Sunday, November 29, 2009

Our First Trip!

Red got to take his first trip! We have construction on a barn starting this week, so I had to move Red on Saturday because he would be in the way. So we took him over to my friend's house in Firestone for the week. He was a sweaty mess by the time we got there, he was worked up! But he walked right into the trailer and walked right off with no problems. He pranced around in his stall and was full of energy. This morning he calmed down a lot and was back to his normal self. I hope to ride out there later in the week!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yikes! It's been a while!

Yikes, I can't believe it's been 2 months since I last posted an update! I guess that's what happens when you spend so much time traveling for work, going to New Mexico, Tennessee, Alaska, Wyoming... sheesh! The sun also sets now at 5pm so it's already dark when I get home from work. That means unless I have a weekday off, riding is reserved for the weekend only!

Red has been doing great. The vet said his weight is perfect. Infact, he said he may be getting a little chubby when he was out to last check on Red! We battled a little auto-immune allergic reaction on his nose that looked like a fungus. After 15 days of steroids, he's all cleared up! You can see a pic of how it looked below.

Red was awesome the last time I rode. I don't know if it was a fluke or not, but he was really relaxing and taking much better hold of the bit. He had his head in the best position he's had yet. I also set up some straw bales that are about 18" high and 12" wide and jumped Red over them. And guess what? He loved it! I thought for sure he'd stop the first time just because he hasn't jumped them, but no! What a good boy.

Below are some more recent pics. Red does tricks now, like sit, lay down, roll over (hahahaha). Hopefully we can get some riding or jumping pics or video again soon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Jumping...

Here are some more highlights of Red free jumping! I'll post another riding video soon...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Looking better...

It's time for an updated picture of how Red is looking, so here are a few photos. As you can see he is developing his top line, the ribs continue to slowly disappear, and we're rounding out those hindquarters. Woo-hoo!

He went about a week without being worked, and boy was he feeling good. He threw the best temper tantrum I've seen him throw so far on the lunge line. He kicked out, he took off and went around at 300 mph, (still has yet to buck much), pulled the line right out of my hands... that kind of stuff. Needless to say, he was lunged at the trot for about 45 minutes non-stop after that. What a sweet pony I had after that.

We continue to work on bending and leg yielding. After his spa treatment, he had several days off and apparently in that short time span forgot what my leg meant. The next time, I rode with a dressage whip. Guess who got their memory back after that? Well enough in fact that we cantered a bit! It took a lot of work to keep him upright and bending around turns, but he did it! We did big circles to the left and smaller circles to the right.

Red has a few more days off this week because I'm out of town for work, but we'll pick up where we left off next weekend. Until then, enjoy his pretty pictures!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Red's Spa Treatment

So Red got to see the chiropractor/accupuncture doctor! What an interesting process to watch him go over the horse. I had never seen that before. He was poking Red all over and he'd flinch bad every once in a while. So the doctor would do something to "fix" that problem area, go back and touch that area, and he was fine.

His diagnosis was as follows: he has a TMJ reaction on the left, needs teeth floated soon. His left rib 1st posterior was out of whack, so he put that back where it belonged by pulling Red's right front leg all over the place (about wrapped it up over his head) but it worked. He adjusted the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lumbar dorsal right enough to where I heard them crack back into place. Red felt much better right after that. Then he said he has sacral apex motion to the right, but pelvis decreased motion to the left, and he adjusted that area. He did aquapuncture (like acupuncture, but they inject B12) on the "pelvic trigger point bilaterally, GB 27 point on left," I'm guessing fancy words for injected the left pelvis and hip since that was what I saw him do.

Red is going to be off for a few days to recover from his treatment, but then we'll get back to light riding. Below is a pic I took of him with his fancy new ears. He really loves not having flies and gnats in his ears on the trail!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Look Mom, I'm NOT a Giraffe!

The last video I posted of me riding was from May 24th I believe. The good news that that we have come a long way since then, though we are not even close to being "there" yet. Red no longer cleans my ears with his, especially thanks to the addition of the running martingale I added for these last 2 rides. We are also now using the proper size bit and a Vespucci bridle with a figure-8 (thanks, Mom!). Yesterday was the first day he wasn't resisting the figure-8. So, baby steps. We are getting there slowly but surely!

As you'll see in this video compared to the previous ones, we don't throw our shoulder in as bad or as frequently, we yield to the leg a lot more than before, and we are slowly learning how to carry our head. These things are far from mastered, but they are improvements! I'm very happy with his progress. After all, he's got his first beginner novice event to attend next spring hehehe ;)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Enjoying the days of summer

Here is an example of just one of the many storms to come by this summer. What a great picture, two things I love in this world: ponies and storms :)

I hopped on Red bareback the other day while he ate grass, just to see what he would do. A pic is below. As you may have guessed, he didn't care. He wanted to go for a walk on the trail but finally relaxed and accepted the fact it was eat time, not ride time.

I also took Red all the way around the trail by himself for the first time this past weekend. He did great. He froze once when we saw several horses in a large pasture, but he got going again with a little encouragement.

But yesterday, Red and I had an exciting experience on the trail. I went with the neighbor girl and thank goodness, we had 2 out of control horses on the trail with screaming kids on them come flying by.

We heard screaming behind us and we thought it was coming from a house. Well finally cresting the hill behind us come these 2 horses at a full gallop. There are kids on them (~13 yrs old) and they are screaming, legs wrapped around the horses as hard as they can, leaning forward... all the wrong signals for "STOP". I yell to my neighbor to turn our horses around and face them, heels down, and grab mane. These guys fly by and our horses rear and spin around but that was about it. They were really good considering. So one of these kids grabs the reins of the other horse and she ends up getting pulled off her horse... what a mess. She was hurt, found out today she bruised her ribs. We walked her home where the horses were waiting. Red did not like being around those horses. We had to keep moving because he was very very nervous around them. After we got past them, he calmed right down again.

I thought "oh no" as I'm on this green TB, off the track since January, as these guys come galloping at us. But Red did well. Had I been by myself I don't think things would have gone as well so thank goodness for that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hot Summer Nights

I went out to ride last night at 7:30 pm and it was still 84 degrees out. Good thing I don't mind the heat!

Red has been full of himself recently. I increased the amount of senior feed he was getting because his weight gain plateaued. I went out to feed yesterday morning and he was just rip roaring around the pasture. Kicking. Bucking. He was feeling good. So I knew I was going to ride that evening.

I lunged him before I rode to get some of that extra energy out of his system. As usual, he was a good boy. We just worked at the walk. I focused on my equitation, contact, getting him to carry his head right, a little bending, inside/outside leg work, etc. As a reward we went for a walk on the trail. I let him trot up the hill and it kicked his weak lil butt! He was huffing and puffing when we got to the top. Then we walked back home on a loose rein.

When I got back home, the neighbor was tacking up. I asked if she wouldn't mind if I came in with Red while she rode. Red hasn't stood in a ring yet with a horse trotting, cantering, and jumping around him. I wondered how much he could care. He fell asleep in the arena! :-D

I gave Red's mane a trim the other day. It was getting a little too long and wild. Now he looks like Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber. My poor boy. Neither of us can wait until it grows out!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Kelli's Visit!

My friend Kelli came out to visit Red and I on Sunday! It's the first time she's seen Red since I've had him. She rode him and got to see some of his quirks and she gave me a few pointers with regard to his training and his vices, which was great. Then she watched me ride and she gave me a hand with my equitation, and boy do I have a lot to work on. Head up, shoulders back, elbows at my side, let my elbows bend, watch my wrists, sit on my rear correctly, don't pinch with the knees, pretend someone is pulling me down by my knees, heels down, ask with my leg and not with my heel... crap I better get practicing!

Joe at TBFriends wanted us to get lots of pictures for him so a few are below. We had a good time and I hope we can do it again soon!

Me trying to get a pic of all 3 of us. Not easy.

Kelli riding Red

Red and I


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Dressage Lesson

Well, it was time for another Dressage lesson! Since my last lesson we have worked a lot on leg yielding and it really helped us in this lesson. I needed a reminder on how to properly ask Red to carry himself in the frame he needs to be in. He was been giving me a lot of resistance but I also think I haven't been asking "properly". So it was time for a refresher.

We did a lot of work on my dressage equitation which felt great. Over the past several years, I have ridden several horses and had very few lessons so my equitation has become more of a survival technique rather than proper. We are slowly working on fixing that. Improving my equitation also allowed me to communicate with Red easier. Just a few short minutes into the lesson, Red was going better and I felt better. He's getting there, he gets pieces of what is suppose to happen but is still struggling with the big picture which is fine, he is still very green. What's great though is that he is trustworthy and he enjoys being out and he wants to please.

After the lesson, I walked him over a tiny cross-rail jump the neighbor had. He stepped right over it. I came back over and then asked him to do it at the trot. He snaked a little before the tiny jump but popped right over, and boy does he jump round. I asked him to do it again and he went straight and did it beautifully. He got lots of love and praise after doing it right and that was the end of our day!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer is here!

Red is asking, "is it dead?"

Summer is finally here! Red is so much happier when it's warm rather than when it's cold. Because of the wet spring we had, the mosquitoes are out in full force right now. I must have 20 bites on me. They bite through clothing, even jeans! Red does not like when I spray him with fly spray so we are working on his tolerance to that so he's not eaten alive.

I haven't updated this in a while but we are continuing to improve and work. I was away in Philadelphia for a few days and I also had a procedure done that left me with a few stitches, so the riding was put on hold for a short period of time. We have been working on the basics at the walk such as bending, leg yielding, side passing, half passes, etc. He is doing a pretty good job so far. He is starting to get the concepts, but not well enough to do them at the trot yet.

We went for a ride on the trail the other day and the mosquitoes were awful. Red and I have only walked on the trail so far, but these bugs were so bad we had to get away from them so we had to trot and canter. The good news is that he was fantastic, he didn't take off, he was very controllable, he didn't get track flashbacks, it was great! We also took the trail the opposite direction for the first time (so it was like a new trail) and he trot and cantered past "new" things with only slight hesitation. Only once did I stop and make him go back and see something, a huge pile of old fence, and he touched his nose to it right away.

We have a fun and exciting week ahead. My friend Kelli is coming out from Nebraska on the 28th and we are going to work with Red and she's going to work with me. I may also get a dressage lesson in the middle of the week if things work out.

Until next time!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Red can Jump!

... and he likes it! Every day I work with Red I am happier and happier with him. I think this time next year we are going to be able to compete in some beginner novice events! The dressage I don't worry about with him, the jumping he likes, and he is great on the trail and isn't afraid of much, if anything, so that should help us out on cross country!

I've put the jumping on hold again for now until we get further in our training and until he has a little more of a "break" from being off the track. He obviously likes it and has been introduced to it now so it should be easier when we bring it back in the future!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I usually love the stormy weather...

... but now it's getting in the way of my riding! The weather for the past week has been the same every day: sunny and warm in the morning and early afternoon, storms all afternoon and evening (the only time I can ride during the week).

So today I decided to ride before the weather got ugly. I tacked Red up and noticed the storms building in the area but nothing looked bad. So I lunged Red and he was a good boy. He needed a little extra work to the right, but that's ok. So when we were done lunging, it started pouring. We ran over to the shed and I threw the rain sheet over him and I waited in the shed. I was determined to ride today!

After a few minutes, the rain let up and it was beautiful again. I rode Red and this time, we used the entire paddock rather that just a part. He went much better and now he can get use to the idea of staying on the rail. To the left everything was great. He needs a lot of work on his balance to the right. He throws his shoulder into the center and can't bed at all. He is like riding a motorcycle around turns, I feel like my knee is dragging on the ground! If I give him a strong inside leg, he does a hop and will bend for a few strides, then he hops back to throwing the shoulder in. The good news is he responds so now it will be a lot of repetition and work trying to build up the right muscles so he can do it easier and for longer periods of time.

Red and I were both exhausted after our workout so I went for a short trail ride to cool us both down. We came across a doberman that was not behind a fence and he wasn't too fond of us. He growled and started running over and Red did not like that. No other dogs have bothered him, but this one wasn't behind a fence and he knew it. Red spun around and said I'm outta here right before the neighbor called their dog back. He settled down and then we were able to continue on with our ride... until the lightning flashed near us. Then we turned around and ran back home.

Again, it was another great day with Red!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A first I was hoping to avoid for a bit longer!

I got a rude reminder to keep my heels down! I had my first fall off Red today!

We were working in the paddock and we were working on the right lead canter. We were going in a straight line across the field and when we got to the fence, I asked for him to go right and continue the canter. Instead, he did a last second lead change
and shot to the left. That left me to go straight right into the fence! Luckily the vinyl fence is pretty forgiving and bouncy so I bounced off and landed on the ground with my feet and rear in the air against the fence. I was fine, no injuries other than a stiff calf muscle.

What's funny is I scared Red when I fell off. He stopped pretty fast and backed up and stood there and looked at me. I looked up to see where he was after giving myself a few seconds to rest (expecting to see him on the other side of the field kicking and bucking) and there he stood right behind me giving me the look of, "Oh wow, I am SO sorry, I had no idea that was going to happen OMG I'm soooo sorry!" It was pretty darn cute. I got up and he came right over to me and we gave eachother lots of love. He checked on me and saw I was ok, I checked on him and he was ok, and I got back on and we went back to work!

We ended the day on the trail and we went by our selves! I wanted to trot a little and work on my ahem *cough* heels and balance but Red started getting a little too excited. He kept going into what felt like a beautiful extended trot so I settled him back down to a walk and we just enjoyed the rest of our trail ride.

Enjoy the trail pics below!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our first trail ride!

As you can guess by the title, I rode Red on the trail for the first time! I lunged him for a bit because he was feeling fresh (today was windy and cool) and then I met up with the neighbor's daughter and we started walking on the trail. At first he had his head so high the tips of his ears were about in my eyes. So we walked a few property lengths and then came back and did them again.

We passed a few horses and all he wanted to do was go see them, but I made him keep walking. He picked up a trot twice and wanted to go and I said no and eased him back and he listened and came right back to me. There wasn't anything he didn't want to walk past, so that's really good. Nothing spooked him. Tarps, trailers, sheds, piles of junk, etc. He took a little hop when a bunch of dogs came out of nowhere and barked at us, but that was it. After he knew what it was he was ok, no after-shocks.

At the half way point of the 3 mile loop, his head was down and he was sneaking bites of grass and the rest of the trail was a breeze. We stopped a few times and I let him eat so he could see that the trail is "fun" and no big deal. The last half we did on a loose rein and you could see he enjoyed it!

I'm off to Steamboat Spring for the week. I can't wait to get back!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our First Lesson!

Red and I the day before our lesson.

After talking about it with my neighbor, we decided it was time. We went to my neighbor’s who is a dressage instructor and Red and I both got our first dressage lesson! I didn’t lunge him before because I was running late, though I did just ride him yesterday and it was near 80° outside. I also didn’t wear my eventing vest and the lesson was over at the neighbor’s arena, so Red got to see a new place. Apparently I was feeling brave. As usual, things went really really well!

My equitation needed some work and I was happy to have someone else observe Red and give me a few pointers with him. My hands were open on the reins, I wasn’t maintaining constant contact with Red and moving with him, my elbows were out to the side, and I was not pushing my weight down into my heels (whew!). We worked on walking, trotting, and cantering in both directions. We worked on transitions and having Red respond to my leg and keep his head in front of his body rather than look around all the time.

Red’s sides are either dead or he doesn’t care, because I can kick the you-know-what out of him and it doesn’t phase him. We did a lot of work on walk-trot transitions and got him to respond pretty quick after a few tries. When it came time to ask for the right canter, we had to get the crop. Some horses freak out if you just hold a crop. Some get tapped with it once and they come to. Red can get smacked and smacked and it doesn’t really have any effect on him. He would make a great kid’s horse, that’s for sure. He is so loving and carefree.

But long story short, the lesson went really well. I have a lot of things to work on myself and I got to see a little of Red’s potential. He responded well to constant contact and he did a good job himself of maintaining it and not looking around, throwing his head up, or diving. By the end of the 2-hour lesson, he was going around really well and I was exhausted, but very pleased.

Ryan loves Red, and Red loves Ryan.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Walk, Trot, Canter!

I have ridden Red twice since my last post and there isn't much new to report on (no news is good news, right?). He is still the calm smart OTTB he has been over the past several weeks and I couldn't be happier with him.

Before I rode yesterday we again, as always, lunged before. He walks, trots, and canters on the lunge like an angel going to the left. To the right he walks and trots fine, but we are working on the canter. When he doesn't know what to do or how to do it, he just stops and looks at me as he's done before. It's kinda funny when he does it, you can see it's purely for his clarification. He's not doing it to be bad, he is really looking at me and trying to make sense of what I'm asking him to do. So a few more tries to the right and I imagine he'll have it figured out in no time.

Yesterday I rode without having my husband home for the first time. *GASP* I did tell my neighbor to keep an eye on me and she did, but this guy has no bad intentions so I am not worried. Now I know he's just 6 so I am always aware and prepared, but I don't worry. Heck, I may even ride without my eventing vest in the near future!

I know Red can walk, trot, AND canter, but I was waiting to take that last step until I was comfortable and he was too, and yesterday was that day. There is a crappy video summarizing the ride below, but I only tried the canter to the left for our first try. He did great. I try to be prepared in case he takes off or bucks, but as always, there were no problems. It took a lot of work to get him going to pick up the gait but after asking a few times, he did it very smooth and without any shenanigans.

He was making ok circles at the walk and trot and we lost them at the canter. He'll learn how to balance better and turn in the future, it will come with practice and training. But for now our canter circles were pretty sad but that's ok, it was our first try.

I'm sure we'll have our second try soon...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Red's Second Ride

Red just keeps improving day after day and my confidence in him grows every time I work with him.

The day before yesterday I thought I may ride if he was being really good. I had him tied up and was grooming him and he was feeling a little fresh. So I turned him loose in the pasture and chased him around with the whip for a while. After he was nice and sweaty, I brought him back in and he was an angel. We lunged for a while and he was darn near perfect. He walked and trotted both directions really really well. I decided I would work him again the next day and then give a try at riding.

So yesterday I tacked him up and lunged him. He wanted to canter on the lunge so I let him. He was ready! He did several nice circles and was very calm, no bucking or kicking or being sassy. He was well behaved. Both directions he did beautifully and he was very calm. He doesn't stop much anymore, if at all. Going in a clockwise direction he will still try once or twice, but I can usually keep him going.

Ryan got home so I had him hold Red while I hopped on. We sat there again and he didn't care. Ryan walked us around, and he didn't care. So that may be the last time we do that. We are 2 for 2 and he really doesn't care in the least. Even Ryan commented on how calm he was.

Ryan took the halter off and I had him stand in the center of the pasture. We walked circles around him to mimic the lunge and again, he was great. We walked both directions without a problem so I decided to be brave and ask for a trot. He didn't object at all and was very well behaved. He didn't try a thing. He required a lot of leg as you will see in the video below, but other than that it went even better than I could have ever expected.

I can't wait until our next ride! We have a busy weekend coming up and the weather isn't going to cooperate, so it may be a few days before we try again.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Red's Improvement

I was out of town for a little over a week so I'm happy to be home again! I missed Red a lot so when I got home, I spent a good 2 hours outside with him just giving him love, playing with him, grooming him, and cleaning out the shed.

I took some new pictures of him and put them with old pictures so you can see how much he's improved in the 6 weeks we've had him. I think he's doing great.

The forecast for the rest of the week is warm weather with temps getting up to 85 this weekend, so I hope to work with Red a lot when he's hot and not full of energy.

Until next time...

Red on 3/8/09 compared to 4/20/09:

Red's neck on 4/20/09 compared to 3/8/09:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Our First Ride!

We did it! Today was the first day I rode Red! It was a great day to try because he lunged so well, he was so calm and relaxed, it was 72 degrees, and I worked him yesterday.

I tacked him up and as usual, he just stood there like a good boy. I lunged him and he was an angel. We worked counter-clockwise at first and he walked and trotted perfect, lap after lap. He got lots of praise for being such a good boy.

We went clockwise and he did great that direction too. The trot took a few repetitions but he got it at the end. He will trot 3/4 of a circle and stop in the same place. I easily ask him forward and he goes and when he gets to that same place, he stops. If I crack the whip, he changes directions. So I have to keep asking gently and eventually he moves forward again. After doing that over and over, he started not stopping and I was able to get about 4 non-stop calm circles. He was an awesome boy today.

So I had made up my mind today that if he was a good boy, I was going to ride him today, so I had to keep that promise. Today was also Red's one month anniversary at our house, so that was special to me too.

Ryan came out with me and we still had his halter over his bridle. We walked him up to my mounting block (the hay trof turned upside down) and he just stood there. I got on and just sat there while Ryan held him. When he took a big breath and I saw he didn't care and relaxed, I had Ryan walk us around. Again, he was relaxed and didn't care. We walked over to the other end of the pasture and Ryan took his halter off and we stood there for a little.

I then asked him to go forward and he didn't really want to leave the people (Ryan and the neighbor) and he wanted to go back to the food. So I kept gently asking and he would swish his tail a little but then he would take a few steps forward, and he got lots and lots of praise. We would walk away from the people and then would turn back to them and he'd get love. Then we would walk a little further away and again, come back to the people for love. Eventually we made it all the way to the other side of the pasture (and he did it without stopping at all!) and we came back to the people for lots of love.

We walked back to the food to call it a day. I wanted Ryan to get a picture of us so we stood there while he got the camera. Red stood for a little and then he said he was done and started to prance a little, but nothing bad at all. Ryan got a picture and I hopped off. Ryan may have given him 2 carrots, 6 treats, and 2 cups of senior feed after it was over, but I won't confirm nor deny that :)

I don't know when we'll try again since tomorrow's forecast is calling for a chance of rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon. I will be out of town for work all next week, so Red will have some time off. I hope to get one more good ride in before I go, but I'm not going to push anything. If it happens, it happens!

What a great day! I am so excited!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Snow, Sun, Snow, Sun...

It would be nice to work with Red on a regular basis but we have spent the past 2 weeks alternating between snow and sun. The second the snow melts, we get more, so it hasn't been ideal conditions to work. Today was a good day to get some work in and tomorrow is looking good too.

I have included side reins in our lunging. The first time I tried them, the were as loose as they would go which was not long enough. Red was very patient with them and all of a sudden froze on the lunge. I knew when he finally moved again it was going to be one hell of a show, and man was it ever. So after he calmed down we walked around until he relaxed and back to work we went.

Today I lunged with the side reins again but this time I took 2 dog collars and made them longer. This time things went much better. Red is pretty relaxed but is strong willed. If he doesn't want to trot, well then he isn't going to trot. Crack the whip all you want, he'll just stop and look at it. You can't make him do anything he doesn't want to do... or so he thinks. Someday we are going to have a small "battle of wills" because he thinks he is alpha in this relationship. I'm walking a thin line with him because I want to bond and be kind to him, yet he can't take advantage of me or do what he wants. He has to listen to me. So we're getting there. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Red is still very sweet, as long as its above 40 degrees outside. He does not like the snow or the cold. He has his pissy TB days and he has his days where all he wants to do is snuggle and play with every piece of clothing on you.

Tomorrow is one month that he has been at our house! I'm thinking I need to ride very very soon... O:-)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Let It Snow!

Dear Joe,

This snow stuff is for the birds. How could you send me to Colorado? I thought you loved me.

Red Avenue

Well the snow came and now we have to wait for it to melt. Snow depth at our house ranges from 0-15" thanks to the wind so it's hard to say how much we got.

Enjoy the video of Red's first snow. Once it's was on the ground he doesn't care about it, but when it's falling he's not a fan.

Additional pictures from the snow can be seen here!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some Videos

I have a few video's of Red posted online at Youtube. They always mute my videos eventually, so enjoy the music while it's there, if at all...

This video highlights Red's first 24 hours at his new home (sorry, sound gone already):

This video is showing 2 of Red's races in the past:

We are forecast to get some snow on Thursday. We need the water badly, so let's hope we get a few inches. It will put a damper on the work for a day or two, but Red will enjoy it :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What a Great Day!!!

Well Red and I had a great day yesterday!! He was such a good boy. I hadn’t worked with him in 2 days, so before I did anything, I let him run and kick and buck around his field for a little bit. Every horse loves a good turn out, he had a blast! He was snorting and had his tail up prancing around. He got tired pretty fast though and when I set the lunge whip down, he'd look at me all cute then drop his head and lick and come over to me for love. He's such a sweetheart.

So I tried something new with him and put his bridle and saddle on yesterday for lunging! He had no problems with the bridle, that was our first go at that, he took the bit right away and kept his head down low. He is well behaved and has pretty good manners! So I put his halter over the bridle and we lunged a while. He has the walk in both directions down. He is always a little closer to me when I am between him and the shed (aka ‘the food’) and he pulls a little when he's between me and the shed, so I'm working on keeping a nice even circle. I don't let him pull on the shed side, I keep him paying attention to me and I keep his head from moving out, and he has the whip pointed at his shoulder on the close side. By the end of the day it got a lot better.

We spent a lot of time working on the trot too yesterday in the counter clockwise direction. When he got to where the shed is in the circle, he stopped and faced me. So I just kept asking him to move forward and pick up the trot again, over and over, and eventually he started not stopping! It took a lot of work to keep him going, but I got about 5 good trot circles out of him at the end where I really had to push him through the one spot, but he did it and he did it well!

We then worked on the clockwise direction and that went well too. His balance isn't quite there but he's figuring it out. Again I had to really push him by the shed, but he went after a while and I got a few circles in a row that way too! And he did it all with the saddle and bridle and he didn't care about them at all, which makes me feel great about riding him soon.

I wanted to ride him for the first time last weekend, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Getting on my OTTB that just turned 6 for the first time in 30 mph winds doesn’t sound like the smartest of ideas!

We worked again this evening and he was full of himself! He was even cantering on the lunge line. I don’t want him to get wild, I want him to learn to listen and be calm on the lunge. He tripped once and it was the funniest thing, he got embarrassed and he bucked and kicked out! My silly proud horse…

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Lunging Continues...

Thanks to a sick puppy, it's been a while since I've been able to update this journal. We changed her food and her tummy has been upset ever since. We've got it under control now though.

I'm continuing to lunge Red on a daily basis every day after work. The first time I lunged him I think it was beginners luck because we haven't been able to trot like that since, but he does go both directions now with no problem where the first time, I couldn't get him to take one step in a clockwise direction.

Almost all of the work is being done at the walk until he understands that he has to stay out on the circle until I say he's done. He can change directions when I say it is time to. When we stop, he has to stay out on the circle until I come to him. He is doing really well and every day he goes twice as far before stopping as he did the day before. He isn't quite ready to trot or canter yet, though yesterday I asked for the trot and he did a complete circle and I was very happy with that.

Yesterday I also lunged him with the saddle on for the first time! I put it on once before and walked him around and he didn't care. My goal is to get on him for the first time tomorrow, Sunday, and just walk around. I think he's ready for that and I'm hoping he won't care!

My friend Kristina came over and saw him this week. Just like everyone that meets Red, she adored him. She said he was the most affectionate horse she's ever met. I have to agree. She is letting me borrow a bunch of tack until I get everything I need for Red which is greatly appreciated. She could see what a gentle loving curious horse he is. We both think I've got a good eventer on my hands!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our First Time on the Trail

Yesterday, I took Red for a short walk along the riding trail so he could see the sights. He has been stuck in his pasture for a week now (which isn't small, he's needed time to adjust) but it was time he get to see some new scenery and for me to see how he would react. Nothing phased him, tarps, tractor parts, etc.... except the 5 dogs that came out of nowhere and jumped up against the fence all barking. He hopped to the side over that one and about into my lap, but after seeing what it was, he didn't care anymore. Heck they scared me too! Sneaky buggers.

So when we got back home after walking a little over a half mile, I decided to lunge him again. I decided to do it away from the fence, in the exact middle of the pasture, because I wanted him to learn by listening to me rather than other influences (a fence line, etc). The walk is great, he has no problem with that. He will walk around and around forever if I let him. It takes a little more to ask for the trot. Yesterday (and the time before when I used the fence as a guide) I was joking saying I got just as much exercise has him trying to stay behind him and keep him going forward. I stay behind his shoulder and drag the whip behind him until he starts to break then I give the whip a little crack, and he goes again. We haven't really cantered on the lunge yet. When I first start sometimes he will canter a few strides, but he comes right back down. He doesn't do anything crazy either, no bucking, no acting up.

The first day we tried to lunge he did stop a lot and face me, so I would move further behind him and he would go forward right away. Then came praise praise praise. He'd do another lap or two and stop and look at me. Again, get behind him, he goes forward, praise praise praise! So yesterday, away from the fence, I got him to do about 5-6 laps before he'd stop and look at me. Again, position myself behind him, he'd go forward, praise praise praise.

I feel part of the reason he was stopping and looking at me was because he doesn't know his "circle", he doesn't understand keeping light contact, so he'd get too far away and the lunge line would pull on his halter and he'd take that as "stop" or "face me". Yesterday he did a much better job of keeping light contact the entire time so he didn't stop as much.

This is all being done counter-clockwise. Clockwise is another story. He doesn't even know his body can go that way. I try to get him to do it at a walk and it takes him forever to get away from my body, to actually be a few feet away from me. Then he pulls a figure-8 and goes the other way hahahaha. You can see his has no balance, no feel for his body in the other direction. No confidence. He doesn't know how to bend that way.

I think he's understanding the lunge line better now, and hopefully tonight I will be able to feel like yes, he really gets it (counter-clockwise that is). Once I feel like he has a good understanding of the concept, then we will apply that clockwise. One step at a time. He really pays attention to what you tell him, he listens and tries to please.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's Warming Up!

The forecast for the next week has temps in the 70's. I hope the warm weather holds out for a while because I'd love to work with Red a lot in the coming days. It made it to 59 today, but it felt a lot nicer than that.

I gave Red another neck bath with the MicroTek shampoo. I really want that stuff to clear up. I know it takes time, but he's been washed 3 times in a week (twice with the special shampoo) so I hope to be seeing an improvement here soon. He's not a big fan of baths yet and I'm sure the cold water isn't helping. He will stand for anything except a bath.

I also bought a detangler (show sheen) spray because his tail is a tangled mess. After his bath I let him loose to roll and he did. Then I brought him back to work on that tail of his. He stood during that just fine, no problems, and his tail is beautiful and tangle free (until he find the tumbleweeds again).

It's a lazy sleepy Saturday. Pics are of Red taking a nap today on the west side of his pasture. Kristina is going to let me borrow her Wintec saddle and a spare bridle so I may even get around to tacking him up and taking him for a walk while the weather is nice. We'll see!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Our First Lunge

Yesterday I decided to see if Red knew how to lunge. He has been feeling good and acting happy and healthy, so I feel like he's ready. He has been getting a little naughty with me at feeding time and I decided that it would be good for him to do a little work. I put his halter on and went back for the lunge line. When I was in the shed I heard him cantering away to the other side of the field. I open the door and of course, he was gone. When I opened the door he came right back. I think he was just feeling good.

So we walked over to the corner of the pasture so half of the circle would have fence to guide him around and keep him from running out. We started clockwise and he was clueless. So I decided to see how he did counter-clockwise and sure enough, he kinda knew what was going on! He would canter a loop or two really fast, then stop and look at me. I got him to finally relax and he got a nice trot for a circle or two at a time. Eventually when he got to the side with no fence, he would try to run out, which would pull on his halter, he'd stop, spin around, and look at me. It took a lot of work to keep him moving forward, I really had to stay behind him and ask and ask him to keep moving forward. About half the time he stopped and looked at me.

I realized he'll need some cavaletti's on the ground or something to keep him in on the side with no fence, so I decided to call it a day. He was very good for his first go at it in who knows how long, if ever! When I would ask him to stop and come into the center, all he wanted was love. I could see he was really trying hard to understand what I was asking him to do and he never got frustrated. I think he's a smart boy. When we were done, he also just stood with me for several minutes with no problem which he hasn't shown me he can do yet. So work is very good for him. I think he needs a job, something to do, and I think he is able to relax better after doing something.

Until next time!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Red's First Snow

Well we woke up to a big surprise today, a few inches of snow on the ground! I'm pretty sure Red was born, raised, and lived his entire life in Northern California, so I don't know if he's ever seen snow or at least this much. He rolled around in it a few times but didn't really seem to care. It all melted off by the afternoon and the last third of the day was beautiful.

He is being a bit of a pill in that he will only eat his alfalfa, he has no interest in the grass hay. It's not bad, he just likes the alfalfa better and refuses to eat the grass. But that's ok, he'll eat it when he gets hungry. He also is starting to pin his ears back and act like he wants to bite if I hang around after he gets the alfalfa, like to put his blanket on. Today he got a touch in the nose and a "no" and he looked at me like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. They all test you.

After the sun came out, it warmed up, and the snow melted. After work, I decided to go spend some time with Red and see what else he knew and what else he would let me do. I didn't think I had a place to tie him to and I remembered the fence post that holds our gate has a 4x4 wood post in it! So he was tied there and he didn't care or move. I brushed him and he really relaxed. He dropped his head, his eyes got heavy, and his breathing slowed. I brushed his mane and tail with no problem. I asked for all 4 feet and he picked them right up. I cleaned them and held them up for a while with no problem. After that, we went for a walk and did 2 laps around the paddock. He really seemed happy and relaxed!

When we were done, I opened the shed to get him some treats and more hay. I put the hay in his trof and as I come back around, he literally hopped up into the shed! Our tiny shed! I prayed that he wouldn't break the floor boards and I snuck in next to him and stood on the hay and said, "no boy, you need to get out" (like he'd understand me) and he actually slowly backed out, very calm, like a pro.

Everyday I love this guy more and more. He is fearless, lovable, and patient. I can't wait until I start working with him after we've bonded more because I think he's going to be a blast to work with!

Our first day

I got a whopping 6 hours of sleep on Saturday night. As soon as the sun was up, I jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see my new horse, to see what he looked like in the light. He was standing in the corner of his paddock by the mini's, his new best friends. I grabbed a carrot and walked over to him and he came right over to me. It appears he was treated well in the past because he doesn't seem to have people issues. He is super sweet.

I wanted to see how much messing with him I could do. Would he pick up his feet? Could I brush him? How is he with his ears? Eyes? Nostrils? Nothing phased him, he passed with flying colors. Some of this may be because he is tired after the long trip, but if that's the case, then at least he doesn't get pissy. On a scale from 1-10, this guy is an 8 when it comes to being affectionate.

My neighbor to the west turned out her horses in their arena so they could see Red. He acted like a mare when her OTTB gelding came over to see him. Silly boys. They ran up and down the fence line a few times, but Red never got too excited. He did his floaty extended trot and cantered a bit, but that was all. It's probably just him being tired, because he seems pretty mellow.

Later that morning, Ryan and I stood out in the field with Red. He came right over to us again and just "hung out". Ryan started scratching his neck and that was the beginning of the end for Red! He used Ryan as his scratching post for a good 10 minutes, and he loved every minute of it. So much for him being my horse!

When it warmed up to about 60, I felt it was time for a bath. He has mud caked on all 4 legs and under his stomach. He also has something funky on his neck. He has patches of hair missing, and the hair around those patches is scabby. The patches are also raised, so he has bald bumps on his neck.

They looked a little like a fungus to me at first. My neighbor said she thought it was lice. Either could be true. I thought, a bath will do him good.

He did great for the 1st 10 minutes. He stood there like a champ while I washed his neck. I don't think he knows how to tie, and I'm not about to find out by trying it out on my vinyl fence. He started to get bored so I went and got him a flake of alfalfa to nibble on. Now I was able to get mud off the legs, and 10 minutes later he's bored again. So we go for a short walk and he is pawing at the ground and I knew he wanted to roll, but no no, we're not going to do that, you can when I'm done. But apparently that was only a minor suggestion and he went down anyway. I stood there thinking, "Please don't get tangled up in the lead rope that is STILL attached to you."

Well he gets up from rolling and takes off, he is gone like the wind. Lead rope still attached. So now I'm just hoping he doesn't step on it and break his neck, and he doesn't. He did one lap around the shed and that was it. He had his fun. He let me catch him and back to the bath we went! He took it for a few more minutes and I decided enough was enough, I had pushed my luck with him already. So we went for a walk around the pasture to relax (not that he was worked up, a walk did him good) and on that walk he decided to roll again! Well this time I wasn't going to let him run off after. He tried, but I hung on tight and after a few seconds of trying to get away, he gave up. We finished our walk and then I decided to call it a day.