I figure now is a good time to start a journal of my two girls, what with Gracie now getting into "real" training, and Ricci just coming back to work after a few months off.
So first off, some basic introductions! Ricci is a black and white Paint mare. She's 15.1hh, 18 years old, and was quite the show mare in her day. Mostly WP and the like in breed shows. I've had Ricci since the summer of '07 and have since been training her in dressage and a little jumping. Gracie is a bay Quarter Horse filly. She was born in mid-August of '08, making her 20 months old. She was last sticked at 13.1hh. We're starting to get in the swing of things, learning how to work in a bit, long-lining, and lunging. She's a great little baby, takes everything really well, and hardly ever spooks at anything.
And because it's nice to have a face, a few pictures of my beauties. =]
Today, I brought Gracie out to lunge. Her bad way is to the right, so we started to the left. We walked a little bit, then did some trotting. She changed direction pretty well, and went to the right better than she has before. I figured today might be a good day to work on her canter, [we've only ever done trotting so far.] We went to the left first, and it took a few tries to get her to canter but once she got going, she did great. She didn't pull on the line or wander too far. When we tried it to the right, she got a little goofy, kept jumping in towards me and then running away. I'd let the line out and then reel her back in to ask again. Once we got a circle of normal canter, I brought her down to a trot. For a cool down, we went on a walk on the back trails. She let out a few calls for Ricci, but didn't try to balk or head back home.
Then I took Ricci out and lunged her a little bit. I was too tired to ride, so I just got her to trot out for a few minutes. I also wanted to make sure she isn't still lame. Some background on her "injury," my vet believes she strained the soft tissue in her feet because of a too-long toe and probably the amount and difficulty of riding we were doing. She has since been trimmed and fitted with natural balance shoes and now we're slowly getting back into work. I haven't been able to really ride her in about three months, and I'm having some pretty serious withdrawals.
But that's all I got for today, I'll be back tomorrow, [hopefully] with another update. Thanks for reading. =]
Today I definitely picked the wrong hour to work with my horses. Dusk-ish. So all those **** bugs were out full force. I have at least THREE new bug bites. Eek. =|
Anywho, did the same thing with Gracie. Worked on lunging and responding to me cues. She knows "whoa," "walk," and "trot." We haven't quite grasped "canter" but who can blame her? This was only the second time we cantered on the lunge line. She did great, by the way. =] The property owner even came up around the barn talking to someone and Gracie was really interested, but she kept trotting along. She looked, a lot, but she kept moving with only slight encouragement. When it came time to canter to the left, she kept picking up the right [meaning not the left] lead. Yesterday, she would realize it was goofy and after a few tries, so picked up the correct lead. Today, I only got her to pick it up once, and then she broke before I could catch her, and I couldn't get it back. I was already struggling to get her to canter, so I didn't force the issue. Plus, I just hate "reprimanding" her for the wrong lead. I think we'll just stick to "canter" and in a few weeks/months, I'll start really addressing the correct lead issue.
After I put Gracie away, I took Ricci out to ride her. We didn't do a lot. A few halt transitions, and mostly trotting on light contact and trying to get her to bend a smidge to the inside. It was a lot to ask for, and I'm kicking myself for it now, because I didn't even give her a good walk warm-up. No wonder she didn't want to bend. O_O But she seemed... weird going to the left. The left hoof was the one that hurt more, so I'm wondering if she's not entirely sound yet. She doesn't look like she's favoring it, but she didn't look like she was favoring it when the vet did his soundness exam either. Of course, he said she was favoring it. So now I've more or less lost confidence to be able to really tell if she's tender or not. But on the other hand, her left hind is her weakest leg, and I'm wondering if it's just extra weak seeing as we haven't worked in about 3 months. And working off that leg was probably pretty difficult. It's totally possible. She has a really hard time cantering to the left, she does an awful lot of cross-firing, even at liberty. ::sigh:: I just don't know. I guess we'll play it by ear. I'll keep checking her pre- and post- ride for any soundness issues, and use this here fancy "journal" to keep track of how she is doing. Wish us luck?
I had a fantastic session with Gracie this morning! I took her into the barn and ground-tied her with the barn doors OPEN and she didn't move a muscle. I was so proud. =D
Then I took her out to lunge her and she was feeling pretty good. I think she learned that cantering was fun and she kept trying to canter, lol. We started her bad way [the right] and she actually did great. Then we went to the left and she seemed to get... stuck. She would swing her butt to the middle and couldn't figure out how to turn back around.
Once I got her going well, we worked on the canter. I would kiss, say, "canter," and kiss again and she'd usually pick it up before I got to the second kiss. Which is great, because she's learning what it means. She would start picking up the pace and "get ready" with the first kiss, and typically start cantering when I said "canter."
She's still not entirely sure about picking up the left lead, so I kept her going on the wrong lead until she broke gait. Then when I asked again, she picked up the left lead! I was pretty happy. =] When we went back to the right to end, she started getting really goofy and I had to really drive her forward. Big, wide open arms and I had to march behind her with the lunge whip pointed at her tail the whole time, because otherwise she would buck and rear and spin around.
I find it silly, actually. Tracking right is her bad direction but her good lead, and she turns to the inside when she gets goofy. Tracking left is her good direction, bad lead, and she turns to the outside when she gets goofy.
After we ended on a good note, I worked with her on her side-step and she did great. Then I decided to work with her on a new cue for the bow. I saw in a magazine that the person tapped the horse's leg. So I took my dressage whip and tapped her fetlocks until she picked up her feet. At first she tried to side-step, but within a few minutes, I got her to pick up EVERY foot.
Now I just need to figure out how to get her to go down on that knee. I've always tapped her fetlocks with the hoof pick to get her to pick her feet up to clean them, but I want to be able to pick her feet without her trying to bow, which is what she is doing now because of the way I originally taught her. [I picked up a foot, and tugged her lead rope to the other side and over her back, guiding her knee to the ground.] Now when I pick up her feet, sometimes she'll just drop in a bow. I haven't asked for a bow in a long time because of this. So she knows what bowing is, I just need a cue. I think I'll bring it up in the training section...
Anywho, it was such a great morning. I decided not to try riding Ricci in case it ruined my "high," and as reward, I let them stay in the grassy pasture for the day. I sure do love my girls. =D
I had a friend come out to the barn with me. First, I took Gracie out to lunge her and that went well. My friend's dog, a little pom/terrier/whatever mix, Bear, was there, and he was doing pretty good at staying away from the horses, but when I was lunging Gracie, he kept coming into my circle to see me and then back out to my friend, then back to me. And let me tell you. Gracie was getting PISSED. She started throwing a huge tantrum; snorting and stomping at him. I had my friend put him in a stall. She took a few pictures of us lunging, although hasn't uploaded them yet, but I'll post as soon as she does.
Oh, we also worked a bit on the tap-for-foot concept, and she did great. Even when she's eating. She won't pick her foot up all the way, but she will pick it up and stomp it back down, lol.
Then I hosed Gracie off because she was pretty sweaty [it was hot!] and let her out. Her and Ricci took off like crack ponies, and little Bear decides to run after them. We were trying to call him back, but really didn't think he'd get close enough to them for the horses to really do anything. We were wrong. =| I think Bear came up on Gracie faster than he thought, and she turned around, gave him her stinky face, and nailed him in the face with her back foot. O_O Bear screams and drops on his front end, spinning around on his shoulder like he was break-dancing. We rush to him and get him into the barn and I start poking and prodding every part of his body, and luckily, the only thing wrong was a cut bottom lip and a sore jaw. I got a syringe and flushed out the inside of his lip to clean it as best we could, and cuddled with him for awhile. It didn't take him long to perk back up, and my friend also got him some infant's Tylenol drops for the pain. He's still a little tender today, but fine. Thank god.
After the Bear drama, [who was now safely tied in the barn] we pulled Ricci out, I taught my friend how to groom. Then I hopped on her bareback for a few minutes to warm her up, [friend had never ridden before] and she was doing okay. A little fiesty when we got to the trot, but I can't say a blame her. We settled for a steady trot that wasn't super fast before I got off. Then we donned her western gear and I got my friend up on her. =] She had a blast. They just walked around, did a few "whoa's" and circles. Then we rode double for a brief trail ride, and it was great fun. My friend is really looking forward to coming out again [on Saturday] and she doesn't seem the least upset about what happened to her poor dog.
Speaking of which, here he is with his fat lip.
Another friend read my FB post about Bear, and asked if she could bring her dog to the barn to play with the ponies and hopefully learn to give them some space. Her horses are all shod and much bigger than Gracie. Also, they don't seem to want to kick out at her dog. So I said, "Sure, why not?" because how else do they learn? Dogs are kinda dumb that way. O_O
So we go out and I put Ricci away and free-lunged Gracie a bit to get her going. Nikki [the dog, an Aussie puppy] got awful excited, nipping a bit at Gracie's heels, and she kicked out a few times but Nikki was way too fast. We are pretty sure Gracie actually made contact three times, but never enough to actually do anything to Nikki. Gracie got her in the mouth, along the back, and in the legs. At one point, Gracie went to stomp down on her and missed her completely, but got a foot on either side of her. Gracie also tried to mow Nikki down a few times but never got close enough. Nikki did learn to give her a bit of space though, instead of getting right up on her heels, she would give her a few feet.
Gracie was pretty tired after all that. We had been doing this for about an hour and a half. I didn't make her go the whole time, we took quite a few breaks so Gracie could get her breath back, but still. It was a lot of work. =]
TODAY, WEDNESDAY, 051910.
I had the MOST FANTASTIC RIDE EVER! I got to the barn and pulled Ricci out first. I was having a hard time emotionally [stupid boy issues] and Ricci was very concerned. She kept turning around to watch me and was being extra cuddly. When I started getting ready to tack her up, the skies were getting dark and the wind was starting to blow, but I didn't think the expected storm was going to show up for a few more hours. So, of course, Ricci gets very antsy. I tied her up [she had been ground-tied] and went to herd Gracie into the other pasture. Gracie was especially resistant to leave Ricci, and Ricci was equally upset that Gracie was leaving. I gathered my stuff, climbed aboard Ricci, and set out to the pasture. As soon as we get out into the pasture, she takes off into this crazy excited trot! I reined her in, got her walking well, and worked on our halts, back-ups, and our lateral moves. She did GREAT. She had lots of energy from the upcoming storm, and we were really able to channel that into something productive. Then it starts POURING down rain and the wind starts howling and dropping small branches and pine cones all over the pasture and us. Do I stop? Of course not! So we picked up the trot and it was the same thing, lots of energy and I did a pretty decent job of getting it channeled properly. She was awful speedy, but pretty steady, and not at all on the forehand [although not entirely on the haunches either] which was great. We settled for some easy trot steps before I called it quits and brought her back into the barn.
I'm just so grateful for my girls! I didn't get a chance to work with Gracie, what with the storm and all, but I just love them! They are so sweet creatures, everything always seems better when I leave the barn. ::sigh:: What a great day. =D
I fished out my Kimberwick today. I went to another barn the other day and saw a horse in, remembering that I had one! Ricci's been extremely heavy on my hands lately, and really ignoring her rubber bit. So I thought we'd mix it up and try out the Kimberwick. It. Was. Heaven! Instantly, there was improvement. I've got good enough hands to use this type of bit, and we were working really, really well together. She was super light in my hands, seeking contact, responding with the lightest bit of extra weight in the reins. Aww. It was perfect. We warmed up the same way; halts, backing up, shoulder-in, haunches-in, side-steps, and leg yields. Then we trotted for a bit and it was just... great. I can't get over it. =D
Then I pulled Gracie out and lunged her for about 10 minutes. She started picking up the pace with a simple verbal command, I didn't have to get after her with the whip at all. The only thing is that hidden left lead. When I first asked for the canter to the left, she picked it up just fine, but then she broke stride and when I asked for canter again, she picked up the right [as opposed to left] lead. We did several transitions but each one had the same results; right lead, right lead, right lead. I made a post in the training section to see if I should pursue the matter, or just accept "canter" for canter. Hmm. Still a good girl though. =]
I have a few pictures to post. My phone's been weird lately and not sending picture messages, and I finally can again. I'll post them when I get them uploaded. =]
Well, on Saturday, my friend came out to the barn to ride. We got Ricci ready and went and introduced her to the orange tarp along the road [they're doing construction] and she did perfectly fine. I could wave it around and kick it while she stood there grazing. =]
Then we went out for the backroad so we weren't on the real road so much, and she got so ridiculous! Here's the thread I posted asking for suggestions, it covers just about everything; heathen one minute, angel the next. O_O Ricci's version of barn sour. Help?
Overall, Saturday was a good ride.
She got Sunday and Monday off because I was so exhausted from work and therefore really, REALLY grouchy. It wouldn't have been fair to her.
Today though, today was incredible. =D I didn't get out there until about 730 [an hour and half late for dinner] but I rode her and she didn't seem the least bit phased about it. Gracie, on the other hand, was livid. And even more so when I locked her out of the paddock so I could ride. =P
Ricci started out wonderfully [in the Kimberwick again]. Got a little goofy about side-stepping to the left but we got over it. Trot work was great, pretty rushy, but with posting smaller and slower, she settled in fairly well. I had to keep "reminding" her though, and boy, will my thighs be sore tomorrow! When we were done with trot work, I decided she'd be okay to do a little bit of cantering. I gave her a few minutes of a walk break because she was puffing a bit at the trot [a good 15 minutes of work]. I got her gathered back up, got her settled in the trot, and asked for canter. At first, it felt like the wrong lead? Maybe cross-firing? It's so hard to tell with her sometimes, and without eyes on the ground, I just have to guess, haha. So I brought her down to the trot and asked again and it was much better. We did a lap or two and I brought her back down.
Her canter-trot transitions were AMAZING today, I think it was our biggest accomplishment. So often, she would just canter smaller and get more collected/lope-y, and on the off chance I would get her to trot, it was only for a stride or two before she picked up the canter. So I got a revelation from Spyder and it worked perfectly today; don't just stop moving to the canter, start moving to the trot! Duh! Today was the first day I could really put it to use, and boy, it made a difference. It only took her a stride and a half to come down and she stayed in the trot!
So anyways, then we went to the other side, which was equally amazing. Nothing heals better than a good canter. =D
I'm pretty excited because I'll be able to start having one of my horse-friends come out and give me some "lessons" soon. Heels down, thumbs up, shoulder back type lessons. I've been riding alone for so long [almost three years] and I've been focusing so much on what Ricci is doing that my eq has probably gone to ****e and causing a negative side affect in our riding. Ugh.
Gracie is doing okay. I haven't done much with her since my last post. She's got a spot on her neck under her mane of rainrot or fungus or something, so I braided her mane and have been washing it with betadine for a few days. It seems to be doing better. It wasn't causing any problems, not itchy or painful, but it IS unsightly, and I'm shallow like that. =P
I'm totally beat, so I'm going to put off pictures again. Soon, I promise!
I want to ride so bad! I wasn't able to yesterday because it was pouring rain. Ugh. And I was going to ride this morning, but I had to give a friend a ride to the equine hospital because her friend's horse was there with some very serious colic. He's still fighting. He's not out of the woods yet, but he's trying. Praying for a miracle for Miracle. =]
So, since I can't update on a ride because I haven't ridden, here are the promised pictures. They are in no particular order. Enjoy. =]
Gracie at the end of her lunge line, standing patiently because she knows I'll kill her if she tries to come to me. =P
Ricci ground-tying. She's forgotten how to stand lately, so we're back to ground-tying 24/7.
My pretty mare again. =]
The amazing picture I got a few days ago. Perfect blue sky, perfect green grass, perfect black and white mare. =]
Gracie ground-tying like a champ. I'm so amazingly proud of her. This only took her a few minutes to learn. =D
The pretty braid I forced her to stand for.
Ricci after a ride, waiting patiently for me to get the eff off.
One small update on Gracie. I tied her to the wash rack so I could clean her fungus thing with Betadine, and the hose was a touch kinked so it made a funny noise at first. She snorted at it, and eyeballed it but only took half a step backwards. Pretty good for a 21 year old filly, eh?
Then I ground-tied her outside the tack room while I made up their grain RIGHT in front of her. She took a step toward me when she first heard the grain but a quick correction set her straight. So she continued to stand and watch like a good little girl.
Then the ultimate test; I walked past her with her grain bucket and placed it in her stall where she eats. She took a step towards me, but again, one correction was all it took. I set her bucket down, and went back towards the tack room, leaving the stall door open right next to her and she looked in it but then looked back at me and watched my every move. She had a very clear look of, "What on EARTH are you doing in there?! My grain is in there and I'm not eating it!" It was adorable. =]
So I grabbed a few horse treats, praised the living daylights out of her, and led her into her stall so she could eat. ::sigh:: I'm just so happy with how things are going with her. She is such a good girl, I can't believe how lucky I am. =D