Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve ride

This blog has to do double duty today. I had a good ride on Buddy yesterday. I wanted to mainly work on vertical flexion, stop, backup and leg yield with him. So yesterday we did some refining of the ground work, especially leg yields from the ground. He responded pretty well. When I got on his back he was ready to go. We did some work at the walk just working on vertical flexion and moving his shoulders and hips over. He gets better and better. When I asked him to go into a trot he did want to canter, but I backed him down by picking up the outside rein ever so slightly and he trotted. I had to do this a few times before he stayed in a trot. Then when I asked him to canter he went into it immediately and we loped around the arena several times in both directions. I am trying for softness at trot and lope. He didn't quite get there yesterday before it was time to quit. However, at the end I worked on stop and backup several times. It is a lot easier to work on a stop when the horse wants to stop. And so it was.
Today we did a similar thing, only on the ground I worked on half pass against the wall and when he got that consistently I moved him away from the wall and asked. He gave me some good ones. Then I started to ask for some leg yields as I walked beside him by his hip. He really started to give me some good ones. So I thought it a good time to get in the saddle. It was real good. We started with flexion and disengagements then walked off and began to work on lateral flexion with forward and then picked up the rein for vertical flexion. After a few minutes of doing this I started going in a big circle and began to ask for a trot. He started again to go into a canter, to which I picked up a rein to back him to a trot, which he did. So we worked on softness at a trot when he was giving me that pretty good I asked for a canter. He went right into a nice rocking chair lope and we worked on softness at that gait. Then I started to do figure 8's and change leads at a lope. We weren't completely successful at flying lead changes, but it is something to work towards. Then again at the end we started to work on stops and backups. More improvement. I had a fun time on him today. I know one thing about this horse he doesn't have a problem going forward at all. In fact, there were a couple times when I asked him to canter that he almost unseated me because I wasn't ready for how quickly he would respond. I got a good laugh those times.
I also discovered something else about him. His teeth are not right. I know I mentioned this before, but today I felt of his upper molars on the outside of his cheek with my fingers and discovered that his upper jaw is wider than his lower so that there is about 1/8 inch difference. That is why when I pick up a rein he has trouble wanting to give. In fact, when I touched him at the front of his molars he pulled his head away. So it does cause him pain. Thus, everytime I pick up a rein he is in some pain. No wonder there has been some issues. We will have a dentist take care of that for him and then we will see how he responds.
Well I gotta get off here.
Have a happy and safe New Year. I will be back at it on Monday with a lesson.
God bless

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas eve ride

I had a good ride this morning on Buddy. My goal with him is just to get in sync with him. We spent some time on the ground doing various exercises to warm him up and then I got on. He just stands there til I tell him to move off. It is nice that he waits for instructions from me before he takes to doing his own thing. I wanted to work more on his back up and then also on his hips and shoulders over. So we worked on them. His back up is getting better as I pick up a rein and add my seat and leg he is picking it up. We worked on that several times throughout the ride. I also had him following his nose pretty good. I had him trotting but he keeps wanting to go into a canter, although it is a nice lope, I want him to trot so I had to keep backing him off that. I think next time I am going to let him canter until he drops down to a trot then make him canter until I have him go back to a trot. I want to be able to trot him on a loose rein and move up and down the gaits without any resistance. He is not at that point yet, but he is getting there.
Well I gotta get going. One more thing to shop for before the day is done.
Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

in sync

I need to catch up on what has been happening in my horse world.
Monday, I worked with Buddy. I worked him on the ground as I always do. He does good, responds easily and softly to my requests. I got on his back and wanted to just work on his legs becoming mine. So we repetitiously worked on getting his hip to move over and his front end whenever I put my leg on him. I want him to do it with straightness as much as possible to. I also don't want him to speed up when I add my leg. He is making progress, I must say. He is a little heavy on the front end but yields his hindquarters pretty good. And really it is more me being consistent with my cues. I have been reading Xenophon's "On horsemanship" and he writes that a man should start with an agenda of what he wants to accomplish so that he can determine if and when he gets there with his horse. So that is what I am doing with him and with my own horse or any horse I work with. So Buddy has made a lot of progress, but has a long way to go. An hour 2x a week is not much time to get much done. I have him stopping better without using the rein too. My goal with him is to get him to stop raising his head whenever I pick up a rein, but instead to keep it steady, low and yielding to my feel.
I also have had the opportunity to ride Raven over the last two days. The footing is icey and choppy so we haven't been doing any trotting or cantering. Yet, it has afforded me the opportunity to just work on riding in sync with her. I have been practicing moving my arms with her front legs and my hips with her hind legs. By paying real close attention to when she is picking up a foot I can then ask for her to move it over or speed up at the right time. Thus, by being more in sync between my body and her body we are better able to move as one. Right now I can consistently get her to turn either way, stop, backup, yield her hindquarters, move her shoulders, do a circle, turn on the forehand, spin, etc. all without using a rein. Once in a while I have to use a rein to support her as to what I am asking, but what I am doing is trying to refine down the cues with my body and feel so that I can turn her just by looking and so on. So we haven't rode a long time each day, but we have accomplished a bunch in that short time.
Well that is my update for now. I ride Buddy again tomorrow and we will go from there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

running around

This morning I had another session with Buddy. I wanted to try something I had seen and read about regarding really being in harmony with the horse. What it amounted to was moving my body in sync with his as if his feet were mine. That means my hips, legs, arms etc. were moving in unison with him. Thus, if I wanted to speed up his gait I started moving my hips faster as if I was walking faster. If I wanted to turn that meant I looked and turned with my whole body before I picked up a rein. All that sort of stuff to really try to get in sync with him. It works but it takes practice. It all starts on the ground, but alot of people don't believe that. I figure if I am not in sync with him while I am on the ground with a lead or no lead and having him move in whatever direction I want, I am not going to be able to do it on his back. I want that feel so tight between us that if I so much as turn my head one direction he is reading what I want him to do and doing it. Then when I get on his back it will be the same way. When I did get on his back he did real good for me. I noticed last time that everytime I asked him to speed up he wanted to canter so he would throw his head up and start loping. I am not sure why, but I do know he is interpreting my leg cue as speed up, when all it should mean and all I want it to mean is to move his butt or shoulders over. But what do most people do when they want a horse to go? they kick him or squeeze with their legs. So I had the pleasure of working him through that. He did want to lope off but I would turn him into the wall and turn around and ask for a trot again. This went on several times until all I had to do was pick up the outside rein when he slipped into a lope and he would slow to a trot. Then I had t transfer that to being anywhere in the arena not just on the rail or against the wall. It took a while, but he eventually got it better, not perfect but better. I then had him loping around because I asked him to. What do you think he did then? You are right. He wanted to slow down.
Well when my lesson was over, in walks my student to take over.
Chris did a great job. She is a good student and is working on being just as soft with him as I am. She rode him the last portion of her lesson and both of them did good.
I have another lesson with Buddy tomorrow so hopefully we will pick up where we left off today.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Well it was cold in the fridge again. But better there than outside where the wind was really blowing. I thought the arena might lift off a few times it was blowing so hard.
Buddy was reall good again today. I warmed him up a bit more today because it was so cold. I wanted to make sure that any high energy was under wraps and that he was going to be completely yielded to me. And He was. When I go on him he stood real nice for me while I flexed him. Then we walked off and started to go through the exercises. My goal today was to really try to get the hip and shoulder moving with straightness as much as possible. He was better, but not what I was after. We will just have to keep working at it. I started him trotting around and doing the circle esses and he was getting real soft for me. Then about half way through the lesson he decided all he wanted to do was lope around or walk. He didn't want to trot. So I let him lope some and kept asking him to give me a trot and whenever I picked up the rein he went into a canter that was out of balance with his head lifted high. In hindsight I should have go off and circled him through the transitions then when he was giving them to me good, get back on. I will do that if it happens again. Anyway, he is doing pretty good. He even did good for one of my students who rode just after my session with him.
As for Camina, I got back with her also. She really showed her attitude doing a bit of bucking during the ground work. She probably was just kicking it up a bit because it was cold and she didn't like to have to work. Anyway we worked that out of her. I didn't want to get her all sweated up so I had to be sure to accomplish what I needed to without having to make her work alot. So instead of moving her out real fast, I just kept changing gaits, direction, and exercises on her until I could see her attitude change. Then we slowed down a bit and let her relax more. As it was I did about 30 minutes of ground work on her to see what she remembered and to refresh her memory. Then I got on her and held on. She always wants to take off. Now let me say, I never let her go just after I get on her. I always make her stand there and flex her on both sides. Then I let her move off. Once we do move she always wants to get in a trot, fast, all the way down to the other end of the arena into a corner then turn around and she will trot down to the other corner. I let her do it after I do some disengaging and moving of the shoulders, what amounts to a spin in both directions a few times to make sure I have some directional control. Then I let her go. Pretty soon she doesn't want to keep trotting and make her trot until I am ready to go at a walk. Then we can start to get some things done. This time my goal was to just refresh her memory since it has been a couple weeks since I rode her last.  I also wanted to work on her just going in a nice circle with shape. So that is what we did. I think I just need to keep working on that with her for most of the session next time and really get her moving out nicely on a consistent circle.
Well that is the latest on these two. Have a good one.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beautiful day

Indoors that is. I am so thankful for an indoor arena. It is like a fridge in their but it is level, dry and works, not windy. It has its drawbacks mind you, but it has many more positives. Anyway, Buddy came through great. I groomed and saddled him, by the way, he was waiting at the gate of his stall for me, uhmmmm! We did some slow warmup into our session. I am learning it is better to move slowly and fluidly into something with him rather than trying to make a big fast splash into things. he is alot calmer this way. He responded real easy with me and was giving me no arguments at all. So we went right into saddle work. My main goal today was to get him to really follow his head. When I pick up a rein he gives me softness and goes in that direction. I had to help him out with my leg some but he took to my feel right off. The arena floor has some kiddie pool size wet spots on it from leads in the roof so I used them as things to go around since I don't trees and bushes in there. This makes for doing figure eights and work on getting him real flexible laterally not just in his head and neck but also in his barrel/ribs and it helps to get his hip tracking to the outside. I just kept this up on these wet spots at a walk then when he was doing that real good we went into a trot doing the same thing. He was coming off my leg real nice. I even got some leg yields that I wasn't asking for per se.
Towards the end of the session I asked for and got a real nice loping canter that was feeling real good to me. I was doing the same thing with him. He is responding to my softness real nice and he is becoming fun to ride. It should be this way with kids too shouldn't it. You want to get  kid to be calm and responsive? get them busy on some good old fashioned work, put away the tv, the computer, nintendo etc. and get them busy doing something outside. Then when they are settled down that is the time to teach em something. Or that is the time to bring em in and let em chill out a while. Horses and kids, I think they are the same thing sometimes. Dogs, now that is another story.
Chris, my student took Buddy in hand and did real well with him today too. She is catching on to handling him from the ground. She rode the last half of the lesson and was using the wet spots in the same way I did. Only thing is she needs to learn her rein management better. But who doesn't. She is doing pretty good for as many rides as she has on him. My desensitizing of Buddy with the whip and flag has paid off today too. Something made a noise, like snow sliding off a roof, while Chris was riding, it made Buddy spook and jumb a bit, but he did it basically in place and she stayed on. Then a little later, just as she was coming back to the end of the arena he went by something that made him jump sideways and stop but she stuck like glue to him and it was nothing. So Buddy had a good session in both ways today.
Well, stay soft, gentle and relaxed and see if you don't have a better outcome today.
til another day.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Had a good session with Buddy today. I am thankful for an indoor arena, especially on a cold, snowy, blustery day like today.
I did my usual ground work with him to warm him up. I have been spending alot of time, in the beginning, desensitizing him to the crack of a whip and a plastic bag. He is doing good with those.
Anyway, my goal today was to just get on him and ride him at a walk and trot on a loose rein and really get him to bend on the circle and to respond to the rein without lifting his head. I also wanted to work on moving his hip and his shoulders over with him being as straight as possible at a standstill. He made little strides that we will build off of. The result of the work today was that when I asked him to stop on a loose rein and back up he did. He also did move his shoulders for me. He is really becoming a nice horse to ride, but the key is to make sure I am only using the rein when I need it and that I am as calm as possible with him. He is really going to make a lot of progess in the weeks ahead.

Friday, December 3, 2010

saddle slip

Buddy did real good today. I got him saddled and started working with him. He was responding real good. Probably the biggest thing that happened with him today was that he stood in one spot with noone around in the arena for probably 20 minutes while worked with another horse. Another student was having problems with getting her horse to stand still so I took the horse and started to work with it, but the saddle wasn't on tight and it slipped to the side and finally under the horse's belly. He didn't take to kindly to that and had a little bit to say about it. He got just a tad worked up but I got him calmed down and took it off of him then resaddled him. I worked him for a few minutes and then gave him back to the student. Well, during this entire time ol' Buddy just stood on the other end of the arena as though he were a statue. He didn't move at all. That is what I like to see. It comes from working a horse and helping them to see how easy it is to just stand there.
Then I took him and and started to work him a bit. He was real relaxed and soft for me. Then my other student came in and she took over. She did very well with him and rode him about 20 minutes and he was relaxed the entire time.