Grazing Time

I know I’ve been posting a lot of boring videos lately of us walking around or grazing. Well, it’s what we’re doing right now and I’m pretty thrilled about it. We got our last ride in today before the weather changes tomorrow. It was in the fifties we had to get out there. The riding is a bit treacherous, snow, mud, water, lots of slickness. All the better to learn good footing in. We went the other way in the corn field today. Down along the tree row where Coyote had his little hissy fit when Tanna was out with us. Much easier without his help. Rusty goes along like a vacuum, sniffing the ground for treats the whole way. Riding through a corn field provides its own rewards.
Going across the field he broke into a canter, the path looked clear. I couldn’t see any badger holes, they’ve been busy this fall! I sat deep and let him go. he was enjoying himself and let out one exuberant little tiny buck. I slowed him down before we got to another one of those terrifying pivot tracks. He is coming back nicely, mostly to my seat, and shouldn’t be too hard to cross water on after all these ditches. They scare him, he’s hesitant, slows down, looks closely, and steps carefully, all good things. He spooked pretty good when we were walking up the fence line. The dogs showed up later, I wonder if they weren’t what he saw. We went under the pivot twice and spent lots of time grazing around it.
I took advantage of the relatively good footing on the wheat ground to work on a few transitions, some leg yields, turns and stops. It took at least twenty minutes to walk the half mile home. Life is slow when you have to wait for treats to be eaten.

 


We Did It Again!

Twice!!

After going out with Tanna I couldn’t wait to get out in the big field again. The weather has been beautiful and even if I’m still fighting the sick I couldn’t stand to waste a day of it. Yesterday we went out and found some calves that had wandered under the electric fence and chased them back in. It was a little scary. He goes after things with enthusiasm. But I was able to bring him back to me nicely and we continued with a very nice ride.

Today he wanted to leave the yard at a trot. I used it to work on transitions a little. Once out on the driveway I steered him into the cornfield then let him go. We had a nice canter up the hill! We whoad once, treated then I actually asked for a canter and we went to the top. I clicked him for such a nice canter and he stopped for his treat. I let him graze a little and we just hung out. I wanted running no to be a big deal and for him to be able to stand and chill afterwards. He did great.

Then we started off across the cornfield. I let him Hoover up any corn he could find as he sniffed his way along. He was very concerned about pivot tracks. After the first few though he started crossing with less hesitance. We made it clear to the middle where the pivot was sitting. I wanted to try to walk under the first section, we would be facing home and I thought we had a chance. He did it with Tanna and Coyote leading but I didn’t think he was over being afraid. I was mostly wrong. He had no problem at all walking under it. Then he wanted to graze right there with it, nearly under it. What a good boy. For comparison, Coyote is still terrified of them. Sometimes. He’s a silly boy.

Then we slowly meandered our way back to the house. It was a good ride! I can’t wait for tomorrow! After that the weather is supposed to turn bad again so we better ride while we can.

 

 


Trail Ride

Tanna was home for Christmas break! So exciting. It was zero degrees and everybody was sick for most of the time 🙁 Oh well, we’ll take the good with the bad. Today, nearly her last day home we finally had a chance to ride.
It was forty degrees. The children were in the house with their father, I didn’t have to worry about staying close or hurrying back. We saddled and rode around in the arena a little bit. I had my new bit on him for the first time and he hadn’t been ridden in weeks. I had put the bit on a headstall but hadn’t put a chin strap on yet. I went to get the one off of my old snaffle but I don’t think it has been off since I got the bit, It was petrified, like wood. I didn’t even try to get it unbuckled. Not having another in any better shape I grabbed some rope that was laying around and tied it on. It worked great.
After our brief warm up we headed out into the corn field. We had done this a couple of times before the cold spell with very good results. This time started out the same. Rusty was relaxed and excited about food. Coyote was rusty in his corn finding skills. We let them brush up on that a little digging ears of corn out of the snow. Going down the middle of the field we took our time, letting them eat and look around.
Towards the far end the pivot was stretched along our path. Taking advantage of the available obstacle we weaved back and forth under it. Rusty thought it was pretty terrifying at first. But trusty old Coyote was there to lead the way. With him in front we were able to walk under it but he’d tuck tail and shoot out the other side. With lots of back and forth and grazing underneath he settled down quite a bit.
Down the fence line to the tree row then back towards the house we went with little excitement. We played leap frog, sniffed the ground checking out the scent of the deer who had been grazing there as we started our ride, and visited. Almost to the house again, on the back side of the trees that provide a windbreak to the buildings Coyote saw something. We don’t know what. We really doubt there was anything there but his active imagination. He was sure he was going to die though. Head in the air he snorted a warning to Rusty. Coyote was our moral support and behavioral role model, if he said something was scary Rusty was going to take him at his word!
With lots of snorting and blowing they prepared for the spook. It’s worse knowing it is coming. I grabbed a handful of mane and sat deep. Rusty ducked and spun. I still had a little control. Then Coyote took off. We were gone. Rusty had his head in the air and my hand in his mane was pinched between his neck and the saddle horn.
The ground was slick with the snow melting in the warm weather. He came to a stop without killing us. Coyote was still having a melt down. Tanna was able to kick him away from the trees and we went towards the middle of the field. At an excited prance we continued on our way.
We were having such a fun ride we decided to keep going on to the mail box instead of going home yet. Letting them go a bit we trotted to the top of the hill. Rusty stretched his legs and cantered a little. They came easily to a stop and we walked out and back.
We made it back to the house without too much further excitement. The horses were sweaty. The riders pleasantly tired. It was a nice ride. It was good to have Tanna back to see us, and to have someone to ride out with us. Hopefully after having someone along he’ll be more confident for the next ride.


Working Anyway

I’m very sick. My husband ordered me home and to bed!

But.

It’s nearly forty degrees outside! After windchill’s that far below zero this is beyond a heat wave. Getting started learning new things is too exciting to not go play just because I’m sick. I stayed in yesterday. Today we had things to accomplish.

I kept it short. Looking at the video from last time I realized I had gone on far longer than intended. It doesn’t seem that long while you’re working on it. I added two more tubs to our pattern. Old lick tubs have got to be one of the best things ever to have laying around. Now there are four, in a circle, as close to a circle as four tubs can be. Last time we practiced walking around the outside of two. This time we walked around outside of all four. After a little pawing and stumbling about he picked it right up on both sides.

I may have to switch to a lower value treat. I have a stock pile of apples that the kids have eaten on slightly. I hate for them to go to waste and Rusty does love them. So I chop them into pieces and he loves them. Too much. His fierceness is great when apples are used. With nose tucked to chest worse than any rollkured horse, ears flat against his head, he walks beside me radiating purpose, intent, and, well, fierceness. I don’t remember him being this bad before?

He is doing good fierceness aside. I click as he goes around outside one tub. Feed him outside the next. After one good round both ways we stopped and went through one test. It was interesting. The tests I’ve watched have all been quiet rather plodding quarter horse types. I don’t mean that in a bad way just such an opposite of what we are. He zips while walking the same speed as me. Not sure how he manages it. There are definitely things we need to work on. That’s what I love about trying new things. You find the holes in your training, things that need improved on.

He was not able to stand still. Every time we stopped he started pawing frantically. I knew we needed work on treat manners, starting in the middle teaching fetch instead of at the beginning has led to a few small issues. I never had good enough reason to fix it before. Like lunging, now I have a reason to. Walking next to me isn’t a problem, stopping isn’t a problem, backing needs some work. He swings his butt out. Manners and precise control seem to be our biggest things and I am enjoying working on them.

Here’s a copy of the test we tried out. It seems very simple, and is, mostly. Can you do it?

PURPOSE: Tests provide the horse and handler
the ability to develop a partnership as they begin
the first steps in building a foundation to perform
Classical Dressage maneuvers.
Leading from the left side, walk 4-6m
(13-20′) in a straight line
-Straightness; balance; quality of the
walk.
Halt, Salute
-Straight, willing, balanced & square
halt
Back horse 5-8 steps, halt
-Lack of tension, diagonal pairing of
footfalls; straight, balanced & square
halt
Perform a 360 degree turn on the
forehand, moving the haunches away
from the handler
-Willingness; balance; correct footfalls.
Halt. Switch to the right side of the
horse
-Straight, willing, and balanced halt;
immobility during change
Leading from the right side, walk 4-6m
(13-20ft) in a straight line
-Straightness; energy; quality of the
walk.
Halt
-Straight, willing, balanced & square
halt
Back horse 5-8 steps, halt
-Lack of tension, diagonal pairing of
footfalls; straight, balanced & square
halt
Perform a 360 degree turn on the
forehand, moving the haunches away
from the handler, Halt
-Willingness; balance; correct footfalls.
Straight, balanced & square halt
Walk a 6-7m (20-23ft) diameter circle
clockwise and halt where the circle
started
-Size and shape of circle; Quality of
walk. Willing, balanced, and square halt
Switch to the left side of the horse
-Immobility.
Walk a 6-7m (20-23ft) diameter circle
counter clockwise and halt where the
circle started. Salute
-Size and shape of circle; Quality of
walk. Willing, balanced, and square halt

A New Direction?

With the cold weather lately I’ve had time to sit and read a little. I’ve read about Cowboy and Western dressage for years and have heard about virtual shows but never thought much about it. Recently something sparked. I checked out the website, of the North American Western Dressage association that is. Then read up on the Western Dressage Association of America. I stalked their facebook pages. I watched every video I could find on YouTube with the judges comments. Then finally I did that thing that I so seldom do, I spent the money and joined NAWD.

They offer the virtual shows which was a necessity for me. They have classes with ground work, six feet on the ground division, that I think we are ready for now. Mostly. And we can do them at liberty! Now I will have reason to teach him to lunge. In the earliest, easiest 😉 classes the horse needs to go around handler in a circle 10 feet away. The rules say that “artificial aids are allowed such as a whip, crop, lariat, or training stick”. A treat bag is an artificial aid and shouldn’t count any differently. It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission, so we will submit video with the clicker to start with and point out that they didn’t say we couldn’t if they complain.

They offer riding classes beginning with the most absolute basics, in regular dressage, ranch, and trail divisions. We might be able to manage those before too long and it will give me a concrete goal to be working towards. I like that.

It is too cold out to work with Rusty at all right now. I’m willing to work in cold weather but when the highs are around zero with wind chill, I’m not doing it. I should have waited until it warmed up and tried the introductory levels before donating but I know I love dressage, I know I love to train, I know I have great desire to beat my personal best, so how could I not like it? It seemed like a safe bet. If we don’t end up doing anything I’m only out a few dollars. If we do compete entry fees for the “shows” aren’t neat as bad as I was used to for ranch horse stuff way back when. I always thought it would be fun to go for year end awards in something.

We are not stopping the trick training. I love it and there is so much to learn, not to mention a rather large project in the making right now. I’m very excited about it 🙂 Riding has been the main goal all along though and this is another step in that direction. If anyone knows more about this than me, which doesn’t take much, please chime in. I would love to hear what you have to say and any tips or pointers!



Christmas Isn’t Over Yet!

I got a package in the mail today! Two of them actually. One was a new bit for Rusty, that was pretty exciting. But the other was even better. It was from Australia. In and of itself that is pretty cool. I never get anything from overseas. My husband does, computer stuff from England and China, but not me. It had papers from customs and our address included that it was in the US.

I took my time opening it, getting pictures all the way. Inside the tough outer wrapping was a large, flat, carefully, and prettily, wrapped package. I gave up on not tearing it and ripped my way inside. Knowing what was coming didn’t make the excitement any less. I had expected a painting. And it was there, in my favorite colors! Along with it were pictures of the artists and a lovely card. I immediately found a place for the painting to set in the house. It looks lovely but made me realize how badly I need to dust.

But why am I talking about my beautiful new painting here on a horse site?

Because the artist is a paint gelding named Monty, he gets help from his person but he does the work. A good friend of mine taught her horse to paint. They have been doing a wonderful job of it. He knows many other tricks too, kiss, hug, and bow, but this is a fun one that gets to be shared with friends! Here’s to a very talented pair. Thank you so much for my Christmas present!!!


Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year! We have had a great year and hope that next year will bring just as much growth and accomplishment. We will be “ringing” in the new year with many more tricks and, hopefully, plain, old, good riding time. Everybody here is hunkered down, enjoying the cold and snow the best we can, while we dream of warmer weather.

 


Early Christmas!

Christmas came early for me today. I got two of my presents in the mail! The calendar from Forever Morgans, with rusty in it, and a book on trick training, written by a Morgan person and illustrated with Morgans! This is so exciting. I can’t wait to read the book and for the new year so we can start the new calendar.

 


Still Plugging Away

It has been crazy busy getting ready for Christmas, going to Christmas programs, doing all the things. I have been riding Rusty, he’s been doing wonderfully, I just haven’t had time to sit down and write about it after. The Spanish walk has slowly been transferring to under saddle. I found, finally listened to Rusty and figured out, what I had been doing wrong. My tendency is to apply some rein pressure when I ask. I think he needs to be on the bit and forward motion controlled. He thinks I need to drop the dang reins and leave him alone to do his thing. He has this, knows what to do without being bothered. I started leaving the reins alone, he started giving a good forward Spanish walk without any fit throwing.

We’ve been doing lots of “trail riding” out through the yard. Building our confidence so we’ll, hopefully, just be able to ride normally someday. The yard is full of fun obstacles and scary things to ride through, buildings, stacks of hay, tractors and vehicles, but much less scary to him than the wide open fields. We’ve ridden out to where the driveway leads out of the yard and looked around then turned back. He did well. I decided that on this ride we were going out. We took a trip around the yard first to see how things were going. They were not going well. The weather was beautiful, warm and calm and building into a big drop in temp that night and snow. He could feel the change coming I’m sure and was hyped and on edge. The first few times I brought him back to a walk. As he kept wanting to trot I gave in and we did a big figure eight around things parked in the yard. He finally settled a little and was willing to walk. We circled the quanset and headed down the driveway.

He was a little quieter, although still very looky, ears permanently perked. We made it to the point where the drive opens into the fields. Cows and electric fence on one side open wheat ground on the other. Not to far off was regrowth intend for the cattle’s winter grazing. If we could just make it to there he would be able to graze, food makes everything better. He was on tiptoe the whole way but we made it. I could feel his body relax as he ate. We sat until I got too bored to wait any longer and asked him to move out. We walked a little grazed a little, jumped over the pivot tracks, maybe over reacting a little 😉 In the end it turned out to be a good ride. He settled down, still looky but not so much on tiptoes and no longer leaping the tiny little pivot tracks. And we made it back alive. Life is good! 🙂

This is how he still comes for me to get on though so he must not be minding the scary stuff to much.