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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Last lesson for a while

We’re going out of town for a couple of weeks tomorrow, so we had our last lesson for a while today. My daughter woke up tired and said she didn’t want to have a lesson at all. I am afraid this might be partially because Moonshine has been acting up during lessons for the last week or so. So I pulled the mom card and told her that I’m paying for these lessons, and we’re about to have two weeks without lessons, so she needs to ride today. I said she could ride Teddy, and she accepted.

We usually have two back-to-back lessons, but I wanted to try Teddy in a group lesson, so we combined our lessons. Teddy has been in one group lesson with me one time, and that was terrible. That lesson was what made me decide to stop listening to the barn owner. To be fair, she’s the one who gave him to me, but she’s one of those people whose training is mostly about yelling at the horses and running them around if they don’t listen. That doesn’t go so well with Teddy. He doesn’t like her at all. She makes him nervous. And when he gets nervous, he can’t hold still. And when he couldn’t hold still, she yelled at him, and when she yelled at him he got more nervous, etc. So that group lesson didn’t go so well.

Actually, now that I think about it I’ve had him in a couple of group lessons (not with her) since, but they were with Moonshine who, along with me, is his security blanket, so he was fine with that. Today I had my daughter ride him (only her second time on him) and me on Pony. In addition, we were restricted to half of the covered arena because something else was going on at the other end, with a horse Teddy didn’t know. I like to try to stick to one new thing per time with him, but we gave it a go and he did really well.

The last time she rode him, he did really well in the sense that you could tell the whole thing was making him anxious, but he tried really hard to keep himself together and he succeeded. This time, he demonstrated very little anxiety at all. He walked when asked and trotted when asked, and didn’t feel the need to keep speeding up. When it was my turn to go, he waited patiently in the middle. Not in a worried way, mind you, but with his head down and eyes half closed. I really couldn’t believe how relaxed he was. My daughter, without asking me, also decided to do some yoga-type stuff on him when they were in the middle, like leaning back all the way in the saddle and then sitting on his butt. I told her to knock it off the first time, but then she apparently (?) thought I meant just that one thing, so she tried something else next time. I yelled at her. Teddy was a little nervous but otherwise fine. I’m glad he didn’t think I was yelling at him.

He seemed really relaxed, but at the end my daughter wanted to ride Pony, so I just stood next to Teddy while she rode Pony and he took advantage of her (I guess this makes me feel a little good, since he usually only takes advantage when he thinks he can, and he tried almost nothing when I was riding him). Teddy wanted to, I guess you would call it snuggle. So maybe he had been a little more worried than he let on, but really he just did so well. I just couldn’t believe how relaxed he was the whole time. If you had seen him when I started regularly riding him at the beginning of this year, you would not believe how far he has come. Seeing him standing there with his eyes half closed in the middle of a lesson was amazing. I’m wondering if we’ve turned a corner on his anxiety. When we started, his was just anxious all the time. After a while, he got to where he was anxious but could deal with it. And now it seems like maybe he’s actually becoming less anxious.

I’m hoping to start cantering him in September. I mean, we’ve cantered before, sporadically, but really start working on it. I’m worried that we’re going to start in the same place we started with him trotting, where he got really worked up and just couldn’t calm down afterwards, but hopefully we’ll just take it slowly and he will be OK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I'm on vacation but I have some pictures that I couldn't post last time.

The pictures of Pony. Look how tired he was. He had just spent two hours in the "inside" area (the only one with growing grass right now) and was just so tired. Pooh! All of that grazing is hard work! In the other picture, I like to imagine he's dreaming about cookies. My daughter says he looks like Wise Pony, the old master who knows everything.

I love the picture of me and Teddy. I've never seen a picture of him, or honestly ever really seen him, where I couldn't see the whites of his eyes. He's just one of those horses where you can see the whites all of the time. I think in this picture he was just really relaxed and happy. I hope he's OK when I get back -- between his ability to injure himself and his anxiety, you never know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
We got back a few days ago. The horses were happy to see us. It was nice. Teddy, who is usually very quiet, sort of came up to the fence when he first saw me, and then when he realized it really was me he just started whinnying and whinnying, then licking his lips (I guess he figured I was going to feed him?). Moonshine saw us and came running up, and Pony trotted up behind her. He didn’t want to go in his stall, which was fine with me. I left him in the “front” area, grazing. I went over to check on him a few times to make sure he was OK, and he kept putting his nose on me. It was sweet.

We had the equine dental specialist out today, with results that I detailed in another post. Teddy had a tooth or two pulled, and we scheduled a followup to get all of his top molars, which have holes in them, filled. The vet said it’s almost 100% certain to mean that he won’t have any more tooth problems. As I noted in that post, I’m glad that we have a Teddy problem that finally seems like we have a clear cause and solution to, even if the solution is expensive.

We haven’t been able to bring ourselves to ride yet. It’s just so unbearably hot, especially after coming back from Seattle. But there’s no break in sight, so I guess we’re just going to have to deal with it. For sure I need to ride Teddy ASAP. He isn’t one of those horses that does well when they aren’t ridden for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I hadn’t ridden, and Teddy hadn’t been ridden, in three weeks, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Last time I didn’t ride him for four weeks, and he had a hard time that first lesson back. But today he was really good! Overall pretty relaxed. We worked on changing the speed of his trot. He’s OK increasing the speed slightly, but it’s harder to get him to decrease slightly – he either decreases only for a few paces then increases again, or slows to a walk.

The heat wasn’t as bad as I expected. We were in the covered arena and it was breezy, and only about 90-95 degrees. Teddy just sweated a little where the saddle pad was, so I just had to sponge him off and squeegee. He doesn’t like getting baths and I don’t like giving them, so sponging is great. I couldn’t find the sponge, though, so I got a washcloth and a flat feed bucket, filled the feed bucket about an inch full of water, and just sat it on his butt so I could keep dipping the washcloth in it and it would just be there.

My daughter rode Moonshine, and Moonshine did very well for her. Moonshine is a strong horse who can be stubborn at times, so it was nice that they had a good lesson. She was like “I always feel happy when I’ve had a good lesson.” I agree, although I also sort of like having a lesson where Pony and I are fighting a lot, because ultimately I will win, and who doesn’t like winning?

Teddy needed some oral Bute for one last day because of his tooth extraction, but I had a hard time getting him to take it today. I guess we’ll work on that. The vet says he will definitely need it after his big oral surgery coming up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Did they give you the orange flavored Bute? My horses appreciate it a lot better than the bitter stuff.
Hmm, I will check. It remember thinking that it definitely smelled like something that had some sort of flavoring added. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
A week ago, when riding Pony, I found a spot where I’ve been holding tension, sort of in my outer hip bones. I worked on relaxing that. I don’t know if I have always held tension there or if it was a new thing, but it felt good to recognize it and be able to focus and relax it.

Riding Teddy on Saturday, during my pre-lesson warmup, I suddenly felt the urge to sort of shift my weight back onto a different part of my rear, and at the same time relax and open my hips. I did this, and I found that I just felt more relaxed all over, and it seemed like I was able to have a better following seat as well. My whole body felt more relaxed. I couldn’t see how it looked, but to my mind it reminded me of a CRK training video I had seen where she showed someone in an apparently really good riding position, but then she showed that person later, when they were really relaxed, and their weight was sort of shifted back and they sort of sank into the saddle. That’s what I felt like. I thought maybe it was because I was in Teddy’s soft and cushy saddle.

We also started our official cantering work with Teddy. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge, because I have some canter anxiety and he picks up on rider anxiety, but on the other hand he doesn’t try tricks like Pony does. We did several laps each way, and he got a little “up” at first and was hard to bring back to a walk, like when we first started trotting but not as bad. But then he settled down pretty quickly. Overall I think we did a good job. I’m feeling better about cantering already, and I think once I relax a little he will also.

Today’s lesson with Pony, I found that I could still do the same thing I did on Teddy’s saddle, where I sort of relax back into the saddle. It made my sitting trot that much better. He was in a very compliant mood today, so we actually did a little cantering. My instructor noted that my loose fingers are setting me up for failure, because Pony (probably like most horses) likes to pull his head forward when he first starts cantering. Then my reins get loose, then I loose control, and then he starts doing whatever he wants (which is mostly ducking into the middle). So I focused on that, and suddenly he was much better! It’s like one of those “tricks” some people claim to have to fix everything. Well, this won’t fix everything, but it’s going to give him more clarity about what I want, and me more control, so that can only be a good thing. I also got him to pick up his sticky (left) lead once. I’m feeling even better about cantering now.

I had a sort of revelation about Pony, which really shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but… he would rather I be nice to him than yell at him all the time. Pony is a stubborn little guy who doesn’t mind fighting about things, and I guess we’ve sort of gotten to a place where I’m just getting on his case a lot. Whereas with Teddy, I always understood that he needed me to help him do the right thing, and then praise him for it. He likes to know he did the right thing. I’ve realized Pony would also prefer to be helped to do the right thing and then praised. He doesn’t mind being yelled at all, but he’d still prefer that I was nice to him. So I’ve been working on that the last couple of weeks, and he seems a lot happier now. I’m also spending more time, when grooming, him, telling him how handsome and nice he is, and what a big fat pony bottom he has (he does have a big fat pony bottom). But I tell him about his big fat pony bottom in a nice voice, and it makes him happy. The thing about Pony is, sometimes it’s easy to take him for granted. Hopefully I’ve stopped doing that, for now at least.

I’m really looking forward to the weather cooling off more. When it does, I’m going to try to add one extra riding day, and ride each of them for half an hour to an hour. I’ll start Teddy back on his muscle builder supplements as well (there was not really much point giving them to him over the summer IMO because I was only riding him once a week if that, and those supplements are expensive).
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Teddy surprise. Also, I cannot deal.

Teddy was more anxious today than usual. Or his girth was bothering him. It's a little hard to tell sometimes. I think it was anxiety. Maybe because we had to use a different arena today. He wasn't too bad, just more antsy than he has been in a while. The surprise was that he seems to like jumping. I know he was trained to jump, but I've only asked him to do it once, and that lesson went poorly for a number of other reasons. I took him over a bounce and a low X jump today. My instructor said he really seemed to like jumping. She said he just had a happy and interested look on his face. And he settled down a lot more after that, too.

I've definitely noticed in other lessons that a lot of times with raised ground poles he just prefers to jump them rather than trot over. I just didn't think any horse actually really LIKED to jump. This is actually fine with me. I'm not really interested in jumping courses or anything, but it would be nice to do a couple of low jumps in lessons, especially if he likes them. We'll see how he does next time.

The heat. By the time we left it was almost 100, and I don't know why, but my body is just done with this. I told my daughter I'd help wash her horse, but standing out there in the sun I started to feel sick. She had to finish it by herself while I took Pony and Teddy back to their pasture. I came home and took a cool shower and I've been sitting in the AC, but I still feel bad. I just cannot deal with any more heat. It's almost the middle of September -- enough with the 100s. My next lesson is early morning Wednesday, which should be fine, but I don't know what I will do if it's still this hot next weekend for my mid-morning lesson. Oh well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Pony!

Well, last lesson Teddy gave me a surprise. This lesson Pony gave me a bit of a surprise.
To backtrack a bit. I try to start riding about 15 minutes before my lesson so I don’t waste my precious lesson time just getting my guy warmed up or focused. However, I do need to take care of all three horses myself if I’m the only one out there. Since it’s been dry, this summer it’s mostly just been giving them all a quick curry, brush, fly spray, and once over. It finally rained yesterday, though, so I had to pick everyone’s hooves, which was a pain because of the clay we have here. Then Moonshine unusually was pretty muddy. I don’t see the point in putting fly spray on a dirty horse. So I had to clean her up and then fly spray. Teddy was also a little dirty.

Pony luckily wasn’t too dirty, but I did try to brush him off extra good, and building on what I said before about being nice to him, I talked to him very nicely the whole time. He was also extremely itchy today, to the point where he actually wanted me to stick my fingers inside his ear and scratch him. Normally his ears are no-go areas. I spent a lot of time itching him in various places. But by the time we finished that and got tacked up, we were just barely in time for the lesson.

He did very well. No fighting at all today. And he went over some raised poles with a really gorgeous step. He was doing so well my instructor decided we should canter. BUT. She wanted to canter him from a standstill. I asked her how I was supposed to signal that to him, and she gave me some thoughts. But my canter cues are terrible. I’m still working on that. So, this is what I did, and the surprise was that it worked. It’s not a crazy big surprise, because Pony is quite sensitive and responsive when he wants to be. Anyway, I walked him to a point at one end of the arena and stopped. And then I started just pouring energy into myself, like mentally revving my engine while still in neutral. I poured until I was totally full, then pushed with my seat and thought to him “LET’S GO” and by golly he WENT! It was great! I had never cantered anyone from a standstill. I loved the way it felt. We also tried his sticky side (and when I say sticky, I mean like super sticky) from a standstill, and he picked it the correct lead no problem! So, the surprise was that he understood what I was asking, even though I wasn't too clear, and did it, no questions asked. When this guy wants to be good, he is just amazing.

We did some more trot poles, then trot poles to canter back to trot, and he did great with all of that. We had a short lesson because honestly he just did everything so well we wanted him let him be done.

ETA: my daughter is right. When you have a really good lesson on your own horse, especially when your own horse is known to put up a fight at times, it feels GREAT!
 
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And now you are ready to race! Yay! See how fun it is? With 3 horses, you can race them and see who is fastest, second fastest, and slowest.

Just kidding. At my age, I haven't raced my 4 and can't tell you who is the fastest . . . though I do feel a little ashamed that I don't know. Not ashamed enough to do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
LOL I was actually thinking something like that. Not to race them against each other (I'm afraid Teddy wouldn't appreciate having a whole bunch of energy poured into him like that), but maybe there are pony races I can enter. At the very least, he might win fattest pony (amazing how that's only one letter off from "fastest" pony), or most likely to eat someone's hat, or something like that. Even if he weren't the fastest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Moonshine’s new bodyworker came yesterday for the first time, during school hours, so I rode Moonshine for her. I hadn’t ridden her in probably six months, and wow I have new respect for my daughter. Moonshine is forward, strong, and opinionated; and she also apparently is in a lot of discomfort, and even getting consistent circles (to the right at least) was hard. I also kept almost losing stirrups because of her bouncy trot. I had already decided that I want to start riding her again, because I know how different she is from the other two (can’t get too used to ponies), and this cemented it. The only thing is, my daughter doesn’t like me to ride her. Anyone else can ride her: the trainer, a random stranger, my husband, some other kid at the barn, but not me. It’s some sort of weird jealousy thing, I think. Or maybe she is afraid I’ll do better with Moonshine than she does. Not likely!

The body worker didn’t even need me to canter her, her problems were so obvious. It was nice that our trainer was also there, so she hopped on Moonshine so the body worker could show me from the ground what she was seeing. Once I knew what to look for, it was just super obvious. She has pain in her right hock that’s causing her to short step to the right, and she’s over-compensating for it by moving her body around in a weird way, which has led to a lot of hip imbalances. The body worker thinks it’s very fixable. So, we’ll work on that.

I have a cold so I had an easy lesson (short, walk-trot only) with Pony. He did so well. Really nice circles, which is something that he does easily, but also very nice straight lines (done diagonally on the arena, so not on the rail), which is something he’s had problems with. Sometimes I forget to appreciate him, but after riding Moonshine yesterday, I re-realized how awesome he is. He’s just so sensitive, smooth, and responsive. You just think what you want him to do and he does it (except when he’s having a pony moment, LOL). Everything you want him to do, he can do. No discomfort, stiffness, and rushing, like Moonshine.

Pony was started late, and he hasn’t been ridden hard. With an earlier start and more frequent training, he could have been doing anything by now. But while our progress has been slow, it’s been really rewarding; and I hope that by going slowly and riding lightly, maybe he will not end up with all of the physical problems that Moonshine has. Also he’s maintained his sunny, friendly, outgoing nature to this day, and that was always the most important thing to me.

Trainer / barn owner keeps telling me she’ll take him off my hands if necessary. It was nice at first, because (1) it's good to know that someone more experienced than me sees something in him too; and (2) honestly it’s hard to make ends meet with three horses in a boarding facility, and it’s good to know that if I were unable to keep paying their bills, that at least one of them already has a home. But she just keeps saying it, and now it’s getting weird. I’m like, um, yeah, I’ll let you know if I need to do that…
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
I had a nice lesson on Teddy today. He was feeling really steady and calm so we did a lot of cantering work. It seems like, just with his trot, he gets nervous / excited and likes to speed up at the canter. It only took several months of trot work to get over the trotting issue, LOL. I don't think it will take as long with the cantering. We alternated cantering, trotting, and walking, because he needs to be able to calm down and just walk or trot slowly after cantering.

One thing I love about Teddy is that he's just so nice to ride. His canter, while tending to speed up, is really smooth. He picked up both leads first try, no problem. He counter-cantered (oops, my fault) very smoothly. He gave me a flying lead change when we had a miscommunication about leads. His trot is, I don't know how to describe it, bouncy with impulsion but also really smooth, and fairly easy to post or sit. His walk is a nice working walk. And of course he just tries his heart out with everything.

We went over a "jump" (a very low cross rail) about half a dozen times. We finished on a good note and I gave him some love then turned him out in the front / public area, because it's the only place where there is green grass left. The barn owner is fine with him being out there, as long as I'm around, because he is mild mannered and no trouble to anyone.

Short and sweet today!

ETA: I forgot to mention, someone came up to me afterwards and complimented me. She said that we looked really good and that Teddy seemed just super calm. Yay!
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
I ended up riding all three of them today.

I rode Teddy first. Overall, honestly, the word I can best use to describe the ride was “terrible.” We started off well, worked on leg yields, but … he just wanted to go. I trotted him over a ground pole, I mean literally a pole on the ground, and he cantered out. And there was so much head tossing. It was like we were back to our first week of riding, it was that bad. I changed out girths halfway through, just in case, but that didn’t help. The instructor thought he just wanted to go faster, and that could be the case. That’s how he was when we started. But my instructor at that time thought it was important to get him to where he could go slow, and I agree. I don’t know, maybe it’s because we’ve been cantering more and doing those low jumps. Maybe he thinks that’s what we’re going to be doing now? He just seemed so very anxious. I didn’t even try riding him in two-point, he was tossing his head so much. We cut the lesson short and lowered our expectations again and again, trying to end on a good note. He managed to walk half a lap without tossing his head, and I just got off him at that point.

Unless it’s that he thinks he needs to canter and is anxious that he can’t, I can’t understand what was bothering him today. Afterwards I tied him (he has historically had issues being tied) to bathe him, and that went pretty well. Applying sunscreen was fine (another historical problem) and we made progress on the dewormer. He was actually doing so well on the ground that even though he had done all those things, we worked on loading up in the trailer, and that went pretty well also.

We’re taking several steps back with Moonshine and trying to teach her to give to pressure and learn to round out her back when moving. Our instructor worked with her for about 15 minutes yesterday, and she seems to have already gotten the idea. She wanted me to try, from the ground and also on her back, so I could get a feel for it. We just tossed the bareback pad on her for this. I rode her for maybe 10 minutes, she did great, and we were done. Next weekend my daughter will try the same thing.

My Teddy lesson had been cut short, and my daughter wasn’t there for her lesson, so the instructor offered me a short Pony lesson as well. Luckily, whenever I bring them in I always do basic grooming, hoof picking, and fly spraying on all of them, even if I’m not planning on riding, so I just had to tack him up and go.

Sometimes I compare Pony negatively to Teddy, but you know what, Pony is CALM and nothing really bothers him. OK, he shies at stuff a lot, but it’s just a couple of quick steps and he’s fine. He has no anxiety that needs to be managed, no emotional problems. It was honestly a relief to ride him after the terrible Teddy ride. I planned on doing a short lesson and then riding him out the long driveway and back. He was doing well enough that we decided to canter. He was fine to the right, which is his good direction. The first time I tried to the left, he got it wrong. But the second time he got it right! Well, apparently he got it half right. The instructor said he had the correct lead on the front and the wrong lead on the back. But after a few steps he fixed it himself (she was like, “Did you feel that?” and I was like “Yeah, I definitely felt that.” So, I said let’s just call it a day with him. It’s been really hard for him on that lead, and he did really well.

One thing she suggested I do was lean in the opposite direction of the lead I wanted him to pick up, and that may have helped. I will definitely try that at our lesson next time.

I guess the good thing is that with three horses, at least *something* is probably going to go right every day. If one of them has an off day, you can usually make it up with one of the others. Still, the cold front is supposed to be coming in a couple of days and I think I am going to come out and ride Teddy, just keeping it really relaxed, and see if we can work through this. Or maybe it was just a bad day for him. I’m also hoping that once he gets his teeth fixed (one month!) he will calm down a little. We’ll see!
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
My lesson today was, I guess, a wash. Pony was in a pony mood, meaning he wanted to get up to all sorts of pony tricks. But we did a lot of work over raised poles and he did really well. I asked him to canter twice and he picked up the left lead both times, even though I asked for the right lead the first time and his right lead is his preferred lead. My instructor said it may be that he's had a breakthrough with that side, he's finally learned to do it, and now he thinks "left lead" is the correct answer to everything.

On the other hand, cantering + girth too loose + pony tricks + me not sitting back in the saddle led to me eating dirt today. Well, I guess it's not really eating dirt if you land on your back? When I fell, the saddle was like halfway up his neck. I had been trying to hang on when I started falling, but looking at that saddle I think it was pretty inevitable that I was going to come off. Luckily the sand is super deep there. However, my car keys fell out and I didn't realize that for a while, LOL.

Changing topics.

Teddy is just afraid of everything. It's funny because he doesn't shy, spook, or bolt, ever. But everything is just so scary to him. They store trailers next to the barn we use, and today one of them was open. Well, Snorty McSnortnose could barely make it past that scary dark box (to be fair, this is an unusually dark trailer). When he wanted to leave the barn, he couldn't get past it at all. I had to lead him past. Whereas Pony saw that trailer, investigated it, and quickly learned that there was FOOD on the floor. That food is now gone. Sorry trailer owner.

Pony operates on the assumption that everything should be investigated because everything might contain food. And he's often right! Teddy operates on the assumption that everything is a potential trap for poor innocent horses. I love Teddy to pieces, but sometimes it's just too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
We were supposed to go out and see them Thursday after school, but it was just so hot (97 at our place) that I postponed it for Friday, when the cold front was supposed to come through.

It was one heck of a cold front. Temps were 97 on Thursday (99) at the official city weather station near us and 46 on Friday late morning. I had been planning on going out to see them in the afternoon once the wind died down, but then late morning it started raining. So, we went from too hot to visit to going out there and putting on blankets in 24 hours.

My goodness, those horses were UP when we went out there. All of them, even Moonshine, kicking and bucking in the pasture, running around like crazy. Lately I’ve been opening the gate and letting Moonshine and Teddy come in to the front area, one at a time, because they can generally be counted on to walk or maybe trot slowly to the barn where we feed them. I halter Pony and walk him in because he tends to be somewhat, umm, exuberant, which can get the other ones riled up. Today (I mean Friday) Teddy came in and then parked himself right next to the gate so no one else could get out. He needed several butt whappings before he moved. Then I got Pony haltered and let him in and held him while I held the gate for Moonshine. Well of course Moonshine and Teddy took off running, and Pony wanted to go with them. I kept him with me, but it’s times like this where it’s a good thing he’s pony-sized, because he really didn’t appreciate having to stay with me while I closed and latched the gate.

I’m glad we went out there, because the first thing I noticed after bringing them in was that Teddy was shivering. It was only lightly raining out there but the wind was bad. Once he got into a stall and started tucking into his alfalfa hay he stopped shivering pretty quickly. Moonshine was also shivering a little. Pony, of course, was just having a great day with no problems. We dried them all off and blanketed, even though in retrospect I wonder if it would have made more sense to leave Moonshine and Pony unblanketed: Moonshine because she could really stand to lose some weight (so shivering would be exercise for her) and Pony because he didn’t seem to mind the weather. Anyway, they all got blanketed. I guess I remembered how to do it because those three were all acting STOOOPID out there, running around, spooking at nothing, kicking, bucking, etc., and no one’s blankets got messed up. I eventually decided we’d have to put them back in the pasture. The front area has better grass because no horses live there, but it’s also where they store a bunch of random equipment and supplies, and that plus horses acting dumb seemed like a bad combination.

The first horse I grabbed to put back was Teddy. I got him on the lead rope and then all of the sudden Moonshine and another horse came galloping up and zoomed past us. Teddy is the boss horse, but Moonshine is the leader, so he does what she does. However, I gently increased the pressure on his lead rope, talked to him nicely, and petted him, and he didn’t even think about running off with them. That was nice. I mean, to know that he will look to me instead of her, if I ask. We put all the horses back and called it a day.

Saturday was a gorgeous day for riding. Teddy was a lot more settled, but we decided to keep him at a walk and trot today. I do think that all of the cantering and jumping is starting to get him a little worked up. It was just like this with trotting, at first. For months he would get worked up about trotting, not be able to hold a steady pace, toss his head, and generally be anxious. We worked past that with lots of patience and, frankly, by forcing him to slow down, and I think we’ll get past the cantering the same way.

I’ve been working on loading Teddy and he’s made a lot of progress. On Saturday I decided, out of curiosity, to see how Pony would do. I thought he’d be pretty easy and I was right. A split second hesitation and he loaded right up. The problem was getting him back out, LOL. This trailer has been set up so that a lot of people are using it to work on loading their horses, so the manger is just full of treats and feed. Pony decided that he was in pony heaven and was not interested in leaving. Obviously I got him back out, but one thing I did have trouble with was keeping enough pressure on him so that he wouldn’t go back to the feed, but not so much that he went to fast backing out and then hurt himself. Also I had a hard time keeping him straight when backing out, so he ended up halfway down the ramp and then backing off the side of the ramp. OF course, being Pony, he was fine, but this is something we need to work on.

Also on Saturday I had the discussion with the barn owner and our instructor, about Moonshine, that I posted about elsewhere. I’ve gotten lots of good opinions about the situation and now I just need to figure out what to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
I posted about the Parelli clinic elsewhere. I just wanted to note here how happy I was that Pony enjoyed it so much. I had hoped, going into it, that he would, but he just loved it. He really enjoys doing new stuff, and I think I also likes it when people pay a lot of attention to him, so, yeah, he was happy. I guess the best surprise was that except for one cookie the instructor gave him, and a couple of alfalfa pellets, the only rewards he got were lots of praise, and he did just fine with that. The groundwork part of the clinic lasted about three hours, and he stayed focused throughout the whole thing.

There was one moment, though, where I was standing next to him listening to the instructor and he nipped me. I think he was bored or wanted attention. I just turned around and slapped him on the face and turned back to what I was doing. He was like, “Oh, OK” and then just quietly nuzzled.

It is finally sort of cooling off, and my early private lesson was changed to a later group lesson, so I rode Teddy a little this morning. I got there late and didn’t have as much time as I wanted, so we only rode for about 15 minutes, but he was really calm and relaxed the whole time, so that’s good. We just walked and trotted, including trotting over the ground poles that had made him canter before.

I haven’t been in a group lesson with Pony, aside from a lesson with one of my other guys, in a long time. He used to be terrible in groups – he would act like a butt with all the other horses, and then he would just act up in general. Barn owner thought it was his stallion-like tendencies (he didn’t want other horses to see someone dominating him) but whatever it was, it seems to have gone away. We had one mild ear pinning issue (the instructor said “that’s a Moonshine face!”), and then at the end he acted up a little bit after the instructor gave me a whip, but otherwise he was great. Stood still no problem, stood next to all the other horses no problem, tried hard. Like an actual trained pony!

Side note: I got some slow-feed hay nets. Moonshine HATES hers, LOL. She couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t give her all the hay all at once, and it did NOT please her. She eventually settled down and resigned herself to it, but she definitely was not happy. Too bad – it’s there until she loses some weight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Someone sent me a picture from the clinic. The main person you see is my daughter on Moonshine. I think that's me behind her. And of course Teddy, looking in, wondering what the other members of his herd are doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
My guys were really up again today when I went to get them. I wanted them to come in one at a time and they were crowding each other, kicking, snapping, bucking, the works. So I went out there and yelled at them and got big and made them clear out before I let them in. But once they came in, they were just running and kicking and bucking again. I want them to come in nicely. I think the problem today was that I just got them even more riled up by yelling at them and throwing my weight around. Next time I’m going to go out there and just park myself at the gate until they settle down. I always get to my lesson early. So I can wait. We’ll see how it goes.

I was ticked off at Teddy in particular because after I let him out he sort of bucked in my general direction, which is absolutely not OK. I yelled at him, but again, probably not helping. He is usually the gentle and sensitive one. I guess I got it under control, though, because we had a nice short ride with minimal head tossing. He’s super sensitive, and he needs me to be the calm leader or he starts getting worried. He did a really good job maintaining a steady gait, even over poles. One thing I worked on with Teddy (well, really myself) was feeling his footfalls. My instructor said something the other day that implied that I should be able to do this. So I worked on making sure I had the right diagonal at my posting trot by feeling where his feet were, rather than looking down. It worked!

I tried the same thing with Pony in our lesson, but I was much less successful. He just has such a tiny smooth little trot. I guess I will have to get more sensitive. Maybe by practicing more on Teddy I can get better on Pony. I had a good lesson overall. I’m trying to ride him more to get him back into shape and it seems to be paying off. He didn’t seem really tired until the lesson was pretty much over. He did pretty well today. We did a bending over poles exercise, and he actually did better than the lesson horse, even though he had never done that particular exercise before. But he’s a very bendy Pony.

I’ve started putting Pony’s and Moonshine’s hay in slow-feeder bags. Pony seems to think his is some sort of game and he really likes it (“Ooh HOOOH! You think you can keep me from my hay, do you? Is this a CHALLENGE???? I will show you what a PONY can do!”). Moonshine has finally accepted hers, but she still doesn’t like it. She gives up when there is still hay in there, and then starts wandering around trying to get bits of hay off the ground or, bizarrely, from Pony’s bag (my daughter speculated that she sees Pony having a good time with his hay bag and assumes it must be better than hers). She’s supposed to be spending her “in” time grazing, but to be fair with the drought there isn’t a lot of grazing to do, even though none of the horses are let in there. Anyway, I ended up putting her back out in the pasture a little early today because she was making a pest of herself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
My daughter wasn’t feeling well again today, in fact she was feeling so crummy she didn’t even want to go and just hang out with Moonshine. So I went by myself. As expected, everyone had nasty muddy hooves that took extra time to pick; but on the other hand they had all been in sheets overnight and I had groomed them before putting the sheets on, so no one really needed any brushing. But I just took forever doing everything. Actually that wasn’t a bad thing, because by the time I was ready for my lesson the weather was really nice: in the 60s, sunny, low humidity, light north wind.

Teddy was a little worried at first. Both of the arenas we usually use were in use, so I mounted him off a random jump that was sitting out next to the road, and then just rode him around the road until we got an arena. That was DIFFERENT and he doesn't like things that are different.
There was only one horse in that arena, but he was acting up, and that worried Teddy. But we were fine. Those guys left, we rode in there for a bit, then went to the other arena. He had some head tossing today, but he FELT relaxed and easy, and he did a super job keeping up a nice slow/medium trot. We also got him going over the poles and raised poles at a smooth, steady trot, and not breaking out into a canter afterwards.

Teddy’s allergies seem to be bothering him. We must be allergic to the same stuff (ragweed?) because mine have been terrible the last few nights. He’s had runny eyes, and today they were really crusty and gross. It’s nice that we have hot water now, because I got a towel nice and hot and used it to sort of melt away the goop, then I rubbed and picked, and melted some more, and picked some more, and his eyes looked a lot better. Then 10 minutes later, they were running. I think maybe his tear ducts got a little blocked, and once I opened that (with the warm water, too) more stuff was waiting. I rubbed that stuff off too, and that seemed to hold. But after I put him out in the pasture I saw that his nose was running, and the only thing I had to wipe it on was my shirt. It’s funny, I was never one of those mothers who are constantly wiping their kids’ noses, but Teddy just seems to need more than the others. I mean, he needs more than the other two horses, and he needs more than my daughter needed.

I put all my stuff away after riding Teddy, but the weather was just so nice that I got it out again and rode Pony a little. We walked and trotted in both arenas. He was in a nice mood today. I had to get off a couple times to move the ground poles around, and he just followed me around and then waited until I was done. If I had had an instructor there I would have cantered him. Maybe I should have anyways. The problem is that I can’t tell if I’m on the correct lead (I know how to tell, I’m just not good at it) and I don’t want to get anyone in the habit of picking up the wrong lead. He just felt really good today, nice and easy but more forward than usual. We finished off by walking down the long driveway, further than we’ve gone in the past.

An interesting, but not surprising, difference between Teddy and Pony when ridden is that Teddy constantly has his ears on me, unless there is some sort of obstacle or something in front of him. And even then he usually has one ear on the obstacle and one on me. Whereas Pony’s ears are here, there, and everywhere: sometimes ahead, sometimes on me, sometimes to the sides. Teddy really wants to know what I’m doing, for information and for reassurance. Pony doesn’t need reassurance or (he believes) information from me. He’s like “Don’t worry, lady, I got this.” And lately, I have to say that he does.

ETA: when I was getting ready to leave, I was on one side of my car and the barn owner was on the other side. I heard her ask "How was Mr Perfect today?" and kept on doing what I was doing. But it turns out she was talking to me, about Pony. I was like, I'm sorry, "I'm sorry, I assumed you were talking to someone else." Because Pony is far from being Mr Perfect. He is, however, Mr Getting-Better-All-The-Time.
 
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