Saturday, May 30, 2009

Racehorses are bred to RUN, you know!

Rode Thursday for the first time this week after giving Tiki man 3 days off:) Rode in the fabu new ring, and he felt pretty good up there. There are still some big piles of footing, so I can't really pull in any jumps or poles yet because Mark has to be able to maneuver his little tractor thing around up there. Sooo, I just rode my little track to the inside of the piles. He is so giving to the bit and dropping his head now. He just needed that ONE lesson with the draw reins to teach him HOW to break at the poll and give with the jaw. Unfortunately, the bit I'm riding him in right now is a $140 bit from Dover!! Eeek. Tried him in a Waterford bit today, but couldn't get a real feel about it for 2 reasons; 1. We went on a trail ride and 2. He was a little fresh! Rode him out solo because I don't want him to get sour in the ring. He felt so funny; very fresh, a little looky, reluctant to be leaving his buddies at dinner time ... you name it! Also, he got back shoes today for the first time since I've owned him. His back feet were VERY chewed up, so it was time ... at least for a few shoeing cycles. Went into the pulpwood forest, and he was good. As I said, reluctant, but good. I made the title about racehorses being bred to run, because I let him out for a little gallop; he LOVES it. My horse LOVES to run. I don't know if he failed at racing because he would run his heart out and he was too slow, or if for some reason he didn't fully perform, but he really enjoys it when I get in 2-point and let go of his face. LOVE my pony! Taking tomorrow off, then planning to ride M-F next week.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Home at last!

Oh. My. Goodness. I am exhausted. It was a long weekend. I have to say, though, that my baby was INCREDIBLE!!!!! Here's how the weekend went:

Saturday I shipped Tiki to Patchwork to get a bath, get clipped up some more, and hang out until time to leave. I taught my usual lessons until 1:00, then the other 3 horses going got bathed and clipped up as well. Loaded Tiki and Bob together in Becca's trailer, and shipped them over to Wills Park (the local showgrounds). Unloaded the boys from the trailer, and took them for a little walk to take in the sights and do some grazing. This was our first show with Bob, but he has done a few little schooling shows at his old farm. Tiki was pretty sweaty and white eyed. I had the stud chain over his nose as a bit of a "pacifier" so he didn't forget his ground manners. He didn't try to bulldoze or anything, but he did walk nice and forward:) Walked him all the way down by the rings, and he started to shake. Eyeballed the golf carts with some trepidation, but did not show even a hint of a spook. Stood with his neck like a giraffe at the sound of the loudspeakers, but didn't throw it around. Watched all the horses and ponies, then tried to longe himself, lol. I took him to the hill overlooking the grounds, and hand grazed him for about 20 minutes. He would stop, stare, shake, eat a few bits of grass, then longe in a circle around me. Let him do that until he quit longeing himself, then took him back to the barn where I put him in his stall with some hay. The first time I led him to the stall, he tried to back up and didn't want to go in because he was so suspicious. I encouraged him to step in, and he did. I went off and did some trainer things, then Becca tacked him up to take him down to the ring to school. I stuffed his ears with ear poms to help muffle all the noise. They walked in the ring, and he flatted just fine. Becca got the right lead on the 2nd try, and he didn't try to swap out. I sent the little girl out because she was only doing w/t, then began schooling all the kids over the jumps. The jumps were already set at crossrails, and we were the only ones in the ring. I gave them a course to do, and Becca did a magnificent job with Tiki. He did EXACTLY as she asked. Trotted in, cantered in, no matter what he was SOOOO good. There was ONE jump he was impressed with, as you will see in the above pics. He didn't bat an eye at any of them.

Today he looked happy and relaxed in his stall. Pulled him out to go hand walk down by the rings, and he was so good Becca put him back. Worked with one of my students and her pony because the pony was HIGHLY unhappy with the blowing bushes. Got her schooled out of that, then began the day with the littlest girl and the biggest horse.:) She earned herself 2 5ths and a 4th, then it was a little break until Tiki's division. I gave him another bath to wash off yesterday's sweat and last night's poop off his shoulder. He schooled well, and Becca got his right lead on 2 separate occasions, yay! Still unimpressed with the schooling jump, it was then time to make the debut. He was STRAIGHT, he jumped the jumps JUST right, and he performed beautifully, alternating trotting in and cantering in. Got a 5th in that class (out of 9); 2nd one was even better. He actually landed all of his leads, and cantered in everything but the first jump. 4th in that one. No ribbon in u/s because he had a tough time with the right leaad. Finished that, then waited around until the day was over. Moral? it's a long day when you're at the horse show!:)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So, went across the street today ...

... and had an absolute blast! Susan is wonderful; this week has been a total "breakthrough" week for the Tiki man. We literally walked across the street and went into her teeny little ring. I let him look at everything; it's a perfect ring for babies because it's small enough that they would have a hard time getting out of control, and has lots of things to look at, so they really just de-spook. She gave us good feedback on him flexing his neck and stepping under himself. We did lots of circles, and she gave me good corrections on sitting back and relaxing my elbows. We actually nailed the right lead twice the FIRST time, holy cow! The canter itself wasn't all that great, but dang it, we got that transition!;) The left lead was great as usual, she had me sit it of course (Susan is primarily a dressage trainer), and really helped him to feel comfortable dropping his head and working his jaw. I think I will try to take a monthly lesson from either Janet or Susan every month just to keep us on track, and make sure I don't get stale. I was able to use what feedback she gave me for Tiki on Audrey afterwards. He's off tomorrow, then it's Wills Park on Saturday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another fabulous trip to PWF!

So, Tiki decided to be an awesome boy and hop right up on the trailer today.:) We arrived, I stuck him in the round pen with hay and water, and had to start teaching right away:( Becca got on and let him warm up, then asked for the contact ... amazing enough, Tiki gave very quickly, showing he'd retained what he learned Monday! They had a GREAT warmup, with Becca totally agreeing with me how HARD it is to use lots of leg, post slow, and trot ON!:) I think they looked FANTASTIC. I could NOT believe how fantastic Tiki looked today; he REALLY remembered what he'd been taught, and was giving beautifully to the rein pressure. Cantered very nicely on the left lead, working on the same concept of not letting him get all balled up and taking teeny strides. It took her a few tries for the right lead, but got the concept down after I explained myself a little better. His jump work was MOST excellent, and not only did he do his FIRST line ever, he did a full little course picture perfectly. I think this weekend is going to be GREAT!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Big week this week:)

Well, took my boy to PWF yesterday for our first lesson with my boss/trainer Janet. It was HARD. I worked my bootie off, and so did the Tiki man! He trailered over well. I had borrowed a friend's trailer that boards at Tiki's barn. He got off, ate some grass, and I tacked him up. He was as spit shined as I could get him. I even pulled/trimmed his mane, clipped his muzzle, bp, and fetlocks. Attempted the ears for the first time, and they only turned out OK. Definitely need some cleaning up, oops! That wasn't his favorite thing.

We worked on what we desperately needed to work on; going FORWARD but NOT fast. Hard, hard, hard. The technique is to post heavy and SLOW, but keep on a TON of leg. Of course, I put my leg on, he wants to SPEED up. Janet got on, and diagnosed our core problem. Tiki has NO mouth. In our defense, I have been working on slow, straight, and soft contact. The problem is he doesn't accept the contact and round his neck and work his back. She also said his left hind is pretty weak, and some back shoes may help that. Sooo ... we brought out the draw reins. She had me use the draw reins to teach him how to give to bit pressure. We did that at a standstill and a walk. I alternated back and forth between the draw rein and rein to help him associate the give with the regular reins. Did a little wtc with the draw reins for about 15 minutes then took them off to jump. All we jumped was a decent crossrail. Trotted in each way twice, and let me tell y'all, it was the BEST trot jump we'd ever done. He actually trotted in quiet all the way to the base, then JUMPED the jump well. Janet said it was because he was softening his jaw and unlocking his neck and back a little bit.

Taking him back tomorrow for my friend Becca to lesson on with me, then it's across the street on Thursday. I will update then!:)

Friday, May 15, 2009

AND ... We have FOOTING!!!!!

I am psyched beyond words! Went to the barn today to ride 3 ponies and clean stalls; when I was starting on my 2nd one, Mark came home. He was coming home to supervise the truckloads of FOOTING going into the ring, woo hoo!!! I am just beyond happy, lol. The addition of the footing will really make me feeling the need to trailer my boy all over heck and creation just go away, for the most part. He had done the footing ( they'd done about 12 truckloads when I left, so not sure if the remaining 9 were done today, but I bet they were) before the fencing, which I am super happy about. You can ride without a fence, but it's a lot harder without the footing. Now it's time to set/build a jump course, and we are SET:):)

Rode my boy. He was quite good. Switched the bit to an Herm Sprenger D-ring with a german silver mouth and a little bean. Seemed about as good in this one as he was in the loose ring, but this one has no bit guards to rub a sore on the side of his lip. He just has that SENSITIVE chestnut skin. Worked on the half turn in reverse, bend, bend, bend, and not leaning in the corners. He made me work. He worked. It was hot today; this summer is going to be brutal, I fear. We rode down in the small arena, because that's where I worked the other ponies so I could "free longe" them first. Not necessary with Tiki; in fact, we've been working with the spurs on for several weeks now. Cantered today, but only one lap each direction. Missed the right lead twice, got it on the 3rd try. It's just hard for him. He'll get there. He'll get there even faster now that there's a lovely level ring with good footing.:)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Many, many, many updates!

Where to even start, lol. The last post was Friday, after the rain. Saturday after I taught, headed to Joyce's to ride Audrey and Tiki. Rode the filly and all was fine. Hopped on the red head and he was very good. Cantered well on the right lead; I worked very hard on cantering the right lead on a straight line and not letting him fall in. Halted/backed/worked on not letting him hollow his back during the halt. Cantered the 3 poles again, and he was very good. Set up my 2'3 vertical, this time with placing poles 9' on either side. Alternated trotting/cantering in to the jump. He did a nice job, but got a little lazy with his feet and knocked the dang jump down about 6 times. It wasn't a hard hit, but the standards are crappy and broken, so whenever he just TOUCHES the pole, it falls down. Cantering in, he's not bad, but it's gotten to where he doesn't want to trot into the jump. The poles definitely helped with that. Ended with a nice canter in, and even though he touched it and it fell, I let him stop.

Sunday, as a Mother's Day gift, hubby let me go out to the barn to hitch a ride with Celeste to a covered arena about 15 minutes from the barn. It is an all purpose arena for people that want to ride, but don't have their own. It's geared more for the western people, with deep "fill dirt" footing, barrels to set out, and the pole bending poles all there for your use. Hey, I wasn't complaining; it was big, it was covered, and it wasn't grass:) Worked well in the ring for about 20 minutes; worked on staying straight and bending well through the turns. He was pretty good on the right lead; only missed it once, which is quite good:) I got the opportunity to ride Celeste's awesome boy, Mick. DANG! That horse has the BIGGEST trot I have ever experienced. It was fun, I enjoyed it. Just as I was finishing up, Hubby showed up with the video camera. He got video of me on Mick, which I will post. Then it was me and Tiki, yay! Sadly though, I was disappointed with what I saw. His mouth was gaping open, his head was not flexed at all, and he was taking short, fast trot steps but not GOING anywhere:( As a result, I've switched out his bit again (but I'm not in love with it, so going to try a different one next time I ride him). I truly think the footing was the main problem. It had HUGE, hard clumps, and pretty big rocks mixed in. That's my excuse. My horse is VERY footing oriented. He will go nicely in a smooth, level ring. Planning an excursion to PWF Monday to actually take a lesson for the first time. Anyway, will post that video too as soon as Hubby gets it uploaded and converted on the computer.

Monday, I rode in the pasture again, and worked hard at going FORWARD. I made sure that even if I felt like we were moving on, he was actually going somewhere and not just trotting FAST. Had some trot poles set up about 4' apart, and trotted through over and over to get him to think about lengthening. He was pretty good with that; wanted to "bounce" through it a few times, but he figured it out pretty fast. Right lead was good, left lead was better, and I trotted down to the vertical, this time sans placing poles, and with a pole as a "filler". Just for something different, I also left his front legs 'naked' so if he DID hit the pole, he would sting himself. I need some openfronts, to protect his tendons and splints, but allow him to feel the sting if he's lazy. I was using Celeste's bit (an Herm Sprenger loose ring with a twisty barrel in the middle), and he felt ... different in it. Maybe not as resistive? He felt good in it, but not majikally changed (yes, 'magically' is misspelled on purpose). Not sure what it was, but he did not touch the jump once. Did it 4 times, trotten in, cantered in, trotted in, cantered in. He was very good!

Yesterday, I rode in the small arena, in Celeste's bit again. ONLY trotted and walked. Worked my BUTT off keeping my leg on and asking him to move forward into my hands. When he felt good and slow, I closed my leg and asked him to go ON. Did lots of halts and backs, did some trot on the buckle (hard! Had to do a lot of circles here), and worked quite hard at attempting to get his neck to flex. I think he did quite well. It was hard work, and he does NOT want to stretch out, but I think we made some good progress.

If I can borrow a trailer, will take a lesson with Janet Monday. Tentatively scheduled a dressage lesson with the trainer across the street for Thursday ... then it's possible horse show Sunday with my friend Becca. He got today off and will be off tomorrow too, then Fri it's back to work, then the weekend off. I sure am having fun!:)

Friday, May 8, 2009

And the rain pauses ...

It has been a week of rain, rain, and more rain. I gave up an opportunity Tuesday because I felt like the footing would be too bad to ride, and it just rained and rained. Yesterday was a fairly nice day, so I was hoping for NO rain at all so it would be fairly dry today. No such luck; JUST as I arrived at the barn today, the bottom fell out in a little pop up thunderstorm. I got straight to work on the stalls and waited. After 2 1/2 hours of cleaning, it hadn't rained since I'd first arrived. Decided to go get Audrey because I need to train on her twice a week. After tacking and heading into the front pasture, it was very apparent to me that it was still quite slippery. We did a lot of walk work, focused on just being straight at the trot, and only cantered straightaways.

I almost talked myself out of riding Tiki, but then I gave myself a mental butt kick and got him out of his stall. Observed his coat looks really nice; no trace of rain rot anywhere other than those back legs; and it has cleared up from the front of the cannon bone, and rotated around to the back side of the cannon; weird. Tacked him up sans ear bonnet, doused him with fly spray, and took him to the front pasture as well. Despite an almost week long vacation, I still donned my spurs. I was glad I did. Still lazy, lazy, lazy. Worked on straight and forward, our same old, same old. I am happy to report that the head shaking of the past seems to be just that; a thing of the past. He is happy to work, happy to trot, and didn't quite understand the poles he had to trot through, lol. I had 3 poles set up 9' apart to work on trotting/cantering/trotting/cantering etc. First, he had to learn just to trot through; he faces the jump standards and thinks he is supposed to run at it. Trot, trot, trot ... finally he started to settle in. Lots of reverses, more insistence on bending, and just a nice gentle sliding of the bit in his mouth to start to develop that topline. LOTS of leg to go forward but not fast, and a nice gentle feel of his mouth to contain his energy.

At the canter, I decided to really work the right lead because I'm THINKING about having my friend show him at the end of the month at a local show. If we're going to do that, he should at LEAST have both leads, lol. Picked up the right lead on the straightaway, halted before the corner, picked up the trot around the corner, and trotted over the 3 poles. That was hard at first. I repeated several times to really drive home the point that just because we canter somewhere does NOT mean he has to rush into poles/jumps/etc. Stopped when he picked up his right lead easily, then trotted over the poles softly and quietly. Reversed and cantered the poles on the left lead once, and he was done. It was way too wet to jump, and the poles worked him hard; he was very sweaty and huffing when we were done. I only rode about 30 minutes, but it was VERY muggy today, ugh.

Hosed him off, scrubbed his legs with anti fungal shampoo, and let him dry in front of the fan while I cleaned up. Used some Eqyss anti fungal gel to see if maybe it will clear up the rr once and for all. I love my pony!:)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

An unexpected suprise ...

So, I was NOT planning to ride today. I got home early this morning after a friend's bachelorette party last night. It was fun, definitely! This wasn't one of "my" Sundays to go to the barn and ride, so when I was given tickets to a Braves baseball game, I gave them to my husband. He took our 7 year old son, so I was left alone by myself!:) Of COURSE I went to the barn, lol. Celeste and Kyle had taken their horses to a barn down south to enter a small schooling show. Nicole had to work, so I wasn't expecting anyone to really be there except for Mark and Joyce. There wasn't. I pulled Tiki out of his stall to groom him, and Joyce informed me he's been in the last 2 nights due to thunderstorms. I tacked him up, wrapped his legs, and didn't decide until I led him out of the barn where we were going to ride. Didn't want to ride in the upper ring because I don't want to mess up the leveling that's been done in preparation for the footing; it has been raining the last few days, so my options were a solo trail ride, catch all the mares and contain them to ride in the back pasture, front pasture, or small arena. Decided on the front pasture, but had to stick him in a stall down below really quickly while I pulled the mounting block and a jump out of the ring. As I set the jump, I contemplated what I wanted to accomplish. I definitely wanted to jump, because we'd flatted most of the week. I ended up setting the jump 2 holes higher than we'd ever jumped, making it a whopping 2'3. Set it as a crossrail so we could warm up, and then the tentative plan was to make it a vertical once we'd warmed up.

Got on and got in 2-point. He trotted pretty fast, cantered a few times, then settled in. Halted, backed, then asked for the posting trot. All I wanted was straight, and no giraffe neck. I squeezed and released on my reins just asking him to soften the jaw a LITTLE bit. To the right, I used my spur to really push him over and keep him from 'lying on his side' as we turned. He felt good. Worked hard both directions, really using my leg to keep him properly bent and under me, and tried to feel his neck round the correct way. He felt pretty damn good today.:) Cantered left, and he was balanced and rocking. Cantered a pole, then a tight turn, then down the long side of the fence all the way to the road. Still cantering, I cantered across a diagonal and attempted a flying change right which I knew was next to impossible at this point, ha ha. Stranger things have happened, though! No suprise, no lead change, but I did get a clean simple change to the right, yay! Worked on not letting him get crooked or swap, and he was great! Halted again and did a totf and it was quite nice, suprisingly.

Went to trot the crossrail and few times, and he was lovely and straight. Our challenge has gotten to be mostly AFTER the jump, where he wants to put his head down and pull in whatever direction. Used my spurs to keep him straight, and used my seat to help my hands keep his head from yanking the reins. Decided to let him canter a few times because he REALLY wanted to , and it was GREAT! After going over the crossrail about 7 times, I dismounted and raised it. Let him see it and he didn't care at ALL. Went to approach at the trot, and ASKED for the canter. He obliged, but got in all wrong, and rather than sit back and help him, I said "Oh shi#" and leaned forward. Nice, real nice;) Of course he knocked the pole off HARD, so I had to get off and fix it. Tried again, got a better distance, and he jumped HUGE and ROUND. I so wish I could have seen him, because he felt amazing. Did the jump both ways at the canter a few more times, and ended when he landed the right lead and I was able to continue cantering around a corner and he felt very light and balanced on it.

Wow. It was just SO nice. I felt GREAT. I'd cleaned my half chaps Friday, and man, those suckers stuck like GLUE today, lol. My leg was tight, my heel felt wonderful, and I was just happy to be at the barn and on my horse:) Gave him an anti-fungal bath and let him graze next to the upper ring in the thick grass while I put everything up and cleaned my bridle. Once he was dry I rubbed MTG on his hind legs where that rain rot still hasn't gone away, put his fly sheet on, and put him in his stall with plenty of hay and fresh water. Yup, I'm a happy camer.:)

Friday, May 1, 2009

No more 5 day riding streaks ...

Attempted to ride Tiki today, but the rain came right after I got on Chester. As of now, the rain has stopped, but now it's time to load up the son and take him out to the grandparents' house since hubby and I both have to work tomorrow. Won't see the pony all weekend because I'm going to a friend's house after work for another friend's bachelorette party:) Should be fun! Rode yesterday, and had a VERY pleasant ride with my friend Nicole. It was just the 2 of us; me on Tiki, she on her gelding (he is SO cute). They were great. We again went across the street and down the powerlines. Rode for around 2 hours; our horses were just perfect. We enjoyed walking on the buckle, a nice gallop through a field, and a little bit of trotting on the open trail. It was fun just wandering wherever we wanted, and no sapling forests to tear us up.;)

The STRANGEST thing happened once we got back into the driveway. Tiki was wearing his ear net and his new Vespucci bridle. Now granted, the throatlatch is a HAIR too long, but it's acceptable ... he shook his head really hard and the entire bridle and ear bonnet fell OFF. It came OFF his head. Nicole and I were like, "Did that really just happen?" The noseband was properly adjusted, the bridle FITS, and like I said, the throatlatch is just a teeny bit too big, but I have never had a horse shake a bridle completely off its head. Fortunately, we were in the driveway so I just dismounted and led him back to the barn via the reins around his neck ... SO STRANGE, lol. Gave the boy and bath and let him graze and dry in the sun while I cleaned his tack and put stuff away. Sad to not ride him today, but Monday I'm all over it!:)