lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Saturday was the Draft Horse Expo in conjunction with the local rodeo. What started out as me checking in with the Rodeo people to see if they wanted us to participate again turned into me managing the entire affair.

Many things learned for next time for sure and also for the upcoming show in November (eight months, aaaaggggg!). I didn't feel like I could push the event until it was locked in and I couldn't lock it in until we had insurance information taken care of and I had to wait (weeks...) on another member to get that taken care of. The problem is that the group is in flux and disarray so she assumed we weren't doing any events and didn't renew the insurance (which covers three events) when it expired.

I had a couple emails sent out through the group as well as an event posting on the Facebook page. I had two other people express interest ahead of time and Troy (our former President) called me this week saying one of his sons would be there.

Friday evening I had Henry and Bud. Bud had a minor meltdown over some kids setting up a lemonade stand. In his defence it did involve a pop-up shade, ice rattling around, the chest opening and closing, small sneaky-looking creatures (children), and a hand-pull wagon. I could have just let him jig-jog past it, but we turned around and passed it again and again until he was walking without more than a half-glance at it. Since it was right next to home we had to pass it again and he would have been perfect had they no dumped some ice into the bucket, but I'll take the half-second side-step over the shenanigans he was doing before!

I finished up with Bud and swung by Bashas' to see if I could find a table covering becaue I knew a least one of my tables was covered in paint. I ended up not needing it because the second one was reasonably paint-less, but while I was there I got a call from Lea.

She was concerned about the arena we were supposed to be in. It didn't appear to be set up for what we needed to do. At first I was hoping she had her North/South directions confused. I decided I needed to see for myself and since it's just a mile from home I drove down and jogged over to the arena. Nope, she was correct on her directions.

What we were dealing with was an arena set up for roping. It wouldn't have been too bad, but there were three sets of loose panels leaning up against the fence rail, the cattle chute was not blocked off and of course the "boxes" on either side that work great for small horses to wait for the cow to pop out of the chute are a death trap for something larger, especially something larger pulling a cart or wagon! To make matters worse, the North gate that we had used two years ago had temporary panels blocking it. There was a gate there, sure, but it had a 6' arch over it, which would decapitate anyone riding a draft and be impassible with a cart.

Troy's older son Riley was there (Troy 2.0 he said as I initially hailed them with "Is that Troy?"). He figured they would move all of it and it'd be good by morning as he headed off, but Lea was not so easily passified. The other thing is that the arena is right next to the carnival. Not only that, but all of the obnoxious swinging, twirly rides were in sight of the arena. Even if we did go down to the South end and use the big gate there (passing the cattle chute and all), we'd have to travel between the arena and the rides in a 30' path.

So I called Brook, the lady I have been conversing with via email about the event and she booked it down to see what we were talking about. She passed us in her little golf cart, swung to the North end of the arena to see the gate, and came back with apologies about the state of it.

Now there is an arena directly South of Arena 4, the one we were supposed to be in. Arena 2 had nothing in it but their glorious red dirt (Arena 4 had had the red footing pulled and replaced it with brown dirt to cater to whatever roping event they held previously). It also had a larger set of bleachers. Lea and I asked what was going on in Arena 2. Brook said it was the Corn Hole Toss Tournament and it didn't start until noon. I don't know about you, but I think the corn hole toss requires a big set of bleachers for spectators, really glorious footing, nor a full 150x300' arena. Brook said she would check with the organizers and get back with me that evening about what they could do.

While farther away from our parking and staging area we could access Arena 2 from the side road and not have to go anywhere near the carnival stuff. We did have the carnival rides going two years ago and most of the horses did surprisingly well, but Charm-N and I did nearly end up putting the forecart in a post when one of them started up. I think individually the rides wouldn't be a deal. Moving thing, okay, somewhat suspiscious, but predictable. Flashing lights? Okay, again, if it's predicitable and consisted they can chill out about it pretty well. Add in people screaming at random? Well, every horse has its limits.

Brook called me as I was finishing up dinner to say we had Arena 2. I quickly sent everyone messages about the change and we were good to go!

In all we ended up with nine horses and ten people participating. I had Kitt, Ruby, and Charm-N along with two students, Olivia and Susanne. Chris helped out and manned the table. Had it not been so hot (95°F!) we would have hooked Ruby and Chris would have done some driving too.

Lea and her husband had her two Percherons, Christina brought down her two Clydesdales and two people (didn't catch their names), and Troy's son Hayden did a demo with a team of Shires. So we had the four major draft breeds (Ruby is a Belgian) plus a Fjord.

We started out a little behind. While Lea got there before us they were still loitering around as we lead our crew over to the arena to start the halter classes. We did have the horses saddled, but it made the tack change later quicker as we just pulled the saddles and stuffed them in Lea's trailer. We were about 20 minutes behind to start, but Christina had a two hour drive to get down here with her rig so all in all I don't think that was too bad of a lag. Of course had we had anyone volunteer to give demos between classes we could have filled the dead space, but ah well! Next year!

I served as the announcer and judge to start. Everyone said I did well, but I can't help to feel like I sucked. This is why judges should also be impartial 3rd parties as I didn't want to place my students high because that would totally look like favoritism, but I didn't want to place them too low either because, if I do say so myself, my horses aren't all that bad looking. It didn't help that all the horses were pretty well put together.

I figured the best thing to do with Charm-N would be to hold her since she probaly wouldn't be happy left tied to the fence as six other horses left her behind. She wasn't overly happy being 60' away from them either and I dropped the mic once as she stepped on the cord. My papers also flew off once so I was feeling all types of professional.

Maybe next year we'll have actual entries and numbers and information sheets for people. As it was it was Fjord #1, Belgian #2, Clydesdale #3, Clydesdale #4, Percheron #5, and Percheron #6 in order of line-up. If I remember right I placed them Clyde #3, Percheron #5, Belgian #2, Clyde #4, Percheron #6, and Fjord #1. Kitt got last because she failed to trot in-hand the first time out. I also wasn't clear enough in my directions to Olivia and she and Kitt left the arena after the did their initial attempt at jogging instead of coming back around behind the last horse.

As we finished up the halter Hayden appeared with his team of Shires and he put on a great demonstration while we did our tack change for the riding classes. I also called Brook to hunt down the barrels that we were supposed to have since I didn't see them anywhere.

We had a moment after Hayden exited as we were mounting up that Lea's two horses got loose as they were getting their bridles on. I was laready on Charm-N so I was able to block Greta's escape and while I wasn't confident to get close enough to grab her I did manage to guide her into the arena gate where Lea got her. Her gelding Thor didn't go far and then the rest of them mounted up. I headed in first followed by Susanne on Ruby and Olivia on Kitt. We started our walk as Lea and her husband Mike reorganized themselves. On one pass I asked if they were going to scratch or not and they said they were good and joined us shortly thereafter.

Charm-N was a little looky and wanted to cut in away from the crowd a little, but didn't do anything to out of line. Ruby was her usual awesome self swinging along with her ears up and eyes bright. I swear she loves the squishy red dirt at Horseshoe. She gets an extra spring in her step and you wouldn't know she had severe ringbone in her right fore. Kitt was good and calm as well and didn't seem to mind Ruby and Charm-N marching boldly ahead of her.

Christina was on the mic served as announcer and judge. We picked up the trot and at one point Kitt got a little strong on Olivia while heading towards the gate (surprise) and cantered a couple strides. She got her back down with no issue. Lea and Mike hung in the center and let their horses google-eye stuff rather than take them around the ring. We changed direction at the trot and everyone kept gait this time before walking and lining up in the center. Christina then had each of us back before making her decision. Susanne and Ruby took first, Kitt and Olivia took second, but only because Kitt broke gait, and Charm-N and I took third. Mike and Lea got honorable mentions for at least making it into the arena.

The barrels had arrived and Chris and I set them up after the riding class. Lea was the timer and off we went! Charm-N trotted mostly and rolled into a canter heading home. We managed about 52 seconds on our run as we were a little wide around the turns. Susanne and Ruby did a solid trot the whole way. With Ruby's ringbone I told her to keep it at a trot. I don't remember the time, but it was close to Charm-N's. Olivia took Kitt in and the little goober dove to the gate after every barrel. Everyone figured the little sporty pony would get the best time, but it took her over a minute! I decided the cheeky pony needed a little schooling so I swing up and after adjusting the stirrups a about four holes up (I have nubby, nubby legs compared to my students) Kitt and I went for it again. She was quite strong any time the gate came in view, but I checked her strongly around and we managed to do it in 42 seconds, taking the best time. From there the plan was some driving, which required another tack change. Someone pulled the barrels as we headed back to the trailer. I lead Charm-N and the two girls rode behind me.

I hosed down Charm-N because she was done for the day and we pulled the tack off of Ruby and Kitt. We only brought the Kutzmann cart so just one horse at a time. Ruby and Charm-N hung out in the trailer as we hitched Kitt and I took her down.

Kitt was very vocal as we left her buddies behind, but kept a steady walk down the access road. As I was getting ready to turn towards the arena I spotted a water truck heading our way and put up my hand to ask them to stop. I actually raised my hand several times in a stopping motion as soon as I saw him a couple hundred feet away, giving him plenty of room to stop a fair distance back. Despite that as I swung Kitt around in order to make the opening the truck rumbled within 20 feet of us which didn't make me happy and made Kittquestion hard about swinging towards the truck and then squeezing between the barricades. The road we just came down looked like a much better option. Chris finally came and I told him to lead her through. I had to remind him he couldn't pull her around as sharp because we were in the cart not the carriage. We got through and I took her the rest of the way into the arena without incident. I think had the water truck not kept creeping up on us we would have been fine, but the big rumbling, moving barricade was a little much for Kitt at the moment. It has been well over a year since she has been off property while driving after all.

We had lost the majority of our crowd at that point and it was just Christina and I with Kitt and her Clyde playing around in the arena as Lea snapped some pictures.

I got the chance to get Kitt going a bit. Sneaky little bugger got a bit strong in the trot and offered a couple canter strides as we headed towards the gate. She would then nearly die as we got near the gate so we worked on trotting smoothly past the gate and called it good once she trotted without stopping.

I will probably pull off the driver's wedge from the cart. While I have my little foot box to give my nubby legs some purchase the wedge puts me up another two or three inches and pretty much negates it. I ended up bracing my heels between the wedge and the seat to feel like I had enough grip to keep myself stabilized. It was nice to be able to trot her out and get some nice big figures going. The footing is not so condusive to carts, especially after horses have been riding in it creating innumerable divots for the tires to roll through. I also think a piece of pipe wrap or some vet wrap will be in order next time I have the chance to cruise in it as the heel chains are a bit annoying.

By that time it was over 90 degrees and we were hot. I asked Christina if she was okay with us nixing the obstacles and she was fine. We didn't hook up Ruby for the same reason. Too hot for our fuzzy Yaks. We cleared out of the arena a bit before 1pm. After loading Kitt and the cart Chris and I went back for the table and stuff.

I had contacted several breed organizations and told them about our event and that we wanted to share information about the draft breeds and most of them were very generous! People didn't take as much of the literature as I had hoped so I still have stacks of flyers and booklets from the Shire, Clydesdale, Percheron, Belgian, and Fjord registries. I forgot to grab the Suffolk stuff from Hayden, but that's okay. I was pretty impressed with their response and generosity and plan on having a similar display during the show in November, possibly adding the Haflingers (can't remember if I emailed them), Spotted Drafts, and maybe I'll contact the Gypsy people ... maybe. I remain unimpressed with some of their breeders.

Everyone seemed to have fun and I think it was good experience as I have a better idea of a few things for the show, primarily concerning tack change times. Definitely need a good-sized break between riding and driving classes!

I also have thoughts and ideas concerning this event for next year. I think the quieter arena suited us better. It would be awesome to get the covered one, but that spot is already spoken for and so long as it isn'1 too hot the uncovered arena is fine.

If I can get people to do demonstrations between classes that would be awesome. That has always been a bit of the trouble, filling time with tack changes and the like. Considering there were just four groups of us at work I think we managed to do really well. if I had another Hayden-like demo while we were getting the horses changed over from riding to driving we probably would have kept more of a crowd. Of course as we were breaking down the table we had a few people who were disappointed that they missed it.

A couple things I wish I had were solid information and flyers about the show in November, and membership forms for the club. I had emailed Kellie Thursday I think about it, but should have thought of it sooner. Drat. Well, next time!

We were pretty tired once we got home. We got the horses put up and the driving stuff away before cleaning up ourselves. The saddles and table are still in our horse trailer, but those could wait. We needed the driving stuff out of Dave and Marty's trailer first so we could park it back where it belongs.

As we were cleaning up Marty had sent me a text about Dakota an Hershey. Apparently her cousin's step-daughter was interested in them and possibly my parents' horse trailer. I got Marty the keys for both the property and trailer so they could check it out more. The tires on it are shot, which isn't a surprise. I don't think it has moved in a year and a half. We last put tires on it when we took Jed to the pleasure driving show in 2012 and it sits out in the sun all the time. Jeremy, Jessika's husband, climbed under it and discovered the back half of the floor is pretty much rotted out as well so they're going to consider what repairs will cost and make them an offer on it.

They decided free was a good price for Dakota and Hershey and they picked them up last night. It was a little weird this morning passing their empty pen and strange not having to feed an extra set of horses.

Yes I won't have the $400 in board a month for them, but close to half of that went into feeding them plus the chore of feeding and watering them. I also don't have to worry about being paid back for their vet and farrier work. The other week Marty had asked me about when Rowdy had first come over (the gelding they had before Hershey) and as I poked through my old entries I realized I have been a bit bitter and put out about taking care of my parents' horses off and on for a long time.

It's not that I actually mind taking care of them, but I very much mind thier lack of care for their own horses. I compared it to a child wanting a puppy and promising they'd take care of it and being the parent who ends up bathing, feeding, and cleaning up after said puppy that the child just HAD to have and was going to take such good care of.

I hope Jessika and Jeremy enjoy the two old mares and make their last years good ones.

In other news I now technically have space if I were to take a horse into training.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I doubled-up on working Tru-D today. This morning I had her wear the bridle during breakfast and then took her out to get the mail after lessons.

She was good for the bridle, though still likes to raise her head a little as the bit comes out, but it is better than she was.

She gave me a little look as I went to halter her, but stood still otherwise. She recently went through a period where she thought being caught was optional (it is not and resulted in me catching her more often).

We struck out and she was swinging as we walked and very aware.

She only hesitated slightly before crossing the wash onto the desert lot North of our neighbors. We made excellent time to Mews as she marched right along and then we hit our nemesis, the eighteen inch drop to the road. She did march right up to the edge, but then was nervous about taking the step down. I don't think the angle is any steeper than the sides of the wash, but for some reason the drop cerfupples her.

This time, however she finally stepped down and we didn't have to go around to the stop sign. She was curious about the horse who lives behind the mailboxes, but I kept her back a respectable distance as I grabbed the mail and we headed back. She was a little jiggy on the way home and was worried for a moment as some teens on skateboards rattled by on the road, barely visible through the creosote. I only had to bump her once to remind her to stay out of my space. We navigated the wash well and since she had been a little anxious on the homeward journey I lunged her briefly in the arena.

Next time I should carry a bag with me so I have a better place to put the mail than the waistband of my breeches.

I'm going to try to make mail retreival a weekly thing for her so she gets off property and sees things a little. She isn't the most naturally brave creature, but she does try hard and is far less skeptical than she was as a yearling.
lantairvlea: (powerpuff crop)
The TR50 is the two-wheeled Kutzman cart we acquired. It is technically designed for horses that are over 15 hands (the website says 150cm, which is just over 59") and Kitt is just shy of 14.2 so we knew it was going to be a stretch.

We turned the shafts upside down and because we had the marathon tips it worked fine, however I doubt it would really fly in a show so I needed a different solution. Shelley suggested turning them horizontal, but I didn't think it would work because we have chunky horses. Sure enough the 21" it left between the shafts was not enough space for Kitt so back upside down they went. The 24" space we set was good so I figured if I could get Magma to engineer me a set that would leave me 24" between the shafts I would be set!

Today I went out and measured the shafts. The tricky part is figuring out the angle the bend needs to be. With my handy plastic protractor I found the current angle is 150* which was my starting point.

The front of the shafts essentially make a trapezoid so I had the distance between the shafts at the base, the distance from the bend to the tip, which made up the sides and the distance between the shafts at the tips, which made the short base. I had two trapezoids, the one that the shafts currently made and the one I wanted to make. I needed the measurement of the angle made by the big base and the side which would tell me how much the bend angle would need to change.

My brain said "Math can tell me!" So I chopped the trapezoids into two triangles by connecting the opposite corners. I used the pythagorean theorem to discover the long sides of the triangles and then looked up the formula to find the angle I needed. It involved a cos^-1, which required me to find a real calculator rather than using the one on my phone.

And lo! I had my answer. The first angle was 47.12 and the second was 50.91, which is just shy of a four degree difference. I had eyeballed it at 5* and it is nice to have the math back that up. I will probably round up to 5* as 25" between the shafts wouln't be a bad thing. There is a little part of me that is worried about sounding too anal when i take the shaft in and say "I want you to make this, but make it x long and I need the bend angle 3.79* larger ... 5* just sounds more reasonable than 4.

You know, you sit in math wondering when the heck you are going to use this stuff and 15 years later you are looking up calculations so you can figure out how much bend you need in a new set of shafts for your horse drawn cart so it fits your pony who is technically 1 1/2" too short for it.

Such is life!
lantairvlea: (powerpuff crop)
Mark Rashid is an author I've been meaning to read for a while. One of my clients gifted me "Horses Never Lie" last year and that put it a bit higher on the list of things to read.

This was a pretty quick read and it was very easy to read. Mark Rashid has an easy and enjoyable style of writing that allows the pages to move right along. The book is a combination of memoir, training anecdotes, and philosophy.

It made me think a little harder about some of the things I do with my horses and how to better work with them and help them do their jobs (I need to get the body worker out again for example).

It was a book about training horses, but not in the classic sense of do this for that result and you should progress in these steps. No, it was about an overarching philosophy that involves true partnership in which both parties have a say.

As I noted in my review of the Parelli DVDs, some profess the idea of a "partnership" with the horse, but they give the horse all these things to do and all the responsibility for doing them without any real say or feedback in the process. Does your horse really need to circle around you while you stand there completely disengaged in order for the horse to be considered a "partner?" Do you need to repeat the same exercise daily even if your horse has done it perfectly and proven that he understands it? If your horse doesn't give you the "right" answer right away do you really have to escalate the cue or aid? The latter lesson I learned from Cinnamon. If she does something when I give an aid, even if it isn't the right thing, I do not escalate because she gave me a response. I keep the aid the same and stay quietly persiatent until I get the answer I want, otherwise she escalates her negative response.

The book centered around the idea of passive leadership. Passive doesn't mean that the leader doesn't do anything to actively engage with its followers, but passive refers to how the leader came to its position. The passive leader doesn't size up the competition and squash them into the dirt to prove their dominance. The passive leader is chosen by its followers. The passive leader exemplifies traits that the horse finds comforting and trustworthy, the most important of these being fairness and consistency.

In short, it was a great read and I would highly recommend it!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I was able to work Tru-D again yesterday morning because my 8am was sick (so many sick people canceled this past month). I used the Parelli feather lines again and attached them between the cheek pieces and throatlatch in the cross-under configuration. I had Susanne mucking in the arena so I took Tru-D out and around the house.

She did pretty well. We have some work to do on her bravery. With the work on the driveway and some other things moved around things Were Not The Same so she was a bit suspicious the first couple of passes. There were a couple moments of jigging that she came back quickly from and also a couple moments of trying to eat.

I definitely think the weight of the beta lines was the issue with her drifting backwards as she once again stood pretty solid when asked. I may work her a few weeks in the feather lines before going back to tbe beta lines and see what happens.

I did take the new whip as I worked her and it had a good reach. It is ridiculously light for its length and I like the lash length in addition. I need to get a longer lash for my other one. I need to start focusing on getting Tru-D calmly responsive to the whip aids while I ground drive her. She tends to speed up right now as she moves over so I need to step back and reinforce her moving sideways off of it.

Thursday I had Nelson with Roy and Molly. He had the farrier out the other week and the farrier and Molly had a bit of a disagreement. Nelson had mentioned that we haven't been tying her solid. She has a tendency to set back and rather than have her break things we do a couple loops around the post to create a little friction to have her feel some pressure, but not enough to go into a full panic. If she sets back you just ask her to step back up and snug it back down. It's a lesson I learned with Judy's mare Sweeti who broke more halters and lead ropes than you could shake a stick at. It's no big deal and Molly has been getting better about standing "tied" with fewer incidences of setting back and coming forward quicker after it. Nelson had noted a couple months ago that the farrier appreciated that Molly was being better about her feet since I started working with her. This last session, however, the farrier's assistant got it in his head that he was going to "teach her" and snubbed her down on the post, which resulted in her setting back (surprise), fishtailing, and ultimately scraped her chest on the hitching rail as she came back forward. He was not able to get her back feet done at all.

I had offered to bring out my tools and at least knock the rough spots off. I forgot last week, but remembered Thursday. She had been good for Nelson cleaning her feet so I figured it wouldn't be much of a deal. We had built a decent rapport the last six or so months and I was hoping it would be no problem.

No such luck. She saw the bucket with the tools in it and her hind end became a 100% no go zone. We were back to square one with her spinning circles if I even got near her flank, let alone her hip and foot.

She reached one point where I was able to pick up her foot and was feeling like she needed a mental break so I spent a couple minutes putting the bridle off and on Roy. Royal is doing consistently better about his right ear, but is still touchy.

When I went back to Molly I was able to work her left hind and knock out the extra sole as well as trim the wall and do some rasping. Unfortunately we had to call it quits there. I was back out today. Molly was a little reluctant to be caught, but she just walked off about 50 feet and that was it. Nelson lead her up under the shade where we usually tie them, but when he went to put the rope over the rail she rocketed backwards. She was then wary to be under the shade at all and I had Nelson pause when she gave him a couple good steps forward before I took over.

Knowing her high anxiety under the cover I didn't push it and just kept her in hand. She was wanting to spin and I changed up strategies, instead of putting pressure on her gaskin as she walked and spun I slipped the rope around her leg and put some pressure on it. With my hand on her gaskin she would slow down, but it would take several steps (or spins) and she really was locked into a bad mental pattern. With the rope around her pastern I picked up pressure and she rethought her tactics very quickly. I kept the pressure on until she would relax the foot and then I would let it go. I was able to work down to touching the foot and eventually got both of them cleaned out before grabbing the hoof knife and focusing on her right hind. I had to use the rope again, but she settled quicker. She had worn out most of her sole so there wasn't much for it and gave her foot back before heading over for the nippers.

I can't remember if it was with the nippers or rasp that she kicked out just as I was about to give it back. Molly thought for sure I was going to explode on that one, but I just picked up the rope, quietly grabbed my tool, and worked to get her foot back, fussed with it again, and moved on.

I rasped the left hind a little again and then gave Nelson directions as to how to work on it until I came again Tuesday. He doesn't quite have the skill and timing to do it exactly as I did, but he could work on getting her comfotable again with him approaching and rubbing her barrel, hip, and eventually the leg.

Nelson and I talked quite a bit as I was working with her both days and while I didn't quite say my full thoughts we both came to the conclusion that the "teaching" that his farrier and his assistant did the week before last almost put us back to square one with Molly on her feet.

I admit I was not happy to see all of our good work pretty much flushed down the toilet because some idiot thought he was going to be a macho man and teach a horse how to stand tied by snubbing it to the post. Especially a horse that already has a history of setting back and in particular before she had a chance to do anything "bad!" Talk about setting her up for failure.

Nelson mentioned that Molly actually gets a little anxious when she sees the farrier's truck, which tells me he was already a source of anxiety. Nelson also said that his (soon to be former) farrier had set in his mind how Molly was and kept the opinion she just wasn't a good horse despite her improvement over the past six or seven months.

Molly definitely has some self-protective habits, but she certainly isn't a mean horse. The bucket of tools was definitely something she associated with People You Do Not Trust so it took a while to reconvince her I wasn't a threat.


I am of the mind that it isn't the farrier's job to teach my horse how to accept being trimmed and shod, but he certainly shouldn't make the horse worse! I gave Nelson Kevin's number and we'll see how that goes. I think we'll try to schedule it so I can be there when he comes out the first time. Not that I doubt Kevin's skill in handling horses, I did a 150+ hour internship with him for my Equine Science degree, but I don't think it would hurt if Kevin heard my direct perspective and be there to hold Molly if needed. Nelson is getting better, but he just doesn't have the years of experience to hold a horse that is working through issues.

In happier news we hooked Ruby and Charm-N up to the carriage again today and I think we finally have it set the way we need it. I'm ready to take them out and about! Once Ruby and Charm-N chilled out a bit Chris even drove them for a bit and the little men joined us. Tristan went around a couple times before deciding riding his bike was going to be more fun, but Kelhan hung out until we were done and then had to be persuaded to get off. He climbed on again as soon as we had the horses unhooked and was pretending to drive his team while Chris and I detacked the horses. I didn't take any pictures, but Chris managed one.

lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I was able to make time to work Tru-D again this afternoon betwern lessons and had a bit more luck. Part of that was because of a tack change.

My grand plan is to work Tru-D bitless until she has a full mouth. I was lucky with Z in that she never got any wolf teeth in. I had hoped to do the same with her, but the option I had at the time, just a lungeing cavesson, wasn't workable with the long lines or the reins. The signal just wasn't clear enough because the rings were too high up the nose and I think they tended to stick a bit too. I can't remember now other than the fact I deemed it unworkable so Zetahra worked in the bit much sooner than I had intended.

With Tru-D I have since found a bitless bridle that I really like and I had long lines made to work with it. The first time I used it the cross-under configuration was a bit much for Tru-D. She was very sucked back and I ended up using it as a sidepull for a time. This was all well and good, but I wanted a littke more possible pressure before hooking her to anything. After a few months I did try the cross-under again and she did well enough in it and had pulled the tire a half dozen times since.

One thing I was really aware of yesterday was Tru-D's tendency to drift backwards. She has a really nice stop on her, but I wasn't sure why she kept drifting back. This backwards drift is not a good thing, especially when you're pulling things. Yesterday she drifted back while I had paused a moment to help Kelhan and she ended up with the reins completely in front of her (yes, shame on me leaving the lines on the ground).

The reins I am using now are either 1/2" or 5/8" betathane. I'd have to measure them, but they are narrower so that they would be lighter over their 25' length because the usual 3/4" width the maker uses on her normal reins would have been pretty heavy. I like them, they have a good feel in the hand, but I was starting to wonder if the weight of them might be causing Tru-D to drift, especially with as light and sensitive as she can be in all other aspects of her training. My other thought is maybe they don't slide through the rings on the surcingle quite as freely because the beta material is grippy, unlike my MCR long lines I use with the regular bridles and the sidepull which I also like, but they slide quite readily when allowed.

The last thing I ordered before cancelling my Savvy Club subscription (all two months of it, acquired to save a bunch on the driving training dvd and then the On Line Savvy set) was a set of their "feather lines." One more tool in the toolbox, right?

I wasn't sure if I would like them because they are incredibly thin. Supposedly they are made out of the same material as their Savvy Strings, which are a little over 1/4" in diameter with a loop on one end and a little leather popper on the other.

I decided to experiment and put the feathet lines on the sidepull rings of Tru-D's bridle. I didn't put snaps on them so I just fed the string through itself to secure it. Eventually I'd like to put a little leather strap with a buckle on the end to secure them because I've gotten less fond of snaps on the end of reins or lines over time. Looping it through worked well enough, especially since I didn't need to take them off.

We worked in the arena walking and trotting and doing some direction changes (so nice not having to dodge large wet spots guys!). Her halts were nice and prompt and no backwards drift! She also was less pushy with her nose.

Once she was warmed up I introduced the pvc "shafts." They are two different sizes and the smaller one pretty much slid right out of the shaft loop as soon as she stepped forward. The larger one stayed in better and she dragged a single one on both sides. There was a little uncertainty about it pushing into her hip a little, but she settled and did just fine. Now I need to get some bailing twine and jury rig them to stay in place better so I can use both of them at once and get her used to them rubbing and pushing on her.

So my experiment with the lighter lines was a success! Unfortunately I changed two variables by having lighter lines and using the sidepull rather than the cross-under method. I think I am going to take a moment tomorrow and see if I can get them to work as cross-under reins and then see if she drifts the next time I work her.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
So Sunday we added dirt to the arena, We also ripped up our rock-hard footing. It looked like broken up concrete for several passes, but it improved as we went. Monday I had my first lessons in it. Sunny was a bit zoomy with Olivia, but they worked through it nicely. I think we have the footing to blame as Ruby was cantering around too!

Today I worked Tru-D and I think I need to build some more structure. We've been a bit haphazard in her sporadic sessions and I don't want to be leaving holes. It was so nice working her around and not having to dodge any wet spots, though! I long lined her before doing one round hooked to the tire and then had to call it quits because it started raining. I detacked her in her stall.

This evening I had another lesson using Chewy and Kash. Kash was a bit zoomy too and Chewy was a little extra forward, but I'm not sure if that was the footing or the student gripping as she trotted. It's going to be a nice change for sure! I'm hoping with the drag we can keep it maintained so that the moisture doesn't get concentrated like it did before. Our arena isn't huge, about 75'x85' but it is decent sized so long as you aren't losing over 200 square feet to nasty slop. I'm excited! Hopefully my students are able to manage the extra spring in the horses' step!

In other news I managed to finally sell my big desk. It went for $350, which is half of what I initially listed it for almost two years ago. It wasn't hurting anything languishing in the little house, but I really didn't want to stare at it for another 10 years or more before one of the boys is ready for a nice desk.

It was a beastly thing. The new owners had a short bed pickup and, as they put it, we had to play tetris to get it all to fit. It was an L-shaped desk that we kept in the corner of the room and it was almost six feet on both sides plus it had a hutch. I got it when my parents moved and it came with me when Chris and I were married less than a year later. It was my combination computer, writing, and art desk for years before I was able to acquire a separate art desk. When we built the "addition" I got a smaller computer desk and the beast was left in the little house, retired and gathering dust.

The windfall of the desk's sale will go towards a flat file to store paper similar to one of these. I will have a place to store my large sheets of paper without having to roll them or shove them behind/under the bed! It will also take up a third of the space as the desk so winning all around!
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
This is a Dressage classic by many standards. It is not nearly so dense as D'Endrödy's "Give Your Horse a Chance," but quite a bit more specific than Oliveira's "Reflections on Equestrian Art."

I enjoyed it. It's always funny to realize how much things have both changed, but stayed the same. He lamented several times over people taking shortcuts with their horses, competitive dressage not holding the same standard for correctness as the Spanish Riding School, and horses being overbent. The reading level is moderate. It isn't overly technical, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who isn't familiar with horses either.

He starts outlining history, naming many master horsemen of the distant past and the written works some of them left behind.

He outlines important principles of riding and training, such as "the self-taught person can never become more than a workman; only on a foundation of theory can riding develop to the realm of art." That is so true. I know I wouldn't be anywhere near the horseman (man used in the sense of huMan kind rather than apecifically gendered) I am today if I had to rely on just my own experience and experimentation.

He tries to keep the scope of the book focused, but he does touch on the importance of knowing as much as one can about the horse as a creature and not merely as something you ride. Good advice includes "any rider would be well advised to study the conformation of the horse he proposes to train" and he goes on to explain that while he is laying down the principles "there is no definite rule as to how to put them into practice." He further reminds us that "there are no rules for any difficulties that may appear. Remesies that are successful with one horse may prove unsuccessful with another." This coming from a man who spent 26 years at the Spanish Riding School, I am inclined to believe that there is no single training method that will work with every single horse. He reiterates this point several times throughout, that you should not be rigid in your application of training and to tailor it to the individual horse.

He thoroughly discusses the various gaits and paces of the horse and various other aspects including having the horse "on the bit," collection, "Raising the head and neck by action of the hindquarters" (what some would now term relative elevation), bending, and the aids.

On the aids he notes that one should only use their own body plus a whip and/or spur, anything else is a gimmick. He is careful to note that "the spur should never be used sharply as an aid, because it would then no longer be an aid but a punishment."

With the reins he warns that contact should never become a steady pull as the horse is guaranteed to win the tug-of-war.

While discussing the balance between rein and leg aids he states "the rider should never push more with his legs than he can control with his reins, or hold with his hands more than he can absorb with his legs and seat." The later makes more sense if you know that the rein aid does not act within the rider's arm alone, but should travel through the rider into his seat so that it can then transfer into the horse's back and haunches.

He talks in detail about the place of punishment, prefacing it with the warning that it should be restricted and "thevalue of punishment shouldnever be over-rated and employednas a substitute for correct aids."

He discusses the training of the horse from the lunge line to under saddle and in-hand work up to the airs above the ground.

Here he discusses the purpose of dressage, which is doubly to obtain clear, pure paces, and to make the horse stronger and more beautiful. This theme is visited again and again, which can be boiled down to the quotes "If during the course of training the natural paces are not improve, it would be proof that the training was incorrect" and "if the horse does not become better looking innthe course of his training, it would be a sign that the training was incorrect."

There was an annoyance in the middle of the book where the pages were printed out of order. At page 145 in order to follow the text properly younhave to jump to page 148, then 147, then 146 before proceeding to page 149. What editor didn't notice that?!

Much of the book is full of things I am already aware of from reading other volumes, but it is also good to go back to source material and see the foundation that others have built on. Some day I'll bridge the gap between Podhajsky and Xenophon, who Podhajsky quotes multiple times.

I'm slowly making mybway through my equestrian library. Next up Mark Rashid's "Horses Never Lie" before tackling Dr. Gerd Heuschmann's other two books.

Traurig

Feb. 19th, 2017 04:18 pm
lantairvlea: (zetahra)
I was cleaning out a drawer today because eventually clutter gets to me and I am more sensitive to clutter than I used to be (Chris is rubbing off on me), even if it is in a drawer. The drawer is just above the pull out garbage can in the kitchen so getting rid of the rubbish is pretty easy, but it's been a while and I use it as my magazine stash. I am subscribed to a ridiculous number of horse magazines (Equus, Practical Horseman, Horse & Rider, Dressage Today, Eclectic Horseman, Driving Digest, Riding Instructor, Fjord Herald, and USDF Connections ... three are for organizations, two bi-monthly and two quarterly) plus National Geographic. The "active" magazine gets to wander around to wherever I read it, usually the counter or table while I munch breakfast and the unread ones sit on one side of the drawer as the read ones sit on the other side until I move them to the "archive" in the little house. I used to pull out interesting articles and file them away, but I haven't done it in a few years.

Well apart from the magazines other random things have made it into the drawer from time to time and it was starting to pile up. One stack of papers I came across and as I glanced at the top I felt some tightening in my chest. As I flipped through the pages to determine how many there were tears threatened. It was all the medical stuff for Zetahra from her initial assessment when she arrived at the clinic to the release for euthanasia.

Two and a half years and it still sucks.
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!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Work is back in full swing. I have private school classes starting again tomorrow. The classes are pretty small this semester, just five students total I think, but that's okay. I can use the slightly lighter semester to my advantage.

This week I rode three client horses. I was on Royal Tuesday. That horse has a pretty huge trot. It made me realize how not fit I am right now as sitting the trot wasn't really happening and I was in my client's saddle and didn't want to hike up the stirrups (my legs are so short, totally counterproductive riding conformation), but posting without stirrups didn't last very long.

I got him to canter too and did manage to get him into a more manegable semi-collected trot. I actually spent most of the time on the ground with him working on his right ear. Someone at some point must have really blown it with his right ear as he is very defensive about it. That was one of the things Debbie had issue with him on and I did at least one session working on it with her, but she usually had him tacked and ready to go so I didn't actually see the issue until the end of his time with her. Nelson wants to do right by Royal (he usually calls him just Roy) so he's willing to take the time to get him over the ear issue. He did have the vet look at it and she couldn't find anything physically off and suggested it was just a training issue that we'll just have to slowly work through. It is pretty ingrained and I'm not sure if he had anyone other than me try to work him through it.

Wednesday I was with Debbie and her new Icelandic boy Digur. He started out fairly chill in the roundpen, especially compared to last week. I had Debbie take over and he got a little high on himself so I stepped in again and worked him down. He is a sensitive little man so I told her she needs to read what he is doing and act accordingly even if she doesn't think she's asking him to do something. He blew past her once because she got a little stuck to one side of the roundpen rather than staying centered and he felt like he had to rush and squeeze between her and the fence.

After I worked him back down and was able to play with getting him to turn in a bit rather than slamming himself into the fence (halt, looks to me, as him to step off and he calmly follows his nose to the inside) I had Debbie take back over and they were able to work better together as she paid more attention to his feedback.

I then got on and felt him out. He seems like a pretty honest little guy. She wanted me to specifically play with his gait so I stepped him up a bit in short bursts. I think he has a mix of fitness and maturity (he's seven) working against him, but as he strengthens I think his gait will get better and better. I did change him to the snaffle setting on his bit instead of leverage, which seemed to make him happier. Debbie said she would play with some of the other bits she has and figure out what works best for him. I'm hoping he is as he seems and she has a nice little horse she can just get on and have fun with like she was able to with Eden before she colicked.

I also rode Mac yesterday and he is getting better with each ride. If I keep up my scheduled rides on him I think I'll be able to put students on him by the end of the month and he can start earning his keep. I do need to pull him out and lunge him. I've been riding him during lessons thusfar and I really need to see how he does on the line as that will also be a big part od his job.

Today I was on Nelson's mare Molly to feel her out. I was pregnant when I first started working with them so despite months of work with the two of them I hadn't swung a leg up on her yet. She was about as I expected, honest, but with some gaps in her education. When I asked her to canter she was a bit rushing and insisted on canterinf on her left lead despite our direction. Going right she propped herself up against the fence and to the left she fell in pretty badly. I suspect she was never specifically taught her leads and lacks the muscle memory and strength to take the right lead under saddle. Nelson isn't up to fixing it himself under saddle as he's still refining his balance at the trot, but I told him he could at least help her through lungeing and being sure she took the proper lead and building up her strength and coordination without a rider. Moving forward we'll be swapping back and forth horses. I'll ride one while he does the other and we'll slowly build all three of them up.

With all this ridng I can certainly tell my core strength isn't where I want it yet. Of course it's only been three weeks so I can't expect too much of my body just yet.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday we hooked up Kitt again, this time with the shafts rotated upside down. I'm sure there is some driver out there who might have a coronary about that, but the enclosed shafts let us cheat like that. It put the cart level and I could actually put the shaft loops on the backband rings rather than my usual jury-rigging with carabiners *cough.*

Tristan lost interest by the time we were hooked up, but Kelhan climbed up next to me and we drove around the arena. I asked him if he wanted to drive so he sat in front of me and got to take the lines (with me holding behind his hands). He had fun steering and stopping her. We need to take her someplace bigger so he can take control a little more.



Nice and level now! It's pretty nice being that high up, especially after spending so much time driving the forecart which is really low.



Look at those little eager hands on the lines and happy face! I think I'm going to have a pretty good driving buddy. Chris said we have another rein hog in the family ... wonder who he could be talking about ...

Chris got to climb up with us and drive a bit as well. He was quite happy and rather liked the cart.

I do think I will have Magma engineer a set of shafts that are flat and angle in so that we can be respectable.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I took advantage of a $30 credit and their clearance sale to snag the groundwork set from the Parelli store for $50 including shipping (eight disks, folders and workbooks) so not a bad deal.

I've been watching it while nursing Quentan, otherwise I doubt I'd have gotten through it so quickly!

The set comes with two folders with the disks tucked neatly into the outer covers. The first one goes over the games and levels and has the disks with Pat Parelli demonstrating. The second folder has the student lessons with the task you should be able to do at each level (and don't forget to sign up and submit your video to earn stuff!). It also has little pocket booklets for each level so you can check in if you have a problem while working with your horse or forgot what game you're supposed to be playing next.

The designs are pretty slick and many of the images are pulled from the videos. I reiterate I am not a fan of Parelli, but I do have a healthy amount of respect for what they have managed to build. Their marketing and design people are superb.

The first set of disks is Pat Parelli giving his spiel as he demonstrates each of the levels and their purpose. The disks also had tips and some troubleshooting. I admit I didn't watch much of the tips. They were a bit dull and demonstrated by other Parelli professionals (at least the two I watched before getting disinterested were...). I probably would have been more interested in exploring the extra features if I was intent on doing their program. I don't recall the troubleshooting as I then watched the four student lesson disks which was pretty much hours of troubleshooting.

The demonstration disks are obviously with horses that have done this stuff a lot. There were maybe one or two moments of the horses having a bit of a question, but that's horses. I was wondering why they kept having the little Parelli symbol show up in the corner of the screen and supposedly you could click and it'd jump you to tips or troubleshooting infomation, but I just found it visually annoying.

The student lesson disks featured one horse and handler pair for each level. It was balanced with two ladies and two guys from 20-something to a bit past middle-aged. I imagine they planned it that way and it was an intentional choice to show that the program "works" for all types of people. The horses were lacking in variety. Three stock horses (Quarter Horses and possibly a very minimal Paint) and a Paso Fino. I wish they could have gotten the same variety in their horses as they did the human students. I'll take a moment to note all the horses Pat Parelli worked with in the first set of disks were Quarter Horses too. Chris was laughing and made a few jokes about the tiny horses and how it seems the more advanced your horsemanship skills supposedly get the smaller the horses are (he makes fun of Clinton Anderson with his tiny reining and cutting bred Quarter Horses as well, and let's face it, I make fun of them too).

Tangent aside the student videos were more interesting to me as you saw a lot more problem solving. What I didn't like is that often when Pat Parelli would take over during a difficult moment he would change the game a bit. It made me wonder if they are really setting up this program for people's success or are they withholding juuust enough information to make people feel like they HAVE TO spend a thousand dollars for a week in Colorado with them or they HAVE TO be a member of the Ultra Supreme Savvy Club in order to get all of the secrets to awesome communication with your horse because you're obviously not going to get it just watching the DVDs.

I think what bothered me more wasn't that he was pulling out alternate solutions, but more that he was taking over and doing something sometimes completely different without verbally suggesting it first. Had he just done it once it wouldn't have stuck out so much, but it happened a couple times in each lesson. It also tells me that the people coming into the lesson weren't exactly properly prepared and had gaps in their basic understanding of how the horse operates as they were just applying the formula rather than feeling for what the horse needs and being able to be nimble and adjustable.

The rope-wiggle is probably the biggest example of that. In the third or fourth demonstration disk he mentions that the rope wiggle is something they have at the lower levels as a "don't run me over!" cue. I wish they would mention that when it is introduced rather than waiting for a higher level to say "well we really don't want to be whacking them with the clip under their chin and inverting to back so now we're not doing that so much." This was pretty obvious when he kept having to tell everyone but the first level student to lay off the rope wiggling multiple times. I admit I do occasionally wriggle ropes at horses, but it is exactly in a "Stop crowding me!!" situation when I don't care how they do it so long as they get out of my space. Watching the rope jerk back and forth does get annoying on behalf of the horse and I have made a mental note to be extra aware of my own rope handling.

A few other things I noticed was Pat Parelli has decided that "desensitizing" is a bad thing. He calls it confidence building. Granted, eight years ago he was using the term desensitizing and people are allowed to change their minds and evolve their message I just find it funny that he now thinks it is no good.

He uses a lot of catch-phrases that I now know started with the likes of the Dorrances and Ray Hunt without attribution, which is a little annoying. There is the insinuation that the Parellis are The Source of All Horse Knowledge and their program is the best and will work for anyone (when done correctly). The impression that it sprang from their genius minds with minimal external input reads to me as slightly dishonest, though I am sure it isn't intentionally so.

I do find it amusing that their groundwork progression goes from using lines and having connection to "progressing" to liberty work and on the riding side they go from droopy loose reins and "progress" to more contact.

There was very little verbal communication with the horse. For someone who supposedly wants to promote the softest cues possible why not use the voice? There wasn't even much in the way of verbal praise to let the horse know it did the right thing, just the rope no longer whipping under the horse's chin. I couldn't help but think "If you just said "whoa" the horse might get the idea you want it to stop there a bit quicker..." or "if you said "walk" you wouldn't have to jiggle the rope so much or constantly disengage the hindquarters to slow down..." I guess I'm a bit wordy. Moreso now as I've come into driving where the voice takes the place of your weight aids. I just don't see why you would ignore the chance to be even lighter with your horse by using your voice instead of a physical cue.

I did start to get a little cynical about Parelli's desire that the horse "act like a partner." Especially as he or the student stands there, seemingly disengaged from the horse and expecting it to circle around them endlessly at the trot or the canter. I told Chris I was reminded of watching road workers where one guy is in the hole digging and another one (or two) standing there "supervising" doing absolutely nothing. I don't know about you, but that really doesn't look or sound like a partnership to me. It feels more likea show-off trick than something that really serves a purpose in the horse's training.

With all of the circling I wonder how Pat Parelli managed with mules when he was into them as I know mules quickly determine that endless circles are pointless. Also for someone who supposedly believes that lungeing in endless circles is pointless or lungeing to wear a horse out is as well, he does a whole lot of circling without changing pace or direction to engage the horse's brain.

In Level Four they introduced their "feather lines" for ground driving, which are very thin rope, maybe a quarter inch thick, about the same as the string on the training sticks and about 22' long. They don't use a surcingle at all, which could be problematic and results in a lot of hands-above-the-head maneuvering from the handler, including Pat Parelli himself because without a surcingle to help hold up the lines you have to keep your hands high to be sure the horse doesn't step on or over them (*gasp!* Parelli not taking advantage of possibly selling people more stuff! I'm sure they could make a wonderful, expensive surcingle). I love driving, but I don't think this sets up most people to be very successful with it and their horse.

The first thing he did in the first demonstration video was show where the halter should sit and how to properly tie the knot, however he didn't enforce this with the students. He did correct the fit on one, but that was after at least 45 minutes of the horse being worked and he sort of mumbled as he adjusted it up without any fanfare or emphasis about why he was adjusting it. Another one had the halter nose just above the horse's nostrils and the jaw strap was almost completely in front of the horse's cheek muscle with no correction that I can recall. I am picky about halter fit because the halter functions best when it is on properly. If you have it too loose several things can happen, namely excessive poll pressure, excessive pressure over the free floating portion of the nasal bone, and the halter possibly slipping off the nose. Some horses will react strongly to excessive poll pressure. When the jaw (jowel, throat, the part that should fit behind the cheek) strap is across the cheek rather than behind it, engaging the lead applies pressure almost exclusively to the poll, which many horses will thrown their heads up in response to. When the halter is properly fitted the pressure gets distributed behind the ears as well as behind the jaw giving the head a sort of "hug" to encourage the horse to step forward.

For someone to proposes to be particular, checking your one piece of equipment for fit seems like it should be a no-brainer. He also noted he tries to find the biggest issue a pair is having and focus on that. For me that would be an equipment check first and then addressing the handler's issues. You can't expect the horse to perform its best if the tack isn't in a position to communicate your desires to the horse clearly!

If I want to be snarky I can say his math is off. He says each rope doubles the distance, but 12' is more than half of 22' and 22' is less than half of 45' I'm pretty sure!

In short, after watching all of the On Line Parelli DVDs I can say it hasn't really changed my opinion of the Parelli Program and, perhaps, made me slightly more incredulous. If someone were to tell me they were a Parelli professional or were hoping to be one I would be skeptical of their actual skill and the depth of their equestrian knowledge. Was it worth the money to satisfy my curiosity? Yeah. Would I ever pay full price? Not in a million years! It was nothing groundbreaking. The biggest thing for me was seeing the progression towards not needing lines. I am a little put off by leaving the lines all over the ground because someone is going to step on all that and get tangled like the Level Four horse did with the lariat.

Now I want to see some videos about working the horse in-hand ala classical dressage with the same funding behind it as the Parellis can put into theirs!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday I had one lesson and since Susanne is quite indpendent I grabbed Mac and rode him while she was on Kash.

It was Mac's first time in the bitless bridle and my first ride on him (third ride back, Ruby Wednesday, Kash schooled briefly Thursday). I did have two students on him since he arrived, which gave me some feedback, but he hasn't done anything since we got his teeth done so I was curious and figured since the goal is to get him bitless with students like the rest of the crew might as well just dive in on it. I will eventually get him his own bitted bridle to work in.

I also worked him today and between the two rides I can say most of his head unhappiness the first ride was related to him thinking this work thing might be for the birds. He was a bit pushy about his direction and had a few spots where he was pretty sticky. He'll definitely need some work on loosening up his shoulders. Today he came off of the leg a little nicer and was a bit more forward. He did get a little nervous when I growled at Kitt and her rider, but towards the end of the ride he realized if I hadn't asked him anything the grumpy voice wasn't ained at him.

I was able to get him to trot quite a bit yesterday and as I suspected he didn't need a whole lot of goading forward despite how his previous rider rode him. He did suck back here and there, but it wasn't much to get him going again. I sent him over a pair of cavelletti today and he went over them atraight and honest, which was quite nice.

I'm hoping if I keep working him a few days a week by the end of the month he will be ready for students to start using during actual lessons and I'll have a pretty good handle on how he functions.

Yesterday after we ran some errands Chris pulled out Ruby and Charm-N. We had used Ruby the other day to get some measurements for a chain attachment for the Challenger (Chris jokingly dubbed it the "bank robber"). The Roberts carriage had used a neck yoke and this one just has two rings on the end of the pole. If we had breastcollar harnesses there would be straps that ran from the breastcollar to the rings on the end of the pole. With our harnesses thereis a neck strap that comes down from the collar and usually snaps onto a neck yoke. The straps usually sits center of the chest and reaching it across the front of the horses to the pole wasn't going to happen so we had a piece of chain to bridge the gap.

We got them adjusted and I took our maiden drive. Both mares were a little forward, but not bad. The breeching wasn't engaging ad I liked and we fussed a bit with the adjustments, but didn't really find anything we were happy with. Then we realized the breast strap's snap slid along the strap, which really didn't help as it kept increasing the distance before the breeching engaged!

We brainstormed a bit and decided we're going to order a neck yoke that will bolt to the end of the pole. We've seen other configurations with chains and such, but the neck yoke will give us a nice fixed point to work with and not have to worry about getting more chain and fussing with it to no end. Just hook up the yoke and adjust the heelchains as necessary.

We also had the evener fixed and I'm not sure I like that. We removed the bolts so that the evener will do it's job next time.

It does look pretty sporty all hooked up!



There is a mixture of excitement and terror driving the new carriage. The terror will wsne as we become more familiar with it and certainly once we get the fit properly adjusted. I trusted it to turn a bit better than the Roberts (might be the shorter pole) and I will probably notice the ride better when I'm not worrying so much about how the horses' harnesses are engaging.
lantairvlea: (bastek kunst)
My January goal of having a baby went well! Recovery is also going great.

I also used one of the packs of instant film in the RB, which I need to scan. I just need to use the color pack now. They didn't turn out 100% awesome, but better than the previous try. I think part of my problem is letting the film expire. You can get away with expired film with regular film, but I think with the instant film the developing chemicals aren't nearly so stable so that really affects the results.

So goals for this month:
Self
Set up counseling appointment for self
Email Tye back
Set up riding lesson!

Horse organizations and events
Get an email together for the ADHMA
Get back on track for setting up the Draft Show in October/November
Get Roots N Boots stuff together
Decide about the ADCS pleasure show

Art
Clean up ARIA illustrations and share
Get drawings done for Wendy
Use rest of instant film

Horses
Work McKlintock 2-3 times a week
Mess with Tru-D 2-3 times a week, even if it is just throwing the bridle or halter on, preferably working on whip skills and dragging stuff.
Get Ruby working a couple times a week to rebuild muscle.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday was my first day back to work. As mentioned before there's a little bit of me that wishes I could take a couple months off, but working does provide a type of "me" time that can be lacking.

The first lesson was Dawn with Kash. Kash is a bit of a button pusher (not push-button!) and he seems to know just how to make Dawn just a little uncomfortable on the ground, which gets her second-guessing and then Kash pushes more buttons. He was a bit of a grumpy face at the start. He hasn't been worked in over two weeks just like everyone else, but otherwise did really well. He was pokey for Dawn so we worked on some quick transitions trot-halt-trot and then did trot-walk-trot with just a couple of walk strides before jumping up again. The biggest thing to work on going forward is getting Dawn to keep herself balanced through the transitions. She tends to jump ahead during the upward transition and stays ahead in the downward transition, not expecting him to stop quite so promptly.

After Dawn's lesson we had some people come down to look at the wagonette. Chris had put or best offer on the ad and they tried to low-ball it by $500. That was a firm "No." We did agree on $200 down from asking because it does have a slight upholstery issue (granted that's why we listed it for $3k instead of $3500) and well, having it sold NOW was more appealing than it sitting around until another person decided they wanted it (bird in hand worth two in the bushn a dollar now is worth more than one tomorrow, and all that jazz).

Chris helped them load it up as I headed up the hill to see Debbie and meet her new horse.

Debbie found a little (13.1 hands ... well, with an extra half inch so just shy of 13.2) chestnut Icelandic gelding down in Tucson. He is seven years old and his name is Digur, which means stout or squat. He is fairly sturdy, though not nearly so stout as Mac or Chewy. She had some trouble getting him to chill in the roundpen and said he was definitely worried about the training stick or whip.

He was definitely charge-y when I sent him around and we worked on direction changes. She had said she had a hard time getting him to change direction. He came around a couple times before trying to blow past me, which earned him a smack on the shoulder and rump as he squoze between me and the fence. That was enough for him to not try that again and while he was consistently turning outside he was turning promptly, we'll work on the how later. He came down a lot quicker than I expected him to. Debbie had been a little worried because she had a hard time getting him to turn at all and he just ran (and gaited) around. I think she was pretty pleased to see him become a sensible creature and decide that he could walk around the roundpen.

Digur's previous owner thought he was a bit dim, but I don't think so. Once he settled I worked on his halt and while the first time was a bit messy (kept wanting to spin and go the other way as soon as I got in front of his shoulder) he picked up on it pretty quickly and was stopping off of the voice and a slight body lean in no time.

I asked Debbie what else she wanted me to work on so we did some desensitizing work with the training stick and he was much better than I expected him to be. Debbie said she had done a lot with it since we spoke and it showed. He did wiggle a little bit, but I was expecting him to want to leave town.

One of his little quirks did show up as I was working with the stick, or, rather, it became obvious. He will put his shoulder towards you and look away. He wasn't necessarily shoving into my space (though he did get a couple of thumps for doing just that), but he was definitely putting some conscious effort into getting me "out of sight, out of mind." I found it a bit funny and told Debbie it was almost like he was trying to shun me. I was doing thingsbhe wasn't super fond of so he was going to give me the cold shoulder. Funny little horse.

He was very easy to move both his haunches and forehand. Again I was expecting some more stiffnes and resistance than he gave me. We finished out with lungeing on the line with me and then I traded with Debbie and she sent him around a bit, focusing on keeping him in a relaxed walk, changing directions if he started to speed up, and getting a little more coordinated with the stick and lead.

I think she got a pretty good deal on the little guy and he seems like a pretty good sort. We'll find out more as we work, but I think he is going to be much better for her than Royal was.

I had a break for a bit and we messed with Ruby and the Challenger to see where we needed the pole adjusted and to be sure the doubletree was wide enough. Ruby is our widest horse through the hips and with the 26" trees on the Challenger we weren't quite sure if it would work (note: we took them at their word that it was draft sized, the Roberts had 28" trees). I was worried the traces would be slightly "pinched" behind Ruby's hip, but after hooking her up it was apparent that it wouldn't be a problem.

We played with the pole length as well as the length of the chain going from her neck strap to the pole. I think we found a good sweet spot, but we won't know until we have both of them hooked up and get it moving. We used Ruby because she'll stand rock solid all day long whereas Charm-N tends to get impatient.

We had lunch in there somewhere and I had my last lesson at 4pm along with a working student. The 4pm lesson was two siblings and this was their last lesson as they are moving. We pulled out the giant soccer ball and they had a blast getting the horses to push it around. I grabbed Ruby and had my first ride back on the big lady bareback. I also put one of the Stark Naked Bits on her and got to try out the Trensen Knebel that I picked up the other month. I used the Trensen Knebel to attach the bit to her halter so I didn't have to snug the chin strap at all on the jaw bit. They worked well and I'm excited to have them in my toolkit even if I might rarely use them.

Today I just had to lessons in the afternoon. We hit the grocery store and Kelhan rode Chewy. We also pulled out Kitt and tried her in the TR50.

We fussed with the shafts quite a bit moving them out and angling them in. I do think it managed to be just slightly downhill. If Kitt just had one more inch on her it'd be perfect. As is I am debating on putting the shafts on upside down.



I might get another inch out of it if I rotate them in just a smidge more. The nice thing is despite being slightly downhill you still have less than 10lbs in each shaft and when I had her trot off the floated slightly in the loops. Kitt is using the draft sized shafts because apparently she is almost as long as Ruby from shaft loops to butt.

The little men drove with me a bit. Chris didn't get to drive unfortunately as little men lost interest and then Quentan woke up and was very unhappy so we had to cut our time short. Next time! Kitt did stand very well as we made adjustments on her.

After mostly driving the forecart the view from up on the TR50 was quite something! It puts you a good foot above where the forecart sits so I can see up and around the horse a whole lot better. Of course this cart is going to be really nice for Tru-D when she is ready for it!

Tomorrow I just have morning lessons and I think we're going to hook the big girls up to the carriage.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Sunday I got a call from Gary. The carriages were in! He said they turned out gorgeous and was really excited for us to see them.

When Chris got home from home teaching he hooked up the trailer and loaded up the tie straps.

Yesterday morning we sent the older boys over to visit Gamma and Farfar and Quentan was loaded up with us in the truck and away we went!

We stopped for gas in Prescott Valley and pulled into Gary's about 11:30.

Gary was right! We saw the Challenger as we pulled in and it was quite striking!

We met Shelley, the lady who imports them directly from the Kutzmanns and shipped them over. She was quite excited to show them off and said we had great taste in the colors and such.

We looked at the TR50 first. It usually has a back step on it and we nixed the step, which Shelley thought was a smart move. The cart is nicely balanced without it and looks sharper too if I do say so myself. We have two sets of ahafts for it (horse and draft), a removable wedge for the bench seat, a removable foot box because I have nubby, nubby legs (it will fit in both vehicles), fully covered storage under the seat, and brakes (could have done without the brakes, but resale value and they were reluctant to not put them on).

We then went over the Challenger and I climbed up in it and we poked around and looked at all of the features. It's just a touch bigger than the Robert's Carriage we have. The hydraulic pole is a very nice feature and having the doubletree built into the body of the carriagr is nice. On the Roberts the pole and doubletree are all one, which makes it terribly heavy and annoying to put on and off. The Challenger has rear brakes (they usually do all around, but we didn't need the weight or really see the need for brakes all around), pole, shafts, a 4-up attachment (we may use it someday!), delayed stearing, a 5th wheel brake, and airbag suspension system. I'm pretty excited to see how it rides.

Lots of carriage talk and staring and admiring them. Hard to believe they are ours!

Shelley headed off and Gary and Chris loaded up the carriages while I fed a now-hungry Quentan. We had to put the cart in the bed of the truck as there wasn't quite enough room for both the Challenger and it, which was a little disappointing. We can fit a horse and the Challenger in the trailer (checked when we got home) with just a couple inches to spare and the TR50 would be no problem being a third its size.

Thankfully Gary had some ramps and a bit of a ledge. The cart might not be as heavy as the forecart, but it is still fairly substantial to push up into the truck.

The drive home was uneventful. We apparently scratched some paint off of one of the Challenger's wheels. The good news is they came with touch-up paint. The TR50 was fun to unload. We don't have ramps and Dave wasn't home yet so we couldn't borrow his. Thankfully we do have a large pile of dirt! We backed up to it and Chris shoveled out a pad of appropriate size and we rolled it right off and Chris held it as I moved the truck before rolling (and sliding) it down the hill.

We did have a bit of an annoyance and disappointment as Chris went to grease up the hydraulic arm for the delayed steering. He put the grease gun over the zerk and when he went to remove it the zerk popped out of its hole! The thing was lodged in the grease gun amazingly well and I think it might still be stuck in it... Turns out the zerks weren't all tightened in their threads, but Chris had another one pop off on him today too. We'll be calling Gary about that.

Hopefully, minor hiccup aside with the zerks, they are going to be really nice vehicles for us. Chris put up the Robert's Carriage for sale last night and this morning my phone was lit up like a Christmas tree! I had a voicemail, text message, and Facebook message from a couple interested in it. They know Audra, who we bought our forecart from, and they REALLY want the carriage! They'll be coming down tomorrow to look at it and hopefully take it home with them! That pays for most of the TR50.

It's a good thing too, the workshop is pretty crowded!

lantairvlea: (zetahra)
Our DVD player has a five disc changer so I've loaded it up with horse DVDs to watch. I did (over)indulge myself for my birthday and got the back issue set of The Horseman's Gazette in September. I had the judges' commentary from earlier in the year for the current On The Levels I hadn't gotten through yet as well as picking up the last two parts of the Parelli driving video series because they were on sale. I joined the Savvy club for an additional discount and got both for less than the cost of one. They also gave me a bunch of credit and had another sale so I picked up their "On Line" series for cheap so I could glean what I can from it and have a little more knowledge of the actual program (the handbooks... holy cow guys).

Needless to say I have quite the stack of videos I can plow through during my down time, especially those times with a baby glued to me. I'm also doing some reading, but I'm indulging in videos because usually I don't.

So I recently finished the Parelli-endorsed video series on driving. I will note that I am not much of a Parelli fan. It has some good stuff on principle, but the execution and tendency towards gimmicks that target one's pocket book rather than bettering your horse's training is not my cup of tea. I paid nowhere near full price for the series and would recommend finding it second hand or taking advantage of a super sale.

The presenter is Nate Bowers and endorsed by Parelli. His father was Steve Bowers who to my understanding was pretty well-respected in the driving community (my sense more among the working/draft sect, but I could be wrong). He's still a young kid and that comes across in some of his presentation.

I picked up the first part (two disks) when the Parelli crew were in town and I was getting ready to start Zetahra driving three or four years ago. While I was working with a more experienced trainer I was also eager to seek out additional ideas and things I could incorporate at home between sessions with the trainer.

While there were some good things in the first set of disks, like how to introduce pressure into the (breast)collar and breeching, ways to introduce long-lining (which helped with Tru-D as she really needed that "step the shoulder/step the hip" thing sperated to keep her relaxed), I was disappointed that they didn't reach the point of hooking the horse to anything and 80% of the work was done with his broke-to-death mare. They did have some brief bits with his wife's horse that was at the beginnings of the driving training, but not much.

One concept in part one that I was not a fan of was getting the horse to walk off from the rein aid. Pick one rein to tip the nose and release when the horse steps. My big problem with this is that I don't really want my reins to be associated with forward motion. I want to be able to ask for a bend without my horse moving off and this, to me, actively encourages something I try to avoid. Plus how do you really get a straight depart if you're constantly asking by bending?

The second set was pretty much about the mechanics of driving and while helpful to someone completely new to driving, those who are a bit experienced or well-read will find it a bit boring. He did note that set one was "things the horse should know" and set two was essentially "things the human should know," which I guess works. Use the horse information to get people hooked before going over the person-oriented info.

He touches on rein use and mentions the whip, but he is not keen on voice aids and generally doesn't use a whip so there is heavy emphasis on rein use only (I'll reiterate I'm really not a fan of how he teaches the horse to step forward off of rein pressure). I guess this might make it more friendly for the beginning driver, but from a personal, communication, and safety standpoint I see the frustration and time spent getting proficient in using a whip and having a horse who is softly obedient to it worth the effort! So while he does cover rein aids, use, and effect he basically says "this is a whip, but I don't use one." He leans towards open bridles, but I imagine that ties into the fact that he doesn't really use whips so doesn't have to worry about a horse reacting to the movement of the whip over the touch of it (which is pretty much my #1 reason for using a closed bridle, to ensure an honest, relaxed response to the whip).

The third set of disks they do finally get the horse hitched starting with simple loads/drags and moving up to how to approach the first few times in the cart. He talks a lot about "commitment-free comittment" and how to hook the first few times to introduce the concept while being able to release quickly in case of trouble. He has some good ideas, but there are others I prefer more (namely the panic snap or string connection Clay Maier uses, it's a shame his website has disappeared off the face of the internet, would have loved to acquire some ofnhisnother DVDs...). Once again it fell a little short of what I was hoping for. While they did hook the horse it was again 90% done with a fully trained horse so there really wasn't anything organic about the presentation. The other horse who wasn't broke to death had previously been broke to drive as a young horse and was being re-introduced after years away from it and they didn't spend any real time with it and the cart.

Overall impression as stated before: wouldn't pay full price for it. It falls a little flat, though it does have some useful information I have referred back to and given me a couple of tools and ideas to add to my toolbox. I imagine they probably shot the whole thing over a couple of days and they used the same space throughout despite some early inages of him driving out in an open field.

I would view it as more of a checklist to refer to as it doesn't really have any trouble-shooting, just "if your horse gives you a yellow/red light you need to go back a step" without much discussion on what a "worried" horse necesarily looks like ir where the holes might be.

Oh, and what Parelli video would be complete without a gimmick? He has these "shaft shelf" loops that he uses during his first hitches to the cart. It has a steel ring wrapped in leather to keep the shaft loop/hobble/tug from collapsing around the shaft. It basically allows the shafts to freely slide out of the loops if necessary. I can't imagine them being cheap and, really, if your traces aren't attached you better have someone holding onto the cart anyway, which should provide the effort necessary to pull the shafts from the loops.

I'm thinking I should start putting together some hort, instructional videos this year.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
As usual I start with reviewing and commenting on last year's goals.
Conveniently under a cut )

Art
Share some drawings here monthly.
Finish the driving drawing!
Start a painting of the house (at least do some thumbnails and get the final sketch transferred).
Use my Polaroid/instant film ...

Writing
Finish editing and properly name STP-REALLY!
Another 10 pages on Fire Forged Key. (Slow and steady wins the race guys.)
Start case report on Zetahra.

Horses
Tru-D pulling tire and drag. Walks around neighborhood, ponying, at least introduce the cart, start riding!
Cinnamon- break the Stink to drive!
Kitt dressage show, driving show, driving around neighborhood.
Get someone off-property a couple times a month, even if it is just across the way. Help keep them sane.
McKlintock- turn him into a good lesson pony who can fill Chewy's shoes.
Get McKlintock's eyes taken care of.

Work
Take lessons myself for continuing education, maybe attend a clinic.
Promote driving side of business.

Religion
Temple work, idealy once a quarter at least.
Be a better visiting teacher (which means I need to take charge and not wait around for my partner to contact me...)
Continue reading Qur'an.
Read at least one book about religion and/or church history
Keep up with lesson reading for the Book of Mormon this year (preferrably in German!)
Build family history folder, preferably for both Chris and I, but at least get my side going first.

Self/Life in General
Have a healthy, baby boy #3 and get used to life with three kids.
Do some exercise daily outside of normal horse work, try toconvince Chris to join me.
Two-point for 15 minutes.
Do monthly goals and evaluations about overarching resolutions. This should help everything else fall into place.
Once things are settled see about doing counseling with my parents again. I've been at peace just leaving things as-is, but would like to have some sort of healthy relationship if possible.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday I got my first hair cut in two years. Maybe more. I can't quite remember.

I donated it, which meant I had a free haircut, which was an unexpected bonus. I still gave my hairdresser a tip. There was about two inches worth of dead ends and then 12 ontop of that for the donation. All said and done I think I relieved myself of 18" of hair.

It's always a little weird when you ditch out that much hair at once. All the little habits you have dealing with almost two feet of hair become really obvious and pointless at the same time. Lifting it out of my shirt collar, twisting and flipping it over my head to wash my back, and having to spend several minutes brushing it and braiding (brushing wasn't so bad once I got in the habit of braiding it, kept it from getting tangled).

My hair requirements are pretty simple. I need to be able to pull it back into a pony tail at minimum because hair in my face drives me nuts and keeping it ahort enough to not get in my face would require way more maintenance than I want to deal with. A hair cut once every year or so is often enough for me!

I had debated on just getting rid of the loose ends and then donating in May, but I think a pre-baby birth haircut was a good choice.

We are slowly drying out. The roudpen is good, but the arena still has some large puddles. I picked up some bags of shavings to help soak up the liquid and I need to hook up someone to the drag and see about breaking it up some again. Of course it is supposed to rain again Sunday ... just in time for things to be almost dried out!

I also picked up a bunch of baby prep stuff from Target. I think I mentioned I put baby clothes in the dresser and Chris and I got the crib ready and it is now in our room.

My go bag is ready and there's just a couple things left to prepare and then we are ready anytime. Little over three weeks left until D Day!

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