Saturday, November 29, 2008

The last few weeks!

Well. I've ridden exactly 3 times in the month I've been at the new farm.:( That's definitely a bummer. I was riding way more than that at "crazy lady's" barn. As I said in my last post, the problem is that now I'm out physically working for 3 hours as opposed to brushing, grazing, hand walking, riding, etc. for 3 hours. School is over next week, so that will open up Tues/Thurs as days to go out and JUST be with Tiki.

I wanted to tell about the day we went out with the group. I was so proud. I showed up at the barn, ready to ride in the crappy little ring and there was a group of ladies getting ready to trail out. I invited myself along, knocked off the dirt, and threw on my saddle. As we headed up the big hill out to the road, Tiki jigged. Tiki has never jigged, that is SO un-Tiki-like. Granted, it was a HUGE hill ... and the boy WAS a turf horse, so that wide open hill of grass probably called to that primitive part of him that made him WANT to run. Anyway, I struggled to keep him at a walk; a nice, sedate walk. I ended up circling a lot. We tried to go out the gate, and he would NOT go behind the horse standing there. Said horse moved, and we were fine to go out the gate. We spooked at a car, leaped up a small hill, spooked at a dog when another horse spooked at a dog, and jigged a whole bunch. Once I let him get to the front of the pack, he settled down. We were up front sort of by ourselves, and he settled into his ground eating walk with his head down, snuffling. The second another horse came up beside us, he tensed up, jigged again, and became super-alert. Interesting. Rather than the other horses calming him, they just made him nervous. We worked in the neighbor's grass ring for about 15 minutes, and he was a good boy. SERIOUSLY counter-bent at the right lead canter, but what did I expect? I'd ridden him once in 2 weeks. We ended up well; all the ladies exclaimed about what a good boy he was, and how they were expecting much worse. All in all, I was proud.

So, I hadn't ridden in a week last Friday, and brought my stuff out to the barn. Nope, huge swollen leg. GREAT! I trotted him down the aisle, and he was sound. PHEW!:) Cold hosed it, wrapped it, and stuck him in his stall. Rinse and repeat Saturday and Sunday. Remove wrap Sunday afternoon; it does look better. Turn out Monday in the rain, pray he's fine Tuesday, Wednesday leg looks ALMOST normal. Turkey Day Thursday, go out Friday planning a light walk around. Leg looks PERFECT. Tight, cool, and perfectly normal. We go into crappy little ring, and he was HORRIBLE. Bucked every time I asked for a trot, walked all sucked up in this stupid, backed off frame, and leaped straight up in the air everytime he tripped (which was often). I played Clinton Anderson and rode on a LOOSE rein, then pulled him into a tight one rein circle each time he got quick. I want to grab his face and hang when he's fast, so it was very interesting to ME to ride him on no contact when I knew he was so fresh and forward. We ended up well. All I wanted was calm and quiet. I feel like we did end there. BO said footing should be in by next weekend; halleuia!!!:) I need to be more disciplined if I want my horse to be anything more than a pasture/stall ornament. Time to stop feeling sorry for myself because I have to WORK to afford my horse, and just do the work and the riding.

Anyway! That was yesterday; it's raining today and tomorrow so I won't see the boy until Monday when I go out to clean his stall. Depending on the conditions, I would like to hop on and repeat Friday's ride in the crappy ring. Hopefully he will have remembered, and will be a little better. Leg looked great after the ride; I rubbed on a little liniment gel just in case, but it was still cool tight. Yay! I just thank God for finally letting my have my pony; I do love him!!:)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

First ride at the new farm

So the boy was definitely "up" the day I decided to hack him. Right now, there's a small, uneven grass ring to ride in. You can't do too much productive work in it, but he REALLY needed to be worked. I think he worked harder at NOT working, lol. I persisted for about 30 minutes, and finally he started to get with the program. Both leads worked, we cantered over poles, and even though I HATED all the up and down, it at least is good for his balance to constantly be changing.

I'm definitely missing riding him a bunch. Once I'm finished cleaning stalls, my damn head hurts too much to worry about riding. However, in 2 weeks, school is over. The ring is supposed to be finished by the end of this month, so hopefully I can start a regular program for him. Yesterday I got a little set back because Tiki had a horribly swollen RF leg. GRRRR. Hopefully it's a minor problem because he's not lame on it. I'll check it again tomorrow after my IEA show at Hilmar Farms. I've got him on ulcer meds, and he looks like he's gaining weight. I'll get some new pics tomorrow.:)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The big move!

Yay! Time for the move! My new bo (barn owner) came to the teeny farm to pick us up in her gigantic dually and gooseneck trailer. Tiki was now going to be 10 minutes from me instead of 1 minute, but the extra 9 minute drive was going to be worth it since my boy would be taken care of every day, without me worrying about having to do it myself. My new arrangement was to work 3 days a week in exchange for a break in board. I hadn't cleaned stalls in over 10 years. I was actually looking forward to it.:)

David and Kody (husband and son, respectively) helped me load mine and Tiki's stuff in our truck, and we followed Tiki over to the new barn, Spotted Valley Stables. I ducked under the partition to untie and back him off the trailer, and he was DRIPPING sweat. Poor guy! It had been a 10 minute ride, but it had been his first time in a slant trailer; I think he likes the straight load better.:( I unloaded him and let him graze for about 10 minutes so he could cool down since it was dinner time. I checked his chest, found it cool, and led him to his very own stall! After feeding him dinner, we left.

Next day, I turned Tiki out with Billy, the old appy gelding. They ignored each other for the most part, which is better than beating each other to a pulp. I then got to work cleaning stalls. Wow. That is some freaking physical labor. Total trial and error. And out of 12 stalls, easily half the horses are PIGS!!! 3 hours later, I forced my exhaused butt to rake the dirt aisle, then drove home and collapsed in bed. Only 3 days a week for the rest of my horse's life left to do this, lol.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The trip to Patchwork

First off, I must say that I could just kick myself for not taking my camera when I took Tiki to Patchwork. Patchwork is the barn I teach at, and the board costs more than my monthly mortgage. It has a big outdoor ring with a full jump course, a nice sized covered ring, and some fantastic hills and a trail. My tentative, fairy tail plan was to unload my horse from the trailer, let him graze for a minute or 2, groom him, hop on, and hack calmly around the rings. I wanted to poke around the big ring, "work" in the covered, maybe hop over a crossrail or 2 ...

Reality. Stupid me put his sheet on since it was c.o.l.d. I mean, the coldest it's been all year. And the wind ... oh the wind. Huge gusts, wind advisory, icy cold weather. So, I figured he'd be cold in the trailer, so I put on his sheet to ship him, and he was super clean to begin with. He loaded with no problem at all, which was good since I was by myself. I drove the hour drive out to PWF with no problems or issues. Upon arrival, I lowered the ramp, undid the butt bar, and untied his lead rope to back him down. Wide eyed and trembling, he stepped off onto the gravel drive. I looked at him with a bit of a sinking feeling; he was SOAKED. His neck was covered in white foam, and when I removed his sheet, he was soaked underneath. Thankfully, I'd thought to to throw his irish knit in the trailer, so I put Tiki in the washrack and went to get his stuff out of the trailer.

Instead of standing calmly and quietly, he pawed, walked forward and back, and nodded his head nervously. I threw on the cooler, hooked on the head rope, and walked him over to a patch of grass to let him graze and "chill". I was feeling like maybe things weren't going to be quite as fairy tale perfect as I'd hoped. Tiki did graze, which I was happy about since the boy tends to stand around and stare rather than eat.

I gave him about 15 minutes, until the foam dried to a crust. I put him back in the washrack, and tried to convince him to stand still. My beautiful grooming job complete with rub rag and everything had been all for naught. I used the curry and attempted to remove the crust, then just had to shrug and move on. I tacked him up fairly quickly, and he was a BUTT head! He's never a pig, he always stands quietly. As I threw the tack on, I attempted to calm the nervous butterflies in my stomach. After securing my helmet, I slipped the bridle on his head and led him to the mounting block.

I gathered my reins and waited until he stood still. After putting my foot in the stirrup, I swung up into the saddle, and Tiki threw his head straight up in the air and skittered backwards. He then stood 'parked out' with his head straight up in the air like a giraffe and looked back and forth at the goings on, which there really was none. I closed my leg and asked for a walk, and my horse began to back straight up. I threw my hands forward, kicked, and we made our way up to the big ring. He walked in with no fanfare, but as I put him on the rail, he literally felt like he was going to explode straight up. I tried to relax him and settle him, but he just wanted to GO!

After about 20 minutes of fighting, I finally hopped off and attached the longe line. He then switched to 'auto' mode and neatly picked up a little trot around his circle. I WANTED him to buck. I would much rather him do it with me on the ground, rather than me be on his back when he did it. I stepped into him aggressively, and finally he leaped a few times. I got back on, and this time, he was much more quiet. We went back to work, and he felt much better. I worked him over the poles on the ground, and got brave enough to canter both leads. Luckily, all was good, and I didn't get bucked off! I finished by taking the mini trail ride I'd wanted. He was a wonderful boy; definitely nervous and alert, but very sensible and good.

The plan had been to take him home, but my boss suggested he stay overnight and have our farrier put his shoes on. So, I took her up on the offer! The next day, I had my old Tiki back. He stood quietly while I groomed him, stood still for the mounting, and made his way confidently up to the ring. We got in some much more productive work, and I ended the session by actually hopping over a tiny crossrail. He knocked down one side of the jump, but we trotted over the "half" rail a few times, and he leaped over neatly. For sure a successful day!!!:):)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Moving a little closer to the 'present day'.

So, life goes on, and I do some normal horse stuff with they boy. I LOVE seeing him twice a day, every day, but it can be a little bit of a pain when we have evening plans. 97% of the time, it's just me and Tiki. The BM is never out there. I go in the front gate, shoo her boogers away, and go into the barn. Tiki is finally starting to spend a little time outside of the stall, and I was excited to FINALLY have shavings in his stall. I was on the verge of buying some pelleted bedding from TSC when the BM finally managed to go get a load to go in all the stalls. I rode him a few times in his pasture, and over in the park. I think the boy's going to be a little trail pony. We get on the little pseudo trails next to the river, and he just TRUCKS!

I'd discovered Tiki is a bit lazy. We've been working on consistency at the trot. He really wanted to trot fast/walk/trot fast/walk. He really was quite a challenge. Shortly, though, I found the 'magic button'.

That magic button was my spurs. When Tiki slowed down and wanted to stop, I just gave him a little rub with the spur, and he kept going. We began to work on circles, spirals, leg yields, turns on the forehand, and cantering on both leads. I really focused on STRAIGHT and deep corners. He has proved to be a willing and eager learner.

The next entry or 2 will be about the move to the new barn. I'd decided to move him because I just never felt comfortable at the farm with just me and the BM. I didn't trust her skills with the horses, I couldn't ask her to ever feed my horse a meal since I can't afford to offer up money for every little service, and I was constantly paranoid she'd put him out in the pasture with the barbed wire for whatever cockeyed reason. I'd gotten extrememly paranoid and territorial, and didn't even want the BM to look at my horse, much less actually put a halter on him and lead him everywhere. I didn't like that feeling; it'd be different if he actually lived at my house or something, but to be in someone else's barn, other people MUST interact with the horses. I'd visited the new barn and got a great vibe, so hopefully everything will work out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First ride!

I had to torture my poor husband with 'barn' time. Hubby really likes Tiki, but is just not a horse person in general. He finds all the 'stuff' associated with horses boring. I was 100% going to make sure I was safe, though, because I had NO idea how Tiki was going to be. Would he run, buck, squeal? I didn't know, so I was making sure I had someone with me to make sure I didn't die, lol.

So, I did our usual grooming thing and proceeded to saddle him. I swear he perked up moreso than when I put on the longeing surcingle. I put his bridle on, and my fabu hubby gave me a boost into the saddle. I just sat still while he shifted around a bit. No fireworks, just movement. I did a little practice steering in the small pasture, and he felt very wobbly and non-steerable. I guided him into his usual pasture, and attempted to work an 'arena' like area. He slowly started to "get it", and I got comfortable enough to put my feet in the stirrups. I did a little 2-point, and his head came up in anticipation. Didn't try anything, though. Have I mentioned my horse is dead quiet?

I rode for about 6 minutes or so; at the very end I was just TOO tempted, and just had to see what his trot felt like. I definitely spend the most time on a horse at the trot, so I was praying his wasn't too bad ... I have a very wimpy back. I squeezed, clucked, and finally KICKED and he lumbered up into a slow little trot. It was comfortable, FABULOUS!!! I praised the heck out of him, hopped off, and plyed him with peppermints. My horse is the BEST!!!:)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Star the buddy

So. Tiki lived in this teeny little hole in the wall barn within walking distance of my house. I was doing 100% full self care, and ignored the BM's horses, for the most part. She had 5 when Tiki arrived, and I lost a bit of respect for her when one of her horses (a TB no less) got cornered in the barbed wire in the back pasture (I had no idea at that time there was ANY wire on the property). That poor little mare got TORN up; she had blood all over all 4 legs, down her neck, and all over her chest. The BM hosed her off for a minute, then proceeded to smear Swat all over the bloody gashes. It was at that moment I thanked God I was laying eyes on my horse twice a day so that I could care for him, should something happen.

Anyway, she kind of got snippy about the fact that my horse had access to the stall on the back of the barn, because I was only paying for pasture board. Well ... he WAS boarded in the pasture; the stall happened to be the ONLY thing resembling shelter. Also, that was the only pasture he could be in, because the back pasture was lined with barbed wire, and i put in his boarding contract that he was NOT to be in any pasture with barbed wire unless she held up her end of the deal and put in hotwire to keep the horses away from it. I had nothing to do with the fact that the boy spent so much time in there; besides, it didn't cost her a penny because the dirt floor stalls had no shavings, and I cleaned the stall.

So, the buddy. I was feeling a little guilty about the stall since she'd mentioned it, and tried to appease her by suggesting she put Star out with him. Star was the sweetest one. The other 3 had all tried to kill poor Tiki already; my little guy just had not been turned out with other horses ... he didn't know what it was all about. I put the little chestnut and white paint mare out there with him, and he attached himself to her like white on rice. It was so sweet. Suddenly, he was out of the stall, he was eating grass, and he followed her around with his head on her butt.

A day later, I pulled him out to groom and longe him. He turned into a screaming, raging maniac. He hollered for her, wouldn't stand still, and turned all together frantic. I turned her back out with the others, and waited on Tiki to calm down. He did, finally, but now my new problem was what do do with them so that I wouldn't create a totally buddy sour horse.

The flaky BM saved me once again. Less than a week after I'd turned them out together, she sold that one and another one at auction. Poor Tiki seemed a bit depressed, but luckily he didn't so much as go off his feed. I was grateful that little problem had been solved, but felt sorry my guy had lost his buddy. It had been about 2 weeks since he came home to me. It was time to ride!

First 'working'

One thing people must understand is the fact that my horse is freakishly quiet. I mean, so quiet, I was worried he was sick or something. So, needless to say, I was quite relieved after his first longeing.

I tacked him up with a longeing surcingle, my bridle that I'd had for years for no particular horse, and a loose pair of leather side reins. I grabbed my longe whip, and led him out to the most level spot of his pasture. I attached the side reins on the loosest hole, flicked my whip, and he squealed. Yup, squealed. He then took off in an awkward cross canter, shook his head, and swung his butt around. I just had to laugh at him ... it was quite obvious this had been a part of his usual training schedule. I worked him lightly both ways, then rewarded him with another walk through the park.

It made me happy because he actually ate grass when we walked the park. When left to his own devices, the goofy horse stood in his stall 20 hours a day. Then he was introduced to his first buddy ...