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)
The other morning Ruby, Tru-D, and McLintock were lined up in order of size. By the time I got my phone to take a picture Mac had moved, but it did give a good size comparison between Ruby and Tru-D currently (with Charm-N peaking over their backs).

More pictures and rambling )
Tomorrow is another full day and it looks like there are many full days ahead, which is good because in another month it is going to get even hotter and we'll see how many wilt.

The lady with the gypsy cob wants to move forward with driving training, but is weighing her options. Full training is still in the air, but traveling to where she boards is also an option.

The couple who started driving a couple weeks ago have a horse they are wanting to get driving too.

I might have found a bit of a niche with this driving thing.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I need to study up my grammar.

Another whirlwind day!

Nelson felt better this morning so we took both Roy and Molly out together. Molly only really thought of jigging twice, which was much better than last week. Soon we should be able to add in some trotting while we're out and be able to keep her brain present. Roy is happy as a clam moseying along the trail carrying Nelson, which makes me happy my matchmaking was good.

After Nelson it was Grace and Dawn again. Grace got the full training harness from breastplate to crupper. She still seemed to care more about the clips swinging on the sides than the crupper or the kicking straps/trace carriers. Since Dawn wants to do everything we're proceeding with Grace for driving until Dawn gets herself a saddle. Tuesday I'll bring the breastcollar and see how it fits before we start thinking about introducing the long lines.

From there I loaded Kitt and headed up the hill for training (i.e. me taking a lesson) with Carrie. We worked tail to the wall leg yields and also some bend-counterbend figure eights in the walk before playing with shortening the trot and getting Kitt to lighten her shoulder some and then proceede without losing balance (easier said than done). We have the next lesson set up for the beginning of May.

From there Kitt returned home and I headed over to Roxanne's to work with her and Gypsy. I forgot to bring a whip, but we were still able to work a few things. The first things were getting the harness back together and adjusting the cart with the traces and holdbacks.

We ended up moving the reins to the snaffle setting because Gypsy was a bit backed off. She went better after that, hut she could definitely use some help with the whip to get her actually bending through her turns rather than swinging her hips into the shafts and counterbenting 90% of the time.

I had a slightly longer break after Roxanne and found that my long line order came in. I got three sets, 1/4" in hunter green, 5/16" in navy, and 3/8" in purple. I used the 5/16" navy line this evening lungeing a student and really liked it.

With three new sets of lines I put up the Parelli feather lines for sale because 22' isn't long enough for me, then thought about it and put up my old MCR lines. because I don't really need four different sizes of long lines, especially since I was thinking about finding ways to hack off the clips since I've grown less fond of using clips.

Both sets were claimed within an hour! I'm thinking I should have charged more for them! As it is I paid for almost half of the order selling the two sets!
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 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: (powerpuff crop)
The TR50 is the two-wheeled Kutzman cart we acquired. It is technically designed for horses that are over 15 hands (the website says 150cm, which is just over 59") and Kitt is just shy of 14.2 so we knew it was going to be a stretch.

We turned the shafts upside down and because we had the marathon tips it worked fine, however I doubt it would really fly in a show so I needed a different solution. Shelley suggested turning them horizontal, but I didn't think it would work because we have chunky horses. Sure enough the 21" it left between the shafts was not enough space for Kitt so back upside down they went. The 24" space we set was good so I figured if I could get Magma to engineer me a set that would leave me 24" between the shafts I would be set!

Today I went out and measured the shafts. The tricky part is figuring out the angle the bend needs to be. With my handy plastic protractor I found the current angle is 150* which was my starting point.

The front of the shafts essentially make a trapezoid so I had the distance between the shafts at the base, the distance from the bend to the tip, which made up the sides and the distance between the shafts at the tips, which made the short base. I had two trapezoids, the one that the shafts currently made and the one I wanted to make. I needed the measurement of the angle made by the big base and the side which would tell me how much the bend angle would need to change.

My brain said "Math can tell me!" So I chopped the trapezoids into two triangles by connecting the opposite corners. I used the pythagorean theorem to discover the long sides of the triangles and then looked up the formula to find the angle I needed. It involved a cos^-1, which required me to find a real calculator rather than using the one on my phone.

And lo! I had my answer. The first angle was 47.12 and the second was 50.91, which is just shy of a four degree difference. I had eyeballed it at 5* and it is nice to have the math back that up. I will probably round up to 5* as 25" between the shafts wouln't be a bad thing. There is a little part of me that is worried about sounding too anal when i take the shaft in and say "I want you to make this, but make it x long and I need the bend angle 3.79* larger ... 5* just sounds more reasonable than 4.

You know, you sit in math wondering when the heck you are going to use this stuff and 15 years later you are looking up calculations so you can figure out how much bend you need in a new set of shafts for your horse drawn cart so it fits your pony who is technically 1 1/2" too short for it.

Such is life!
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 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)

Nine month pregnant lady here just driving her horse through the mud after a long rain trying to aerate the ground a little so it dries faster.

I might be a bad pregnant lady doing things like this, but I guess we'll let my doctor tell me if I'm over doing it... my body certainly hasn't been informing me otherwise! Though I do admit raking the roundpen by hand was towards the limit I think.
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)
I had another lesson (i.e. training for me) with Carrie K. and Kitt yesterday. We warmed up and then got to work with the tail-to-the-rail leg yield, which went pretty well in both directions. We held the majority of the long side, though I had to be careful approaching the corners as she would want to drift in about 20' out instead of waiting for me to tell her to go straight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow I have three lessons scheduled, including a new client doing their first evaluation. The winter schedule is filling up!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Thursday I had another lesson with Carrie K. from the North valley. I admit I haven't done nearly so much active riding this pregnancy as I was with the last two, Regardless I'm trying to get what I can from these lessons. I wasn't able to make any last month so I'm going to try and double up this month. I'm not sure if I'll try for one in November, but we'll see! I definitely plan on picking back up in February and see where we go from there. I'd like to rotate between Kash and Kitt at that point, but Mr. Fancy can wait to make his debut until I am no longer expecting. He tends to be a bit of a knucklehead the first time to a new arena and I don't need that.

Anyway, we worked on moving her hip over and leg-yield both nose and tail to the rail. She's much better going left than right andbwe discovered that when we put her on a circle. To the left she was volunteering a shoulder-fore position and to the right she was a bit stickier.

We had some really nice tail to the rail yields (not quite a shoulder-in) in the trot that she held well. I like the idea or her holding her "shape" better on her own without a reminder to keep crossing over. I just started reading Nuno Oliveira's "Reflections on Equestrian Art" and one of the things he mentioned is that the horse should carry the movement, whatever it is, until there is an active change in request. That means when properly trained and conditioned you should be able to "shape" your horse into a half-pass, travers, etc. and have the horse maintain it until you request a new movement or transition with minimal rider correction.

It's so nice finding an instructor who actually knows what they're doing and can make me feel like I'm moving forward and learning things. I know I have missing pieces and it's so nice to have started finding them! I'm still debating if I should try a lesson or two over at CARA to have a go on more advanced horses, but the things I've heard lend me to think the horses have not been trained in a manner that one might term as "classical."

I should have written about it the day of or Friday, I'll try to be better about that next time.

Sunday we packed up and headed to California. The boys got their first trip to the beach Monday and after wearing them out thoroughly we had lunch and visited my grandparents.

Opa insisted on sending us off with money for dinner and Chris was super stealth sneaky and phoned in dinner for them tonight. Italian and carrot cake from a place we found while we were there.

We drove home today and had an uneventful drive. This week is pretty booked up and the schedule is filling nicely for the winter months.

I can't remember if I mentioned Marty and Dave acquired a puppy from the shelter while we were in Utah. Her name is Charlie (sp?) and she is some Poodle cross, possibly a havanese. She looks a little like Appy, but taller and lighter colored. Rolo was not sure what to do with her at first, but Marty managed to get them to settle in and now they run and hase each other around until Rolo passes out because Bulldogs got no stamina.

Tomorrow I have four or five lessons. We need to hit Costco for some vitals. I do not have the art class because they are on their fall break. The farrier is coming tomorrow, Chewy's bloodwork came back good so I can stop with the SMZs (yay!), and I am making my way through month six. Ten more weeks before the Nudge has permission to disembark.

Also Kelhan and Baby Puppy looked pretty sporty in their sunglasses on the drive home.

Ah yes, and after sharing a hotel room with the boys for two nights we have discovered that Kelhan still is a Grünter. Just not as terrible as he was while an infant. He only grunts and mumbles occasionally rather than constantly, but it's still enough to get you up to check on him only to realize he's still perfectly asleep.
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
I'm not sure which one works better in this case, but "herd dynamics" it should be. I should probably get a better dictionary on my phone or maybe actually pull out one of the five I own...

I had noticed it a while ago, but it still strikes me as funny. Most people think of herd hierarchy as being fairly linear. You have the "boss" and then everyone follows in succession after that, right? Nope, not always.

The current status of the herd has Ruby still as undesputed benevolent overlord. Charm-N is next in line followed by Kitt, Tru-D, Chewy, and Kash, but not quite. There is a funny thing between Kitt, Chewy and Kash that is more pronounced around feeding time. Kash has typically been bottom man on the totem pole. He has had moments like when Zetahra was a baby and when Tru-D was a yearling where he wasn't going to put up with crap from a stinky baby. Of course Z eventually knocked him down a notch, probably around her turning one because she was such a strong personality. Tru-D is ahead of him now at two, but it took her getting to be his size for that to happen.

So watching the horses Kitt, Ms. Bossy Boss who had taken over the whole herd at one point until Ruby and Panda got sick of her bossiness and knocked her back down, but Kitt's there chewying on a pile and here comes Kash. She and Kash have been buddies for a while. They swish each other's flies and groom eachother and Kitt tries to flirt with him when she's in heat so I assume Kash is going to just share her pile. Nope! Angry ears and a tail swish and Kitt walks away!

Kitt then proceedes to Chewy's pile and shoos the little mare off. Chewy turns and goes back to Kash and nudges him off of his pile without a fuss and rinse and repeat until someone realizes there is a pile that no one has claimed. I find these litte dominance triangles quite amusing. One horse is dominant over another, yet submssive to the horse who is submissive to the one they are dominant over. Not linear in the least!

I imagine it gets even more complex with larger herds, especially those that have multiple generations growing up within them.

Last week my rope traces came in. I got to use them on Tuesday with Dragonfly. Dragonfly is a 17.1+hh Shire mare, classic black with a forelock to her nostrils and a broad white blaze. Maria wanted to get her driving so those were the skills we have been working on. Tuesday I dragged around the pvc pipe again, which she barely looked at compared to her 10 minutes of wiggling last week. I also banged around the singletree and only did two passes because she was getting bored and starting to play with the fence.

Maria said she had the harness on Dragonfly before so I went ahead and tossed it on. She was good for the saddle and breeching, but was twitchy as I played with the breastcollar. The traces were stitched in so I had to tie them up rather than removing them and as they brushed her front legs and armpits she was humping and twitching a bit. I managed to secure the traces to the tug straps and turned her loose. She bolted around the roundpen and I tried to turn her, but she was having none of it. I'm not going to argue with 1900lbs and she showed no sign of acknowledging me at all so I sat on a barrel and watched until she started to check back in. She didn't charge around very long before she started to look for someone to tell her what to do with herself. She hooked on and got rubs and love before I checked her flinchy spots. When it was clear she was settled I grabbed the long lines and rubbed them around before hooking them onto her breeching the goal being to check her response to pressure and start teaching her about pulling.

Maria held her lead and I had the long lines. I leaned pressure into them and waited until Dragonfly sat into the pressure before I released. When she was having a little hard time with it I had Maria reinforce the idea of backing into the breeching through the lead line. Dragonfly ultimately gave us a couple nice backwards steps and we called that good. I swapped the long lines out for the rope traces and gave Dragonfly a brief introduction to their feel. Because the breastcollar didn't have a buckle (I will NEVER buy a breastcollar harness that has stitched-on traces! So annoying!) I had to jury-rig it, but it worked. I put pressure on the traces and waited for her to lean into them. She did really well and we got her walking as I put pressure in the traces and pulling me around like it was no big deal.

The good and the bad is that Maria will be moving Dragonfly along. One of the other ladies in the draft horse circles is thinking about taking her on. Wendy P. has a grey Perch mare that drives well with Maria's Belgian Emmett (whom Wendy bred, raised, broke, and then sold to Maria several years ago) and they're seeing about a trade. If Dragonfly doesn't work for Wendy, she knows of someone else who is interested so it should all work out. I wish I had more time to work with her, but she should be in good hands with Wendy and Maria is excited to be getting a horse that is a well-broke driver already and matches Emmett.

Maria was heading up today to make the exchange and she just sent me a video of Dragonfly pulling a giant tractor tire. And by giant I mean it was a good 2' wide and probably close to 4' across. Dragonfly looked like she was pulling it like an old pro. I'd like to think the few hours of work I was able to put in helped.

Speaking of horses in training. I pulled ou Tru-D this morning because it was still not 100 by the time lessons were done at 9amn and maybe not even 90. The humidity was high, but at least we had clouds so it didn't feel like a sauna.

I pulled out the training surcingle and rope traces. I need to remember to snag some electrical tape and wrap the splices so I don't have dangly rope ends sticking out. Anyway, I warmed her brain up with some desensitizing with the whip before parking her at the "station" and introducing the rope traces. She sniffed and eyeballed them slightly and I definitely am going to need to rig up a trace holder for the future. The surcingle currently has a riding breastplate on it, which is nice for introducing pressure there and keeping the surcingle from wandering, but is no good for actual pulling. I don't qhite want her in the full harness all of the time just yet because it doesn't really fit her and I'd rather not try to adjust it out for her when I'm going to be potentially driving Kitt as well. For today, however, and the minimal weight of the rope traces I went ahead and snapped them onto the breastplate and Tru-D got to feel her first little bit of drag. She did quite well. To the right she wanted to swing her butt out and kept stepping on the outside trace (thus the need for trace carriers), but she straightened out.

I just walked her on the lunge until she thought it wasn't much before swapping out for the sidepull and long lines. She was a little bit of a handful on the long lines as she tried to noodlebout of going in certain parts of the arena, specifically towards the corner neighbor's place as they've been moving things around and their yard hasn't looked the same two days inba row of late. Eventually she realized that listening to what I was asking was easier than trying to noodle around it and we got some nice, big, steady, and forward circles in the trot before calling it a day.

Not too terrible for not having done anything in over a month. I need to buckle down and get her worked at least once a week during the summer and then moreso as it cools down. I need her long lining skills to be solid before I consider hooking her to anything and that is my goal by the end of the year to have her pulling the tire.

I'm looking into some options for driving breastcollars. I don't necessarily want a full pleasure harness right now, but the breastcollar would allow me to do training like I am with Tru-D without having to haul out the full harness. Plus they are way more adjustable than a collar and something that fit her would probably fit Kitt (and potential client horsrs...) as well and for just dragging the tire now and then for a short time, being able to throw something light on rather than hauling out the whole draft harness would be nice. I can always piece together a full harness if I want to, but right now I just need the breastcollar for training since I already have the traces I'm going to be using.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm sure there are more things I'm not thinking of.
lantairvlea: (Kash)
I was able to put in a second ride on both Chewy, Kash, and Kitt and rode Bud in them as well this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I plan on continuing to try them now and again and hopefully get more of a ride in on them, but as most of the rides have been while I'm teaching there does end up being a lot of standing and observing than actively riding the horse.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Thursday I had two am lessons and worked Molly before three afternoon lessons. Friday I had seven lessons scheduled, though one was a half hour and didn't show up so I only (ha!) taught six. I rode Charm-N during the first one, Chewy in the second, and used Tru-D twice to demonstrate with the Horsemanship 102 class as we were working on lungeing skills. The last lesson I rode Kash. We also hit the feedstore and got groceries during my breaks. Today I had two lessons this morning and worked Cinnamon Strudel on the long lines before working with Bud and Sue and coming back for two more lessons, in which I rode Kitt during the second one. I am ready for my day of rest Sunday!

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

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

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

I also woke up with a ball of something in my throat and think I am threatening to lose my voice. Chamomile tea with honey and lemon juice it is.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Life is at one of those places where there's almost too much going on to get down properly so we'll start with the big fun thing and go from there.

Chris and I did our annual thing going into Tonto Basin for the Draft Horse Driving Clinic. This was, I think, the eighth year they have held it and the fourth time we have attended.

We got to drive a four-up hitch with the sulky plow, which was a first and awesome! Especially once they got the lead mare's right rein sorted and we weren't relying on the left leader to make her turn!

They also broke out the walking plow, which we didn't try, but got a few pictures of. They had a grader hooked up to one of the forecarts, but they were juggling horses around and I only got to drive it to park it. It did balance the cart out nicely and made it easy to unhitch!

At the last minute Thursday I decided to take both of the Mamiyas. I filled up my film holders, which I have two of for the RB67 and four for the 645. I grabbed my oldest (read: terribly expired, but still good because they get stored in the fridge) rolls, plus a roll of Ilford B&W (couldn't tell you the last time I shot Ilford...). I ended up taking four rolls of Portra 160, my last roll of Ektachrome (sp? my last chance to shoot it, Kodak stopped making it), and the roll of Ilford. I'm not super keen on color print film anymore, but since the Portra was free (thanks Mr. Grant!) I'll shoot it.

I shot two rolls in the RB67 and two in the 645 the first day, which meant I didn't do too much driving that morning, but that's fine by me. I made up for it in the afternoon. Saturday was a bit cloudy and dull to start so I saved my last two rolls until it cleared up.

Chris and I hooked Red up single at one point because all of the teams were occupied. Bill said he'd never driven him single, but we should be okay with him. Daniel later informed us the gelding had been driven single, but probably not for a good decade. Red was a perfect gentleman, if a bit vocal. He walked like a slug, but rather have that than too much!

I do admit the adjustable axel on the White Horse forecart is awesome and, even with just an implement seat on it, it rides very nice. Maybe someday we'll upgrade our forecart, but a nice pleasure/marathon cart first.

Kitt's new bridle arrived, but the browband was smaller than discussed. I'm going to just get a second browband because maybe Tru-D won't have such a fat head and she'll eventually inherit it, ha! And spare parts aren't bad.

Speaking of Tru-D she got her first experience with the bit today. I don't plan on working her with a bit until she has a full mouth (after all of her adult teeth come in, about five years old), but I do want her to get used to just carrying it like I did with Z. Tru-D did well taking it, but wasn't too keen on not being able to spit it out. She kept gaping and expecting it to drop out of her mouth. I took it off after fifteen minutes or so and plan on repeating it now and again as I remember.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday I took two students out to the San Tans for a trail ride. Part of me has been hoping that they would take my initial suggestion and call the guy that does the official guided trail rides out there. They had initially thought in September and with my schedule it hasn't worked out until now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life carries on and I have another group of lessons tomorrow keeping me busy.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Eclectic Horseman is running a sale this weekend on their Horseman's Gazette. It is 50% off the 24 DVDs they currently have in print (the first one no longer is). It's 48 hours of footage on mostly horse training. It is what I had initially hoped Equestrian Essentials(i.e. The Julie Goodnight Show, ppffft) would be. Information from many different trainers in the industry. I've been thinking about it off and on all day and dividing it out it ends up around $16 a disc, which is an awesome deal.

I do think I have managed to talk myself out of it for now. I technically have money for it, but I want to get Kitt a new driving bridle that actually fits her. I used her today for the horsemanship classes and everyone got to drive her around a bit. She did fabulous despite the many hands on the lines and I only had to save us from running into the fence a couple times (lack of direction on the students' part, not Kitt's fault at all), but I am reminded that the bridle fits a bit awkwardly and it has no noseband so I either leave her halter on or grab a caveson, neither of which look very sleek or fit superbly well. I've already contacted the woman at Camptown Harness about making one after the New Year and while it won't be cheap it will FIT and function and will be exactly what she needs and I want. I might have mentioned before I was hoping I could replace the browband so it fit her forehead better, but the winker stays are stitched into the browband and I'd be replacing half the bridle and there's really no replacing anything on it with how it is constructed. So $100 for something that might not fit and won't work for competition or $250 for something guaranteed to fit and will be perfect for the type of driving I ultimately want to do ... or $380 for 48 hours of horse videos that will take me years to watch, hahaha, I think the bridle wins.

I need to ask if lines are included in that and maybe see about getting a set with colored stoppers as I had contemplated earlier this year. It will be the most I have ever paid for a bridle, but driving bridles are not cheap. Whole lot more leather than a normal one!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)

We start 'em young at the Trout's Corral. Can you hear Kelhan kiss and say "Ooooh?"

Kitt's last drive was dragging a tire a couple weeks ago and before that it's been since April if not longer. She stood stock still to be hitched and walked off perfectly. I do think I need to eventually get a bridle that fits her a littke better. The browband is a smidge snug and I would like one with a full noseband.

Tristan also joined us and had fun driving. He wanted to go faster, but I told him there wasn't enough room.


lantairvlea: (Default)

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