Monday, December 1, 2014

Thankful Thanksgiving

With the holidays coming up and the random snow storm.... plus I hate the cold... again haven't been riding much.

However we did have a longing lesson this past Saturday which was awesome. I learned a lot about the application of my knowledge and the trainer even said I could start teaching people if I wanted since I knew the concepts, even if my own technique wasn't quite down. Ashe had both good canter, and a bad canter (where he likes to run backwards away from me) so the trainer go to see all about him.

He and I are doing much better at the halt, walk and trot and are focusing on his balance and relaxation while on the longe line (he was super tense and I learned some great relaxation techniques for him!)

I'm a bit worried about his saddle fit, (The cantle seems to be getting rather tight/low on him) however with the car being in and out of the shop every week this past month it's completely destroyed any budget I had saved for an evaluation session.

However tonight I had one of the best bonding moments with him that I've had in a long while.

Ashe started rubbing his tail again (I have a feeling this is going to be a winter thing with him) due to buildup of dirt and dandruff. Tonight wasn't too bad temperature wise, and he was already soaked from being out in the rain like the goof he is.

While I didn't use the hose (I brought hot water in bottles from home), we had one of the BEST washing tail times that we've had. He stood for me, and then, of all things... he almost fell asleep! That's right ladies and gentlemen, my horse, the water monster, the hater of all things that try to clean him, fell asleep while tied in the wash stall and I even spied licking and chewing while he relaxed.

This relaxation continued while we walked with towels draped all over ourselves to keep warm.

The best part about it all, was when he was doing some free running in the arena (which with him it's more like "I'm gonna walk over here and just stand and sniff the ground and then look at you like you're stupid to think I'm actually going to play") I walked up to him and asked him to walk with me, no halter, no rope, nothing. AND HE DID.

The cherry on top was when we stopped and he put his nose into my face and sighed and just relaxed there, breathing on me, for a good minute.

My boy, the always tense, always alert, always on guard... completely relaxed tonight with me.

And that moment... that moment of just the two of us standing there together... that has made this entire journey worth it. And I'm so thankful to own this amazing handsome boy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sporadic Riding, Halloween Show!

Long time no post!

Let's see... I've had to deal with 3 weeks of antibiotics, an ear infection, and Ashe dealing with the leftovers of an abscess...

That said, we've slowly gotten back into work just in time for winter!

He's come a long way, we're doing out laterals almost straight now, and the fun show was perfect :) I've never seen him so relaxed away from home and our canter cues are becoming almost seamless.

We are also slowly re-introducing clippers and so far doing well.

Mom even rode him bareback the other day!

We're getting our balance down for the bounces, but trot poles are still a mass of limbs flying everywhere :P

Best seat in the world :) Fall Colors too!

Our wonderful Halloween Show costume and Egg on Spoon! He was my parrot (He hated the beak I made for him, it made his nose itch, so I went without).

So despite a major lapse in keeping up this blog, and riding off and on as best I can, we've done well :)

Here's to hoping we can keep it up this winter!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Photo Shoot and Cross Country!

So Sunday we had our professional Photo Shoot! Be Prepared for Pictures!

He's always aware of others around him

Brand new Nunn Finer Bridle (Just got it the day before!)

Warm up

At least he looks good!

Wee Cross Country! (Yes bad me for no vest)

Look a log!

That gorgeous uphill canter!

We're Flying!!

I had a tremendous time and thanks to Rough Coat Photography for the amazing photos! We have some things we need to work on but I'm really happy!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

More Stubborn than an Appaloosa

Ashe and I had a knock down drag out fight today while riding.

I think he did everything he could short of bucking/rearing...

Today was supposed to be an easy day. W/T warm up in the arena and then a trail ride as I was exhausted from work.

Ashe decided that was his invitation to protest that we were riding through dinner.

We refused to stand properly at the mounting block, we dropped our shoulder and ducked, we popped our shoulder and attempted to side pass out of the arena doors, we changed directions suddenly, we had a GORGEOUS canter departure which wasn't asked for and then refused to stop, every canter after that of course was mach 5 weight all in the front OH GOD WE AREN'T STOPPING/STEERING...

I rode him through all of it. I brought out the dressage whip (inside bend) and the crop (outside shoulder). Touched him with each twice to remind him that we behave.

In the end he relented, and I dropped the whip and crop. We trotted like a normal sane horse citizen and had a decent canter... after an hour and a half of fighting.

Then we had two meltdowns at the hose. One because I switched sides. One because the towel I was using to wipe off his muzzle suddenly wasn't in his view and became a terrifying monster. He also stepped on my foot.

Again I made him work through it. THEN I made him stand and wait for his grass. Which he, after a short lived protest, stood like a gentleman until I released him.

I have to wonder what it says about me that I'm more stubborn than he is.... And I'm sure he thinks that his mother is a monster now.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

HAPPY ONE YEAR / All Good Plans...

I have had Ashe for one year. WOOO! It's hard to believe, but looking back he has come a long way in this time :) And so have I.

Celebration Time!

Today we had an awesome, but tiring, riding lesson today. While our jumping is solid, getting him to the fences, especially the turns, has been extremely shaky.

So for the next month we will be continuing our trot sets, and working on dressage.

Needless to say Ashe is not happy about this...

Today we worked on connection through the bit and lightening his front... which meant he had to WORK. And so did I. My legs are wobbly from all the inside leg to outside rein as he's trying to be Gumby and counter bend against me.

I won, mostly. (It's the little victories right?)

Ashe has this thing down at a walk. At the trot he refuses and resists. So we did a lot of trotting.

And I mean a lot of trotting.

However we had a few moments where we connected, and near the end he was starting to look for that connection (at this point my whole body was exhausted so I couldn't meet him some of the time) while in the trot as well.

The canter departures were messy but we had two PERFECT departures that were light and easy and soft. Which obviously was promptly lost as he pealed out of the circle counter bending.

Hopefully my plans will stay put, I won't get sick and he won't get hurt so we can continue to improve.

My reward? We get to go cross country schooling in August if we can finally have a connected trot and controllable canter. WOO!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

De-scaring the Terrifying Dressage Whip

Ashe has a problem with dressage whips (and lunge whips, crops, chains jingling, anything near his face, clippers (they don't have to be touching him), hoses (we're at 60/40 for freak outs), cloth measuring tapes...)...

Unfortunately he just isn't quite making the connection with some lateral movements, where a whip would be in handy to add pressure in what I want him to move. Also in aiding him becoming much more immediate off my leg at the canter cue.

So I pulled out my trusty dressage whip, wiped the dust off, and... proceeded to walk to my horse for half the ring because he was backing up because he KNEW I was holding it. When we were finally progressing forward again, we mounted and he shot off like a rocket. I didn't even touch him, just wiggled it as I was adjusting a stirrup and it was within his view.

Now I can be on the ground and rub it all over him. He flinches a little around his torso but relaxes his back leg and chews so I know he isn't THAT scared of it.

Finally we manage a decent walk and trot without explosions of forward movement from me just wiggling the thing. We attempt to canter, he just trots faster. I tap, and I mean just brush it backwards... and we're off at Mach 5 running laps around the arena. I let him work it out since I do want it to mean forward and we finally come back under control and I walk him out until he stops breathing like a dragon and we try again.

Less explosion but still running full forward with little steering and all half halts, seated or bit, are out the window.

I quit for the day as we're both sweaty and tired.

Let him rest for  a day and come back out.

Well what do you know but we actually managed to walk up to, mount, w/t/AND canter like a normal sane horse with dressage whip in hand. We even had nice couple of turns on the forehand, and I was able to use it in his leg yields. Huzzah!

However, as always with Ashe... 50/50 he'll explode the next time I ride.

Bonus is that he did not have to be sedated for the dentist and had only two minor escape attempts. YAY!

And the next lesson my trainer is helping me groom him and we start working on the... Dreaded Clippers!!

Bonus: Video of us jumping 2'9!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

We Did It! Bathing Success!

I've spent the whole week getting Ashe ready for today.

Rinsing off, treating at the wash area, just standing around in the spot with the hose on...

Today, after a heavy ride, we tried for a bath...

And it was a success!

We had a few missteps, a few backups... but none of the panicked pulling, backing up or refusing to get back into his spot. We even loose tied to the fence at the end with no panic pulling when he backed up and felt the tension!

I'm so proud! And he's so soft and clean now!

A special thanks to the cereal Apple Jacks... your colorful little o's are the perfect bribery to keeping my boy well behaved and rewarded :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wait that ISN'T a snake?!

Had a breakthrough yesterday :)

We had a hard ride and he ended up rather sweaty. It was still hot out and so I decided to give the hose session a try.

We did it! I rinsed every inch of him off :) Of course how we got there is half the fun....

First, we stood at the VEEEERY end of the lead rope. He was relaxed, just didn't want to get any closer.

I sprayed the hose, he startled but stayed where he was.

Sprayed it again, moved the water stream close to him. Flinching but still stayed put. Began spraying all over his legs, then his chest, then his body. He stood there enjoying himself but I couldn't get ANY closer.

I began laughing at him and decided to take the hose sprayer off. Before, hose sprayer on or off it didn't matter but we were making good progress.

Well wouldn't you know it he let me get right up next to him and spray him all over both sides! So proud!

Now of course the proof of any good scientific experiment is the ability to replicate it... we'll see how it goes!

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Bit: Turns on Forehand: Tail Care

Ashe and I went on a small quest to try a new bit. My friend's full cheek snaffle had given us a new lease on turning, but he was cranky about the single joint.

I went out on a limb and got him a two joint, dee ring snaffle... First time out with it, the horses in the fields decided to have a good run. Instead of Ashe taking off into a trot and jigging for half of the track, instead immediately listened to my half halt and continued to walk with happy ears. Hurray for breaks and ease of communication!

Best view in the whole world!

On top of that we finally succeeded in our first turns on the forehand! It's been a long arduous process as he's terrified of dressage whips so I've had to do this without the benefit of extra aids. On top of that we had our first scary test under saddle in a while. He did a lot of stopping and snorting, but only a few steps backwards before trusting me to pass on by. I was so proud!

Also in good news, Ashe has stopped rubbing his tail! We changed his supplement to remove almost all soy from his diet, plus I hot toweled all up and down it. It seems to have worked, we're at a month now without any rubbing.

His terror of hoses is a work in progress. We're slowly getting there. Sometimes I get the feeling he's making a bigger deal out of it than it really is to him but so far, I've managed to hose off all four feet and his chest.

Thunderstorms have made it impossible to ride the past few days, but we'll get back out there soon enough! Happy Riding!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Becoming Braver...First Time Snuggles... Measuring for a new bridle!

Ashe has always been a "panic and run away first" horse while on the ground.

Now most horses do the logical progression of: trust on the ground, trust under saddle... Ashe was backwards from day one. He'll do just about anything with me under saddle without too much of a fuss, but on the ground.... he was looking out for numero uno (himself).

I've gotten to the point where I'm going to get him a new bridle. Now with his funny head that means measuring and either finding someplace that does parts, buying parts separately online (and hoping they fit together) or going custom (= lots of money mom doesn't have).

That also meant.... addressing his weird panic when anything other than his halter, bridle, brush or flymask comes near his face. Comb? Deserves a look. Lead rope. Not okay but we'll tolerate that mom accidentally got a little discombobulated. Ribbon/Soft Tape? Nope. Nope. NOPE.

Last year I managed to accustom him to his ribbon to spend five seconds to take a photo. (We won 7th at a Paper Chase. If they hadn't removed some of the signs, and we hadn't gotten lost we would have placed higher)

Mother I do not trust that this thing will not suddenly eat my face.
That said I knew it was going to take more than one session to get his face measured. The cloth tape is an evil monster. One that can not be trusted!!

Thankfully it only took two! The first I took all the "big" measurements. I didn't plan on getting much, as he did his faithful "No, NO, HELL NO" back up and run away plan.  We have been working on this and I am proud to say that we had only two of these, and they were short lived and he was willing to go back to have his face measured.... after trying to see if he could shove my face up his nose.

That's his coping mechanism. Something is scaring him and he can't run away due to mom? Commence shoving snorting nose into mom's face and LEAVE IT THERE while dirt gets on my glasses and slobber on my face. Something to be said about him finding comfort in me though.

Second session was perfect. We had two "Mom I'm not sure" with the head up and the leaning back and both times he listened to my "It's okay, gooooood booooy" and he dropped his head and relaxed and let me continue.

On top of that he actually volunteered to rest his nose onto my shoulder and pulled me in while "grooming" it gently. I was so happy I nearly cried! He's never offered that sort of affection to me before.

Peeps for everyone!!

Now I'm off to find my bridle that seems to be warmblood brow, cob cheeks and horse nose. The joys of mixed breeds.

Next monster to tackle? Bathing...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Saddle Test and Bits

Last night the whole group came out to ride :) We had a lot of fun.

I ended up saddling him to test out our new jumps. Unfortunately when I got to the barn I realized I had forgotten his bridle which I had taken home to clean! My friend offered her spare bridle which had a full cheek snaffle on it.

We gave it a try, and what a difference! I'm not sure if it was the bit, the past couple times bareback, but my boy was settled, even full of energy, and the subtly that we had with this bit was certainly nice! I'm wondering if I can find a nice dee or eggbutt in a three piece as he wasn't a fan of his tongue getting poked with the single joint.

Anyways, our ride was fantastic. We ended up jumping a 2'6 oxer and a really fun bounce combination! Even after all of that he still had a ton of energy so at the end we went on a cool down trail walk.

Chucked the saddle and rode without a bareback pad. Boy was absolutely fantastic though I'm a little sore from staying on his slippery round back. Even attempted to vault from the ground (friend dropped her scarf) but while I flailed and failed... he just stood there calm as a clam.

There were two things that really made me proud. One was a cat jumped out of the tall grass right under his feet and the only thing he did was a little jolt sideways to look at what had happened. No bolting, no spazzing and he just continued walking after that.

Second was it only took five minutes to let me rinse his front feet off! We'll get him used to that hose yet!

Two goals for the summer:

1. Get him to where I can bathe him completely while ground tied without panicking

2. Work on positive reinforcements for tying.

We're still going to work bareback a lot but so far, it's looking good!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Flymask Woes: Finally Solved?

Ashe seems to have issues with fly masks (and blankets, quarter sheets, jingly things and hoses). Last year, he destroyed the Cashel mask he wore. His ears were first to go (the poor boy has such big ears for his tiny cob head), and then he rolled the rest of it into oblivion.

What did you say about my ears???
This year I decided to go with the Absorbine mask. Even ordered one before spring season started to get it at a good discount. It looked to fit him, his ears had more than enough room and it seemed to fit his head very well.

Well we're not even a full month into the fly season and his mask has rubbed a spot above his eye ridge from his excessive rolling, not to mention half collapsing onto his face in bad spots afterwards.

In desperation I posted to a horse forum (COTH) looking for help for my vigorous big eared sensitive eyed roller. There were excellent options, including mule fly masks (whodathunk?), and I decided to go with Rambo as I had a Smartpak coupon plus free shipping with my smartpaks.

Well after a minute or two adjusting to the mask, Ashe seems to be quite comfortable and at home. He does look a little like a beekeeper, but I'll take him looking funny over rubbed eyes. It bounced back after rolling (wow!) and it fits him perfectly :) I took the nose piece off as it was making his nose itchy (he kept rubbing it on me, his leg, the post), and he was content to graze.

We'll see how it goes!

New Mask!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Going for a walk and Bareback Bootcamp: Part 2

So as always when one makes a plan, life likes to get in the way... The past week or so he's been a real brat for the farmhands... which had coincided with life getting in the way so I was only out maybe twice in the past two weeks.

So while I wasn't feeling well, I went out and we went for a hike. As in, we both walked around the farm, no riding. He really seemed to enjoy that and I felt we both came away bonded closer. He's been a doll for the farmhands since :)

Since then we have managed to get a couple bareback sessions in!

He's been perfect every time :) and our turning and laterals are slowly becoming clearer :) Even when he has the zoomies (when he immediately trots away as soon as I'm ready), we're steady and relaxed!

No progress yet with turning on forehand/hind... I'm thinking I'll need a secondary helper for those.

We are trotting, cantering and (mini) jumping :) Turning is optional, but we're making it work!

I'm curious how things will turn out with the saddle once I put that back on him, but as of right now, I'm still not motivated to wash that pile of pads in the laundry room.

Summer is Coming!!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bareback Bootcamp Part 1

Session 1 turned out to be a huge success :) And I can barely walk...

We did a lot more than what I had initially planned. We did all our walk work fantastically, no problems.

Some frustrations with lateral movements, but those will come with time and patience, especially on his "bad" side.

Ended up trotting, doing cavaletti, even jumping a small 18" vertical, and cantering. I'm still a little unbalanced in a few transitions but he was amazing and responsive...

In fact a lot more responsive than he ever is under saddle. He was willing, and so much more relaxed and so was I! Hands stayed relaxed and down, he was extending and collecting beautifully and even stopped counter bending as extreme as he had been.

I'm starting to wonder if there is a saddle issue, but more sessions are in order.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bareback Bootcamp!

My boy and I have been having argument after argument the past couple days. I'm bracing/weight shifted strangely and he's been bending without listening to me.

So I decided that we needed a refresher.

So we're now doing: Bareback Bootcamp!

We're heading back to the beginning, working on weight and leg aids, bending properly, etc.

I'll keep you guys updated :) We're going to have fun! Painful fun!

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Spring!

Okay I don't really have any sort of post, but I just wanted to say...


And of course, it's predicted to snow tomorrow. Gotta love it!

Happy Riding!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tying Troubles: Hand Height: Knee Rolls

Had a lesson today :) We so needed it. Oh the ups and downs of horse ownership...

Decided to pull out the blocker tie ring and test Ashe with tying... Well at least I can say that it works!

We stood for about half the grooming session, but he was twitchy, tense and worried. He spooked at the shedding blade, yanked back, got free and nothing broke. I was pleased but then I spent five to ten minutes getting him back over. I retied him and once again we were good until, oh no, trainer comes over with the saddle measurer! (We're keeping track as he's developing muscle)

Once again, he pulled through, I kept a hold of him but this time he was done. Flinching, wide eyes, snorting. No way in hell were we getting anywhere near him with anything. We did circles on the lead rope, getting his brain back. Eventually he calmed, I commanded "touch" (which he did, I love this command), and we were fine.

We checked his back, brought him back over and I finished tacking up and getting ready ground tied. It was amazing the difference between him being tied to the wall, and ground tied. Tied: Tense, head up, eyes worried, ears alert. Ground tied: relaxed, head lower, licking lips, resting back leg.

Well... I had always said I wanted to train a horse! I don't think at this age I will be able to completely get rid of his tying problem, but we'll take it slow and steady.

Onto the positives!

The lesson was great :) We worked on turning and half halts and yielding. I learned that I will probably need knee rolls to get the subtle half halts I need with him as my legs just don't physically close the way one should no matter the height of the stirrups.

Don't misunderstand, I have steady contact the whole way down my leg, but to push my knee in as far as it needs to I have to take my lower leg off of him. My trainer deemed it wasn't so much a muscle strength issue (I can squeeze like heck if I need to), but how I'm built instead.

I've been so used to hearing that knee rolls and blocks are bad things, they hinder rather than help, etc. So it was interesting to hear that in order to be as subtle as I want, I will need them. We're going to test it out at the next lesson so stay tuned for the results!

I also realized the different a straight line from bit to elbow makes! It'll be hard to get ride of the habit of hands high so they're in the special "spot" for hunters... but the difference in how he responds will help a lot. Trainer had me practice moving my hands from "up" spot to "balanced" spot to "low" spot. It was eye opening!

Keep Riding!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fun Show Woop Woop!

Finally got the pictures in from the fun show! So much to say/do so I'll post my favorites :) Please ignore any bad equitation, we were coming off a 2.5 week break, he was fresh, and honestly I don't know if I'll ever get my heels to stretch.

Thank you to Rough Coat Photography for all the photos and my trainer for purchasing ALL of them as a present for us! The only thing I wish she had gotten a photo of was one of his lovely lateral teleports. It made my trainer excited for upper level dressage!

Let's GO! WOOOO! SHOW TIME! (look at that TAIL HEIGHT)

Peppermints for me? Already?

Ashe displaying the improper way to bend poles. Unless you are gumby.

Ashe now demonstrating the PROPER way to bend poles.

Mom I so need a new bridle.

I love this guy so much.

This looks like an Ad. Got Peppermints?

Pole bending at it's finest... and look! New boots!

Stay classy Everyone!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My arms hurt!

I spent nearly 3 hours at the barn today... doing what you ask?

Turning this:
Do you see the mud stain on his back leg??? That was ground in a month ago...
Note: No amount of currying was getting that out! I tried until my arms fell off.

Into this:
Much more presentable!

We got to about 60F today, and my trainer sprung on me that we're going to have a professional photographer at the Fun Show tomorrow... which of course is going to be 40F and windy... eugh.

That said we don't have hot water at the barn (yet... it's on the list to do!) so there was no way I was going to be able to bathe him. Trainer recommended Cowboy Magic waterless shampoo. Which would be perfect except Tractor Supply didn't have it...

Thankfully a lady at the barn did (THANK YOU) and let me use her's and that, along with hot toweling, curry combing and brushing.... 2.5 hours later you have a nearly white Ashe again :) 

We had a lovely desensitizing/you will stand lesson with the mini scissors I use to lightly trim his muzzle. He was having NO part of that (as in full body lurching backwards and running) and I had to resort to a nose chain as he think's he's trapped then so he stands still, no pulling, no jerking, no antics... it seemed to turn his brain back on. I normally would work through his issue over time, however I didn't want to accidentally poke him (they are blunted kiddy scissors but still) or pinch him with the scissors.

I will be buying a cheap pair of battery clippers to start desensitization so I can use those instead. He is used to the scissors, stood perfectly fine for a touchup of his bridle path, ears, and legs, but it just isn't as neat/close enough trim.

After that a quick in hand session to calm him down and get some positive back in the brain, a small "on/off" trailer reminder for tomorrow and he was settled in for the night with his dinner and peppermints. 

Tomorrow's show should be a blast! (though cold, WHY can't it be 60F like today??)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Princess Tale... and Circles!

One day a Princess and her noble steed were invited to a grand gala! Of games and food and fun galore! Unfortunately the noble steed required his royal feet to be tended, and a visit from the royal vet for his yearly irritations. That left the Princess's wallet empty... and very sad, for she could not afford to go to the gala...

Then her mother the queen the cooler princess (because princesses have more fun than queens apparently) remembered she still wanted to gift her daughter with a christmas present and offered to pay for the show fees! So the Princess (the younger) can once again attend the grand gala and all is well with the world...

Okay enough of that.

Ashe and I had a decent ride today. Working on bending, stopping on the seat, and.... we started working on turning on hind/fore.

Had a lot of temper tantrums, and I have to wonder if getting a full cheek might help with him figuring out what I'm asking. We got some really good steps in but I think this is going to take a lot of time and practice.

Other than that he was awesome jumping and cantering though tired quickly. We're still out of shape from having nearly 3 weeks off but it's quickly coming back. We're going to practice for Sunday's fun show this week as well. Should be fun and hoping for warm weather!

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's getting warmer!

This past Saturday was amazing, and I hope it is a sign of what spring will be. 50's sunny with a slight chill to the wind. I actually was able to ride without half a dozen layers!

Even Ashe was enjoying himself!

But Moooooom, 5 more minutes??
Rode outside for the first time in months! After a few Bonkers "look, tense, step, tense, attempt to turn back to the barn" moments we did great, even went up the corn tunnel path at a nice trot and cantered a little as well :) The ground is soft, but firm (Ashe gives it a thumbs up for perfect mud bath weather!)

Hoping to attend a local fun show this weekend, however we'll have to see what the vet bill comes out to be. Spring shots plus a new coggins, oh how the wallet cries!

Also, we're going to be reestablishing some basics that were missed. Turning forehead/hind, leg yielding and backing straight all in hand and under saddle is my newest assignment before we progress any further for dressage. Also looking forward to jumping higher than 2ft again!

Also, had to show off our newest halter! I've always wanted a nice leather halter with a nameplate!

Ain't he a cutie? Who could imagine this innocent face is so devious!

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Simply Complicated

Remember my past posts about getting good lateral leg yields out of my boy? How I thought it was just my weight aids blocking him?

Turns out it was something even simpler (and yet more complicated) than that.

See I have a short inseam. I'm 5'2 and while I LOOK like I would have an average inseam for someone who is 5'2... even Kerrits Kids breeches are long on me... my knee patch is more like a calf patch.

I was riding Ashe bareback, for which he was an awesome boy! And I decided to get some leg yields in as he was always better doing them bareback versus in the saddle. Tonight proved to be no different and he was perfect in going left to right (we're working on right to left) with no temper tantrums or feats of gumby. I also was perfectly (as one can be) even in my seat bones, as a little left or right and I slither off like a sack of potatoes.

It baffled me immensely so I had my trainer and I do some troubleshooting. After a few minutes I dropped my stirrups and Lo! we are leg yielding wonderfully again. So apparently he KNOWS how to do it, but his cue spot is just lower than where my leg can sit when it is in the stirrups....especially jumping.

So now I have the joy of re-wiring my boy to listen to a cue where my leg is. Thighs of steel from stirrup-less riding here I come!

Also would like to note that I now love the Blocker Tie Ring. He will always be a panic tie-er ( you wouldn't think of it this last time, he was falling asleep!) but after a great test run when my trainer approached with the dreaded measuring tape where he didn't A: break his halter, B: break the lead rope or C: both, I am grateful that I know I don't have to worry about him panicking while tied anymore. (Note: Yes I had always tied him to bailing twine before. No it did not break instead of the halter. The past few months we have been just ground tying but he has ADD to a certain extent plus a stubborn streak.)

My boy is both brave, and insecure all at once (tractors, ice falling off roofs and general hoopla at the barn didn't phase him, but heaven forbid I measure him with a cloth tape for a blanket)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Shifting of Weight Aids

As I had posted before, I have been trying to be extremely aware of my weight aids during riding especially during lateral aids. We've been working on it, and it's most likely going to get worse before it gets better.

That said, this past Sunday I had my lesson and instead of flat and lateral work, we decided to do a steady warmup of w/t/c and then just immediately start jumping. Ashe was raring to go, trotting off on his own as soon as my butt was in the saddle (which we promptly woahed and stood for a good minute much to his frustration). Thankfully he just gets full of energy and not ridiculous airs like some horses get when they are stuck inside due to the weather.

However this also meant that there was no trying to get him to focus on flat work with dozens of circles and leg yields in an attempt to get him to bend properly... unless I wanted a full blown fight on my hands.

My trainer utilized my new set up and worked out a gymnastic that would get us working on steering, weight aids, and jumping all in one. It was difficult, but in the end we got it perfect and I think he and I are going to work on it a lot in the coming months, both trot to canter as well as full canter over poles.

Here's a little video of us :) Please excuse the giant jacket on my tiny frame. It's COLD.

Here's to hoping for an early spring!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Little Bliss (and a New Jump Course!)

His sheath is back to normal (Thank goodness!) We believe he was stocking up there instead of his legs. Huzzah!

We've been working on lots of things as we get back into working for showing. Two days ago I learned he has a perfect stop for when I become unseated over a jump (took it really odd plus a mini buck had me on his neck). He takes such good care of me, even when I frustrate him.

Today we had a great ride :) I'm still learning exactly how I'm sitting off/blocking him with my seat so he gets cranky on the flat with me shifting around like a sack of potatoes. Our jumping is getting smoother again as well but I want to share my new favorite set up.

We don't have room for a full "regular" course, so I had to improvise based on a jump pattern I saw in a jumping book. The main portion down the middle of the ring is a bounce set with the middle rail just a pole on the ground (he's still learning how to balance himself) and then a long stretch into a ground pole. Then one jump on each side for a 45 degree bending line from the end. This was what I had seen in the book.

I then also added two jumps that could be jumped by going through the spaces between the angled jumps and the center pole.
       /          \

            -   /
       --  -

(note, distances and angles of key marks not representational of actual jump angles)

What is nice about this is that it has given me: bounce jump, bending lines that can be ridden both directions, single jumps, two jump sets and I can make numerous "courses" that deal with turning, change of leads and can be done both trotting and cantering (nothing above 2ft).

I'll work on getting some pictures when I can but he and I are loving this new pattern. He even free walks it without my input so I'm really happy he's doing his best to learn.

Here's to a wonderful new season of improvement!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Weight of Seat Aids and Frozen Willies

Good note: Swelling has reduced however not completely. Hoping to see improvement as the week goes and not have to call the vet. Trainer isn't sure why he is the way he is, but to keep an eye on it. She thought maybe frostbite, but there is no change in skin color or any damage to be seen.

However the main part of this blog is the simple yet complicated realization I achieved today during my riding lesson.

Seat aids have always eluded me. I don't know if it's because I am still unstable at times in the saddle, or the fact they were never taught to me until now and I have a lot of bad habits to undo...

Today we were working on lateral movements at the walk and trot. I had a lot of trouble getting him to bend/move to the right (moving left) in the lateral movements. My trainer pointed out that my weight (seat bones) were on the side of my cueing leg, not the opposite.

I swapped the seat bones (I looked like I was going to fall off according to her), and suddenly we were moving left much easier with some bend. It'll take some time as the right is his bad side anyway, but we'll get there!

We worked on where my seat needs to be through a few other exercises which increased his and I's ability to complete them.

He and I also managed to get some walk/trot calmly on the lunge! Big improvement. He's still very nervous of the lunge whip and extremely against any lunge work ( I think he was waaaay over NH'd by a past owner). We do short sessions with lots of praise.

Stay warm everyone!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Polar Vortex...

The past month has been.... well it's been hell frozen over. With temps in the single digits, ice and snow on the roads and just horrid weather, I haven't been riding as much as I would like even with the indoor.

However apparently this horrible cold has done even more than just... well... freeze everything.

Ashe has a swollen sheath. Yes. His sheath. Face palm anyone?

Most horses, when they are cooped up indoors for lengthy periods of time stock up in their legs. Quite normal.

Apparently he has continued to prove he is not normal, as well as give me a heart attack until I heard back from my trainer. No heat, just the very front of it, no pain, all clean.... yup most likely he's just stocked up in a strange place.

Go figure.

So now I get to hand walk him on days it's too cold to ride. Hand walking is his equivalent to "PLAAAAAAAAY".... needless to say I think I got as much of a workout as he did today. Hopefully we'll see an improvement soon!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Doing the Cha-Cha...

All this winter weather (and the new year) had got me thinking about preparing for the spring, and the goals I want to work on with Ashe. I had a whole list of goals for us, ready to prepare for our first event in the spring.

Today he shattered everything when he seemed to have a regression moment with the lunge whip. I didn't have time to ride, so I figured we'd do some in hand lunge work including some lunge jumping. Not a lot, but enough to get him to stretch and thinking about working.

He was always nervous with crops/whips... but he generally tolerated them. Today we had complete flight reflex the first time I even tossed the whip line near him when he didn't listen to my cue to trot. Sideways panic, head in the air, eyes and nose wide...

What was going to be a half hour time at the barn turned into two hours. I hated to reschedule my errands but I wasn't about to leave without him being okay with the whip near him. Eventually I got close, then rubbed it all over him, tapped it... his flanks were especially sensitive, flinching at the slightest touch of the end of the whip.

He's still wary of it but we were able to rub it all over, tap it, walk and trot both directions without a blow up... progress... The things I do for my lovely 11yo who has the green mind of a 4yo.

So after having my lovely goals re-written in the space of five minutes... here are our goals. They are less lofty, but they cover the basics.

1. Work on the lunge line with whip without panic. This includes being touched by said whip.

2. Stand single tied. He is a panic puller. We've purchased a blocker tie ring for training so crossing fingers!

3. Bending. As the prelim rider (friend of a friend at the barn) who tried him out said "he's like a little sports car! Lots of power in a small package. Unfortunately he also turns like one." So bending, bending and more bending!

If we can do these three by spring... I'm sure we'll be ready for our first show!