I said we were getting ready for the little rodeo. Well we went. I wont say it was a disaster. It actually went rather well all things considered. Only because of my husband and our good friend Tanna. My husband said I should ask her to come with. I said no, I wasn’t going to bother her. Why would it be any fun for her to come along and help watch kids for the evening? I didn’t ask. He ran into her at the store and asked if I had asked. Then he called and informed me that she wanted to go and why hadn’t I asked her? I asked. She came and brought her horse Jerry.
Jerry is a lovely little gaited Morgan mare that I started and showed years ago. She has found the perfect home with Tanna and they do so well together. That night she also did a lovely job of ponying Coyote with my small children on him. She has never been at all flustered by arenas and crowds. She was always the exact same horse at a show as she was at home. The same can not be said of Coyote. He was hot and nervous and calling for Rusty when ever they were apart. He was also very glad to see Jerry. They spent lots of time grooming each other and visiting.
Rusty was, as usual in strange, scary places, back to his old self. The way he was when he first came to live with us. He was high headed and nervous. Bouncing off the end of the rope, back and forth, smashing into me and stomping on my toes whenever he spooked. We started off with my son in front of Tanna on Jerry and me leading Rusty and Coyote with my daughter on him. It worked pretty well. The arena has a large parking area, lots of room to let the horses settle down.
I wanted to work Rusty though. My main goal in most things we do I handed Coyotes lead rope off to Tanna and got Rusty’s rubber chicken. We played fetch for a bit, then I was going to get on. But. We really needed to get the horses in the arena. I couldn’t just abandon my children to Tanna for her to take care of while I played. My son was having a very emotional night, he could not handle, well, just about anything.
I ended up leaving him tied in the trailer. It seemed like the safest place to let him have the fit he was throwing. I pulled my saddle for its safety and left him with a hay net.
Coyote did settle down and did very nicely for both kids. We couldn’t turn him loose like we did Onna and both kids had to be led the whole time. It would have been funner, maybe ?, if we could have but the kids enjoyed it anyway. I did not. Between children’s temper-tantrums and horses It was more than I could handle. By the end of the night I was feeling rather sick to my stomach and exhausted. And that was with Tanna doing all the work
Things like this make me realize all over again how much we lost when we lost Onna. Without her I’m not sure we are going to be doing as much of this sort of thing. We wont be going to the one next Friday. But horse people are wonderful people and I do have other things I would like to share. This post has gone long enough though…
Summer has started out ridiculously busy around here. I get so much more time to work with the horses when it’s zero degrees in January than I do in the so called riding season. I find the weather more pleasant too.
With the loss of Onna, who we knew we loved and depended on but didn’t realize just how much we depended on until she was gone, riding has been even harder. There is a little kids rodeo series coming up in our biggest nearby town. I found out about it last year and am all for things that encourage a love of riding and showing for the kids, even if they are not exactly my thing, so I promised we would go. At the time it was a simple fun thing to do. Now my daughter is excited about going, but doesn’t have a horse to ride. I have been driving myself crazy trying to figure out how to do it.
She can ride Coyote. Probably. They’ve been trying to get used to each other. She’s annoyingly, wonderful parent aren’t I, timid on him. She sits there and refuses to steer or even try. He has never made any attempt to hide his dislike of children and spends the whole time looking at me, begging me to save him. They are starting to work though. Lots, or at least as many as we can fit in, of long easy walks. I’m trying not to push them. It’s hard for me. I like to work on things. Drill hard! The more intricate and minuscule the thing we are working on the better. Not the way to teach children.
I don’t know what he’ll be like out and about though, however good he is at home. The last time I showed him he did not like it. I realized this morning that that was 15?! years ago. There abouts. 2004 maybe? Might have been ’05. He’s much older now and easier going than he was as a youth. He is still probably going to need to be led though. I only have Rusty.
Rusty has done wonderfully every time I’ve taken him anywhere. He wasn’t phased by the noise and crowds of the talent show. We hauled to a friends indoor arena a couple of times and he was great once he settled in. I decided to try leading them with Rusty. We’ll get there plenty early and do a nice long warm up. Get them both settled in and calmed down. We’ve been practicing ponying here at home. Got him used to the rope around his butt. Not under his tail, I would like to do that a couple of times first. We did it when first starting him undersaddle. Hopefully he remembers or we just don’t have that problem. If it becomes apparent that it’s not going to work I’ll just lead her on foot. It will work out. Some how.
Wish us luck.
Rusty and I were practicing playing catch the other day. we are getting there, kind of. Here’s what it looks like when it works the way it should. My friend Ineke and her horse JB playing catch! I doubt most people could do better with their dogs, what a pair!
We suffered a terrible loss this week. My daughters mare, the lovely Princess Onna has passed away. She was that one perfect unicorn horse everyone hopes to find for their children. Beautiful and flashy while at the same time dependable and trustworthy. For an adult she was a hot fun ride, willing and happy to go all day, overly enthusiastic at chasing those cows. When her little girl got on she walked quietly putting up with all kinds of nonsense. Onna only gaited away with her person a couple of times, and only when she was really asking for it. When my daughter got too enthusiastic and cocky playing at running barrels and Onna decided she had had enough she’d do just what was asked of her and go. Straight to me. I would save her and insist that her little person calm down or get off. Onna taught her little person to ride. Gave her confidence, some small degree of skill, and a love for horses. We will never be able to replace her. Onna left a big hole and we will miss her dreadfully.
Bit-O-WY Onyx 1999-2018
For a talent show!
We did it! The talent show is over and done, we are all still alive, no injuries, serious or otherwise, and I don’t think we did an awful job. I wont go as far as to say we did a great job either though. I was very proud of Rusty. We hauled in very early, in time for lunch ten an hour at the park with my daughters class for their end of year field trip/party. Then back to the school and unloaded Rusty. All the horses got to come for the ride. I loaded them up with hay and they got to hang out. You’d think they’d have been happier about it
Rusty hopped out of the trailer and went to grazing. He wasn’t hardly concerned at all. I grabbed my bags of cookies and we went for a walk. I let him lead and we meandered down the sidewalk, up and down curbs, into the lawn for some more eating. The only time he spooked was when I very deliberately woke the neighbors dogs who had been sleeping in their kennel right across the street. I wanted their obnoxious yipping to be experienced while we were expecting it. One of the kids was roaring around the parking lot on his very loud dirtbike, in and out of the shop building. Rusty tensed up but wasn’t terribly upset. he took the cars and the bus going by completely in stride. The other thing, other than the yippy dogs, that bothered him was cheering. Mostly just the first time. He performed wonderfully, our only issues being him deciding he was done and heading back to his buddies in the trailer when I got on and not doing a good job of handing me my hat. He did such a good job with the strange place and all the people. Such a good boy!
I could have improved many things that I did though. When I sat my mat out to practice ahead of time I just threw it out there. I guess I had “planned” to move it beforehand. I was not centered, one side of the group got preformed to far more than the other. I spoke nice and loud and clear. For the first minute. After that I think I may have spoken to myself. I forgot to open my paint ahead of time. I kept telling myself to do that, then forgot. There was probably more but I am too exhausted to remember it now. And I’m busy being proud of my pony for being SO good! Carrots for everyone!
In our last video we worked on our mat training. Now we are moving on to the next step.
After improving on our mat training I show him where I want him to come stand when I finally get around to calling him. I reward him for stepping up onto the wooden platform. Then I stand him back on the mat… and reward him for coming before I call. I’m a terrible trainer. But. Well. Anyway.
He was where I wanted him so we went to work on the next step. Sitting down on the platform I ask him to target the bit again. After rewarding him a few times for dropping his head clear down and mouthing the bit I start to ask for more. Until he takes the bit all the way in. Soon he’ll be putting it on all by himself!
Here is another bridling method we have been working on. Eventually the hope is that he’ll come up behind me, stand on the bridge and put his head down in my lap to take his bridle. It is a little easier than having him fetch his bridle and bring it to me. There are lots of little pieces to improve upon and string together. First he needs to be very good with his mat training so he will stay until called. Here we are working on staying for longer periods and while I walk away. Then he needs to come when called.
In these videos he’s wearing a halter and lead rope. We don’t usually wear them when working but the fresh spring grass is more than he can handle. Standing around eating, something besides grass, is his job, when it’s time to work he needs to pat attention. This way I can remind him that it’s me time not grass time if I need to. I don’t like having the halter on him, I notice a strong tendency to grab it even though he does just fine without it the rest of the time. It is there though so I reach for it. It’s a hard habit to break. I am looking forward to summer and the grass drying down, turning brown, for this one purpose at least.
When we did our little mounting challenge I mostly skipped to the end. There were quite a few requests for a how to though. So this time around I’ll start from the beginning and show as we go through all the little steps and put them together.
Trying to come up with different ways to put a bridle on has a few limitations. The bridle has to end up on his head. But, I guess mounting has the same problem, I have to end up on his back.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your horse could just bring you his bridle?
The mounting challenge was fun. But once it was finished I needed to think of something else to work on. I contemplated the Spanish walk or bowing and all the variations of those we could do. In the end though it all came down to doing something practical. So we are working on biting.
Here is our first step. Teaching him to target the bit. Once he’s touching the bit with his nose then we start asking for a little bit more. Just to open his mouth and bite the bit a little with his teeth is plenty. Of course he already takes a bit fine. He drops his head and lets me touch his ears. But fine is not good enough for this challenge. By the time we are done I want a self bridling horse!
Good bridling manners are so important. Nobody wants a horse with its head stuck way in the air trying to reach way up over the ears. It wont be as exciting I don’t think as the mounting one, then again, thinking about it. it could include mounting. Hmmm. Interesting. I have about three ideas to start working and shaping. I would appreciate any ideas anyone else comes up with and if you have a video of you putting a bridle on in some weird and unusual way please share them!!