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The Horse They Call Jayne

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    12-18-2011, 05:40 PM
Thank goodness the rain has eased up and the mud has dried out. There's still a 10ft wide swath at the far side of the arena that is deep and unusable, but the rest is fine. I accidentally on purpose wound up trotting Jayne bareback last night.

I had my instructor show me how far apart to put trot poles and how to set them up in the arena on Friday and was intent on doing them over the weekend...rather, on having teh ponehboy do them. I forgot to actually grab my barn shoes OR my boots when I went out Saturday, so anything with stirrups was out of the question and cold and windy as it was, I felt like bareback would be a great option. Totally forgot about the poles. We warmed up with a little "thou shall listen" work in the round pen and he was doing really well. He still tries to counter-canter when going to the right half the time, but he didn't refuse and try to turn and go the other way once, which is what he has been doing to get out of going his bad way. To the left he cantered without running into it! HUGE progress for him.

We went into the arena and I hand-jogged him over the poles, which he did like it was no biggie, despite the fact that I am certain he has NEVER seen trot poles before in his life. Then I got on and we did some other stuff, and I was all, "trot poles! That'll be good." Then I asked him to trot, grabbed mane and stopped steering as I about got jounced off. He took the opportunity to go around the poles. :fail:

So then we repeated a few times while I learned to a) stay on b) grab mane and steer simultaneously when "a" was in question and c) he learned that going around the poles was not an option. It was good learning for both of us. His trot really has improved a lot though, a month ago, there is NO WAY we would have been able to do this.

He's also put on a good amount of muscle in his topline, shoulders and rear legs. His spine is no longer pokey and uncomfortable bareback. His gut is smaller too now... still not sure what that means. It's not like he had a giant hay belly before, but it's still smaller than it was when you look at him from the side. HOPING that that means he's working his abs. Still too skinny for me though, and I'm impatient, so I'm adding some veggie oil to the 6lbs of strategy and 25lbs of hay he's already on. He had a negative fecal on Friday and will get his teeth done sometime in January.

Not sure what we're going to do this evening.
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    12-19-2011, 12:16 AM
Wound up doing mostly the same tonight, as I am terribly uncreative. I still really need to get one of those arena exercise books. I took a couple short vids with my cell phone right after turning him into the round pen to start our warm up. He was fabulous and cantered BOTH ways on the correct leads like it was no big deal and he does it all the time, which is a lie. He didn't try to duck out of it at all either! Huge progress and evidence to me that he really is gaining strength and balance.

We did do a fence line walk of the side pasture at the barn, all the way down and back. He was good and only snorted at the scary rattling things in the brush (usually rabbits here). He did try to trot back, which was not what I wanted, but still, his trot is getting good enough that even bareback I was more concerned about him listening and coming back to a walk than falling off.

He was a little weirded out about the couple tablespoons of veggie oil on his feed, but after the first couple of bites it didn't slow him down.
    12-19-2011, 12:31 AM
Oops, forgot the clips. Maybe when I take better ones (with a real camera as opposed to my cell phone) I'll post some in the critique threads!

    12-20-2011, 11:24 PM
Had a lesson on a solid lesson horse today. It was very good for me- I got confirmation on some of my issues and ways to improve, as well as direction on the *proper* use of cues rather than my sometimes made-up/improvised/interpreted/"I think this is how you do it" attempts. :) I worked Jayne in the round pen for about 20 minutes with some extended trotting bits and a few more canter demands. He's getting much more fit, which is excellent. I also found out that people at the barn agree that he's a good horse with a lot of potential and a good head, which makes me happy and feel like I chose a good one.

Tomorrow I think I will lead him on a long slow jog... maybe 3-4 miles. Good workout for the both of us.
    12-22-2011, 11:45 PM
Went for the jog yesterday and it was lovely. We went just under 3.5 miles, jog/trotting most of the time, though we did have some walk/grazing breaks to get my heart rate back down. His trot is faster than my normal tra-la-la jogging, so I got a bit more of a workout than I was ready for even before the sandy footing we had in places. I also got on and off (bareback) a couple of times on the trail, as part of his practice in a) holding still and b) being mounted from anything, anywhere, at any time training. He took everything in stride except for a bright yellow canvas bag that he shied around about 50 feet from the barn's front door. There were some kids that were adorable and in awe of seeing a horse on the trail, so we stopped and he let them love on him while he grazed.

Today we trotted, trotted, and then trotted. I worked on posting, posting, and posting. I lean (too far) forward, my feet go backwards, and I get all off balance. How Do I Fix This?? GAH! I'll get like 5 strides right, then it's all over.

Jayne was perfect about it though, he really took care of me. Whenever he'd feel me getting too far forward, he'd slow down or stop while I got my balance back. Now if only his trot was a little less jarring, we'd be in business. We did actually get some slow(er) trotting in today though, about halfway though. Not a jog yet, but a definite speed change within the gait (on request!), which is a new development for us. He also got his booster vaccines today, poor guy. Hopefully they don't make him stiff, but at least he's good for another year now! I hosed him off after the ride and he went and rolled in the dirt immediately, to all appearances enjoying every second of it. Horses.
    12-27-2011, 01:02 AM
Back from Holiday and Jayne and I had a nice little 3 mile trail walk in the cool fresh air. At the end, he put his head down, I undid the throat strap and nose band and he kept his head down, then I slipped the poll piece over his ears and down and he STILL kept his head down! He spit out the bit calmly and all was well. This is a far cry from fighting to bridle or unbridle him, complete with head tossing and backing and dancing like he did when I first bought him. Success!
    12-27-2011, 02:51 AM
Congrats! :)
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    12-28-2011, 12:35 AM
Posting, posting, and then standing still while other horses worked today. Two that I need work at and one he does. :) For my part, I'm plenty sore. For his... I think he's getting more and fit. I need to re-measure him (wintec saddle/gullets) and make sure my saddle still fits properly given the muscle he's gained in the past couple of months. I'd hate to make him sore when he's being such a good boy about working out and exercise. He came over to me clear from the other end of the pasture when I went to get him today... that makes me happy since pretty much every time I see him I work him and I do worry that he's going to begin refusing to come in and at least pretend that he likes me.

Aren't horses supposed to LIKE standing still though? I try to reward him for something (leg yield, transition, etc) by letting him stop, but all he wants to do is walk off. He has no idea where he's going, but given no other direction, he chooses to walk off rather than stand no matter if I say good boy, pat him, or just release whatever pressure there was. He ties well, no problems there, and stands quietly in stocks as long you want him to, so I don't think it's that he can't or won't. But on lead or under saddle, it seems like he wants to be doing something. If I'm making him stand, he'll fidget, flex his head around to my toes, look at me, try to dance off, see if maybe NOW he can walk off, etc. If I'm talking to someone who's on foot, he'll beg them for scratches, make sure they don't have any treats for him, and generally try to be a ham. Maybe he's just a little ADD?
    12-29-2011, 08:55 PM
Yesterday, did a little pole-bending pattern at a trot bareback. It went ...okay. He was a little excitable at first, and I didn't work up the nerve to unfist my hand from his mane, but we did it without any incident or problem. Thank goodness he knows how to neck rein.

Today we had a lesson together. It was not bad. It was just frustrating. I want to be better faster. When I am doing everything I should, so does he. But when I am off, lose my balance, get all flustered, he does his best to respond and does take care of me, but he obviously can't FIX my issues. He's not a schoolmaster, which is fine, but I definitely still need such lovely experienced horses in my training.

His w/t transitions used to be horrible. Now they're much better with only occasional lunging into it. His t/c transitions used to be non-existent, and now, though they happened unrequested for the most part today, they were smooth and easy, and on the correct lead. (One of) my problems is that I tend to lean forward, and then my hands start going everywhere, and then it all goes down the tubes. With his previously rough launches into a trot, I started bracing for them. Between my natural fault and the bracing, now that he's NOT doing that, I wind up way far forward and can't get back where I need to be well.

To top it off, I know I am confusing him. I need to make much clearer distinctions between asking for something and not. He's sensitive to legs. My legs are all over the place crazy. I pull at his mouth (not intentionally of course) which just frustrates him. Grr...
    12-31-2011, 02:42 AM
Nothing like the poneh boy waiting at the gate for me when he sees me drive up to help me feel a little better, or at least like maybe I'm not messing him up completely. I used the training fork today while lunging him, and while he pulled against it for the first bit, after about 5 minutes, he dropped his head a little so that it was (just a bit) slack. I noticed that when he goes up to start to trot, he puts his head down just a smidge, but then after a stride or so, it goes up again.

I rode him in his halter and gave him the entire rein when I asked for an upward transition and then only had contact when I wanted him to slow or stop. The downwards were not quick at all, but they were straight. He takes the release as a cue to walk on... still not sure if that's okay or not. I did get him to drop his head while asking him to back. Somehow I know I can use that. Just not sure how yet. I think I will work on generalizing what he knows, which is to drop his head when I touch his poll, to getting him to drop his head when I push along the top of his neck, then I should be able to request it more easily under saddle.

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