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Adventure time with Snickers

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        10-09-2013, 02:34 AM
      #41
    Super Moderator
    We went on a very nice sunset trail ride yesterday evening, along with the chestnut gelding, whom you can see in the last picture, and his rider. Although this gelding is a Trakhener, is and Snickers' gaits matched perfectly, so we had an enjoyable ride. I've been on a lot of rides where I have to hold back Snickers constantly, but this time he could trot at the speed he loves - he literally beamed with self-content. The canter was slower than he wished, though, but he'll cope with that.
         
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        10-24-2013, 08:25 AM
      #42
    Super Moderator
    I am SUCH a lazy writer!

    Trying to catch up now. I've been given two more horses to work on groundwork with and Snickers is being jealous whenever I start working with one of them before I do something with him. He comes and hangs around close to us and looks all left forever alone, so I just HAVE to come over and give him a cuddle.

    Since evenings now become dark so fast, I stick to groundwork when I go to the barn after work - riding in complete darkness isn't that fun, until we get our arena floodlights set up. Actually, we needed that. Over the summer I had been riding more and let our groundwork slip a little, but now I spend more time on precision, timing, new exercises, and Snickers is really enjoying it. There's a miniature hill and a little ditch in the paddock, so I incorporate them in what we do - for example - backing up upwards or downwards the hill, doing circling game with him jumping back and forth over the ditch, etc. There's also a large log which we use to jump over or to set forelegs (or a specific foreleg) onto, and two huge willows, which are growing very close to each other and just perfect for sending Snickers to go or back up through them. I'm also using a hulahoop for Snickers to set a specific leg/legs into, to pivot without taking the legs out of the borders set by the hulahoop, to teach him how to swing it in his teeth, etc.

    Yesterday I borrowed a longer (~7m) rope from a friend and tried working with Snickers from a larger distance. He backed up perfectly in the whole length of the rope and I managed to talk him into doing the circling game, using all of the rope. As soon as he understood that he's been given a whole lot more of space, he set off at a fast canter (respectfully) and that riled up the whole herd which was close by. They all started galloping and playing near to us and I decided to set Snickers free to play with them, which they did for some 10 minutes, after which Snickers came up to me all by himself and we walked off together. :)

    We've been also using some poles to do serpentines around and he's been doing a good job in flexing and stretching while doing it.

    As for riding, I had an instructor give me a couple of lessons in basic Dressage/schooling, as I felt I've been sort of plodding around lately. Had a wake up call to put my arms in place and my seat into action, refreshing Snickers in areas of contact and flexing laterally, and also at shortening the canter without losing the impulse. It was hard work, but worth every minute of it!

    We also went on several trail walks in-hand and a couple of rides. In one of the rides we were accompanied by a friend on a nice gelding, who was a calm companion for an easy ride, and in the other I went with Snickers alone, something I hadn't done since summer, when I was slightly traumatized by Snickers being violently spooked by the sudden appearance of an ATV (possibly drunk driver and very aggressive driving!).

    This time, he was a little nervous to begin with. We started the ride by going down a gravel road with a little ditch on one side and a thick hedge on the other. Some little critter jumped out of the hedge right at his hind end, he spooked and jumped the ditch before I even understood what's happening. So I just jumped him back on the road and we went further along. As he was tensing up and tending to hurry up as soon as he thought we're going home, I just slowed him down to a walk, turned back and went on a different direction. Soon enough he understood that hurrying will get him nowhere and loosened up.

    He also tried showing that he knows the drill of a trail ride - warm up at a walk, first trot, walk, second trot, less walking, canter, etc. - so when we got to the point he thought we should be cantering at last, he tried shaking his head in a very playful manner and just jumping into canter. Gave him a surprise, though, because I felt this coming and he found himself walking into contact and flexing nicely on a circle. Poor boy, nothing really went his way this time.

    After a good hour we went home at last, but I made him one last surprise, by just passing the driveway to the barn and cantering him off in the forest, in a completely opposite direction. As he is not used to hurrying AWAY from home, this seemed to completely blow his mind. Will repeat this strategy on other rides, too, it seemed to work well on him, and I ought to, too, as we've been having slight difficulties in the trails (mostly with rushing at canter) and I have been delaying addressing these problems for long enough.

    Almost forgot mentioning a funny experience. Okay, it was also slightly annoying, but I'm easily annoyed by my mother. So, mom calls a couple of days ago and wants to visit Snickers all of a sudden. No problem, of course, but turns out she has a friend with a 10yo daughter, who really, really loves horses and wants to have a ride. I don't even know that woman or her daughter! I explain that Snickers is not the best match for inexperienced kids who want to plod around the arena and, for her own safety, the kid should get a ride on one of the BO's horses. Mom gets frustrated, because it means her friend has to pay for the ride! Well, yeah, my horse isn't a free carrousel either! Then the best part comes - she had the guts to ask me why I bought Snickers in the first place, if he is not suitable for giving pony rides to random children! After a thorough explanation, she didn't really grasp the idea that he is not a tool or toy for me, and that having a horse does not oblige me to entertain others...
         
        10-24-2013, 06:32 PM
      #43
    Super Moderator
    My conscience got at me at last. It's picture time!

    The winter shelter in making:



    Snickers assisting in the construction of a slow feeder. He was very eager to help: climbed in and out of the frame, carried hammers, tried stealing a bucket of nails, tried climbing into a van which transported the materials in the paddock...



    Noticing me while at a slow feeder and coming to greet me. I love his expressions!









    Dinner time



    Snickers enjoys the company of our barn cats, Fritz...



    ...and Mr.Wavy!

    Cherrij likes this.
         
        10-24-2013, 06:42 PM
      #44
    Super Moderator
    And the trails, as I had promised...



















    Our riding partner from one of the rides:



    I swear, I don't have such a bad chairseat, it's just the angle of this photo, which is otherwise nice!



    Snickers looks like a fat pony at the side of this huge boy:



         
        10-24-2013, 06:43 PM
      #45
    Super Moderator
    Then the evening came...













         
        10-24-2013, 07:00 PM
      #46
    Green Broke
    Absolutely wonderful and stunning photos, Saranda! What an incredible boy you have! I know I've said this before, but your woodlands in Latvia look exactly like our home here in N MI - we did get about 7 inches of snow today, so I'm certain yours is coming soon! :)
         
        10-25-2013, 03:52 AM
      #47
    Yearling
    Northernstar, please no snow yet

    Saranda, That is one amazing place to be.. I hope this time it lasts for a lot longer than previous places :) Snickers looks happy there :)
         
        10-25-2013, 04:08 AM
      #48
    Super Moderator
    I agree with Cherry this time, Northenstar, no snow yet, please. I don't feel ready for the endless months of snow, ice and more than just freezing temperatures...

    Yeah, Cherrij, I like this place a lot and Snickers is enjoying himself as well. The pastures are rather small, if the herd doesn't get smaller, so they will have to be managed carefully, but, if the BO does that, the place might as well be our little paradise.
    Cherrij likes this.
         
        10-28-2013, 05:52 AM
      #49
    Super Moderator
    The weather here has been extremely mild and warm for October. Hope it stays that way for a while longer. :)

    Saturday. Time for the monthly trim (Snickers has always been barefoot) and autumn deworming. I helped out the trimmer with holding Snickers as he can be a pain when it comes to trimming his front hooves - it has to do with tenseness in his shoulders, so I hope massage sessions and chiro will help sorting it out over time - we're getting there slowly. He's a champ when it comes to deworming, though, so no problems there and after that we just went to graze in-hand, as I didn't want to put any stress on him after the procedures.

    Sunday. At first I sort of free-lunged all of the herd in the winter paddock in sake of some pictures of a cantering herd for the barn. Snickers had a jolly good time and cantered towards me a few times to huff and puff, and then to race back to the others. I then decided to walk him off in the trails and he was showing me where two other horses went with their owners beforehand (the horses are currently slightly lame and were taken outside the paddock so that they didn't strain themselves too much), so we agreed to follow them. Did some nice trotting in-hand together, that will do good to my physical condition.

    We soon found them in a field that was previously used for pastures. I dared to set Snickers loose and he was being such a good boy - followed me at the walk and trot, and, although I put the lead rope back on a few times due to my own lack of confidence, he never lost the connection. Finally, I took it off for good (put it back only when we were approaching the barn, in case of cars wanting to pass us) and we went on a walk at liberty. Whenever he held back a little, he immediately followed me at a very joyful trot and on one occasion he even cantered to catch up with the rest of our group, dashed into the woods, cantered a circle among some spurce trees and then came cantering right back to me after I called him once. He was very playful, yet respectful and seemed to be having a time of his life - so nice to see a horse this way. :)

    I then let him back in the paddock and had a groundwork session with another horse, after which I tacked up Snickers and we had a ride. After warming up and a short, yet intense session with flexing, contact and learning to use my seat more efficiently, I ditched the bridle and we rode freestyle. It was a bit dense at the first moments, as we hadn't done this since sometime in summer, but it got better and we finished on a good moment. Walked him off at liberty and Snicks made me very happy with following me eagerly through any obstacles I pointed him at, climbing on tree stumps, doing the Spanish walk and some stretching - especially because the other horses were being fed their evening oats at the moment. And I know very well how important is eating for my boy.

    I'm happy our communication at liberty is getting gradually better - after when I overdid it a little with the wrong attitude this summer and Snicks didn't really want to participate in it for a while.
         
        10-30-2013, 08:12 AM
      #50
    Super Moderator
    Quite a windy evening yesterday. Due to the daylight saving hours, evenings are now suddenly very dark and we don't have a floodlight for the arena set up yet. I used a head torch, but it was blinding me, as well as Snickers, so that wasn't the best solution this time, as I wanted to do some groundwork. Snickers made some corrections, though. He was trying to be pushy and bite the lead rope and my whip, all while looking at the other horses, so this could be translated as lack of respect, but I couldn't shake off the feeling that he'd gladly spend some time with me, just not by being lead and given instructions what to do. I decided to follow my gut, lead him around a little just to check for health issues, and then took off his halter. I somewhat expected that he'd just go back to the herd and the hay, but, instead, he walked a small loop and then returned right back to me. Then he proceeded to show off - he demonstrated me his Spanish walk, stretching, played with my whip by picking it up from the ground and shaking it all over, dragged the lead rope along, and followed me all around. My sweet boy. :) He started going back to the herd a couple of times, but I only had to turn in the opposite direction and start walking, when he followed me again and, in short time, we had company - he had hooked the interest of several of his buddies, and we went exploring the dark paddock as a little mini-herd of our own. What an interesting night. :) We "did" nothing, but we achieved so much more!

    I later fed Snickers some warm mash with herbal tea, he likes it a lot and it somehow comforts me in rainy autumn evenings. After that he got the whole herd having a good gallop around the paddock for a while and I stood outside the paddock, listening to the thundering of hooves in a pitch black night.
    Northernstar and Cherrij like this.
         

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