoy doing with any horse!

With the VLC, our “thing” is picking up feet. He will pick them up readily enough and keeping them up long enough to pick isn’t a big deal. However, the other day, he had his first farrier appointment since I acquired him. Uh, apparently holding them up for longer than 10 seconds is a huge drama. He isn’t mean but he pulls away. Who knew? Fortunately I have a patient (and big, and strong) farrier and he got done.

So now I know that I should be working with this. But I have a bad back (whine, whine) and really, I’m not strong enough to outmuscle him anyway, so he’ll just get his hoof away from me and win and that is bad too (excuse, excuse). So yeah – I’m am procrastinating. He gets his hooves picked but I haven’t tried to make him hold one up for longer than that takes.

What are you procrastinating about?

And anybody got any great tricks for convincing a 1300 lb. colt that he really CAN balance on three legs? (That don’t involve hobbling him. Sorry, I just won’t risk it.)

P.S. If you missed it in the comments, I did ride #10 last night bareback in the round pen. He was PERFECT. Even let me get on from the panels on the second try with no one holding him. Did not even react when all of the loose horses in the pastures started running and bucking. Just stopped a few times to watch. Gosh, he’s great.

Published in: on May 16, 2008 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Relax, you’re not going to the Olympics!

I got home late last night thanks to a work meeting that ran two hours late and simultaneously exhausted and bored me to death. I bet a lot of you guys have been in that meeting, LOL!

I did my chores and no one was around the barn so I didn’t ride. I have progressed to riding all alone in the arena, but I still try not to do it when absolutely no one is around. Instead, I got the urge to groom. Not just your usual cursory brushing, but really groom – pick out the tails hair by hair, shorten the manes, do bridle paths, etc. The funny part is, did I do it on my VLC? No, he was outside and happy there. I did it on a couple of my Very Old Mares.

One of them was a show horse in her distant past – she’s a halter point earner in AQHA. That’s her below. I swear this horse loves to be fussed over. She was so happy I was spending all that time with her. She loves Show Sheen – she’ll stand there like you’re spraying her with perfume. (The 30+ year old Appaloooser thinks I am spraying her with acid rain). I polished all three mares up like they were going to a horseshow today, fed carrots and finally trudged back into the house at ten.

It was a great night with my horses.

Do you ever take a day or a night like that to just fuss over your horse? No riding. No work. No expectations. Nothing more strenuous than maybe hand-grazing them if they’re in a situation where they don’t normally get grass.

Sometimes, it’s not such a bad idea. Let yourself off the hook. Unless you are being paid to do so, you do not have to ride every night. You’re not going to the Olympics. The only person who needs to be happy with your progress is you. And you know how you feel all organized and in control when you get your house really clean? It’s kind of the same with your horse. Get those snarls out of the mane, scrub the white parts white, and you might just feel more in control in general! (Not to mention your horse won’t look like it belongs on my other blog, hehehe…)
Published in: on May 15, 2008 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

You get what you expect – every time!

Ride #9 last night just made me laugh. The VLC, being only three and humongous, is still a bit downhill. It’s a constant challenge to keep my heels down and my shoulders back at the trot because the combination of a downhill build and a strong trot tends to throw you forward. A few times last night, he unexpectedly hit the brakes from the trot, and my weight sailed forward most ungracefully. I quickly realized that he stops if I lean forward at all.

This is my karmic retribution for leaning forward my whole life. A greenie who stops if I lean forward. THAT will teach me, won’t it? This is just not something that happens with Thoroughbreds, LOL. Darn Quarter Horses…

I figured it out and started to sit back, close my legs on him and anticipate what he was going to do. The good news is that he gives up easily – he just expects me to be awake up there or he might just drift to a stop when he gets tired. I am asking for longer trots now, and I am not sure he is that thrilled about the prospect of actually breaking a sweat! Twice he did his old trick from the first and second rides of going into reverse. I half-heartedly swished the ends of the reins around his butt but admit I chickened out of doing what I probably should have done and smacking him a good one. He quit and went forward and got rewarded for going forward.

We also had some residual issues from the goat episode. There is a different goat chained next to the arena, which he normally ignores, but when it got caught with its chain around a metal box, he spooked again. It wasn’t a big spook and we continued on. Of course I wonder if I spooked him because I heard the noise and it startled me. Time for the ipod and/or ear plugs for me – I am quite sure I am spookier than the horse!

Then, my friend with the CSS (Cute Spotted Stallion) came in to talk and noted that she was surprised that the other night when I rode the CSS, I rode right past the goat without any problems. She admitted she had been avoiding the goat and that she’d almost warned me but then thought better of it. I wasn’t surprised that he went right past – I didn’t know he had any issues with the goat, you see, so I wasn’t anticipating! With the VLC, I know we have a goat issue and I was anticipating. You get what you expect to get. Damn it.

I have many stories like this. I remember riding a horse for a trainer one day, at her direction, while she was gone. She returned and asked how the horse had gone. I said she was great, I really liked her, and she had a nice lead change on her. The trainer’s mouth fell open.

“You did flying changes? And she didn’t buck???”

No, she didn’t buck. Not once. I wasn’t expecting a buck, you see. I just rode confidently forward and she nailed her changes, because my information was that she was an experienced horse owned by a novice rider and that’s how I rode her.

I think this is one of the HARDEST things about overcoming fear – overcoming the anticipation! You know what has spooked your horse in the past, or what has triggered a misbehavior, so it’s freakin’ impossible to ride confidently and not anticipate the worst. At the same time, you know that YOUR fear is scaring the horse! As it was explained to me many years ago, the horse cannot conceive of the idea that HE is what is scary. Therefore if you are on his back and scared, he assumes you have caught wind of a predator he hasn’t noticed yet. That’s why when you get on a horse and are scared, the horse does everything you feared he’d do! You are freaking him out with your fear. It’s a vicious cycle and hard to turn off.

Is this something that is a problem for you? How are you dealing with it? I have historically used the strategy of telling myself that I’m not on a greenie, I’m on a 20 year old schoolie who needs to be sorted out because the kids have spoiled him. For some reason, bucking/spooking/bolting is not scary if you think you are on an old coot who is f’ing with you, as opposed to an actual green horse…even though they’re the same behaviors! At least that’s how it works in my head.

Forget training the horse…how do we train/psych out ourselves?

P.S. I sheepishly admit that CnJ was right…I was leaning to the left around my corners, damn it! I put more weight in my outside stirrup and he stopped dropping his shoulder so far. *sigh* I do need someone to come out here and pick on my position but I need to find an English saddle that fits him first as I know I ride ridiculously in the purple colt breaking saddle. Anybody out there got a cheap, beat-up wide tree hunt or dressage schooling saddle they’d like to sell me? If it fit your warmblood, it’ll probably fit the AQHA moose here.

Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment