lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I had my lesson with Carrie yesterday. I was the last ride of the day for her and apparently I was the last chance at a good, productive lesson. Everyone had attention issues to varying degrees. Kristen was on Ellie and she was distracted by Aliki and Moose pulling in along with the wind. Aliki said Moose did okay and was typical distracted baby in new place, but when she went to pull the reins over at the end he had a moment and bumped into Robin's mare Betty as they were coming in so Betty took a good chunk of her lesson to come down. Carrie said it was pretty much the same lesson for all three: refocus! Aliki was a bit mortified at Moose's behavior, but hopefully she will join our merry little crew on a regular basis.

Kitt redeemed the day by paying attention to her job and we had a pretty productive lesson. Her walking leg yields were fabulous and we moved on to the trot, which was less fabulous, but got better.

She tends to either dump or rush on her outside shoulder so we worked walk-halt within the leg yield and getting her both more prompt to stop and quicker to step off. It was interesting asking her to walk off immediately into the leg yield.

Our trot-halt transitions started out pretty poor. I'm debating doing the bitless bridle next time, but we'll see. I can't do a recognized show in the bitless so probably just keep working in the bitted bridle. I guess I could throw a bit on her bitless bridle (I use Moss Rock Endurance's Evolution Bridle which has a bitted option) and see how it goes.

I was curious and looked Carrie up on Centerline and was slightly disappointed to find she hasn't shown above first level (at least not anything recognizrd) with lackluster scores. Granted, they were over ten years ago and in the meantime she has gotten her degree and had a kid so she has an excuse for her showing break. I don't think she is too much older than I am. In spite of that I'm sticking around. I can't deny the results it has had on Kitt and I look forward to starting to put it to the test, even if it is just schooling shows.

There is a little part of my head that is running around screaming "I am a hack!" right now. I have my first horse due in for full driving training the end of June. It's the Gypsy mare Chroi I evaluated almost a month ago. I have six weeks to get her put to.

The closest I've come to having a horse in full training was Bud when I was working him three days a week. It'll be interesting to see what I can do in a more intense timetable. From the evaluation the mare should be a "born broke" type, but no step skipping here! I'm meeting with her owner tomorrow so she can see the place and know where her mare is going to be kept.

Speaking of driving training, Ballad is a little rock star.



He is absolutely adorable.



The driving view.

He has started to tell the difference between when I have the lines and Monique. This should remedy itself as Monique gets more consistent and capable, but it does bring out the more stereotypical pony in him. Of course it didn't help that she would pick up the line, he would question it, and then she would let him go so in a short period of time she had him turning the opposite way with her rein aid. Once caught it was easy to fix fortunately!

Today I had Olaf for his official start of driving training. He had his evaluation a couple weeks ago too and needs more familiarizing with the harness. We lunged first with the training harness (breastcollar, surcingle, and crupper with kicking strap/trace carriers). He was vaguely reluctant going forward into the breastcollar, but not bad like last time. He wanted to drop the canter going right and to the left he humped up once.

From lungeing we switched gears to whip aids, starting with being sure he could flex his neck (not looking for a big bend) without moving before moving his haunches and shoulders away. He was excellent for moving his hip over and moving his shoulders towards the bend. Moving his shoulders to the outside of the bend was a littke harder. When he was doing it reasonably well and since it was obvious he knew how to move his hip away from pressure I asked him to move his hip towards me. This one is tricky for a lot of horses and I ended up using the fence to keep him from pushing forward too much.

And I'll continue this tomorrow with other training musings because Quentan just fell asleep and I should head to bed.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)


Wednesdays might be Ride A Tru-D day for a bit. I have working students, but usually not lessons so I'm outside supervising, though both of them are really good at this point and I'm there "just in case" or if they finish a task and need direction for the next one.

I started by helping Susanne muck out the arena and part of the stalls before grabbing Tru-D. She might actually be enjoying the work now as she is no longer a pill about being caught. Of course as soon as I say that she might promptly decide that being caught is for the birds again, but we'll hope not!

I lunged her first and she had a little kick up in the canter. I think she might have been expecting the breeching on her butt again. I'll have to lunge her in full harness again and maybe snug up the breeching a bit more so it is less floppy. Other than that she was nicely responsive so I figured we were good to go. Swapped my hat for the helmet and threw on the vest before standing in the stirrup a couple times and climbing aboard. She stood great and this time instead of asking her to walk straight off I asked for some turn on the forehand first. She did quite well with that and we proceeded to have a nice short walk where she spent a lot of time stopping to check in with my balance, which I'm appreciating at the moment. She's trying to figure out that forward is still the easiest, just like with pulling when she tries to shift left or right to see if it is easier. We went a little over double the distance of the first ride, did a couple of turns, and called it good. Brief and positive is the best!

Speaking of other first rides, last week I leaned up on Grace for the first time. We did a lot of work on her right side because she was pretty skittish about me being up on the block on that side or bouncing so we did a lot of up and down on the mounting block, bouncing in place, and generally being a nuisance until she relaxed about it. I got her to take a few steps with me draped across her like a sack of potatoes and called it good.

Over the weekend I realized I was doing it the hard way when I had Dawn right there to assist so today after some initial up and down and being sure she was good with me moving around on both sides of her I had Dawn grab her lunge line and I had the lead rope. I stepped on and had Dawn lead Grace for a bit before feeding us out the lunge line. We walked and halted a couple of times and then called it good. I think she'll get going a little faster than Tru-D because she is more physically mature and also I'm working her twice a week (down from the three times we did at the start) and Dawn is great about doing her homework inbetween and asking questions when she has trouble.

As noted before Dawn said she was interested in doing All The Things with Grace so we'll be measuring her for a harness tomorrow as well as putting in another short ride.

I haven't started wearing the air vest yet, but I should. I think I've established that both of these greenies are going to be good and stand long enough for me to attach the lanyard so time to make use of my investment!

Yesterday I also did an evaluation on another Gypsy. His name is Olaf (Olav?) and I have no pictures because I don't have three hands. He's 14.3 hands and wears a size 4 shoe to give you an idea about his mass!

Olaf came from a lady who bought him from the local Gypsy breeder. The lady had him several years and didn't so much with him. He may have had some training from DJGV, but it's unclear what. I started out lungeing him, which he did stellar with. Someone put time into establishing good lungeing manners. I then got him outfitted in my training harness wkth the surcingle and breastcollar first. He took a little exception to the breastcollar and didn't think he could go forward and it was in his way. He got over it quickly enough, but still seemed a little short in his stride.

Deb had mentioned he was a bit goosey behind so I worked his tail gently and played with th end of the lunge line under it to give him the idea that lifting his tail gave him release. After that the crupper wasn't a problem and we moved on to the rope traces. I moved them behind his hocks, which he wasn't fond of, but got over and then I tested his reaction to weight in the breastcollar. He thought about backing up, but found the forward (just leaning) fairly quickly. I removed the traces before sending him out on the lunge line and having Deb make noise with the singletree. He was very much not a fan and had some opinions about that, but they didn't last very long. After tormenting him with the singletree we worked on the long lines, which he was quite respinsive to.

Overall he did quite well. He had a couple moments, but they didn't last long and I was pushing buttons to see what he knew and where we need to go. Obviously noise and getting him good about his hind end are top priorities. We're going to look at schedules and see about me working with him a couple times a week to move his driving training forward.

Busy days ahead, guys! It's kindof weird having about as many clients with their own horses as those that don't!
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
I've been looking at harness options for Tru-D. What I have works for dragging tires and such, but to get her in a vehicle I need something with a breeching (britchen ... brichen ... everything in driving has two or three names) and while I could jury-rig some shaft loops onto my training surcingle it would not be ideal.

I do like my work harnesses despite the fact that the farm hames can be a bit heavy, especially heaving up onto Ruby or Charm-N. I'm a bit of the mind that I'd rather have too much than not enough because I do have some heavy vehicles and I am prone to hooking to the tire or drag and, if ever we get more acerage, I would be inclined to try my hand at some small scale farming.

That all said my Grand Plan for Tru-D also includes doing the occasional pleasure show as well as CDE and ADT/HDTs (Combined Driving and Driving Trials, the driving world's equivalent of 3-day Eventing and Horse Trials respectively). While you do see the occasional neckcollar at these events they are buggy collars and hames that don't stick out beyond the hamebed on the collar so the pleasure people would probably look down their nose at my working hames and it might knock me slightly in the turnout column of the Dressage section. Not 100% sure, but I get the impression.

What to do? Well I do have a breastcollar for my training harness, but aren't particually fond of the idea of building a harness around it. Nor of having two full harnesses for a single horse (not that I don't love you Tru-D). That and Tru-D has grown a bit in the depth of her chest from point of shoulder to elbow so it is a little short on her in that regard anyway. Still functional for what we're doing, but not the supreme ideal.

I started toying with the idea of having a harness I could swap out the neckcollar and breastcollar on. The other downside to my beloved work harnesses is they just have a backpad for the surcingle which consists of a strip of biothane and we have fuzzy faux fleece backpads we shove under them for added cushioning, but really not ideal for working single as the weight of the shafts ends up on the spine.

The other issue is our work harnesses have two straps running from the hames to the top of the hip to prevent the collar from sliding forward or the breeching from falling down so there was a potential stability issue with the collar.

So checklist for my mythical harness:

Swap between working style neckcollar and hames and breastcollar in the front.

Gig saddle to distribute shaft weight and protect the spine.

Biothane (preferrably granite instead of shiny)

Full cavesson on the bridle.

Able to do team or single, which means breaststrap and quarter straps to go with the neckcollar.

Sized so that Tru-D will grow into it and not out of it.

We thought about the New England D-ring harness briefly, but I'm not sure how that would do with a breastcollar instead of the neckcollar. I looked at The Draft Horse Superstore where we got Ruby and Charm-N's harness. They only have one harness that has a gig saddle or full cavesson (though they can put a full nose on their other harnesses) and it wouldn't blend well with their work harness.

Shipshewana does some high quality work (our shaft loops are from them), but they don't really do shaped breastcollars (except for on their $3400 show harness...) and like Draft Horse Superstore, the pleasure driving and combined driving side of harnesses isn't their thing (at least that's my impression, Draft Horse Superstore does have a "marathon harness" now at least, but I don't think it would tie in well to their working harnesses.

I poked around a couple other places, but kept coming back to the Yonies catalog. I had emailed them earlier this year and gotten Kitt a set of shaft loops with quick release loops on it for the Kutzmann vehicles. Nice workmanship and they were great to work with plus happy to customize the lengths to my specifications.

Daydreaming through their catalog they produce pretty much every type of harness except for a Norwegian (and a New England D-ring is somewhat similar to that and they make those) from racing to pleasure and working to performance, mini to draft.

I figured it wouldn't hurt to email them about it. I got a call from one of their harness makers and we played a bit of phone tag before we managed to connect on Saturday. He said it certainly was feasible and even mentiomed putting short tugs on the hames so I can use the same traces between the breastcollar and hames! We both had questions (1.5" or 2" traces?, how to stabilize the neckcollar, etc.) and I think we managed to answer most of them. I want to throw Kitt's harness on Tru-D again and see how she fills it out as that will help me make more of a decision on the width of the neck and hip straps as well as breeching and traces.

The harness maker is going to be out of town this week and I told him no rush. The idea was to get something between now and the fall, definitely not a rush job. He's going to get me some numbers next week and we'll talk and tweak from there. I need to measure Tru-D and see where she is size wise between horse and draft.

Exciting! I should be able to get my two-for-one(ish) harness and have it be perfectly functional.
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)
Yesterday we hooked up Kitt again, this time with the shafts rotated upside down. I'm sure there is some driver out there who might have a coronary about that, but the enclosed shafts let us cheat like that. It put the cart level and I could actually put the shaft loops on the backband rings rather than my usual jury-rigging with carabiners *cough.*

Tristan lost interest by the time we were hooked up, but Kelhan climbed up next to me and we drove around the arena. I asked him if he wanted to drive so he sat in front of me and got to take the lines (with me holding behind his hands). He had fun steering and stopping her. We need to take her someplace bigger so he can take control a little more.



Nice and level now! It's pretty nice being that high up, especially after spending so much time driving the forecart which is really low.



Look at those little eager hands on the lines and happy face! I think I'm going to have a pretty good driving buddy. Chris said we have another rein hog in the family ... wonder who he could be talking about ...

Chris got to climb up with us and drive a bit as well. He was quite happy and rather liked the cart.

I do think I will have Magma engineer a set of shafts that are flat and angle in so that we can be respectable.
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)
Yesterday was my first day back to work. As mentioned before there's a little bit of me that wishes I could take a couple months off, but working does provide a type of "me" time that can be lacking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Tomorrow I just have morning lessons and I think we're going to hook the big girls up to the carriage.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Sunday I got a call from Gary. The carriages were in! He said they turned out gorgeous and was really excited for us to see them.

When Chris got home from home teaching he hooked up the trailer and loaded up the tie straps.

Yesterday morning we sent the older boys over to visit Gamma and Farfar and Quentan was loaded up with us in the truck and away we went!

We stopped for gas in Prescott Valley and pulled into Gary's about 11:30.

Gary was right! We saw the Challenger as we pulled in and it was quite striking!

We met Shelley, the lady who imports them directly from the Kutzmanns and shipped them over. She was quite excited to show them off and said we had great taste in the colors and such.

We looked at the TR50 first. It usually has a back step on it and we nixed the step, which Shelley thought was a smart move. The cart is nicely balanced without it and looks sharper too if I do say so myself. We have two sets of ahafts for it (horse and draft), a removable wedge for the bench seat, a removable foot box because I have nubby, nubby legs (it will fit in both vehicles), fully covered storage under the seat, and brakes (could have done without the brakes, but resale value and they were reluctant to not put them on).

We then went over the Challenger and I climbed up in it and we poked around and looked at all of the features. It's just a touch bigger than the Robert's Carriage we have. The hydraulic pole is a very nice feature and having the doubletree built into the body of the carriagr is nice. On the Roberts the pole and doubletree are all one, which makes it terribly heavy and annoying to put on and off. The Challenger has rear brakes (they usually do all around, but we didn't need the weight or really see the need for brakes all around), pole, shafts, a 4-up attachment (we may use it someday!), delayed stearing, a 5th wheel brake, and airbag suspension system. I'm pretty excited to see how it rides.

Lots of carriage talk and staring and admiring them. Hard to believe they are ours!

Shelley headed off and Gary and Chris loaded up the carriages while I fed a now-hungry Quentan. We had to put the cart in the bed of the truck as there wasn't quite enough room for both the Challenger and it, which was a little disappointing. We can fit a horse and the Challenger in the trailer (checked when we got home) with just a couple inches to spare and the TR50 would be no problem being a third its size.

Thankfully Gary had some ramps and a bit of a ledge. The cart might not be as heavy as the forecart, but it is still fairly substantial to push up into the truck.

The drive home was uneventful. We apparently scratched some paint off of one of the Challenger's wheels. The good news is they came with touch-up paint. The TR50 was fun to unload. We don't have ramps and Dave wasn't home yet so we couldn't borrow his. Thankfully we do have a large pile of dirt! We backed up to it and Chris shoveled out a pad of appropriate size and we rolled it right off and Chris held it as I moved the truck before rolling (and sliding) it down the hill.

We did have a bit of an annoyance and disappointment as Chris went to grease up the hydraulic arm for the delayed steering. He put the grease gun over the zerk and when he went to remove it the zerk popped out of its hole! The thing was lodged in the grease gun amazingly well and I think it might still be stuck in it... Turns out the zerks weren't all tightened in their threads, but Chris had another one pop off on him today too. We'll be calling Gary about that.

Hopefully, minor hiccup aside with the zerks, they are going to be really nice vehicles for us. Chris put up the Robert's Carriage for sale last night and this morning my phone was lit up like a Christmas tree! I had a voicemail, text message, and Facebook message from a couple interested in it. They know Audra, who we bought our forecart from, and they REALLY want the carriage! They'll be coming down tomorrow to look at it and hopefully take it home with them! That pays for most of the TR50.

It's a good thing too, the workshop is pretty crowded!

lantairvlea: (zetahra)
Our DVD player has a five disc changer so I've loaded it up with horse DVDs to watch. I did (over)indulge myself for my birthday and got the back issue set of The Horseman's Gazette in September. I had the judges' commentary from earlier in the year for the current On The Levels I hadn't gotten through yet as well as picking up the last two parts of the Parelli driving video series because they were on sale. I joined the Savvy club for an additional discount and got both for less than the cost of one. They also gave me a bunch of credit and had another sale so I picked up their "On Line" series for cheap so I could glean what I can from it and have a little more knowledge of the actual program (the handbooks... holy cow guys).

Needless to say I have quite the stack of videos I can plow through during my down time, especially those times with a baby glued to me. I'm also doing some reading, but I'm indulging in videos because usually I don't.

So I recently finished the Parelli-endorsed video series on driving. I will note that I am not much of a Parelli fan. It has some good stuff on principle, but the execution and tendency towards gimmicks that target one's pocket book rather than bettering your horse's training is not my cup of tea. I paid nowhere near full price for the series and would recommend finding it second hand or taking advantage of a super sale.

The presenter is Nate Bowers and endorsed by Parelli. His father was Steve Bowers who to my understanding was pretty well-respected in the driving community (my sense more among the working/draft sect, but I could be wrong). He's still a young kid and that comes across in some of his presentation.

I picked up the first part (two disks) when the Parelli crew were in town and I was getting ready to start Zetahra driving three or four years ago. While I was working with a more experienced trainer I was also eager to seek out additional ideas and things I could incorporate at home between sessions with the trainer.

While there were some good things in the first set of disks, like how to introduce pressure into the (breast)collar and breeching, ways to introduce long-lining (which helped with Tru-D as she really needed that "step the shoulder/step the hip" thing sperated to keep her relaxed), I was disappointed that they didn't reach the point of hooking the horse to anything and 80% of the work was done with his broke-to-death mare. They did have some brief bits with his wife's horse that was at the beginnings of the driving training, but not much.

One concept in part one that I was not a fan of was getting the horse to walk off from the rein aid. Pick one rein to tip the nose and release when the horse steps. My big problem with this is that I don't really want my reins to be associated with forward motion. I want to be able to ask for a bend without my horse moving off and this, to me, actively encourages something I try to avoid. Plus how do you really get a straight depart if you're constantly asking by bending?

The second set was pretty much about the mechanics of driving and while helpful to someone completely new to driving, those who are a bit experienced or well-read will find it a bit boring. He did note that set one was "things the horse should know" and set two was essentially "things the human should know," which I guess works. Use the horse information to get people hooked before going over the person-oriented info.

He touches on rein use and mentions the whip, but he is not keen on voice aids and generally doesn't use a whip so there is heavy emphasis on rein use only (I'll reiterate I'm really not a fan of how he teaches the horse to step forward off of rein pressure). I guess this might make it more friendly for the beginning driver, but from a personal, communication, and safety standpoint I see the frustration and time spent getting proficient in using a whip and having a horse who is softly obedient to it worth the effort! So while he does cover rein aids, use, and effect he basically says "this is a whip, but I don't use one." He leans towards open bridles, but I imagine that ties into the fact that he doesn't really use whips so doesn't have to worry about a horse reacting to the movement of the whip over the touch of it (which is pretty much my #1 reason for using a closed bridle, to ensure an honest, relaxed response to the whip).

The third set of disks they do finally get the horse hitched starting with simple loads/drags and moving up to how to approach the first few times in the cart. He talks a lot about "commitment-free comittment" and how to hook the first few times to introduce the concept while being able to release quickly in case of trouble. He has some good ideas, but there are others I prefer more (namely the panic snap or string connection Clay Maier uses, it's a shame his website has disappeared off the face of the internet, would have loved to acquire some ofnhisnother DVDs...). Once again it fell a little short of what I was hoping for. While they did hook the horse it was again 90% done with a fully trained horse so there really wasn't anything organic about the presentation. The other horse who wasn't broke to death had previously been broke to drive as a young horse and was being re-introduced after years away from it and they didn't spend any real time with it and the cart.

Overall impression as stated before: wouldn't pay full price for it. It falls a little flat, though it does have some useful information I have referred back to and given me a couple of tools and ideas to add to my toolbox. I imagine they probably shot the whole thing over a couple of days and they used the same space throughout despite some early inages of him driving out in an open field.

I would view it as more of a checklist to refer to as it doesn't really have any trouble-shooting, just "if your horse gives you a yellow/red light you need to go back a step" without much discussion on what a "worried" horse necesarily looks like ir where the holes might be.

Oh, and what Parelli video would be complete without a gimmick? He has these "shaft shelf" loops that he uses during his first hitches to the cart. It has a steel ring wrapped in leather to keep the shaft loop/hobble/tug from collapsing around the shaft. It basically allows the shafts to freely slide out of the loops if necessary. I can't imagine them being cheap and, really, if your traces aren't attached you better have someone holding onto the cart anyway, which should provide the effort necessary to pull the shafts from the loops.

I'm thinking I should start putting together some hort, instructional videos this year.
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)
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.

Fahren

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)
Today marked yet another milestone for Tru-D!

Slightly modified from what I posted in [livejournal.com profile] equestrian.

This summer I acquired some more harness bits so I could advance her driving training without having to buy a full one before she has finished growing. She'll be three in April so she has close to a year to grow height wise and then another two to three to fully fill out. This Spring her body was too short for my Kitt's harness (but she now fills it out pretty well!), which is why I picked up a breastcollar and kicking strap to double as a trace holder to use with my training surcingle set up. Both came from Parry Tack and were really well priced. I also found some rope traces, which I used as her first thing to drag this Summer and introduce the feel of drag and more things touching around her side and haunches. I got the traces from MCR Whips who made them for Clay Maier before his website vanished off of the face of the internet (so wanted to get more of his DVDs too...). She also made the modified panic snap for hooking up to the tire.

2016-08-19 14.49.07.jpg

Here she is sporting all of her training gear. She's currently working bitless (has worn one a few times, but don't plan on working in one until she has a full mouth). I was working her in just the sidepull action, but recently switched to the cross-under, which she seems to do fairly well in. She has almost grown out of this blue bridle, however. Trimming her bridlepath has helped a little, but I think I am going to have to order one for her. I might see how Kitt's fits first. I worry about getting one now and her head growing out of it!

The breastcollar is secured to the surcingle by some large spring snaps so it doesn't slide forward and the traces snap into the buckles on the breastcollar with panic snaps so they are easy on and off. This is partly why I have a strong preference for buckle-in traces on a breastcollar as you can tie or snap alternate "training" traces to them or remove the traces entirely. Nothing's more annoying than having traces dangling around that you can't do anything with. The other end of the rope traces have 2" rings so you can attach them to whatever you're pulling. I wrapped the splices with electrical tape to keep dirt and such from getting in there. You can also use a rope or string to loop through the rings and what you want to hook to and simply drop the string and it slides apart. That's how I had her hooked to the singletree the other week when she dragged it.

So today I had an extra set of hands with Susanne and an hour break between lessons. I took the opportunity to hook Tru-D to the tire for the first time.

I started with Susanne dragging a singeltree around for noise while I ground drove Tru-D. She had dragged the singletree well previously. I also put some weight in the traces so she could feel some drag before we hooked her up. We then dragged the tire for some noise before hooking her to it. The tire has a large U-bolt with a heavy duty spring snap and a panic snap. The panic snap has a small eyehook on it that I tied a long string to so it can be released either by pulling (in this case I had my student holding the string) or stepping on it.

I wanted to test that the panic snap would do what it was supposed to and we discovered that the string has to be lower. If you're too high it doesn't engage properly. I held the traces as Susanne pulled the string. Since it was baling twine I wanted to be sure it would hold up to the pressure and engage properly if required. It took a minute to figure out the right angle and I wasn't quite ready for the release when it popped open and ended up on my butt, which was Tru-D's only little spood of the session.

I asked her to walk on and she initially bounced off of the pressure on the breastcollar. She tried stepping sideways to find less resistance, but with a little vocal encouragement she stepped into it and pulled the tire. I stopped her after about ten feet and gave her lots of verbal praise and repeating. A couple times after stopping her I walked up and rubbed and praised her lavishly. She seemed to step into it better each time with minimal sideways swing.

I had my students take some pictures.





I took her around our small ring once in each direction before calling it a day. Other than the initial "are you sure I can pull this?" question she was awesome. I couldn't have asked for a nicer first pull. During the turns she had some awesome cross-over front and back as she sidepassed through them. It was beautiful and I'm excited to see her harness work progress.

I also long lined her briefly at the end with a couple brief trots and called it good.

I don't know if I'll get her put to the cart before this baby drops. I'm excited, but don't want to rush either. I guess it depends on how often I can work her between then and now. I need her steering a little more steady and start doing some serious whip work to be sure I can ask her to precisely put her feet where I want them.

Plans going forward include more tire pulling in small doses, ground driving, ponying, and trailering out places.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I try to be wise with my money and, for the most part, I am pretending the large lump that is sitting in my account after the business sale does not exist.  We put $5k in each of the boys accounts and I paid off one of my cards and plan on paying off the other shortly.

I blame Chris.  He put out the idea first of possibly using it to get another horse-drawn vehicle.  I was thinking a nice two-wheel cart like the Wagner Carts that would be multi-functional.  I could, hopefully, use it for everyone and it's compact enough I could load it in the trailer with a horse to show or trail drive.  Chris had bigger plans and this weekend we spent a good amount of time looking at carriages.

The one Chris really likes weighs about as much as the Roberts Carriage we have now.  I have a second one on list that's about 100lbs less.  Both are pretty sporty looking, though we currently have no real idea on cost.

Chris' frist choice is the Kutzmann D6 Challenger, which is a bit like a wagonette crossed with a marathon carriage on steroids.



I wish they had better info on their website for specifications.

The one I'm leaning towards due to the lighter weight mostly is the MSF1, also by Kutzmann.



The MSF1 is specifically a marathon carriage and while I don't really have designs on doing high-powered CDEs I would like something that I can be a little zippy in and will be appropriate for that use as well as pleasure and trail driving.  There are color options.  I would not be going stainless and red!

We'll be meeting with the Kutzmann rep in our state on Monday to see a couple carriages he has on-hand and talk more about what we want and what would be appropriate for our purposes.  He's thinking that both the D6 and MSF1 will be a bit heavy for what we really want, but we'll see.  He has a catalog and, I imagine, an actual price list as well as more knowledge about driving horses than we do so we'll see how it goes!

Of course with the acquisition of a new four-wheeled vehicle we'll move the Roberts Carriage on.  It has served its purpose and done well.  The sale of the Roberts will probably go towards a nice cart that I can use between all of my drivable horses (the big carriage might be a little much for Kitt and look disproportionate) as well as being better than the forecart for teaching on.  The forecart does stay as it does both single and double plus you can attach implements to it and it should make a good breaking cart with it's weight and sturdiness.  It's also super noisy, which is a good thing for a young horse to get over and deal with.

Short version: My husband is encouraging me to spend money on expensive horse stuff.  Not complaining.

Suße Esel

Jul. 26th, 2016 07:27 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
This morning started out with Molly the grade Quarter Horse mare. She's doing quite well. Nelson was able to walk right up to her this morning to catch. She is starting to relax more as we free lunge in the roundpen and when I picked up her feet she barely shifted for the hinds (the first few sessions we were spinning circles a bit) and she stood "tied" to the fence beautifully. I told Nelson he should start cleaning out her feet a couple times a week, which she should be good for now.

After fussing with her feet I introduced moving her hip and shoulder. Her left hip moved well, but with her right she kept shoving her shoulder at me, which I addressed a minute focusing on moving the shoulder out of my space before working on the hip again. She then did better moving the hip and only needed a couple soft reminders not to lean over her inside shoulder.

She was a bit sticky on her shoulders when I started them and also wanted to move forward more than sideways, but we got some improvement and called that part good. We ended on showing various ways to back her up, with direct pressure, rope wiggle, marching, tapping, etc.

Hopefully it's a little cooler next week and I'll have Nelson start to work with her. Despite the initial evaluation I think he'll end up with a decent mare. I suspect some good foundation training in there, but she spent the last few years being untrained by her previous owner. We're just reminding her how to be a good horse. Nelson has been impressed with how her overall demeanor has changed. She's a lot calmer and more comfortable with herself, which is great. I noted that without clear leadership horses can be pretty stressed. Once they know you have taken the helm (and are trustworthy!) they can let you worry about where the predators are and what is actually worrisome and what can be ignored.

He's still looking into saddle solutions, which is okay. I'd rather he find something that both he and Molly will like than settle with "well enough" and make both of them uncomfortable. Plus the groundwork is good for her and it's something Nelson can do in just a few minutes without having to groom and fully tack up.

After Molly I was back on my side of the mountain with Debbie. I think she's finally settled on moving Royal on, though I have my doubts she'll get what she wants out of him. I think she was pretty well taken advantage of when she bought him, but felt too guilty to send him back. She also bought him without having me go out to look with her. Short version: she could have gotten more horse for the money (especially after sinking a few more thousand in two months training last year ... wish I had had space to take him on!). He's not a bad boy, but he is a lot like Kash, which can be obnoxious to deal with if your aids aren't clear. His trot is very thrusty, which is difficult to absorb, but he has a lovely canter.

Anyway! Debbie also has a mini Donkey named Pebbles. Pebbles is a companion for Debbie's horse and is pretty adorable, if a little on the hefty side. Since deciding firmly to move Royal on she figured her last lesson wiuld be best focused on Pebbles. She'd like the little jenny to have something like a job so today was a mix of an evaluation and giving Debbie things she can work on until she can do another set of lessons.

For reference Pebbles looks like the lighter, dark-nosed donkey on the left-hand side of this random donkey picture because I suck at taking pictures of client critters:



Debbie had tried to lunge her in the roundpen the other day and she said Pebbles just kindof ran around and she wasn't able to get much of anything out of Pebbles so we started there. I started out just asking her to walk and halt. I talked about how Donkeys differ from horses from where they developed, open plains for horses and airid, desert mountains for donkeys. Horses could get away with running blindly at the drop of a hat to get away from potential threats, but donkeys couldn't so that. Running off a cliff or breaking your neck tripping on a rock is not condusive to evolutionary success. So instead donkeys tend to pause and assess before deciding to run, fight, or continue to observe. Not that horses are dumb, but they don't always think and donkeys are very much a think before react creature (something mules get from their sites).

Pebbles was a little sticky walking to start, but seemed to get it oretty quick. She wasn't sure what I was asking with "whoa" at first, but figured it out pretty quick. We just did a couple turns, enough for her tonget the idea and a couple brief trots. She charged off briefly when she first sped up, but settled into a trot fairly quickly. I mentioned to Debbie trying to get Pebbles to lunge like a horse does probably won't work very well. She will most likely go around once or twice and then wonder what the point is. So the lungeing for Pebbles has the goal of establishing the voice cues (walk, whoa, trot, turn/reverse, etc.) more than just sending her round and round and round. For exercise it will be more productive to take her out for walks and long lining when she gets to that point.

We accomplished what I wanted lungeing so I moved on to checking lateral flexion and moving body parts. She was a little heavy on the line, but figured it out. A rope halter might help, she currently has a flat nylon one. Pebbles picked up really quick on moving her haunches over. She wanted to back up more with her shoulders and she had to think about it a bit more, hut putting myself a litte behind her shoulder seemed to help. I had to take a moment to get over how tiny she was. I think she's between my knees and waist (I'm 5'4" for reference) and I had to bend over to give her rubs and scratches.

Once she seemed to have the idea I briefly explained the ultimate goal was to have Pebbles move her four corners around no matter where I was standing. She should be able to move her shoulders and hips both away and (respectfully) towards me. If Debbie decides she wants to drive Pebbles it'll help immensely with the whip aids (which replace your legs) while in harness.

From there we moved on to the long lines, which were a bit ridiculous on her. I suggested if Debbie was going to buy one piece of equipment right now it would be a small surcingle so she could long line without the lines dragging. I started with a single line around Pebbles' haunches to see how she reacted to the pressure around her haunches and how well she followed the feel. She did well so I moved on to the turning exercise Nate Bowers has in his Parelli driving training DVD. It basically consists of using the inside/direct rein to move the shoulders and the outside/indirect rein to move the hips (which for the purpose of the exercise should lay across the hip and the handler should be standing to one side of the equine). She got a little stuck with the outside rein and after pushing her shoulder slightly used the butt pressure as a reason to go forward and try to release the pressure that way instead of following the feel on her face. We got it sorted and we had enough time left over for Debbie to try the long lining exercise. I told her we can build on it to teach Pebbles to sidrpass off of the reins and also put the steeri g on her when she is ground driving.

So Debbie has a list of things to play with and work on the next few weeks. I'm going to dig in my tack room and see if I can find my old set of long lines for Debbie to borrow and lend her the Nate Bowers DVD (debating if I should get Vol. 2 and 3 of the group).

And I have now worked my first donkey and she was adorable and fun. Debbie has no idea the type of training Pebbles may or may not have had other than she was halter broke and you can handle her feet. I'm not sure what she knows either because I have no baseline to judge how an unbroke donkey handles, but she certainly did not handle like an unbroke horse!

The back of my mind has this terrible idea playing around in it. Well, maybe not terrible, but perhaps finding a nice jack to breed Charm-N wouldn't be as crazy an idea as I first thought when Chatham mentioned it. Or maybe just finding a good draft mule some day.

I don't know, it's marinating in my brain. I don't really have room for another equine, though if Debbie needed to rehome Pebbles I'd be sorely tempted!

Bud

Sep. 21st, 2015 09:06 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I finally got back to working Bud two weeks ago. We had about a month off because Sue's body worker suggested he not do anything like collected work for two weeks after being worked on and she didn't want the breastcollar pushing on his shoulders either. I wonder if a collar or a more shaped breastcollar would do better for him. Sue has been wanting to get a new harness for him since day one and we remeasured him a couple months ago and I even helped her go over various harnesses and pick out one, but she quit her job due to a terrible work environment (verbally abusive boss who apparently goes through assistants a few times a year) so the funds for a new harness are tied up elsewhere.

Anyway, the two weeks were up and then I was in Utah and we had some really nasty hot, humid weeks and things finally came back together about three weeks ago.

He did really well his first drive and pretty good his second as well. Saturday was number three and Sue started out with him. Our first obstacle was a girl in a swing in her front yard and you could tell Bud was checking in with Sue to see how worried he should be about it. I did end up taking the reins as we pulled level with it as Sue was getting a little snatchy with the reins and not helping Hud mentally at all. We had a brief moment of "why are you demanding things of me?!" as I sharply asked for his attention and him to move forward. We passed the offending swing a couple times before moving on and ran into obstacle number two about a quarter mile away and around the corner. I saw it first, but I don't think Sue realized that there were people next to the pool until the girl jumped in. Bud shied sideways and forward and I quickly picked up the reins from Sue and worked to get him back in a thinking state of mind. We worked back and forth as the girl continued to swim and splash and his reactions got softer and softer. He eventually went by with a low head and some blows. I think any horse would have been a bit out out by a person jumping into a pool out of the corner of its vision so Bud still gets kudos for not quite completely losing his marbles and coming back to me quickly. We had a couple other little spots that Sue stressed about as she drove, like a van coming out of a drive so we worked on keeping her talking and maintaining soft, sympathetic rein aids in accordance to how Bud was responding.

As I told Sue when we dropped down to me working him once a week plus a lesson instead of twice, I could try and put all sorts of buttons on Bud at this point, but it won't do her any good if she lacks the confidence and skill to drive him. So our focus is getting her to drive him more and I'll be there to help out in the tricky spots. I told her if she started going out alone or with Henry it was perfectly OK to see an obstacle she wasn't comfortable with and turn around rather than trying to work past it at this point. I have also offered to do two lessons instead of the one work and one lesson, but she's yet to take me up on that offer despite my noting that I am perfectly happy to hook Bud up without Henry's assistance.

So the state of the Bud is good and he's at a point where, for the most part, I am enjoying working him and he is no longer this big chore. The Budoofus may be growing on me at this point. It has only taken three years! I don't think he likes being a riding horse as much as he does a driving horse, but he tolerates it well enough. I'll be taking him out on trail Thursday, which I haven't done since the beginning of summer.
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)


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.

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