Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Back in the saddle!

I just got off a horse! For you diehard blog readers, this is kind of surprising since I haven't gotten on a horse since the ride on Lucy that I detailed in November. Between bad roads and bad schedules (I won't get on green horses unless someone else is at the barn), I have done a whole lot of mucking and bucket-cleaning and zero riding.

Today we finally got everybody's
schedule together thanks to the holiday, so I was able to start working with Sly. Sly (reg. name One Sly Private Eye) is a buckskin tobiano APHA mare who was rescued as a weanling from a PMU farm in Canada. Her training history is a crazy story, but not that unusual. She was sent out for 90 days of training as a three year old. She returned, and someone got on her who admittedly did not do the smartest thing and gave her a boot in the ribs.



Sly, somewhat understandably, took off bucking. Her owner called the trainer, who said, and I quote "well, I never rode her with a
saddle."

*sigh*

Since that time, Sly's mom has ridden her with a saddle at a walk and jog in the round pen without incident. That was a few months ago and now, again thanks to the weather which necessitated 30 horses living in the indoor arena here til the flood went down, she has been vegetating and eating for a few more months. She's my new project, starting today. I started off with some basics, just longeing both directions. She started off perfectly and then decided to see if she could stop and back up instead. Of course, the only way to correct this is to get yourself behind the point of their shoulder again and urge them forward, so she would start backing and I would scoot to where I could get her forward again. A few verbal corrections and finally I gave her the butt-smack she was asking for. Amazingly, she instantly remembered how to longe nicely without stopping up and backing. Uh-huh. We had a good laugh about that. She has a good "ho" although not quite AS fast a response as I like. We will be working on that.

She knows how to back and she moves away from pressure on both sides, faster on the right side. I tested that out some before getting on her, mindful of the kicking --> bucking incident, but she's not that sensitive. The guy must have really booted her a good one. I got on her today and just got led around and then longed at the walk. I like doing that as we can reinforce the going-forward thing on both ends - she tried to stop and back a few times and both got leg and encouragement from the ground. Worked great. What I was particularly excited about is that we reversed and she did a nice little half-turn - stepped right around, crossing over. Some of them would happily let you drag them on a half-circle to reverse like you're turning a riding mower. I like it when the lateral moves come so naturally.
Last night I went to visit Bessie, the ex-broodmare I worked with this summer. She has now had a few weeks of additional training and is solid at the walk and trot. Monica says cantering is not exactly her idea of fun yet - she said she will lope a few strides and then balk. However, apparently she can't buck to save her life because she is too big and unwieldy (I believe that - this is a moose of a halter bred mare, she wears a 54 huntseat girth!) so it is more funny than anything else when she tries. She is doing very well and is on track for her owner, Sydney, to show in 4-H this year. Here she is in her stall, which is covered with Christmas decorations!

I also saw another happy ending rescue at Bessie's barn. Seven in the Tropics came off the track this year with a blown suspensory. It looks great now, and he is on track for an eventing career. He was bored to death on stall rest, so his teenage owner started teaching him tricks. When you say "show us your ID," he flips his lip to reveal his racing tattoo. How cute is that?

There's also a particularly cool Thoroughbred there looking for a home. He is over 17 hands, 10 years old, bay, personable and sound. I am told he is a nice boy to ride. I might go try him out myself (not for me, but just so I can tell you all what he's like). He's looking for a good home "make an offer" so if you are around Seattle and looking for a bargain on a new dressage or low-level event prospect, contact me and come check him out.

The VLC is back to work and he also started a very important lesson this week - clipper training! This had been delayed as the clippers had fallen into one of those black holes in the barn. The harder we looked, the more we couldn't find them until finally they chose to reappear :-) He was fine as soon as he realized clipping was going to happen in conjunction with cookie feeding. He is extremely food motivated. He would walk across a bridge with flames at both sides if you had an alfalfa flake on the other side.

So that's my update. Have the rest of you been riding over the holidays, or have you let it slide?

29 comments:

verylargecolt said...

Have to laugh because I just went back to the first time I mentioned Sly, and NYCCowgirl said:

"Beware of SPHS (Stubborn Paint Horse Syndrome). I am currently (and have been for the last 5.5 years) dealing with this Syndrome...there is soooo much talent there, but, somedays, you have to dig through the "Uh, uh-no way-kiss my spotted butt" attitude before you get to it. :-)"

You are right! I could definitely see she had some SPHS Syndrome in there. I think we need to find something that interests her so much she forgets to be stubborn. Like cows. :-)

JohnieRotten said...

cute little mare. Kind of built to nbe a cutter. Would love to see her move!

Fyyahchild said...

Yay! Riding updates. :) What a cutie. Oh, and I don't think I need another huge TB but now I want one. Thank goodness I'm not near Seattle.

I took a bad fall on Thanksgiving morning that has me a bit nervous about getting back on my mare. And she was the good one! I put her on a ton of LMF Gold (a supp feed) when the weather got cold because she hadn't gained as much weight as I wanted, and I didn't wan her to have a set back. You finally can't see her ribs, but she nuts so I guess it's time to cut back.

I also recently joined a trail riding group. I'm very excited about that. We have our first organized ride on 1/24. My trailer need a new jack and I can't get it out of my driveway right now, but hopefully I can get it taken care of in time.

http://fyyahchild.blogspot.com/

verylargecolt said...

OK, the TB I mentioned is actually coming 13 this spring and he has a really impressive record - he raced til TEN!

And he's a sweetie pie. Someone needs to snatch him up and spoil him!

Fyyahchild said...

Wow...55 starts. That's a lot of running. Poor guy needs a break and some scritches.

Karen V said...

I am SO letting it slide! Too dark when I get home. Too dang cold, until recently! Horses so fat they have no withers to hold a saddle on anyway! Any free time on the weekends are spent cleaning up the slop and by then, I don't have the energy to turn them out in the arena, let alone ride.

Jst4Fun said...

Cathy you are so brave! Reading about you getting on horses which you either have no history on or which you KNOW have a problem (ie-bucking!) makes me feel like a complete wuss for lunging my VERY quiet and sensible young horse who has had a good start by a professional and has NEVER offered to do anything bad! SIGH... Guess it's a good thing there are brave people in the world like you to get the horses trained to the point where wimps like me can ride them;)

BTW-I also just rode for the first time in about 3 weeks due to weather and holidays today and she was great! Yes, I lunged first and that was after lunging and turning her out the last 2 days to get her to remember that she was in fact a riding horse and not retired!

Stelladorro said...

Well, the two week break I had planned for Stella when I took her home from the show barn in November has now turned into 2 months, and I'm not motivated to bring her back to the show barn and bring my old mare home. (Because bringing her back would mean I should start riding her again, and I'm just not motivated!) But, while my old mare has been at the showbarn, I've made friends with a lovely family that's been involved with horses for about a year, and if all goes well, I'm going to 'give' them Jazz at the end of summer right before I leave for college. Of course, there will be a contract. But the little girl in the family is possibly going to show her 4-H this summer and see if this is really something she wants to continue with before her parents go spend money on a high dollar show horse. So all in all, it's been a very rewarding few horse months, especially since the alternate plan was to put Jazz down before I left for school, as she's quirky enough and old enough that I'm afraid to give her to just anyone - so now my fingers are crossed that all of this works out!

Char said...

Um yeah....

It's sliding. We never did get an indoor situation, so all there is as far as fotting is muck, muck, and more muck that is pretty much all at LEAST pastern deep. Eww.

My not-so-lame gelding took a turn for the worse, AGAIN, so we switched blacksmiths in hopes that this new guy has some spactacular ideas. I have to admit, after only one trim, he is walking straight with only a slight "offness" at the trot, so we'll see where this method takes us.

We also got another horse. Ugh. But he is really cute :)

June Evers said...

Hay!

We've been laid up here too. The weather has been so cold or warm, all over the place. When it's warm, there's been 12 inches of snow on the ground melting. Trailer is snowed in so I've been doing nothing but slogging from one bucket to another.

We also have ducks and geese, about 30 that come in the barn in the winter and they are a chore but fun. And, we have a good group this year. Three very mean geese died of old age last summer and the group we have murmur together and coo. Quite nice but alot of bucket slogging.

So my horse has been pretty happily enjoying eating, sleeping and eating and sleeping...in that order. I'll probably not take him out again until Spring as I don't have a riding arena and have to "uncork" the trailer from a snow bank or mud to get out.

One thing I do do, is ground work in our aisle during the winter. Our aisle is 20 feet wide (no kidding) and I've perfected some dressage moves from the ground...I'm now working on a shoulder-in which is a little harder to do.

Have fun...so enjoy your blogs!

PS: We are a book publisher and one of our titles, Trickonometry: The Secrets of Teaching Your horse Tricks will teach you to teach your horse to smile or turn his lip up to reveal a tattoo. Now, this is something fun to do in the winter. My horse does a whole variety of tricks!

One trick I'm teaching my horse that is not in the book is to nicker on command. He's a PMU so at first he wouldn't say a thing, kinda closed off. But now, he's more vocal, just trying to make him vocal when I say "Nicker!"

BuckdOff said...

I'm jealous, no riding here for 3 weeks, wind, snow, Holidays, more snow and severe wind chills. I don't remember it being this bad last year. I rode right through the winter. This barn does not use their indoor when snow is sliding off of the roof though, maybe safer?

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>This barn does not use their indoor when snow is sliding off of the roof though, maybe safer?<<

*shrug* I dealt with that for many years in Wisconsin...yes, it spooks them until they get used to it but it's just like any other possibly spooky thing...barn cats, shavings truck, etc...just stuff they have to get used to.

Stelladorro, how cool that you may have found the right home for your mare!

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Oh, and jst4fun, I'm not brave. I longed with tack. I longed without tack. I poked her in the sides and scoped her out pretty good before I got up there! I really do not think this mare is a bucker. She just got startled by a crude rider.

oregonsunshine said...

Casey is starting training this month just to give him a refresher course. I just want to get some miles on him complete with reminders before I get on.

Fyyachild, what about putting your mare on LMF's Showtime? I've used it with great luck on skinny horses without them getting "hot" like some might on grain based feeds.

robyn said...

All the horses you've been working with sound great!
For me, no riding in several weeks, due to bone-busting cold, snow and ice, and also b/c one of my dogs has been very sick and has needed lots of TLC. So the horses get some time off for now. =)

cdncowgirl said...

Haven't been riding in quite awhile. Just too dang cold (temps of -30 to -40+ celsius).
Obviously too cold to ride outside and I will NOT hook/unhook the trailer or haul anywhere in those temps.

mugwump said...

The picture of Sly is too dark. I think I like her hip though.It will be fun for you to ride one of the little quick ones....

oneidea said...

I'm the mom of the teenager that is rehabbing Seven (Skiptothetropics - you almost got it right Cat!! LOL!!) He is the son of the great Skip Away, but due to his injury never really got a chance to prove himself at the track. We are delighted (most days) to have him with us, but I would be remiss if I didn't give kudos to a bunch of good folks that made sure this great guy landed in a safe spot: Katie Merwick at Second Chance Ranch, Monica Stephens at Natural Horse Savvy, and his former trainer, Ben Root, and his dad, Jack, of Oakhurst Farms in OR, who is a vet and was nice enough to provide expensive shockwave therapy for this horse at no charge, greatly speeding his healing. We're very grateful to own this big, silly boy and have great hopes for his future now that he is healed up. He is starting a 90-day conditioning program as soon as the ice and snow melts... we'll see if he takes to training as easily as he learned his tricks!

PS: Teenage daughter rode my mare and her Ay-rab gelding today. I haven't ridden since 2008... LOL!!

la mexicana said...

PK went out on a short bareback ride on Tuesday. He is finally sound again, although I'm never sure for how long. The trail still looks pretty snowy and icy, so we rode down a dead end street that was clear. He was terrified of the horse-eating garbage piles on the side of the road. Trash hadn't been picked up in a few weeks due to poor road conditions. Eventually we made it to the end of the street and turned around. On the way back to the barn he was no longer afraid of the trash. We can only assume it had something to do with dinner waiting for him at the barn.

MsFoxy said...

Well, you know I've been riding daily.....

Hahahaha, just thought I would infuse a little humor here.

Been riding the chair in my office, more likely....

RussianRoulette said...

I finally decided it was time to take lessons again. So far I've just been doing the basics on my own and my little Thoroughbred has been coming along nicely.

I'd like to event in the next few years so I looked for a coach that has been successful in the eventing world (both herself and her riders), has a take-it-at-your-own-pace attitude (for me and the greeny!) and is willing to put up with my lack of finances so I can only commit to a few lessons a month. We had our first lesson two weeks ago and my guy was rather excited! Ever since it snowed here he's been an excited little guy. He's like a 6-year-old child waking-up on Christmas every single day! I hadn't ridden in over a week and he certainly let me know with his very spectacular bucking routine. Thank goodness he's an innocent little guy. The second I was slightly unbalanced he stopped bucking. He really just does like to show-off his athleticism and share his exuberance.

Anyways the first thing my coach pointed out to me was that I allow him to lean on my left rein. In fact, I'm attempting to hold him up. I knew I was doing it but I didn't know what I should do instead. She gave me several different things to work on during the time I wouldn't be taking lessons (I chose RIGHT before the holidays to have the first lesson...) and I have ridden a few times and worked on those things. He's already starting to realize that he can carry himself without my assistance. FANTASTIC!

I also took him hacking bareback in the snow since he loves it so much and we had another round of bucking. Once again I just laughed until he stopped. If I can stay relaxed, he'll stay under me. He has no intentions of tossing me (so far) and immediately stops if I slip at all. I'm lucky that he's so honest.

I can't wait for my next lesson!

In other news I also went to look at two five-year-old Rocky Mountain Horses last week that are being given away. Neither have done anything other than eat and be led around. The mare has foundered once already and whoever is trimming her feet has let them get really long. The owner knows nothing so she didn't know there was a problem. The breeder that sold her the two horses sold them as weanlings... Way to make sure your horses get a good home. Sell them as babies to people who know nothing! I'm looking for homes for them now. I gave them some suggestions as to what to do for the mare to alleviate her discomfort (including GET A NEW FARRIER) but who knows... Fingers crossed that I'll be able to get these guys into a better situation. The current owners are willing to hang onto them until the spring but I don't know if they should stay there. The only benefit will be that they will probably be easier to rehome once the winter is over.

verylargecolt said...

>>On the way back to the barn he was no longer afraid of the trash. We can only assume it had something to do with dinner waiting for him at the barn.<<

I used to ride this rotten little pony who would NOT cross the creek going OUT on the trails, but would GLEEFULLY splash through it coming home. I always had to get off and lead her through on the way out!

PONIES!

Michelle said...

No riding going on here, either. I spent all fall painting the barn, then hunting season arrived in all its glory, along with mud season. Then it got REAL cold, REAL early with frozen rutted mud. Then snow, then warm, rain, mud, frozen again, more mud, then frozen again, more snow ... its been a bit of a crazy winter, and I haven't touched my mare since September.

I'm starting some in the barn stuff. We're going to work on dewormer tubes -- she hates anything in her mouth. I also started to teach her to retrieve a toy ring. It will give us something to do so I don't have to start back at square 1 in the spring.

Padraigin_WA said...
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oneidea said...
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mulerider said...

Don't you just love working with highly food-motivated animals? Two of mine will sell their souls for a horse cookie.

One is my 3 yr. old, with whom training so far consists primarily of me saying, "If you do this, I'll give you a cookie," and him replying, "Okee dokie, no problem." :-)

balancedseat said...

I may be interested in the TB as a new dressage prospect.

athy said...

Hang the clippers by the food bucket - turned on. Few feedings that way and he will look forward to them. I used that first trick when I was 12 - 1976 (eeck!)and it works well.

athy said...

Oh and Ms. Foxy? Here's another Fox :)

http://athyrius1.deviantart.com/art/Southern-Fox-101042918