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

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

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

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

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

The windfall of the desk's sale will go towards a flat file to store paper similar to one of these. I will have a place to store my large sheets of paper without having to roll them or shove them behind/under the bed! It will also take up a third of the space as the desk so winning all around!
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
If this is a little disjointed and rambly I blame lack of time to write in one sitting and also baby-induced sleep depribation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jumping around again Debbie and her new little Icelandic gelding are getting along well. This week we had Debbie get right on and worked a little on bending, turning, and yielding before asking Digur to step up his gait. She had a hard time getting him to move out in the roundpen, but we got him to step up nicely with some minor changes and got a couple of good spans of gaiting from him. Debbie has been taking him for walks around the neighborhood and feels pretty comfortable with him (much more comfortable than she ever did with Royal). There's things we could keep doing in the roundpen, but considering her goals we're going to head out around the neighborhood next week. I'm not sure who I'll bring out yet, but it'll be good to get someone out and about!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Work is back in full swing. I have private school classes starting again tomorrow. The classes are pretty small this semester, just five students total I think, but that's okay. I can use the slightly lighter semester to my advantage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With all this ridng I can certainly tell my core strength isn't where I want it yet. Of course it's only been three weeks so I can't expect too much of my body just yet.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday 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.

Es regnet

Dec. 26th, 2016 10:21 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I had eleven lessons scheduled between Thursday and Friday. I managed to do one.

It rained Thursday morning, it rained Thursday night. It rained again Friday afternoon. It was sunny a bit on Saturday and we dragged the arena with Kitt a bit Friday while it was sunny. The horses got some brief turn out from Friday evening to Saturday at about 2pm when it rained more.

It was sunny for Christmas and I wish we had had another 30 degrees cooler because then we would have had snow instead of rain!

The horses were cooped up in their stalls until this evening. There's still giant puddles and lots of mud in the arena, but the rain came in sideways on Saturday and their stalls aren't much better at this point.

Wednesday before all of the rain I believe I mentioned that Susanne rode Mac. Chris got a picture of me holding him.



Once we dry out a little bit I'm anxious to see how he does under some of my other students. I need to do a sand test on his manure and see how we are progressing on that front and, again once we dry out, redo the flexion test on his right fore. The farrier is due next week so I should be able to get an opinion about his feet at that point.

Once the mud gets cleared up we'll see about getting Mac acquainted with the herd and getting a cover on the final stall. I got the first check back and mailed out the one for our agreed amount so he will officially be ours when it goes through. Fingers crossed all goes well!

And the countdown begins. The Nudge is now allowed to come. We moved the crib and baby dresser into our room, lifted the mattress, and I started getting my "go" bag together. There are some things we need to get from the store this week (like infant diapers) and I need to boil all of the bottles and my pump so we can start fresh. Tomorrow is the final ultrasound and the beginning of weekly appointments.

There's a part of me that's ready to be done and over this stage and moving on and the other part that know there are some aspects of this stage that are easier (no diapers, spit-up, buckling into a car seat). Granted I am ready to get my body back and am over my sore thigh and loin as well as the stretched/puffy sensation in my hands and feet. They don't look very swollen, but the skin feels tight across the joints.

Less than four weeks! Hopefully he volunteers a little earlier! Today I felt like he was dropped pretty low, but he seems to have drifted up again. Tristan and I hand raked and hoed the roundpen to improve the footing. It looked pretty nice when we were done and I was a bit wiped out.

I'll probably write about Christmas specifically at some point, but there's the hodge podge above for the moment. So tired of mud.

Onward!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
My drag finally came in Tuesday. The gate that we ordered was not the right type and wouldn't work with our panels even though I specifically mentioned the brand and color when I ordered it.

I ended up ordering another one with the product number from the H&W website and they said they should be getting it in shortly (relative to the 6 weeks it took for the drag and the wrong gate ...).

Then it was a matter of finding the time to use it!

Today I had the private school classes and the last one drove Kitt. Since Kitt was already harnessed up Chris asked if I would just leave her harnessed and he pulled the drag into the arena and we hooked her up.

Chris drove her first and I walked by her head just in case. She's always been good with the cart and tire, but you never quite know and it's better to be safe than sorry with new equipment. In the seven years of having her this was actually the first time that Chris has directly worked Kitt. He's never ridden her and I think only the boys have been in the cart with me while driving her.

Chris went around several times and then asked me if I wanted a go and of course I did! He even offered to take some video.



Yes, eight month pregnant lady dragging the arena with her Fjord.

The drag didn't make much of a dent on the dry stuff, but it dug into the wet areas nicely and I'm hoping if I do it regularly I'll see a more even distribution of moisture so I no longer have the stark contrast of dry and rock hard or boggy wetness (where the horses pee...) and instead have semi-moist dirt with a little spring to it all around.

I may have to get a small tire to drop on the drag so it digs in a little better, but the big ones I currently have (off of tractors and semi trucks) are too massive to expect a single horse to pull it in addition to the drag for long. Either one singly would be no problem, but the combination of tire weight, drag weight, plus the resistance of the drag as it digs it the dirt would be a bit much.

Also: From the back you can't even tell I'm pregnant. The overall make it a little ambiguous too, but that's fine by me.

Edit: I did the assessments today for the Horsemanship classes. Hard to believe only one week left in classes! This semester felt incredibly short.



Two of the intermediate class students chilling as they waited for another to finish her assessment. I think Kitt and Chewy enjoyed the chill time as much as they did!
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)
I had another lesson (i.e. training for me) with Carrie K. and Kitt yesterday. We warmed up and then got to work with the tail-to-the-rail leg yield, which went pretty well in both directions. We held the majority of the long side, though I had to be careful approaching the corners as she would want to drift in about 20' out instead of waiting for me to tell her to go straight.

We moved on to the circle and started doing it on the circle. After a few good steps we changed it up. Now we would go from the leg-yield into a renvers/haunches out on the circle by changing the bend. Needless to say we had some ugly moments from both of us as we tried to figure that one out!

Once Kitt got it the transition became easier and mostly my faux paux as I over thought it. She had some really lovely ones to the right, which is surprising because that is her stiffer side. Maybe she liked the shift to the left bend better.

We had a funny moment as Carrie was explaining the exercise and talking about the inside and outside aids and I asked "is that the new inside or the old one?" She paused a moment and laughed because she's not used to people who have inside/outside in relation to the bend engrained in their brains vs. relating it to the circle or arena. She was impressed I picked up on that and corrected what she had said so that it was clear where my aids needed to be.

We'll see if I can sneak in another lesson before my body protests. We spent the whole lesson in the walk, hut I could feel my inner thighs telling me that dismounting would be interesting. As it was I gingerly swing my leg over and paused for a minute standing in my near stirrup as all the connective tissues readapted to their new position not straddling a horse. Kitt stood like a rock until I hopped down and we called it a day.

Today I had a bunch of cancellations, going from six planned lessons yesterday to two. I enjoyed a nap this afternoon as Kelhan passed out and Tristan wanted to go back to Farfar's. I also rode Kash during one of the lessons and played tag. I managed to elude tagging, I win.

With the three afternoon lessons out I grabbed Tru-D and saddled her up before walking to the roundpen. She eyeballed the tarp over the hay stack so we passed it twice, the second time she didn't change her steps so we called it good. At the roundpen she was nervous about the pile of branches Dave had hacked off of one of the pine trees. One branch was a little over six inches thick so I asked her to step over it. She sniffed it carefully and then sniffed the ground on the other side. She wasn't really sure about going over it. She put one foot over, took it back. Put two feet over a couple times and very carefully stepped back over. I got her to step over it and called it good and went into the roundpen. She was very distracted. I need to take her over there more often. It seems like each time we finally make it over something has changed or moved and it takes some time to settle her back down.

I'm thinking we should go on some walks and maybe she could be my buddy for the walk to the mailboxes.

Despite the cancellations all six of the horses got worked today. Wish I could do that with regularity!

Tomorrow I have three lessons scheduled, including a new client doing their first evaluation. The winter schedule is filling up!
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
I had another lesson with Carrie, the Dressage trainer from Cave Creek, this makes three. The second one was two weeks ago and I videoed it. She was gracious to wear a mic for me so the audio quality was quite good. The visual is a bit eh because I stuck the camcorder in the corner of the arena. I hope to record it monthly or so to have things to look back on (and maybe ask one of the other ladies to work the camera a time or two).

Anyway! We've been working on Kitt's obedience to the leg aid, specifically getting her to step underneath herself. The first lesson started with turn on the forehand and progresses to nose-to-the-wall pseudo-leg-yield that spent some time as a haunches-in because Kitt kept pushing on her inside shoulder and eventually turned into an actual leg-yield.

Kitt went from being stiff and sticky to shifting nicely over ss I slid my leg back.

Today we were able to go straight to nose-to-the-wall and then went tail-to-the-wall. We had some sticky moments here and there, but we also had some really nice ones as she stepped under herself.

Carrie talked about getting the rein aid to mean "take weight behind" rather than just "tuck your nose" or "stop." We were basically setting up for when I pick up the rein Kitt will simply "step into" it from behind without much need for the leg to propel her to it.

I feel like I'm getting some pieces I've been missing that will make it easier to unlock movements I haven't had much opportunity to school due to lack of trained horses. The good and the bad is up to this point I have ridden very few horses that know more than I do (barring when I was first learning to ride, of course) so I know I have some gaps in my learning and while I have many principles and theories in my head I haven't had the opportunity to put them out there in practice. It's nice to feel like I'm filling in the gaps with these lessons, even if I'm not getting to ride a fancy schoolmaster. Do I still want to find an opportunity to do that? Certainly! But I'm pretty thrilled to be piecing things together and hopefully making a difference in my own horses (not that they are terrible, untrained slobs, but they share my gaps!).

Anyway, I think I'm wandering a bit here, but the short of it is Carrie seems to know what she's doing. Despite my initial worry of "well crap, I'll just be working on Kitt" I am pleasantly surprised to be skill building beyond that and filling in the gaps that have prevented my easy progression forward.

For example I was able to get some little bits of half pass on Bud towards the end of my riding time with him, but it was a long time coming and built through the shoulder-in rather than a full understanding and eager responsivenes to the outside leg aid. We'll see how quickly I can build it on Kash and Kitt now.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Arizona has a big fat high pressure system sitting over the top of it and the thing isn't budging. I think it was 118 yesterday. Walking outside felt like stepping into an oven and all the air was vibrating with heat. We hosed the horses down twice throghout the day and will be repeating the same today.

One of my clients baked cookies in their car yesterday. They said the cookies were delicious, if gooey, and one of her aunts would bake break in the car during the summer too.

I managed to get the arena mucked this morning with the help of a working student. We filled three cans and a little bit more. The stalls are still gross, but there are only so many workable hours in the day. A lot of my working students are passing on working for the summer or are out of town so I've been trying to pick up the slack, but most of the prime mucking time is filled with lessons (not complaining about earning money) so I have gotten a bit behind, which bothers me. I'm geatefull I've kept up enough to keep the flies from being too terrible, but it isn't my standard or desired level of cleanliness right now.

I finally ordered some new Ariat terrains because my right one has a big gaping hole on the interior next to my foot pad. Other cracks and holes are present, but I figure the 2" gap looks a little unprofessional. I let them go longer than usual because I want them to last at least a year. The hole has been there a couple months and keeps getting bigger so time to replace.

I am feeling better. I have a suspicion the multivitamin I was taking was partly to blame. I had run out and had decided I wasn't super keen on the gummies as they are a little too sweet and you have to take two of them, however the swallowing pill I swaped to apparently made me nauseous, which is terrible, but it took me a couple weeks to realize that might have been it. I picked up some chewable gummies Saturday and have been feeling better. Go figure.

Tru-D has sat around and done nothing the last few weeks. I don't think she's complaining, but I'd like to get her training moving consistently forward. We need to smooth out our long lining and I'd like to introduce some whip work while ground driving as well as introducing some noises like the pole or tire being dragged. I have a plan! It's just a matter of executing it.

It's supposed to be over 110 all week (over 43° C for metric system folks, which means it was almost 48° yesterday because I think they said it was 118° F). I will be doing my job then hiding in the house. Lots of gatorade, ice water, and filling my bandana with ice. This morning I had put several cubes in it and what I do is tie it around my neck so as the ice melts it wets my neck and back to keep me cool. This morning, however, it was pretty much dry after two hours.

While the heat is terrible I have been enjoying a slowed down schedule. Having only 10-15 lessons a week is a big difference from 20-25 and allows me to breathe and even get some stuff done around the house, especially with Chris gone during the day. I admit to being a bit of a slug the past couple weeks, but that should change as I feel better.
lantairvlea: (powerpuff crop)
I had four lessons today, three this morning followed by looking at a horse with the S family and painting before the final lesson.

Looking at a horse is always an interesting experience. My bodyworker had mentioned this guy the beginning of March and asked if I knew of anyone who might be looking. I finally mentioned it to both Keara and Roxanne the latter portion of the month. I was under the impression he was being "given away to good home," but maybe Kristin misunderstood the owner's intent or "giving away" just means "really cheap" as the young woman was fishing for some sort of price, but wouldn't name a number. This might have been because Roxanne was up front with the intent that he would be a train and resell project for Keara.

The layout was a bit confusing finding the place because it was tucked behind a couple other properties and Hal and Keara weren't anywhere to be found despite the truck and trailer being there. We finally found them and the girl selling the horse.

His name is Bucket and he's a coming nine year-old Thoroughbred (tatoo and all). He was in a field with two other horses that had been irrigated a few days prior so the ground was still a little mushy. She had acquires him herself as a project, but ran out of time with this semester of college and hates seeing him sit around and do nothing. He's been working in all three gaits and supposedly started over jumps.

He was easy to catch. He seemed well enough put together, but on the thin side and around 15.3 hands. His feet were overdue and not quite balanced and he was shod all the way around. He picked up his foot well enough for her and then she went to lunge him. She prefaced it saying he had sad for three months and "hated lungeing," which usually means the person hasn't taught the horse to lunge properly and sure enough when she went to send him off he stared at her with his big doe eyes and looed slightly bewildered that he could be asked to do more than have head rubs and scratches. He trotted for a few strides, but not enough to really see. Keara picked him up and tried. She had retreived a whip from their truck, but he was expert in lungeing avoidance and easily sucked her into all of the least effective positions she could be in. I offered some suggestions, primarily keeping her feet still and turning the energy up, but she kept wandering as he wandered and I offered to have a go.

I pointed, raised the whip, he stared. I clucked, swished the whip, he looked slightly alarmed and raised his head. I asked again and he started backing. I twirled the whip and kept the same tension on the line and orientation to him until he finally jumped in the direction and trotted off. He had a very nice, floaty trot, especially for a three month pasture pet. I got him to trot and canter well in both directions before calling it good and cheekily commented to Hal and Roxanne "That's why I'm the trainer!" He had some weakness behind and cross-fired a couple times, but that could be chalked up to lack of fitness at this point. He was a little leery of me for a minute before forgiving me of being horrendously abusive in insisting he work and knowing how to block his efforts to avoid it.

We talked a bit. Gave a cursory assessment and she said she had another person coming to look at him tomorrow (perhaps why he was not a "giveaway" at this point). She would let the S family know by the end of the week.

They also talked about a possible lease for the first month before committing to buying, which would be a win-win for the owner, especially if Keara puts any type of work into him before sending him back (which I don't see happening unless he is a total lemon).

We talked little after we were out of earshot of the owner and then I headed back. I did additional thinking on the drive home and sent Roxanne some thoughts to chew on as she, Hal, and Keara think about whether or not to move forward with Bucket. I do have some little red flags with not seeing him under saddle (I have a picture, but that doesn't really count) as I wanted to see how he had been ridden. The lungeing attempt told me how well he had (not) been lunged at least. If Keara wants to bring him along as if he had never been backed and treat him as such it wouldn't be a bad idea. I also noted they need to consider the skills they want to instill in him, goal sale price, care costs until sold and, for here at least, the fact that summer is not peak riding season and most people in the valley aren't necessarily thinking of mounting up come May and June. From a fitness standpoint they are probably looking at a six week minimum to bring him back into whatever shape he was plus the effort of packing the groceries back on. All things to think about.

In other news I am almost done with the wagon. I need to start pouring in the hours if I am going to get this thing done by the end of the month. I didn't have my art class today and won't have it next week, which will help, but I also need to throw time at it tomorrow and whatever I can spare, really. Good news, Wendy will be sending a check shortly so payment is good!

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.
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)
I worked with Roxanne and Gypsy first this morning. We were in the roundpen at the property working on the canter. Roxanne had not yet cantered on Gypsy and had done it a little on Kash earlier this year. It had taken a while to bring her and Gypsy up because there was a saddle fit issue that we finally got resolved this summer. We had some good trot work then worked on the canter.

Roxanne had some anxiety starting the canter. We insisted on slow and correct rather than trying to rush or push Gypsy into it. We did manage a few good canter strides, but we have some work to do to keep Roxanne thinking and feeling through the transition rather than shutting down when she gets a little anxious.

Next week we'll work on the same and she has some exercises to work on between that will hopefully help with her anxiety.

My next lesson was a new-ish one. I had worked with Vickey briefly about a year and a half ago as she was dealing with some anxiety. She since lost her long-time mount, was horse less for a while, and ended up with a nice molly mule named Maybell. A couple months ago Vickey had a wreck on Miss Maybell during a multi-day trail ride. Day one was great, day two Maybell turned away and wasn't happy to be caught. On the third day Maybell was a pill to be caught and was a grump to saddle, but did well until they got on a steep grade and had to stop halfway down as the people ahead of her stopped in the trail. Maybell had finally had enough and bucked. Vickey got hurt pretty bad, but with where they were she had to get back on and ride the rest of the way back to the trailer, which Maybell was great for.

Needless to say she has since gotten a proper mule saddle and while Vickey had not ridden her since the wreck, her husband Jon has taken Miss Maybell hither and yon and even on a multi-day hunt trip with zero issues.

Vickey had tried to get on before I arrived, but Maybell had fidgeted and Vickey's anxiety was up so we started at ground zero. I showed her how to encourage Maybell to stand still by standing on the block, rubbing and stepping down, working towards putting my foot in the stirrup, down, standing, down, and eventually swinging on. The idea being it gave Vickey the chance to start somewhere she was comfortable and build from there. I walked Maybell around once and halted before swinging off. Nothing exciting for my first ride ever on a mule, but I can now say I've ridden one! Jon even got a picture, I'll share it when I get a copy.

Then it was Vickey's turn and we started with the same, step up, tell Maybell how awesome she was, and step down. We adjusted some of the things she was doing slightly mounting up, like having the mane and rein in her left hand instead of holding the saddle in both as well as thrusting off of her right leg versus stepping down into the left stirrup, which provided a smoother and more balanced mount.

Vickey was so happy to be back in the saddle. She admited she wasn't sure she'd be able to swing on because her anxiety had been so bad in her previous attempts after the wreck. We're looking forward to more progress next week! She rode around, got off and on two more times and we did some minor tweaks to her steering aids, but the big thing was getting Vickey comfortably on and off, mission accomplished!

After Vickey I had an extra lesson with Sue and Bud. We worked driving with the reins in one hand, which Sue found much more comfortable not having to work the whip and right rein at the same time. Following that I had two more lessons, Eleyna on Chewy followed by Susanne on Kash. Susanne had a really good ride on the boy and we hiked her stirrups up a hole or so, which seemed to help a little over the crossrails. She's really getting how to handle Kash now and is having a ball jumping him (even if they are just baby crossrails).

I rode Sunny during Susanne's lesson and she did much better than Monday. I kept her forelock under the browband, which seemed to help in keeping her forelock from tickling her ears. I think the second day of work also helped get her out if feral horse mode and thinking she was retired. I took her over the crossrails, which she pretty much just stepped over, did some canter, and held the trot fairly nicely. She still needs some work on being more supple and actively listening to her rider, but I'd feel comfortable with some of my intermediate students on her again.

The final task of the day was getting Ruby x-rayed. She is moving great and I think tomorrow we may drop the ointment to once a day for a couple days before backing off the bute another gram or two.

Preliminary look says that it is still very much in the pastern joint and the coffin joint is not involved. It is not fused yet, which is why she was so painful when it flared up. I forgot a thumb drive and will need to drop by tomorrow with one to get the images and see about printing some off for Kevin to look at.

And now I should be in bed. Only four lessons tomorrow (three are half hour) so a short day. Try to hit the feed store before it closes and drop by to pick up the x-ray images.

Happy New Year all!
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)
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!

So tätig

Oct. 31st, 2015 07:41 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Barring any cancellations I have 29 hours scheduled next week between lessons, client horses, and the private school classes. This does not include travel time, record keeping, or the hour a day that the horses get for general maintenance (feeding and such).

If I keep this up I might have to raise rates on new clients. Of course the initial plan was to save that until I was using the property regularly, but there is that supply and demand thing and if my time is in short supply it becomes more valuable. Maybe what I may do instead of the $20 discount off of four I do currently I'll drop it to $10 so the individual cost stays the same. Something to think about.

We'll see how I manage [livejournal.com profile] mini_wrimo or something like [livejournal.com profile] nanomango this month if this keeps up, hahaha!

In other news, Tristan made a good ghost:




We couldn't convince Kelhan to wear his more than two seconds so he just went as himself and we have no photographic evidence of his costume. Better luck next year. Tristan did one round at the trunk or treat and then thoroughly enjoyed handing out candy with his little brother. I think that was more fun for him than getting candy!

Also we got part of the yard fenced for Rolo so she can roam without worrying about her sneaking under the horse panels.
lantairvlea: (New filly)
Twenty-one lessons this week, two client horses worked, and the two classes at the private school so 25 hours of "active" work. I also got Tru-D worked today and Tabbi got worked by one of my working students, which I think will work out nicely.

I have another I can trust to work Tabbi too and hope to eek in a training session from me once a week to move her forward in her training along with getting her more fit. We had Chatham out for fall shots today and we discussed Tabbi a bit. Her coat appears a bit scruffy still despite her diet with rice bran, oil, mineral and hoof supplements. Once we get some days consistently below 80 we may do another blood sample and maybe consider a urine sample.

Tru-D did quite well today. Try number two with the long lining and this time the reins through the surcingle. I ended up working on getting her over a cavelleto, which we spent a good few minutes working on as she would rush, occasionally hit it, and get herself terribly kerfuppled. She did eventually walk it in both directions. She's not sure about the "woah" aid yet, which we'll work on. She can suck her neck into her chest really well and easily (not necessarily a good thing) and is nicely flexible in both directions. I think she is going to end up with a more Haflinger action over the Belgian (more hock and knee action). I think I'll work her a couple more times in the halter before switching over to the sidepull. She was pushing her nose into the pressure a bit, more like flipping it, but she hasn't experienced much backward pressure yet and using the surcingle rings disrupts my ability to jiggle the inside rein as I have done with lungeing to ask her to slow down.

My ride on Oakley this week went both faster and slower. He was much happier to walk at the start so we worked in gait, trot, and canter. There were still a good amount of circles and we had a few wider areas that I worked him to the right specifically to help improve his bend and getting some weight off of his right shoulder so he can extend it better. He tends to throw his left shoulder forward and pile his weight on the right, which is probably why he only takes his left lead. I did have a couple moments where he felt like he could take his right lead so we'll build on that. He likes to creep into the canter and we had a few moments where I did a pulley rein check and also others were we did some one-rein stops until he was listening again. Hoping to improve his "race brain" for her in the next few rides.

Bud did really awesome for Sue today. She drove almost the whole time. I took him past the irrigation ditch he had trouble with on Wednesday and I must have done something right when we trotted tiny circles until he marched past it because this time he flicked an ear at it and that was it. I also had him as we came up to their place as two ATVs drove past, which thankfully they were respectful and slowed and Bud walked by like they weren't a deal.

Tru-D was a little weirded out when she did her shot as we had the horses up closer to the road due to mud rather than back behind the house. Poor thing got stuck three times. The first time the needle slipped out just as he was going to depress it and she sidestepped, the second time he caught a blood vessel, and time three we were good to go.

Cinnamon did fairly well for hers. She's always been a pill about it, but continues to make small improvements. Stuffing her with cookies helped.

Sunny's mouth looks horrendous. It is no longer in the corner and has migrated towards her chin. The ulcer is almost as big as my palm and has some proud flesh going on. Marty is going to have him freeze it and do a biopsy to see what we're dealing with now. As much past dewormer as has been smeared on the thing we don't think we're dealing with the parasites anymore.

I ordered Marty one of the Moss Rock Endurance Evolution bridles for her birthday/Christmas. It came this week and I snuck out to check the fit on her two mares. Looks pretty good! Now I just need to wait a month for her birthday (sometimes I plan ahead).

Rolo now has a fenced in yard we can turn her out in so we don't have to stand out with her, which has been nice.
lantairvlea: (New filly)
At the beginning of the week today was booked with four lessons. Then my 7am had a family thing followed by 9am coming down sick, and then it rained last night, but not much. My 10am sent me a text this morning saying he wasn't feeling well so I worked Tru-D and she did quite well. I've only worked her in the roundpen three or four times now and she really is getting it. Especially since the arena is blocked from traffic by the house and the roundpen is about 20' from the road if that. Added that Dave was trimming trees while I was working her she did awesome. After sendinf her around a bit I put one of the bitless bridles on her and worked on bending and then asking her to turn on the forehand and then haunches. She is such a quick study! I just asked for one step each time, but once she figured out what it was I was asking she very willingly moved over. For a filly who thought all people were going to eat her eight months agonahe has become quite the people pleaser!

I need to retrieve my bithanger from Sue so I can start throwing a bitted bridle on her so she can get used to the bit. I don't have any intention of working her in a bit until she has a full mouth because this line of thought just makes sense to me (why put a bit in when they're still losing baby teeth?). I would like to see how far I can take her up the levels in Dressage and see what we can do driving, which will require her working in a bit unless the USDF decides to change things in the next two to three years.

After working Tru-D I pulled Tabbi out because what else was I to do being lessonless, right? Tabbi had a bit of sass to work out, which was fine by me. Last I had her out she was a little tender footed so seeing her spring in the air and run off a bit was good. She really needs to gain some muscle mass. You can tell in her hip especially. Marty's feeding her as much as her other two mares combined so she isn't wanting any groceries. She does tend to eat slowly and for some strange reason prefers the stems of the alfalfa to the leaves. If I can't find the time to lunge her a few times a week I need to see about maybe having a working student or two do it. I think I can trust Susanne and Roxanne both so that would give me two and then I would just need to do once, which is more feasible with my crazy schedule and hopefully the exercise can both jumpstart her appetite and start building more muscle on her.

I also played with bending and turn on the haunches and forehand. She was a bit more resistant than Tru-D, but loads better than where she was when it took a good 10 minutes before she would give on one side.

After working Tabbi I called to check on my away lesson. They got more rain than we did so we threw in the towel until next week. I did have a new potential client come out for a meet and greet and we set up for her daughter to start the first week of November.

Chris, the boys and I went into town and picked up two new pairs of pants for me. I was down to one for the last few months because in the spring I picked up breeches instead since they are about the same cost, (should) wear longer, are more comfortable (particularly riding), and aren't so hot in the summer.

When we got back home roads were flooded, the washes were running, and the places where washes used to be were flooded. Apparently we got absolutely dumped on the hour and a half or so we were out!

This was not a good week for lessons apparently. I had over twenty booked and ended up with only 14 (which is still a good amount). Next week should be better.

Rolo was 14.5 lbs when we had her at the vet for her shot. She has gained six pounds since we brought her home. She is doing really well with her potty training. We did have two accidents the last week, but that was our fault and sometimes it's hard to wrangle two toddlers and a puppy!

Wednesday I had three horses to ride. Royal is getting better now that we have a saddle that fits. He and Debbie are still figuring each other out, but he is doing pretty well for me. Then I met Kathryn and worked Oakley (young Kentucky Mountain Horse who may or may not have a chunk of Paso Finonin him, she does endurance on him and is hoping to get a 50 in this spring) and man is that little guy a pistol! I knew he was zoomy, but I spent almost 40 minutes convincing him that walking was the answer. He did give me some lovely, stretchy walks, but as soon as his head came up he was gaiting. There were a lot of circles. So many circles! When he did give me a consistent walk I actively asked him up and we did a brisk canter, maybe a slow gallop. He doesn't like his right lead. I tried my best, but the left stirrup was also a half hole longer than the right I think and as I tried to set him up he would just pile his weight on that right shoulder. He did swap behind on our last set, which was less than comfortable. I told Kathryn to get him to pick up his right lead we'll need a place to work him where I can do some large circles because straight farm roads that go on for a mile straight aren't helping to convince him that the right lead is a good idea. She also agreed that her left fender may be stretched and not helping. I'll be shortening my stirrups another hole next week on him (I have stubby legs, Kathryn is my height and this will put me three holes shorter than her).

After Oakley I put an hour in on Bud, which included trying to take my two-point time. It might not have been the best idea after working two other horses, but I managed to endure the burn to six minutes, which is about 1:45 better than my base time.

So lined up for next week I moved Debbie to Tuesday so I don't have a stack of four Wednesday morning (three of which I've been riding!), two lessons Monday, four Tuesday, two lessons and two horses to work Wednesday, four Thursday, five Friday, and if everyone shows up five or possibly six on Saturday. Keeping in mind that hours in lessons doesn't include time spent feeding and caring for the herd. I need to muck Monday too because I didn't have my usual muckers Thursday, Friday, OR today!

Chris has another interview on Monday (yay!). Never heard back from the other one. Chris suspects they were looking for another woman. The HR lady that set up the interview was really excited, but the women who actually interviewed him were much less so. Onward to more opportunities!
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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