My sister is thinking about leasing a horse from the barn so she has been trying out different horses available. The BO said she had the horse my sister rode last year for her birthday available for lease this summer, so we went up to try him.
I didn't have any of my tack with me since we went to the barn straight from work, so I helped my sister saddle Shaggy up and I hopped on Raina bareback with a halter.
Sometimes you just gotta trust your horse.
I know a lot of people ride their horse's on the trail in nothing but a halter all the time, but no one would even consider it with Raina. I had been thinking about it for a while and yesterday I just finally did it. When opportunity knocks, right?
The trail went very well. My sister had to muscle Shaggy around a little bit. I don't think he's been handled much over the winter...maybe he has, but at any rate, his manners need a little tune up. Raina was extremely pleasant. We trotted down the long stretches, cantered up hills, stopped and hung out for breathers. She was so good and did everything without a problem.
We finally got back from the trail and the BO was there. I guess she put two and two together and asked if I had taken Raina out on a trail in nothing but a halter and lead rope...I said yes, and her jaw dropped. She kept saying how impressed she was and that she would have never figured it was possible.
A year ago I would have never thought I'd be doing this with her. It won't be a normal, everyday thing. But its nice to know that she is now capable of it.
The vet is coming next week to draw her coggins and give her shots to show. Her winter coat is almost 100% shed out and she's looking beautiful! I'm so eager for this summer to start :)
I scooted on up to the barn after work and pulled Raina out of the field. She didn't run (she kind of never does anymore) and I hooked her up to the hitching post. I swing by Tractor Supply for some fly scray since the flies were bothering her the last time I was up. I sprayed down her body without a problem and she wouldn't stand still for her head. I usually cover the eyes when I spray the head so I don't get any in their vision...and when I did Raina's she flipped out. Flung herself backwards, lunged forward...I don't know how many times. All I could think of it "Crap, this is going to HURT" because I was between her and the hitching post, and she was bouncing around like a stray 1200lb ping pong ball.
It was finally over and I was untouched, but I was seeing red. I unhooked her and we had a smack down. After that, she stood still to be sprayed in the face.
I admit I kind of lost my temper, but holy crap, that scared the life out of me and it was unecessary.
I started saddling her up and was chatting with Iseul when someone exclaimed "Did you know there are loose horses over there?" ...no, we didn't. We walked over to the side of the barn and there were 3 horses loose. Each person grabbed a horse and we went to go see what happened. The outside arena is still being used for a turn-out for the inside horses and theres a spot in the arena (2 spots, actually) that have been fenced off with hot wire. One was in the corner, where there arena fence no longer exists, and another is up to baracade the horses away from entering the other barn (which is connected to the outside arena). The hotwire where there is no wooden fence had been broken through, so I jerry-rigged it with a bandana (People keep making fun of me for wearing them, but they come in darn handy!). The BO came up to see what was going on, and that's when I saw this dun horse (one of the ones that was originally out) shimmy under the hotwire again...which apparently wasn't on.
I went and caught her again and took her into the back barn, and then an appaloosa mare just barged through the hotwire and into the barn after her. The BO looked at me and I looked at her and exclaimed "Good go, we've lost all control!" She laughed and went to fix the fence, and she'll be making sure its hot from now on.
Anyways, back to Raina!
I tacked her up without a hitch. She stood still, which was good. She likes to swing sometimes...but after that beating, I expected her to stand still. We went out into the arena and worked on our up and down transitions. Every time we stopped, I backed her up. I started doing this last summer to sit her more on her butt when we stop and I just stopped it through winter since we were doing nothing but trails for the most part, and there was that time where she was lame.
She did well, and we stepped up into a pleasant trot. I had to control it a little and before long, I was asking her to reach down and soften. She's been doing this thing where she'll soften for one step and the next step, her head pops up. It makes her look like she's limping and it's getting on my nerves. Technically, it means my positioning rein is coming through, but my halfhalting rein isn't. So its my fault. But I was getting steamed.
We started to canter, since that gait is the most forward gait and she was beginning to back up and get fiesty at the trot, and she did it without bucking. It was time to work on standing up in the corners, and slowing down on the long side. I feel she did alright for her first "real" canter session where I expected her to balance. I'm sure it looked ugly as sin, but I got a couple good steps. I asked her to stand up in the corners, and she'd rock back. She started bracing on the inside rein and turning her head to the outside, so I pulled her head back inside and...surprise! She balanced!
It felt ugly, and I'm sure it looked uglier. But you gotta start somewhere! I brought her back down to the trot and she was trotting more evenly and softened at the jaw and poll a lot better for me. Leave it to the canter to bring back that forward.
We did a couple circles of canter, which I was thrilled with. It was sloppy, but she moved out when I put my leg on when I felt her want to break gait and she did it without a buck. I didn't even have to tap the whip for enouragement.
We finally ended out ride and I untacked and groomed her down. We went over to the trailer to practice our loading and she went right on without a fuss. We also practiced some side-stepping while I was still riding, and she got a couple good steps that I was pleased with. She'd move her front over first and then move her back feet separately and it made me giggle, but at least she's starting to grasp the idea.
I rubbed her girth area down with linament since that's the area that seems to get sore and we hung out for a while before I put her back.
Today was a little crazy but it was a lot of fun!
(this pic is flipped)
I will be switching her bit out on my next paycheck. We are training at the canter and my training bit has always been a snaffle. I have misplaced my original snaffle so I gave to go get another one.
I pulled Raina out of the pasture two days ago (guess that would be Wendesday!) and tacked her up. She was easy to catch and stood well, even for her fly spray! No more issues there...for now ;)
We went out into the arena and I let her walk around on a loose rein. When she warmed up, I let her move out at the trot on a loose rein and she stayed at a steady rythm. Not too fast and rushed, but nice and reasy going. I finally brought her down to a walk and we did some softening work. I guess I was being too nice or something because she'd give me a couple steps and then stick her nose out, no matter how much inside leg I gave her. I became more assertive and she finally settled into a nice steady stride.
The trot was the same. Very nice trot for today and I was happy with it. We worked on remaining softened while doing a downtransitions from trot to walk. Although I don't believe the lesson "stuck", we got a few decent down transitions.
And then we cantered...I gotta say, it was much better than the other day. I still have to use my whole body to halfhalt her in the turns and stand her up, and I'm sure it looks ugly as sin still. But she's getting it. She tried to soften at the canter but I didn't want that yet. I want a steady, easy and balanced stride before I get her to soften at the pole and jaw and we don't have that yet.
And then I cantered her in the other direction and she was so smooth. No fighting to pull her up, no head slinging...her stride was so much more relaxed and steady. Not where it needs to be, but SO much nicer than the other side!
We backed up a lot and did some slow spins and rollbacks. She was even pooping while we backed up once...something I find kind of shocking because she hates to move while she poops.
Her side stepping is becoming a lot better. She's realizing she needs to move her feet to the side when I apply my leg and I'm thrilled with it. She still fought me a little but it was so much better than the other times.
By that time I had worked her pretty hard. She was lathered and hot and she did really well. I untacked her and hosed her down and let her dry. While she was drying, I did some more trailer loading with her. She walked on without balking at all and stood there with me. I usually walk her right off when we stand inside the trailer for a couple seconds, but this time I made her stand for a longer amount. She got a bit worried and threw her head back and backed out like a goob. So we went back onto the trailer and stood for a longer time twice. She was good for it.
I didn't get many photos but I thought I should share one or two.
The horses up in the wooded area of the pasture:
Raina, after she was hosed down and drying:
I will be training a little haflinger gelding in the next couple days so he will get his own blog. Can't wait to talk about him!
My sister adopted a pony off the BO. She rode him once for a little bit to see if she wanted to lease him. She liked him but opted for the buckskin the BO had. The BO came back the day she paid to lease the buckskin and mentioned that the pony was up for "sale" by the owner. The owner gave the pony to the BO and told her to give him away. The BO asked my sister if she wanted him, and she said yes! So now she has a haflinger pony, which I think is hilarious.
She's very excited about it and we stopped by Tractor Supply on our way up so she could buy him a halter.
Anyways, we went up to the barn today to go ride the horses. Raina was very easily caught. She walked right up to me. My sister caught her pony and we went to tack up. It was supposed to thunder storm today but other than a couple clouds, it looked clear.
We spent a good half hour jerry-rigging bits and pieces of my tack to fit the pony. I had to put some knots in the bridle, then we had to switch the girth out on the saddle we were using. I also put a knot in the breast collar for him. I let her use the bit I was using for Raina because it has a bit more power than a snaffle and he acts like a plow horse without breaks. I hopped on him to make sure he would respond well to the bit, which he did, and then let her get on.
Raina fell asleep on the wall while she waited, and after I got her tacked up, we went out. Raina didn't swing away from me when I put the saddle up, which I was really happy about. This is her second time with just standing for the saddle. She likes to swing around and I usually have to beat her up for it. Today she just stood.
We hit the first hill (that introduces us to the trail) and cantered up it. In the middle of the hill, Raina began bucking and throwing a huge fit. We finally got to the top and I realized the bag I had lashed around the saddle horn for our stuff was hitting her on the shoulder while we were cantering and that's why she was bucking. There wasn't much I could do about it except avoid cantering so it wouldn't hit her anymore.
At that point, the sky opened up and it downpoured. Lightening, thunder, sheets of rain, the whole shibang. There was a huge thunder clap and I thought for sure someone would come unglued, but the horses stayed steady. We just carried on. Raina was so great. She lead the trail ride confidently (she almost never does that!) and never spun around. My sister and I made it down to the river in the pouring rain. By then the lightening stopped and the sky was just grumbling thunder.
We decided to go back at this point and both horses crossed swollen streams like aces. My sister's pony need some patience work. He just wants to trot and trot and trot and never stand still, but he will get better with more work.
By the time we got back to the barn, the rain stopped and everyone was laughing at us, including us. But it was a lot of fun.
I had Raina in a snaffle today and didn't find any difference in her behavior (ignoring the rein). I loved it. My sister needs to get some pony tack! I'll be working with her pony to get him more responsive to the bit. I don't like stronger bits to control a horse so that will be the first thing I do with him.
This past week has been a jumble of accomplishments and disappointments. I feel my patience growing thin with her on the trails.
I will have to admit that she will never be a trail mount, no matter how many times I work with her. She just won't be good for trails. That's alright, some horses aren't good at trails and I didn't want Raina as a trail horse. But some of the things she is pulling is unacceptable and I will have to get extremely mean with her next time she tries.
Anyways, lets hop back to Monday, 5/13/13
I took her for a trail that day. I really just wanted to do some arena work since we've been working on the canter, but my sister came with us so we trailed it. Raina actually walked up to me in the pasture. That's a FIRST. And SO much better than last year, when I had to push her for 10 minutes because she was running!
I brought her in and brushed her and we all tacked up. Raina lead the trail rather pleasantly, and I was a bit surprised. I was firm with her. I wanted her to lead. Period. So she lead. Until we got to a creek with a steep embankment. My sister and I had to wait for Iseul to catch up, so we stopped just after reaching the top of the bank. When Iseul finally caught up, I asked Raina to lead again and hell broke loose. She whipped herself around like nuts, threw a huge fit. She was pushing the other horses towards the embankment and she finally reared and put my knee into a tree. By this time Iseul managed to sneak past to take the lead, and Raina finally decided to follow. I whipped her hard twice to push her past Iseul and into the lead. She was GOING TO LEAD.
The rest of the trail ride was alright. We went into the field that Raina usually spazzes in and Raina just sat calmly. Last time we were there, she gave me a good fight. She never liked that field and I always had to argue with her, but that one day she went berzerk and I went berzerk after her. That might be the reason why she stood so well this time.
On the way back to the barn, she started prancing. So I made her walk ALL the hills until she stopped prancing. Finally, we were on the last hill towards the barn and my sister was trotting her pony ahead of us. I thought "Hmm, how can I upset this?" and I took off on Raina and ran her past my sister. My sister took the challenge and ran after us, and Iseul brought up the rear. It was a lot of fun. Everyone walked calmly back to the barn.
OH, and Raina jumped a little log. I was just curious what she would do if I trotted her towards the log, and she gave a little jump. It was cute :)
We finally got back to the barn and sat on the horses for a while, and Sabee started pestering Raina. They're so funny together. When we first bring them down to ride, she doesn't care if he's up her butt. But after the ride, she pins her ears at him.
Anyways, he was pestering her and I got a good "Mare Stare" from her
I ran up to the barn to mainly work on Sabee, but I wanted to work with Raina as well.
She walked up to me in the pasture again, which I'm just loving! I brought her down and tacked her up and let her move out at the trot after we did some walking. The trot went well. She kept a steady trot for the warm up and then I asked her to bend and flex. She gave it to me easily enough so after a couple circles of that, I asked for the canter.
It was ugly but I LOVED IT. She stood up in the corners, and the canter was slower and much more balanced without me having to haul on her face! She REALLY wanted to soften going to the left, but I felt we weren't ready for it yet so I continued to work on halfhalting with my seat. I want to slow my seat rhythm down to slow her canter, but she's taking that as a cue to break into a trot. We worked on that for a bit and she finally seemed to understand a bit.
Man, what a good day with Raina! She finally stood up off the forehand and balanced. I have no pictures from that day because I was feeling a little woozy after the ride, so I hosed her off and put her back into the pasture. She was beautiful on Wednesday.
Ok, so last entree from this week that I have to catch up. I swear I've written at least 5 blogs between Raina and Sabee.
Anyways, yesterday. Thursday 5/16/13
We took the horses out on the trail. Raina didn't walk up to me but she didn't run. She was pleasant enough to catch. We tacked them both up and I coached my sister in the outside arena and gave her some pointers on Sabee while she rode him. After about 10 minutes, we headed out on the trail.
Sabee and Raina took turns leading and they were going along very pleasantly. We hit the field (the one where Raina likes to spazz) and Raina just stood there calmly. We decided to go into the river...big challenge for Raina. Last time we went into the river, I had to walk her in myself. Raina led down the embankment well enough and put a foot into the water, but didn't want to go any further. Sabee charged past us and went splashing on in, and Raina followed! It was great!
On our way out of the water, we met the BO's neighbors who drove down on a quad and we chatted with them for maybe a good hour. I asked them to take pictures of us in the water and they didn't have a problem with it. But Raina did. I asked her to go back down into the water and she downright refused, throwing herself all over the place. My sister finally came up to lead Raina down into the water by having her follow Sabee and after another little fight, we got back into the water.
After the photo shoot, we thanked the neighbors and headed home, and Raina was a prancing machine. This is really starting to make me angry. She's eager to get home so she could go play with her buddies in the field and she just prances and prances and prances. This is a new thing. It just started last Monday. I make her walk up all the hills and the prancing stops, but she's still being an ignorant cow. She was so eager to get home and rest, and when we got home, I worked the snot out of her. She was balking at the gates and boy did it send me into fits.
We cantered for a long while in the arena. We didn't just canter, I made her work. She rebalanced, she kept her canter slow, she curved against my leg, she even softened for a few steps. By the end she was lathered and I hosed her off before putting her back into the field.
She will never be a great trail horse. I know this. But the last two times we were out on a trail, she threw fits I wasn't happy with for no other reason than she "Just didn't want to".
I'm not sure if I should push her through it and make her trail ride, or if I should back off and work on arena work. I'm going to be doing both for a while. Everytime I go up with my sister, arena work and trail. Everytime I go up alone, arena work. She needs to learn and respect that it doesn't matter whether she wants to or not, she's going to do it regardless.
We tacked up the horses and went out on a trail ride about 15 minutes after the first group left. She was a bit "looky" today and spooked once at her own shadow for no good reason. But other than that, we lead just fine.
We traveled down to the river again, since its the main area she is having problems with. The second we got into the field she wanted to fight, but I instructed my sister to take Sabee down the bank and Raina followed just fine. We made it to the middle of the river where there was an island and I got off Raina and let her relax. About 10 minutes later, I got back on and she fought me all the way across the river again. She literally sidepassed back across the river (in the opposite directing I wanted to go, towards home). She fought me up the bank. She fought me in the field, and then she fought to get back onto the trail to go home. It was a pretty good fight, one I hadn't seen in her yet.
About this time, I got off and worked her butt HARD. The ONLY rest she got was in the water. If she stepped out of the water or moved when I didn't ask her to, she worked and worked and worked. About 10 minutes of this, I finally mounted and took her back across the river towards the island where my sister was waiting. We forged through the water towards the next island and stood on there for a break. The other group came down from the opposite side of the river now and stood and talked to us for a couple minutes before moving across the river and back home again.
We asked Sabee and Raina to cross the rest of the river and they did just fine. We hit a bank and went up into the park which was on the other side and rode around there for a couple minutes. Raina saw her first "grill" and didn't like it, but she didn't spook. After about 15 minutes, we waded the horses back across the river and started home again.
We got lost on the many, many trails back home that we haven't explored yet and the dog ended up finding a groundhog and killing it. I managed to get the dog off of the poor thing after it was dead. A little while down the trail he found another one, and I managed to stop the carnage before it started, thankfully.
We came back to the farm through the back pasture and neither horse bulked at passing their herd. After hosing them down, we put them back into the pasture and headed home.
I'm exhausted. That was one HELL of a fight she gave me, and EXTREMELY unecessary. She literally fought me the whole way across the river we just forged, up the bank, and tried to bully me back onto the trail. Things didn't go quite like she wanted though.
I guess its a lot better than Thursday, where she wasn't more than 5ft from the bank and acting up. And its much better than last year where I couldn't even get her to cross a stream without leaping it. It was exhausting though, and we made progress. She needs confidence in doing this, and the only way to gain confidence is to keep doing it over and over again.
I took about a 2 week long break from "horses" in general given the last time I rode Raina and the situation with Sabee. It kind of bittered my taste for the whole barn experience and I just needed a breather.
On Thursday I called the BO and asked about a lesson for my daughter. We decided Friday afternoon would be best. After fighting some pretty nasty rush hour traffic, I texted the BO to see if we were still on for the lesson. I guess we weren't, because she remembered agreeing to a Thursday lesson and I remembered a Friday lesson. I called my sister since she was with me for the conversation and she confirmed Friday as well. The BO seemed really frazzled, since last week. We had that situation with Sabee, and then she was out of town for a couple days, and now theres a dieing horse at the barn. Theres something else going on there but I haven't figured it out yet.
I wasn't mad, but we were already half way there and I had promised my daughter she could ride, so we went to the barn anyways. Raina was really easily caught and I tied her up to the hitching post. Fly sprayed her down and tacked her up. My daughter lead her to the outside arena where she got her first lunge lesson. It was kind of cute and it made me remember just how sensitive Raina is to body language. I'd have the lungeline and she would be fine, but the second my daughter took the line, her gait would quicken and she got confused.
Anyways, after our lunging lesson, I put a helmet on the kidlette and tossed her up on Raina for a lead line lesson. She enjoyed it and we walked around the arena for a good half hour before she got bored. So I pulled her off and I hopped on Raina.
The walk and trot went fine as always, and then I asked for the canter. She immediately bore down onto the forehand and I had to pop her up, especially in the turns when she wanted to drop her shoulder and lean. After a couple circles, she was doing much better.
We have been working on hopping over small jumps. I kind of miss jumping and I feel its a good skill for Raina to learn. I asked my daughter to set up a cross rail and we went over it 4 times without a problem. Raina didn't bulk at all, though she did get a little speedy before the jump. She's green at it, I expect that. For right now, I just wanted to see her go over it. We'll work out the kinks later.
She did really well and tucked her legs for the 2ft cross rail...and then we called it a day. It was a good day, I think. I'm still kind of down from what happened with Sabee but lesson learned and its time to move on. I will be out there on Sunday afternoon to do some more arena work.