Feb. 18th, 2017

lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
If this is a little disjointed and rambly I blame lack of time to write in one sitting and also baby-induced sleep depribation.

Now that I'm back into full swing with both teaching and riding I am seeing where my fitness isn't quite where I'd like it. I think I am being a bit more demanding with myself riding than with Tristan and Kelhan because I have Mac to bring along as well as client horses to hop on too so maybe it is just more obvious this time around.

Nelson has two horses, Molly a Quarter Horse mare and Roy (formerly Royal who used to belong to my client Debbie), an Arab gelding. Molly is a long time trail horse and while she did have some gaps in her training we're slowly filling them. She's forgiving and pretty straight forwarded. I got on her last week for the first time (I was pregnant when Nelson sarted up and wasn't getting on unknown horses) and got a chance to feel her out better. With me back to riding the plan is for Nelson to work on himself with Molly and I'll be working on Royal. Roy's trot has come a long way since Debbie first got him and he had no rhythm or balance whatsoever, but it is still very thrusty and he's making my thighs burn with the posting and little bits of two-pointing I am doing on him. His canter is also naturally thrusty and at the moment he tends to flail over his inside shoulder, which will be a point of focus for me. He's not quite so forgiving as Molly, but he isn't maliscious. Once Nelson's seat gets up to par he's really looking forward to taking his big-moving gelding down the trails. They have done great in the walk, but Nelson's rhythm and strength isn't quite there to post Roy's trot (forget sitting it). We have played with two-point and that went smoother, but since I'm able to climb on now we're doubling up and letting Nelson work on himself with Molly while I get Roy more rateable in his trot. I've managed tonget him down to a slightly softer trot that is more sitable, but only after a few thrusty strides of his normal trot. The gelding can do more than eight inches of overstriding, which is insane. He is a Huckleberry Bey great-grandson I believe (might be two greats) and has that potential park horse movement.

The other thing I have been working on with Roy is bridling. He had the issue since Debbie owned him, but she usually had hin tacked and ready to go I only found out he had an issue when she finally wasn't able to get the bridle on him one day. She's shorter than I am (5'4" myself) and Royal is about 15.2 hands, if not more (haven't measures him myself). I only worked on his issue that one time with Debbie and I assumed she was able to improve enough to be workable fr her. When Nelson and I looked at Royal at Aliki's place she mentioned his ear issue and said he just wanted his head rubbed, which I thought was a bit of a misreading as she's torquing his ear to get it under the crownpiece.

It doesn't help that Roy also is a mouthy creature and if you're not 100% confident and smooth in putting it on he will eat the cheekpieces, reins, and noseband (if applicable). We have him going in one of the Moss Rock Evolution bitless bridles, which he goes well in. He takes the bit alright, but he constantly jaws it and will twist and drop his jaw at the contact. We haven't found a bit that he's really happy in so bitless it is.

ANYWAY! The major problem is the right ear. You would touch it and he would push into the hand, or try to snake out from your arm. Nelson did have the vet rule out a physical issue so we were just facing years of self-defense in poor ear handling. The crummy thing about ear shy horses is it tends to be self-fulfilling. The more the horse tries to protect its ear the more likely the (average) human is to squish the ear while trying to get the equipment on. Proper handling of the ears is something I try to drove home with my students because I certainly don't want my students to ever cause the problem! Getting back on track again Royal doesn't have issues with his left ear being touched, just the right one. This is actually pretty typical with ear issues as people typically put the bridle on from the left side the right ear is farther away and slightly more awkward to grab and harder to see.

To work on Roy's issue I first got him dropping his head because I have a hard time reaching anything when he is impersonating a giraffe and a high head typically leads to an anxious horse. If I can get him to drop his head I can encourage a calmer state of mind. I would then rub near the ear and work towards briefly touching it. I made some progress, but actually what seemed to really help was putting the lead or reins over his neck and then applying slight pressure behind his ears. His first reaction was to try and push into it and jerk out of it. I stayed with him until he gave slightly to the pressure and let it slide off the right ear and then the left. Once he was giving to it softly he was better about the split second it took to get the crown over his ear. Nelson also did his part in between sessions with me in just rubbing and loving on Royal's head and getting in some time of touching his ears without an agenda. Thursday there was a nice change in Roy regarding his ears. I was able to touch the right one without him automatically ducking out and he was quicker to give to the pressure behind his ears. It took less than five minutes to get the bridle on without drama compared to over twenty the first few times with drama. I'm hoping he will soon reach the point where he just slides his head into the bridle with zero defensiveness about his right ear. Thursday was definitely encouraging and I hope to see more of that in the coming weeks.

On Nelson himself his leg is getting stronger and his posting more consistent at the trot. We're working in his larger turnout now instead of the roundpen so steering is now a factor and using the leg while posting is hit or miss at the moment. While he doesn't always get out between lessons doing two a week is helping to keep things moving forward.

On the McLintock front the little guy gets better each time I ride him. He's getting used to the bitless bridle and his bending both directions and starting to move off of the leg nicely. He's like Chewy and can be very soft and bendy when he wants to be. Yesterday I worked on backing, which he started pretty ugly on with flipping his nose around and trying to push into the pressure. After a few times he started giving nicely and softly rounding into the backwards steps. I have a couple students who are excited to try him out soon. I'll probably try to keep up with riding him once a week once I get him in the rotation as there are things he should be working on (like cantering) that most of my students aren't going to be able to school (might be able to get a canter, but they won't necessarily help him improve the depart).

Today Mac got "attacked" by my working students and he had braids all over in his mane and tail. He took the attention in stride.

I was also able to play with Tru-D today. Her shoulders are a little sticky when I ask them to come towards me. I broke it down a bit and worked on having her bend towards me and move her shoulders away, which she found to be hard at first. After loosening that up she was able to bring the shoulder better and I also got a couple steps of sidepass towards me.

I also played with asking her to lift individual feet from light taps from the whip and got her to take a couple very small steps deeper under herself with her hind feet. I'd like to work towards a "goat on the mountain" stance to encourage stretching over her topline. I'm toying with the idea of teaching her to lay down. She's coming up on 15.2 and I'm not fit enough yet to swing up from the ground, though at the moment bouncing up and down next to her and half-swinging up is adequate for training purposes. Earlier this week I had time to throw the saddle on her and bounced in the stirrups a bit, which she was completely chill about. She has come a long way from the wild creature she was when we got her. She isn't super brave by nature, but she has a whole lot of try and seeks out the answers.

Jumping around again Debbie and her new little Icelandic gelding are getting along well. This week we had Debbie get right on and worked a little on bending, turning, and yielding before asking Digur to step up his gait. She had a hard time getting him to move out in the roundpen, but we got him to step up nicely with some minor changes and got a couple of good spans of gaiting from him. Debbie has been taking him for walks around the neighborhood and feels pretty comfortable with him (much more comfortable than she ever did with Royal). There's things we could keep doing in the roundpen, but considering her goals we're going to head out around the neighborhood next week. I'm not sure who I'll bring out yet, but it'll be good to get someone out and about!

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