Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Success times 2

First things first, I have been trying to love on my horses more. Grooming is one. I suck at grooming. Sometimes I just dust my horse off with my hand before switching tack over. Sometimes I ride bareback instead of grooming. I think I've gone weeks without cleaning my own horse's feet. I am lucky that everywhere my horses ride is rock free, soft terrain. 

Today I took some time to love on my horses. I turned them outlet them graze. I free lunged them, successfully! Roxy is a bitch, and I will be the first to say it. I have never once even thought that she wanted to hurt me, or would charge into me, but when I try to lunge her with a lead rope, not a whip, she does this weird backing up thing. She turns her hind end away from me, and sometimes rears up. So today I got really serious with her. I made her back up aggressively, she reared at me and I shouted to her "NO!" she looked shocked. I swung the rope up and hit her in her upper neck, and she took off away from me. YES! I praised a silent victory. It was short lived, as Roxy turned herself away from me. Great. I went over, got really assertive, and told her to move. After some coaching she did! 
During this fight Dolly was lunging herself like the perfect little angle that she is. I recently lunged her alone (without Roxy) for the first time, the mare stayed on the rail in the arena, at a beautiful jog. What a fantastic mare. 
Back to Roxy, whom repeats this about 4 times. Then the clouds parted, and the lord must have whispered into my horse's ears "Roxy, you're an angel remember?"
"Oh yeah! Silly me, thanks God!"
And Roxy sent herself off into the most beautiful canter. I know horses should lunge easily, and willingly, and it's a super big deal. But Roxy lunges fine with a whip, and I usually don't have time to fight with her. I promise to make time to actually get her to lunge properly now. 

 I rode Dolly today! I tacked her up in all of my tack (even my fancy pad cover). I was comfortable, and it does fit her pretty well. Her and Roxy are built strikingly similarly. I didn't even have to raise the cinch on the short latigo. Dolly is a funny little girl, but she did good. She jogged so beautifully, I think she really enjoys being in lessons again.
Since I literally pulled my tack off of Roxy and straight onto Dolly I rode her in a very gentle myler bit. She hates bits. Dolly was chewing, and making a sour face even when I didn't use the reins. I think her mouth is really hurting her again, I need to start cleaning it out. I'll talk about Dolly's health problems in my next post.

While loving on Roxy I noticed something. I noticed it a while ago actually, but today I confirmed it. Roxy is getting extremely smokey. Her face is so black, her tiger stripes are very defined in summer (even in her thick winter coat you can see the stripes by her knees), and the mother load of all smokey-dunness Roxy has shouldering bar.

"I am a pretty dun!"
 But Roxy hasn't always had such a beautiful shoulder bar has she?
A fluffy shoulder bar in 08
A shiny shoulder bar in 07
A ribby shoulder bar in 07

How have I never noticed something so cool? Oh well, I sure have noticed it now!

My ride today was excelent. Roxy has a fantastic stop, but I want to start using 1 of the 4 cues, instead of all 4 all the time. I hope that every rider is well aware of the  4 whoa cues. They are vocally, with the reins, and that is where most people stop. But I teach my clients (both equine and human) 2 more tools, sitting deep, and bringing your legs forward. Today I tested Roxy, she responds quite well, to all but sitting deep. Interesting. She knows that it means easy if I squeeze my but and thighs, but she doesn't read this as whoa. I was surprised that she responded so well to just putting my legs out. It's crazy difficult to just put them out, or just sit deep, and not say whoa. It feels like I am doing her a disservice because I know how much milder it is on her to just talk. Regardless I plan on putting a super whoa on my horse, and when I use all 4 cues that work just as well separately, when I do all 4 at once I'll get that super whoa. 

I tacked my horse up today with the intention of really working her, mentally and physically. I want to build my pudgy mare back into great gymkhana shape. I know this means more lunging, and letting her sit in her gates for longer, oh and actually riding her for more then 10minutes. Today I did all 3! We worked on barrels, I let her run them, and really encouraged her to go fast. She's usually demonstrating the pattern, so we keep it slow so it's extra clean, especially since it wouldn't be appropriate to train her while trying to train someone else. I trained her hard on the pattern, and she did really well, and she enjoyed it! I love having a horse that truly enjoys being ridden. I think it's vital for horses to have a job, and to enjoy it.

Then I switched, and worked on some lead changes. I started with simple changes, and she minded her cues quite well; both the transition walk to canter and vise versa, and picking up leads. Twice I got BEAUTIFUL flying changes out of her. It resulted in an instant reward of a walking lap and some heavy petting. Overall I was proud of both girls, and I had so much fun actually putting tack on, not being in a hurry and riding!

All booted up and ready to ride!

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