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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other news I now technically have space if I were to take a horse into training.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I was able to work Tru-D again yesterday morning because my 8am was sick (so many sick people canceled this past month). I used the Parelli feather lines again and attached them between the cheek pieces and throatlatch in the cross-under configuration. I had Susanne mucking in the arena so I took Tru-D out and around the house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday I had one lesson and since Susanne is quite indpendent I grabbed Mac and rode him while she was on Kash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It does look pretty sporty all hooked up!

There is a mixture of excitement and terror driving the new carriage. The terror will wsne as we become more familiar with it and certainly once we get the fit properly adjusted. I trusted it to turn a bit better than the Roberts (might be the shorter pole) and I will probably notice the ride better when I'm not worrying so much about how the horses' harnesses are engaging.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
The view from the driver's seat.

Kelhan is going to be a good driving buddy.

Chris got to drive his team.

We put the pole to the wagonette today. Chris had set up the forecart at the beginning of the month and we had a successful first drive with them together and hooked (we have ground driven them a few times together). They have both pulled the wagonette singly so as a team wouldn't be a problem.

I ground drove them a bit and we set set up the tie back on Charm-N. The two of them match well in their paces, but Charm-N has a hair-trigger for her "go" button while Ruby needs some extra encouragement sometimes. Charm-N can also be a little on the hot side to start and occasionally jigs here and there. She could use a good couple mile warm-up by herself to get settled, but at least she isn't dumb about it and is easy to ask back. That said she tends to walk off ahead of Ruby and occasionally jogs ahead of her as well so the tie back is there to encourage her to keep Pace with Ruby. It consists of a lungeing "Y" (I think some call it a "V") that snaps onto her bit and then another strap that goes from the bottom ring of the lungeing attachment to, in this case, Ruby's hames. If we had a long enough strap it could go all the way back to Ruby's singletree and Charm-N would end up pulling the carriage with her face, but the strap isn't that long and she isn't that bad about it. Turns to the right were much improved with the tie back as it kept Charm-N waiting without my accidentally correcting Ruby through the reins to keep Charm-N from rushing the turn. For those not familiar, when you drive a team (or pair as it is called among the pleasure driving sect) you have a single set of reins to communicate with both horses, which can make it difficult to do individual corrections.

Chris took over the lines to get them hooked up. The wagonette's pole is longer, but taller than the one for the forecart and I wasn't convinced they could be stepped over and backed into it. As it was Ruby did beautifully and Charm-N swung her butt wide to the right, which required some manual manipulation. Of course just as we were hooking up the neighbor's grandkids started zipping around on their quads. Perfect timing guys!

There was a brief moment where both of them went to step off and I had to check them hard, but it settled quickly and they stood like rocks the rest of the time.

The pole for the wagonette is really long. Both mares were at the ends of their heel chains and I had to lengthen Charm-N's false martingale to keep the breeching from riding up her butt. We suspect underneath the layers of tube insulation and pipe wrap the pole actually telescopes, but since we plan on moving it on once the cart and carriage arrive in January there really isn't a point in cutting through all of the padding to find out. Plus it works well enough as is for what we're doing.

Once hooked up I took them around the arena a couple times (quads revving and roaring just over the block wall the whole time...) and Chris opened up the fence so we could get out front and away from the noise a bit. Since the girls seemed fairly settled Chris went and retreived the little men from Marty and the four of us drove around the front and side of the house for a bit before returning around back to the arena for a few more laps. Tristan lost interest first so Chris hiked the little man back to Gama's and Kelhan and I drove some more until Chris returned and climbed back up. Kelhan thought he was done a short while later, but then changed his mind and at that point Chris got the lines and I sat in back with Kelhan. By now Charm-N was waiting for Ruby to step off first and was pretty consistently in her "sweet spot" where the tie back did not engage.

Chris enjoyed driving his team and even took them out of the arena and parked them in front of the workshop so we could unhook the carriage and not have to push it very far to park it!

Kelhan was very good at waiting to the side while we unhitched and then "helped" me lead Charm-N back to where we untacked her. He then decided Gama's was going to be more fun and Chris and I finished up hosing them down and putting away the carriage.

I'm looking forward to more driving with the big ladies. I just wish they were both seven instead of seventeen. We'll just keep being grateful for whatever years we have left with the two of them.


Nov. 1st, 2016 10:03 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
This happened today:

Chris had them harnesses up when I got home from my first lesson. He ground drove them before we hitched them to the forecart.

Tristan was at school, but Kelhan was with us and did a super job of watching and staying out of the way while he waited to ride.

I drove first before Chris and Kelhan joined me. Charm-N was a little jiggy, but not terrible. They both did quite well and we're very pleased. We may adjust the forecart to encourage Charm-N to be a little closer to the pole as she tended to hang out and forward, but we'll see. It'll be really fun to have them hooked up to something with a better turn radius!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Pilfered from [ profile] flirting.

Memeish )

I had a couple lessons today with a break between. During the break I decided to pull out Charm-N and Tru-D to see what type of trouble I could get into. I haven't ponied from Charm-N and I haven't tried ponying Tru-D yet so I guess I could have prepared a little better, but we did it!

Charm-N has a monster walk and Tru-D was not fond of trying to keep up. I ended up doing a single dally on the horn, let Charm-N walk, and allowed Tru-D to figure it out. It took a while, but she finally stepped up and put slack in the rope. To emphasize that was correct I stopped Charm-N and gave both of them lots of rubs. Charm-N for being tolerant and Tru-D for figuring it out. We repeated a few times and Tru-D was quicker to step up and get slack in the line. Then we swapped sides and Charm-N got to drag Tru-D's lagging butt for almost 10 minutes before the baby decided to step up. We ended with a few good strides without Tru-D dragging and called it good.

I sense more ponying in the future.

Thursday was the Meet the Teacher at the Elementary school Tristan will be attending Preschool at. He's excited. He has only one kid older than him in class, but that's okay. I just hope he doesn't get bored.

I think I finally feel like An Adult. I think having a kid in school does it. Tristan starts Tuesday and it will be three days for three hours each. We'll see if Kelhan misses him or not.

It's crazy-hot. Supposed to be 114 or somesuch today. I finished lessons at 9am, but had a working student 9-10. The stalls got cleaned along with the little turnout. I got a couple things done while she worked then helped get Ruby's stall done. It'll be nice doing just the arena Monday after getting it done Thursday too. Hurrah working students! I can't wait to have a few hours a week of them again.

Both the truck and Jeep got oil changes this week. The Jeep has a crack in the windshield washer fluid resivoir. It's covered by warranty, but only for another 500 miles so we'll be taking it in again next week.

Tru-D is slowly trying to catch up to Ruby.

It helps that Ruby is standing in a hole.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
The morning started out with a very lame Charm-N. I fed the horses loose so I could clean the stalls and she was hobbling pretty good from pile to pile. It looked like it was mostly her right fore, but she looked a little ouchy all over.

I went ahead and did the mucking. I Charm-N's stall was nasty per usual. When I have an extra set of hands I need to put a rubber matt under her feeder. She likes to pee, poop, and stand in the same spot, which compacts into nasty cakes of shavings and manure and dirt that takes some muscle to scrape out. She is the dirtiest horse I know when it comes to stall cleanliness. Chewy's a close second, but she at least goes in the half of her stall away from her food.

I filled four of the big cans. Charm-N's stall took up three-quarters of one of them. Messy, messy mare. I was feeling industrious and did about half the arena as well because it was just only 100 today.

After the cans I fed the herd their second half of breakfast in their stalls, though I played a little musical ponies and put Kitt in Charm-N's stall, Tru-D went in Kitt's with access to the small turnout, and Charm-N was in the arena with the small stall so she could move or not at will (and not be tempted to bicker at Ruby).

I cleaned out Charm-N's feet and they were just packed with a combination of dirt, manure, and ROCKS. So many rocks! There was no heat in her feet or pulses and there was no sign of swelling. I am hoping that it was the rocks and maybe I saw her just after a good thump from Ruby, who knows. She was moving about 90% better this evening. I may still have Chatham out for a look tomorrow and I sent Kevin a note that he may want to pick up some pads and shoes depending on how she hoof tests. I'm partial to thinking it's higher up as she allowed me to clean out all four feet fine, but we'll see. I hope she moves even better in the morning.

Saturday I had a cancellation so I pulled Tru-D out and played with some long-lining. I have re-watched both the Clay Maier Training Your Horse to Drive and Nate Bowers/Pat Parelli Driving Horses Vol. 1 (some day I may get the other two) in the last couple weeks and took a little different approach this time.

I started slowly with just asking her to move her forehand and haunches independently a step at a time before playing with a little bit of sidepass. She did very nicely and I was pleased with how soft and calm she was. I finished by double-lungeing and while she did zip off when I changed directions and asked for the trot she came down pretty quickly and stayed on the circle better than she has.

I don't know if I mentioned that we introduced the tire noise the other week, which she did really well with. I have a breastcollar on order for her so we can progress to actually pulling things as it cools down.

Today we had an assessment for Kelhan. He has a hard time with making consonant sounds and we were a little worried about him being behind. Our state has some awesome programs for early child development if you just make the calls (or at least have your pediatrician make the calls).

The lady who came out was really nice and tolerated the boys' attention-seeking antics well. Apparently Kelhan is at the top of the charts in everything except for his communication skills, however the communication is a grey area and he could go either way. She is recommending him for an evaluation with the speech therapist and we go from there. The speech therapist, even if he isn't behind enough to qualify, (s)he should be able to give us thoughts and ideas to help him along. After he turns three, if he is still behind the schools can pick up from there through their Pre-K programs and such.

Options are good. The woman today was very impressed with Kelhan overall in what he can do and his comprehension skills. We hope to keep that up and bring his verbal skills up to par.

I also can't wait to see my working students come back with the cooler weather because I'd love to be working horses for two hours Monday morning instead of mucking. I'd also love to see the arena and stalls completely clean the on the same day twice a week instead of getting the stalls clean one day a week and the arena clean the other. I don't like seeing fly maggots when I scrape up the manure. The birds (and sun) make short work of them once I move to the next area, but I'd rather get it picked up while they are still in their eggs.
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)
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)
We loaded up Charm-N and the forecart this morning, had Marty sit at the house because the boys were still asleep, and headed out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edit To Add: The bitless bridle functioned great. I did have a slighty issue with the noseband creeping down towards her nostrils at one point, but I only had to move it once during the whole day and I am not sure if that was due to her head-dipping threaten-to-buck shenanigans or what (probably). I did want to mention that the reins stayed as they should and the crown didn't get twisted at all on her head. I do think that the throatlatch attachment is what makes the difference in this function in steadying the pressure so the crown doesn't twist. Five stars.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
One client is taking a month off, an old one decides to start back up. A new one realizes that they can't start up yet and another decides that instead of just the one daughter it is to be a family affair and the other daughter plus mother are joining in.

My only form of advertising is word of mouth and the website Chris manages so I am living off of (...drowning in) referrals and random google searches.

I don't think I will be advertising once I get the property up and running....

Can't complain. I can see half of them dropping come the hot weather, but maybe they'll surprise me...

Drove Charm-N today and she did quite well. Got very sweaty, but at least managed to walk most of the time. She also did awesome despite the giant belly dump trucks that have been racing up and down Hawes.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Three lessons this morning, Charm-N at training, just worked on the ground, but I think we had something like a break through. We may be able to get past her "shut up and let me drive" mode fairly quickly.

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

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

Two lessons this evening and Bud worked.

Tomorrow to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show with Chris!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)

Chris and I both drove Charm-N this mmorning. She worked way harder than she needed to (she hasn't been driven often enough to get out of her "shut up and let me drive" mode).

We cruised around the new property and are thinking about hosting a fun day drive event when it is all cleaned up.

In Brief

Sep. 18th, 2014 09:24 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Birthday was good. Chris and I took Ruby and Charm-N out on a trail ride. All involved did excellent. Apparently Chris and I haven't been out together since before Kelhan was born! Issue remedied.

We had Chris and I's parents plus my brother Tye and his family out to dinner and we got a carrot cake from Baci's that Marty and Dad came over to enjoy. Mom had a class and Tye and family headed home from the restaurant. Marty took a slice home for Dave and we've been working through the rest of the cake.

Panda came home yesterday morning. Jess pulled up a little before 7am. He said Panda didn't travel so well this time, kicking around whenever he would stop and I don't blame her! He had those ridiculous 24 inch trailer ties and had it attached to the bottom of her halter so she couldn't even drop her head level let alone down low enough to properly clear her airways! FOR EIGHT HOURS. It may be less, but it is a six and a half hour drive without a trailer. She was all sucked up in her flank like she hadn't had any water and probably no food either.

The more I think about it the more irritated I am and the happier I am that she is here and didn't stay. She has two scuffs on her front pasterns, rubs just in front of her elbows on both sides, a scrape on her face, a few on her hip, and fresh ones around her hocks and other things here and there that were not there a week and a half ago. The ones on her forearms/elbows and front pasterns are concerning as to why they are there and how they happened. She also apparently was rubbing her neck as the top side is metal grey.

I put her back in the pen with two full buckets of water plus a handful of hay that was thoroughly soaked. She drank half of one od the buckets (probably close to 10 gallons) and I gave her a flake of bermuda also thoroughly soaked. She looked a bit better, but not quite so good as I remember her looking before stepping on the trailer. I think she somehow managed to lose some condition over the week and a half.

I rode her this morning during a lesson and firstly she wandered off when I asked her to stand. Twice. Then I go to mount up and she immediately walks off on me. I spend the next few minutes re-establishing that she needs to stand still.

And this is getting long, ramble more later, but needless to say I am slightly annoyed and wonder how people can untrain things so quickly.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)

What bit do you ride your current beastie in and why?

We'll go alphabetically again, because it is easier.

Chewy- takes a 5 1/4" eggbutt with a copper lozenge/oval. Yes, my 13.2 hand pony takes an over 5" bit. She started in a short-shanked Tom thumb with a center copper cylinder until I realized it was too narrow, poor saintly Little Mare and I decided against leverage because she has beginners on her 99% of the time and she responds fine without it. I don't think she really cares what is in her mouth.

Charm-N- rides in a 6" eggbutt with a center lozenge. She can either have the best stop or the worst stop. For me she stops off of the voice and seat the vast majority of the time. Some of my students have managed this, but some of them can't get her to plant her feet to save their lives and I don't think it has much of anything to do with the bit. She drives in a straight bar liverpool on the smooth side (recently switched her from the rough side). Sometimes she drives on the snaffle setting and sometimes on the first hole, depending on how much she is trying to tell me "shut up and let me drive." She came with a plain loose ring single joint snaffle, which I don't think I would ever drive her in. I tried her in a French link/"dog bone" butterfly once, which she did not like. I think it was more the mouthpiece than the cheeks. One I feel adventurous again I may try a mullen mouth butterfly.

Kash- English he has settled into a 5" D ring with a copper lozenge and his Western bridle has a Tom thumb with swept back shanks and a snaffle option, the mouthpiece has a center cipoer cylinder that allows for tongue relief, but doesn't collapse quite so much as your typical three piece mouth like an oval or French link. I have tried a LOT of bits on the boy. He is my only horse with a 5" mouth so my whole 5" collection has been used on him at some point. He likes copper and he likes double-jointed mouthpieces, more the lozenge than French links or Dr. Bristols.

Kitt- uses a 5 1/2" French link Eggbutt. I had started her in a single joint, but she had a tendency to suck her tongue back and get it ovet. When I switched to the French link she greatly reduced that tendency. I have a copper French link butterfly whenever I get around to driving her.

Panda- (Since she's officially mine again...) She has ridden in both a 5 1/2" curved single joint D-ring and a eggbutt with a center lozenge and I recently had a single joint full cheek I had her in too because it was what the bridle had on it. She doesn't seem very opinionated about what goes in her mouth. Now that I have her bridle back it's the curved single joint D again. Z inherited her English bridle with the lozenge.

Ruby- rides in a 6" Eggbutt with a lozenge and drives in a French Link d-ring because she doesn't need anything else and it was a 6" bit that we happened to have laying around. She was in a plain single joing Eggbutt for the longest time and I decided to try the lozenge and she seemed to like it.

Zetahra- rides in a 5 1/2" Eggbutt with a lozenge she inherited from her mother. I started driving her in a single joint full cheek, but switched to the copper French link butterfly when ahe went into the closed bridle. She (thusfar) drives on the snaffle setting.

I think you might notice a slight trend. I admit to being partial to double-jointed mouthpieces. One you avoid the tongue and bar-pinching nutcracker effect and the horses seem to like them. I lean towards the lozenge/oval because it provides a "quieter" smooth surface whereas the French link and Dr. Bristol tend to push into the tongue where they join the center link, which some horses seem to appreciate less than others.

I like the butterflies for driving because they have that little bit of slide before engaging unlike the liverpool and elbow bits. I do like having "options" on the driving bits depending on how the horse is responding. In my opiniom leverage is for finished horses and esperienced riders. The idea is that you can use even softer, more refined cues before the curb engages. If you feel like you have to use your leverage all the time there's something wrong with the horse's training or the rider's use of it.

I admit to never getting into loose rings. I tried one on Kash once, which was a disaster because despite saying it is 5" it actually measured closer to 4 3/4". I also worry about pinched lips.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
In order of acquisition.
Kash Advance )

Conestee CRB )

Ruby )

Dungannon's Ness )
Zetahra/Verhängnis )

Charm-N )

Of course there are some other horses that were once a part of the herd and are not now, but that is for another time.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I still need to do pictures, but it's a start!

Let's take a moment to appreciate the pros of our current ponies, whether you own them or just ride them in lessons

We'll go alphabetically because that is easiest.

Charm-N: Grade Percheron Mare
She takes care of Chris both riding and driving now.
She is the most physically affectionate horse I have ever met. If you stand near her long enough she will start nuzzling your neck for attention and scratches. She particularly loves udder scratches and will just about fall over and makes the most blissful face when it is done (if there is a neck or shoulder available she shares the love).
She is forward.
She will stop on "whoa" alone.
Her walk is faster than some horses' trot ... her trot is about the same speed.

Chewy: Haflinger Mare
She has a very classic pony head from the tiniest ears, long, full forelock, with a broad forehead and the biggest eyes I have seen on any size horse. In short: she is absolutely adorable.
She has awesome hock action and is just the cutest mover. There is a reason she had seven or ao foals!
She is sensitive, responsive, and tolerant, a rare combination.

Kash: Arabian Gelding
He is stupidly athletic.
His canter is awesome, wonderful to sit and if you just take the canter "shape" he's there.
He always responds (he's just not always a gentleman about it).
He can grab the fleshy part of his tail with his teeth.
He can scratch his ear with a hind foot while a rider is on his back.
He will lick me for attention.
He's my boy.

Kitt: Norwegian Fjord Mare
She has a mooshy face that she doesn't mind me playing with.
She has a refined sense of fairness. If you ask lightly and reward when she gives she'll do what you ask. If you're unfair (don't release) or hang on her she ignores or plows through it.
I am comfortable enough to ride her bareback out in the desert.
She nickers like a mule.

Ruby: Belgian Mare
She takes the most excellent care of Chris and gives him the confidence to keep riding.
She is very affectionate, but quietly so (she'll stand just in your space until you are forced to pay attention, she won't bump or rub, but she's 1800lbs of THERE).
She is like a big couch with legs and you can't fall off the couch.
I have ridden her bareback around the neighborhood because she is awesome like that.

Zetahra: Friesian Sporthorse/Pinto Draft Filly/Mare
Her forelock goes all the way to her nose, her mane is past her shoulders, and her tail goes to the ground. In short: she has hair.
She is very smart and retains what she has learned with little reminder.
She has awesome gaits.
She will stick her tongue out of the side of her mouth when you press just where her lips end. She also likes to press her tongue on things at times. Thankfully she doesn't do it when working and the only time she did it in the bridle was because she got bored standing still too long.
She is every bit as fancy and athletic as I had hoped. Now I just need to figure out how to channel it!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)

Chris drove Charm-N yesterday and I guess it got him itching to try his mares together again. Last time we tried ground driving them next to each other (each of us controlling our own horse), which doesn't work quite so well.

It took us a minute to remember how the team lines are supposed to go, but we figured it out. We attatched the neck yoke (...upside down) and snapped on the hip strap to keep them from swinging their hips apart and facing each other (I've seen other teams do this, it isn't a good thing).

I took the lines first and drove them a bit. Ruby had definitely done this before. She would jog to keep even with Charm-N turning left and slow down when turning right, rating herself nicely against Charm-N's stride. As you can see in the video they even got themselves stride-for-stride now and again.

They're a lot better matched than our initial flubbed attempt suggested and than their individual driving would suggest (Charm-N is super forward and while Ruby can stride out she is a little more relaxed and conserves her energy).

Next step will be pulling the tire with them before trying the forecart and then the carriage.

Driving a team is too much fun.


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