lantairvlea: (lantair look)
So Sunday we added dirt to the arena, We also ripped up our rock-hard footing. It looked like broken up concrete for several passes, but it improved as we went. Monday I had my first lessons in it. Sunny was a bit zoomy with Olivia, but they worked through it nicely. I think we have the footing to blame as Ruby was cantering around too!

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

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

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

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

The windfall of the desk's sale will go towards a flat file to store paper similar to one of these. I will have a place to store my large sheets of paper without having to roll them or shove them behind/under the bed! It will also take up a third of the space as the desk so winning all around!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday was my first day back to work. As mentioned before there's a little bit of me that wishes I could take a couple months off, but working does provide a type of "me" time that can be lacking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Tomorrow I just have morning lessons and I think we're going to hook the big girls up to the carriage.
lantairvlea: (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)
Not sure if that would be the proper word for hitching post, but I try!

The initial plan was to finish up the cooking area, but brain said "no" and I ended up sketching back in the remaining elements of the painting so they weren't ill-defined blobs. Obviously I misjudged some of the areas as I was painting the grass and will have some filling in to do afterwards, but it could have been worse and I saved the green paint so I should be able to avoid the pain of remixing the paint (curse you acrylics...).



No, the saddle isn't going to be purple, it's just the color I ended up sketching with. Once I finished sketching them in I started in on the barrels and hitching post.



For simplicity's sake (and unity!) they are the same reddish brown.



I also tucked up the grazing Fjord's neck as once I got the breastplate sketched I realized I made it's neck attachment way too low. I also fussed with the right hind leg which has been bothering me.

The barrel the waving man is sitting on will look less lopsided once the guys legs are painted in. It was bothering me, but I kept telling myself I didn't need to paint something no one would ever see ... says the lady who painted the whole horse and is covering half of it with a saddle ....

Probably won't have time to paint again until Monday. I guess I could do it Sunday, but being a paid commission I'm not really keen on that. I am done Saturday at 2pm, but after seven hours straight of lessons I don't know how into painting I will be.

In other news Kash came up sore in his right loin Tuesday. Kristin's coming out tomorrow for him and he's been getting a gram of bute the last couple days. He's not lame per se, but he is moving stiff behind and thinking a lot more about what to do when pivoting on his haunch or forehand. Charm-N turned up lame this morning. Fine last night and started out good, but as I was focusing on another student the one riding her called over saying he thought Charm-N was limping and so she was. My best guess is she stepped on something. She's wanting to point her toe and I couldn't find any heat in her leg. I have some bute tabs soaking for both of them now.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Thursday marked the end of an era. I sold my 16" semi quarter horse bars Big Horn saddle to one of my clients. It was my second saddle and I can't quite recall if I bought it before or after Kash, but it was after I started working for Judy because it took me a couple months to realize my old 14" didn't fit me anymore (I still occasionally pop on as small as a 13" for very brief demonstrations).

I acquired a 16" FQH bars High Horse by Circle Y a week ago Monday and was able to try it out the following Thursday. It sits more like a 15" than a 16" because of the way the cantle is shaped. It's a little more "closed" than the Big Horn. I had to move one student up to the 17" because it fit better, but the rest of them were comfortable in the new one.

I rode Kash in it with a thicker pad and it seemed to go pretty well for as much as it is(n't) going to be used on him. The old one fit him really well, but he was the last horse that it really fit. I think Sunny was OK in it, but she can get along well enough in the FQH bars too through the thicker pad too. I don't really forsee getting another light breed horse so hanging on to the SQH bars saddle is a little purposeless, especially with the need for the wider saddle for Chewy, Kitt, and it will fit Charm-N and Ruby well enough too.

There's a little, irrational part of me that wants to hang on to it, but we do have a 17" SQH bars saddle sitting in the shed too that has seen a lot fewer miles.

It served me well, and hopefully will serve my client well for years to come. Fare the well saddle!

In other saddle-related news I put a saddle on Tru-D for the first time today and she wore it well. I had her in the arena and tossed the blanket on and off of her until she stopped insisting she sniff it every time.

I then took the little 12" western saddle and did the same. She also wanted to sniff it a lot. After putting it on both sides several times and even sliding it off of her rump I put the pad and saddle on together. She stood really well, though eyeballed me slightly when I did up the girth. The surcingle she has been using has English billets on it so the latigo rolling up was a new sensation.

I led her around with it a couple minutes before lungeing her in the walk and trot. There were two little weird moments, but I don't know if they were saddle-caused or just a little freshness. No buck, but more a slight startle.

She did lunge nicely and seeing her carry the saddle fot me a little excited. She's going to be a smooth ride I think, the stirrups barely jiggled as she trotted.



She makes the little kid saddle look pretty tiny.

The hardest part was getting her to stand still without wanting to follow me.

Standpunkt

Mar. 12th, 2016 09:40 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Kugelpunkt? I am not fluent enough to know how "bullet points" would translate and my phone dictionary fails me.

*Have a talk in church tomorrow, subject: The Atonement (because Easter is close, I imagine). I haven't talked in church in over 10 years. They ask for 10-12 minutes, wish me luck. They like to ask couples to speak so Chris is up there with me too, no idea who speeks first. His talk is funnier than mine, but that's okay.

*Kitt had a brief bout of colic tonight. Just a little off, heart rate just touching 40. Some banamine and being banished to Ruby's stall for the night. Last I checked she said she was hungry so she got bran and electrolytes, which isn't quite what she was hoping for.

*Draft horse people and Rodeo people flubbed it today. Two weeks ago the Rodeo people contacted Troy saying "hey! we want heavy horses there after all! You have two hours Saturday!" Rest of the group got one week notice and last night Troy called me and said he had stuff come up and we were the only other ones to commit and weren't going to go do it all on our lonesome. Told Troy they can have someone call ME and coordinate something for next year. Not this last-minute half-baked crap. We can do better than this!

*Got the larger surface. First coat of gesso applied, needs another. Then I can grid the thumbnail and transfer. Smaller surface has not yet arrived. I need to do a test painting of the tack. I also need to get the Rosmalen design on the mare and foal test painting.

*Kelhan is adding words. Newest: "hot."

*We drove Ruby today, boys rode with us. Kelhan insisted on holding the reins. I might have to start showing them how to steer because they have the "whoa" and kissing noises for "go" down.

*Got Tristan a dresser for his room finally so the boys now have their own clothes in their own rooms, yay!

*Hung a whole bunch of family pictures on the walls this last month.

*Kash got his new boots and is now barefoot when not ridden. New discovery: he wings in slightly with hisbright fore. Not enough to hit himself, but enough to brush the outer edge of the boot.

*Need to get the schedule down for next year on the private school classes. They're adding a second campus in Gilbert. It's growing!

I'm sure there are more things I'm not thinking of.

Der Versuch

Mar. 5th, 2016 08:54 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
So I have one of those health applications on my phone that came with it. Never downloaded it and I think it is one of those that you can't delete (like the worthless NFL app, Flipboard, and a dozen others that the phone company thinks I must need). It had a step tracker so I figured "what the heck" and turned it on last night. The preset goal is 6000 steps for the day, which I imagine is probably a mile and a half, maybe two for your average person's stride.

I checked it after my morning set of lessons and was pretty close to the 6000 mark aready. Then I went to work with Henry and Bud (Sue is still fighting something like pneumonia). Bud did awesome and rocked a nice loop at a good trot for, what I estimate, a three mile loop, which ended with him trotting over the Grate of Doom and made me super proud of where he is now. Sue's been wanting Henry to start learning the driving ropes so he took over the reins for the cool-down. We wove a bit drunkenly down the road, though it wasn't entirely Henry's fault. Bud knew home was behind him again and was pushing a little. When Henry asked him to turn around for home Bud just about turned inside out he couldn't swing around fast enough! He did walk calmly home and still wove back and forth across the road, but not bad for a first drive for Henry.

After the drive the step count was close to 10k ... woops! I guess driving counts as exercise in a two-wheeled cart. I then rode Kitt during my next lesson, which jumped the count well over 1200. The end of the day totaled at 14872 and 7.65 miles. I imagine my actual steps were between 8 and 10 and if the drive was three miles I might have walked 3.5ish (assuming a mile for the ride on Kitt).

I did find it funny that the program congradulated me for having my Most Steps Ever! on the first day I started tracking.

I might keep it on for chuckles and giggles, but it was interesting to see that I do walk a lot during a lesson, even when I am on the ground. If I was serious I'd get an actual pedometer.

Kash was fit for his boots today. The woman works for Renegade and my house happens to be between her barn and home so she was able to drop by on her way home from the barn. She had a big tote of shells that she tried on him as I finished my last lesson. I was glad I took the side trip to the feed store after Bud to snag a rasp. He was already starting to chip a little from his old nail holes so she was able to smooth those out to get a better fit. I also want to keep up on things better between trims and hoof nippets and a dull knife only get you so far.

She said they are working on designs for drafts, but the engineering required to get the materials to work for 1800lbs is different than 900lbs. I said if she needs any test subjects we'd be happy to do it! She said she'd keep it in mind and they actually do actively seek out testers and measurements for manufacturing new models. That could be fun!

Kash barely managed to get both feet in the same sized boot, which makes it easier (don't have to be picky about left and right). I ordered them this afternoon and since they're made here in Arizona with any luck I'll have them before the end of the week!

In other news ADHMA was invited to do some demos during the Queen Creek rodeo. They sent out an email yesterday (thanks for the heads up guys!). We'll probably take Ruby and the wagonette so we don't have to keep track of three of them. That and we can be there either in the morning or afternoon and I can shuffle lessons as necessary. I just need to hear back from Troy so I know where to shuffle them to.

They plan on doing a trail drive too, but no date yet. Maybe I just need to step up rather than waiting around for other people to start doing things...
lantairvlea: (Kash)
I was able to put in a second ride on both Chewy, Kash, and Kitt and rode Bud in them as well this week.

Here are my overarching observations that one might consider with these bits:

This is not a bit you let the horse just "hang out" in. Some might be okay, but most will start playing with it to some extent and will end up dropping it given enough time. I discovered this as I had to get on and off resetting poles as students knocked them over. No problem if you have a headstall, which is an option with these as well, but just as the jaw bit you don't want to leave them alone with it too long.

It's also not good for grass snatchers and drinking (having to swallow and move feed around makes them push the bit down because it doesn't have anything holding it up). It is also not good for leading unless your horse is SUPER light. I didn't push trying to lead with it because I knew the mechanics of it were non-condusive. If you need to lead a horse either leave the halter on or wait to put on the bit until right before you mount up.

On to the working thoughts: I have been able to use them with four horses at this point, Chewy the Haflinger, Kash the Arab, Kitt the Fjord, and my client's Haflinger, Bud. Chewy was the initial driver since she as the facial nerve that misfires. I know it is the trigeminal nerve and not the caudal, but I figured it was worth the shot at least. She still had some head shaking so that theory is out. She does wear a nose net on her usual bridle, which does help so I'll either need to put on a cavesson with it or put one on her halter. She was pretty good in it, though might have been slightly offended as she hasn't worn a bit in almost a year! There was a good amount of mouthing the first wearing and she dropped it a couple times (see above!). She didn't feel too different from her bitless and I would have to pull out her bitted bridle to see if there is any difference there (takes a double-jointed eggbutt with copper lozenge). The second time she was less mouthy and I was able to trot and bend and turn a bit more. She was wanting to fall in on the turns to the left, but that's more her than anything on her face or in her mouth.

A rare picture of the little mare. Biggest eyes I've ever seen on a horse of any size.



For Kash the first thing I noticed was how QUIET he was in his mouth compared to every other bit I have tried on him (and over 12+ years I have tried a lot of bits!). Yes he played with it a little to start, but he wasn't constantly jawing is as he is wont to do when not actively engaged in anything else (he goes pretty quiet when his brain is engaged). I got two rides in it with him thusfar and I'm pretty pleased with how he felt in it. He was off for other unrelated reasons (stepped on himself and biffed it a couple weeks ago and is still just a little sore), but so far as bit function goes he felt really good in it and it was so nice not hearing "Ka-clack, Ka-clack" and he chewed on his bit. I think it's also pretty hard for them to suck it up into their molars (no scratches, yay!) because of the snugness and the fact that the jaw gets wider towards the molars. Kash also neck reined beautifully with it and he was lovely and soft in it. He's not a very stiff horse in general and tends towards bending too much, but I think he was more responsive because he wasn't so distracted with trying to chew on it as he is with his conventional bits.

The first time with Kitt she played with it a moment, but then was pretty quiet until she got a bit of grass in her mouth to chew on and had a hard time figuring out how to work around it. I didn't do much hard work either ride with Kitt so it's still in the "wait and see" column. I did note she fussed with it a little more the second time, but I did leave her alone with it too. When I picked her up into a trot she responded pretty well with it. She did want to drop her head a bit more, not quite rooting, but not quite an honest stretch either. It'll help if I get the time to put in a "real" ride on her. We worked turn on the haunches and forehand today, which was good and she bent pretty readily.

I wonder with my three if any of the initial weirdness is due to them not working bitted at all for almost a year. I imagine there would have been a more notable difference going from a metal bit to the the biotbane jaw bit and less of an offended "why are you putting things in my mouth?!"

Bud went okay in it, but I think I had some other things going on with him too.



I thought he might be a little lame in his turnout so I took him out to the road where I would have a flat, straight surface that would tell me clearer. The neighbors down the road had some workers in their yard and a big stack of pallets that he was giving The Eye. He bowed out terribly and was sticky going forward and since I didn't have the whip I had to kick, which he was pretty dead to and was pretty exasperating. Once past it and turned around he power-trotted towards home dead-even. I was able to back him off pretty well with the bit and tried getting him the other way again with marginally more success. He wanted to rush home again and I finally picked up the whip and threw on my vest (I like having my vrst when riding on the road). The whip seemed to help since I wasn't throwing us off balance kicking him. He might have been a little less responsive than his usual low-port Kimberwick, but it can be hard to tell with him if you don't ride him in two bits side by side. Considering I had to work him past a super scary pile of pallets and didn't have the whip like I usually do he did very well! He came back from his power trot home well enough so that was the important part.

I think the Stark Naked Bit is an interesting option to have. It seems that no one is objecting horribly to it (yet). My horses who haven't had bits for close to a year were more skeptical than Bud who works in a bit all the time, but they all seemed to settle fairly quick so long as they don't have something else in their mouth or are left alone to play with it. I like that it molds easily around the tongue and while the stitches provide some texture there are no points, nubs, or joints creating possible pinch points or poking into the roof of the mouth. It also has a softer feel on the skin than any metal bit could, especially thinking about how this might feel on the bars of the mouth compared to metal.

The construction was nice with sturdy stitching. I also liked that they gave you options for strap width as well as ring diameter for a customized feel for both horse and rider. I went with the 3/4" strapping because I thought that the 1" might be a little too wide and isn't comparable to any bits I've ever used with my crew. They also offer a 1/2" which was narrower than I was wanting for my group.

I plan on continuing to try them now and again and hopefully get more of a ride in on them, but as most of the rides have been while I'm teaching there does end up being a lot of standing and observing than actively riding the horse.
lantairvlea: (Kash)
Our handsome model.



The green was a little lighter than expected, but that's okay.

I tried the Stark Naked Bit on Kash this morning. I have the time to write about it because we loaded up all of the things we needed to take to the dump after and it's a fair jaunt plus wait time. Our property looks so much nicer without the busted palettes, tarps, and various other bits of debris that accumulates over 10+ years.

Anyway, I played with Kash for two reasons, trying out the bit and also seeing how he was moving. He biffed it two weeks ago Saturday. I think he stepped on his front shoe and just nose-dived. The shoe seemed fine, but he didn't want to weight his left fore when he got up. We ended the lesson there. He moved better as we walked back, but still had a head bob so he got cold hosed and a gram of bute. He had the week off and was moving really well on his own and I put a short ride on him Friday, but I just walked him. Saturday (last week) he was moving great under Susanne in all gaits and did a little jumping. He did well Monday and Tuesday as well, but Wednesday under Roxanne he had a head bob. Not bad trotting right, but definitely there to the left so we traded out for Kitt. I rode him Friday and he felt good to the right, but had a little weirdness left, not bad on a big turn, but definitely there on a hard one so I didn't use him Monday and tried him this morning to see where he was. Walk was 100% and trotting right was good. Trot left was okay, but again the sharper turns he started short-striding and wanted to sputter out. When he initially tweaked himself there was no swelling whatsoever down low and I suspect he did something up in his shoulder and neck. He's sound without a rider (I admit I haven't specifically lunged him the last couple days, but cruising the turnout himself and goofing with the other horses he looks great), which is good and I haven't given him any medication since the first day. I have Kristin scheduled to come out next week and work on him as well as Chewy and Kitt. In the meantime I'll probably lunge him to see for sure where he is without a rider and maybe run my hands over to see if I can feel a sore spot. I had done so on Friday, but the spot I thought might have a sore reaction turned out be itchy and he was assuming the "scratch my neck there" position and got lip-wriggles as I rubbed harder.

What I don't want to do is Bute him so he goes sound and injure something worse. I'd rather have him tell me he's off and let him be than mask it.

So back to the bit!

Kash was less offended at having something in his mouth than Chewy was. Granted he's a mouthy creature to begin with so the trick is usually keeping things OUT of his mouth. He took it well and while he did roll it around and try to chew on it that is nothing different than any other bit he has ever had. I did find he got quiet in his mouth MUCH quicker than any other bit I have ever had him in (and I have tried a LOT of bits on him over the last 12 years!). He was nicely responsive to it and held it well. I could see riding him in it more and enjoying how he goes in it. Usually he doesn't stop jawing his bit until you get him working and thinking pretty hard so having him play with it a minute or two and then go quiet was very nice. Added bonus when he did mouth it there was just chewing noises and not the clacking and jangling of a metal bit.

Overall I was much happier with how Kash did over Chewy, but I was also not getting on and off fixing poles as I was with Chewy yesterday so there was no issue with it falling out. He did work it down as I was trying to get pictures of him, but it didn't fall off. It might also help that he has more incisor left than Chewy does at this point or maybe I just had it adjusted right the first time. It was easy to put back in place, just compress the rings together to arch the bit in the mouth so the tongue can slide back under. The instructions that come with it noted some horses might prefer the bit under the tongue versus over the tongue. If it is cold the biothane is fairly rigid, but it does flex easier as it warms up and shapes around the tongue fairly nicely and since it is a solid strap there are no ridges or links to pinch or catch the tongue or lips. The stitching does add a little texture to it, but I don't think it is sufficient to cause issue unless you're sawing at the horse's jaw constantly and hard? which is something the makers strongly discourage.

I saw a post with a person claiming these bits were a "torture device" because there is no release. The argument is that the jaw strap gets cinched down and compresses the tongue and jaw without relief. Certainly you could tighten it that way, but I feel like the one finger fitting under the jaw the makers recommend gives enough space for release and since it arches up it gives way more tongue comfort than any straight bar bit. Added to that engaging the reins loosens the jaw strap unlike on a curb bit. Of course if you want to talk about the torture of things that don't release you have the saddle that gets cinched down pretty tight, the weight of your butt on the horse's back and the rest of the bridle sitting on the horse's head so I don't get the torture device view.

And another thing I liked was that Sir Chews A Lot didn't put a mark on it. I think where it sits and the fit keeps him from being able to suck it all the way back into his molars for chewing.
Less-than photogenic )
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Thursday I had two am lessons and worked Molly before three afternoon lessons. Friday I had seven lessons scheduled, though one was a half hour and didn't show up so I only (ha!) taught six. I rode Charm-N during the first one, Chewy in the second, and used Tru-D twice to demonstrate with the Horsemanship 102 class as we were working on lungeing skills. The last lesson I rode Kash. We also hit the feedstore and got groceries during my breaks. Today I had two lessons this morning and worked Cinnamon Strudel on the long lines before working with Bud and Sue and coming back for two more lessons, in which I rode Kitt during the second one. I am ready for my day of rest Sunday!

Of course that doesn't mention all of us going to the zoo Monday (plus one lesson), hitting the Barrett-Jackson auto auction Tuesday with Tristan and Chris (plus two lessons), and four leasons and a horse worked Wednesday.

Cinnamon did better than I expectedn but was still a bit of a knucklehead here and there. She eventually settled into the work, but I don't plan on getting on again until she is settled and workmanlike consistently. Of course it would help if I could find the time to work her consistently... she's going to be 10 in December. I have to get her consistently broke some time! And I always go back to my defense that she isn't mine and she's just had crummy timing: I got her greenbrokeish just before I was pregnant with Tristan, I started breaking Z to ride and drive after that, pregnant with Kelhan, finishing Z's training before she passed, and crazy-busy schedule now with Tru-D's training to work on and Tabbi if we can get her gaining weight again.

We have an appointment Tuesday morning with the vet to get Tabbi's teeth checked/done and pull some bloodwork. Monday we're getting our taxes done too and I need to run to the bank because I have a really big deposit to make and my bank account knows it because it feels sad and empty right now.

I also woke up with a ball of something in my throat and think I am threatening to lose my voice. Chamomile tea with honey and lemon juice it is.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday I took two students out to the San Tans for a trail ride. Part of me has been hoping that they would take my initial suggestion and call the guy that does the official guided trail rides out there. They had initially thought in September and with my schedule it hasn't worked out until now.

I know my crew and there's a reason I don't take students out on trail on a regular basis. Part ofnitnis economic, I have to dedicate at least two hours for one ride. The San Tans are close, but the footing on my side of the mountain is extremely rocky so we swing around to the South end and it takes about 20 minutes when you are hauling plus time to load everything. I personally haven't ridden any of my horses out since March because I've been busy with lessons and I don't want to take that much advantage of my in-laws ("hey, I want to go on a trail ride for two hours just because I can. You've watched my kids 20 hours already this week while I've worked, mind a couple more?").

Tangent aside, the trail ride came and I asked Roxanne if she would ride drag with Gypsy and offer trailer space for Kitt as I didn't want to mash Charm-N into a single stall in the trailer (16 hands and 1700lbs of Percheron mare). I took Kash for myself and the girls took Kitt and Charm-N.

Charm-N was spot-on and while she walked out more than Kaylen was expecting, she was chill and relaxed in the work. Kitt was a bit tight and quick, which was surprising, but Mariah wasn't quite helping her out so I gave some instruction and reminded her of the pulley rein and asking Kitt to bend and get them both to release so they could relax. It didn't take long for Kitt to come back. Gypsy was the solid rock I had hoped she would be and Roxanne got to watch the show as I managed Kash.

Since none of mine had been out for some time I took along a bit for Kash as well as Charm-N's bitted bridle and draped them over the horn on Kash's saddle.

Kash was about as I expected. He started jigging as we hit the trail head from the parking lot. A group of riders was coming in as we were heading out. I hollered to Matt (the guy who does the official rides out there, it was his group) "Guess which one's the Arab!" Had a good laugh all around and he commented I might want to throw the bit on him as he did a nice little spin when he couldn't figure out what else to do with his energy.

Kash varied between a little jog and his slow as snot canter. In the canter he did throw his butt up and crow-hop a couple times, but not in a row and it was really easy to sit. I did a lot of going back and forth with shoulder-in on both sides and trading to some leg yields and the occasional circle. He did stay nicely rounded and on the aids and needed minimal reminders to maintain speed. I don't say gait because Kash and I have an understanding that when he gets this way he can do whatever he wants with his feet so long as he maintains the speed I dictate. Yes, you can canter, but you have to go 4 miles per hour or less so you match the walking pace of the group.

As we turned around and headed back I did get some moments of Kash walking and dropping him to the buckle.

It was a decent ride and I know if I took them out regularly they would all be fine. Kash hasn't been on a trail ride in at least two years I am pretty sure so, really, for having left the property once in that amount of time he did really well. I love my Arab knucklehead and wish I had more time to mess with him as he really is a good boy, even if he has a little too much energy the first time in a "new" place. As is he gets ridden by students a couple times a week and earns his keep, which is good in its own way. I wouldn't trust him taking a student to a show with a student, but he is good in his home arena and teaches them a lot about not overbending your horse and the importance of working off of your seat over the hand.

Also: I am gaining more and more confidence in the bitless bridles. I think had I used the bit Kash might have been worse, or at least more fussy with his head. He is a habitual bit chewer. In active work he does quiet his mouth a bit, but he does love to suck it up into his molars and chomp down on them (not in a "grab the bit and run" way, more like someone chewing gum). So with the bitless he isn't gaping his mouth ever and seems to stay more round than inverting in avoidance. This is more obvious under my students than me, but it was nice not having any adverse reactions to whatever rein contact I picked up.

I will still point my students who want to do trail rides towards Matt because I am really not set up for it and I think I probably should have charged even more to compensate, but that's okay. Live and learn. The girls did have fun, though they were late getting there so it cut into their ride time a bit and it ended up being about 40 minutes riding instead of a full hour, but that one wasn't my fault and I wasn't going to comp them more time because they couldn't keep the appointed time. I was out getting stuff ready an hour before the time I told them to get there so no skin off of my nose.

After the ride I had a new client do a meet and greet. They are starting tomorrow morning. The S family have moved to their new place and got to take their horses with them. Roxanne will still haul out here a couple weeks before I get to figure out what I should charge for a trip fee.

I have a client who is an elementary school teacher who has asked me about doing a group of art lessons the coming semester so we'll see how that works out.

Life carries on and I have another group of lessons tomorrow keeping me busy.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
The sidepull noseband arrived for the Running Bear Smart Bridle I ordered last month. They had flubbed the order and forgotten the rings on the noseband when they initially shipped it so I sent just the nose piece back because the rest of it fit beautifully.

I love that it can convert to a halter, bridle (both bitted and bitless), and has independent bit hangers if desired. It is crazy-adjustable. The crown piece has buckles, the browband adjusts (and can be removed), the cheeks obviously adjust, the noseband has buckles on both sides, throatlatch, and even the strap that connects the noseband to the throatlatch has adjustability. It is awesome. When you order you also have an insane amount of color choices both for the main piece and the padding/underlay.

The sidepull noseband does have extra padding on it compared to the plain one they initially sent me that I think is a bit excessive. I would have been happy without the extra neoprene. I had gotten used to the Moss Rock Evolution bridle that sits lower on the cheek. I need to adjust the crown and see what I can manage there.



I went with Running Bear instead of Moss Rock this time for two reasons. The shallow one being that Moss Rock doesn't have hunter green anymore, the other one being my curiosity about the quality of Running Bear's stuff and whether I could use their sidepull as a cross-under bridle with Moss Rock's rein design.

The quality of the Running Bear bridle is definitely high. Moss Rock is good and servicable and the price for what you get can't be beat (paid more for just the Smart Bridle than I did the Moss Rock one, which included the reins). Running Bear doesn't disappoint, though. There is padding on the crown, browband, and all around the nose. They add neoprene for the sidepull, which as noted before I think is a bit excessive, but okay. It feels very sturdy in hand too. I think it will take a little time to really mold to Kash's face as the material is a bit stiff with how thick they make it. It definitely holds its shape!

What I was most happy about was the fact that the Moss Rock reins fit through the rings and snapped on the ring the throatlatch, crown, and browband all connect to. That was pretty much the purpose of getting it actually.

Kash worked well in it this evening, though I didn't try anything too exciting with it. I'd like to take him to the property and see how he does over there with it.

I do think once I get a couple other things squared away I will be contacting Lisa at Moss Rock for another set of reins for Kash (I borrowed Charm-n's) and asking her about possibly making some long lines as I have thoughts about starting Tru-D in the cross-under bridle and I don't really want to introduce the bit for another couple years and my lungeing cavesson isn't set up well to long line from (tried with Z, needs to have rings that stick out sideways more) on top of wanting the extra control/finesse over a plain sidepull (and the stability, sidepulls tend to migrate sideways across the face).

Kash didn't cooperate for a side view. He kept staring at me.



Yep, that's my boy.

lantairvlea: (lantair look)
After the lesson we hosed Kash off, student holding him and I was spraying him down. I got to his chest and he wanted his muzzle sprayed so I did and then he goes and gets the nozzle SHOVED UP HIS NOSTRIL. He didnit on purpose. Three times. The water is going full bore and it wants it spraying directly in his left nostril.

Silly Arab.

In other news Tru-D wore the surcingle for the first time. It makes jingly noises and she quickly learned if she didn't move it wouldn't make noise, but I pushed her through it and she did quite well.

lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Chris and I put the arena together Sunday after church. A good family activity, unfortunately Tristan had fallen asleep at Farfar's by the time we were ready for him to help.

Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] suraineko for giving me the initial thought to build my own.

Materials:
70 - 8' landscaping poles
75 - "A" Cinder blocks
half dozen stakes
Over 550' of twine

Recommended:
Trailer for poles
Big truck to haul cinder block



Pictures and Rambling )

Yesterday it rained mid-morning to early afternoon. The Wedge of Wetness continues to be the bane of my existence. I had a single lesson and a group and while the footing here was fine I didn't feel like fighting the Wedge or being restricted to the 50' roundpen so I told them to meet me over at the property. I was a little off in my time assessment and the first student beat me there, but I helped her tack up and we were going in about the usual amount of time. I had loaded up Kitt, Ruby, and Chewy as well as the tack required. Kitt got to hang out in the roundpen and I rode Chewy with the student on Ruby.

I apparently miscalulate my horses' laziness when it comes to going over things as within the first five minutes Ruby marched right over the rail and Olivia had to bring her back in. Ruby's knees are just above the rails so it isn't much effort for her to step over. I tols Olivia to be sure she doesn't let Ruby get perpenticular to the fence to avoid a repeat and she didn't have another problem. We worked along the perimeter to start and then built up to some serpentines. I need to get some letters up so we have some points of reference and at some point bring the cones and things over to help with visualization on the figures.

The second lesson was going to be a "group" of two. My usual 5pm student plus one who comes in the morning with his brother, but deferred to the evening instead. I ended up with three students as the older brother had a boyscout hike that was canceled due to the rain (whimps!). Their mom was good and said she knew I hadn't planned on both boys and if I couldn't accomodate the older boy that was OK. I happened to still have the dressage saddle in the truck from working Bud in the morning, but he usually rides Western. I asked him if he was game for it and he said yes. The girth I had for it fit Kitt otherwise I would have put him on Ruby and I gave Hannah choice between Kitt and Chewy as she got there first and technically the girth on Chewy for the general purpose would fit Ruby in the Dressage, but that's okay.

So I had Hannah on Chewy, Eli on Ruby, and TJ on Kitt. First instruction was to ride parallel to the rail and check steering and breaks. Then the fun started. Ruby wantered out of the arena again and then Chewy followed suit, but her little legs don't clear the poles so well and she knocked over three blocks and their attached rails. I did a lot of rail re-setting!

Chewy was giving Hannah a lesson on the importance of the outside aids. They would be parallel to the fence and either Hannah would ask her to turn in or Chewy would start to bow out, but the result was the same, Chewy would get over bent as Hannah relied on the inside rein to turn or correct and Chewy would swing her outside shoulder around, get perpenticular and over she went! I had ridden Chewy in the first lesson (easier to keep up with the students!) and she had considered this trick once, but a quick check with the outside rein and leg and she went on straight again. I talked with Hannah some, but spent most of my time working between the two boys who are less experienced. She kindof enjoyed figuring it out herself with some guidance from me.

While Ruby did wander out of the arena a few times on him once he shortened up his reins it worked much better. He even trotted on her briefly towards the end.

TJ has some confidence issues to begin with so the strange saddle and not being as familiar with Kitt plus new place wasn't the ideal combination. Kitt marched out of the arena on the South end once and was striding with purpose through the debris field as TJ just sort of held on until I instructed him to stop her. (Amazing what happens when you actively ask the horse to do something!) He did alright and I had him focus on simply walk and halt and told him to keep Kitt in the center of the ring.

Overall I think it was successful for the first official lesson in it. I do need to school my horses over there more and perhaps what needs to be done is riding them in the ring on a loose rein and when they choose to leave the arena make them work extra hard, return to arena and relax, leave it and hustle, rinse and repeat. Kash is going to take the most work with the theatrics he put on Friday over there (crow-hopping,charging, popping up his front end, etc.). The others should pretty much be their normal selves.

Long Days

Jan. 9th, 2015 09:37 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday started late. I hung out with the boys until about 9:30 when I loaded up the trailer and headed off to get Bud. I also loaded up Appy because she was past due to go to the groomers. I had trimmed her a little between and also gave her a bath Sunday, but they have the good stuff that really cleans up the eye goopies and do a good job of spiffing her up.

I loaded Bud, oh, did I mention that I worked Bud with the soccer ball Tuesday? His initial reaction didn't give me much hope (spin back and forth trying to figure out how to run away from the monster at the far end of his turnout over 100' away), but he settled nicely and kicked it several times and even let me bump it off his legs.

So Bud and I went out with Roxanne and Gypsy to the San Tans and took some meandering trails. We wandered Little Leaf, which I haven't been on in years and took it to Goldmine halfway up the namesake peak before splitting off to San Tan trail. We were out for over two hours and did some good hill work and a bit of trotting once we got on the service road.

To start Bud felt a little "up" but didn't actually do anything stupid. I was sure to refocus him any time his mind wandered and worked him back and forth past some "scary" parts, which aren't nearly so scary as half of the things in his neighborhood other than. the fact that he hasn't seen them before.

He settled out as we went and kept the pace pretty well.

Donna sent me a text saying her husband wants her current horse sold before she buys another, pfft. She's still coming out for lessons, though, which is good. Part of me is tempted to ask about a straight trade, though I don't think Chris would be thrilled as the idea was to reduce the herd. Of course we'd still have six if Z was still here and he IS a potentially fancy Dressage horse ... Obviously I would have to try him out first before REALLY contemplating anything ... But if I don't think he'd be good under students I'm in the same place as I am with Panda. The only think holding Z back from doing lessons was the fact she was under five. She was broke well enough last year that others probably could have ridden her and that I could have stopped wearing the vest, but both of those conditions were set as minimum five years quite a while ago because it is a good idea to have a horse well-broke and mentally mature before contemplating putting students on them.

I taught lessons Thursday and ran to Fry's, but didn't make it to the bank. I didn't make it today either and it is driving me a little nuts having cash and checks sitting around because it is quite the sum! I am apparently three weeks behind on my bookkeeping, which is bad. I checked Sue's account yesterday because I knew we had to be close only to discover I was two weeks behind reminding her to pay me! Whoops! The good news is my bank account is perfectly happy despite all this and I am sure I have at least one if not two others due if not past due for payment.

Today I had one lesson in the morning and one in the evening. The time between was pretty much spent on the roof helping Chris pigeon-proof the areas next to the dormer windows and other overhangs. We got four out of six done. Things go faster when you put your energy into problem solving instead of being angry at the problem. I actually had fun with the challenge of getting the wire mesh tondo what we needed and wanted it to do. Chris was not nearly so happily engaged with the project.

We didn't get around to laying out the arena, maybe Sunday or Monday.

Oh, the lesson this morning we rode at the property. The student was on Kitt and I took Kash. Kitt had no problem other than trying tobeat the small bits of grass that didn't quite get turned under and pushing towards the gate. Pretty much good for any of my students to be on her over there. Kash on the other hand ... we're going to have some discussions. I tried demonstrating what I was talking about and while I think I managed to get some of it across Kash was being a complete knucklehead. He popped his front end, crow-hopped, throwing his butt almost vertical on me, tried to charge off and swapping gaits without permission. He also tried to get me to overbend him, which that trick doesn't work on me any more (almost every time with students though!). I imagine it was quite thebride to watch! A shame there was no video. Of course knowing Kash for 11 years now it was just working through and dealing with it. Funny how familiarity makes it feel like less of a deal!

Short version: Kash is not ready for students at the new property.

Tomorrow I am booked solid from 8am-2pm and then have a brief break before Sue and Bud 3-4pm. I will be picking up the block for the arena tomorrow and probably hooking up to the red trailer when I get home and seeing if I can't load up some of the poles for the arena fence.

I am so busy it's ridiculous. Time to stash as much as possible to prepare for the drought brought on by the summer heat!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Tuesday I took Kash to training. For only getting out once a year for the last four years he did very well. We had a couple little goobers here and there, but he settled in nicely. We worked all gaits and did some trot poles. No jumping as he was still wanting to rush the poles until the very end and at that point we didn't want to open up a new issue without enough time to address it.

Kitt had ruptured an abcess on her hind heel and was vaguely off in one direction, but fine in the other at the trot on a small circle so I took the boy. The next two lessons will be Kitt under saddle (so long as her heel is good) so we can get her consistent over the jumps.

Sunday I was actually able to sit down and and work on Shifting Times. It was SO NICE. I sketched out the two page spread for the opening and started reworking the script for the first few pages. I think in all the script is still good, but the first few pages were tied to the visual along with the fact that they were written over eleven years ago so a little repolishing is to be expected. I really like the landscape format for the pages. I think it is going to stick. Now it is figuring out how to do them. What medium. Traditional, digital, black and white, greyscale or full color? I may have to get the full pencils done on thr initial spread and scan it in order to play with it from there. Decisions, decisions!

I have been thinking about Z a lot, which has lead to some melancholy moments. I guess it will just come and go and it will for a long time. I took Bud out today with Kathryn and her boy Oakley and couldn't help but think that I'll never have a chance to ride with them and Z. We were close, but never quite made it work.
lantairvlea: (zetahra)
There were so many things that Zetahra and I were going to do both in the short and long term that everything I had planned has had to be reshuffled.

The trail rides will be going to Cinnamon and getting her more than green.

The shows are going to Kitt and maybe even Kash at this point, depending on if Panda is still here her too. Kitt was already planned, but I hadn't really thought about the boy. At 17 and having had some issue with show environments before I wasn't really thinking about Kash as didn't think I would have the time to work him through it.

Driving has gone to Kitt mostly, though I think I will take Charm-N for a tune-up lesson or two. Panda is getting a little work here and there towards driving again, but it is very scattered as the reason for her being for sale is my woeful lack of time for her. Plus I have one student at the moment who I trust to ride her, which is the other big thing. Zetahra wasn't used for lessons because of her age. Next year I would have felt comfortable putting students on her (whether or not I wanted to share her was another matter!), her mother not so much, too sensitive.

The far off goal of bringing a horse up the levels? Trying towards USDF medals? I don't know when that will happen. Of course I don't know how far Z would have gone, but the glimpses she had given me were so promising. I will be working Kash and Kitt up as I can. I think Kash may go farther than Kitt, but we'll see.

Wendy has a white dun Fjord colt that will be coming two next year. I mentioned I may be looking for another project and she seems to think he would do well as a dressage horse. It's a thought, but Panda has to sell first (hmm ... Fjord team doing CDEs...).

Life changes and you have to shift and move with it.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
So apparently some bloggershave issued a challenge in October. It has been a thing for a couple years I and I have just been too much of a hermit to notice. Basically you get your baseline then check in each week and have a final at the end. There are prizes for most improved and longest time, but on my side it is for the personal challenge.

I am trying for it and got my baseline on Kash this evening at six minutes, which is a little sad, but I did hike my stirrups a couple holes and did a couple of those minutes in the walk to warm up Kash. Double bonus: I tried out Kash's new bridle that arrived today. I ordered it through Dover and while I was going to go with the classic black with white padding dressage bridle they had the black on black Cob size on sale for an additional $20 or so off. The hoof supplement was also cheaper than expected and so was the half pad I picked up to try with the boy as well. The money saved allowed me to pick up a new large schooling helmet for students to use. I need another medium too, but one thing at a time.

The half pad seemed to do an OK job. I need to ride him again without it and compare the sweat marks. I am also unsure if the best place for it is above the regular pad or below it. Kash tends to lose out on the saddles as he is the only horse that isn't Extra Wide according to the Wintecs. He would do fine wide, but I am not going to swap out the gullet just for him (maybe if we were competing or doing heavy work). I also don't have the funds to get a saddle just for him (my Western one fits him fine, but no one else) so I am trying the half pad to see if I can get a better fit.

The bridle was good, though the browband might be a little tight. I think part of it is waiting for it to mold to his head a bit more. if needed I will pick up a horse sized browband at a later point. Of course if I had unlimited funds I'd get him a saddleseat bridle with a green brow and noseband because I have always thought it would look good on him. I was tempted, but practicality won out (when would I ever ride saddleseat?).

Tomorrow I have training with Kitt. We will see if starting the two point challenge the day before was a bad idea or not.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Some places got over six inches of rain from the storm Monday over the course of 12 hours. I think we managed between four and five judging by the amount in buckets that were empty to start.

Tuesday I walked around to better assess the damage after feeding the herd. I found out rather quickly why the South drive flooded over so much. It was full of sand, rocks and dirt up to one inch before the cement of the driveway. The 18" culvert that is 14' long is completely full and the wash was full on the South side and pretty close on the North. Proceeding to the North drive the wash is fine. The non-cemented and non-graveled portion of the North drive leading up to the cement before the garages was a complete disaster. The four wheel drive on the Whimobile (I.e. our Jeep Grand Cherokee) got quite the workout and the Lil Rig, which is just two wheel drive, did not leave the garage until yesterday.

I got a wheelbarrow and shovel and started digging out the wash. It was very sandy with rocks here and there, some of them pretty substantial, which means the water had to have been flowing quite fast and hard to get them to move. I dumped the first two loads in the North end of the driveway and debated if it was improving the footing or not. The sand still shifted around, but at least it lessened the mud's propensity to suck off boots.

I think I was working on the fourth or so load when the S's drove by. Roxanne offered to help and she, Keara, and Ashton joined me in shoveling out the wash after acquiring more shovels. We took several loads up by Toby where it had washed out underneath the fence. Once that area was done we built up the sides a bit and added some more to the driveway.

Chris joined us when he woke up (he closed that night) and we managed to find the culvert. We need to rent a tractor to do it properly. We're also thinking of getting a small culvert to allow the water to flow under the driveway on the property.

Adora drove by and offered her front turnout if we needed a dry spot for the horses. The water had flowed over the stalls (they are built up 6" above grade) and they were a muddy mess. The arena was on it's way to being somewhat dry and we had turned Ruby out alone in it. I told her thanks, but we were drying out well enough. Then it rained Tuesday night and there was no way the horses were sitting in muddy stalls or turned out together in the slop.

I called Adora Wednesday morning and said I would take her up after all. I was lazy and grabbed Kash's bridle and my helmet and decided to ride him down. I forgot how far it was, a little over half a mile I think. Kash did awesome despite buses and cars and having done one trail ride in the mountains in the last two years. I couldn't tell you the last time I rode him around the neighborhood! We got aboit 300' from the turn in for Adora's street when he realized he had been stuck in a stall for two days and he's an Arab. He didn't really do anything silly, but being completely bare back (no pad even, super lazy) and near the road and the fotting starting to become more muddy I wasn't pushing it so I led him the rest of the way.

Adora gave me the key for the padlock and I turned him loose. He was perplexed at being alone and started trotting the fence line. I walked back and decided to lead both Chewy and Kitt together. Chewy hasn't been off property for five years and Kitt can occasionally be bullish when leading (more for my students than me), but I was lazy again and didn't feel like making a third trip.

They both lead really well, though Kitt tended to get ahead and Chewy was happy to trail behind. Chewy would jog to catch up on occasion and I would have to remind Kitt to keep her shoulder a respectful distance. School buses, tractors, and vehicles with noisy trailers weren't an issue. What a good crew of horses I have.

Kash was slick with sweat and hollering when we walked up. I turned the girls out and hosed off Kash. Chewy, who is 23, trotted and cantered about all interested in the new digs. Kitt found the bit of hay I had hoped Kash would entertain himself with while I got the girls (fat chance) and I tossed them a bit more and they settled in nicely.

I was planning on bringing all three back that evening, but decided to haul two hay nets over for Kash and Kitt and brng Chewy back for the lesson.

Marty drove me over and I again decided to be lazy and took Chewy's bridle and my helmet. We walked most of the way, but did do some trotting, which was a good thing as I was just shy of the lesson time when we came in. Needless to say Chewy was nicely warmed up for the lesson.

Thursday I walked over and lead Kitt and Kash back for breakfast before the lesson. Kitt couldn't be bothered to stay on her own side and not be right behind me/crowding my left side so I ended up with Kitt to the right of me and Kash to the right of her.

We only had one little wierdness and managed to do the whole thing in 25 minutes: walking down, catching them, and walking back. Not too shabby.

Now if only Kash could be as sensible about going to a show... I am debating who to take next week to the EVAHA show. Probably Kitt again.
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!

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