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Best Days with Sky!

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        01-15-2012, 03:25 PM
      #11
    Showing
    January 15th wasn't such a brilliant happy grinning day, but it was productive nonetheless.

    I decided today that I wouldn't lunge him, I'd just get on and keep it light and work on some of that "no hands" riding. Well I ended up free lunging him because he wouldn't pay attention. He just walked away from me.. to go to the gate and peer outside. Oh I got very ticked off. Fine... then we're going to free lunge. I sent him off at a walk, then asked for a trot as soon as he was on the rail. Funny thing about Sky.. he sticks to the rail on the ground but not on his back. I made him change reins and pick up the canter. He got his leads right and he was listening really well. When I stopped asking and softened my body, he came in but stopped VERY far away. And after awhile he just walked off again. You little.... no! I sent him off again, slapping my thigh as he lazily walked the other direction. I clucked once and he picked up a trot. I kept him trotting and then asked for the canter. It was much more balanced than before and he wasn't motorcycling the corners. I let him come down to a trot and then asked for a walk. I stopped driving him forward and he came about 5 feet away. I reached out and rubbed his head. He seemed to like it.

    Oh boy.

    It was like day 1. He walked around steering himself. He completely ignored my leg.. it was terrible. But I kept on with it. We mostly stayed at a walk and I kept my leg pressure on and off until he payed attention and then I'd let him be. When he would get frustrated he would move into a very very very very discombobulated trot. I could feel he wasn't on his forehand but he wasn't put together.. he was just scurrying underneath himself with his head in the air and his eyes wide (I imagine.) Getting him to listen to my body was so hard.. and it's weird because I wasn't even using that much hand.

    Well I found grace holding onto the pommel of the saddle during these scurvy times.. just trying to slow him down. He decided to be silly and spook at my coat.. the same one I've been wearing this entire month and the month before.. which made his trot even more bizarre. I started to chip away at myself.. what a terrible rider I was, what a silly horse I had. The lot of it. He just wouldn't listen.. his focus was outside of the arena and the more he ignored me, and more angry I got and the more tense I got. It was a bad combo. So I picked up my reins, halt halted with my body and the rein (he blew off my body half halts) and we went into a very nice but not forward trot. It was maddening.. it was like when I used my hands he decided to put himself together but with no impulsion. Without them.. TONS of impulsion but very much scattered.

    Well after a few laps of trotting with the rein, I wound him back down to a walk. I slipped my feet out of the stirrups and set the reins down. I felt so scrunched up on my left side but my left leg was hanging more so than my right one. I felt so weird.. and I was frustrated. But I kept on riding and encouraging Sky's efforts.

    He had his neck nice and relaxed, a very nice forward walk.. and by the end of the frustrating 35 minutes of no hand, we were doing circles (10m.. 20m was really hard..) and serpentines and keeping on the rail a lot better than we did at the beginning! And he was listening to very small leg aids but not to my seat so I think I'm doing the seat-weight aids wrong.

    Either way I got off, untacked him, and then did a little bit of groundwork. Mainly working on turning on the forehand (he wouldn't turn on the haunches at all, anyone know how to teach that?) and I actually got him to sidepass a few times while facing the rail with a leg yield in the front and a halfpass in the back, haha (he thinks any pressure in his side means forward... :/) We ended on that good note and he got a nice tummy full of grass.

    I wasn't smiling though.. I was so tired from riding with my body.. and not even good riding.. it was terrible. But he learned a few things and I did too.

    Also I'm worried that my saddle no longer fits him.. :/
         
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        01-16-2012, 09:33 PM
      #12
    Showing
    January 16th, the vet swung by!

    It was a very short day. I got there and went to grab him and he decided to turn his butt to me and walk away. So I threw my halter at him, because it was too hard and slick of ground and chase after him. He was so shocked! He trotted away in a circle and stopped and faced me. I made sure his attention was on me. I was about to halter him when he put his head over mine and snatched some hay. I turned around and yanked on his blanket and backed him up.. I made sure the ground wasn't too bad. He backed without a halter on and then I let him stand still. He waited for me to put the halter on, without invading my space. Once I put it on I rubbed his head for a second and we trekked off towards the gait.

    I made him stand in his stall.. but he kept backing up. So I made him back up until his tail was against the stall wall. He licked and chewed and dropped his head. Then I moved him away from the wall and stroked his neck after I pulled the blanket off. Then he stood as I put the blanket on his rack and set him up in his aisle so he could get his sheath cleaned.

    He got tranquilized and his nose slowly dropped to the floor.. he snapped his head back up when he heard the vet messing around with the hose behind him trying to get the water to warm up. "It's alright..." I stroked his forehead with my palm.. he nuzzled against my hand and his nose lowered again.

    After he got cleaned, we talked about his weight and overall health and he got 5 thumbs up. Hooray!! After the effects of the sedation. Wore off, he got his dinnertime grain and I put his sheet back on. It was coooold today... below 30 degrees. But paired with his wooly coat and his sheet, he was doing really great.

    Tomorrow we have a lesson in the early morning! I'm hoping to warm him up for at least 30 minutes before we get started. I'm a little nervous because of our last riding experience.. but I'm excited to try my best and stick with it.

    Only 5 weeks left..
         
        01-17-2012, 04:25 PM
      #13
    Showing
    January 17th... yahoo!!!!

    WE WERE AMAZING! Completely amazing today... we did leg yields and circles and cantering and I got better with my sitting trot.. he kept round and was very supple. The no handed riding and the groundwork/corrections turned him around!

    He turned and walked away from me when I went to get him. Instead of chasing him off, I only approached him when he turned his head and looked at me. Pretty soon he kept on looking and I approached him respectfully. He put his head down and I stroked him not saying a word. He took a step towards me but I asked him to move back and he did without hesitating or without worry. I put his halter on. He was very happy.

    I decided that today I was going to exaggerate my body language so he could tell if I wanted him to come or to stay. To act or to halt. To move or to stand. And it worked! I puffed up really big and he started walking.. we made our way over to the gate and I grew smaller.. he slowed down then stopped. I opened the gate without a word and grew bigger.. he moved around and kept on moving in a circle around me until I grew smaller.. he stopped and stood quietly.. and square!

    I grew taller and we walked into the barn. It was 50 degrees (yay!) but it had been raining so he was wet. I spritzed him with LaserSheen and started to brush his forlock, mane, and tail. He lowered his neck so I could reach without being on my tippy toes. By the time I was done, he was a little less muddy and wet so I began to curry him starting with his face. He seemed so peaceful and happy and ever so relaxed. I finished with his face and began currying his body, but the mud on his legs wouldn't come off as it was still wet. I tried a towel but it didn't seem to help.

    After he was all cleaned up I tacked him up but checked the fit of his saddle... it was a little off. So I tried it with this halfpad I have.. and it helped SO much. I finished tacking him, putting on his bell-boots so he had some protection from those hinds, but this time I didn't put his bridle on. I slung it over my shoulder instead, along with the lungeline, and we walked down to the indoor.

    No treats... no talking... but he was so keen on noticing my body language.

    We got to the indoor and guess what.... he didn't move a muscle. He was happy and ground tied when I asked him to. I think the exaggerated body language helped him a lot as well as having his rope halter on instead of his bridle. I hooked the lungeline on.. he didn't even try to lunge himself.. he was standing still waiting on me. I adjusted the girth and even put his stirrups up and he stood relaxed.

    I grew big and he moved off, I wanted to see how he moved with the halfpad on. It was perfect.. the saddle didn't slip or the pad didn't move.. it was all nice and solid. He trotted and even cantered with noting but my body language and some encouragement with a small crop I had. Rather than using a long lunging whip, I smacked the crop against my own leg if he wasn't paying attention and his focus returned to me. He didn't pull.. he didn't fight. He just went through the paces and did really well. We even changed rein without having to stop and re-position everything... and we did it fairly often. He was happy to do it.

    We wounded it down to a stop.. when he tried to turn into me (BIG pet peeve of mine and HUGE habit of his..) all I did was point the crop at his nose and he moved away from it and stopped straight... YAY! I went up and gave him lots and lots of rubs on his head and neck. We went over to tack him up just when my instructor showed up. Whoops! We both finished tacking him up and we talked about how we did this past week and about the half pad. Then I went through the paces and he stayed on the rail without me constantly having to bug him with my inside leg... he picked up a trot without throwing his head up and taking 5 years to respond or straying off of the track.. we were doing so well! He was round and happy and responsive.

    Then it came time to canter... I wasn't worried. I could even sit his huge ol' trot really well. I asked for a canter and he struck off perfectly... we cantered a long time to the left (his good side) without me pulling back, losing my seat, or him going hollow or being naughty. Then we did to the right (my good side lol) and he did SO well! I knew exactly how to keep him going and he felt so put together underneath me. We ended on a fabulous note and proceeded to cool him down while my friend started her lesson. He was perfect. I dropped my reins and we did some nice cooling out on the rail.. a couple of circles and then once he was cool and breathing softly again, I hopped off and went and put his halter on.

    I couldn't have asked for a better ride.. and he was so sweet and respectful the entire time.

    :) can't wait for Thursday.. my friend gets on him! She'll be taking care of him while I am gone.
         
        01-19-2012, 08:26 PM
      #14
    Showing
    So another lessee interest.. meeting them next Friday the 27th.. hopefully it sticks and I can have my friend watch/ride him the rest of the time.

    Anyway January 19th.. oh boy!

    He was a gem grabbing him from pasture, cleaning him up, tacking him up even. He wasn't a jerk with his bridle (he usually shakes his head or tries getting out of reach) he opened his mouth and he had his head low for me.

    I lunged him first.. but I've lost my lunging whip! At first I just used the end of the lungeline but he didn't take my threat to kick-his-hiney-if-he-didn't-listen to heart.. so I shortened the lungeline so he was closer to me and I whacked him on the hiney with the lungeline and then slowly fed him out. From then on, he focused on my cues and didn't give me any more trouble. Until... his new best buddy was being naughty undersaddle and then I asked for Sky to canter on the lunge and he went into a bolting bucking fit. He was just.. letting loose! I laughed but made him keep on cantering.. he's never done that before!

    Then I went to put his lungeline down and to hop on. I get on, he stands and everything.. I put my feet in the stirrups, I start warming him up on the rail. My friend's horse is watching outside with a concerned expression, his ears perked up and eyes wide. I notice and then Sky's ears do the same so I speak up "Oh your horse is listening so hard... and look so is Sky" and she says "oh Sky's probably just copying {her horse} it could be an evasion. I slow Sky to a stop in the corner and turn to my friend "Oh... I'm not wearing a helmet...." I laughed, how could I be so silly. JUST then, Sky and her horse EXPLODE into a bolt and start crow hopping and bucking. What the heck~!!! I rode it out and made him stop. He looks to the outside and starts honking.. and when I move him towards it, he's fighting me. Dancing around. I look over there..... deer. Two deer. I start talking to the deer "Oh hello little deer friends! It's alright we're just riding! No need to get spooky on us! It's okay we are nice!" They just stare at me but it seems to have calmed my horse down and the deer slowly walk away. I then walk Sky around a few times before I got off and fetched my helmet.

    I get it on and come back into the indoor (the outdoor was unfortunately drenched and soppy.) He was honking and all revved up. By then my friend has cooled down her horse and was out of the indoor. So I went and put the mounting block down, put my foot into the stirrup and he tries walking off! I gave a quick tug of the reins and he stopped. I finished mounting up and then stroked his neck and asked him to walk off.

    It was going great.. until we got to that corner. He refused to go over there. Hmmm... how can I make him do it? So I began to walk towards it and circled him before he reacted.. and then eventually circled a bit closer... and then a bit closer, and closer. Until we got to the other side and then carried on straight down the rail. We did the same at a trot, both ways, until he forgot all about spooking at that corner. We continued to walk and trot in many different directions, sitting, posting, serpentines, figure eights, half circles. He was amazing..

    So then my friend came back and she lunged me at the canter. I had to ask him way too hard to canter but when he did, I kept him going and found out that I have a better seat at the canter on his stiffer side (going to the right) haha.

    Then my friend got on my horse, the one that's going to be taking care of him, and they did wonderfully. No cantering though, I think she was a little nervous about his stride. But she can't wait to work with him!

    Hopefully this lease works out so I can get a little bit of help with payments till I get a new job.

    Can't wait till this weekend!
         
        01-21-2012, 06:58 PM
      #15
    Showing
    January 21st, 2012..... WE DID IT!!!!!

    It was a snowy quiet day, so the horses were inside and itching to go outside. I grabbed Sky from his stall, cleaned him up really well, and tacked him up. I was very focused and he was very relaxed.

    I rode him through his paces. A very nice stretchy hind-driven walk and a very nice forward round trot. We did figures and changed between sitting and posting trot, we changed directions, we did no handed trotting (and rocked!) it was brilliant.

    So then I decided, why not? So we picked up the most perfect canter and kept it for a good lap until I started to feel like I was getting unbalanced.. so we trotted, did a nice circle to change direction, and then we picked up the canter the other way. We was a little discombobulated (it was his stiffer way) but it's my great way so I used my hips to keep him going, and he stretched down and I felt him lift his back and reach underneath him. The sound of the canter was music to my ears, and I swear both of us were smiling.

    I am one tired cookie!
         
        01-22-2012, 05:47 PM
      #16
    Showing
    Jan 22nd, we had a good ride but no canter :(

    There were too many people, distractions, and mishaps that I didn't feel safe cantering him when we could run into a person or a dog or God knows what.

    We had a nice hack though. We worked on relaxing.. which was very hard for him to do. But then once he got it, I encouraged him further by softening the bit whilst driving him forward. It took him so long to focus and warm up.. over 30 minutes. But once he did, his leg yields were amazing and I felt him using his back more. His trot was huge but reaching and I was able to actually sit most of it without bouncing. My posting trot is improving.. I was just really on edge today because I really wanted my horse to be able to relax and focus but we couldn't and he would have really liked to stretch out and canter.

    Oh well, maybe Tuesday we'll have more luck. I had gotten spoiled of having the arena to myself these past weeks that having lots of riders there made it trickier.
         
        01-24-2012, 06:57 PM
      #17
    Showing
    January 24th, I am exhausted but a great day!

    I was late to the barn.. oops! But I grabbed him and cleaned him up as quickly as I could. I was rushing but did a nice job.. Sky just stood there blinking at me. I tacked him up and we went to the indoor with my trainer. I went to grab the mounting block and my trainer was holding Sky. I then saw him running her over!!! RUDE! But she sorted him out and made him back up by pressing his jugular vein (she showed me how.) Sky wouldn't dare overstep me but I was appalled that he did that.

    So I hopped on and he was a jiggly mess. He was a tick above trotting (which he did do) and he wouldn't listen to me which was frustrating. Well my trainer talked me through it and eventually he stopped. We worked on leg yields at the walk, which was really hard.

    Eventually both my horse and I were fried from walking so my trainer let us trot. He was waiting for that cue so bad!! He picked it up and then he leg yielded himself off of the track (typical man, loves to take over) so I leg yielded him back. It was perfect! My trainer cheered! Wooo! It was great. We trotted circles and talked about serpentines (but now that I think about it... we didn't do any...)

    Then we worked in 2-point and worked on the sitting trot. I was very noisy up top but I was feeling my seat bones a lot more. Then we picked up the canter to the right first (my best way) and he was great! Then we went to the right and I was all over the place, but we did great!

    I'll be practicing on Friday and over this weekend.. hopefully!
         
        01-27-2012, 04:19 PM
      #18
    Showing
    Okay not going to lie, January 27th was the best day in my entire riding career.

    Why?

    Because I worked hard with Sky, got him stretching and round, started to feel my seat bones moving, kept my stirrups at my toe instead of them getting shoved back or coming out, and we cantered perfectly all on our own.

    We had a lessee come out to see if she'd like to lease Sky. They did great, so she's going to talk it over with her folks (fingers crossed!) But then I hopped on and begun to work on getting him to pick those feet up, use his hind end, have impulsion, and stretch down into the bit.

    I have to admit, I felt embarrassed at my skill level. I was surrounded by girls that had been riding for over 20 years, and here's me the advanced beginner. And Sky was taking advantage of my weak legs.. so I definitely got to the "demand" stage of ask, tell, demand. I was careful not to pull on his face when he surged forward. It wasn't perfect but he then started listening better.

    He did as I asked and he did a wonderful job!

    Well I am too lazy to retype it, so here is a blurb from another thread of mine about today:

    Put the training fork away FOR GOOD!!! And was going to loosen my stirrups a hole. But when I went to loosen them, I noticed that the stirrup leathers aren't even at all... one was on hole 9, one on hole 7. So now they're both on 6, and even, and it felt so good.... soooo good guys!

    That aside, my first investment is going to be new stirrup leathers.

    I kept my stirrups at the posting trot, sitting trot (TONS better today!) and cantered with them long and he was an absolute saint.

    For the sitting trot, I tipped my pelvis a little forwards and what do you know, I DO have seatbones under all that fluff :P And I felt them go back and fourth one then two. I kept my upper body quieter and my lower half was rocking and rolling. So much better. I hope to get some video of that!

    All while round and stretching, though he was being a lazy bum so I did have to get to the ask tell demand stage a lot. But once he was nice and warmed up, we did leg yields. I made sure my seat bones were even weight and put my inside leg behind the girth, outside leg on the girth.. I looked to the direction I was going and softly (on a longer rein but still round) asked him to leg yield. At first he tried to move his shoulders. I corrected him and we went straight. Tried again.

    Guess what?!

    HE DID THREE PERFECT STEPS TO THE RAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wooo! So we picked up the trot as a nice break, I practiced stretching my legs down, without bracing on the stirrups.. it was awesome. I didn't lose my stirrups, they didn't shove back.

    Today was hard, but perfect.

    Going again tomorrow (my best friend is coming to visit!!! :), Sunday, and then lesson on Wednesday! :)

    Feel free to read about it more here: Attempt at Leg Yield, Circle, Trot Critique
         
        01-30-2012, 05:23 PM
      #19
    Showing
    Jan 28 and Jan 29 my best friend came to visit!

    Though Sky choose to be an absolute squirrel rocket and I was trying to keep up with him, he had new horses in his field, I had people in the arena, we had jumping stands up on the corners.

    We tried walking... it went well. Except he kept tripping because no matter how much leg I used, he wasn't improving. So I had to kick him and then it wasn't even a very forward reaction. He was relaxed but he wasn't stretching or using his back.

    So then I decided to get him trotting, and he did well but he wouldn't give. I had to half halt so hard to get a response. After awhile he began to respond to the more subtle cues and came around. We tried to canter, and we did okay but it was very all over the place, he picked up the wrong lead, but wasn't responding to my seat to get back to a trot.. and when he did he would hollow before I even had a chance to try and sit the transition.

    It was a mess.. we ended on a good note though, and then I let my friend cool him off.

    The next day went a little better. We got to the barn late, so we tag team cleaned Sky. He was filthy!! But we cleaned him up, and then I went about warming him up. I had the arena to myself and he was really wound up so I spent a good 35 minutes JUST warming him up at the w/t large and then did a few figures and went over a few ground poles. He finally was settling down, and I was sitting his trot really well. So I ask for the canter.... no response except he speeds up like NO other. So then I try to get him back to a slow trot. Nope, he decides to ignore my half halt and tries to canter.

    NO.

    I play with the rein and sink deep into the saddle resisting with my seat a little and being careful not to lean on the reins. I asked again once he was giving me a nice trot. ZOOOOOOOOOM, biggest canter transition EVER. I flew back but my hips stayed with him, it wasn't pretty at all. Just then, another horse comes into the arena. He tries going straight for them, I had to turn (at the canter) really sharp to prevent it and he was going so fast.

    I felt like I was out of control, being taken advantage of for being a weak (in terms of strength of cues) rider. He fell into an insane trot, and I asked for that canter straight away with my hips. He listened and then remembering what I was told, let my arms follow the motion.

    Huge... mistake. He was a hair below a full fledged gallop, my friend watching on the ground and the girl were staring mouths wide open (so they told me, I was just staring ahead at the road.)

    But on a good note, he was using his hind end xD and his back.. he was nicely rounded and forward. Supple, not tipping over.

    It was just freaking fast as ever... at one point I couldn't sit it without making it even faster, so I went into 2 point. I told him "trooooooooot.....troooooooooooooooot" and he started to slow down. I stayed in two point, and he went down to a trot and I sat once it became steady and balanced.. not... tornado-like.

    I taught myself a bad habit now, I should have stayed in the saddle and worked it out, but I was so nervous of hitting my friend, the horse, the wall, flying off..

    He was just... wow.

    Well, I was determined to get a good canter. So I put him to work. I went to a walk, and we did leg yields. Absolute perfection! We did circles and serpentines and then picked up the trot. He hollowed and threw his head. NO YOU ARE NOT DOING THIS! I urged his forward and started to comb the reins. "Ahhhhhhhhhh" his expression and demeanor changed.. he stretched down and kept contact. I asked for a trot, immediate response. It was beautiful, he stayed round and supple. We did some serpentines, and circles, then I asked for a canter, it was wonderful and I asked for a trot before it went south. He didn't listen right away but then he did (and my ass came out of the saddle to post!!! GRRR bad habit!)

    After that he was tired and sweating so we took all of his tack off and I took my friend, popped her on him, and we went for a bareback halter and lead trail ride. It was his first one, and he did great.

    Halfway my friend wanted me to get on, and I was nervous.. especially since all I got was a little thin piece of mane to hold onto. We used a fence (I was too heavy for her, at 125 lbs lol) and he stood so still as I got on. I thought he'd spook but he was great :)

    Got on, and omg... it was nerve racking. But Sky kept slow and he was enjoying himself. I felt each of his muscles working, and then I felt mine start to unwind and loosen. By the end of it, we were going up and down hills without tension, turning on the haunches without losing my seat, and leaning forward to give him a treat without clenching or being scared.

    My friend wanted to make me trot, but I was happy and Sky was happy. It'd been a tiring day so we ended it there after a bellyful of grass. Next week though, it's on!
         
        02-01-2012, 09:18 PM
      #20
    Showing
    February 1st, 2012. We were rocking it!

    I decided to talk with my trainer about the training fork. She still thinks he needs to be in it just to keep his head down at the canter.

    Well I lunged him in his side reins today, which I haven't done in over 2 weeks. He was very attentive and listening, he didn't try to walk off or spook/shy away. He waited for instruction. Walking was great, he was stretching down into the reins, trotting was lovely, and even the canter transition was smooth and soft. Though in his iffy direction he bucked and leaned on the side reins for the first bit. I just sent him forward and softened the bit in his mouth, when he stopped, I gave a little.

    I got on and we practiced being on the bit, round, stretching down, forward forward, forward. He was wonderful. He gave me trouble with the trot--> canter transition and he tried to stop a lot but I kept my legs stretched down, my hips sent him into a canter and my arms were giving and softening the bit.

    And this was all without the fork.

    Much nicer today than previously. He was soft and didn't give me any sort of trouble.

    :) Now I'm tired but happy! Lesson on Friday.
         

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