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Picking Apples!

 

Anyone who has anything to do with horses knows that horses seem to absolutely love the all mighty APPLE!

Since moving to Washington I have come to learn that fruit trees/bushes do exceptionally well here and as it’s fall that means there are tons of APPLES!!!!  The boys and I absolutely love them.  There is nothing quite so good as a ripe apple right off a tree!

So I was out riding Cash bareback. (A concept he is not so sure of yet) I seriously think he thinks I’m weird when I just jump up on him with only a halter and lead rope and ask him to do anything.

After a few laps around the arena letting Cash know that he really can trot with me up there with no saddle and I (usually) won’t fall off… I decided to go graze with him. So after managing to get him to stand parallel to the gate long enough for me to unlatch it we set out grazing. What isn’t better then lazying about watching your horse graze?

It was at this moment I realize that the apple tree near the arena has ripe apples still clinging to it’s leaves.

I had been meaning to grab apples off it for a few weeks now but all the apples within my reach were gone…and then I realized my horse is just shy of 16 hands and would make a great ladder. SO I began strategically moving him near the apple tree and I suddenly had a bounty of apples at my finger tips!!!!

I eagerly began filling my hoody pockets with as many apples that would fit. Around this moment I believe Cash clued into what I was doing. He strategically maneuvered himself one lazy step at a time so as not to que me into his plans. While I was busy stuffing my pockets and not paying attention to what was right in front of me I was suddenly squished between a branch and Cash’s back.

While it did not harm me…other then adding some twigs and leaves to my hair…it did effectively knock about three apples out of my pocket. As they thumped onto the ground he casually moved me safely out of the branch and turned around to eat said dropped apples while I scrambled to keep the apples in my pocket and not slide off of Cash’s back.

An innocent misjudging of the branch? I think not!

Cash seriously is too smart for his own good most days. At this point I realized what sneaky and brilliant scheme he had been up to and I was trying not to loose my apples and fall off as I was laughing so hard. (The lovely people I board with probably think I’m insane now after coming out and seeing me almost crying I was laughing so hard and having no clue as to why)

It’s one of those moments where all I can do is say “Touché good sir!” and take the treasure trove of fruit I still had and whisk it away to safety A.K.A. the seat of my truck. And of course being the sap that I am Cash still got his bucket of oats.

He says his daily ration of oats and beet pulp still wins out over an apple but he still gobbled both up by the time he was done.

And of course I couldn’t forget the youngster so Jack got to share in the bounty as well when I got him out to work with him 😀

oats over apples

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An Easy Way To Teach An In And Out

Well today is another fine day here in Washington! And boy oh boy has it been a productive one with Cash and Jack!

If you can believe it I actually got Jack to jump today! He’s finally realizing that he can actually pick up his front end and jump instead of stumbling over them!!

Cash finally figured out how to navigate a simple in and out!!! 😀

Now our training today was all free work in the arena. Cash has had some balance issues when trying to navigate an In and Out when I’m on his back. I know I’m not always the best rider so I figured I’d try to help him out and let him get used to doing it on his own before adding me.

Now I set it up very simply. It was two jumps set up as a one stride but to start with I left the front jump up in a small vertical and set the second jump as a pile of poles that he had to go over but if his timing was a bit off it didn’t matter much.

**Note** It really helps young or inexperienced horses to have ground lines on both sides of the jump especially if jumping from both directions. It helps the horses gauge how high the jump is and makes it a little less airy/scary to them. As the horses progress you can eventually take the ground poles away. In the picture below I left the two white poles where they are and just raised the black and yellow one on both jumps. **

In and out pile poles
How I set up the pile of poles so they would be more encouraged to jump then step!

I sent Cash through several times each direction. When he looked relatively bored with it I set up the second jump in a small vertical as well. Now Cash being the sneaky guy he is managed to get through it a few times without jumping both jumps. But it wasn’t long before I maneuvered myself so he couldn’t easily slide out between the jumps and he started jumping them like a pro!

 

 

I didn’t push Cash to hard today. This was an easy day for both of us because we had an amazing trail ride yesterday and in my not so infamous wisdom decided to do most of it in light seat/2point and my legs and back are super sore!

 

Jack I worked the same way as Cash except at the beginning of the exercise I put both jumps down to a pile of poles for him to go over. He is very smart and figured out with the ground poles on the other side if he hugged the rail he only had to lift his feet higher on one side hahah. Needless to say I fixed it but it was funny to watch!

 

 

Once he was comfortable with this I then only set the first jump as a vertical. I don’t want to over face Jack, and since he hasn’t decided he likes the whole jumping thing or not yet I just had him do it like that. To my surprise he seems to really love it!   I’ve legitimately had a break threw with him. By the end of the session Jack was volunteering the jump!!!!  In the video below it shows his first jump so its a it funny looking but by the time we finished he was jumping it beautifully. My camera and I were having issues so i didn’t manage to get the good one on film oops

 

I couldn’t be more proud of the boys! They really surpassed my expectations today. The videos really don’t to them any justice in how well they preformed! Both boys have a long way to go to get to competitions but I think these small successes are what makes working with horses so much fun. I hope you all have enjoyed this little success as much as I have!

 

 

 

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When Baby Steps And Patience Pays Off!!

Anyone who reads this blog relatively regularly knows that Jack is my little guy….ok little as in years not in height. He is just 3 and having learned the hard way how not to work a young horse ( sorry Cash you’re my guinea pig) in order to get the best out of them and not cause fights, I’ve made it my life goal to go slow with Jack.

By slow I mean I don’t really push our riding sessions over 30 minuets (at the moment)  and he’s usually ridden no more then 3 times a week with mostly ground work, poles and some trails. I introduce him to new things but I don’t throw it at him. I let him think about it, look at it, sniff it and let him decide how best to go about it (like poles and small jumps, scary rocks or trees on the trail ect…) This works best out on the trail and I really do think it boosts a horses confidence, especially a young horse.

I don’t think we should ever expect blind obedience from any horse. Let them be curious, let them look and check it out. Whats the harm? Especially at Jacks age. He learns that new things aren’t bad and just because he hasn’t seen it before doesn’t mean its gonna eat him. It goes back to what i’ve previously said about making every effort a happy expirance as much as possible to get the desired results.  Besides a horse with a personality is a blast to ride! (most of the time anyways….Cash I’m looking at you)

Those baby steps and patience is really paying off!  He is still growing (Thank goodness his withers is finally catching up to his butt!) Now that he is finally leveling up a bit I think he’s finally coming around to working at speeds faster then slightly warmed molasses.  He really does have a beautiful trot in there!

Today we did his first canter sets over poles on the lunge line in the arena. I always love to start something new on the lunge line or free in the area before I ask the beasties to do it with me on their back. That way they can figure out where to put their feet without worrying about my extra weight affecting their balance.

As Jack grows and build muscle I won’t be so worried about him working it out with me on him but for now he’s super careful with his feet and any shifting from him really slows him down and makes him uncertain and today I didn’t want him uncertain.

Todays lesson really helped Jack learn to shift his weight from his forehand to his haunches. Its really hard to canter big poles when your on the forehand!

He fumbled through it about twice each direction but that was about all it took before he was cantering through them like a pro!by the end of the session Jack was volunteering to go over the poles by himself without me even asking once I unclipped the lunge line and let him go on his own!

I must admit Jack has been a horse I’ve always been a bit iffy if he would ever really jump because he seems to never know what to do with his body but this last week he really has begun to show his potential. Once he finishes growing and puts on some muscle I think he will really blossom into an Eventer! He may never go to the upper levels (Hell I probably won’t either) but he will surely be fun! 

It’s so easy to forget how short of a time I’ve really gotten to work with him. We are both finally to a point where we know each other and man is his personality blossoming. There are days where he doesn’t wanna do anything but try to eat every bit of grass (or weeds) near him and days where he’s got so much energy he just wants to go (and buck). He’s very much a baby and figuring him out has defiantly been hard sometimes purely because I already know Cash. Cash is my baby and I love him and know him and so I naturally gravitate towards him. I’m just so glad that recently Jack and I are FINALLY starting to click!  It can be so hard to focus on Jack when I know I can just go have a blast with Cash but I’m glad I’ve been making myself do it because Jack is really starting to get fun to work with!

I took a quick video of him doing his canter poles. Sorry about it being shaky but trying to hold the lunge line, lunge whip and video with my phone at the same time is a bit tricky! I forgot my go pro hahah oops. I’ll try to remember for next time!

 

 

 

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Learning To Be An All Weather Rider

Alright….I’ll admit it…I have been spoiled as a rider. For the majority of my life I have thought I was a tough rider. I’ve ridden in sleet and snow. Rain and shine and everything in-between. I thought I was tough….and then I moved to Washington.

*Insert reality check here*

Ok while I have ridden in some bad weather I can say that for most of my life I have been pampered. In Colorado we have some awful weather sometimes, blizzards torrential downpours and everything in between but it’s mostly brief. A bad week here, a few iffy days there, and then its back to sunshine. This is most assuredly not the case here in Washington!

I have gotten spoiled here by arriving in summer time. It was primarily 70 something degrees, sunny and warm and perfect all around for riding….now we are in fall and here is the real Washington weather. It’s over cast, cool, boarding on windy and rainy. It is so hard for me to find the motivation to get through work much less saddle up and figure out a training plan for the day/week for the boys.

I will admit I have not ridden nearly as much as I should lately either. It doesn’t rain badly here but it’s just enough to make me want to curl up on my bed, read a book and be lazy. I have tried energy drinks, coffee, pep talks and plans for a wonderful ride only to loose motivation the second I step outside.

Who knew something as simple as sunshine could be taken advantage of! Geesh. I must dig out my warm clothes I wore on my trip to Ireland and find that illusive motivation.

The boys on the other hand don’t seem to have the problem I do. They are quite happy and other then annoyed with the mosquitos and flys that have made an appearance in the last few weeks, are more then eager to go out and do anything. Is there a way to siphon up their motivation and inject it into me?

The weather won’t be getting any better so I better grab that thermos of coffee suck it up and get out in the saddle. I have to stop making excuses as to why I don’t want to ride (like getting my saddle wet) and just enjoy being able to ride!

I’m a horsewoman! I will not let something as silly as weather deter me no matter how much my body thinks I should give in and drink a hot chocolate by the fire. I will be an all weather rider!…….Starting tomorrow *shifty eyes as I slowly sneak out of the room*