Walk on the Lucky Side.
Shamrock is my 6 year old Quarter horse gelding. He was bought for me by my dad as my high school graduation. I fell in love with him instantly, despite the fact that he didn't know ANYTHING (come to find out after we bought him). His training started about 6 months ago, after I'd had him for about a month.
This journal will follow my life with him, "life on the lucky side" - training, bonding, having fun - I'll cover it all!
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Today I went out to the barn with the intention to ride, but found out once I got there that I wasn't really feeling like it. So instead, I got Shamrock out, groomed him, and we played in the arena for a bit. I set up a cross rail to lunge him over, worked him on the lunge line, and attempted to get him to jump barrels (fail, he stopped right in front of them.. his way of telling me, "Hey, I'm not ready for that yet!") Once we got done messing around, I hopped on him bareback for a few minutes. We didn't do much, just walk and trot (he has the WORST trot for bareback). After all that, I took all of my tack up to the barn and put it up and then got Shamrock and took a walk on the trails with him before putting him back in his pasture for the night. It was a bonding kind of day. :) All the while, we took pictures, here are a few of my faves from the day:
Monday, November 28, 2011
Yesterday I went out to the barn with the intention to switch Shamrock's bit from a slow twist eggbutt snaffle to just an eggbutt and ride him in it, but it was raining. So instead, I cleaned my bridle and organized my tack locker a little bit. Then, it stopped raining! And it wasn't all disgusting and muddy, so I ran out to get Shamrock so I could try him in his new bit. I brushed him off, the farrier was out and complimented how well he looks, and then I tacked him up and headed to the ring. There was a lesson going on (the two loud 11-12 year olds that I've posted about before, actually) and so I joined them. I'm not sure that I noticed a huge difference in him with the new bit, other than that he seemed more forward. But that could just be because of how the weather was. We didn't ride for long or do much, just warm up: walk, trot, canter and then it got dark so I got off to brush him off and put him up for the night.
I'm going to keep riding him in the new bit and see how it goes. :)
And my goal with him right now is for him to move more forward off of the lightest leg aid possible.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I went out to ride Shamrock today, it was a surprise because I don't normally go out on Thursdays. Shamrock was a bit puzzled, I think.
I had to ride with a younger group of girls than usual during their lesson, one of which is very timid and worries over every little thing. When I brought Shamrock in, I heard her tell the trainer that she was nervous because Shamrock was in there (it was something new, I've never ridden with her before). My trainer, however, knows that Shamrock is a sweetheart, has faith in her school horses, and knows I have control over my horse so we weren't kicked out of the arena. ;)
After some trouble mounting (he's figured out tricks, I've posted a thread about it), we warmed up. We did serpentines, hind ends, circles, etc. at the walk and at the trot we did much of the same, but threw in trotting poles as well as walk-halt-back-trot off transitions. He could have done better with the backing, though.
When the two lesson girls left, I had the arena to myself a bit before her next lesson started, so I cantered him. His left lead, as usual, was awesome. He got a bit excited on the right lead, though, and started tossing his head around. We put an end to that real fast.
It came time for the next lesson to start, which consists of 4 girls, so I worked my way around them until I could get my boyfriend's attention to let a horse who had just finished his dinner out of the adjoining field so I could ride in there (it used to be the jump field, but now all the jumps are out of it and some barrels are in there for one of the boarders who barrel races). Shamrock and I have never ridden in there before, so it was new for him (I can tell he's getting tired of the arena, but we don't have much of a choice in where to ride since solo trail rides are against the rules). Shamrock did SO SO SO well in the new environment. The Thoroughbred I rode when I took lessons would always be spooky when we rode in there, and Shamrock was completely calm (though very curious). I walked him around both directions so he could get a feel for it and check things out, then I went to the trot. Due to the field being used as and connected to a pasture, the footing was uneven and there were some plants and things in there, which caused Shamrock to trip because he was dragging his feet. After trotting around in there a bit, though, he started realizing that he had to pick up his feet, which will work for both of our benefits in the future. I even got to canter him in there on the left lead a little bit (he wasn't as comfortable on the right lead). :)
It was a pretty decent ride overall. <3
He's responding really well to light leg aids, I hardly ever have to use heels, just tightening my legs works! Hooray!!
Also, I noticed that he would actually hold his head in correct frame for a good many strides, so that's progress!
I get to ride again tomorrow, I'm excited!
Oh.. and I realized that the field I rode in today is slightly sloped, which may help build his hind end muscles. :)
Friday, December 2, 2011
I rode Shamrock on Friday during one of the trainer's lessons. It was him, and three other horses (there's usually only one more). He was pretty good, LAZY, but he didn't throw any attitude. One of the other horses in the arena was a mare, who was not fond of Shamrock in the least bit, but he was extremely interested in her. We did the usual, plus figure eights. I need some more exercises to use for him!
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Saturday isn't usually a riding today, so Shamrock was in for a surprise. It was also the day of my barn's annual Christmas celebration. There were lots of families and kiddos running around, so Shamrock had lots to distract him. We were by ourselves riding, we had the arena & the field to ourselves. We mostly just rode for fun and to film a video (which I will attach below). He behaved very well despite all of the many distractions (he LOVES attention). At one point during the ride, I was cantering him & he spotted some kids walking around the barnyard and spooked at one of the kid's bright orange shirt. It didn't last long and I stayed on, so all was well. :) I personally think he enjoyed having people watch him do his thing.
After we got done riding, my boyfriend actually VOLUNTEERED to lead Shamrock back to his pasture when we put him up. I was impressed! And then, funny story, we purposely took him through a gate that would leave him away from his buddies so we could see him gallop over to them (he usually does), but after we let him go, he stayed put! My boyfriend & I went and walked the trails and when we came out of the trail near Shamrock's pasture, he was exactly where we left him! Lazy, lazy boy.
Here's the video:
A horse is a fantastic graduation present, one which I wish I'd gotten! You have a beautiful horse and it sounds like a good sign that he's responding well to leg aides! Always key.
Monday, December 5, 2011
After riding Shamrock four days in a row, I decided to give him a break on Sunday and pick back up on Monday. :) When I got to the barn, Shamrock was standing at the gate, which I hoped meant he was waiting for me. But when he saw me coming, he started walking away! Luckily he stopped only after walking a little bit and looked back at me to see if I was still coming (which I was).
I feel like we're working on a million things at a time: standing still at the mounting block, moving forward off of light leg aids, working off of his hindquarters, increasing flexion, keeping head from turning to the outside, backing up, etc.
We kind of just pick whichever one is the worst that day and try to improve on that.
Well, on Monday, we rode with the usual two girls and he was being particularly lazy. He's improved with not moving around at the mounting block, but he seemed to have digressed from working off lighter leg aids. There seemed to be a million problems, so we worked on tons of stuff. I'm a bit overwhelmed with everything we have to do. Monday's ride wasn't one of my favorites.
I think we're both getting tired of the arena. I've been trying to switch it up between the arena and field, but for the first time in months, my trainer decided to use the field for her lesson, which left Shamrock and I to the arena. :/
Friday I'm hoping for a better ride.
Friday, December 9, 2011
After a long week of exams (FIRST SEMESTER OF COLLEGE.. SUCCESS!), I finally found the time to go ride on Friday. It was a "scary" day for me & Shamrock.
I got him out and got him ready for riding all while also getting feed and such ready for my boyfriend when he got there to feed as he was running late (yes, I did get my non-horsey boyfriend into feeding horses 3 times a week). He was great getting groomed and saddled, but VERY dirty.
I decided to ride in the jump field for a change of scenery to make things more interesting for Shamrock and I. We did our ground work, he did well with that, and then I mounted him from the ground (no mounting block in field).
He was very lively when we were warming up and I was looking forward to having a fantastic ride. He was responding to my legs very well, even backing up well, and we were doing lots of circles and transitions. However, at one point I was doing a half circle with him to change direction and Shamrock tripped. After a few seconds of struggling not to fall down, he fell to his knees and then was quick to get back up (I didn't fall off). I walked him forward a few strides and didn't feel any difference in his walk. I hopped off anyways and ran my hand down his front legs, making sure there was no heat, that he didn't react as if he was in pain, and to be sure everything felt right. He seemed fine. He was even playing around with me while I did it. Nevertheless, being worried as I was, I walked him back up to the barn to get the trainer's opinion. Without even touching him, she said he was fine because he wasn't walking any different than usual and did not appear lame.
We walked back to the jump field and I got back on. We got back to work: doing serpentines, circles, and transitions at the walk and trot. He did very well not turning his nose to the outside. I rode him deep into the corners and then would do circles when he started to bend out. Because of his bad trip, I didn't feel too comfortable to canter him in the field, so I took him into the arena and cantered a couple of times both directions. In the arena at the trot and canter, he was always bending his head to the outside so we worked on that some in there.
I cut our ride shorter than usual because it was starting to get dark and my boyfriend still hadn't showed up to start feeding (he had a doctor's appt. and knew he'd be late, but not how late) and I figured that since he helped me so much when I fed, I'd help him out and start feeding for him. So I cooled Shamrock down and then went and untacked, groomed him, gave him treats, and put him back with his pals. :)
Monday, December 12, 2011
I wasn't feeling well all day & had little sleep, so Shamrock got a very easy day. He got groomed & saddled up, then I did his ground work in the barnyard. He was being a bit difficult so that took longer than usual.
Then I used one of the picnic tables to get on him and he immediately wanted to start walking. I halted him and he started shaking his head around (it's rare when we ride outside the arena and it was cold, so he was excited). Immediately, I did hind-ends with him and then walked to this aisleway in between the arena and one of the pastures to put him in some sort of enclosed space to calm down. In there we did walk, halt, back transitions, serpentines, and hind ends. Then I trotted him up and down it a couple of times. By then, he was pretty calm so I started walking him around the barnyard.
We walked and trotted beside a pasture leading to the trails. Then we walked in and out of a ditch that is over there. I walked him through a steeper part than usual and he tripped. :/ We then started to go walk down the driveway and two other girls were headed that way too. They asked if I wanted to ride with them out on the trail, so we did. I felt kind of bad because it was Shamrock's first time walking around the entire property, which meant they had to walk instead of trotting or cantering. But they didn't mind. :) We walked down the dirt road and Shamrock didn't spook at all, even when I truck passed us. Then we walked along the farthest pasture back onto the property and into the trails and then back to the barn. Shamrock didn't spook once! I was real proud of him. :)
After we were done, the two girls I rode with were loving on Shamrock and gave him some treats. He was loving it. All the while, I gave him a real good groom in hopes of getting him to not be so dusty. Then he got put back up in his pasture.
Oh, & one of the girls I rode with's mom told me that I should ride with them every Monday (we're always out at the same time) so Shamrock and I may have trail riding partners now! :)
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