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post #1 of 39 Old 05-27-2020, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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Moving Forward

Thanks to the advice I got in one of my previous posts, I figured I'd make a journal to track my progress as I work on moving further into the horse world. I'm hoping that this journal is not only a way to track my progress, but also a way to keep me accountable as well.


My Horse Background:

Basically, I've sat on a few random horses over the years as a grew up, such as random horse back rides every couple years with someone I knew, occassional pony rides at the fair until I got too old/big for that, and then a few months of riding lessons when I was 12, 2 weeks at a horse summer camp, and that's about it.

Then, when I graduated in 2016, I got my first horse. I learnt a lot from her as well as the many other horses I've worked with between that time to where I am now. Also, when I got my first horse, that was the same time i joined this forum so I guess I've actually been here quite a while lol. Anyway, so over the last 4 years, I've had a few sparadoc riding lessons, extra riding I was able to do beyond that due to having my horse, but there was a year and a half where I didn't ride.

So basically, I've had very little experience in the horse world compared to a lot of other people who work with horses.


Where I'm at currently:

At this point, I'm tired of getting thrown for loops with trainer who say they'll teach me only to then ghost me. I did have one instructor that I took lessons from for about 9 months but never made any progress and it wasn't until I recorded my rides that I started to realize all the mistakes I was making when I'd ride.

However, I've managed to finally find a trainer who is willing to work with me and is very honest about what I'm doing and what I need to do to fix it. I've only had 2 lessons with her so far, but already I can feel the difference and I'm quite excited for it. I'm riding one of her horses and with the way I ride him, she says she'd put me at about the intermediate level. However, he's also a pretty easy ride that's used for beginners as well so it could be that on some other horses, I'd be more in the advanced/confident beginner category instead.

Also, one other thing to note is that I have found out that I my hormones are out of balance so I need to take anti-depressants. If I don't, I end up being tired a lot, have 0 motivation for anything other than just sitting at home and watching tv, and my emotions are fairly unstable. However, as long as I take these meds, I'm able to function normally and enjoy life. Reason I'm mentioning this as it does effect my life with my horses.


Goals:

Long term is to run my own horse/animal rescue place, train horses, and maybe even teach lessons at some point.

Short term is more to improve my abilities the best I can and to gain the confidence I lost over the last 4 years as I've grown up and stop comparing myself to others as well as to my younger self.

Another goal that fits in with both long and short term is to lose weight and get in better shape so that I'm able to work with horses better. I'm already down about 17 lbs but I still have another 40-50 to go yet to get to where I want to be.


My Current Horses:

First up is my oldest, Sam. He's a 9 year old registered thoroughbred gelding and stands about 16.2-16.3 hh and is the tallest horse I've ever ridden. He's had most of the winter off with a few sparadoc rides here and there. He's currently living on my property at the farm and has been here a week.
With this guy, I'm currently struggling to find the motivation to ride him because not only is he forward, but he's become quite spooky and I don't particularly care for our rides at this point.




Next up is Jack. This guy is 3 years old now and I've done all the groundwork with him. He's currently off at a trainers to get 30 days riding put on him. This guy is both sensitive and eager to respond to your cues as well as lazy since he doesn't like to canter more than he has to and rarely gallops even when turned out in a big field with Sam lol.
This guy has helped me gain a certain level of confidence back and he's an absolute sweet heart. I'm honestly looking forward to when he gets back and we can go for rides.




Then there's my newest girl, Sadie (not sure yet if this'll 100% be her perminant name yet). She's a year old feral filly and is supposedly a quarter horse cross. I've only had her a week now so I don't know much about her. She does seem to have a bit of a dominant personality from what I've seen of her as well as she learns very fast. I've been able to touch her slightly and feed her grass out of my hand.
Also, she's an unexpected purchase as I decided to save her from slaughter at the last minute. So I honestly have no plans for her yet other than to get her used to human contact and teach her ground manners.




Last but not least is little Melody. This sweetheart I met when she was just 10 days old and I honestly fell in love with her. She's currently about a month old give or take. She's a quarter horse and is going to be registered pretty soon here. She's supposed to mature around 15 hh and is supposed to be pretty versatile in her breeding. So I'm looking forward to getting her in September when she's weaned.




So ya, that's a short introduction to myself and my horses and I hope that from this point on, I'll be able to start moving forward and not continually looking back and wishing for things instead of working to what I want to achieve. I know I'm going to struggle but that's one reason why I want to have this journal so that I can be held accountable.
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post #2 of 39 Old 05-27-2020, 06:40 PM
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This will be fun to watch your progress as you go forward with your herd...
...
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #3 of 39 Old 05-28-2020, 12:12 AM Thread Starter
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Time for the first update.

I had my second riding lesson today and it went even better than the first one. My legs weren't quite as still as they should have been, but that was because I worked extra hard yesterday and so was quite sore on my left side and it caused my muscles to tense way more than normal. Either way, the lesson went well and I'm still learning more and plan to have another one or two lessons next week.

I also rode Sam today. It's been officially a week since he got brought to the farm and I've only done some ground work with him and led him around to get him used to the place. Apparently chickens and pigs are terrifying as well as random tarps lol.

Anyway, so like I said, I rode him today and it's honestly one of the best rides we've had so far. He neck reined nearly perfectly which he hasn't done since I started working with him again. He also wasn't in the need for speed mood either. In fact, when I asked him to stop, he actually stopped almost instantly. When trotting, he actually trotted around properly and never tried to go into a canter which was one problem we'd had for a little while. On top of that, he slowed down wonderfully from a trot to a walk. Not only that, but during the whole ride, I rode him on a fairly loose rein and in the makeshift hackamore I made.
We'd only ridden for about 5-10 mins but even so, that was an amazing ride. Didn't ride longer since the stirrups were the wrong length so I couldn't ride properly and once I got off, I couldn't really hop on again since what I used for a mounting block broke when I used it to get on him in the first place.

This second pic is of the horse I ride for my lessons. He's a 15.3 quarter horse named Chester and built like a tank lol.


Oh! And I ride Jack on Monday when I went to see his progress in training. It was his 11th ride and we went out for a trail ride. He honestly did pretty good. He plowed through bushes, mud, puddles, steep ditches and whatnot like a pro trail horse. However, his steering isn't very good yet lol. And his brakes are pretty bad too. There were two times that in order to get him to slow to a walk, I had to make him do a tight circle to get his mind back on me and slow down and behave. But either way, his trot and walk is quite comfortable to ride.
Also I'm aware I look a little off on him. I had to use the trainers saddle and the seat on it is too small for me but it worked for the ride we went on.





And thanks @horselovinguy glad you think so :)
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post #4 of 39 Old 05-29-2020, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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Well, yesterday I managed to rope my filly. I did a bit of desensitizing with it first where I just swung it around and "roped" the ground until it was dropping next to her and such. During all of that, she just stood there, looking bored. Kind of surprised me how chill she was, but then, I have been bringing stuff in with me at times so she's gotten desensitized to a certain extent already with me doing random stuff. So when I finally roped her, she kinda moved sideways, but otherwise didn't react. It wasn't even a perfect roping as I only got it hooked on one ear and half her face, but she then looked over at me and with a small wiggle, the rope was on.
We worked on introducing her to giving to pressure to start working on the concept of leading and ended with working being able to touch her neck and finally, being able to loosen the rope and taking it off.

As for today, I didn't even need to rope her. I was able to do a bit of approach and retreat with the rope and was apple to just lift it over her head. She did shift away/sideways as it went over, but all in all, she was pretty calm and just looked at me after as though asking what to do next.
Well, we worked a bit more on lead and of course, she did a lot better than yesterday and the loop didn't even tighten around her neck since she'd give to the smallest pressure when I asked. She does stop frequently but she is just learning so I don't mind. But then we moved onto getting used to being touched and today I was able to rub the whole length of her neck on both sides. I even found a few small itchy spots that she enjoyed getting scratched on. So i was pretty happy with how far we got today. I'm hoping that pretty soon I'll be able to get the halter on but it's one step at a time.


I also took Sam for a walk today. I didn't take my meds for 2 weeks (both forgetfulness and needing a refill) so with how energetic and somewhat reactive he was being, I couldn't bring myself to actually ride him. So instead, i tacked him up and we went for a walk down the road off property. We also had a storm rolling in so that's why Sam was extra energetic today. Anyway, so the walk went well. He actually handled it better than I expected so that was good. But ya, all in all, today was good with him. I also need to find something for a mounting block as the wood stairs I was using are too old and rotting. They sort of started to cave in the last time I used them to hop on Sam. So definitely need to find something new to use.


Last little update is that next week I'll have 2 more riding lessons. One on Chester, the lesson horse and one that will be with me on Sam. So I'm looking forward to that.




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post #5 of 39 Old 05-30-2020, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Made more progress with my filly, Sadie. I was able to rub from her face down to her butt. Haven't touched her legs yet though, and she doesn't care too much for being touched on the face just yet. But she did love the scratches on her withers and sides since I was able to help rub more of the winter coat off. Got her doing the whole head lift and lip wiggle with how much she liked it and even nearly started trying to do some mutual grooming with me lol.
I also worked on a bit of desensitizing to the whip. Basically just hit the ground with it a bit at first. She lifted her head to eyeball it a little at first but then just went to sleep on me lol. So then I moved onto gently swinging the string part over her body and around her legs. She barely even looked over at the whip and didn't care at all that it was swinging around her and touching her all over. She did flinch slightly when the string looped around her flank a bit once, but that was it.

She's honestly so much more chill than I expected. She just stood there, leg cocked and bottom lip droopy with eyes half lidded without a care in the world. Other horses I've worked with are usually more reactive the first few times I do this but I'm quite proud of how well she's handling it.


I also managed to find a wooden block to use as a mounting block but it rained this evening so I wasn't able to squeeze a ride in. But I'm thinking I'll try to get a ride in tomorrow. Also got a few other wooden blocks that I was able to put out in the cleared pasture in a bit of a barrel pattern just so we can do something different and can do circles around them or figure 8's or the barrel pattern. But I'm definitely struggling to look forward to riding him. I love working with him on the ground and I enjoy it, but getting on is different. I definitely have a mental block there and I'm not sure how to get over it but I'm working on it. And I think the riding lessons will definitely help and I need to try to focus more on what can right instead of what could go wrong.


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post #6 of 39 Old 06-01-2020, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Worked with Sadie some more today. I gave her yesterday off since I plan to have Sundays as a rest day in general for all horses just so we all get some time off. Anyway, so I started up again today and this morning I started off with catching her with the rope again and went over a few things of allowing me to pet her and desensitizing her to having her face and ears rubbed. After that, we moved onto the halter and with a bit of convincing, I managed to get it on her. She did great with it so I went back to go over the things I've done when I had the rope on her and she was totally calm and was great at it. So we worked on yielding her hindquarters a bit as well and just overall desensistizing to me touching her.

This evening, I went in for a short session and was able to go up to her and pet her just fine. I grabbed the halter and lead rope and was able to wrap the rope around her neck at the second attempt, was able to put the halter on her. So today, I've officially caught Sadie with the halter for the first time I'm pretty excited with that progress. I spent another 5 - 10 mins with her, just working on leading and yielding before letting her go and giving her supper. She also nickered out to me as well which is pretty exciting.




As for Sam, I managed to ride him today. After I got him tacked up and went into the large pasture/makeshift arena, I ended up lunging him. I got the feeling he was going to be spunky which is why I lunged him first and sure enough, as soon as I asked for a canter, he started to buck and race around as fast as he could and just over all being goofy lol. Once he was done going crazy and started to focus on me again, I put on the bridle and got up on him.

Our ride only lasted about 20 minutes, but at least 15 of those minutes were focusing on trotting, slowing down, stopping, and steering. We're getting to the point I don't have to give any verbal cue to get him to slow down or stop and he's starting to respond better. We did have a minor hiccup today though, since he forgot how to turn at one point (we were doing neck reining) and he started to back up instead. Once I clucked at him, then he remembered what he was supposed to do and he started to move forward and turn and after that, we were all good again haha.
So we definitely had a good ride today and made some progress for both him and i so that's pretty nice.


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post #7 of 39 Old 06-03-2020, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Didn't end up doing anything with the horses yesterday since we had a big rainstorm. But today has been fairly productive.

Worked with Sadie and it's getting easier to catch her with the halter and lead rope. She's also doing a lot better with leading so I think we'll be able to start leaving her pen to walk around pretty soon which is exciting. She's also getting the hang of yielding her hindquarters and the cues for sending her off or getting her turn in and face me.


I did have a riding lesson on my instructors horse, Chester today. She set up some makeshift poles with short logs to practice a bit of pole bending so that was interesting and fun to do. I even got to canter a bit as well. Her pen is a little small for Chester though so we didn't do a whole lot of it. Even so, it feels really nice to finally be making progress and that she sees me as skilled enough to try out new things .


After that, I went home and hopped on Sam. In order to make progress with him, we need to ride more frequently so I managed to get on him as well today. I also had 0 apprehension of hopping on him so that made it easier to want to ride as well. He did great at the walk and trotting around wasn't too bad either. But then I figured why not take things to the next step since things were going well. So I asked him to canter. It took me till the third stride to get into his rythem a bit but at 7-8th stride, he started to feel good and picked up speed a little more and tossed his head and acted like he wanted to wanted to buck and play. So I settled him down again and we went back to trotting. We had to work on the trot for a bit since after the canter, he didn't want to listen anymore and wanted to go faster or only wanted to turn the way he wanted to so we had to work on some figure 8's and circles and going the opposite direction that he wanted to before he got his brain back and settled down. From there, we rode around the farm property a bit which is a first and called it good at that.


All in all, today has been pretty good and I'm quite happy that I managed to ride 2 horses today and keep the motivation going to want to ride both of them. On Friday I'll have another riding lesson except this time, the lesson will be on Sam so that should be interesting.


After the rain storm, Sam had to go and roll around in the mud lol.
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post #8 of 39 Old 06-04-2020, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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Sadie is learning so fast! Today we added in her first ever grooming session. She actually seemed to start enjoying it too. Definitely got a lot of winter coat fluff off, but there's lots more to go yet. I'm thinking I'll soon be able to deworm her which will really help her lose the excess fur. We also worked outside of the little round pen area. Probably won't be too long until I can start leading her around the yard and once she realizes that means we can go to the fresh grass and she can have a snack, I'm sure she'll start to really enjoy it.

Rode Sam again. Thanks to my confidence getting better plus getting better at riding and working more with Sam, he's starting to calm down and not try to rush around. We can actual ride and he takes his time. Once in a while he'd perk up and get brisker in his pace but overall, he's calming down. He's starting to read my seat better/I'm getting better at communicating with him. We even had a moment where I asked him to stop from a trot and he nearly stopped instantly which is a first.

To finish off the day, I went out and saw my little Melody. She's about a month or a little over a month old now. She's also super sweet and loved getting scratched. When I rubbed her belly, near where the imbilicord was and on the inner thigh area and whatnot, she would lift her one back leg and her lip would giver and her head would be up. She enjoyed it so much that she didn't know what to do with herself lol. I found a few other itchy spots as well and she just absolutely loved the attention. Super happy with her and can't wait until she's weaned and gets to come home with me.






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post #9 of 39 Old 06-05-2020, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Sadie impressed me today. I was able to go up to her and halter her without needing to put the lead rope around her neck which was awesome. I think I'll be able to take the extra panels out of her pen next week if she stays this good to catch when I open up her area more. I just worked a bit more on her leading which is really coming along, as well as groomed her a bit more. She's also starting to enjoy that and she's starting to like her face getting rubbed plus I found an itchy spot that her head up and lip wiggling today too. I also realized that she has 3 swirls on her forehead which is quite something.



Sam and I had a riding lesson today. Got told my saddle actually puts me in worse position than I originally thought. So not only does the saddle not fit Sam right, but in order to make it fit the best we can, it causes me to be in a bad position. But I'll be picking up a saddle tomorrow to try out on Sam and I'm hoping that it'll fit. If it does, well then I'll be riding Sam English instead of western like I have been. So it should be interesting how things go but I really hope i can finally find a saddle to fit my guy.

Anyway, with the lesson, it went well. We're working on getting Sam to lower his head (instead of doing giraffe impressions) and engage his back end a bit more and round out his body or whatever you want to call it when they actually engage themselves and carry themselves properly. We're also working on getting him to do this at a trot as well which is definitely harder for him. He also didn't want to pay attention to me when going to the left. To the right, we did pretty good. But left, he kept wanting to turn his head to the right and look more at the birds and trees than pay attention to me and his turning wasn't as good as it's been before. But we managed to get to his attention back on me and once that happened, he started to settle and actually go into frame a bit better and we ended the session on a pretty good note.


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post #10 of 39 Old 06-09-2020, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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Things have been interesting these last few days. I gave the horses the weekend off since they were doing so well.

Sadie was easy to catch yesterday, thought other than go over a few basic things, I didn't do anything else since on Sunday I went for a hike and ended up with sore shins and blisters on my feet. So ya, our session was short yesterday.

Today I was able to do more with her. However, she didn't feel like letting me approach her. So we had to do a bit of lunging before she realized it was just easier to let me pet her. From there, I caught her and we worked a bit on leading before moving onto working with the whip and desensitizing to it which wasn't an issue in the slightest. I also spent some time brushing her and it looks like she's rubbed part of her mane off with wanting to get at the grass so that's lovely lol.

Anyway, since she did so good at everything, I figured I'd introduce some new things. First up was the saddle pad. At first she wasn't too sure about it, but with a bit of time, she was fine with it. I was even able to rest it on her back and get her walk around a bit with it. After a bit of a break, we moved on to introducing the idea of giving her feet. for the moment, I'm just working on getting her to give to pressure and lift her feet. All I did was squeeze the chestnut and retreat when she lifted her foot. We practiced both front legs for now and even got her to give me her foot on the left side for a second or two to hold. So we definitely made some good progress today.




As for Sam, all I did yesterday was groom him and lunge him a bit since my feet/legs were too sore to be able to walk much.
But today I managed to have a riding lesson on him. I also got an english saddle to try out on him. It was actually quite amazing how much of a difference it made to ride him English. It was like he was a completely different horse. The saddle doesn't fit him 100% but even so, he actually was quite calm and trotted around at a decent pace and the speedy giraffe horse I'd been working with was no longer there. Instead, he was more than content to just walk and trot around and he even started to carry his head lower as well and is starting to work on collecting himself a bit better on his own.

There were actually a few times I had to put a bit of extra leg on him since he wanted to just go back to a walk and even when he'd walk, he was lazy and took his time. It was just mind blowing how much more settled he was simply with switching to an english saddle, especially since this saddle doesn't fit him completely. But it fits him well enough that I think as long as I have a half pad or shims for it, it'll be fine. I'll be trying it out for a few more days just to make sure this isn't a one day thing and if he's truly preferring this saddle, then it's going to stay.

I also switched back to the bridle with the bit half way through to see how that'd affect things, and Sam became even more supple. Not perfect as there's still some work to be done, but so much better than how he was last week.

On the downside, Sam seems to have gotten himself a case of sweet itch. He managed to rub a good chunk of hair off his tail. Anyway, so I'm going to apply some ointment to the bald patches, give him some more frequent bathes when the weather allows it, and I got some bug spray that targets midges and a lot of other bugs as well, more than his previous bug spray did. So I'm hoping that I'll be able to get on top and eventually ahead of this.

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