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Discussion Starter #221
So just about when I think Missy is a no-stress horse, or at least low stress, we are having problems. I rode her today--another unbelievably gorgeous day for December! 50 and Sunny!. But my little friend didn't go with me today, she had too much schoolwork. So me and Missy went out alone and during the course of the ride Missy got called Sassypants, Sassyboots and Sassybritches. Not that she was doing anything just too terrible, but it makes it less fun when I have to be giving little corrections all the time. And it's mainly a problem because of her physical state. She's tripping and stumbling and bumbling a LOT. And because she doesn't want to go out alone, she is not paying attention to where she's walking as much--or that's the sassy part too--she keeps trying to get down in the ditch--where the footing is worse and then she REALLY stumbles.

Overall, she doesn't seem to be very hardy the last two or three weeks. She's slower than normal and today she barely even wanted to canter on the way home--and she was raring to go on previous rides. Because of all the stumbling, I only cantered her in one spot for about 2 minutes, where the terrain is very flat and even and short grass. She did fine for that, but as soon as I slowed her and we were trotting--she did a big trip and was thrown forward--only the third time in 45 minutes we'd had a trip like that and many, many stumbles and missteps throughout. So I need to tell the owner. I am so afraid of being seen as a "problem" or being told I'm imagining it (I'm not--but it's a worry, they are seeming to gloss over problems and don't talk much)

I've also had a different saddle last week and this week--the two worst weeks for stumbling. Could poor saddle fit be making her trip and stumble? The saddle does seem a bit tight--she's a girthy horse with very high, prominent withers and this saddle belongs to a much thinner horse. they seem to have lost the stirrups (and the cinch) that go with the regular saddle. It's annoying. This saddle also isn't comfortable for me--it's a bit too small for me, but all the other saddles are kid saddles and really don't fit me. Ugh.

I am not paying rockbottom prices for this horse. The property is a nightmare of junk and falling down everything, which I'm ok with if the horses are taken care of and I have a safe horse and tack to ride in--but it's getting a little aggravating now. Need to figure out a very short way of texting the owner about the problems--without coming off high-handed, snotty, or whatever. Texting is her preferred method of communication and whatever I write to her, I always get the standard "ok" back from her. She of little words. LOL Anyway, I'm hoping Money isn't just too arthritic to ride during the cold months. I only hear a small amount of creaking--I've heard more on some younger horses, but I don't know.

Sorry for the rant. Riding day is always a good day, but today was a little more stressful b/c of horse issues and b/c of some family news I got right when I arrived at the farm.
 

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Creaking is not a way to determine arthritis in a horse. It could be that the hard ground is bothering Missy - even thought its warm the ground is most definitely solid. I don't live too much south of you and two of my horses are tippy toeing because the ground is hard. She could be a horse with thin soles and all of the cantering etc has caused bruising. Using a young teenager as a trail guide doesn't mean she is old enough to understand that cantering willy nilly all over the place is the best thing for the horse. Of course, saddle fit could be an issue and cause her stride to be off and make moving freely harder. How many people ride the horse you are riding? How often? I know she is used for lessons as well as your lease so I just wonder if she is foot sore if everyone rides her the way you and the teenage girl ride? And her being hesitant this time out is understandable - she is now used to riding with a buddy.

I think you can word a text to the owner nicely and just say you have noticed that Missy seems to be stumbling more and that you just wanted to let her know. I would say this as well - if you know you are riding in a saddle that is too small for you it will also affect the horse. Your weight will be distributed differently in a too small saddle and it will change how you sit.
 

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Discussion Starter #223
Ok, thanks for all the info! I had been wondering about the hard ground too. I honestly don't know how much Missy gets ridden the rest of the week. I think she mostly gets ridden on the property by kids--so that's in the arena and on the grass trails--where she is tripping a lot as well--it's not very even ground. They had some family members over a couple weeks ago and it sounds like they rode her a lot, but that's not normal. I don't think anyone else is riding her on the road lately, but I don't know. She seemed like such a tank when I first met her--nothing bothered her, great feet, etc. I know what you're saying about teenagers, but this girl has grown up on horses and she takes a lot of care with them. When her horse seemed the tiniest bit tired one day, like she might be blowing a bit harder--she stopped immediately and we didn't canter the rest of the way. If I or Missy are not doing well for some reason, she is totally willing to not do any cantering if need be. And it's only in a few areas of our ride we can even do that. Honestly, some of the places are better than the tracks cut into their property as far as footing.
So, yeah, I don't know. I've written to the owner and haven't heard back yet. But I suspect it may soon be time to stop riding Missy for the Winter--or at least only do very light riding on the farm--in her normal saddle if that's possible. I'm not sure why they don't want me to just take the stirrups off the other saddle and put them on Missy's--rather than use a whole different saddle. I'm trying not to be pushy as they are SO low key and I don't want to come across as an alarmist or needy. But there are some minimum requirements that have to be met here.
I was so lucky in the past to have horses that were just sane and sound all the time to ride. I know now that I had almost a magical time with horses in my teens and all through my 20's. Never realized what a total PIA horse life was. LOL
 
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I hope the owner responds & does something about it. The ill-fitting tack could be a factor, but she may have some other stuff going on, could just be a poor farrier job too, or her feet are just sore from the hard ground. Especially on trails.
I would also not continue to ride her until things are figured out, but it shouldn't stop you from riding in general. See if there's any other lesson barns or places you could ride. I know it's tough, but they should know better than to use ill-fitting tack & if she's constantly stumbling, that signals she shouldn't be ridden like that.

The hard ground can definitely be a factor - she may just be sore from it. I know my mare can be a bit tender when the ground is harder, sometimes I put trail boots on her to help with that.
 

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Discussion Starter #226
So I'm just not sure how hard the ground is. We haven't had a single freeze here yet and if anything it's very soft out there. I was wondering if that was part of the issue--too soft ground--muddy and creating uneven footing. And of course, her being a little sore probably. Owner still hasn't responded. If I don't hear from her in a couple days, I'm going to write again and say I don't want to ride until I know Missy is safe to ride and that I need to use that other saddle b/c it fits me better--and possibly the horse. The saddle that is supposedly Missy's is a little kid (or very small adult) saddle--like a 14" and synthetic.

I don't want to do a lesson barn b/c of drama and cost and time. To lease a lesson horse at any of the barns around here that I've called you have to take a once a week lesson at about $40-$50 and then pay a minimum of $100/month to ride one day week--outside the lesson. They also ALL have a weight limit of 200lbs--or sometimes 180. I am 205. I can't get there twice in a week and don't want my only riding to be in a lesson arena. I also can't ride on the same day every week--not without difficulty or missing weeks so that's just not a good fit for me.
Hopefully they'll get Missy sorted out or maybe there's even a different horse I can ride--but probably only on the property then. With Winter coming, I'm going to try to be less concerned about this. Pretty soon there won't be any riding at all out there and I'll have to wait for Spring anyway. Maybe that time has come due to Missy's condition and I will have to see how she is in Spring after a long rest.

And just so no one things I've been hammering this older horse--we are cantering for less than 10-15 minutes in a 1.5 - 2 hr ride--and not all at once. It seems like a lot to me when we go for almost two minutes at a time. LOL When she was feeling good, there was no problem. We'll see how it all plays out. There are some other potential lease horses out there so I'm not going to panic or feel desperate.
 

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Discussion Starter #227
Well, my husband has convinced me to resume my calendar craziness, so I'm ending my riding year with a bang! I'm going to go out one last time and take 5 months worth of Horse Holiday Calendar pics. LOL It will be fast costume changes and layering--as it will all be outdoors and it's finally Winter here. :) I'll be doing October, November, December, January and February. It works out well--close to half the calendar with each horse. I just hope my Christmas horse costume gets here by Wenesday so I can go out on Thursday. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #228
Oh my goodness, it's been a while since I posted. I've been so bummed about not having any horse time! Due to weather and the holidays, I haven't been out to ride in almost 3 weeks! No calendar pics either due to a lot of wet weather. Since Missy's farm has no safe footing for weather and now we got dumped on a couple days ago, I'm unfortunately done out there for the Winter after all. I'll have to resume pics in early Spring--while it still looks like Winter--OR......maybe use the new horse I'm going to be riding for some of them!

So, last August/early September, right before I started leasing Missy, I tested out another horse near her. This was a horse owned by a woman who lived far away and boarded at her friend's farm here. So the friend was showing him to me--an Arabian gelding. I loved the horse, but there was just no place to ride and she didn't have the right saddle for the horse, so I was sitting funny and was out of practice posting and the horse was VERY bouncy. This is him
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The only place to ride was a small part of her yard and driveway and the indoor arena--which is already small and then was stuffed full of equipment so you could literally only ride around in a small circle. I needed more real riding.

Well, fast forward to Winter and the farm owner is now leasing out her own horse. I love this woman, very nice and very nice horses. Turns out this is her favorite horse she's leasing out--a 19yo 15.2h half Arab gelding who gave her her start in horses and she's shown him in multi-disciplines and named her farm after him! He's bombproof and looks to go Western or English. I'm riding him on Monday to make sure he's good for me and vice versa. But if all goes well, he wll be my new riding partner, at least for Winter. She cleaned out the indoor arena and says there is room in there to canter. And she might be working on cutting some trails into her property and making other places to ride outdoors, so if this goes well, I might continue with this lease or go back to Missy--or tradeoff. I feel like a "player"--like someone who's playing the field and can't be monogamous. LOL But I am also loving the freedom and less drama about "do I love this horse, does it love me--why not?!" junk. I just want to have a good ride with a good horse. I don't want to ride a new horse all the time, I like getting used to a horse. So hopefully, i'll be done with "new horses" for awhile with these two in my pocket. This one is also giving me a "pay per ride" lease--I didn't ask--she offered. So i'm pretty hapy. It's it's $10 less per ride than Missy. And in the nice months, I may get to go along when she trailers the horses to the National Park for a REAL trail rides. That would be awesome.

I'm sure I'll be back on Tuesday with pics to report how the ride went. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #229
Ok, I rode this guy on Monday. I'll call him "Strider" on here. He's a big boy. Only 15.2h but very solid and he just seems taller when I'm standing next to him, probably b/c I've been riding shorter horses? :) These pics are ones the owner took--my camera's battery died and some from when he was younger and actively showing. He's 19 now and still a handsome fella, but obviously winter shaggy and a bit of a potbelly due to not being ridden much lately.

I was very surprised at how much "energy" he had. She said he hadn't been taken out or ridden in a month and he just danced and was a bit cantakerous for grooming and saddling. Not aggressive or anything like that--but you had to stay out of the way as he kept swinging his body around from one side to the other. She doesn't have cross-ties in her barn yet so he just tied to a stall door in a sort of narrow area. I decided to go Western since that was the biggest saddle she had. She's a much smaller/thinner person than me and her dressage saddle is tiny. SHe also has a smaller Western saddle than the one I'm in and a bigger hunt seat saddle that would fit me, but I feel weird in a hunt seat. So, we went with the 16" endurance saddle. the stirrups felt surprising small--I guess I'm used to a nice hard flat iron with the English stirrups now.
So, here I've been belly-aching for over a year about how I wanted to go Western again and where are all the Western and neck-reining horses. Here I finally get one and it felt so off! LOL Talk about never being happy! What a PIA I can be!
Well, it got feeling a little better as I rode. But I'm so used to having a "free" leg now, that the Western saddle felt constricting--I couldn't move my leg forward or back, held in place as it were. The owner got on first, thank goodness b/c he was being very sassy. I was a little worried about getting on, but she said he's always worse for her--especially after a long time off. I got on and sure enough, he just didn't want to go at all. When I asked for a trot--nothing happened. I was squeezing for I was worth and pushing with my behind and physically full body urging him and kicking him (I'm never sure how hard I can kick a new horse until I get to know them). SHe kept urging me to kick him harder, so I did, and clucking and finally giving him a firm verbal "TROT!". He did, but slowed again. It took us many times to complete one full circle at a trot and this is a tiny arena space. She gave me a crop and that only worked marginally better. Then a couple times when I asked for a tro it felt like he was doing a major humping crow hop, so I got nervous and hit the reins. Ugh. Turns out he's just a show horse who showed A LOT and he is used to having to go from a walk straight into a canter--and he's a heavy horse so he kind of "jumps" into for the extra push he needs. So sometimes he forgets you're only asking for trot and starts to jump into a canter for a second. LOL It was fine. I wasn't in danger of falling off or anything, just a little startling for a "bombproof" horse. So, sass--yes., but spook-no. He's no afraid of anything. He's done Wild West shows with guns and firecrackers going off, endurance riding in the back country trails, dressage shows, Western shows, lessons with little kids on him, etc. Ground manners weren't great, but I'm hoping that wil settle a bit.
The owner is also very willing to help me get settled with him and offered to be out there with us the next couple of rides to give me pointers. He does require more coordination and 'riding" on my part than Missy. It's that riding dance of trotting in a circle and inside leg kick, pressure with both and then keep switching as you go around the circle to keep him going--and posting helps too--so I'm trying to put it all together while at a big jog. He has a beautiful gait when he finally settles into a nice even jog. When I posted it helped me and kept him going more and it felt like I was floating a few times. Very nice "sweet spot". I got him to go around four times without slowing/stopping. but then I stopped him and had to catch my breath! Sheesh. LOL The Western saddle is definitely requiring more "oomph" from me as well. And from the pics I can now see I was holding the reins too tight.
Nice having detail stuff like this to work on over the Winter since there's not any fun riding to do and this horse might actually get me nicely toned if I keep up with this. Will try cantering next time if we're doing good. Would love to have a straightaway to start on, but oh well, it's going to be tight turns the whole time. Thank you Missy for getting me ready for this! :)
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Discussion Starter #230
Rode Strider again today. We did better than last week--so at least there's that. I am feeling like such a rank amateur again--but I AM in a lot of ways. I've basically been a beginner rider my whole life--so now I'm a "seasoned beginner" or "experienced beginner"? I don't know. I'm not a well schooled rider. I only had lessons as a kid and I kept riding after that, but never did any specific discipline--I just "rode". If I got horses I couldn't handle or that weren't fun to ride b/c they were too naughty--I just didn't ride them anymore. So, now I'm on a horse with probably more training than any horse I've ridden. But he's lazy and a little crabby about not wanting to work. He was much better on the ground today--less antsy. He got worked twice last week and apparently that's enough to keep him "tamed down" LOL. So I felt really sheepish when I couldn't get a bridle on him. He was just refusing the bit and throwing his head and backing up (no cross ties). I had to do it differently--holding his head with my arm underneath, which I'm not used to so I was clumsy. It's always nerve wracking to deal with tack that's new to me since I can't see well. I have to feel everything and figure it all out and look like a bit of a dolt in front of the owners. I'm constantly wanting to say "I really DO know how to tack up a horse...really."
I walked a lot to start--both directions. Than asked for trot. Took me a couple minutes, tons of kicking and squeezing and eventually a dressage whip to get him going. But then we did some nice trotting while I worked on leg cues and keeping him going b/c if you stop "riding" he was slow to walk in a second. Then it was time to canter. Well, as I mentioned, he's trained for shows, to canter from a walk--not a trot. So we practiced that. Me holding on to the darn saddle horn the first couple of times because he sort of leaps into the canter. Finally got him to do a couple laps around the arena without stopping and it was awesome! He has the best canter of any horse I've ever ridden! I so wish I could get him out into a bigger space, instead of cantering around in a circle. I cannot keep him on the edges at a canter-and it wouldn't be that much bigger anyway. Well, then he refused to canter a couple times again and the owner suggested we try "cantering drills" where I walk him around, pick a corner, stop, back up three steps and then ask for canter from that stopped position--but quickly--stop, back, GO. Couldn't do it--he just didn't want to--and the third or fourth time I tried, he blew up and had a small tantrum. Big enough that I cam very close to falling off--thank goodness for Western saddle horns! Well, so we backed off of that and went back to cueing canter from the walk and we did another few circles at a lovely canter and then ended for the day.
All good so far. The owner is a very nice young woman (although now I'm a little gunshy since I though D's owner was nice too). Anyway, she offered to trailer Strider to a nearby barn for lessons with a trainer she likes. She said she likes to take lessons once in a while for brush up too so she would add another horse and go with me probably. This sounds like a good deal. Lessons on the horse I'm riding and I'd get a bigger space to ride in sometimes. Don't know how many lessons I'd take. Maybe only a couple--depends on the budget. But I'm encouraged.

Having some Western rein issues that I think I'll make a post about.
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I am so happy to see you riding and taking lessons again, you look great! :D It sounds like Strider is pretty fun, too! You are getting better & better! Just have fun, no pressure.
Strider is so adorable!
 

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Discussion Starter #233
Thanks to you both! Strider is a "lot of horse" for me, but yes, a good challenge. He's not way out of my league, but a little--something to reach for. LOL And safe enough for the most part. It's ok at the level I'm at, I think anyway, to have a horse that might have a minor tantrum on rare ocassions--most horses do and I need /want to be able to handle that, and not let it get me scared. Looking forward to taking some lessons. Just got a video from the owner --didn't realize she was recording. My husband took a video and it was pretty terrible--but this one came out ok and is all of me riding--not wobbly shots of the floor and the walls and me stopping and talking. LOL So, I'm posting it here--for posterity. I'm always a little embarrassed. :)
 

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Looks great! You were leaning forward alot at the beginning but by the end was sitting better and getting him going better. Agree with the others; lessons are always a good thing and help tremendously. He seems like a good guy; bet you'll do really well with him!
 
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