Rope halters are great, but imo they lack finesse when it comes to, for example, classical dressage training and so on. Or maybe it's just me who lacks finesse. Either way, I like being able to switch between tack freely, and I also think it's good for a horses' mind - for example, when I ditch the bridle and ride in a cordeo, I really feel how it inspires Snickers to concentrate much harder, so that we are in tune. From that point I get inspired to achieve the same feeling when I ride with a bridle, and so on. :)
We had some terrible weather today (rain, rain, go away...), so I just visited Snickers to check on him and make sure he's ok. He was back to his communicable and playful self, and his gut sounds were normal (although a bit more silent on the side which regained gut sounds later than the other yesterday). Yay for everything being okay again!
As the weather is still sunny one second and a rainstorm the next, I went for ground driving today. Besides, I hadn't done it for a couple of months and I am anyway gathering a harness, piece by piece, to hitch Snickers to a sleigh as soon as we get enough snow. So refreshing his driving skills won't harm. He was a bit unsure at first, whether to go straight or to sway from step to step in order to try to get closer to horses, who were munching at haynets, but, much to his disapproval, it didn't pass me unnoticed. After that, everything went smoothly. We did a lot of turning and flexing around various objects, serpentines, lead changes and a bit of trotting, as the arena was a bit too wet and slippery after the recent rainfalls for me to be eager to try faster gaits there. I paid most of my attention to a light and immediate stop, and to backing up from a vocal cue. We got to a good point and then I untacked him and we went to graze a little in a nice meadow by the barn. He was being a very good boy and responding nicely to being led in a nylon halter, which to him, a headstrong horse, was a small problem up to this spring and I always chose to use only a rope halter when leading him. Seems to be cured now. :)
A couple of photos now. Sorry, I still haven't uploaded any from the day of moving.
He's got large pastures to spend time in and graze, yet he is always happier to hang out by the fence when people are around - he loves being admired and entertained. :)
Thanks, Northenstar! Snickers is well aware about his charm as well.
Yesterday was such a beautiful day that I decided to go for a little hack, along with two of my friends, who lead their horses in hand - as one of the horses is a senior, and the other is injured right now. I circled and passed them a lot and, when we found longer stretches of road, I went for a trot and a canter. Of course, my friends were informed and were okay with that, it was also a learning experience for Snickers, who had a reminder to stay calm and focused, while we go away, past or towards other horses at all gaits. And he was being such a good boy! During some of our last hacks in our previous trails, I had a couple of unnerving moments when he got too strong at the canter and pulling to a gallop past others, but none of this behavior showed this time. He transitioned to whatever speed or gait I asked for effortlessly and, although he slightly spooked at a huge drainage ditch with a really loud flow of water, he was generally fearless in exploring our new trails. Which, I must admit, are really beautiful and royal - it is, after all, a botanical garden, and, as in such, everything is very well kept and planned. I'm hoping to get some pictures of this ride later, one of my friends had a camera with her. :)
There were four horses who were moved to our current barn - Snickers, two of his best buddies and a TB mare with whom Snickers had sort of a relationship - they always cuddled together and she never left his side. On the day of moving, however, Snickers was betrayed, as the mare left him for all of the geldings of the new herd. Snicks wasn't happy at all about this and has tried to regain her interest, but with no avail. In the last few days, though, one of the mares from our new herd has taken a keen liking in Snickers and is blatantly flirting with him even if he doesn't want it! At first, he just chased her away all the time, but yesterday this was observed. Maybe my boy has found a new love of his life?!
(The butt belongs to Snickers, the chestnut head to the mare)
Snickers is always first to make a friendship, and now he has an unlikely one! Did you notice the picture in which he is sniffing a gray kitten? That's Wavy, one of our barn cats, who came to this barn along with Snickers and his pals from the previous barn. Wavy has grown to like horses and often spends his time sitting somewhere high in the riding arena (on a jump, for example), teasing horses and sleeping in their hay. Snickers has been very keen since day one to follow this little guy around, sniff him and, sometimes, groom him. A couple of days ago he was observed lipping Wavy, who was sound asleep, and yesterday he was seen opening his mouth as wide as possible and placing it carefully all over the kitten! O_O I hope he is not turning into a carnivore and, fun aside, I hope the cat will be cautious enough not to get injured, as we cannot keep him away from the horses or control what Snickers does while people aren't around. It is very cute to watch them interact, though.
As the evenings are getting darker fast and we don't have arena lights set up yet, I get less quality time for riding and training after work, so yesterday I chose to tack up Snickers with a bareback pad to go for a quick bareback ride. Hadn't done it for a while, too. We did a lot of flexing around different objects at the walk and this time I chose to stick not only to his smooth jog, but to ask for some extended trot and learned to sit it properly. It was rather hard, but I felt some progress and finally could sit in a much deeper seat with noticeable improvement in core stability. Will have to repeat it regularly. I didn't canter much, but I noticed how powerful and energetic Snicks' canter was. His gaits have been increasingly swingy (is that a word? ) and from the hind since the chiro visited us two weeks ago.
While walking off, I asked for some Spanish walk and Snicks finally nailed taking several steps in Spanish walk at a time. Yay! Now just to refine it.
Thanks. :) He's really putting lots of effort in what he does, if only I manage to get him motivated enough. And to think he was earlier in his life considered an extremely lazy horse! He's not. He just wants to do the fun things. And it's up to me to make work fun.
Since moving, Snickers has become a favorite of the BO. She says he is always the first one to "help" her in mucking the fields or repairing fences. He loves taking shovels from her hands and carrying them around or assisting actively when she is trying to get a fence repaired. Besides, all the herd now follows him often, so she sometimes finds herself suddenly crowded by a dozen of curious noses
I've had less chances to ride lately, as the arena has turned into mud due to recent rainfalls, but I've had a couple of productive rides, one of which in a cordeo, and went on a nice, slow trail ride with a horse who is currently ridden at a walk only. I can't wait to get some better pictures from the trails!
I've also had some very nice walks in-hand to explore the territory and groundwork has not been forgotten as well. Snickers has been a good boy in refining his sidepassing, which he is now doing over ground poles or higher objects, and also with pivoting incorporated, so that we can make specific trajectories, going sideways, both following me and away from me. We had gotten a bit lost in our work at liberty - I guess I overdid it a while ago - but in one of the previous evening he followed me nicely around all the huge arena and we also did some stopping, backing up and lying down.
As I am hoping to hitch him up to a sleigh this winter, we've done some ground driving and he acted as a champ. Ground-driving seems to give him a big purpose and motivation, so he always does this eagerly. I was working on getting his stopping and backing up lighter.
I guess our biggest adventure in these days was visiting the annual Autumn gardener's fair, which took place in the main grounds of the botanical garden. I went there with another girl an her horse, and we offered pony rides for the kids. Although Snickers used to hate this job when he was a lesson horse, I guess it was because of the routine (he sometimes had to do it for hours in a day, and to go round and round in a circle, at a walk, was extremely boring for his active mind), because this time he behaved brilliantly and was more concerned about all the tasty grass he saw near the flowerbeds than about kids that were put on his back. I didn't stay there for long, though, not to overwhelm him.
As expected, Snickers didn't budge at all about the tents, flags, music and crowds of people - in fact, he started neighing and hurrying towards all the commotion, as we were approaching - he was clearly excited to explore what was going on. We stayed a bit farther from the central grounds, though, in a smallish field which was given to us for the pony rides.
One early morning and Snickers looking rounder than he is.
Waiting for the kids and munching away at the fair: