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: (Tru-D)
I'm not sure which one works better in this case, but "herd dynamics" it should be. I should probably get a better dictionary on my phone or maybe actually pull out one of the five I own...

I had noticed it a while ago, but it still strikes me as funny. Most people think of herd hierarchy as being fairly linear. You have the "boss" and then everyone follows in succession after that, right? Nope, not always.

The current status of the herd has Ruby still as undesputed benevolent overlord. Charm-N is next in line followed by Kitt, Tru-D, Chewy, and Kash, but not quite. There is a funny thing between Kitt, Chewy and Kash that is more pronounced around feeding time. Kash has typically been bottom man on the totem pole. He has had moments like when Zetahra was a baby and when Tru-D was a yearling where he wasn't going to put up with crap from a stinky baby. Of course Z eventually knocked him down a notch, probably around her turning one because she was such a strong personality. Tru-D is ahead of him now at two, but it took her getting to be his size for that to happen.

So watching the horses Kitt, Ms. Bossy Boss who had taken over the whole herd at one point until Ruby and Panda got sick of her bossiness and knocked her back down, but Kitt's there chewying on a pile and here comes Kash. She and Kash have been buddies for a while. They swish each other's flies and groom eachother and Kitt tries to flirt with him when she's in heat so I assume Kash is going to just share her pile. Nope! Angry ears and a tail swish and Kitt walks away!

Kitt then proceedes to Chewy's pile and shoos the little mare off. Chewy turns and goes back to Kash and nudges him off of his pile without a fuss and rinse and repeat until someone realizes there is a pile that no one has claimed. I find these litte dominance triangles quite amusing. One horse is dominant over another, yet submssive to the horse who is submissive to the one they are dominant over. Not linear in the least!

I imagine it gets even more complex with larger herds, especially those that have multiple generations growing up within them.

Last week my rope traces came in. I got to use them on Tuesday with Dragonfly. Dragonfly is a 17.1+hh Shire mare, classic black with a forelock to her nostrils and a broad white blaze. Maria wanted to get her driving so those were the skills we have been working on. Tuesday I dragged around the pvc pipe again, which she barely looked at compared to her 10 minutes of wiggling last week. I also banged around the singletree and only did two passes because she was getting bored and starting to play with the fence.

Maria said she had the harness on Dragonfly before so I went ahead and tossed it on. She was good for the saddle and breeching, but was twitchy as I played with the breastcollar. The traces were stitched in so I had to tie them up rather than removing them and as they brushed her front legs and armpits she was humping and twitching a bit. I managed to secure the traces to the tug straps and turned her loose. She bolted around the roundpen and I tried to turn her, but she was having none of it. I'm not going to argue with 1900lbs and she showed no sign of acknowledging me at all so I sat on a barrel and watched until she started to check back in. She didn't charge around very long before she started to look for someone to tell her what to do with herself. She hooked on and got rubs and love before I checked her flinchy spots. When it was clear she was settled I grabbed the long lines and rubbed them around before hooking them onto her breeching the goal being to check her response to pressure and start teaching her about pulling.

Maria held her lead and I had the long lines. I leaned pressure into them and waited until Dragonfly sat into the pressure before I released. When she was having a little hard time with it I had Maria reinforce the idea of backing into the breeching through the lead line. Dragonfly ultimately gave us a couple nice backwards steps and we called that good. I swapped the long lines out for the rope traces and gave Dragonfly a brief introduction to their feel. Because the breastcollar didn't have a buckle (I will NEVER buy a breastcollar harness that has stitched-on traces! So annoying!) I had to jury-rig it, but it worked. I put pressure on the traces and waited for her to lean into them. She did really well and we got her walking as I put pressure in the traces and pulling me around like it was no big deal.

The good and the bad is that Maria will be moving Dragonfly along. One of the other ladies in the draft horse circles is thinking about taking her on. Wendy P. has a grey Perch mare that drives well with Maria's Belgian Emmett (whom Wendy bred, raised, broke, and then sold to Maria several years ago) and they're seeing about a trade. If Dragonfly doesn't work for Wendy, she knows of someone else who is interested so it should all work out. I wish I had more time to work with her, but she should be in good hands with Wendy and Maria is excited to be getting a horse that is a well-broke driver already and matches Emmett.

Maria was heading up today to make the exchange and she just sent me a video of Dragonfly pulling a giant tractor tire. And by giant I mean it was a good 2' wide and probably close to 4' across. Dragonfly looked like she was pulling it like an old pro. I'd like to think the few hours of work I was able to put in helped.

Speaking of horses in training. I pulled ou Tru-D this morning because it was still not 100 by the time lessons were done at 9amn and maybe not even 90. The humidity was high, but at least we had clouds so it didn't feel like a sauna.

I pulled out the training surcingle and rope traces. I need to remember to snag some electrical tape and wrap the splices so I don't have dangly rope ends sticking out. Anyway, I warmed her brain up with some desensitizing with the whip before parking her at the "station" and introducing the rope traces. She sniffed and eyeballed them slightly and I definitely am going to need to rig up a trace holder for the future. The surcingle currently has a riding breastplate on it, which is nice for introducing pressure there and keeping the surcingle from wandering, but is no good for actual pulling. I don't qhite want her in the full harness all of the time just yet because it doesn't really fit her and I'd rather not try to adjust it out for her when I'm going to be potentially driving Kitt as well. For today, however, and the minimal weight of the rope traces I went ahead and snapped them onto the breastplate and Tru-D got to feel her first little bit of drag. She did quite well. To the right she wanted to swing her butt out and kept stepping on the outside trace (thus the need for trace carriers), but she straightened out.

I just walked her on the lunge until she thought it wasn't much before swapping out for the sidepull and long lines. She was a little bit of a handful on the long lines as she tried to noodlebout of going in certain parts of the arena, specifically towards the corner neighbor's place as they've been moving things around and their yard hasn't looked the same two days inba row of late. Eventually she realized that listening to what I was asking was easier than trying to noodle around it and we got some nice, big, steady, and forward circles in the trot before calling it a day.

Not too terrible for not having done anything in over a month. I need to buckle down and get her worked at least once a week during the summer and then moreso as it cools down. I need her long lining skills to be solid before I consider hooking her to anything and that is my goal by the end of the year to have her pulling the tire.

I'm looking into some options for driving breastcollars. I don't necessarily want a full pleasure harness right now, but the breastcollar would allow me to do training like I am with Tru-D without having to haul out the full harness. Plus they are way more adjustable than a collar and something that fit her would probably fit Kitt (and potential client horsrs...) as well and for just dragging the tire now and then for a short time, being able to throw something light on rather than hauling out the whole draft harness would be nice. I can always piece together a full harness if I want to, but right now I just need the breastcollar for training since I already have the traces I'm going to be using.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Life is at one of those places where there's almost too much going on to get down properly so we'll start with the big fun thing and go from there.

Chris and I did our annual thing going into Tonto Basin for the Draft Horse Driving Clinic. This was, I think, the eighth year they have held it and the fourth time we have attended.



We got to drive a four-up hitch with the sulky plow, which was a first and awesome! Especially once they got the lead mare's right rein sorted and we weren't relying on the left leader to make her turn!

They also broke out the walking plow, which we didn't try, but got a few pictures of. They had a grader hooked up to one of the forecarts, but they were juggling horses around and I only got to drive it to park it. It did balance the cart out nicely and made it easy to unhitch!

At the last minute Thursday I decided to take both of the Mamiyas. I filled up my film holders, which I have two of for the RB67 and four for the 645. I grabbed my oldest (read: terribly expired, but still good because they get stored in the fridge) rolls, plus a roll of Ilford B&W (couldn't tell you the last time I shot Ilford...). I ended up taking four rolls of Portra 160, my last roll of Ektachrome (sp? my last chance to shoot it, Kodak stopped making it), and the roll of Ilford. I'm not super keen on color print film anymore, but since the Portra was free (thanks Mr. Grant!) I'll shoot it.

I shot two rolls in the RB67 and two in the 645 the first day, which meant I didn't do too much driving that morning, but that's fine by me. I made up for it in the afternoon. Saturday was a bit cloudy and dull to start so I saved my last two rolls until it cleared up.

Chris and I hooked Red up single at one point because all of the teams were occupied. Bill said he'd never driven him single, but we should be okay with him. Daniel later informed us the gelding had been driven single, but probably not for a good decade. Red was a perfect gentleman, if a bit vocal. He walked like a slug, but rather have that than too much!

I do admit the adjustable axel on the White Horse forecart is awesome and, even with just an implement seat on it, it rides very nice. Maybe someday we'll upgrade our forecart, but a nice pleasure/marathon cart first.

Kitt's new bridle arrived, but the browband was smaller than discussed. I'm going to just get a second browband because maybe Tru-D won't have such a fat head and she'll eventually inherit it, ha! And spare parts aren't bad.

Speaking of Tru-D she got her first experience with the bit today. I don't plan on working her with a bit until she has a full mouth (after all of her adult teeth come in, about five years old), but I do want her to get used to just carrying it like I did with Z. Tru-D did well taking it, but wasn't too keen on not being able to spit it out. She kept gaping and expecting it to drop out of her mouth. I took it off after fifteen minutes or so and plan on repeating it now and again as I remember.

Bud

Dec. 19th, 2015 10:08 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Had another awesome drive with Bud today. Sue started out, but her hands were giving her a little trouble so I took over as we got into the desert area. We got him into a nice jog and I asked him to canter again twice. The first time he seemed unsure of what I wanted and the second time he rolled into it better, but he doesn't hold it very long, which is fine for now as I'd rather he slow down than take off. We may try for some more active trot-canter-trot transitions and this coming week I might get him on the long lines and see about tuning that up from the ground. Under saddle his canter is coming along, but there are more aids when I'm sitting on him.

As we swung back towards home I did a lot of wonderful bendy circles, turns, and direction changes around the terrain and we discussed maybe getting him out to a Darby or HDT in the coming year. The turns were smooth and I barely had to use the whip to ensure he stayed round and balanced through them. He is a pretty fun driving horse now and I hope I can get Kitt in the same state. Granted Sue's little cart is much smoother and quieter than the forecart, but you use what you have, right? I guess we have the wagonette, but it might be a bit big for Kitt and I don't have shafts that would fit her besides.

Anyway, Bud has come a long ways and I know I've said it a couple times already, but he's now the horse Sue was hoping to buy and I am actively enjoying my time with him. It's hard to believe he was such a pushy knucklehead at the beginning! We dragged tires around the neighborhood for about a hear before we hooked him tonthe cart again and all of that walking paid off. A year and a half ago I started riding him and he has come a long ways there too. He is still happier driving and that may never change, but he is definitely a more enjoyable ride than he used to be! I'm even playing with introducing the half pass at this point, which is exciting and fun (and makes me wish I could put the same time into my crew...).

Short version: Bud has gone from a pain to awesome in the last three and a half years.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Eclectic Horseman is running a sale this weekend on their Horseman's Gazette. It is 50% off the 24 DVDs they currently have in print (the first one no longer is). It's 48 hours of footage on mostly horse training. It is what I had initially hoped Equestrian Essentials(i.e. The Julie Goodnight Show, ppffft) would be. Information from many different trainers in the industry. I've been thinking about it off and on all day and dividing it out it ends up around $16 a disc, which is an awesome deal.

I do think I have managed to talk myself out of it for now. I technically have money for it, but I want to get Kitt a new driving bridle that actually fits her. I used her today for the horsemanship classes and everyone got to drive her around a bit. She did fabulous despite the many hands on the lines and I only had to save us from running into the fence a couple times (lack of direction on the students' part, not Kitt's fault at all), but I am reminded that the bridle fits a bit awkwardly and it has no noseband so I either leave her halter on or grab a caveson, neither of which look very sleek or fit superbly well. I've already contacted the woman at Camptown Harness about making one after the New Year and while it won't be cheap it will FIT and function and will be exactly what she needs and I want. I might have mentioned before I was hoping I could replace the browband so it fit her forehead better, but the winker stays are stitched into the browband and I'd be replacing half the bridle and there's really no replacing anything on it with how it is constructed. So $100 for something that might not fit and won't work for competition or $250 for something guaranteed to fit and will be perfect for the type of driving I ultimately want to do ... or $380 for 48 hours of horse videos that will take me years to watch, hahaha, I think the bridle wins.

I need to ask if lines are included in that and maybe see about getting a set with colored stoppers as I had contemplated earlier this year. It will be the most I have ever paid for a bridle, but driving bridles are not cheap. Whole lot more leather than a normal one!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)


We start 'em young at the Trout's Corral. Can you hear Kelhan kiss and say "Ooooh?"

Kitt's last drive was dragging a tire a couple weeks ago and before that it's been since April if not longer. She stood stock still to be hitched and walked off perfectly. I do think I need to eventually get a bridle that fits her a littke better. The browband is a smidge snug and I would like one with a full noseband.

Tristan also joined us and had fun driving. He wanted to go faster, but I told him there wasn't enough room.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
My 8am canceled last minute so I did some mucking and pulled out Kitt and her harness. I haven't harnessed up one of mine in WAY too long.

I pulled out the tire and hooked Kitt up and we dragged the arena. She was playing with the bit, but not really being fussy. I think she's gotten used to not having one with the bitless bridle. I might also look into more driving bit options down the line. I currently use a French Link Butterfly (three loops, drive her on the snaffle) on her with a copper link

She pulled like it hadn't been a day and was nice and light off of the reins. We dragged some of the wetter areas and what I would give for a harrow! The tire will have to do for now, but maybe once I get my card paid off I'll get one. I think I can improve the footing a bit in the arena if I had the ability to dig into the top soil a bit rather than just push it around as I do with the tire.

After Kitt I had Debbie and Royal. I took Royal out in her desert lot next door and worked him first. He was looky, but not nervous, more distracted. I mostly walked him and did some brief trotsn which were nice and forward. He jumped into the canter a couple times, but it didn't seem like he was "running away" and he came right back as soon as I bent him around. He doesn't have a bad canter from the few strides I felt, but rock and gravely desert dirt isn't the best place to be doing much canter work!

Debbie rode him in the roundpen and had a pretty good ride. He picked up the trot a couple times without her intentionally asking for it, but she is getting quicker and more confident in making the correction. They may make a decent pair yet. We just hit the year mark from when I first went out to evaluate her and Eden. My how time flies!

After that I had a break in which we went to Home Depot to pick up stuff to get the lodge pole bed in order for Tristan to move into that room. He's been pestering us since we mentioned it and we've been having to pry Kelhan out of the Jeep bed for weeks now so the boys are ready for a bed swap.

After we got the boys home I was off to work Oakley again. He started out really good with lots of long, stretchy walks and we were able to get down to business pretty quickly. I worked some circles, which he got quick and rushy on, BUT! he was offering the right lead canter rather than constantly throwing himself on the left lead. I finally had enough of the nonsense and sat him on his butt and backed when he would start speeding up through the turn. That seemed to help some. We had some good cater/gallops on his right lead and I worked on rating him back a bit and trying to find a nice, round canter, which came in handy when we made a couple of sharp turns (farm roads with irrigation ditches and right angles for the most part). He doesn't always come back quick, but he does at least come back. On the one hand I'm having a blast with a horse who has the energy, stamina, and desire to GOOOOOO! and on the other hand I'm annoyed by his constant creeping faster. He is very slowly getting better and we had some good gaits today that lasted for half a minute or more instead of just a couple of jumbled steps into a left lead canter.

I'm actually surprised he is picking up the right lead so quickly at this point. I was expecting to struggle more with it. Granted I'm not doing a whole lot of canter transitions, it's more "we're going to canter for a quarter to half mile now" rather than trot, canter twenty strides, trot, repeat. He might benefit from it, but constant transitions aren't in his main job description. I'm mostly playing off of what he is telling me. If he's wanting to rush off he gets to work on his stop and even backing. Or for a change of pace some one-rein stops until he stands still for several seconds. He's an interesting puzzle and I'm riding in a way I haven't had the opportunity to in years.

After Oakley I had time to say "hi" to the boys before heading out for my next lesson. An hour break for lunch/dinner and then two more lessons before the day was over. Tomorrow will be a little more relaxed. My new lesson postponed until next week and the other one bjmped to Thursday so I just have Roxanne and Bud for the morning before a break and then the art and equine science class. Their auto deposit didn't pan out this month so I'll pick up my check tomorrow and hit the bank on the way home.

And I had started writing this between lessons, but didn't finish it until just now. Written over the course of five hours! Ha!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
We loaded up Charm-N and the forecart this morning, had Marty sit at the house because the boys were still asleep, and headed out!

It was about three hours getting there and we pulled in about 15 minutes later than we had planned, but that's perfectly acceptable for such a journey with trailer in tow.

Troy didn't get there with his rig until after 11, which is when we were supposed to head out so we got to a late start, but that's okay.

We had three teams, five outriders, and us with Charm-N so an even dozen horses and even more people attached, not a bad turnout for a trail drive.

We started out with the riders in front and Chris and I were behind Troy's team and the other two teams behind us.

Charm-N has quite the power walk and we ended up having to hold her back and weave across the road to keep from running anyone over. We did creep aroud Troy at one point and found the Clyde mare being ridden in front of them had quite the stink eye, which gave Charm-N a bit of pause!

We did decide the outriders were going a bit slow (and the gatekeeper Clyde of the stink eye making sure nobody passed) and they pulled off and Charm-N took the lead and stayed there the rest of the drive.

We had lunch by a stock pond and relaxed for a bit before hitching up again and heading back. We were able to get Charm-N to drink at the pond while she had refused to do more than lip her water before we headed out.

The drive back was much shorter, it was a bit of a loopy zigzag and Charm-N marched off reenergized after the brief break.

We discovered Charm-N doesn't care if horses run at her, across from her, or away from her, but she does get a touch nervous/jiggy when they run up behind her. Not bad and an understandable reaction (especially when our guide or Muari would canter up behind and within a yard of us!).

Charm-N handled all of the obstacles quite well and for the most part went where she was told. Every once in a while her homing beacon would kick in and she would attempt to take us "home" down another road or apparent path.

The forecart also handled the rocky,gravely, and often uneven surfaces well. There were two spots where I got a little nervous as the cart tilted sideways up the slant and I REALLY don't want to tip a cart over. It's one of my paranoias, but it was good and again both of us were super pleased with how Charm-N handled it all.

20150328_142143

We were hoping to head home around 3, but it was after 4 and I am typing this as Chris drives.
lantairvlea: (bastek kunst)
Saturday was day two of the Roots N' Boots Rodeo. The ADHMA was invited this year to give a show/demonstration/expo thing on day two of the three day event. It flew by the seat of our collective pants and not due to weather (unlike the first time).

I have come to the conclusion that I need to just stop waiting around for anyone to contact me about these things and just need to step in and do it. Yes, Troy is the President and Jay the V.P., but I am technically on the show committee so that should mean I have some clout and say, right? Just because I am the same age as some of their kids doesn't mean I have to wait around for them to decide to do something, right? I can say "Hey! Let's do a meeting for this thing!" or "We really should get on about having a program for the show this year." and the like.

Anyway, Saturday dawned early and we fed the herd and finished loading up. Chris had taken Friday off to get things ready, but since he didn't tell me until Monday or Tuesday I didn't cancel or reschedule lessons (I had five). We did get time in to play with Ruby and Charm-N ground driving as a team again and loaded up the wagonette in the little red trailer among other things, but we didn't have nearly so much time together as I was running around doing lessons (two were off property).

Haley, the intern, was a good help throughout the day Saturday, even if there was quite a bit of hurry up and wait going on. Did I mention before that I picked up an intern from the same two year Equine Science program I went through? I did, and she's doing well I think.

We took Kitt and the forecart with the truck and horsetrailer and followed Chris who had the Whimobile and the wagonette in the little red trailer. Chris then went back to get Ruby and Charm-N as Haley and I lead Kitt around and got our bearings. The carnival rides were mercifully quiet.

Chris came back with the big girls and we started grooming up. I can't remember the exact order of everything, but I warmed up Charm-N in the forecart and was very pleased with how she did. While she wasn't completely loose and swingy in the walk the whole time she did walk for the majority of the time, which is a big change from her old "shut up and let me drive" mind set. She knows how to handle herself in a cart, she just doesn't always think she needs input from her driver.... I am also happy to report that she worked the whole time on the snaffle ring of her elbow bit with the low port. Up until this the last few drives under Michelle's instruction I have always worked Charm-N on some sort of leverage option either on the liverpool or the new elbow we acquired, but I think we have managed to come to a happy place where the leverage is not the go-to and we can happily work on the snaffle setting. Friday while we ground drove them Chris actually hooked her lines to the bitless bridle as a sidepull and she actually did pretty well with it. I have thoughts of acquiring a bitless driving bridle now for sheer curiosity's sake. Stopping wasn't the best under the sidepull option, but it was OK.

Chris hooked up Ruby and I tacked up Kitt and we cruised down to the arena to scope it out before the show officially started (bumped from a 9am start time to 10... ish.). Kitt was OK, though she did throw a few bucks on me. A little bit was nerves, some from the strangeness, some from the speaker noise, some from her not thinking she had to work so hard. She was really perturbed when Chris and Ruby left and I wouldn't let her vacate the arena. She finally settled and worked really nice once she realized that leaving the arena was not an option (even if the gates were wide open). I know there were spots that I could have handled better, especially when I realized I stopped using my legs at some point and guess what happened when I started activating them? She was a bit more obedient! Imagine that! Anyway, she got worked entirely in her bitless bridle Saturday from the morning warm-up to the breed demo that we did between the Unicorn hitch and the Four Abreast and the barrel race in the afternoon.



(Feel free to critique form. I know I am far away and there is a Clyde in the way most of the time [I was kind of hoping she would walk the horse around and not just stand in one spot...], but you can have at it just the same.)

I have some video proof of our demo ride. Chris hung out next to the in gate and shot it. Before I went in I had asked the lady with the Clyde if she wanted to join me as all three hitches were leaving the arena and I was thinking Kitt might enjoy the company. I was wrong. Kitt just needed to be told that the in/out gate was not the place to be and she then settled nicely. I even got her to gallop a bit and do some really nice halts. I haven't ever asked Kitt to go that fast before and she did it brilliantly once she realized that listening was a whole lot easier than arguing.

The show schedule seemes to fluxuate on Troy's whims. Did I mention that we had no judge? No placings, no ribbons, but also no entry fees so I guess it's all good.

I missed the Western riding class with Kitt because Troy had told us it was after the Street Cart class so I was with Chris in the wagonette waiting for the Street Cart class to start and then realizing that there were the Western riding people in the class... ah well. Ruby did great pulling the wagonette in the class, even with the carnival rides going full tilt (you see the ferris wheel and catch a brief glimps of one of the others, but there were four different spinning, twirling rides screaming people and all).

There was a lunch break in there somewhere and I got on Kitt again to hit the barrel race. No bucks during the barrel race (she did jump a pee spot another horse left coming to the third barrel) and she still had plenty of oomph and attitude to go. Kitt is in much better shape than I give her credit for with all the lessons she does. I had a lot of pony still left at the end of the day.

There was supposed to be a cart obstacle class, which we had hoped to run all three mares in, but it got nixed. There was also supposed to be a log skid, but that got nixed too because Troy forgot the log or didn't bring it. There was also no feed team race as Troy didn't bring the sledges (maybe a little too reliant on or fearless leader?).

Not that I want to harp on Troy or anything, but I do think that the club needs to decentralize a bit. Granted I do know that Troy probably has most of the experience out of everyone with his hitch that he tours with and demos all over the country, but he is a busy guy. He's also a good guy, but I do think the club needs to be able to function without waiting for his word on everything, even if he is the president of the club.

So we didn't get to do quite as much as we had initially hoped, but it was definitely better than the first time we were invited to Roots N' Boots! I do hope they invite us back again next year and hopefully we can all get our acts together (read: I finally step up and take some responsibility and help get the thing organized properly) and make it even better.

After the last class a crowd of us managed to get together and have a pseudo meeting. We talked about the fun trail drive coming up at the end of the month, the Equistar show in May that is supposed to have draft classes, and the possibility of shifting the yearly show to be with Equistar Show rather than the Equifest Expo in September like they did last year (heard it was quite a bust). I also brought up the possibility of a vehicle maintainence clinic, which they thought was a good idea and something to do towards the end of the year as it cools down again (bring your own vehicle! Pot luck perhaps?).

I'd have pictures, but I was too busy doing stuff to take any. I'll have to ask Haley if she took some and pester my clients who were there as well (had a half dozen show up I think).

Edit To Add: The bitless bridle functioned great. I did have a slighty issue with the noseband creeping down towards her nostrils at one point, but I only had to move it once during the whole day and I am not sure if that was due to her head-dipping threaten-to-buck shenanigans or what (probably). I did want to mention that the reins stayed as they should and the crown didn't get twisted at all on her head. I do think that the throatlatch attachment is what makes the difference in this function in steadying the pressure so the crown doesn't twist. Five stars.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Three lessons this morning, Charm-N at training, just worked on the ground, but I think we had something like a break through. We may be able to get past her "shut up and let me drive" mode fairly quickly.

Sunny may get past her "shut up and let me do my thing" mode if I rode her more than once a month. I got her pretty irritated at me by insisting she round and move off my inside leg.

Filly is getting even more social and much, much, much easier to catch. Last night I decided it was the "a" at the end I really like. I am testing "Truda" and I think Desta sounds cool. Ranicka was a though, but probably too long. Several others are on the list.

Two lessons this evening and Bud worked.

Tomorrow to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show with Chris!
lantairvlea: (New filly)
Our farrier comes Tuesday and I gave him fair warning that we had a bit of a wild hare being added to the bunch. He sounded self-confident and amused by my concern about her lack of training. I have seen him deal with some rank horses and some pretty snotty babies (my internship for my Equine Science Associates consisted of tagging along and taking copious notes as he worked with various horses from minis to Friesians and gaited horses to one that had suffered a broken shoulder) so a barely handled yearling really shouldn't be a problem.

That said it isn't the farrier's job to train the horse to be trimmed so I've been fussing with her feet since we went to look at her Wednesday. Yesterday I picked up her backs the first time and today I was able to pick them out. I think she's going to have nice feet once they are cut down to size! Her frogs are pretty wide and clean a surprisingnlack of thrush. The bars on one of her hind feet are broken over like Charm-N has a tendency to do (and Chewy on rare occasion, but Charm-N does it almost every cycle), but that should clean up along with everything else. Beneath the horrible flares her sole has a nice shape and her limbs also appear remarkably straight. She is steep in her hip, but less so than her dam.



She's getting much easier to approach and halter. She's even coming over and checking people out now if they hang around next to the fence and ignore her. She still isn't super fond with my arm passing close to her eye when I halter her so I start with the crown piece pretty far back on her neck and work it towards her ears.

Steady progress, not bad for not even a week of consistent handling! Of course I may completely blow her trust having Chatham out tomorrow to start her vaccines (dewormed, but completely unvaccinated) followed by Kevin the next day, but I am sure I will be forgiven in time.

Also: Have a video of me working the Fresno from the clinic. I am probably stupidly excited about working with this machinery, but I find it to be the coolest thing. I probably wouldn't say that if I was having to dig a root cellar or build a road this way, but how awesome is moving dirt with horses!

lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Not so many pictures this year as I wasn't three weeks away from bursting and relegated to picture taking and occasionally stealing a team to drive.

Friday was pretty full of people. Keara, Roxanne and Hal S. made it out. They couldn't quite swing it last year, but made a point to go this year. They ended up taking a border collie puppy home with them.

It was a lot of review and some reminding and refining, but it is a blast driving the teams and playing with some of the equipment. They did the plow three-abreast Friday and had the wagon and a couple of forecarts set to drive.

And there was this poor creature:



She's a mostly belgian draft pony. Dan said he's had her about two or three weeks she makes eight or nine head of the hefty creatures he's acquired now. Cubby, Dan's son, said they weighed her in at 1700lbs and they put a 27" collar on her. To put that in perspective Kitt and Panda use a 23" Charm-N a 25" and Ruby a 26"! Jed was a 27 I believe at 17.1hh. I think once she loses 300lbs or so she might fit in a 24 or around there!

She wasn't a bad drive, but is morbidly obese and very out of shape. Her hooves were a little scary too, but I think the guy they bought her from just turns them loose in the winter and doesn't do anything but feed them (WAY too much!).

We helped acquire the horses as we were early.

More pictures and rambling )

The short of it is lots of fun had by all! Can't wait until next year and getting Ruby and Charm-N driving as a team this years
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I rode Panda for the first time at the property. Roxanne and I went over to do her lesson and she warmed up Gypsy as I set the letters up. They are in by no means perfect position as I have them jammed in the cinder blocks, whichever one was closest to the measurement. I need to take some tape over and get them properly positioned (or acquire some stand alone letters).

I bridled up Panda and led her in before replacing the pole (nice thing about the set up: enter "gate" can be anywhere!).

I started Roxanne literally walking through Intro test A to get the pattern down before introducing the trot bits one at a time. Panda was a bit tight and a little worried, but since I was teaching I didn't really put her to work to move her through her anxiety. As it was she wasn't wanting to stand still well half the time and she felt like she was looking for excuses to jump out of her skin. She hasn't been off property since the New Mexico fiasco trip.

A landscaping truck went through the intersection and hit one of the bumps making a loud CLANG, which sent Panda scooting forward. I hyper-focused on the arena fence and had a slight panic myself before properly engaging my turning aids and swung her around 3/4s of a circle before bringing her back down. I admit for my part I was a bit up too so we had a bit of a negative feedback loop going. I went ahead and dismounted, standing with Panda out of the way as I taught the rest of the lesson. Wouldn't you know she stood stock still the whole time. Goober.

I finished the lesson with Roxanne and climbed on again as she was cooling out. Panda and I were both a bit up still and I could feel myself getting sucked forward and in her face. The moments I sat back and released more she did much better. I think I should throw the Western saddle on next time as I am more mentally secure in it (was Was in my dressage saddle, which is a little big on me too, doesn't help). She just needs to get out more again. It's been too long since she has REALLY been anywhere. It has also been a while since she has been honestly challenged in her work.

First of February I call Christa. Perhaps fate is conspiring in her favor to get Panda back.

Today was day one of the driving clinic! Mostly it was harnessing and unharnessing and hooking up to the carts and wagons. Dan had brought a White Horse forecart and man it was NICE. The axel adjusts forward and back to balance the cart according to your horse and load and the assembly for the pole or shafts just has a good sturdy pin keeping it in place, no wrench required! I would probably lean towards a nice two wheel pleasure/marathon cart, but the White Horse forecart is tempting! Bill bought the cart off of Dan before the day was out.

Dan had a new draft pony freshly shipped from the Midwest. Poor thing was a good 400lbs overweight. She came in on a scale at 1700lbs! They put a 27" collar on her and I bet if she lost weight she would drop down to a 23" her crest was so big. Her back had a noticable gutter and her tailhead was a mere dimple on top of her butt. She was also a bit downhill and in need of a farrier, but adorable in a clunky, awkward way. I'll have to post a picture.

Not a whole lot of new information, but you get different stories each time and the social aspect is fun along with getting to work with the horses. I drove the plow once and had a hand on each of the horses except for the grey Percherons (will have to drive them tomorrow). Tomorrow they should pull out the cultervator and the fresno.

I did poorly taking pictures, but being Not Pregnant this time I was busy doing!

We're thinking of asking Bill and Lori about doing a feed lease on Dick and Doc in the comming Fall. There was vauge thoughts last year, but we didn't quite have a place to put them. Once things across the way are more set up we'll certainly have the space and being down to five of our own we may just have some fun working them over the winter so they don't sit for three or four months before the clinic. Contemplations. Of course it will be good to get Ruby and Charm-N driving as a team too, but having one ready to go on loan might be nice!

To bed for another long day tomorrow!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)


Ruby was a bit forward and prancy to start, but considering they all spent the last 48 hours in their stalls and it dropped a good 20 degrees for the high we don't really blame her!

Tristan got to ride and wanted to drive and my mom even dropped by for a brief ride too. Now if we can make this a weekly thing...

Resolutions to come.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
With the rain last week training was postponed and I was able to squeeze in two days this week. Kitt doesn't know why I keep pestering her so much.

Yesterday we rode and warmed up over the cavelleti and got her cantering over them as well. It worked a bit better when I pipped my irons up and was able to settle into a better two point.

From there we hit the crossrail, which was the first in a three jump line consisting of two one-stride efforts so we had to come in at an angle, which Kitt took advantage of the first couple goes and then she realized I was insisting and she took it nicely. Then we added the plank jump, which she was a little backed off to start, but was eventually taking the two well also.

We then added the full line, the final one being a rather solid 2' gate. This is her second jump session with vertical jumps and 2' is definitely the biggest thing I've ever pointed her at and I am sure my own weird anxieties didn't help us in our first attempts!

It basically came down to Michelle reminding me that the most important thing in jumping is that the horse cross the obstacle. So when Kitt went to run out I stopped her, backed her up, and sent her forward over it (grabbing a bit of mane!). She can do a pretty impressive jump from a standstill!

At the end of one of our walk breaks as I was prepping for a canter depart she decided to dive into one of the stalls (Michelle leaves the gates open into the arena when her horses aren't in them). That resulted in a "Heck NO!" response, backing her butt up, and asking for an immediate canter depart and a nice, forward, and very determined ride down the line of three jumps! I kept her going after and brought her around again and she went right through it, no hesitation and we called it a day!

Today went slower than initially desired. I was going to work Bud at Horseshoe and then pick up Kitt and the cart for training, but when I unloaded Kitt yesterday I thought I heard a hissing noise, but couldn't pinpoint it. It honestly sounded like it was coming from the axel as the sound was about even on either side of the trailer. Sure enough when I went out this morning the left front tire was flat. Chris put air in it and I shot over to Discount and while they were patching the hole I had some pumpkin pancakes at IHOP (why not, right?). From there I went home, loaded Kitt, cart, and harness, and headed over to Michelle's.

Kitt was pretty nice from the get-go. She yielded nicely through the turns and didn't give me any opinion and simply complied when bending. She was a little resistent to back, but nothing like the head-flinging, butt-swinging tantrums she was pitching a few weeks back! We even played with some trot lengthenings. Michelle finally joined me in the cart now that we have most everything figured out and most of the big kinks ironed.

We did lots of big figures and moved to some tighter turns and direction changes. We ended the arena work early and took a quick walk out of the property and down the road. Michelle and I both admitted to being nervous when a big semi blew past,but Kitt barely flicked an ear at it. I think I may have a good driving pony.

After that I picked up Bud and worked him. Kitt managed to untie yerself from the trailer and was nosing through someone's leftover hay scraps. But and I reclaimed her and I tied her back up before finishing the ride.

Kitt went home and I discovered I left Chewy's water running. Took Bud back and picked the forecart back up from Michelle's before returning home.

Now I just realized I forgot to pull the cans to the road, but I can do that in the morning.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Since we have her listed as "in driving training" Chris wanted to get a picture of Panda in harness. Yesterday I pulled her out after my morning lessons and dragges the harness out. She eyeballed it slightly, but stood well to put it on. I undid the cross ties just in case because a harness with heel chains makes a fair bit of noise being chucked up and over a horse. I lead her in before putting on the bridle. She apparently has a longer face than Kitt, especially from her eye to moith, which is interesting as Kitt comes off as having a bit of a jud head whereas Panda appears proportionate. Even more curiois when the only adjustment I had to make to the harness was putting the crupper up a hole.

I threw on the long lines and asked her to walk. With the blinders she couldn't see me and I wished I had a whip so I could just tap her, but I managed to get her going off of my voice and she moved quitr stiff and high-headed. We just worked walk-whoa and had a very ginget change of direction. She wasn't sure aboit the breeching and noise and the reduced vision and just all of the THINGS on her, but she managed to keep herself together well enough for Chris to get a couple of pictures.

I took off the bridle and put her halter back on and lunged her in it, which allowed me to get her to a point where she actually relaxed with it on. Really, not bad considering she hasn't worn a harness since we bought her at the auction SEVEN YEARS ago!

Today I had some time and put the training surcingle on to long line her and be sure it was just the whole harness thing and not just the idea of long lining in general that she was having issue with. She was nice and lightn we worked walk and trot and did some circles and worked a serpentine back and forth in the arena. She has a hard time settling and finding her space going right (keeps pushing out mostly), but it is her more sensitive and reactivr side. Solution: work it more!

I am so ready for Summer to be over. I am over standing still and sweating. I had driving with Kitt this morning and she gave me a little garbage about leg yielding. I think I'll be using the longer whip next time as while the shorter one is OK since the lash fell off the end doesn't have a good weight to it and while it is possible to reach her shoulder it takes way more effort than necessary and half the time I ended up tappingbher hip, which just annoyed her, especially when it was her hip that was in and her shoulder was leaking out. She did to quite well overall and we had some lovely trot and figures. I think a few more times and I will be comfortable hitching her at home and start taking her out.

And yes, I am playing with getting Panda to drive, but it is very much an "when I have the time for it" thing, which is rare. It's not worth it at this point to take her to Michelle's for work when there is so much rudimentary work to do that I am perfectly capable of doing myself.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
The week before last Michelle and I hitched Kitt to the forecart for the first time. For not being driven in five years she did quite well. Last week didn't happen for obvious reasons so I doubled up this week doing Tuesday and Thursday (today). Tuesday we tried a littlw trotting and the forecart vibrated terribly. Kitt did OK, but was a little concerned about it. We figured it was the piece that the pole connects to, which Chris removed when I got home.

Today the cart was MUCH quieter. It did jiggle and rattle in the trot, but nothing too terrible and moreso when Kitt wasn't steady ahead in her trot. She would shift between rushing and slacking, and it really settled to my having more contact and being able to half-halt and steady her as needed.

Things I do need to work on with the Kitt are getting her to leg yield in response to the whip and increasing her lateral flexibility (or, rather, her response to my bending aids).

We walked, trotted, and worked on some trot figure eights. Her back up has something to be desired, but as Michelle pointed out the cart is heavy and she is resisting sitting on the breeching. She wiggles sideways before settling into a good backward step. She also likes to swing her hip out a bit much in the turn, though this seems to be a commmon problem with a lot of horses. The forecart also gives her a lot of room to swing her hip as it is designed for a full-sized draft over a Fjord.

I think next week we'll work the trot a bit more and then we'll be rotating between riding and driving Kitt and maybe bringing Kash out to ride too. We'll see.

I teared up a bit after I got back. I was filling up buckets and rubbing everyone's heads and thinking too much about Z and her place in the herd. Terror at feeding time, but also the initiator of many a back and neck scratch. How she was the only one Ruby could stand to be in a stall next to. She and Kitt were the babies of the herd (four years apart) and would get each other going.

So many things we were going to do. No more crash vest next year. Students getting to feel her out. Starting to work our way up the levels in Dressage and seeing how far we could go.

With Chewy in the small turnout since Sunday the arena feels extra empty.

I am still thinking. Maybe I just need to focus on the herd as it is. See about moving Panda on and just have five for a while. Fill Kitt's gaps a little faster and get more time on the boy. I think I'll try Panda Training or Intro this winter and maybe see about Kash too. Once I get the hay sorted I want to pick up the official test book like I have been meaning to the last two years.

Kash may be 17, but I think we can work towards putting together a solid 2nd level test in the next few years. Get Kitt going too and see about tentatively getting Chewy at Intro. At 23 I don't really want to try to get her canter going again. When we first got her it was school keeping me and then she kept getting older and it's a "why screw up a good thing?" because she is a fabulous walk/trot pony.

I have a squeeze of alfalfa coming tomorrow then pick up a few bales Bermuda to tide me over, order Bermuda, and see if I can't manage another squeeze of alfalfa before winter starts thinking about setting in and prices shoot up. It would be awesome if I could manage a winter's supply!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I took Kitt to training this morning as Z is still eh (more on that later). I loaded her and the forecart up and, well, okay, I loaded up the harness, closed the workshop, realized I forgot the cart, opened the workshop, loaded Kitt, started closing the trailer, realized I still didn't have the cart! Got the cart, took three tries to make it up the ramp as I was in a hole. I got in the truck and pulled forward to realize that I had forgotten the wheel chaulk ... yes, one of those days.

Kitt was slightly confused at being in harness, but she was more concerned about talking to Michelle's horses than anything the cart was doing. We warmed her up on the long lines and went ahead and hooked the traces. Mchelle acted as the breeching for the first lap before we hooked her fully. The false belly band was a hair too short so we improvised by changing it out with the one on the harness, which worked well enough. I need to remember to bring the other one next time. We walked and did big turns and halted and fussed with the settings and did more walking, halting, and fussing. There is an art to getting everything set correctly and it usually takes several tries before you get it just right.

We ran out of time to try a trot, but there are a couple of things to note. The shafts are passable, but maybe a bit wide. The forecart is a little wide for Kitt, but serviceable for pleasure stuff. The forecart isn't legal for CDEs anyway. Kitt needs to work on standing still in harnesd. She wasn't terrible, but she did fidget now and again, which was less than helpful.

If Z isn't feeling feeling up to snuff next week I may take Kitt and the cart again. We'll see.

Chatham didn't call me Tuesday about Z's bloodwork results. I finally got a hold of him this morning (he left for a conference Tuesday night) and I picked up the papers from his farm.

She was low on three markers: Red Bloodcell Count Hemoglobin, and HCT, which I don't remember what it stands for. Basically it points to anemia of some form or another. I am starting her on Red Cell in the morning (tried tonight, she doesn't trust it mixed withbran, goober) and we are going to do a fecal egg count on Sunday when Chatham returns. Perhaps it is worms. We'll find out. I guess it is nice to know something. This might also explain her elevated heart rate. That and perhaps her associating me witg being stuck with needles!

I am proud of her, though. She has done fabulous with all of her injections, even with the pectoral ones. I can see why we usually give it in the neck! The skin is thinner there! Dang needle bounced off her chest the first time.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Because Z wasn't feeling well I drove Michelle's Morab mare Tenacity on Thursday. I haven't driven T since last year as we've been focused on getting Z going in harness. Michelle does CDEs with T at the Intermediate level I think. She has a good amount of training just the same, not a beginner horse, but a nice drive if you know what you are doing.

We stayed in the arena rather than going out. As I told Michelle I think I'm pretty good at the straight line thing at this point so we worked on bends and turns. It ended up being pretty much self-guided and me just having fun playing with T. There were a couple little things to tweak here and there (releasing a little early in the halt), but not much. Thinking back to the first few times I drove and even considering the last 18 months or so I am very happy with my progress. I am almost as commfortable and confident driving as I am riding and I feel like I can assess a horse's training level pretty well. I won't "screw up" a trained horse and I can improve one who has holes (see Bud, massive holes!).

So Thursday we were able to do some nice pivots around the inside tire at the walk and had some good, tight turns at the trot as well, in which she essentially takes a renvers position on a small circle. I think once we get Z comfortable walk and trot in the cart we're going to have some fun getting her up to Tenacity's level (and beyond?) in the coming years.

I need to call Chatham in the morning and get Z's bloodwork results. He aaid he should have it this afternoon, but he hasn't called and I know he was heading out of town tonight. I called around 6, but it went straight to voicemail and his mailbox is always full anyway.

Z gave me a pulse at 54 this afternoon and then I had to keep listening and she popped back above 60. I didn't check her this evening, but will in the morning. Poor thing had a horsefly pestering her while I was mucking. I zapped the thing with Pirahna and sprayed her down. Hopefully it died.

This morning the S's and I mucked and as we mucked I had Panda on her lead so she had to deal with herself as the three of us were raking and shoveling into the cans. She actually stood really well and the only time she goobered was when I was pulling the can (Panda in hand following behind) and I dropped the can back down as she passed. I did it again and she was better. After we were done mucking I had Keara work on the head down cue with her and desensitizing to being approached by a person (walking up and away, working towards jogging up and away). My cheating is working. Keara said Panda did much better with the head down cue than last week. At least once when I feed her, if not both times a day, I have been doing the head down cue on both sides of her to get it established without having to stand around a long time waiting for her to drop and it also becomes very self-rewarding. Not only do you get the endorphin release, but food!

I ended up throwing the surncingle as well as the Vienna reins on Panda and lunged her. The ad says she's in driving training and so it shall be! Step one: get her lungeing nicely in both directions at all three gaits. She did quite well, but a little trotting and all the time cantering to the right she wanted to hang pretty heavy on the lunge line. In one way this might balance out her current tendency to want to dive in under saddle. She is more wary on her right side and I imagine that is the main reason she is trying to move out: to get away from the spacial pressure of me on her right side. So current thing to work on lungeing: getting her more relaxed going to the right.

Her stop was pretty good, though again on the right she was wanting to creep a little and attempt to turn in/around to present her left side more instead. I also see a lot of direction changes on a shorter line in our future. Once she's doing well on the single line we'll bump up to the long lines and maybe see about throwing one of the harnesses on her. She is shorter in the back than Kitt so Kitt/Z's harness should work fine through the body, but I am guessing the collar might be too small. I'll have to measure her if we get to that point. I doubt she is as large as Ruby and Charm-N, but I don't think Kitt/Z's collar will be big enough. I guess that will be a question for later. Technically Panda drove before we bought her, bit that wa seven years ago now and I haven't had the skill to bring her along/see what she knew until after we sold her.

After Panda I grabbed Marty's mare Sunny to work. I don't think sunny is entirely happy in the Dr. Cook's bitless bridle. Sunny doesn't/can't use a bit because she had some nasty lesions in her mouth that caused her lips to heal off-kilter so you can't have a bit sit evenly in her mouth without it pulling on one lip more than the other. Marty has a really nice Hackamore/Bosal she had custom made for Sunny (because she has a fat head for a Quarter horse, heh), but she wanted me to work her in the other as I brought Sunny banck into work.

At the moment Sunny braces up every time I pick up the reins to slow her down, and actually she'll do it if I start asking with my seat too. She is also doing a couple other things with her face that make me wonder if she doesn't quite like how it sits on her face. I know she HATED the mechanical Hackamore so maybe it is the under jaw pressure? Either way I want to try the Bosal and see how she is in it, if she isn't happier in her face since it doesn't have the under jaw pressure.

Sunny is being quite good, especially since this is ride three after um... three years off? Maybe just two, but probably longer since she was REALLY ridden. Other than not being quite happy in her face her big thing is the canter. She is actually going into it brilliantly. I even got a walk-canter transition out of her, but her canter goes from OK to feeling like she's bouncing up and down on her shoulders. Like riding a horse on a pogo stick. I had a really hard time sticking with it when she did that. If she was OK I could feel a good, solid connection with my seat, but when she braced in her front end it was nigh unto impossible to follow with my seat, feeling her drop and bounce right up underneath me. I tgink some two-pointing is in order to save her back and my seat!

Forgiving

Jul. 26th, 2014 09:28 pm
lantairvlea: (zetahra)
Good news: If I ever get in a wreck with Zetahra and a cart or carriage she is not the type to associate driving as The Great Evil and I should be able to hook her again no problem.

Our session this evening proved that to me. It wasn't an issue with her pulling something, it was an issue with whatever initially spooked her and the additional sound of the cans. Lesson learned: introduce scary sounds how I did it this evening rather than assuming she will be good with whatever I may attach to her or that her reaction will be manegable.

So tonight was to see where she was at after this morning and to also work things out myself and reinforce the smart way to do things.

I warmed her up in her harness on the long lines and then I got out the cans. At first I had her halted and just gently tapped them against the ground and each other. She was a little worried and I suspect it was that the cans were the main noise she associated with our wreck this morning. I praised her when she stood and reminded her when she didn't. After that I kept her standing as I dragged them behind me to the side of her. She wanted to jig a bit and I would remind her to stand and then start dragging again. Eventually she realized they weren't going to kill her 15 feet away and I commenced walking her while I dragged the cans. She got a little nervous and I dropped the string a few times as I calmed her with my voice and the reins before picking it up again and restarted.

While I WOULD like her to come back despite the scary noise we're taking baby steps and getting her to come back to me is more important than continuing making noise until she relaxes as at this point I feel it could push her too far.

Anyway, we gradually moved up to longer and longer periods of me dragging the cans as she walked around, changed direction a couple of times and called it good with the cans. I brought them up to her, which she wasn't quite sure of at first, but she did eventually nose them at least.

I then decided to play with the emergency release on the singletree. Basically I took two pieces of bailing twine and looped them through her heel chain and the hooks for the singletree. It had to be enough to provide a pulley effect, but not so much that it really locked down. I also discovered that the bailing twine wasn't the best choice as the knots would get stuck. Another option would be to get a piece of rope to do it with so I wouldn't have to worry about knots in random places, but you use what you have, right?

When it cools down and I pick up Molly again I think I am going to invest in a set of the cotton rope traces that Clay Maier uses so I have a set of training traces independent of my harnesses. I can also use them to directly connect to the tire with an emergency disconnect without the use of the singletree, which is slightly awkward as I have to run it through both the hooks whereas with the rope traces it would be just the single ring. They are also longer than the traces that come on most harnesses (except, perhaps, for those made for pulling competitions) and provide a better distance with dragging stuff on the ground.

Anyway, I ended with hooking her fully to the tire and we did some walk and trot transitions and ended with that.

So tonight was basically how I should have done it this morning. Thank heavens she is a forgiving creature and is already confident in the basics of driving, even if other things still occasionally get her.

I had initially intended on riding Panda, but then I realized I had spent over an hour working Z. Then I thought I would at least work her on the ground in the round pen a bit, but by the time I got done putting Z and everything up, feeding the herd, flushing Ruby's scrape (she did it the day before the gate, totally unrelated) and putting ointment on it, adding more Swat to Z's abrasions, and filling water it was later than expected and guilt at having the boys with Marty was hanging heavy over my head. So I cheated. I gave Panda her dinner and worked on asking her to put her head down for a couple minutes. She did quite a bit of yo-yoing with her head, which any of my other horses would have been glued to their food pile, but at least she wasn't standing there saying "I can't possibly eat in your presence!"

Did I mention the first time I tried to hand graze her she took over 20 minutes to think about dropping her head? It was more than 10 minutes later before she worked up the nerve to take a bite!

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