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The Times Are Changing

I do believe it is time to dabble in a new sport for me. Now don’t go getting all sorts of crazy thinking I’m leaving Eventing. I’m not, just one of my horses is for now. Cash still loves to jump and anywhere but the arena is his favorite place!  It’s Jack that I believe is gonna go in a different direction.

Why do I say this? Well for two reasons actually.

  1. Jack has a fantastic jog and doesn’t really want to jump the jumps if he doesn’t have to.
  2. I think it will be a fun new challenge.

I’ve been wanting to dabble in the world of trail for a long time! And if any of you ever wonder why you should check out the extreme trail here .  I could do it on cash BUT he isn’t really slow enough to take it pay attention on a course like that. Jack on the other hand has an amazing jog. He naturally wants to go slower. His canter is like a rocking chair and I could seriously ride it all day! He really is a more western style horse. Which actually ends up perfect for my husband. To quote the famous words of my father and ones my husband quickly adopted, “I will not ride that pancake saddle!” So a western one is defiantly a good choice.

Jack is also super careful with where he puts his feet. If he goes over poles he’s careful not to hit them. He loves maneuvering around anything I put in the way and will happily step over most of the jumps instead of jumping them. He doesn’t really spook *knock on wood and throw some salt over my shoulder* He will snort and tense and look at something but unless you’re the resident dog he quickly gets over it and walks on. (sorry dogs, Jack really doesn’t like you). If I ask him to jump he will but he never seems to have fun with it.

I can say I’m so impressed with Jack’s mind! He is so much like his mother( Cash’s half-sister) But so much calmer then Cash which really is a nice change to!  Cashes Sire is Ima Benchmark. Jacks half-sister won the worlds in trail so I guess it shouldn’t be to surprising that Jack is headed in that direction as well.

It’s a good thing I’ve kept my western saddles! It’s time to really have some fun with something new. Like I said in an earlier post. Ya never now what a horse is truly gonna excel at until you start working with them. I wanted Jack to be an Eventer but at this moment in time it’s not where his talents seem to be heading. Will I still jump him? Probably but it’s not something I’m really gonna focus on with Jack right now! Apparently Jack really wants to be my husbands horse….not mine….*sigh*

Always keep an open mind with your own beasties! Ya never know what new adventures you can start with them!

 

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Changing It Up

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Heading out with both of the boys

The boys have been doing absolutely fantastic. My mom came down and helped film me while I was riding and helped me out with some issues I’ve been having, which in turn both helped me figure out what I need to do to fix it. Did you know filming yourself really seems to highlight all the wrong things your doing?! *cringe* It was actually quite painful to watch. I mean I wasn’t really that bad, but there were defiantly things I could see that I was unintentionally doing and I’ve been working to fix those habits. But this was all in the arena….now today I really changed it up!

I’ve been relatively short on time lately. Getting out of work late is crimping my style….really it is…So I wanted to do something I could do with both boys together to maximize both my time with them and my time at home (*ahem* writing this blog, laundry, making food etc.) So we nixed the arena and I gathered their lead ropes and a grip of courage and headed out with the boys. Now to clarify, I was not riding them. We all headed out on foot.

Now my timing probably wasn’t the best since it was fairly busy with people going home from work. I don’t have wonderfully huge pasture to go galavanting around so I had to walk and jog the roads (yes jog! I got my exercise too in boots no less!) So we started out down the scary road. Because of the humidity the power lines were crackling, the wind was blowing hard causing the trees to really rustle and sway, and lets not forget about the traffic! It was a true test for the boys.

I can say I am so very proud that both of the boys passed with flying colors! Cash acted like a champ and really was a great horse to lead Jack with. He happily walked and trotted down the road keeping a great pace and really working with me to give Jack a very positive run. He never once even thought about spooking and I’m pretty sure got bored about half way around judging by how often he started dodging to the side of the road for grass.

Jack was not so sure of what was going on. He was pretty positive I was attempting to lead him to his death BUT he never once spooked or tried to bolt. There was lots of snorting and eyeing of objects and the occasional poop but he kept a level head. No matter if cars whizzed by him or birds flew up he just kept on right with Cash and myself. For being 3 years old just now really seeing the world I am highly impressed!  Ok I lied, he did spook once but he waited until we were back at the barn and spooked at a tarp blowing, so I shall over look it.

I think getting out of the arena is such a necessity for horses no matter what discipline you ride in. It not only is a time that can really relax you and the horses but really opens up the horses to new experiences. Sometimes these rides don’t go so well. The horses get keyed up and spooky but more often then not if you keep your cool the horses will calm down and carry on.  I think in a round about way it really helps prep for show environments, especially if your riding on a not so perfect weather day. The trees get to rustling, grocery bags fly around, stuff snaps and cracks and just looks weird. Isn’t this exactly what happens at shows? It’s a more natural environment but still similar experiences.

The trails really help build muscles to. Hills and valleys and just different terrain help horses gain balance and keeps them interested. Some of the best work with my horses i get for dressage is out on the trails. Why not ask for a bit of side pass to the other side of the trail or an even canter on a slight slope up to build those haunches? To emphasize this point, even Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin take their horses out on hacks! And they are in the dressage community. A community very noted for not ever wanting to leave the arena or the perfect footing that accompanies it. (ok ok don’t all mob me. I know it doesn’t apply to every dressage person)

Also, I think walking and jogging with the horses on foot is also a great idea. The boys really seem to get a better connection with me when I do this. Cash especially. He really follows my body language. He goes right next to me and transitions up and down exactly when I do it,  without me even having to say a word. I’ll have to take Jack out on his own next time and see if it works for him to. He was mirroring Cash.

To add a tid bit of history education…Back when mounted cavalry was still utilized the cavalry men would routinely run with their horses on foot. This helped both the horses and riders keep endurance and practice for when they had to head out. Cavalry always had walking portions when ever they were in transit to their destination. They would ride so many miles and then get off and walk so many miles with their horses in order to keep the horses sound and to cover as much ground as possible without loosing the capabilities of the cavalry. They also did most of their moving at the trot and walk not a wild gallop like the movies. It’s hard to fight from horseback if the horses are absolutely tuckered out from just getting where your going and it wasn’t unheard of for them to go 20 miles a day either. (pretty impressive if you ask me!)

So when you are out on the trail don’t be afraid to get off and walk. Getting on may get interesting at times (its always good to practice mounting from the right side just in case) but it’s well worth it for you and your horse!

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Boarding Your Horses

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Boarding your horses can be a nessesity for those of us who end up moving/living someplace we cannot keep our horses at home. I have been on both sides of the coin. I grew up on a ranch that had boarders and now I have to board. Some people wish to own their own horse property and some are content with boarding their horses. For those of us who have been boarding or are thinking about boarding a horse here are some things to think about.

  1. Check out the facility. Now some people moving cross country, this may not be an option but try to get some current reviews on the place and talk to some current/former boarders if possible.
  2. Look at the horses. Make sure they look taken care of. They are a good weight, their feet are done, ect.
  3. Check the pens. Make sure everything is safe for them! Horses are accident prone. Don’t give them the oppertnity to hurt themselves because something wasn’t safe in their pens!
  4. Talk to the manager!  Make sure to verfy their feed schedule and exactly who will be feeding your horses. There’s nothing more frustrating then realizing what you thought was going to be fed is not what they are getting.
  5. Check arena rules. Some barns have specific rules on when you can turn out a horse/lunge/setup jumps and when there are lessons going on.
  6. Barn Hours: Some places have barn hours. Make sure the barn hours co-inside with your work hours and your not going to be rushed with 30 minuets left until closing
  7.  ASK QUESTIONS! Now I think this is a huge one and I’ll talk more about it below!

Now sometimes there are miscomunications especially when you’re moving to a new place/differnt state. What is normal in one area may not be normal in another. If something doesn’t seem right or if your just confused ask questions! I repeat ASK QUESTIONS!!!!!  Clarify what ever is bothering you! And I beg you please do so in a courteous manner. There’s nothing more frustrating for the barn then having an irate person screaming at them.  The “you draw more bees with honey” saying really works in these situations!

If you don’t want to or can’t talk to them face to face feel free to email it. Depending on the situation it can be good to have something in writing, but again please be courteous.

To go along with this. If you’re at a place that you just seem to be butting heads with, don’t be afraid to find a new place. It can be a pain moving, but there is usually more then one facility in the area. Feel free to check them out to see if they would work better for you.

Now these are just the basics and depending on your sport your needs could have alot more added to the list but for starters this will get you going!

 

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Knowing When To Take A Day Off

As a working equestrian (one who has to work to afford my horsie habbits) it can be a real struggle for knowing when to take a break away from my horses.

I’m the kind of person who loves to see my horses every day. I love to hear their nickers and get the nuzzles looking/begging for treats from my pockets. I love that horsey smell embedded into my clothes. (and yes I proudly parade through stores after I’m done at the barn) If I could I would have them in my back yard and I’d take them to work with me. There is a reason I got the nickname “seabiscut” from all my non-horse friends at work.

But some days I have to sit back and realize I need a break. Either I’m just exhausted from work or I have other things on my list I need to accomplish and I shouldn’t even drive out to the barn no matter how much it calls to me.

It can be a struggle some times. But I know especially on those days when I’m just utterly exhausted it’s better that I don’t go. I’ll say i’m not going to ride and just brush the boys but before I know it i’m pulling out my saddle, bridle and helmet and getting on.

Why do I say that I shouldn’t? Every time we are around a horse, even just putting the halter on and leading them around, we are teaching the horses something. We can just as easily enable bad habbits or teach new skills depending on how we act.  I know I’ve said it before but sometimes the hardist part of training horses is being consistant!

When I’m exhausted I’m not consistant. I get frustrated too easily and sometimes even angry. I want my training sessions to be possitive and that just really doesn’t happen when I’m tired. Not to mention that I just get lazy to! My aids get sloppy and my reaction time can be a bit to slow.  It’s not fair to my horses or myself to ride like that.

Even when I have things that I should be doing I’d rather not ride. Why? I become rushed! When I rush I’m not consistant. I also expect perfection to soon and again end up getting frustrated too easily.  It’s not easy to find that calm center when I feel like I’ve got a time hack to make. (ohh I sound all zen right there)

Can you see a common theme going here?

I always try to have a block of time where I’m not rushed. When I know I can take a breath and just enjoy the time I have with my boys. I know being a working equestrian it can be really hard to find it. Many of my friends only have had that time on the weekends. Luckily my work schedule allows me to be able to ride during the week as well! (at least right now)

Why can’t we just be independantly wealthy or inherit a fortune from some long lost realitive? If only it were so easy to spend countless hours with the beasties. *sigh* oh well. At least I’m lucky enough to have horses of my own. (My bank account doesn’t agree but my soul does)

~a slightly random side note/shout out below~

For those that lease a horse and/or ride a lesson horse to get that horse fix we need to function: KEEP IT UP!  I know I talk about owning horses all the time but many of my friends do exactly what you do!

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Let The Jumping Begin

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Wow, I forgot how much moving is a pain! I swear about as soon as I think I have everything I need to live comfortably I remember about 10 other things I need. My pocket book does not apprecate this either…but it’s still fun to get to redecorate hehehe.

But onto the ponies because I know thats who you really came to read about. So as my title implies the jumping has started!!! It really is fantastic. I’ve missed it so.

 

Well I shall start with the Cash-man! Mainly because he’s the jealious type and I end up having to work him first anyways. lol.  So because both my horses and I have had a hiatus for a while from jumping we are starting small. Cash is just finding his natural balance

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What I mean by that is, I’m not putting his head anywhere and I’m giving him the full reins to do with as he pleases. By doing this I’m allowing myself to learn to ride more back to front as I tend to hang onto the reins a bit and cash is learning to carry himself independantly and not lean on the reins to do stuff. Needless to say there are moments when we both look really funny!

 

So back to jumping. I’ve started him out with just a small cross rail on one side and trot polls on the other side of the arena. That way I can pop the jump and then get him focused and listening on the other side so we don’t do a mad dash around th arena. We have not had this problem but I think it helps keep them thinking and not anticipating the jump 😀

Oh and I should mention I do this on the lungeline for the first 5-10 minuets before I get on and ride him. He’s been doing fantastic ridden! He’s still a bit unbalanced jumping with me on him but he’s getting it! I usually only jump him about twice in each direction if they are clean before I ask for a good whoa (gotta have my brakes) and end the session. Theres no point in rushing him through gymnastics when he’s not ready. As his balance and foot work improves we will increase the dificulty of the exercise!

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Now onto Jackson!  Jack is doing great as well. Though I must admit he’s adjusting a bit more slowly to washington. His mind is still engaged and every thing but he does seem to have a bit more sensitive skin and does tend to get sore a bit more then Cash did at his age so we are definally going a bit slower. (maybe being bottom run of the boys doesn’t help either) But I don’t mind going slow anyways.  A good foundation is always the place to start!

Jack is learning to jump the crossrails as well. Though he’s only jumping them on the lunge line at the moment. While Jack knows his natural balance point due to his awesome start in training, he is learning where to put his feet  and exactly how to jump somthing infront of him. He’s learning to be brave to!  He dosen’t require me to lead him over anymore either but he’s still not sure about the jumps.  When I ride him we are just doing some ground poles and working on balance from the trot to the canter. He is not getting ridden everyday like Cash. Since he is a bit more sensitive I think it benifits him best if he alternates days on the ground and days in th saddle.

I also rode him in an english saddle for the first time yesterday! *happy dance*  He did think it was wierd to start with a few sideways glances and a couple snorts but then he settled right in. Have I mentiond he has a fantastic brain??

 

Anywho I have to go get ready for that evil thing called work! (ok not so evil because I do have a dog to work with at work. But STILL)