Saturday, April 26, 2008

Post your goals!

OK everybody! Here we go, it's time to make a plan where thousands of people can see it and where you will have to admit if you don't get it done!

No pressure, of course... :D

But the truth is, most of us need a little bit of a push in life. Think about your job. Deadlines, meetings, conference calls - there are things you have to get done by certain times, or everybody will know you screwed off. Nobody wants to be busted slacking! So let's apply the same to our riding and help ourselves do what we need to do.

Here are my goals:

This weekend: Another ride on the VLC. Goal is to go all around the arena both directions and not stay in the Circle of Chickenshit, making a round-pen sized itty bitty circuit around my friend in some weird belief that nothing bad can happen as long as I do not attempt to walk past a Scary Door to the Outside World. Even though VLC is routinely turned out in the indoor, has looked out the doors MANY times, and has never done anything worse than whinny at the neighbor's mustang stallions, for some reason those Scary Doors to the Outside World are intimidating to me.

By Memorial Day: We will be riding indoors and outside in the round pen, and will have a solid walk and trot.

By the 4th of July we will have ridden somewhere off the property, i.e. the local public use outdoor arena. We will be able to ride with other horses and still pay attention.

By my birthday, July 29th, we will be cantering. I am giving myself time for this. I want a really solid walk-trot first, and see nothing wrong with putting that on him, even though I understand it also has a lot to do with my personal comfort zone. Trotting builds muscle, and doing a nice lope without bad behavior is much easier for a horse that is fit and in condition as opposed to a weak horse (remember that, folks, it really is true - when their legs are everywhere and they are unfit you are WAY more likely to get the OMG I'm confused and uncoordinated buck).

BTW I grew up in polo and do not buy into the theory of "too fit." I think it is nonsense. Horses do not misbehave from being too fit, at least not horses who are turned out daily, ridden regularly and fed intelligently. I believe fitness encourages good behavior and it certainly reduces your risk of the horse sustaining an injury. If "too fit" made them crazy and unrideable, how the hell do we play polo on OTTB's that are routinely being cantered 20 minutes straight on the days they don't play? You try to hit a polo ball off a crazy horse.

Our first show will be August 23rd. There are several walk-trot classes so we'll be doing those.

I am off work the week before Labor Day and want to take him on a trail ride at least once. This is the hard one for me - I am Arena Girl. I am sooooo comfortable with walls around me, and have always been a nervous trail rider, even when I was young and would ride any orangutan in the arena. (Several bolts through the woods when young permanently scarred my psyche with regard to trail riding. I simply can't relax and enjoy unless I'm on, like, my friend's 23 year old Standardbred) So I am giving myself a long time before I do this - but I will do this.

OK, next?


cdncowgirl said...

Okay I'm calling myself out as a chickenshit... at least when it comes to Quinn. I'm fine on my mare, my other gelding, my friend's gelding, but not on Quinn. The last time I attempted to ride him I had a panic attack, which has never happened to me before. He's had some behavior issues in the past. Mostly because of a "trainer" who screwed him up. Our problem is that he needs a confident rider, once he feels doubt or nervousness he gets "spooky" which can result in anything from a small sideways hop, to spin and bolt to full fledged bucking. I will admit the bucking is what has me most scared. He's tossed me once and when things finally came to a head and everything went to hell in a handbasket he tossed the "trainer".
My goal with Quinn is to start riding him in the outdoor arena. He has been off due to injury for a good 10 months (injury and my chickenshittedness) May 5 he is going to a friend from some legging-up. So my OA riding should start early June. Just walk/jog for the first few weeks. Progress to loping and bending exercises.
From there I want to progess to doing barrel work in our arena (we had gone to jackpots before the shit hit the fan) and take him on some rides off the property (where I ride everyone else!)
If things are going well I plan to take him to some local jackpots.

I will be completely upfront that I still plan to sell him if possible. I think I may be able to conquer my nerves enough to do the above if I know that I will only be doing it "temporarily" however I do not think I will be able to ride him long term and relax enough to actually enjoy myself.

ellen said...

Hmmmm.... big goal is to get all seven of the horses I"m working on now going well and ready for sale.

Morab -- BTDT to First Level, but has been pasture potato all winter, developed serious mental insect up behind about cantering, solve that problem w/ double longeing, suppling work and work on balance. Conquer Pushy Little Mare attitude which creeps back in when allowed. Solid Training Level 4 test by end of June, and working on lengthenings again, and ready to sell.

Doofus TB type Appaloosa gelding -- was discovering the joys of traveling right side up last fall and starting happily and not too ineptly over x's -- still has bad memories of being gigged in the flanks with spurs as a long yearling and "made to run" so has canter issues as well, but we were getting a long side in balance last fall and he has been running hills so that should come shortly. Solid WTC and 2' crossrails, and ready to advertise by end of June.

Morgan gelding -- ABR (All But Ridden -- insert chicken noises here) -- backed by next weekend, when my helper will be here, walk/trot in balance on straight and bending lines, beginning circle work by mid June, ready to canter, and ready to ride out. Ready for Intro debut at schooling show in late July/early August, sold by fall, by which point I hope to have him ready for Training Level debut.

Morgan retired broodymare -- was at one point green broke -- gymnastic longeing to develop her saggy topline, amd double longeing for the next 3 or 4 weeks, then walk/trot work till mid-June, see if she'll make a trail horse, canter by mid-July and ready to advertise. She will be a tough placement -- beautiful mare, not breeding sound, 16 and green broke, sound and healthy but with an ugly blemish from an injury while out on lease. Two strikes already --so she needs to be trail-gentle to be someone's pal, which she has earned.

Morgan mare -- unbacked, had most of groundwork and introduced to tack before she went out on lease as a broodmare. Hasn't been handled much for the past two years while on lease -- she's silly but smart. Solid on the longe and double longe in all her tack by end of May and ready to back June 1, solid W/T on straight and bending lines by end of June. Cantering on double longe by then as well. Big beautiful mare, would be a dandy sport horse, but I don't know whether I'll get her ready to advertise before fall. Has rushy/balance issues and the attention span of a fruit fly.

Long two year old Morgan filly -- Longeing and long lining in all her tack by end of July with impeccable ground manners and ready to ride when she is big enough. Will see when she is ready to advertise.

Almost-yearling TB filly now halterbroke and gentle, impeccably halterbroke, fitted up and ready to sell by June.

Short-term goal to work everyone at least 3x/week.

My procrastination is part cowardice and part reluctance to sell horses, even though I really need to move these and possibly another one (stallion who has been eclipsed by a younger homebred and will be getting the Big Snip this summer).

That's not to mention the three coming two year olds who have been busy being Friendly Growing Things and need to be introduced to civilization this fall.

Ok, now Im tired just writing all this.

Funder said...

VLC - you said "I am Arena Girl. I am sooooo comfortable with walls around me, and have always been a nervous trail rider."

I have never understood you Arena People! I mean, I know where you're coming from, but I have the opposite fears. I fear the arena because I'm sure I'm going to stick my outside foot out too far and get it hung in the fence and rip my leg off. I'm even more sure this will happen to me - and possibly to the horse too - in a round pen. I won't even mount a horse in round pen! And on top of that, I am not at all convinced that a freaked-out horse won't just ignore the arena fence - he's either going to go over it, through it, or fling me over it.

For some reason the thought of being in a big field or even a lightly wooded area is a lot more reassuring to me. As stupid as a horse can be (and god knows I love 'em but sometimes they got rocks in the head), he's still not going to run into a tree.

Please, yall, don't post a bunch of "my horse ran me into a tree and I ended up in traction" stories to scare me. :(

Anyway, on topic: my Percheron and newest TWH both need a lot of work, but my only goals for the summer are to pass the bar exam and get a job. Then I can buy a saddle that fits the Very Very Large Horse and spend some more time getting the TWH to canter only when I ask, thank you.

fssunnysd said...

Okay, this is fun. And if it's in writing, I can't back out, right? :-)

Goals: 1) Stop procrastinating and actually drag the saddle out and put it ON the horse. I don't know what exactly it is about saddling up to ride that has become a problem, but it has. I can get on bareback and canter around the field, but doing it with a saddle makes ME worry. Sunny's his usual complacent self.

2) By June be riding out again on trails.

3) By fall, have RIDDEN him at a least one fun/open show when we take the young ones for socialization & exposure. No more coping out and just doing halter classes.

4) Get the 3 year olds (pinto gelding and Arab filly) comfortable with saddles & other assorted trappings & back them. Do lots more on the ground obstacle course -- scary plastic bags, balloons, and tarps will not faze us! Work toward maybe doing a walk-trot class with both by the end of summer.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

By the way, for you PNW folks, SAFE is having the August 23rd horseshow. It will be FULL of rescues, greenies, etc. You do not have to wear show clothes. If you are looking for that first show where you won't look foolish, and lots of people will be dealing with imperfect equine behavior and/or their own fears, this is the show for you.

Novina said...

I too am a re-rider. I started riding again about 2 1/2 years ago after being out of the horse world for 14 years.

When I was younger, I am now 39; I used to ride all the green and troubled horses at the barn where I learned to ride. I rode everything from the 11 hh snotty, bucker, and bolter pony to the 17 hh just backed draft horse. I thought nothing of taking a horse out alone for a daylong trail ride. I was fortunate enough to have access to over 10,000 acres of parkland with cut trails (and some uncut trails) to wander.

My favourite horse was a hot-blooded, dapple-grey little Arab gelding. This horse was as touchy as they come. You only needed to tilt your head to get a flying lead out of him, and you did not dare flap your legs around his sides. He has a need for speed that was insatiable. You could not hold his head or he would throw a fit at the pressure.

I started taking lessons at the old maid (in the horse world) age of 14. I lived in the heart of Toronto where horses were an oddity. I took a part-time job to pay for the lessons myself. I worked up from the plugs to the Arab within 2 years.

One day while I was taking a private lesson on the Arab, a group of new potential students were watching me. Seeing the small crowd, my coach asked me to drop my stirrups – something she normally did anyway. After a minute of cantering and trotting around the arena she then surprised me by asking me to drop the reins too. I was a little taken aback by this and worried because the fence at the end of the arena was down, and all I could see in my head was the dust trail I would leave behind if the little Arab decided to take off. I dropped the reins on the horse’s neck and tried to relax as I had been taught. My coach then started to ask me to do some pattern work at various speeds. We did large fast circles, small slow circles, and figure eights with lead changes all without the benefit of stirrups of reins. I was beyond thrilled. I have never felt so completely in tune with a horse as I did at that moment. The Arab never once tried to leave by the downed fence. He responded to my slightest shifts in weight to change speeds or directions. I was so absorbed in what I was doing that I forgot about the small group watching. I only became aware that they were still there when I finally come to a beautiful stop and they started to clap. I was very proud of myself, but not for the accolades of the crowd but because I had finally felt the absolute joy of total communication with a horse.

I bought my own horse a shortly thereafter that I had to give up in my early 20’s when I got divorced. I did find her a home with a little 5 year old. They still have her even now. Yes she is very old, but she had a wonderful life.

Now that I am riding again, I am striving to recapture this feeling. That is my “training” goal.

Masquerade said...

My goals are somewhat the same as yours fugly.

I plan to get on his back for the first time tomorrow. Then, I'm away for work until our May long weekend :( I hope to have him in consistent walk trot by the end of May.

June is for building muscle and letting him sort out his legs. I plan on getting him out on the longe lines this month along the road, trails etc.

July, hopefully a walk trot show, smaller show with not a major amount of activity. More longe line work and start introducing the canter on the lunge. Only if I've managed to keep at this consistently though. I fully agree with the letting them build muscles and sort out the legs. My boy is all legs still even at 4 :(


Get out on the trails and on the roads a bit. More work on the longe line..........see a trend here?


I hope to canter him. If that goes well, I'll be happy. The rest of the fall will be about building him up and asking for a bit more when I feel he can give it.

Skint said...

small steps by end Dec 2008
i want to be lose 30lbs
i want to be able to catch my 4yo ottb from the field take her to the stable, pick out her feet while she stands still and cooperates and then watch my daughter take her out for a ride on her own without other horses. (she wont go out on her own)

Skint said...

ps riding wise for me,
smooth upward/downward transitions at walk and trot, feel balanced and fit when riding

a beautiful disaster said...

so i'm not exactly old (17)or very chicken but i hope no one minds if i share here too, cause trainings :)

goal for buddy is same as always; have happy rides :D he's pretty much finished (minus the temper tantrums), so some more lessons would be nice so we can jump and enjoy ourselves and the $$ from summer camp

for SillyTBMare:
continue working on quiet cantering and ground poles - be able to canter nicely in the outdoor and on a long rein in the indoor
by july i want to be re-starting her over small little x's
by the end of the summer if all goes well i want her to be doing little courses quietly and be going nicely enough to be put back in the school program

if it turns out that jumping still really isn't her thing (last year the school kids would jump her but she was basically batshit crazy about it), i want the BO realize that she just won't work, and convince her owner to put her for sale - she could be a really nice low-level dressage schoolie

which_chick said...

I rode Project Horse today!! (First ride ever, if sitting on the horse and being led ten steps at a cautious, flat-footed walk counts as "riding". In my book, it does.)

My goal for April for Project Horse was to at least back her before the end of the month. Today, which was the last day available this month for me *and* a helper to both be around to work with Project Horse, we had off and on thunderstorms (with high winds and hail). I am *quite* proud that I didn't try to beg off because the weather was too scary for a first ride. :)

During a break in the weather, with the next storm due to roll over in about twenty minutes, I caught Project Horse and grained her, groomed her, tacked her up, and did the most basic pre-flight check ever. There was Big Rain coming, see, so not a huge amount of time to do groundwork beyond "Is your brain still in there? It is? Good." The wind was picking up again and the loose sheet of tin was flapping on the barn. Despite the storm coming on, PH looked fine, passed the pre-flight with four-feet-calmly-on-the-ground colors. True to my chickenshit nature, I made my helper get on first while I held Project Horse. Project Horse stood still like an expert. With the helper aboard, I led PH about ten steps on a loose lead rope and then asked her to halt, which she did. She was calm the whole time. Helper got down, I got up. Project Horse stood like a rock for the rider change-up. Helper led Project Horse about ten more steps with me aboard. Project Horse was fine. At that point, the sky had turned an angry grey and big wet drops of rain had started to fall, so I hopped off, had helper put Project Horse away (Project Horse even trotted briskly on a loose lead for helper, which is a skill we've been working on.), and we called it a day as the heavens opened and the rain poured down.


Goal: The next ride will have a bit of leading by helper, to get us started, but the helper will let go and we will do some walking and some turns by ourselves. Definitely by next weekend, I will have soloed on Project Horse with reins and some steering at a walk. We might even jog a little. Maybe.

This all seems pretty boring and low-key, but I don't have anywhere enclosed to work with Project Horse, so for the first couple of rides, I'm shooting for *very* sedate. Things like "whoa" and the one-rein-stop are going to be pretty high on the curriculum.

Once I've got a "whoa" installed, then I can work on the "go". Project Horse is 7/8 AyRab and I don't expect much difficulty with the "go" portion of the program once she gets over the green horse wobbles.

ChipnCharlie said...

I hope to try by my birthday (June 2nd) to lope for the first time on my new horse. Him taking off with me Monday on trail doesn't count, since I never asked him to do it LOL. The challenge I face is where I board.. there is a round pen or trail. The arena is used as 24/7 turnout and not riding. We are able to pull all the horses out but that's such a hassle and trying to get them into a good order in the stalls is hard too since the stud can't be next to the mares and the alpha mare picks on the other mares, etc. However the owner of the stud and 2 others are moving hopefully at the beginning of May, so it just might be possible! lol
My horse is really lazy, wants to walk more than anything, is okay right trotting, but would really rather not lope. I tried to make him lope in the round pen but it's just too small of a place to trying loping so I didn't bother.
I am also an arena girl.. I like the security. My horse flipped out on trail on Monday so that's soured me on the trails even more. Just sucks I have no arena to ride in, round pen is the story of my life! And that is sooo boring.

Anonymous said...

My goal is to lose 30 lbs by September. Oh wait- we're talking about horses- nm.

I have two basic goals:
1. Get on the horse.
2. STAY on the horse.

Beyond that, everything else is just gravy.

Some of the things I would like to accomplish with my horse are:

1. Bending and flexing without arguing about it.
2. Not walking off immediately after I mount.
3. Yielding each part of the body separately under saddle.
4. Sidepassing.
5. Backing up without throwing the nose in the air.
6. Rollbacks.
7. Actually enjoying going for rides instead of being a sourpuss about it (hmm, maybe I should work on losing that 30 lbs after all).

These are all things I would like to have firm and solid by the end of the year. We'll take it one day at a time. First and foremost I have to convince myself to get on the horse for more than just a few minutes at a time.yeikna

Anonymous said...

Oh yes- I forgot to mention the OTHER horse! Not sure on his age, but he is estimated to be close to 3, so this year we plan to start ground work and get his first few rides in. The immediate goal is to teach him that flailing arms and yelling means to move his feet. He's not quite getting the concept and just stands there and looks at me like I'm retarded.

icepony said...

Whoa Mare! said...
I have two basic goals:
1. Get on the horse.
2. STAY on the horse.

Yeah, me too, lol! I'm calling myself out on the fact that I've had my horse for a month TODAY, and have not been on his back yet. Granted, I had to have his teeth floated and wait for his mouth to heal (rescue with issues), but uh, I think 10 days is probably enough healing time, don't y'all?

Assuming he has a brain tomorrow, I WILL get on him. There should be enough people around on a Sunday at the barn that someone can scrape me off the floor if I take a dirt sample.

Side note here: someone was recently overheard to comment about my horse..."Yeah, he's beautifully balanced...he can buck and rear with equal ease!" Mmmmm, thanks folks, THAT'S NOT HELPING!

fanoffugly said...

Love the VLC fugs.
This is close to my heart. Started getting back into riding/training recently, a QH last year, this year 10 rides into the riding pony (13hh)and working up the guts to start on my QHxTB (all 16+hh of him).Mind you the only time I really hurt myself (broken leg) was a 13hh mare I was putting under saddle (18 years ago).It's not the fall that hurts, it is the landing!
I noticed that you don't have a bit on the VLC yet? When do you prefer to mouth?

Neb said...

Wow...a thread I can sink my teeth into! Goals:

1. By September - Lose that last 10-15 pounds (yes, all of us over 30 folks are singing this tune).

2. Soon - Take an actual lesson. (I've never had a real lesson in my life, and I really should).

3. Now - Do my Pilates instead of just talking about it, so my back pain will reduce and my strength will increase (and my balance, etc.).

4. ASAP - sell the really nice but "too much for me" Western Pleasure gelding who's 19 going on 5* and find a good "husband safe" dead broke gelding who I can relax and learn on.

* When we 'upgraded' him he was skinny and listless. Groceries, farrier, and vetting took about 10 years off him and made him spunky!

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Which_Chick - WOO HOO! Congratulations and how great that she behaved even with iffy weather. That's a very good sign that a brain is installed. :-)

>>I noticed that you don't have a bit on the VLC yet? When do you prefer to mouth?<<

After the first 30 days. I would just rather keep things as simple as possible for them at first, and the bitless bridle is like a glorified halter. They are used to someone pulling them around in a halter - it's an easy transition. I used to use a sidepull, and would again on something I was expecting some fireworks with, but the Dr. Cook's is fine for the VLC...he really doesn't have fireworks.

I didn't get to ride tonight as I was all alone and am trying to use some good judgment. We did do groundwork and I particularly worked on getting him to stand quietly by the mounting block while I leaned over his back. We made a lot of progress with that. I used a trick someone here mentioned - when he fidgeted, I sent him out to longe in a circle around me. When he got tired and wanted to stand still, he had to tolerate standing still with the mounting block next to him and me lying over his back. Fidget again, get sent out to longe again. It worked great. He stood still longer tonight than I think he ever has before. So whoever mentioned that, thanks for the great tactic!

Twisty said...

What a relief to find this blog! I thought I was the only middle-aged terror-stricken dumbass in the world who bought a giant horse after a 30-year hiatus.

Like many of you, I was such a total bad-ass as a kid. I could sit anything, anytime, anyhow, anywhere. In the intervening years, my happiest memories of teenhood were of breed shows where I gaily cantered sideways through the in-gate on a nutcase Egyptian Arab who would just as soon kick the crap out of anything that moved as breathe.

Good times.

So nobody was more surprised than I was to discover that I had become a chickenshit. When his previous owner pulled into my new barn, unloaded my new ginormous 7 year old QH gelding, shook my trembling hand, and rattled away, it turned out I was too terrified even to lead this jumbo Lurch of a horse to his paddock. And it all went to hell from there.

Before I got ahold of him, Stanley had been a quiet, easygoing, big moving hunter/jumper with impeccable ground manners. Within 2 weeks of casting his lot with mine, Stanley had learned to barge all over me on the lead, pin his ears at feeding time, kick at me in cross ties, bite at me when I spritzed him with fly spray, spook at old cigarette butts, and give me the stink-eye, followed by vertical, aimed-at-my-head fuck-you bucks, in the round pen.

No way was I getting up on this ticking time bomb! He’s 16.3, for godsakes! A monster! He could, and probably wants to, kill me!

I became the curiosity/laughingstock of the barn.

“Check out the spaz with the flashy appendix Quarter Horse and the fancy dressage tack she never uses.”

“She’s got this fabulous horse, he’s just going to waste with her!”

“Did you ride today, Jill? No? You do know Stanley’s a total sweetie, right? My husband wants to buy him from you.”

Yeah, whatever, I’m still getting dry-mouth panic attacks just trying to pick out his hind feet.

Fast forward five months. This was not how I remembered being horsey at all. I was seriously considering packing it in and selling the horse to the husband, but happily, at the last minute, the barn manager took pity on me and hooked me up with a trainer I finally clicked with.

This trainer, who, I am happy to say, has nothing to do with Parelli, has been instrumental in restoring my nerve. Today I got my seat right for about 2 minutes. Woot! My current goal is to trot one lap around the arena, without stopping, flopping, or dropping, on the correct diagonal, and without causing spasms of laughter to echo throughout the yard. In a month I'm gonna canter this beast. By gum!

3catcrazy said...

You can do it Fugs!

My Goals:

1) Get on my horse. I got bucked off 3 times in two days two months ago and have been too scared to get back on. Will do this in 2 weeks. (I've been riding other people's horses without problem. My friends suggested selling my horse to my sister so I'd be able to ride him)

2) Canter with confidence. Somehow got a phobia about this in the last few years - large TB in small indoor arena maybe? Probably just need to do more of this and lots of transitions. By the end of June.

3) Lose weight, get fitter and find my core muscles. I'm sure you all understand. Besides, I really don't want to be the fat ball on the slab-sided TB.

Have other training goals - but I really need to accomplish goals 1 and 2 before I set other.

3catcrazy said...

Fugly - that is a great tactic for getting them to stand still for mounting. My problem always is that when he did stand still - I was too thankful I was on him to get off and do it again (and reinforce the behavior) You can also read that as I was too impatient to ride. So we end up doing circles around the mounting block a lot. Maybe that should be another of my goals.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Twisty - How wonderful that you got hooked up with a trainer who is understanding about fear and is actually helping you!

Your situation sounds so familiar and lots of times it doesn't end well for the horse or the rider. I've said a million times on the other blog, stop watching videos and wasting money at clinics and take good old fashioned riding lessons. And here you are, someone who did exactly that and - SHAZAM! - it's working and you're able to enjoy your horse now.

QueenSkankarella said...

I think my main one is to do a small schooling show by the end of the summer, and by summer 09 do some very entry level eventing.

Basically, after several years off, I decided to get back into riding. After two lessons, I went and bought myself a horse who, while an utter sweetheart, is still a green five year old. We're having a great time, but I'm realizing that I'm not as secure on a horse as I was. I'm hoping that time will give that back to me.

smokalicious said...

Ahh gaahd, I don't have anything constructive to add but.. he's gorgeous! Awesome stuff so far. *drools*

artdoc said...

Great new blog, Fugs.
You are certainly inspiring me. I am a 45 year old re-rider. Well, I've been a re-rider for the last 3 years, but the lack of guts has limited how much time I've spent actually RIDING the horses. Now, however, I am determined to grit my teeth and get that 5 year old Percheron gelding going under saddle this summer. He's even bigger than the VLC, who is a REALLY good-looking fellow, BTW.

I've done some ground work with mine over the last 4 years (doesn't do to rush these things, you know) and he's been saddled a couple of times, but that's about it. So, my goals are:

This weekend: Order the damn headstall to hold up the 7 inch bit I bought him 2 months ago. (Yeah, that's how big he is.)

May: Refresh all of our previous work and get him ground driving really well, while I get back in shape after having knee surgery last month. I may have to learn how to mount from the right side - I find that SO awkward. Also, work on his clipper phobia. Mounting if the knee allows - I sure hope it doesn't take another entire month!

June: Time for actually riding - woo hoo! Having refreshed whoa and go, and added steering, we should make the transition fairly easily. We'll start off in a Western saddle and work my courage and legs up to a dressage saddle (assuming one of them fits him - I know the western does)

Further goals dependent on our progress. I'd love to take him to one of the local schooling shows by the end of the summer. No one around here rides drafts, especially English.

I also have an 8 year old OTTB gelding, who is doing very well, but needs more than 3 rides per year. There's several others out there, but my sisters have got to have some of the fun, too.

Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, Fugs.

fanoffugly said...

Great to hear Twisty, sounds like you are well on your way to wiping that horsey smirk off Stanleys face. Keep us posted. What is it about reaching "middle age(I'm 38) that has turned us into chicken shit? I was riding today saying to myself over and over, "sit light hold tight" WTF?

DC said...

I just want to grow enough balls to get on!

I've had my boy since he was three, he spooked at a bird and spun before stopping to look at me on the ground... then took off when I yelled at him. fast forward 8 years and I just freak out at the thought of riding him. Love him to bits and he's about as likely to do anything worse than take off to the gate as I am to be a fairy princess.

I am so glad to have started readi Fugly at the time you stared this up!

So I have replaced my nasty synthetic horrid first saddle that ws nicknamed the pea shooter with a lovely Luc, have the arena, kinda have the time so what is my issue! Someone hold my hand please!!!

Masquerade said...

Today I shall be getting up on my big fella for the first time. On a good note, I did manage to sit on him yesterday but since he was laying down, I'm not sure it counts. LOL

So if you never hear from me again you can all figure out what happened. Hopefully, I'll be back to post this evening :)

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>Today I shall be getting up on my big fella for the first time. On a good note, I did manage to sit on him yesterday but since he was laying down, I'm not sure it counts. LOL <<

GUILTY! I did the same thing, I sat on Cecil a bunch of times when he was lying down. In my own defense, I did not take pictures and will not be using said pictures in the future to "prove" my stallion is quiet.

Good luck today!

barngal said...

I guess maybe I'm going a bit slow but since my Big Cool Guy has been off since last fall my goal would be to at least get back into the swing of things where we left off. Then if everything is going well I want to canter.His balance is so much better but so are his "airs above ground"! Old 55 year old rerider and I'd love to go to a show but show clothes have changed and and a bad knee have made boot zippers a necessity. I did lose 20 lbs. over the winter.

4Horses&Holding said...

Working around children & being home alone during daytime hours, my goals are:

Get the visiting mare going well under saddle and sold. It's not been a priority, because I'd rather ride my own horses - but I don't want this mare to end up being my horse. She's at a good age, 4, and is just waiting for *her* person to find her. We just have some issues to work out before anyone would want her.

Get some miles on the pony. I want to pony him along and start getting him into shape. He needs a job - be it carrying my children around, or someone else's children.

Get my hot, jiggy horse settled and quieter under saddle. He's the kind that people assume used to barrel race when they see him under saddle. I don't know if he did or not, but if he DID - the people certainly trained him wrong.

MY PRIORITY: Get Justin finished. I would really like to get him going well on trails, and then haul him to a few shows for exposure. My husband will be working cattle next month, and I'd LOVE to take Justin along to ride. It's pretty low stress (W-T), he's used to cows, and I think he'd do fine - he's no more green than some of the ranch horses they have started working. It's ABSOLUTELY me who's the chicken. The plan for this horse was to do endurance / CTR on..... but he can't do that until he is actually a trained horse.

Char said...

Ok, not exactly middle-aged, more like just turned 26, but I am a re-rider and student of the fugly blog.

My gelding has been my show/trail partner for 10 years now. He is a 16hh foundation bred quarter horse and is roughly 1300 lbs. I know, I'm being whiny as there are much bigger horses out there, such as Very Larg Colt.

After taking about 5 years off due to child/hubby related guilty feelings, I have picked up the reins again. AND I AM SCARED SHITLESS OF BEING IN THE SADDLE. When not in an arena, of course.

Yes, I too, am an arena girl. I have -0- fear issues of any horse on the ground. Put me in the saddle without a fence and level footing around me and I turn into a great big chicken-shit. With yellow feathers and everything.

The fact that I don't have access to anything even closely resembling an arena available to me just compounds matters. My once wonderful trail buddy when not showing has turnd into an IDIOT outside of the arena because of my lack of condifence, as well. Things like, "OMFG!!!! A cement pad! AAAHHHH!!!!!" and so on.

Really frustrating. Grrr....

Did I metention that my 50yo NEVER ridden first-time-horse-owner mother and her 14.1 mare are almost completely over her fear issues and now SHE's the one who can't figure out what the hell my problem is????? Beautiful. Just beautiful.

readytoride said...

My personal goals-

I have had my current personal horse (as opposed my 3 other horses that are husband/ kids horses) for only about 3 months now. He is a 12 year old grade app cross gelding that was used as a lesson horse in low end English barns. He is 15.2 hands and actually quite handsome- "a looker" as many have told me- with a pretty head and flowing mane (surprising for an appy cross).

When I bought him, he has many of the characteristic flaws of a poorly, but not really badly or cruelly, ridden English lesson horse. Most of these flaws are the result of having been ridden with constant, heavy, and incorrect contact on his mouth:

1. Unable to rate his own speed (usually going to fast, rushing around and very tense)
2. Constant pulling on the bit with high, inverted head carriage
3. Dropping his shoulders in or out of a circle- this is a sign of resistance to directional cues
4. Wanting to change gaits on his own (that is, dropping from a canter to a trot or visa versa)
5. Minor issues that accompany these things such as somewhat barn and buddy sour, but this was not a major issue as I have seen in other horses.

On the plus side, he has already had a lot of riding on him, he does transition between the gaits willingly, and is simply a “nice guy”- not really spooky or spastic or a dead head, he is sort of agreeable even though he is the least intelligent horse I have owned in a long time.

My goal is ambitious: to take this horse and train him for the Western show classes. (this means western pleasure, horsemanship, trail, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation- notice that I consider these to be Western classes because most judges are not looking for a real hunter in these classes). Obviously, this will be at small open shows as he is not registered.

My goal seems straightforward enough:

1. Walk, jog, lope on loose rein with cadence, flexion, and collection
2. Good neck reining on circles
3. Good transitions between the gaits
4. Good rating of speed between transitions

Of course, this is actually a lot to ask and you cannot work on all things at once. I have introduced neck reining and transitions on a circle on a loose rein. We have almost eliminated the dropping the shoulder in and out of the circle problem. He can do flexing at a standstill, a walk, and a few strides at a canter and trot. (No loping or jogging for some time- they will come later.)

In any case, consistency will take a lot of repetitions and many miles of riding.

Twisty said...

"Someone hold my hand please!!!"

Exactly! Fugly is exactly right about just getting an instructor.

The first 3 or 4 sessions I had with mine were nothing BUT hand-holding. P and I just hung around in the barn, reviewing stuff that used to be second nature, doing a little TTouch, shooting the breeze about worming schedules, etc. When P was there with me, being all sensible and reasonable with her 30 years of experience, I found I could lighten the heck up, which in turn allowed Stanley to lighten the heck up. Gradually, I was able to lighten the heck up, a little bit, even when P wasn't there.

Surprise, old Stan stopped trying to kill me with his badass ways.

Of course I now know that he never had badass ways at all (not many, anyway); his uneasiness with me had only been a reflection of my own lack of confidence. Some of us may have a boundless inner reservoir of fortitude; the rest of us look in there and find nothing but a video loop of that annoying kid from "Leave It To Beaver" going, "Yer yella, nya nya! Yella, yella, yella!"

Us yella types just need to get our confidence from an external source, I guess. I get mine from my trainer, and I somehow pass it along to Stanley. His demeanor improves incrementally in direct proportion to the amount of courage I manage to suck out of P once a week.

And so it was that two weeks ago, even though my trainer was 50 long miles away, I got cocky. I actually tacked up, mounted up, and walked my horse around the arena for 15 minutes, all by myself. Stanley practically slept through the whole thing.

Sure, I had to take a Xanax first, but still.

Dang, two long comments on one post. It can only mean one thing. I need my own blog.

Char said...

Oh yeah..... my goal is to find a damn riding arena that's reasonably close so that I can get my riding muscles and some dignity back. And then go on a trail ride with my mother in one of the local state parks at least once before the end of summer.

We'll see.....

Truthseeker said...

I am Arena Girl. I am sooooo comfortable with walls around me, and have always been a nervous trail rider

Oh, I relate to that! I think too much to enjoy trail riding. I think about all the things that could go wrong: pheasant popping up in front of horse; deer popping out of bushes; big noisy farm equipment popping by; all those t-posts to get skewered by; things to step into; scary farm animals to walk by, and so on.

This new blog has inspired me to think about taking a leave of absence from my night-time job. I love the job but I really, really need not to be too exhausted to get my young horses trained.

I have a couple of free-lance jobs in programming and those along with my riding lesson business will probably be enough to earn the income I need. (My husband supports me but I try to support the horses as much as I can with my own income.)

In the current scary economy, I am reluctant to give up my secure hourly wages; it is a safety net. So, perhaps a leave of absence, at least during the summer, would be the answer.

Truthseeker said...

Oops, I really didn't post any goals, did I? Well, I have some young horses that I need to get broke to ride. I've dabbled at it but need to put in the consistent effort to get it DONE.

I need to train my now-a-senior show horse to be more reliable on neck reining.

After everyone sheds off this spring, I need to get good pictures taken. And video.

I want to learn and practice Marker Training some more.

I'd like to prepare two of my yearlings for a Longe Line class at the state fall futurity.

I'd like to finish my show horse for Western Riding and Trail Class. And...dare I say it? Reining. I think she'd enjoy it.

I'd like to get better at Hunt Seat riding...I'm primarily a Western Rider but my little WP mare loves to jump.

My goals are too loosey--goosey, I think. I understand that to be effective, goals need to be specific.

I'll have to give this some thought.

Lisa said...

My goal for the summer is I want to ride my filly in the 3 y/o materiale class at my "local" dressage sporthorse breed show this August.

This may be a bit lofty of a goal seeing as how we're barely w/t on a loose rein now. But I figure I already intend on showing her in hand there. I know the U/S class sizes will be small. I know the crowd/judges/exhibitors are young horse saavy (as opposed to going to a local schooling show where you have 20 million kids on ponies flying around the arena like maniacs). It's an expensive "schooling show", but I figure it's worth it.

Although, if she's not ready by August, she's not ready. I have no intentions of rushing her for the sake of a show.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

It's also important, when working with an instructor, to remember that you are a paying client and you can say no. I think so many times we have all of these shameful feelings about saying no to something we're not comfortable with doing yet, and we shouldn't. As I've said before, pretty sure we all know we are not going to the Olympics. :-) It truly does not matter how fast we get to the point of jumping the crossrail. I like the instructors who let people stay in their comfort zone until the person gets bored with it on their own and WANTS to move on...not the instructors who push.

Anonymous said...

I lucked out and found a pair of Vogel boots that were custom made for someone and didn't fit. They fit me, so I got them for 80% off. The goal is to ride the horse by the time the boots are broken in. Good as I look sitting at the computer in my pajamas with field boots on, they might look better with breeches ON the horse:)

My3Arabs said...

This isn't a goal but a speech by Julie Goodnight. It is about getting over fear of horses. A friend sent me the link because we all have CSS (Chicken Shit Syndrome) and she got to hear this speech yesterday at the MN Horse Expo.

Char said...

Slightly OT, but has to do with riding instructors.....I haven't been in the public barn scene for quite some time and I just want to check and be sure that I'm not being kooky here. If so, please....someone tell me.


Being that my mom is a total newbie and I tend to have not-so-much patience for teaching, I convinced her to find somewhere to take riding lessons.

Our blacksmith recommended gal that doesn't live very far from us so mom gave her a call, set up an appointment and went to meet her.

It went ok, so a lesson was set up. Mistake on our didn't mention to the lady that I was coming that day because my mom forgot her checkbook and I was bringing it to her. I'll be the first to admit that showing up at someone's barn unannounced is poor manners but I assumed that mom said something to the lady and she just assumed it would be ok and didn't.

What happened:

When I got there mom had been there for almost 45 minutes and the lady was free-lunging the lesson horse in a round pen while mom stood outside the pen and watched....??? After her initial shock at someone she didn't know showing up and me introducing myself and explaining what I was doing there, I mentioned that I would like to observe the lesson as a show of support and was nervous and I figured I owed it to her to provide morale support after her having sat through so many of my lessons over the years. (Plus this lady was a self pronounced NH riding instructor and I really wanted to make sure she wasn't totally full of shit Dennis Reis-style.)

The lady flat-out told me to leave because me observing the lesson was like teaching 2 people at once and she didn't like that. (What I got out of it was that she was afraid I was going to learn something for free and she would rather me pay to take lessons from her @ $80.00 per hour.)

Needless to say, we left after she explained that she often made parents leave so they didn't distract her by watching and she didn't let anyone board there that wasn't taking weekly lessons from her. Huh?

So we walked.

Am I going crazy here or was that scenario really wierd???

Liri said...

Project horse is pretty much finished under saddle. Needs more conditioning work, and more trail/car/scary things experience, and then he will be a fantastic horse for anyone to ride. But this summer I would like to get him over his fears of his face being messed with. He's fine until I try to do something like put sunscreen on his nose, and then he throws a fit. Oh, he also throws a fit about deworming. Last time it took nearly an hour.

crazyhorse said...

My goals on the Doofus (AKA "Rockin To The Core" via APHA) will be to continue on with:

1) the 5-6 times a week I go to the stud-muffin gym and work out like a 20 yr old for an hour and a half. After the last 5 weeks since my enrollment, my ass is actually making itself a new shape.
2) Riding the Doofus 5-6 times a week and this has been easy for me. I actually saddle him myself (used to have to wait for a large person to heft saddle for me but since the gym inception, I do it myself...take note, ladies, exercise will not kill you! Look, I'm still here!!)
3) Aim for riding Doofus at BOTH the Pinto World show AND the Paint World show next summer in the Masters classes...and WINNING something!
4) The BIG one...teach Doofus how to drive...that Jerald show cart is tantalizing me in the barn and my dirty white boy would look so HOT all harnessed up, me wearing some sexy foxy hat and driving outfit, and showing everyone that HATES Doofus that he just isnt the dolt colt he started out to be!

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>Am I going crazy here or was that scenario really wierd???<<

It was really weird. I'm not a parent, but if I WERE and an instructor wanted me to leave during the lesson, you can bet I'd leave - with my kid AND my checkbook!

That's just nuts.

Side note: However, I do fully support the right of instructors to demand that parents STFU during the lesson. Unless you see something totally dangerous, and must speak up, please watch quietly. The kid does not need two instructors (often giving conflicting advice).


To get my rehab [physically, not mentally] horse over 1'8" or 2' jumps by mid-august. Right now he's just walking and trotting.

Masquerade said...

Oh boy what a great day. Lunged the boy in full tack. And best news: I was brave enough to get up on him :) Finally!!!!!!!

It went great. Total non-event. I'm very proud of him he behaved so well. All we did was sit with the BO holding him and then walked a few steps. He was calm and quiet. I'm SO HAPPY

Next step is some long lineing so he gets used to bit contact :)
Can't wait to get back on him.

Link to the forum and some pictures. No comments on me, I was ready to bail at any time so not in any type of riding position :P

morganhorselover said...

hummm I'll start with winnie-

Get her fit and ready to show by June and get her cantering correctly both ways in the arena by the end of July. She can canter, its just really rushed and sometimes she gaits.

not really much I can do with her, but my main goal is to just polish her manners by the end of may. Recently she has decided that it is OK to pull on the lead when she sees hay or grass, and it is also ok to walk off from you when your grooming her outside of her stall. Oh and also by the end of may get her to pick up her feet better (to pick them) and by September get her less head shy.

Jack- I'm helping put some miles on him right now (he's four, and has not had a some one working with him that has lasted with him apparently for more than three weeks). So he knows next to nothing. I really want to get him to stop nipping/biting things by the middle/end of may. I'm hoping to have him going w/t by the end of may/ early june. and showing by the end of june


Oh yeah, my lesson goal: Do well at the May 17 local hj show. By the end of the year, be able to jump 3' or at least 2'9" [right now I'm doing 2'3"-2'6". Problem is, most of the lesson horses are lazy little ponies for whom 2'3" is a giant unconquerable obstacle of DOOM.]

dante said...

Goals? Happy horse and happy me.

Overcoming the quasi genuine fear of getting hung in the stirrups; I ride bareback all the time. That way I slide off, accidentally or on purpose, before anything really happens.
Overcoming my imagination?
1/ I sing (badly cos I can never remember the words). Woops, add that to goals. There used to be an old man here that sang operatic tenor while driving his tractor. I envied him.
2/ Ride a horse that is well within my limits. 12.3, 21 years old, bombproof kids pony (retired with arthritis).
Lightbulb moments; the day I realised that pony is so used to me nattering to him, that he works on voice commands. We opened, rode through and then shut a gate without me touching the reins.And the day he bolted from a falling tree. I was holding on to the mane with both hands, too paranoid to let go and grab the reins so I said Woah. A very small squeaky woah, not an authorative woah at all.He stopped in 3 strides.
I'll just happily keep going in his and my comfort zones :-)

renessanss said...

29th of July is my b-day too :D

Danielle said...

I am a very nervous rider. I'm 21 years old and unfortunately my first riding teacher at 11 was a psychotic BYB in disguise. She used OTHER peoples yards to keep her horses, so it was hard to know. Well, crazy "trainer" taught me absolutely nothing, sold my parents an extremely overpriced slightly fugly mare, and convinced us to breed her to her stallion. Being that I was oh.. 16, I had no idea what this involved. Neither did my parents, but she assured us this was the greatest idea ever and she would be there every step of the way, helping me work with him, etcetc. Well, baby comes around, crazy psycho disappears. I'm 17, terribly nervous around BROKE horses, suck at riding, and now have my own foal. Awesome. Fast forward to now, I'm 21, my horse just turned four. Last year I realized I had no idea what I was doing, had no idea how to ride properly, and recognized the terror that surrounded anything involving horses. My horse was almost three, something needed to be done. I took two semesters off, worked for a dressage trainer 5 days a week, all day long. I worked with foals, young horses, a stallion. I was afraid, but being forced to deal with them did wonders. On the ground, I'm almost fearless. Unfortunately, I'm still not well educated when it comes to riding. I can ride trained horses, but riding my 3-4 year old? It's quite interesting. He is a saint. He's adorable, sensible, smart and honest. He has bolted and never thrown a REAL buck at me, yet he scares the crap out of me! We are making out way along slowly. We walk/trot/canter both directions fairly easily, although I'm still scared to canter for whatever reason. I'm always afraid of that stray bird whipping past our face invoking the bolt of death... but hopefully I'll get over that. We canter tracking right very well and it's actually enjoyable, yet to the left... it's another story. He feels completely off balance, leans in and feels like he's on the forehand. In that direction he cuts corners and won't flex on the bit. He bends to the outside rail and it drives me crazy. This is our main problem right now and I'm too poor to afford a trainer to help me with it. I'm always afraid that cantering to the left will result in a trip that leaves me face first in the ground and my sweet horse laying on top of me. AH!

Danielle said...

Made a mistake. I meant to say *NEVER* bolted.

Latigo Liz said...

Number one goal that trumps all others: Just plain spend time with my horses, and hopefully most of it will be riding. "Real life" seems to get in the way a lot of the time. And when it does, the horses tend to be pasture ornaments, not that they mind all that much in the summer. And I plan to be disciplined in recording my events as well.

PlaysWithPonies said...


If you're good on the ground, you might be able to find a position as a working student for a trainer who could help you out with your horse in exchange for grooming / turnouts / etc.

In regard to the head tipped outward business, teaching your horse to leg-yield and then leg-yielding him to the railing instead of pulling him there with the outside rein is helpful for that problem.

Good luck!

apocalypsepony said...

OK, since my sis artdoc has the guts to put it in writing, here are my goals.

Ride the VSG. The VSG is a very small Arab gelding that up until last October was a very small stallion. He lost his nuts six days after he lost his mind at his first show. Now, I have been on his back, a couple of times. Never soloed because when he was a stallion he couldn't seem to remember that I had gone from standing next to him to sitting on him and every time he noticed I was SITTING ON HIS BACK he freaked. "OH my GOD, PREDATOR ON MY BACK!!!" Then he'd kinda figure out it was me and calm down, and then he'd be distracted again, and he'd look up and "Oh my GOD, PREDATOR ON MY BACK!!!" Lather , rinse , repeat. I had to do a pretty fast dismount off him a year and a half ago (OMG, a year and a half) that resulted in knee surgery so, he's had a LOT of ground work, and the brain surgery. Getting on him shouldn't be a problem...but chickenshit me keeps finding other things to do (not that there aren't tons of needing doing).

Also, get my middle daughters quarter pony mare transitioned from 7/8 year old snaffle bit horse to fully in a bridle. Also with her, I'd like to take her to 3 schooling shows so and actually CANTER when they say canter. The lady I bought her from trained her herself and took her to many NH clinics, and she's pretty well started but has a few idiosyncrasies. Like she has a hard time going in a straight line at a trot and canter, she wants to make about two round pen sized circles and then be done. So we will work on "Canter all the way down the long side of the arena, maintain speed through the corner , continue cantering...etc. I am hoping for better than last place in at least one schooling show canter class this year. We were last in our one outing w/ canter last year, though we did better than that in our walk/jog class.

I also have a 3 yr old Appy gelding that I need to get riding, but he's just started his ground work so I haven't had much opportunity to waffle too much with him.

And a 3 year old Arab gelding that needs to start groundwork in a more serious manner.

And...well you get the picture.

Jackie said...

Ellen...what do you mean by this? ...

<<-- still has bad memories of being gigged in the flanks with spurs as a long yearling and "made to run" so has canter issues as well,>>

My mare may have the same issues..I know she was spur "trained" which I see now that the trainer uses spurs to break them if they are not responsive or "learning" fast enough in her thinking...she even frames (WP) two year olds just started. I now have a horse that battles me when I first ask her to canter by trotting very, very fast (lucky it's very smooth) and I have to stop and back her and then ask again to canter..and if I work hard enough at it, she will eventually canter. Sometimes she will buck in resistance, but not often anymore. Sometimes she's so resistant I have to thump her sides, and I hate that. Once we get past that, she's mostly okay, but I'd like to have her more responsive to, I don't use spurs.

What do you do? Thanks!

cutthecrap said...

My goal is to take a 9 yr old TB mare and restart her under saddle. She had about 8 months WTC(for the track though) on her at 3-4 yrs old.

Then she came home to winter and severed the tendons in a back leg in a wire fence. So 5 yrs off, healed and pasture sound, she needs a job.

So I will take her back to the round pen for a refresher and some conditioning to see how the leg looks. Then try to find a saddle, then a mounting block to heave myself on said 16.3 mare. Oh and of course somewhere in all this excitement the guts to get on!!

By the end of the summer either myself or some unsuspecting neighbor will be on her back, HA!

Heidi the Hick said...


Achieve my Ontario Equestrian Federation Level 4 Rider.

Pass the training courses.

Pass the Instructor's exam.

Ride three times each week (three different horses).

Get more time with my own two horses...

Mare: work on collection, lateral movement, and get a nice lope departure.

Gelding: transitions, and just get a lot of rides on him.

I'm also hoping to do some work on trailer loading -- as in actually training them into it rather than hoping they go in, or bribing them in. This will hinge on getting the trailer floor replaced... if it comes down to paying for that or hay, I think you know which I'll be doing!

ellen said...

Jackie, this Ap gelding was started way too young, and was rough handled -- he is TB type, typically inverted frame for that conformation, and someone big and heavy got on him when he was a baby and gigged him with spurs to get him to lope -- so he had a very sore back when we got him and was a crowhopper deluxe. He traveled hollow with his nose poked out, and as a result was very short-strided behind, with his back dropped, and the resulting restriction in his shoulders made him stumble like mad. He was totally braced up against my leg -- would hold his breath and go totally rigid when I put leg on him.

He was my son's, and he was mostly trail ridden, until son wrecked his car and traded me his horse for the bodywork. So I've been trying to reschool him as a jumper.

The first thing I did was get his back and neck fixed by the chiro (he LOVES this and walks around in a total blissed out haze after an adjustment). Then we worked on bit acceptance -- he poked his nose out and lay on the bit mostly. Getting him to flex vertically was the key to a whole lot of things.

I longed him in a TTEAM body wrap to connect the front to the back a little better, and then double longed him to help him learn to use his topline and round up a bit better. In the saddle we did lots of walk/trot/halt transitions, focusing on keeping steady contact and maintaining some flexion in the poll. He had no balance, either laterally (think drunken sailor) or vertically (falling on his nose when he slowed down), so we worked a lot on very precise arena figures, changes of bend, being conscious of where his hind legs were, and activating them to keep them under him.

We did turns on the haunches and forehand at halt (starting on the ground), leg yield, and full-pass squares to get him conscious of where his legs are. It helped him accept my leg -- he would get so tight he'd take these teeny tiny steps and dog around going nowhere -- he learned to unlock his hips and his hind legs in response to my leg and go forward, and that my leg meant something that he understood and could do, but it wasn't going to hurt him.

His overall balance has improved tremendously. He has learned that he feels better when he carries himself better, so his whole appearance has changed -- he no longer looks like a suspension bridge, but has muscled up over his back and the crest of his neck -- as opposed to the hugely overdeveloped underneck he started with.

He doesn't buck anymore (well, once in a while -- last time at his first horse show, before my right foot hit the stirrup -- 6 or 8 good big crowhops, but I growled QUIT at him and he did...), and is moving much much better forward, and no longer falls all over his own feet all the time.

We are now just beginning canter work -- he would freak out and buck when I asked him before -- he just wasn't strong enough or balanced enough to canter comfortably (he's about 16 hands, and narrow). He was so overdrilled on canter that he would "hop" into trot -- so I have kinda used his offer to canter and allowed him a few strides at a time as long as he stays in balance. He's getting more and more confident about it, and I can ASK for canter and get about 8 good balanced strides before he falls apart. That's fine -- just more transition practice, so we do some walk/trot transitions, get his balance back, and begin again.

He'll also pick up canter without a fuss going over a small crossrail, so we do that, too -- put it just after the corner on a diagonal and let him canter down the diagonal, then transition back to trot with the quick bending turn at the wall to re-establish balance and contact.

It's been a long process, but he went from being a real pain and unpleasant to ride to a fun horse -- he's post legged like mad so not much scope, but he's much more athletic than I would have guessed since he's learned to use himself better. He still goes absolutely rigid and holds his breath when I first get on him, so we just stand there until he breathes and flexes at the poll, then he's fine.

I really need to get him sold, but he wants desperately to be MY horse -- I had a lesson rider who did great on him but when she took him home he wigged out, so I bought him back. He will do a beginner lesson for anyone as long as I'm standing right there, but I've never had anyone have any luck soloing on him....

ellen said...

Jackie --

Sorry the Ap saga got so long.

Your mare needs to learn to accept your leg -- so I'd work on getting her soft off your leg at walk and trot, first, concentrating on your timing, feeling where she is in her stride, and connecting your leg aids to her hind legs, so she can use herself properly. Work off the rail a lot, so she is listening to you and responding to your aids, not just "going around".

Then once she is softer and not resisting your legs, pay very very close attention to your timing when you ask for canter, and make sure you leave your seat and lower back soft and following, and that you don't inadvertently grab her just when she sets off -- it's easy to do if you're worried about gettin bucked off!

If she goes into jackhammer trot, bring her back, rebalance her, do some transitions, and when she settles, try again. Settle for a very short stretch of canter at a time -- it's just more transition practice, and she will be less hesitant if she knows she won't have to canter FOREVER.

Good luck!

quietann said...

Goals for me and Feronia:

first, to not go crazy while I am not seeing her until May 6 at the earliest! My coach and coach's daughter will be riding her while I am gone.

End of May: Have some serious hacking miles on the girl, preferably in company. I *hate* riding out by myself. In an arena, I am fine alone. My coach doesn't understand; she hacks out alone all the time.

End of June: Be safe and comfortable over a course of small jumps (18 inches) so we can do a pre-Elementary 2-phase in early July.

August 24: do the same thing, but a three-phase -- which means X/C schooling!!!

Sept/Oct: maybe try a slightly more difficult three-phase.

Now those are "competition" goals, but underneath it all is just being much more relaxed while riding her, getting some of her bad habits on the ground nipped in the bud, building confidence.

verylargecolt said...

>>and every time he noticed I was SITTING ON HIS BACK he freaked. "OH my GOD, PREDATOR ON MY BACK!!!" <<

AP, I can just SEE him thinking that. Some horses! Good luck with him. At least he is VS so if he gets you, the ground is not so far away!

I am who I am said...

I would like to be riding again by my 32nd birthday on August 9th. I would really like to be doing a solid balanced trot by then and I am going to learn dressage- FINALLY. I am also an arena girl and I am going to stay that way for a while :) For now, I just want to get back in the saddle and stop being afraid of something I love so much.

Horsegal984 said...


This week- cantering consitently under saddle. Had started cantering, then he "pulled his ass" as I can best put it and earned two weeks off. So now it's back to work again.

May 31st- First show, want to do W/T. Small local schooling show, nothing too fancy, and he's been to a show there just for travel miles. Should be not too big of a deal, and will have at least 3 of his buddies with him.

June- trotting small courses. Are working on xrails now, but not much more. Have trotted ground poles next to the jumps in the course, but not the actual course. Will have to see, but probably W/T/C class at show.

July and Aug- Continue coursework, work on starting to canter simple lines on courses and progress to canter whole course by end of Aug. No scheduled shows, too hot usually here for the schooling shows to go, so we'll have plenty of time to fine tune.

Sept- First over fences class at a show. I want to work him towards doing 2'3" Jumper for this one, but if that's going to be too much of a push on him will do 18" beginner Hunter instead. Main goal is to complete an over fences class. Don't care if it's clean or pretty as long as he completes the course. Not actually too worried about this one... he's a willing jumper!

After we accomplish all that I just want to keep going from there... finetuning and increasing height. I eventually plan on him being a nice little eventer.

Redsmom said...

I think there may have been about 5 minutes in 1996 when I was fearless, but I've mostly always been pretty chicken. As you know I have Red, Dude, formerly abused and also spoiled school horse who knows many intimidating evasions. Right now I have the crick in my neck from HELL, so my goals will be put off a little. The next local club show is May 10. By then, I will have taken at least 1 lesson on Dude at Miss Dee's Ride a Horse and learn to run barrels and poles class. I will take Dude to the show. I will ride him in at least 1 timed event -- because of my advanced age I will have to ride with the seniors, so I'll look especially bad. LOL! No shame in trying. I have to be at the show to take my daughter anyway.

bigpainthorse said...

I am really blowing outside my comfort zone on this one, but by the end of the summer, I want to have SHOWN the BigPaintHorse ... in something, anything. I have never shown, and this will be much more of a challenge for ME than it will be for her. (Although I admit my biggest fear is that I will NEVER get her clean enough for showing; what was I thinking getting a horse this big with this much white on her?)

My second goal is to take her to a clinic on cow work with Tim Thomas. That will be a first for both of us! I hope she likes it; she certainly looks like she ought to be working cows, but she definitely has a mind of her own, so we'll see.

fssunnysd said...

Hi Redsmom -- I can so completely empathize! I was really nervous about taking my green, slightly unbalanced, 3 year old half-Arab to playdays back when we were just starting. Now, I knew I was just going to trot through the patterns and wander around the grounds with him for the experience, but there are some pretty serious competitors there. I talked to the announcer beforehand to see if they could put me (they run two at a time) against someone either a) old, b) slow, or c) both. It didn't always work out that way, but ultimately, everyone was really nice to the funny lady on the Arab who didn't want to "go fast" and both Sunny and I had a good time. He actually loped a barrel pattern fairly decently by the end of the summer, but I was happiest with him for just relaxing by the ring with the riders flying by, and for entering and exiting the arena so calmly amid the confusion.

On a sidenote, one of the funniest, and yet best things I've ever seen at an open show was the speed events portion as performed by a young woman on her HUGE - had to be 17 hand - gaited NSH/saddlebred. She did barrels and poles with him strictly for fun, in her saddleseat saddle and double bridle. Neither horse, nor rider, had ever done barrels or poles before, but the timer told her to just think of it as one more pattern to learn. She had a terrific time, placed 2nd in barrels, beating a really irked woman on a hothead, hyped up QH that spent most of it's time on its hind legs at the start. She was thrilled, and you know what, the horse looked pretty entertained, too.

apocalypsepony said...

AP, I can just SEE him thinking that. Some horses! Good luck with him. At least he is VS so if he gets you, the ground is not so far away!

He also has the ability to pay attention for more than a nanosecond now. That should really help. Somehow I must get the artdoc and her bum knee up on the pony horse. I think our first "ride" with actually walking might go better with the pony horse...hmmmm...possibly a hay-bale staircase.

Well I will pony him tomorrow and see how he is doing with the looming predator next to him. Hopefully by the end of the week I will have that "first ride" accomplished.

naina said...

By the time fall begins, I will have taken at least one lesson in Dressage or hunt seat.

Redsmom said...

fsfunny, Thankfully, I know most of the seniors I'll have to ride with. They consist of Ms. Dee, of Dee's Ride-a-horse aka the teacher who, by the way, has been recently inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame or some such, another local trainer, the very nice married couple who also have a daughter who rides and a couple of others. Stiff competition, but all have been very nice to me as I wander cluelessly around with my daughter at the 3 shows I've been to. The unpleasant people at our local show go home after the rail classes in the morning. I say "bye bye, don't let the gate hit you in the butt on the way out." My aunt told me not to "be ugly." LOL.

Jackie said...

Ellen...Thank you! I did have a good ride today...I switched to an English saddle last week from the Western, and that helped her mentally...we worked on transitions, and I asked her for her canter, and she did the fast trot...I slowed her down, did a few more...basically what you said. Well, by the end we had a nice canter where she was well underneath herself (and only one buck!) and I actually could work on *my* seat for once...which is hard to do when I was constantly pushing her to canter. We even had a few strides where I was balanced, deep, and she was on the bit and...well, perfect (dare I say)! I stopped after that because it was so good. I was also quite proud of myself...we were working on serpentines afterwards with leg pressure and she spooked and jumped sideways...I was so balanced I was only thrown back a little and stayed right with her...of course, she crouched and trembled, waiting to be spurred for spooking (yes, her trainer did that, too) but I didn't and she settled right down. Thanks for the advice...I can see progress!

Char said...

Thanks for the reassurance Fugs, I was really worried that I had gone off the deep end.

I second your opinion about parents having to STFU. I know when I was a kid nothing pissed me off faster than when my mother would open her mouth and put in her 2 cents. I'm thinking, "I'm working my ass off feeding, cleaning stalls, mending fences and mowing hay for these freakin' lessons. I want to hear from the teacher, not you!"

With all the love a girl can have for her mother, of course. :)

Spotted_T_Apps said...

For those with green horses or just regular horses that you want to get out, there is a schooling show in Cocoa, FL on May 18. go to for more info.

ljbrooks said...

-Don't know if I'm too late for the party, but just started my little $75 auction filly today. Been feeling like horse poo and wanted to start on the path to health before I committed to blogging about it.

Shelby (formerly Clifford. As in "The big Red filly") has some weirdnesses and since I don't know anything about her history other than what the auctioneer said ("yearlin' red filly...") I let her hang out with the herd for a couple of months after a placement that didn't work out.

Almost immediately after bringing her home from auction, I thought I had a home lined up. I took her to The Dalles and she was fine, if a bit wary of her new home. The owner got some cattle and she chased them from sun-up to sundown. Obviously, that didn't work out. I picked her up and have left her mostly alone for a couple of months.

I just started working with her today and it went okay.

Anyway, just wanted you to know that I'm in the same boat as you gals/guys and look forward to reading about your triumphs and lessons learned.

-Lisa B.

ljbrooks said...

So here's my blog. Is everyone's to the left of VLC's blog so we can see what everyone is doing?

Lisa B.

Dragonfly said...

I have a three year old I am starting under saddle. I am hoping she will eventually be able to do some reining and barrel recing. My goals are to be able to ride her in a local open show doing walk trot WP and maybe walking or trotting the barrel pattern in late August. By July I would like to take her on a short ride off the farm with other boarders, ie. down the road or through the fields. Right now, I just want her to stand still for saddling, move forward consistently, and get comfortable maintaining a walk or a trot. She is a very smart horse and learns quickly so I will have to be carefule to to teach her bad habits in the process.