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!!