Polka Dot Ponies

This will most likely be just a collection of my ramblings. I ride and train horses, so there is bound to be a lot of horse stuff. But I also just like to vent and this seems the perfect place.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ride Goals.

I set goals every time I get on any of my horses. If I don't set a goal, even if we had a good ride, I don't feel like we accomplished much. I even set goals for out on the trail ride. I never really say them out loud but having them in my head helps drive the ride forward to a productive place where the horse and/or myself are learning something. If I get on and the horse isn't where we left of for whatever reason the the goals change but generally it works out really well.
Today I only worked from 5:45-10 and it was BEAUTIFUL outside so I got everyone worked and was able to spend time fussing over everyone.
Margo and Mace were first. I lunged her (and of course Mace too since he is part of the Margo package). My goal for Mace was to teach him not to run up at the lunge line. The other day when I lunged her he kept charging the line and even tried to jump it once. Luckily Margo's whoa is fabulous so I just dropped the line and said whoa and a possibly major accident was avoided. I didn't want to stop working her because he was there but more important was him not getting hurt. So today I decided to use a different line. It is a fat round purple one rather than the flat navy one that I normally use. I thought it would be more visible to him and it is much heavier so if he did try something stupid again it would drop to the ground if I let go. The navy one fell to the ground but when it landed it had loops sticking up that could get a leg. Every time he would try and charge it I would very firmly tell him no and wiggle the line. That seemed to get his attention and he very quickly got the picture. Mace goal: accomplished.
With Margo I wanted to get her responding to my voice better for gaits and also learn to walk on the lunge. She likes to go straight out at a trot and then trot and canter the whole time. Her whoa, like I said before, is great so I decided to work on transitions both up and down. She was getting much better at the end and even managed to walk long enough to cool herself out. Margo goal: accomplished.
Tiki and I desperately needed to work on her reaction to my legs. So my goal for her was to become more responsive to my cues rather than just reacting. To me reacting is an automatic response to my cues where as if she is truly responding then she has to think about what I want her to do. So today we worked on leg cues. She is very sensitive to my legs but every time my leg is on her side she thinks it is go faster unless I have pressure on the bit. Today we worked at the walk on lessening the pressure on the bit and increasing me asking her to move her body around. She was getting it but I think it is definitely something that we need to work on over more time. Tiki goal: in progress but better.
Titan and I had a ground lesson today. I have noticed in the pasture lately that he is much more pushy and I wanted to remind him who is boss. So my goal for him today was to get back to we were last fall with him reading my body language and listening to my voice commands. He did get in trouble a few times for trying to just walk over me but in the end we are almost back to where we were last fall. I am sure he will need many more refreshers in his life but for today he accomplished my goal for him.
With Love I worked on moving forward consistently. She prefers to stand still when I am sitting on her back. So we worked on walking with my voice and a little leg pressure rather than having to bump her sides with my legs. She did well but it took a while to warm up and since she is only 2 I only ride her for about 15 minutes at a time. By the time the little light was turning on in her head it was time to get off.
How about you guys? Are you like me with goals for every ride? Or do you just go by the seat of your pants so to speak and let the horse tell you what they need to work on that day?

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Not really about horses but...

I am going to actively start really trying to get ready to take my NCLEX (nursing license exam). I had really put it on the back burner because (if I am totally honest here) I am afraid of failing the exam. There I said it. I am afraid to fail the NCLEX. Kind of feels good to get that out. It strikes me as odd to be afraid of failing at something because I try and fail all the time with the horses and to me that is a huge part of the learning process. But somehow it seems that if I fail the NCLEX I would be not only letting myself down but a lot of other people.

It has taken being extremely frustrated with where I am at now to finally get me to this place but I am there. I am really feeling that I am at a dead end and I am really starting to get frustrated that I can't seem to save up a decent chunk of money due to earning next to nothing. I am really excited for lessons and training to start up again because that is really where my income comes from. I am just frustrated to be working 5 days a week earning what I could be earning as a nurse in 2 days. I would have SO much more time with the horses and I truly believe I would feel better about myself.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lovely Margo and 4-H safety talk

I rode her tonight! I lunged her for a bit and then just got on and walked around and am still totally in love with her! She was so good. We worked on leg pressure, neck reining, whoa (which is stellar) and backing. I didn't ride long since I had already lunged her and she hasn't really been worked in about 2 1/2 years. Mace was good though I am NOT a fan of trying to lunge with him in the arena. Most days he ignores us and goes off on his own and plays a little but today he decided her would follow mama along the whole time. He was puffing a little at the end as well!
Quick question- If you could tell people one thing about safety with and around horses what would it be? The leader of the 4-H group called tonight and asked if I would be willing to speak at their meeting tomorrow. I said sure and already knew that the first thing I would talk about is safety. It drives me CRAZY when I go anywhere there are horse people and kids are wandering around barefoot or parents are letting kids sit on horses tied to the trailer (with no helmet and no shoes most of the time). I even had a kid reach through the arena fence one time and try to grab my horse's leg while we were cantering down the rail. Of course said kid's mom was no where to be seen and I had to slam on the breaks to not snap off the kid's arm (there was a horse to my inside). Good old Scottie had amazing breaks and we didn't even touch the kid but then we got rear ended by one of those people that NEVER take their eyes off the judge, "LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING!"
Anyway- My biggest thing with all of my lesson kids and anyone that rides with me is safety- which means a HELMET first and foremost!
What are your biggest safety pet peeves when it comes to horses?


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So Proud,

Of Chance that is. Those of you that remember after I adopted him I discovered that he was terrified of anything that resembled a broom handle. That was back in December of 2008. Today by his own choice he came into a stall I was cleaning and curled up in the corner on a pile of shavings. This is the first time he has ever willingly come into a space where I was holding anything like a broom, manure fork or even wrapping paper. We have work a lot on getting more comfortable around items like these but today was the first time he has ever put himself in that position by choice. What a good boy!
(That is the picture from his adoption ad)


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Woody Pet?

So one of the wonderful Margaret's downfalls is she is a HUGE slob in her stall. Because of this I am trying to come up with way to make it harder for her to trash the stall. The first is installing a hay feeder. I do not like metal hay feeders (the kinds with the bars) because not only do they pose a huge safety risk (especially with Mace) but they also have been tied to health problems. So I am thinking of building a box type feeder- I will let you know what I come up with. The other thing that I am trying to change is my bedding. Right now I use just regular bagged shavings and she went through about 6 bags in a week (with me picking out the stall every day). I understand that the stall will be a bit messier due to Mace being in there with her but still.
Has anyone ever used Woody Pet bedding? Does it actually make your life that much easier? It sounds like it would help a lot as it is easier to pick the stalls out and I wouldn't lose so much bedding while just picking out or to wet spots. I don't know. I am a bit of a skeptic. Also the nearest dealer to me is a little over 2 hours away so I would either need to order by the 1/2 truck load or become a dealer myself.
Humm... just food for thought I suppose.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Please excuse me while I wipe the drool from my chin.

I am totally in love with this horse. I have been working with her the past week but all just grooming and such like that. Today I took her out in the arena and lunged her *drool*. She is almost freaky her legs are so good. She carries herself really well even on the lunge line. This is all in slushy snow as well! I can't imagine how awesome she is going to feel once I am on her back! She is also such a sweet mare, lets me do pretty much whatever I want with her or Maynard (also known as Mace now because sometimes Maynard is just too long). Margaret's nickname is Margo. Maynard's legs are pretty freaky cool as well *drool again*. Naturally really slow legged and has really nice flat knees and some crazy deep hocks. HOW did I get such cool horses at such an amazing price?!?! Also Chance still thinks he is part of their little horse family.
In other fun horse news...
Love had her 3rd ride today. T rode her around at the walk working on bending, turning and actually moving forward. It seems like there are 2 kinds of horses when you first get on their backs, those that don't want to move and those that want to toss you. Fortunately I have been lucky enough that most of the horses I have trained have been 'those that don't want to move' when they are first started. I would rather teach a horse to go forward that to teach a horse to stand still. I also think this may have something to do with all of the time and energy I put into them before I actually get on. I apologize that is isn't a very good picture of Love but it gives you an idea of how different she looks from when she first got here! Fatter and MUCH harrier!!
Gus had his first ride ever. He was great. As you know he is T's horse that I am helping her bring along. He is very mellow and also fell into the category of not really wanting to move when she first got on. After mounting and dismounting a few times I told her to stay on and ask him to turn his head both directions. Then after a bit of that we walked around a little. I say we because although I think Gus is mellow enough for her to handle horses are still unpredictable and so I had the lead on him for her first ride. She wants to do everything herself so with my guidance and support she is training him.
C had her first ride on Tiki today. She spent a while grooming and getting to know her and then just rode on the lunge line at the walk. I am really proud of C because I know she was a bit nervous but she did really well. I don't know if I told you anything about C's horse background? She rode when we were in middle school but never had a horse of her own. The horse that she used for 4-H died (either when we were still in middle school or in the beginning of high school) and she never really found a new mount that she was as confident on. She loved King and Hayley and she got along well with Reno (one of the horses I trained last summer) but she really needs a horse that is here consistently that she can learn on a build her confidence on. Tiki will also be used for her daughter to get rides on. I told her that she is going to learn to ride English this summer and she seemed semi excited/apprehensive. I don't think she likes hunt saddles.
Titan wasn't left out! We went for a ride out on the road and he was ok but a little spooky. On the way back he was much too forward and refused to pay attention to my legs or seat. So we worked when we got back. We worked out in the arena on using his body at the trot and listening to my legs when I am asking him to move his body around. It wasn't a long work but since he hasn't done much since November (give or take) he was puffing. As you can imagine is it hard to move how your rider wants you when the arena is still snowy. As much as I am looking forward to spring I am also dreading not being able to use the arena. Right now we are kind of in between the ground is no longer frozen and there is no ice but there is only one small spot of mud as it is all about 3-4 inches of snow (a few places as deep as a foot). In the next few weeks as everything thaws out there will be lots more mud and less working horses in the arena. Which usually means more trail riding but I am really itching to get back to work in the arena with all of the horses! Luckily I am on the top of a hill and am usually one of the first farms in the area to dry out!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First ride

I rode Tiki today. Mostly walk and a little jog, since she is pregnant I didn't see the need to push her really hard. She was very good. Moves off my legs well and is very responsive to the bit. It was a little hard in the snow but she was moving her body around well for me. She was a little excited but considering this is the first time she has been ridden in well over a year I forgave her for that. T was in the arena working with Gus and Tiki was still very focused on me. I can't wait to actually see what she knows.