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)
This morning started early with Bud. Sue was finally feeling better after her back surgery last year and joined Bud and I on a slow walk around the block. We then swapped Sue for Henry to do some trot sets. Bud was confused. He has gotten good at passing home, but stopping was a little much. There was some weaving drunkenly across the road, but he eventually straightened out so he got to turn back home ... and passed it again. We also went through the driveway and out again before finally turning in for home.

As my 8am had dress rehearsals for their play I pulled Tru-D out and threw Kitt's harness on her. She is great for putting the noisy thing on and even tolerates the collar being pushed over her head. I buckled the holdbacks to the shaftloops this time. With the team harness the quarter straps already keep the breeching from moving around too much, but I wanted to make it just a little more solid against her haunch.

I have to admit, she looks good in harness.



She was a bit tight to start and just wanted to trot with it. She wanted to kick up again and I grumped at her, asked her the yield and then sent her off again. She tried it a couple more times with the same response from me and decided it was better to just canter without being opinionated about the thing on her butt.

I sense some more lungeing with the harness in her future. She did it with the Western saddle Wednesday which has leather ties on it. Previously she hasn't shown a propencity to buck up and kick out, but the harness can't be scootched out from underneath so I guess her next logical thing to do to get rid of it would be kicking up.

I think I mentioned ride # 3 went well on Wednesday. Hopefully I can get her worked 2-3 times a week whether it is under saddle or in harness.



I can't get over how GOOD she looks. Maybe I'm barn blind, but outside of her hip being on the steeper side I think she is a pretty well put together horse.

I called Galen and got her dam's name (Babe) and birth year. She can be registered through the Draft Cross Breeders and Owners Association (their website kindof sucks) so I wanted to have a little more information about her to send in. I chatted with him a bit and learned that her sire has passed away. No more possible siblings. I let him know how she was doing with her training and he's welcome to drop by. He hasn't had much occasion to get his horses out recently, but has been doing well enough overall.

I think we managed to find a pretty nice filly in the little 10 month old wild creature that she was!

Today was the last day for the private school horsemanship classes until fall. I need to get my schedule sorted.

We have the class list and entry form finalized for the show and need to polish up the sponsorship package. I need to hammer out a renewal/membership letter this week and get that out!
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)
Digur has been doing pretty well with Debbie overall, but they have had a couple of sticking points. It can pretty much can be chalked up to him being a young horse lacking exposure. I only had one time where he was a little anxious when we took him to the horsepark, but he quickly worked through it. The problem is he's pretty chill, so getting an anxious spot so Debbie can then learn how to work through it can be difficult.

Last week we decided I would bring the big soccer ball to see if we could get a bit of a reaction and help him through it.

The ball certainly did the trick! His eyes doubled in size and he wanted to scootch a little when he first saw it. I worked him in-hand and explained that with scary things I like to put myself between the scary object and the horse to start if possible for several reasons, the top one being if he loses his mind over it I'm not in the way of his escape. Secondarily if I'm standing close to the object and not stressed (or being eaten) it can't be that terrifying.

He was a bit sticky yielding his haunches to the right (bending left) at the start, but got better. When he started to relax I put him between me and the ball and would release pressure any time he showed interest in investigating it. It didn't take too long before he was nosing it and I was ready to climb aboard and let him investigate further.

I worked him with the ball for a good 15 minutes before handing the reins over to Debbie. He wasn't quite 100% since Pebbles and BamBam (mini donkey and sheep respectively) would occasionally get overwhelmed and scamper off around the turnout.

All in all he did excellent and came around quickly, but it gave Debbie the chance to see how he can be worked through his anxiety. Next week we're going to try a tarp to challenge him mentally again.

Tuesday I worked Ellie again. This time there was no flailing canter and the trot wasn't too bad. Her dragon noises were there, but not constant. She was nicely crisp on the upward transitions, but quite sluggish in coming back down. Since she was a bit more reasonable we played with walk-trot transitions. Hopefully this leads to more steady progress and she will be lungeing nicely by the end of the month and I can consider climbing aboard again.

Grace and Dawn are moving along. Dawn acquired a sadddle. It's a newer, barely used Wintec. Yesterday we long lined Grace with it and I had Dawn play with it a bit as well (she got long lines too so she can do all the work inbetween session as she gets comfortable with it). Today we swapped out the gullet plates. It came with a medium, but Grace needs a wide. I only had a medium-wide on hand, but it was better than the medium. Hopefully the tack shop can get a wide in soon.

From here we'll alternate between "rides" and groundwork. Another week or two and we'll drop down to twice a week instead of three days as well, or at least that is the current plan.

This afternoon I had working students after the lesson was over so I pulled out Tru-D and grabbed Kitt's harness. I wanted to see how Tru-D was filling it out and help me decide on the width of the strapping for Tru-D's future harness. The verdict is that Tru-D is large enough that the 1" straps will look much more proportionate than the 3/4" (or less?) ones would. I think we'll go ahead and do the 2" traces as well.

I lunged Tru-D in it in all three gears. She wasn't so keen on the breeching in the canter. She tucked her tail and humped her butt, however she did figure out that if she didn't kick up the heelchains didn't slap down on her hip so much!

These work harnesses are great for desensitizing. After packing one of them a pleasure harness is nothing.

I had an extra set of hands available so there is video.



I think she was getting a little tired at the end as usually her transitions into trot are a little more crisp.

The harness is currently set a little too long for her so there is a bit more slack in the breeching than there would normally be, but despite that the rest fits pretty well. She does fill it out much better than the first time she wore it when the breeching ended up closer to her hocks and the hip strap almost to her tailhead! She technically could use Kitt's, but she should have a smaller collar and adjusting harnesses is a pain in the butt because it requires multiple strap adjustments unlike a saddle. Even considering a Western saddle with breastplate and back cinch you still have far fewer points of adjustment than a full harness! Now I need to measure her for the to-be-ordered harness.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday I harassed a Hanoverian again. I am sure Ellie is wondering why I keep showing up and ruining her day.

As determined after our Pirouette of Doom two weeks ago I am working her on the ground until I feel confident that she will be a sensible creature when I get back on her. This means that she needs to lunge like a sensible creature.

Yesterday she got the whole deal. Surcingle, lungeing cavesson, breastcollar (the driving one), and crupper with attached kicking straps/trace carrier. I put the crupper on after we got into the arena as I had no idea if she had one on before (Kristin confirmed she had not) and having her goose in the crossties or as I led her didn't seem like a good idea. That said she was great to put it on and only seemed bothered by the kicking straps slapping her sides briefly as she was being goofy.

I don't know how you all do it on a regular basis, but I managed a couple photos. Our first few rounds consisted of her making dragon noises as she tore around on the end of the line.



I kept changing directions until she started thinking about being a sensible creature. Her turns have gotten quite good and this time she was pretty even on both sides (last time she was sticky turning in right). When she settled a bit I asked for a brief trot and I had a fire-breathing dragon again, though she turned back into a horse much quicker this time.



I don't know what it is about Ellie. I really do want to like her and her owner loves her and thinks she's a great young horse. I find her to be okay, but feel like there's some gaps that need addressing. She is a little twitchy at times and doesn't feel as broke on the ground as I would like a horse to be before getting on board, which is why I'm back to lungeing her. She's certainly not where I'd want a five year-old to be with a year under saddle. I at least fixed her no brakes issue the second ride, which Kristin was grateful for and now I'm working on getting her to where I feel 100% comfortable swinging back on because I admit I wasn't fully comfortable the three rides I've put on her due to how she handled. Thankfully Kristin is cool with me taking Ellie back to ground school. She understands my reasons for going back to the ground and appreciates Ellie advancing her training in any manner.

She is kindof cute.



As mentioned before I got my new lines in and have been playing with them. I'm using the 5/16" navy line to work Ellie here. I'll do a more thorough review later, but my preliminary impression is I like the thinner lines for long lining and the thicker lines for lungeing. I am also enjoying the feel of the buckles instead of snaps. The snaps are quicker and more convenient, but the buckles fit through everything and don't add a big clunk of weight at the end like the snaps do. I'm glad I was able to sell my other two sets to mitigate the cost of the new ones and happy to have more tools to use.

Of course, working with other people's horses gives me gratitude for my own crew. Especially comparing Tru-D to other young horses.

Speaking of other young horses Keara was out and put a ride on Cinnamon. Despite an opinionated moment while lungeing they went on to have a good ride. The Stink was a little sticky going forward to start, but there was no attitude unlike the first few rides in November. I think once Keara puts another ride or two on her I can start pulling Cinnamon out to ride myself during lessons and perhaps this will be the year I finally get her past greenbroke (with Keara's help).
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Today was crazy-busy.

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

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

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

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

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

GOGOGO!
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
I had a break between lesson # 1 and 2 due to the holiday and people shuffling around so I pulled out Tru-D.

I played with asking her to step her haunches over from the whip aids and she is still very much prone to taking a forward step first. I should play more asking in hand from different positions.

We moved on to cruising around the arena. I still had two poles set up that we went over a few times. She jogged off once and a couple of quick turns brought her back down. When I asked her to trot purposefully the first time she took off and I didn't even bother to hold on. My arena is small so she really couldn't get away from me. She kicked out at the kicking strap slapping her hip, which caused it to slap her hip more and I pushed her faster. She stopped kicking at half a lap and I kept up the canter. She kept wanting to drop to a long trot under the trees and I said "no, you wanted to run you get to run!" When she was looking like she really wanted a better option than cantering around I asked for just a little more and then asked her to slow. She gratefully dropped to a trot, quickly came to the walk, and was happy to stand stock still off the voice as I picked the lines off the dirt.

Speaking of the lines, I added a new feature. Previously I had the lines looped through the rings that the crownpiece, cheek, and throatlatch attach to because they're only 1/4" diameter so no big deal and since Tru-D is the only one using them they could stay on her bridle. However, now that she has reached the magic number of three I may want reins that are shorter than 22' when I think about getting on her the first time. I wanted a new hame strap for Kitt's harness anyway so I ordered a set of mini and Haflinger sized bit straps from My Draft Horse Superstore. I buckled the mini ones onto the 1/4" lines and the Haflinger-sized set will wait for when my other lines get in (ordered three sets of 30' lines in 1/4" 3/8" and 5/16" so I and my clients can get a feel for different widths from Knotty Girlz/CB Knot Company) hopefully by the end next week. I'm debating trying to chop the clips off of my 1/2" MCR lines so I can swap to straps as I've become more weird and less fond of the feel of clips on bits.

Back to Tru-D. Once I gathered her back up we worked on our trot and when she started getting a bit quick we would halt and back. She soon realized staying in a soft, steady trot was the better option and when she did I softly asked for walk. We did have a couple words about staying standing (you walk off before I ask you get to back to where you were and maybe a couple steps further) and then we were good to hook to the tire. I had just a couple minutes left, but I have been keeping the tire pulling short so it didn't really matter. We did a few laps as my next set of students pulled in and Tru-D quietly pulled the load without complaint as little men drove their electric four-wheelers around. Did I mention I have a pretty good baby horse? She likes to follow the little men on their Power Wheel quads as they drive around the arena and yard.

I have picked up a couple new clients, one being a married couple learning to drive. I have another lady I set up for an evaluation on Tuesday for her Gypsy Cob to see about possibly taking it in for full training to drive. A little part of me is freaking out and shouting HACK! and the other part is super excited. After restarting Bud a horse without poor driving history is going to be easy. Plus I have Zetahra and almost Tru-D under my belt as started-from-scratch horses (not to mention others I've dealt with, but the brain still feels like I'm just pretending sometimes). It'll be especially interesting to see what I can do with a six day a week regime!

Speaking of Bud I'll be hauling him over to Michelle to see what she thinks about my almost five year project pony. Man, if I could put the same kind of time into Kitt as I did with Bud she'd be a freakishly awesome drivingnpony by now! Alas, client horses take precedence!

Goals this coming week:
Get geldings cleaned.
Get pictures of Tru-D working.
Brush Tru-D's mane and tail in preparation for trying to get nice three year-old pictures of the baby horse.

Also, I found two Tru-D baby teeth this past week. She's growing up! She also measured at 15.1 (and a half...) up front and juuuust shy of 15.2 in the back. I think we'll be getting another inch out her. She's filling out nicely viewed from the side, though she does still look a bit babyish from the front as her chest could use some more filling out. I shall get pictures.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Saturday I was able to pull Tru-D out. I warmed her up on the long lines before hooking her to the tire. We made several passes in the walk before asking for a couple brief trots. I know she's ready for it, but there's still some fireworks going off in my brain prepared for her to freak out. Granted I do have the emergency panic snap set up for easy release of the tire if needs be. With Zetahra I was able to work the tire in all three gaits (granted the canter was very brief) and I hope to get Tru-D to the same place. I will eventually switch out to the singletree as well, but despite her being 100% good with it to this point I also don't want to screw it up and using the panic snap set-up a bit longer isn't going to hurt anything.

I do wish the feather lines were a good eight feet longer. Used as the cross-under I lose a good 18" at least so the 22' lines become 20' lines minus her body length I'm only a dozen feet away from her at the end of my outside line.

I ordered a rope sample from CBknot Company and I think I might try ordering and making my own lines. The rope I am looking at is less t cents a foot. I could get 100' of rope for $27 and be able to make three lines in different colors. I stumbled across someone mentioning having two different colored lines to make it easy to know which is your left or right line and I was thinking "that's brilliant!" I need to look up videos on splicing rope and decide if I want to save the money and spend the time or contact the Knotty Girlz and seeil what they would charge to make them. Things to chew on.

Today I rode Ellie the Hanoverian again. I brought the long lines and surcingle because I wasn't sure if I would ride. After chatting with Kristin and discovering that Ellie DID have a good stop when she got back from her initial 90 days I decided to ride first and see if I couldn't find a good stop again.

I made it really simple. I "stop" my body first, close my hands, then hold until she softened. I did use leg if she stopped, but was hanging, which resulted in some backing steps and also her ultimately softeneing. After a half dozen times I felt like I actually had brakes unlike last weeks ride! By the end I was able to stop my seat and she would halt. Not perfectly square, but she was stepping into it lightly without leaning on my hands.

From there we were able to work some trot. She volunteered the canter a couple times, but I want to feel like she's not rolling off her forehand in the trot before we go faster. She worked better if I constantly played back and forth between moving her hips and shoulders. Leaving her alone resulted in getting quick because she was falling on her forehand and the occasional locked shoulder. We had some successful changes of bend through the trot and a couple of brief spooks. One was at the sheep Kristin has (which have lived with Ellie her whole life...) and the other was at a pile of manure that had the nerve of being in the middle of the arena while I was trying to get her focus on a change of bend. We all survived and it lasted a grand two seconds. To her credit it was quite windy!

Kristin plans on riding her tomorrow and will be hauling her to Carrie's for a lesson Thursday. After that I have two more rides, but I will probably schedule Kristin to come out and work on another two of mine. This could turn out to be quite the productive relationship for the two of us! My horses get body work and her filly gets rides.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I managed some time to long line Tru-D again. I had the poles set up from my previous lesson and we worked over them at the walk before doing some trot and canter work around them.

She wanted to side-step it to start, but gentle touches of the whip on her hip kept her on track. I would still like to see her step over or deeper rather than quicker, but she's getting better and will improve with time.

We were able to have smoother changes of direction in the trot this time and managed a brief canter around in both directions.

Once she was consistent over the poles and ahe felt pretty good we did a loop around the house. She was unsure about leaving the arena from the East gate (a new thing) and she's always been a little suspicious of the horse trailer. She tried to side-step and thought that returning to the arena might be a good choice, but I gently tipped her nose with the lines and softly tapped her with the whip and praised with each brave step she took forward. She ultimately marched past and we had a nice walk around the house before braving the space next to the horse trailer again and returning to the arena. We worked her halt briefly (and standing still!) before calling it a night.

She gets a little braver each time I think. I'd like to take her across the way to work, but that requires having a little more time.

Tuesday I put the first ride on Ellie, the Hanoverian filly I did some groundwork with last fall.

She was a little touchy with the whip in-hand and I reminded her about standing still to be mounted before we had a brief ride at the walk and trot. She tended to rush and get on the forehand while trotting and then she got opinionated about it and would do a bit of a head shake. The brakes also weren't quite where I would like them and I asked Kristin about her thoughts and she said Ellie does tend to run off in the trot a bit and Carrie's solution has been to just do smaller circles until the mare wound down. I asked if she minded if I long lined her next time to see if I can work on it there. I'm debating if I actually will or not. It depends on how she reacts to the lines moving around her I think. If she had a fit we'll probably just work on her accoetance of that, if she's good we'll go from there. I have three more session with her as Kristin and I are doing a trade. She did some body work on Kitt and Chewy and I'm working Ellie. I'd like to schedule her out for Kash and Mac as well (and possibly rotate through the herd) so I'll be seeing a bit of Ellie in the next few weeks I think.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I doubled-up on working Tru-D today. This morning I had her wear the bridle during breakfast and then took her out to get the mail after lessons.

She was good for the bridle, though still likes to raise her head a little as the bit comes out, but it is better than she was.

She gave me a little look as I went to halter her, but stood still otherwise. She recently went through a period where she thought being caught was optional (it is not and resulted in me catching her more often).

We struck out and she was swinging as we walked and very aware.

She only hesitated slightly before crossing the wash onto the desert lot North of our neighbors. We made excellent time to Mews as she marched right along and then we hit our nemesis, the eighteen inch drop to the road. She did march right up to the edge, but then was nervous about taking the step down. I don't think the angle is any steeper than the sides of the wash, but for some reason the drop cerfupples her.

This time, however she finally stepped down and we didn't have to go around to the stop sign. She was curious about the horse who lives behind the mailboxes, but I kept her back a respectable distance as I grabbed the mail and we headed back. She was a little jiggy on the way home and was worried for a moment as some teens on skateboards rattled by on the road, barely visible through the creosote. I only had to bump her once to remind her to stay out of my space. We navigated the wash well and since she had been a little anxious on the homeward journey I lunged her briefly in the arena.

Next time I should carry a bag with me so I have a better place to put the mail than the waistband of my breeches.

I'm going to try to make mail retreival a weekly thing for her so she gets off property and sees things a little. She isn't the most naturally brave creature, but she does try hard and is far less skeptical than she was as a yearling.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I was able to work Tru-D again yesterday morning because my 8am was sick (so many sick people canceled this past month). I used the Parelli feather lines again and attached them between the cheek pieces and throatlatch in the cross-under configuration. I had Susanne mucking in the arena so I took Tru-D out and around the house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I was able to make time to work Tru-D again this afternoon betwern lessons and had a bit more luck. Part of that was because of a tack change.

My grand plan is to work Tru-D bitless until she has a full mouth. I was lucky with Z in that she never got any wolf teeth in. I had hoped to do the same with her, but the option I had at the time, just a lungeing cavesson, wasn't workable with the long lines or the reins. The signal just wasn't clear enough because the rings were too high up the nose and I think they tended to stick a bit too. I can't remember now other than the fact I deemed it unworkable so Zetahra worked in the bit much sooner than I had intended.

With Tru-D I have since found a bitless bridle that I really like and I had long lines made to work with it. The first time I used it the cross-under configuration was a bit much for Tru-D. She was very sucked back and I ended up using it as a sidepull for a time. This was all well and good, but I wanted a littke more possible pressure before hooking her to anything. After a few months I did try the cross-under again and she did well enough in it and had pulled the tire a half dozen times since.

One thing I was really aware of yesterday was Tru-D's tendency to drift backwards. She has a really nice stop on her, but I wasn't sure why she kept drifting back. This backwards drift is not a good thing, especially when you're pulling things. Yesterday she drifted back while I had paused a moment to help Kelhan and she ended up with the reins completely in front of her (yes, shame on me leaving the lines on the ground).

The reins I am using now are either 1/2" or 5/8" betathane. I'd have to measure them, but they are narrower so that they would be lighter over their 25' length because the usual 3/4" width the maker uses on her normal reins would have been pretty heavy. I like them, they have a good feel in the hand, but I was starting to wonder if the weight of them might be causing Tru-D to drift, especially with as light and sensitive as she can be in all other aspects of her training. My other thought is maybe they don't slide through the rings on the surcingle quite as freely because the beta material is grippy, unlike my MCR long lines I use with the regular bridles and the sidepull which I also like, but they slide quite readily when allowed.

The last thing I ordered before cancelling my Savvy Club subscription (all two months of it, acquired to save a bunch on the driving training dvd and then the On Line Savvy set) was a set of their "feather lines." One more tool in the toolbox, right?

I wasn't sure if I would like them because they are incredibly thin. Supposedly they are made out of the same material as their Savvy Strings, which are a little over 1/4" in diameter with a loop on one end and a little leather popper on the other.

I decided to experiment and put the feathet lines on the sidepull rings of Tru-D's bridle. I didn't put snaps on them so I just fed the string through itself to secure it. Eventually I'd like to put a little leather strap with a buckle on the end to secure them because I've gotten less fond of snaps on the end of reins or lines over time. Looping it through worked well enough, especially since I didn't need to take them off.

We worked in the arena walking and trotting and doing some direction changes (so nice not having to dodge large wet spots guys!). Her halts were nice and prompt and no backwards drift! She also was less pushy with her nose.

Once she was warmed up I introduced the pvc "shafts." They are two different sizes and the smaller one pretty much slid right out of the shaft loop as soon as she stepped forward. The larger one stayed in better and she dragged a single one on both sides. There was a little uncertainty about it pushing into her hip a little, but she settled and did just fine. Now I need to get some bailing twine and jury rig them to stay in place better so I can use both of them at once and get her used to them rubbing and pushing on her.

So my experiment with the lighter lines was a success! Unfortunately I changed two variables by having lighter lines and using the sidepull rather than the cross-under method. I think I am going to take a moment tomorrow and see if I can get them to work as cross-under reins and then see if she drifts the next time I work her.
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
This is a Dressage classic by many standards. It is not nearly so dense as D'Endrödy's "Give Your Horse a Chance," but quite a bit more specific than Oliveira's "Reflections on Equestrian Art."

I enjoyed it. It's always funny to realize how much things have both changed, but stayed the same. He lamented several times over people taking shortcuts with their horses, competitive dressage not holding the same standard for correctness as the Spanish Riding School, and horses being overbent. The reading level is moderate. It isn't overly technical, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who isn't familiar with horses either.

He starts outlining history, naming many master horsemen of the distant past and the written works some of them left behind.

He outlines important principles of riding and training, such as "the self-taught person can never become more than a workman; only on a foundation of theory can riding develop to the realm of art." That is so true. I know I wouldn't be anywhere near the horseman (man used in the sense of huMan kind rather than apecifically gendered) I am today if I had to rely on just my own experience and experimentation.

He tries to keep the scope of the book focused, but he does touch on the importance of knowing as much as one can about the horse as a creature and not merely as something you ride. Good advice includes "any rider would be well advised to study the conformation of the horse he proposes to train" and he goes on to explain that while he is laying down the principles "there is no definite rule as to how to put them into practice." He further reminds us that "there are no rules for any difficulties that may appear. Remesies that are successful with one horse may prove unsuccessful with another." This coming from a man who spent 26 years at the Spanish Riding School, I am inclined to believe that there is no single training method that will work with every single horse. He reiterates this point several times throughout, that you should not be rigid in your application of training and to tailor it to the individual horse.

He thoroughly discusses the various gaits and paces of the horse and various other aspects including having the horse "on the bit," collection, "Raising the head and neck by action of the hindquarters" (what some would now term relative elevation), bending, and the aids.

On the aids he notes that one should only use their own body plus a whip and/or spur, anything else is a gimmick. He is careful to note that "the spur should never be used sharply as an aid, because it would then no longer be an aid but a punishment."

With the reins he warns that contact should never become a steady pull as the horse is guaranteed to win the tug-of-war.

While discussing the balance between rein and leg aids he states "the rider should never push more with his legs than he can control with his reins, or hold with his hands more than he can absorb with his legs and seat." The later makes more sense if you know that the rein aid does not act within the rider's arm alone, but should travel through the rider into his seat so that it can then transfer into the horse's back and haunches.

He talks in detail about the place of punishment, prefacing it with the warning that it should be restricted and "thevalue of punishment shouldnever be over-rated and employednas a substitute for correct aids."

He discusses the training of the horse from the lunge line to under saddle and in-hand work up to the airs above the ground.

Here he discusses the purpose of dressage, which is doubly to obtain clear, pure paces, and to make the horse stronger and more beautiful. This theme is visited again and again, which can be boiled down to the quotes "If during the course of training the natural paces are not improve, it would be proof that the training was incorrect" and "if the horse does not become better looking innthe course of his training, it would be a sign that the training was incorrect."

There was an annoyance in the middle of the book where the pages were printed out of order. At page 145 in order to follow the text properly younhave to jump to page 148, then 147, then 146 before proceeding to page 149. What editor didn't notice that?!

Much of the book is full of things I am already aware of from reading other volumes, but it is also good to go back to source material and see the foundation that others have built on. Some day I'll bridge the gap between Podhajsky and Xenophon, who Podhajsky quotes multiple times.

I'm slowly making mybway through my equestrian library. Next up Mark Rashid's "Horses Never Lie" before tackling Dr. Gerd Heuschmann's other two books.
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: (Tru-D)
Well, she only danced a little bit. She mostly walked like a good girl.

My usual 9am is drowning in final papers and exams so I had an extra hour between lessons. I debated on what to do with Tru-D, but since my working students were hard at work in the arena I decided to take her for a walk around the house. I wanted to put her new bridle to use so I threw on the training surcingle and grabbed the long lines.

I took her for her first ground drive "in the open" around the house. She was a little distracted passing Ruby and was very suspiscious of the blue tarp by the pepper plants. Chris helped by offering a little hay and walking by her head the first time past. We went back and forth a few times until she was passing it calmly before heading on around the front.

Chris had hosed off the Jeep's trunk mat so there was a damp spot trickling off the driveway. She was suspiscious about it, but crossed without too much fanfare. I let her graze a little for being so brave, but then had a little fight about the difference between her being given permission to eat and when she's supposed to be working.

I turned her around and we went back across the front. She suddenly decided either the flag or the porch decorations were of grave concern. We did a lot of circles back and forth and a couple times she was a little surprised as I picked up the outside rein to turn her and it suddenly came across her haunches. She got over herself and we went past the tarp a couple times without issue and ended crossing the front of the house without fanfare before stopping at the cross ties.

Chris wanted to measure and Tru-D shows almost 15.2 hands already. She may just hit 15.3 at this rate. She's about 1050lbs, which is less than I was expecting, but she has a few years to fill out.



She certainly looks huge in this picture! She is staring very intently at the offensive blue tarp.

Her bridle fits nicely and has room to grow. I am debating if I should adjust the breastcollar yet or not. I figure she needs a dozen or two pulls on the tire before I try the drag and she needs several calm ground drives around the house before adventuring farther afield (and probably a few more walks to the mailbox and back too).



She isn't quite so huge looking here.

I'm still on the fence about when to really start looking for a harness for her. I know the harness should have adjustability, but I wonder about how much filling out she will do in the next three years ad I'd prefer to buy just one harness. I think I'll have to try Kitt's on her again and see if I might be able to make it work. If I get her a collar I want to do an adjustable one and have it so that the smallest size fits her now as I doubt her neck will gain another two inches. I haven't dealt with enough young driving horses to know what to expect when it comes to them filling out a collar. I know with Kitt between four and six years I went from using a collar pad to none because she had filled the space (about an inch).

And someone just posted a Haflinger gelding about Chewy's size and eight years old. Might be worth a look...
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I still have some serious catch-up to do with my bookkeeping, but I made a little headway today.

I left the house at 8am to head up to AJ for the two Gypsies and didn't get back home until after 1:30.

I've started having Rob work with his two now since they seem to be at a spot where they understand what I expect and he can start building hs rapport with them.

Ballad the Welsh was again tiny and adorable if having a little attitude as his donkey friend and the goats got a snack and he had to work. Once caught he was fine. He was much softer today and moved all four quarters readily. I had Monique work with him too and got some nice results as we tweaked her position and timing.

Keeping with the theme we tried the 4 1/2" bit on Ballad. I actually held it up to his Liverpool and that appears to be a 4" so that'll work out great because there are a lot more options in the 4 1/2" size. I recommend she get a a couple different mouthpiece styles in the half cheek (or half spoon as thry are also called) so we can find one that he likes and works well in before investing in a Liverpool as his "finished" bit.

I had a little bit of a break, filled the jeep, had lunch, and worked on aforementioned bookkeeping before heading out for lessons. Keara slept through working Cinnamon apparently so I got the herd out up, fed, and then started on mucking the arena until my working student got there to help. The boys also appeared and "helped" muck for a bit before my 4pm lesson showed up.

Tomorrow I have the private school classes and only have two more weeks of it after that. I plan on doing the horsemanship classes in the spring (starting in February instead of January), but I'll take the semester off of the art classes. Rob with the Gypsies has one more session before he will be out of town for the holidays and we'll pick back up in February, except he'll haul out here instead of me going there (baby breastfeeding timer dictates max 3 hour seperation the first six months and preferably less than two and a half).

Tru-D's new bridle came today. Her first piece of tack that will really be just hers. The breastcollar was acquired for general training, but the bridle is just hers.

I did a slightly thicker strapping and stainless hardware so I can easily tell it from the smaller blue one.



She was loose with the herd when I went to put it on and was a slight goober about being "caught." It didn't help that Kash kept sneaking up and trying to lick me and Ruby thought that she needed all of the love for herself. Once I got it on, however she was glued to me and I had a hard time taking pictures. This was the best one I could manage. She looks good in blue.

Four weeks until the Nudge is allowed to exit and eight until we consider eviction. The end is nigh!
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: (Tru-D)
My 7:30 wasn't feeling well this morning and postponed to Thursday. Since I was up and dressed I decided to work Tru-D this morning. I pulled out the training harness and tire before grabbing her.

The bridle I've been using is getting a bit too small. I'm on the last hole for the cheeks and throatlatch and today I gave her another hole on the noseband (one left!). I sent Lisa at Moss Rock Endurance an email about getting a new one and if she has an idea of the likelihood of her growing out of one made from her current measurements.

After lamenting the loss of my baby horse I long lined her walk a d trot before tying the traces shorter and hooking up to the tire. She tried to noodle sideways to find an easier place to go, but she found forward and put her shoulder into it.

Chris pulled the cans in from the road and I had a minor spook (in place leg flail) when I popped the emergency release snap on the traces. She didn't really care about the cans at all and I was being extra cautious. Once he was done moving and I hooked her back up and we pulled in both directions before calling it quits. She did a wonderful job and while she does toss her head slightly at times against the rein pressure her steering gets better and she does it less each time.

After my next lesson, errands, and lunch there was time and Kelhan had passed out at Marty's so no little men. I grabbed Tru-D again and we went to go check the mail. I'f been threatening to do it since they moved us to the mailbox units (which still suck) and hadn't yet because it was still over 90, but it is finally cooling down and we're in the 80s during the day. Not-Summer approaches!

She was curious when I pulled her out and as we marched right past the crossties she was a little skeptical. We went right along our neighbor's wall and she eyeballed the culverts and was highly suspicious of the "stop sign ahead" sign. I thought the best way would be cutting across the driveway and going down and across the wash so we didn't have to snuggle up next to a mesquite tree (they have thorns).

Tru-D was unconvinced that she could go down the steep-sided wash and snorted emphatically for emphasis. In favor of time I managed to get her one step forward before heading back to snuggle up next to the mesquite.

She marched nicely forward through the desert lot and was pretty brave until we got to the edge of the road where there was a drop into a shallow ditch that runs parallel to the gravel road. I spent several minutes trying to convince her to step down, but she couldn't quite make the mental hurdle to do it. Again I got one good step in the right direction before taking her further down to where there was no abrupt step down.

As I was working with her the horses next to the mailbox cluster were going pretty nuts, tails up and blowing as they ran around. Tru-D was mre concerned with the deathly footing than with the knuckleheads losing their minds across the way. She was a little concerned about the first car that hit the gravel, but for the most part ignored the vehicles that passed.

We did have a couple ladies appear in a little white sedan with a bucket of grain. They had seen Tru-D but didn't notice me so they thought they'd be catching a loose horse. I thanked them for their kidness and we worked a few more minutes on the drop before moving to find a more level spot.

I acquired the mail and we turned rigbt around and Tru-D marched bravely UP the bank without breaking stride. Babies.

She was forward heading home and I ended up mostly at her shoulder instead of by her head, but she wasn't rushing too bad and stayed attentive to me. She was leery of the sign again when we were almost home, but didn't do anything silly.

We had a ton of mail so I had it tucked under my arm that was holding the slack.

For her very first "long" distance outing she did awesome. I think if I can do that a few times a week she'll be good about traffic and such.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
After Topper boogered about getting the leadrope on I shifted tactics. The next time I approached I rubbed him and then took the halter off entirely and walked away. He was confused. I put the leadrope back on the halter and we played a game of "catch and release" as I would approach, rub with rope and halter in hand, then walk away. We worked up to putting the rope over his neck and asking for a couple of steps here and there before srarting to put the halter on and off and on and off. I talked with Rob about the importance of both Topper and Minnie being comfortable getting caught and how just leaving the halters on does not solve the problem and sets them up for heartache more than anything should curious babies get their halters stuck on something. Both had a slight indent on their noses, mostly just hair rub, but it definitely said they spend most of their time with the halters on. Hopefully when I go again the middle of the month that won't be the case.

I also noted that part of "fixing" Topper's issue with having the leadrope on will be working him a little and then the leadrope goes ongoes on when he is done working or moves on to less demanding things.

Once Topper was reasonable about the halter on and off I worked on desensitizing with the whip. He was unsurprisingly explosive when I first swung it so we restarted just tapping the ground and worked up to the full swings. He was more straightforward than Minnie and less opinionated about it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that is "fearful" behavior is more based in what works than things actually terrifying him.

So Rob has some homework for the next two weeks. Taking halters on and off, desensitizing to the whip/stick, and having them walk a couple laps around the roundpen, or rather, changing directions until they walk nicely around the roundpen. I also asked that he move the water bucket he had in there to some othet location. For the most part they worked around it, but it was a disruption in the flow of the circle and proved to be a spot where Minnie especially would push buttons.

I hoping to see these two through their basic training over the next year and a half. This is my first time working with Gypsies. Wendy said they tend to have more of a "pony" attitude compared to the Fjords, granted Fjords can have a pretty high opinion of themselves as Kitt and Tabbi have demonstrated!
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
I had another lesson with Carrie, the Dressage trainer from Cave Creek, this makes three. The second one was two weeks ago and I videoed it. She was gracious to wear a mic for me so the audio quality was quite good. The visual is a bit eh because I stuck the camcorder in the corner of the arena. I hope to record it monthly or so to have things to look back on (and maybe ask one of the other ladies to work the camera a time or two).

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example I was able to get some little bits of half pass on Bud towards the end of my riding time with him, but it was a long time coming and built through the shoulder-in rather than a full understanding and eager responsivenes to the outside leg aid. We'll see how quickly I can build it on Kash and Kitt now.

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lantairvlea

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