lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Today was crazy-busy.

It started out going behind the mountain for Nelson. He wasn't feeling too hot so I just rode Roy and Molly got a break. I'm able to sit more of Roy's trot, which I'm not sure how much of it is him getting better or me getting stronger! His canter is coming easier and is more balanced too. He'd be fun to take out on a big track and let out. He's got a lovely forward, thrusty canter.

From there I headed to Dawn's for Grace. She is doing quite well with her lungeing and basic groundwork so I will be bringing the surcingle tomorrow to introduce before getting to long lining.

After Grace I zipped home, swapped the Jeep for the truck and trailer, loaded Bud and his cart and headed to Michelle's new place for a driving lesson. Considering Bud has never hauled and driven (at least not in the last five years) he did awesome. Most of what needs to be worked on is me being pickier. Making sure he's bending through his body and not just his neck so he stays centered in the shafts rather than shoving his butt into the outside shaft. Also watching his left shoulder that likes to pop out. We also need to get him using his hip more through the transitions so he isn't popping his head up, but overall he did awesome and I've gotten him into a really nice place.

I took Bud home, pumped 10 oz. and then headed back up the mountain to work Ellie. Kristin said Ellie had been a bit off behind (not quite lame, but moving funny) and she's thinking maybe that caused our exciting spin last week. Ellie was a bit of a firebreathing dragon as I was lungeing her, though I managed to bring her down to earth.

From there I ran home again, took a breath, ate, and then headed to evaluate a Gypsy cob for possible full driving training. I'll write more about that later, but at least wanted to jot down part of my day. Tomorrow I have a little more breathing room, but Thursday is also packed. I have something like 23 lessons scheduled and then the training with Bud today plus training eith Carrie Thursday.

GOGOGO!
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)
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)
Too many days between substantial updates means that it feels like there is both everything and nothing to write about at once.

I kept saying I needed to write about the Gypsy yearlings again because I saw them the week before Thanksgiving, and here it is the week after and I am going to see them again.

Short version: Both needed some basic leading lessons. They were a perfect example of "they lead great! Except for where they don't want to..." Mini, the filly didn't want to go into the roundpen so I took over and the little goober actually struck out at me as I asked her to come up beside me. We focused on her leading skills and eventually got it somewhat sorted, though not where I'd like to see a long yearling she was better than where she started. Topper wasn't so bad, but he did have his suspiscions about where I insisted he needed to be positioned with me. This Thursday it will be review of the above and seeing where we are at with the roundpen work (if they're ready to walk around and change directions nicely rather than charging about like goobers), do more desensitizing with the whip (Topper especially needs it), and moving body parts around.

I picked up another driving client this past week. She has a 11.2hh section A Welsh pony. SO SMALL! He turned four this year and still has one baby tooth in his upper left incisor. He came, I believe, from a breeder in Phoenix and was already broke to drive. The owner is getting into horses again after some time away and isn't super confident about her skills. Thankfully she did the right thing in getting a horse that knows more than she does. She had one session with a well-known driver (who was our ADCS president for a year or two, actually) and she said he was very well-broke to start and the owner got a great deal. She also had some lessons with Michelle, who I learned to drive from, though they were geared towards basic horsemanship rather than driving and were a couple years ago. I guess Michelle was wanting to teach her on Michelle's own horses before thinking of doing anything with the little Welsh so she found me through the ADCS directory hoping I could work with both of them.

The first think I did with him was check out his ability to bend without moving (poor to start, but he got it), and then I played with moving his body parts, explaining what I was checking on and looking for and also why it was important during driving. From there we tried on his harness and he must have grown in the last year (not surprising, he should fill out for another year if not two) as there were a few spots we had to adjust. As I went over the harness I explained the parts, how we want them to fit, why I was adjusting this or that, and how they function in relation to the cart or pulling things in general.

I had both Monique and her husband Dave to work with so both would ask questions and I'd answer. Monique said her husband had the better memory and she needed more hands-on to really set things in place, which is good to know.

The bit was a little narrow on the gelding (his name is Ballad) so I suggested we'll need to look out for something that fits better. I ground drove him in it and he did well. He will need to be taught to carry himself a little better through the turns, but I wasn't too surprised considering how much he wanted to follow his nose in my preliminary ground work instead of just bending at the line pressure. I had Dave pull the cart around and while he (supposedly) has been well broke to drive I walked Ballad behind, alongside, and then in front of the cart before we stopped and went through the process of putting him too. He stood really well as I once again explained the steps, purpose, and safety reasons behind them (traces first, then breeching, then false belly band). Since we had run up on our time we then unhooked him and called it a day.

I told Monique we'd probably proceede in a similar manner, have the first half of the lesson focus on ground handling skills and getting her comfortable asking him things and moving him around and then the second half we'll get him in harness and build from there. Next time I won't ground drive him so much before putting him to, but the first drive will probably be a few steps, halt, and good depending on the time we have. She had sent me several videos that the seller had posted of him so I have a fair handle on where his training was a year ago and where to take it from here, starting with plugging holes I find in his foundation work.

I'm a bit excited to have another driving client. All of my work with Bud has made me feel like less of a hack and that I actually know what I'm doing with this driving thing. I don't think I mentioned that I cantered him in harness the other week again and we had a really good workout doing a bunch of crisp turns at the trot and just really enjoying him as a nearly finished driving horse rather than a project. Speaking of Bud I need to see if I can squeeze him in my schedule this week again as Henry was sick on Saturday. I have 22 lessons scheduled plus the two hours of the art class (one hour drive time round trip) and then the hour and a half I lose going to and from the Gypsies. I also have my doctor's appointment tomorrow and counseling. Busy, busy, busy!

Marty has had Keara putting some rides on Cinnamon. I've been eyes on the ground for her (I have been using Sunny a bit for lessons, payback for using Marty's mare) to help both of them get along and communicate. Cinnamon is getting less opinionated in the lungeing warm-up, though she had a few words today, probably because she was pulled away from dinner and it was almost 20 degrees cooler than it has been. We are working on the "happy forward" thing. Cinnamon seems to have a few good forward transitions and then she hits a little bit of a mental block where she stops seeing the point. I suspect this will be less of an issue once she gets out of the arena again, but I'd kindof like this issue gone before getting her out of the arena again! She did kick out a bit and threatened to pop her front end on Keara tonight, but finally went forward when she realized Keara was just going to quietly persist and we ended early when she gave three good walk to trot transitions in a row without opinion. We ask for less when she gives us more!

We finished decorating the tree today. We had to buy new lights so we set it up Friday and it has sat sadly in the corner without any decorations. We ran several other errands today and got them done early enough to catch a showing of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

Tomorrow I'll be running hither and yon. I need to remember to grab my bucket of bits as we'll be trying some on Royal tomorrow as well as Carol's new mare after Nelson's lesson.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Last week Chris went with me to work Bud Wednesday. I didn't realize how nervous Chris had gotten driving, but I don't think we've hitched up one of ours since the Sedona trip in March. We had an open stock trailer come up behind us, which made Bud a little nervous, but he did really well. Chris was less chill about it, but survived. We trotted just a little bit and kept to the road insdead of crossing the wash to work in the desert.

Saturday Sue was still recovering from a stomach bug so Henry joined me. We went out to the desert area and Bud was feeling really good so I asked Henry if he minded I try the canter and he was good with it so I had my first purposeful canter in a cart. Bud did awesome. He was questioning, but didn't get flustered at all about the faster speed and what the cart was doing. I allowed him to peter out and asked two more times. He isn't quite speedy or graceful in it, but soft and slow is fine by me right now!

I am really pleased with how Bud has come along. He started out as such a knucklehead it's great to see how well he goes now, especially with how he and Sue are coming along together. I may work myself out of a job with them yet. It may not be for another year or so, but the progress is steady and good.

Tru-D is closing in on being kindof greenbroke to ground drive. The last time I pulled her out she was a bit zoomy to start, but did settle into some nice work. I may dona couple regular lungeing sessions the next couple times I work with her and am debating on how long I should work in just the halter before shifting to a sidepull or some such.

Poor Tru-D did get stomped on my Charm-N yesterday as the two of them tried going through the gate at the same time. We did some soaking with epsom salts today and gave her some Bute this afternoon. She is putting weight on it, if moving gingerly, and it actually doesn't appear swollen at all so we're giving her another day and see how she is. Hopefully itvs just bruised and nothing major.

I was looking at Tru-D the other day and realized something...



I think she has Kash out-massed! I don't quite know when it happened. I need to measure her again and see where she is at now.

Monday for Tristan's birthday we had planned on going to the zoon but it was raining so we went to the "indoor zoo" instead, which is Cabelas' and on the other side of the valley, but the boys enjoyed it with watching the big fishea and turtles as well as seeing their collection of stuffed/taxidermed animals. They also enjoyed getting fudge, some lunch, and playing at the shooting arcade, which lead into them really wanting these toy rifles that make shooting noises (they do not fire, so no actual shooting). We had some time aftet we got home tongrab some last-minute things before Marty, Dave, and Chris' brother Brad plus family came over. There was pizza and instead of a cake there was cookie dough, which made Tristan's freshly four year-old heart giddy. Tristan enjoyed his gifts and had fun chasing and being chased by his Trout cousins.

Still haven't heard back from my older brother. Dad apparently stopped by Dave and Marty's, which I'll expound on later.

Two weeks ago I cantered Royal for the first time. He may have a rough trot, but his canter is NICE. Debbie got to experience it briefly last week a bit unintentionally, but she agreed it was lovely. Today we tried out a Monte Foreman "Balance Ride" saddle that Janiece W. thought would be a great fit. Janiece is somewhere between 60 and 70 I think and trained under Monte Foreman. She can TALK and knows that she knows a lot, but she's also a bit set in her ways and seems a bit inflexible. I haven't had a lot of experience with her, but my farrier does her horses too and her daughter put a couple months on Toby (anyone seen "Wild Horse, Wild Ride"? That would be Wylene) a few years ago.

Anyway, she was basically trying to sell Debbie this saddle for $1500 and it looked older than dirt. The leather was still good and soft, but I wouldn't pay that much for something that looked like they had been used hard for the last 20 years. Anyway, the big idea behind the balance ride is that the stirrups are hung further forward and the seat is pretty much flat. The rigging is in-skirt so less bulk under your leg and the stirrups have a really interesting double-adjustment system that I couldn't even start to describe. You'd have to see it.

I didn't really like how it sat on Royal, it looked "down" in front and the back of the saddle curved up away from his back, like the rock was too steep for his back shape. I tried it anyway and Devbie and I discussed how it was put together and what it was doing to my position. I liked that my knees stayed over my toes, but I could definitely feel my lower leg was not under my seat. The flat, wide seat felt like it was prying my thighs apart and rotating then outward uncomfortably and it forced me to sit almost entirely on my seatbones. Walking was manegable, but posting the trot was pretty hopeless. My thighs ran into the swells and as the stirrups were forward returning down and in balance wasn't quite happening as it should.

I've ridden in some sub-par saddles and had to make due, but this one combined with Royal's thrusty trot was not doing me any favors. Royal started out okay, but towards the end was less than happy with my lack of balance and I told him he was a good boy for at least humoring us.

We talked more about saddle fit and also about how it should fit the rider. What the flat seat causes and why saddles have that rise from the seat instead of being completely flat (Janiece called the rise a "ball buster," classy). I think the flat seat would work for people comfortable sitting on their glutes instead of their seat bones, but when you are used to the three point contact of seatbones plus the pubic arch a completely flat seat isn't going to do it unless your pelvic anatomy is so devious as to have the pubic arch and seat bones at the same level (typically your pibic arch is higher than your seat bones).

Anyway, Debbie was glad that she didn't have to buy another saddle. Janiece seemed to be of the opinion that the Monte Foreman saddles will fit ANYTHING, but I have found that is not the case with horses. I think the only piece of tack that fits every horse is a lead rope and that isn't even directly touching the horse's body.

And I need to hit the hay otherwise I'd keep going.

It was COLD this morning and we are expecting another hard freeze tonight.
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)
Riyal was really grumpy a couple weeks ago so we swapped saddles last week and I threw on my SQH bars BigHorn. He was a bit humped up and grumpy to start, but I think he was expecting some serious discomfort so I slowly worked him through walkingn halting, and finally asking for some trot. He would go a couple strides and stop, but each time he got better until he gave me a really nice stretch where he feltnlike he would continue so I asked him to stop.

We checked her other saddle after I looked at the sweat patternsn which seemed good for the BigHorn, but putting her Circle Y on with my thin pad madebit immediately clear that the saddle was far too wide and I could barely get my fingers between his withers and the gullet/arch of the swell.

This week we worked him in my BigHorn again and he moved out 50% better than last week. Perfect walking out until I mentioned him not being grumpy about it, after which he proceeded to grump, but then leveled out again. His trot was much more free, but I suspect the footing is a little deep and loose around the edges of the roundpen as he was prefering to take an inner track and I could feel his hind end slip a little here and there. His feet are also due for a trim.

Debbie climbed on him for the last little bit and he kept trotting off on her! Very willingly, not running away or being grumpy, but she had some serious leg tension and some mild anxiety that was sending him forward. Once I wiggled her legs a bit they loosened up and he was perfectly content to walk. I also had her do a lot of turning and changing of direction to keep both of then occupied and thinking dynamically rather than getting stuck in a single thought.

When we were done we tried on Eden's old saddle, but it didn't fit quite as well as the BigHorn. While the distance was about the same at the top the gaited saddle had an angle that was a lot more horizontal so it was tight behind his shoulder and then gapped below. I had to lift panels and poke around to be sure that the tree did extend down that far and it wasn't just because the front gullet bar was really short. I had Debbie feel what I noted and then we threw the BigHorn back on for comparison and noted how smoother and more even the pressure was even without a rider on it. I was surprised looking at the front bars of the BigHorn tree how much they angle out at the front. It isn't an angle I stare at the tree much, usually I'm checking the side to be sure that it's not sitting on the shoulder. I have seen some trees that are flat and even angle IN at the front, which is just plain scary. Hopefully they've kept up the quality as I think mine is about 12 years old now.

Today I also noticed some white hairs on Royal's right side, which has me worried that there was some REALLY serious saddle fit issues going on and I'm sad I didn't spot it sooner. Granted it is possible that the trainer he was at for July and August didn't have the best fitting saddle on him either and he rode him (one would hope) a LOT more than Debbie has since he came back.

Short version: Royal was crabby, but we think it was the saddle and have found one that fits him better. I think Debbie's going to look into moving on one or two of her old saddles and picking up a new one so Royal can be more comfortable and she can stop borrowing mine.

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