Sunday, February 22, 2009

Training breakthrough!

Well, it's been a quiet week. I've been bringing home "trial" saddles from AS, and they have NOT been fitting, grrr! I actually rode in Nicole's BdH wide tree last week, and by the end of the ride, it was sitting ON Tiki man's withers. So, not as good as I'd hoped. Plan to get a regular tree to try from Dover, I think I've exhausted everything in my price range at AS. Apparently, he had a little 'incident' yesterday that involved a minor freak out and a few runs around the pasture, but all seemed fine, yikes.

Anyway, Nicole and I planned to take our ponies out alone. Yep, alone. We went across the street and into the woods. We went up the 'briar hill' to the power line right of way, then walked up, up, up! Star, who was leading, decided to FREAK at a big, scary, moss covered ... rock. I mean, poor mare FREAKED at this rock. I kept a steadying hand on Tiki's neck, and he understandably started to stare and shake as he watched his trail buddy buck, spin, and snort. Once Star stopped, I offered up Tiki's bravery at SEEING strange things, and walked forward, past the rock. So long as he doesn't have to step in/over anything freaky, and can't HEAR the low, crazy noises, he's fine. So, we successfully made it past the big, scary rock, then made our way into the woods where we promptly lost our trail. :) Wandered around, and finally found SOME trail. Got to the big pond, where our training breakthrough occured. Previously on earlier trail rides, we had been unsuccessful at getting too close to the pond. Tiki's training 'issue' is that no amount of leg, stick, hand, voice, etc. will get him to move an INCH if he decides not to. He can imitate a statue better than any horse I have ever met in my life. Sooo, that's how most of our pond adventures have occured. He stands like a statue with me looking like a novice idiot until everyone else gets bored and we just move on. Let me tell you, an ottb is GREAT for your equestrienne self-esteem.;) Anyway, Star walked right in and began pawing and playing, and we did our best impression of me riding a statue. This time, though, I didn't give up. I dug in my heels, hollered, slapped with my hand, nudged with my seat, etc. Until he took a step. Then I stopped and PRAISED, patted, encouraged, etc. Before I knew it, he was sniffing the water. I encouraged and patted and squeezed with my HEELS, pretending like I had on spurs. Star is meanwhile splashing, drinking, and playing. Tiki looked at her beautiful sleek, shiny Morgan hindquarters and ... walked all the way IN! He drank, shook, whuffled, walked in to about his knees, then resumed his statue pose. His ears were flicking back and forth, his eyes were like, "What have I DONE???", and finally he just drank. Then walked and drank, then walked towards Star and drank again. And then we just walked out and continued on the trail like it was just no. big. deal. But let me assure you, it WAS a big. deal. I was so proud, and patted him and praised him for about another minute and a half as we hit the trail edging the pond.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. Both our horses stepped in some pretty big holes, which SCARES me. We never got lost, and neither of the horses spooked (even when we came upon a camp like setting with a tent and a huge, waving silver tarp!). Tiki crossed over a big, wide puddle without a single hesitation, or a massive leap and scramble. He just walked through, continuing his new attitude of no. big. deal. I wish I'd had more time. We galloped through a big pasture, and I felt what it's like to ride a race horse. Once he caught up with the galloping Star, he cut hard to the right and kicked his heels up a little. I had to stop by sitting back and hauling him around in a circle (remember, our bit is little more than a pacifier in his mouth!). I shuddered a little, because I let him get too out of control and I almost came close to coming off (does that make sense? I didn't really feel like I WAS going to fall, but I felt like I COULD have come off, weird!). Just served as a good reminder to always be careful and make sure there's enough room to gallop in a straight line, and be more aware that a galloping horse can still spook and cut. It will really hurt to come off at 20+ mph than to simply come off due to a walking spook and spin/buck and fart.

Anyway, it was a short ride, so I don't know why this post is so long! I will leave y'all with another pic from our ride at PWF. Think good saddle fitting thoughts for me so my pony can FINALLY be fully comfortable, and not just 'making do' with a saddle that fits moderately ok.
P.S. Spazzed adding pics, so one is me, and the other is my friend. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Well, yet another saddle does not fit. Grrr. So, I longed today. He was VERY good, definitely does not get behind the bit in his new mullen mouth happy mouth. He's just so LIGHT in the front end, he didn't need any sort of stainless steel at all. Stretched into the side reins, trotted around nicely. Cantered both ways very nicely. He'll definitely have a lead change, no doubt. He still cross canters a bunch on the longe, but yesterday, he simply did a flying and fixed it. Next time the chiro comes to PWF, I'll take him and get him adjusted. He was great. I didn't use his ear bonnet on purpose, and longed him right by the road. He didn't like it when the cars came by, but I'm all about the de-spooking process, lol! So, I will try another saddle today and hope I find something soon!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yes, yes, yes!!!

Wow, oh wow, oh wow!! I cannot TELL y'all how incredibly awesome my pony was today. For one thing, my friend Becca rode him early in the day since I had plans to go saddle shopping as well. It was so weird for me to see someone else on my horse! She's the first one other than myself to sit on him since I got him. She is a really soft, sympathetic rider, and had Tiki coming down on the bit in no time! He was really starting to round and stretch into the bit; he definitely likes the happy mouth better than the heavy, cold stainless steel. His neck was rounding up, his pace was even and consistent, and he looked GREAT! I was jealous! Then, she picked up the CANTER! And cantered around and around the ring. He was balanced, he was light, and he was HAPPY.:) It was gorgeous, a GREAT canter!

Now, she had offered to "jump him around" for me. I said "Sure. You do that!" Lol. Once she'd ridden him a bit, she understood why I was nervous about attempting to actually jump him over anything solid. He's good, and fun, and sensitive, and a little pistol! I am nervous to actually take him down to solid jump to go over, but he was great with the crossrail today! Becca took hi m over the cavellettis, and he was quite good. I was so happy! Anyway, I left him in the roundpen for a little bit, then went and saddle shopped. I ended up with an Ovation showjumper saddle, and intend to try it tomorrow. Hope it works for us!!!:)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yesterday was good, too!

So, rode my pony in the back 15 again. He is so cute! He does what I call a "whuffle". Just this soft little snort sound that he does when he's alert, and when he's relaxed. When the head is UP and he whuffles, he's looking. When the head is down and he whuffles, he's totally chilled. Well, throughout the complete warmup, he was whuffling. Got in some GREAT trotting yesterday. Good rhythm, nice bend in the neck, did a very good turn on the forehand. It was a bit of a short ride because I was in a hurry, so I went down to our little jump. He rushed it a little. Very bold feeling, but I don't want "see the jump and run at it". I am giving him today off since I'm crunched for time, and may longe him tomorrow, then ride Friday (so long as it doesn't rain). Planning to trailer him out to PWF Saturday so all my kids can meet him, then ride in the rings. My friend and I MAY trailer from PWF out to Wills Park where a show is going on, and just get them de-sensitized, but I don't want to pay to do that. That may be another weekend's task.:) Anyway, off to go earn his keep and clean stalls!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Another sweet day!

It was once again hugely beautiful today. Warm, sunny, and the PERFECT day to ride!:) Got my barn chores done, and had enough time to quickly knock the dirt off and hop on my boy. Fortunately, he was still clean from his bath yesterday, and was wearing his sheet because it was chilly this morning, so a quick grooming was sufficient. Got him tacked up, and headed out to the mare's pasture which is the "cut through" point. Headed back to the back 15 acres instead of the front pasture because I wanted to do some 'cross training' today instead of just drilling flatwork.

The only other time I had been in the back pasture was when we did our 'flat out' gallop up the hill. Today, I wanted to do some working and exploring. Began with a nice walk up one of the hills, trotted across the ups and downs of the top of the hill, trotted down a huge hill, trotted up a huge hill, then worked on some straight and bouncy trotting on the level straightaway. Found a log PERFECT for jumping; it was so perfect, it looked like a little cross country jump. Of course, I had to try it. He jumped over no problem, and cantered beautifully up the huge hill that is right after the jump. Stopped, walked back down and around, and did it again ... then again. Then reversed and jumped it the opposite way; two more times, and I was satisfied he was trotting in quietly and landing in a CANTER, not a gallop. Hacked back to the flat area, and decided to pick up a left lead canter. At that point, I sat DOWN in the saddle, and worked on some collection ... it was GORGEOUS, comfortable, balanced, uphill, and FABULOUS. Did a downward transition to a halt, asked for a turn on the forehand, then asked for the right lead. He gave it right off the bat, and though it was a little faster and more on the forehand than the left lead, he was certainly trying. Circled, walked, and we were done. It was a GREAT ride, and I would love to repeat it tomorrow.:)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fun on the trail!

From front to back; Cowboy Wayne, Kyle, and Joyce!
Today was the PERFECT day to ride. About 67 degrees and sunny! I arrived at the barn around 12:30, only to find Joyce and "Cowboy" Wayne already mounted and about to head out. They were going alone to get in some training time for Chester, who's only 3. I was to wait for whoever else was coming and meet them somewhere on the trail. About that moment, Kyle showed up who is Gelder's mom, and we hurried to tack up so we could meet up with Joyce and Wayne. During our tack up time, no one else showed up, so we went ahead and mounted and headed into the back pasture. Tiki was quiet, quiet, quiet. I didn't have tome to longe, but I actually hadn't planned to, anyway. We hacked to the back gate on the buckle, Kyle opened the gate from Gelder's back, we both exited, and she locked it back. We hacked quietly along the road to the spot where we go onto the trail, and both horses were relaxed and happy. Gelder has a bit of a reputation as a hothead, but he was GREAT!

We walked down the big hill on the buckle, trotted over a little log, and meandered towards where Joyce and Wayne were. We were literally on the buckle, just yapping away. Tiki was completely relaxed in Gelder's company, and he was perfect through the big water puddle because it had dried up to a MUD puddle, which was fine in Tiki's book.:) Joyce called and told us to hurry up, so we picked up a LOVELY little canter to where they were. At that point, we were in a combination of easy trail, steep hills, NO trail, tons of sticks, steep step ups, tree trunks, briars, branches, rocks, and ruts. We enjoyed a few canters up a few hills, walked in the front, middle, and back, and just generally had a blast. Rode for 3 1/2 hours, and Tiki was SO happy to have his clip. He was covered in sweat and foam when we got back, where I gave him a quick bath and put him in his stall with water and hay. I was a good girl and cleaned my tack, then came home so I could post this blog and chill!:) Planning to ride tomorrow so I can test out the new bit in our pasture riding-trying to learn how to carry ourselves and bend sessions. Till then!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Freshly clipped!

Sooo, we have a saddle winner! Nicole's BdH saddle in a wide tree, no less, fit Tiki beautifully. The Wintec sat funny, and the Kieffer put pressure just behind the withers, but the BdH sat straight and perfect on his back. I put on just my fleece half pad (not the thick wool one) and the saddle, then hopped on with his halter and lead rope and trotted around for a minute to test out the saddle. He moved GREAT, it was super comfy, and I was psyched! Sooo, soon as the tax refund comes in, I will be making my way to Dover. :)

Decided to go with a "chaser" clip instead of a full trace clip. I got nervous that he would get too cold taking off all the hair on his belly and off his butt. I can always REMOVE more hair, but once it's gone, it's gone. Our 15 degree days may not be over yet! Planning to go on a trail with the girls tomorrow, then come back and give him a bath. Borrowed a happy mouth bit to try; I'm just looking for something he can feel contact with, and stretch into it, rather than back off of. Sorry again for the crappy quality pic; I will remember the ACTUAL camera tomorrow! Now, I'm gonna enjoy the Budweiser Shootout and watch my man Jimmie Johnson win it!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Glad to say "yay" again! :)

Crazily enough, it's NOT because the saddle fit! As we know, haven't ridden at all since Thursday a week ago. I tacked him up in his usual stuff, making sure the ear bonnet was on this time, using my client's Crosby saddle. At first glance, it looked good! The panels actually fit his shoulders on the sides, and it was well off the withers. So far off in fact, it seemed to almost be pinching. Also, because of how high the pommel was, the cantle seemed to be sitting too low in the back. Went ahead and decided to sit on it and try it out.

I led him to the usual pasture, and put him on the longe line. He was SO lazy, not a buck in him today. He looked calm, quiet, and sound. I climbed aboard, and walked down towards the road. I definitely felt like I was sitting in the "back seat", and even though the saddle LOOKS beautiful and squishy, the seat really was not comfortable at all. Asked for a trot, and he felt absolutely dead lame. I immediately walked back to the ladder, and removed the saddle. Well ... now what? I had no other saddle with me, and I wanted to take advantage of the quiet mood. So, I did what ANY normal, sane person would do.

Yup, I did. I got on my not-been-ridden-in-a-week green ottb on a cold, brisk, windy day BAREBACK. At least this time I had all the padding from the saddle that didn't work, so my ... ahem, nether regions were well padded;) At first, he was a little confused, but once I got everything straight underneath me, he was good. I spent lots of the time at the walk; bending, leg yielding, and circling. He's actually getting good at that. Trotted on the straightaways, focused on keeping my elbows bent, and he was really good. Didn't spook at any vehicles, or show his butt in any way. He was just a GOOD boy all the way around. Towards the end, he picked up a little left lead canter of his own accord. It was light, balanced, and he didn't swap or buck. Not only that, I stayed on! He's actually GREAT bareback when his spine isn't going up ... well, you know where!;) Finished on a high note, and I literally threw my arms around his neck from up top. He just blew out a little soft snort and didn't try to knock me over with a head scratch. Once we got back in the barn, I took off his bridle and let him scratch to his heart's content on the soft curry. After another peppermint, I smoothed his coat with the hard brush, put his blanket back on, and let him out with his girls. I'll go back in a little bit and try on a few more saddles. Will provide pics of the trace clip tomorrow; wish me luck! I can't draw a straight line to save my life, so this may be amusing. Sorry for the crappy quality of the pic up top; my camera phone isn't that great.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The boy's had ... how many days off, now?

I've lost track, lol! Something that's bugging me is the fact that he looks a little ouchy! I don't know if it's my imagination, or if maybe the farrier quicked him a little bit. Without a flat surface to longe him on, it's impossible to tell. I've borrowed a saddle from a client that looks like it MAY work for him! I've seen her saddle a bunch of times, but never realized how narrow her tree looks compared to the school saddles. Sooo, hopefully I can try it and see how it works. Nicole is going to meet me at the barn tomorrow evening with a few of her saddles to try on him and see which brand direction I need to go in. I've decided to try a rubber mullen mouth loose ring on him and see if he stretches into the bit a little more. I also need to punch a hole in the figure 8 and raise it up some. It looks a little low in the pics.

I have no expectations for tomorrow except to do a few transitions without bucking. That's ALL I want! I hate it that I haven't ridden him in a week, but dang it, it was 25 degrees today with 25 mph wind gusts while I was cleaning stalls. Not exatly ideal conditions for a green ex racehorse! Hoping to ride Sunday on a trail ride with the gang. It's supposed to be 65-70 and BEEYOUTIFUL!!! If all goes well, I will ATTEMPT a trace clip Friday. Should make for some amusing pics!;) Anyway, just wanted to update since I hadn't in a week!

Oh! My highschool finished Reserve Champions Sunday and got qualified for Regionals! The middleschool was Champions again. A good day, for sure!