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Good Friends, Dogs, and Horses

friends horse dogs

 

Recently I got to talk to a great friend of mine. She’s one of the few people I can literally talk for hours with about various horsey related items (and some dog stuff to) and literally never run out of stuff to talk about. After our most recent conversation it really got me thinking of how blessed I have been in my life with Good friends, dogs and horses. The three most reliable creatures on the earth!

All three have gotten me through some of the most difficult times in my life so I wanted to really do a shout out to all the amazing friends I have. I won’t list you by name (ok I got a little antsy in writing this post and didn’t have time to ask your permission) But you know who you are!!!!! (Especially you my dressage addicted friend )

But I will do a shout out by name of the greatest dogs and horses that have taught me so much as I’ve grown up.  I won’t list everyone because honestly that could fill up several pages but there are a handful of each that have really impacted me growing up!

Koda

Koda– our family dog who has grown up, chased me around and been a constant companion when ever I’m home. You have always given me so much love and happiness. You always put me in the best of moods no matte what is happening. I have so many good memories with you growing up digging me out of the snow my brother buried me in, helping me dig snow forts, refining my basic teaching skills.  I’m sorry I left in Colorado but I’m sure you enjoy your time at the ranch much more than your time in my little house here.

Fien Boot

Fien– My working dog and faithful partner. You are my guardian. With you by my side I never have to worry or fear for anything. You always bring a smile to my face in the mornings and a nudge and good lovings when I’m down. You have taught me so much in not only how to work with dogs but also how to work with my horses. You are seriously the best partner I could ever ask for!

Sioux– My very first dog to call my own. You were so full of spitfire and so very faithful. You taught me how to teach a dog tricks and you were always by my side. You were such a great dog and are one of the reason’s I worked so hard to get a job working with dogs. Theres nothing like the love and devotion of an awesome dog. Miss ya Mrs. wiggle butt.

 

Horses (other than the two I own now): 

My wonderful mare Shay and I at my first ever horse trial!

Shay– You were an amazing horse that I was so lucky grow up with and I will always call you my best friend. You taught me so much about riding, living and just loving. You were always a shoulder to cry on when I needed it and somehow could always make me laugh (especially when riding bareback). you were my constant rock in the uncertain times as a teenager and you truly never steered me wrong. You were never shy about putting me back in my place when I got just a little to big for my britches. You were never afraid to take me down the street or jump a cross country course, though going through the drive through window was give and take some days. You allowed me to dress you up for Halloween and braid you mane and tail just because. You’re a one in a million horse and I miss you every day! Plus you gave me Cash.  I’ll always love you Shayzier!

Miles– A horse I stole from my dad and one who brought my mom and dad together. A great old gelding with so many stories to tell. You hauled me n my brother around through parades, pair paces and pretty much anything I could think of. You were the envy of many a kid and one that will never be forgotten!

Elly– My very first horse. A steady mare that never put a foot wrong. You carried me through thick and thin when I was young. You took me through my western years and happily led me around. You were the best rescue we ever got and I’ll always remember those wonderful first years you gave me when I was finally old enough to go ride on my own!

 

These are but a handful of the animals that have taught me so much but they are some of the ones who have had the most impact in my life.They have been some of the best teachers and friends I could have ever asked for.They will always be with me even if some of them have moved on to greener pastures. I know someday I’ll meet up with them once more because if heaven doesn’t have dogs and horses I want to go where ever they are!

I don’t have pictures for all of them ready on my computer but have no fear you will get pictures as soon as I dig them out and get them scanned.

 

**note** I don’t know the author/creator of the pic but it was to perfect not to use.

 

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Eggnog And Cleaning Tack

eggnog and cleaning tack

Oh yes I have gone there! I did not mean to go there but I officially have taken the plunge into the holiday cheer, red candy cane cup included (thanks mom) and Eggnog. Now before everyone rolls their eyes and tells me how could I just ignore the much closer holidays, I must admit that I did not mean to but I just happened to be shopping and as I went to get my milk I just so happened to notice the glass bottle filled with eggnog….I started to walk away…it is before halloween… I could not just indulge in such a christmasy drink! As I walked away I began to remember how long it’s been since I had good eggnog! (well over 2 years I might add)  and I couldn’t help myself…I doubled back and grabbed a bottle. Because really who can ignore such deliciousness?! It really does seem to help with the task of cleaning my tack!

It really is a task. I’m seriously not the best keeper of my leather items. I have gotten much better as I’ve gotten older but somehow I always forget to wipe down my tack after a ride and then I swear I blink and several months go by and I look at my saddles and suddenly see all the dirt and sweat I need to clean.

Today I decided to buckle down and clean some of my most used items.  I grabbed my now very cold eggnog (and possibly a finger or two…or three… of bourbon *ahem*) and started the task of scrubbing that tack!

It keeps my mind off the other things…like what could possibly be wrong with Jack…*sigh*…now before anyone leaps to conclusions he is not injured! But he did decide to give himself some really nice dime size welts down his neck and back. We have yet to figure out what caused them (though Mr. Stinging nettle you are high on my list of suspects) but other then being slightly itchy he is in good health. I just can’t put a saddle on him at the moment.

Cash is enjoying this lovely cool weather a little too much. I swear his energy level has spiked from athletic quarter horse to maniac Thoroughbred in about the span of 3 weeks.  I knew those TB’s way back in his bloodline would make an appearance! All this energy has definally made riding a lot of fun though hectic all at the same time!  Suddenly everything is much more scary in this treed land. But he’s still doing really well.

So I apologize for not having anything of great interest to post for you all this last week. Between work, monitoring Jack and riding Cash I haven’t had tons of time to sit down and just write! But have no fear I am working on some great posts for ya’ll!

Now I do believe that bourbon is kicking in and it’s time to top off my eggnog and go take a relaxing bath before going off to bed. I hope you all have a wonderful night!

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Conquering Ditches!

Today was a great day. I got out early from work (ok it’s not truly early if I worked all night) I ran home caught a quick nap and of course went out and got some horse hair therapy!  I’ve been working a lot in the arena with Cash so today was the day to hit the Trail!

So I was a tad lazy and didn’t want to trailer out so I decided to ride the roads. I tacked up and headed down the drive but today we were going left instead of our customary right. Cash is loving the cool fall weather here. He decided to show it by being a spook. Thankfully his spooks are mostly snorting and stopping to look at what ever has him on edge and I can usually very easily coax him to continue going.

After a relatively uneventful trot down the road, other then a few snorts and stares at some cows and a very scary rock, I deemed we had gone far enough. I decided to turn around in this lovely lady’s driveway. And low and behold I spied a nice little ditch that ran the length of her pasture fence with a lovely gap between the fence and the ditch…..I have mentioned I am an Eventer by heart right? (And it’s kinda the point of this whole blogging thing) So I see a ditch and decide that it’s the perfect time for some training! Thankfully the road isn’t heavily traveled so I only had to dodge one car 😀

Cash hasn’t conquered many natural obstacles in his life and with him feeling his oats today he didn’t quite wanna play along with going OVER the ditch. He just thought going around or grazing was a much much better alternative.  I probably could have been more insistent on him getting over faster but I was in no rush and since he hasn’t had much exposure to elements out in nature I figured why rush? And I really think it made all the difference! Besides the whole ordeal only took three and a half minuets anyways.

There were a few times where he gathered himself to jump and then decided not to. I;d let him walk a little ways (or grab a snack) and then ask for it again. Other then pulling him up once so we wouldn’t get hit by an on coming car, in the end I think Cash got tired of my nagging and decided it would be easier to just hop over. And it was a very balanced and graceful hop I might add. No flying leaps of doom, or terrified scrambling. He just said “fine” and hoped over!

I didn’t ask him to go again. I think in the end he decided to jump and I’d rather leave it on that note! I ended up having an unknown audience as well. The lady who’s ditch I was jumping, her dog started barking. I think she must have come out to see what was going on and decided to watch. I got a “Good Job!” from crossed the way which completely and utterly made my day!  So THANK YOU!  it was after all your ditch I was jumping and I did disrupt your day so thank you again!  ( have I ever mentioned how much I love the equestrian community?)

So today Cash conquered his first real ditch and I couldn’t be happier!  For those who would like to see what I did to get him over feel free to watch the video below. ….and on that note…. I tend to talk ALOT when I encounter situations like this. It keeps me calm and relaxed which helps keep Cash (and Jack) calm and relaxed soooooo if you don’ want to hear me blabber on please turn your volume down!

 

 

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Ground Poles Galore: Centerline poles

Centerline poles

This exercise goes back to my post “A Breakthrough In Dressage!” I mentioned an exercise that helped me get Cash really going so I’m here to explain what it is. Its actually ridiculously simple and something that helps me on multiple fronts.

To set up depends on the length of your arena but I’m going off the area at my barn which is on the smaller size. Like the picture above( sorry not the best picture quality), simply put a pole running straight from A to C down the centerline approximately where the crest of your 20 meter circle would be if doing a 20 meter at both A and C.

Having the ground poles like this really helps so many simple things. It’s a great visual for using the center of the pole to do correct 20 meter circles. You can also split your arena into sections and ride serpentines making sure to hit each pole on a flowing curving line. I find serpentines really help work on suppleness and balance with a horse as you go through them. I quickly find my horses weaker side when doing serpentines!

You can add poles and take away poles depnding on the length of your arena and what you’re currently working on. In the picture I was using the ground poles to help me gauge 20 meter circles and also some larger serpentines to keep Cash’s attention when he started to zone out on me during the warm up.

Another wonderful thing I have seen people do with ground poles like this is work on flying changing or picking up correct canter leads. Depending on the horse you have and how they respond to it you may have to make it into a slightly raised cavaletti but I’ve seen people have amazing successes with it. It really helps a horse get that hop that is needed for the flying change.

While I have to constantly keep things interesting for Cash especially it helps mix things up for Jack as well because who wants to ride the same monotonous circles each time in the ring???  This exercise is super quick to set up and use a variety of ways when time is a constraint or just working on ground work and basics is the name of the game.

Below is a quick digital look at what those poles should look like. Again adjust them to your arena. Ideally you can have it set when you do a Circle at A you hit one pole, a Circle at B/E you hit both poles and at C you only hit one pole. Its not always possible and depending on the arena you may not be able to ride the center of the pole to accomplish it but I still love the exercise!

 

centerline digital pic**I just realized I mixed up B and E hahah oops….but hopefully you guys get the idea!***

I know its a relativly short/late post today but I hope you all have enjoyed it! I have lots more coming your way soon!

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An exercise by Jim Wofford

JW exercise 2

So todays post is one I’ve been meaning to post since I wrote the review on “Modern Gymnastics” By Jim Wofford.   As I mentioned in that post I have used that book (ok its predecessor but still…) off and on since I can remember and I can say it is especially coming in handy now!

I wanted to do a blog showing the first jumping exercise in the book because It really is the foundation of the gymnastics that follow and even the simple starter exercise really makes a horse think!  It starts as basic trot poles , then trot poles to a cross rail or a small vertical and as the horse progresses you add in a second jump thats a one stride.

In the video below Cash and I haven’t made it to the second jump yet (the weather is really killing that mojo!).  He is still figuring out how to place his feet with the ground poles while also maintaining impulsion and focusing on the jump.

In other words he’s learning how to chew gum, walk, pat his tummy and rub his head all at the same time. It’s a little over whelming for him. And I can say I’m a tad bit rusty myself for trotting into jumps so I didn’t exactly help as much as I probably should have.

It takes a lot more balance and coordination on both the rider and the horse ‘s part to do a gymnastic correctly, especially if they are trotting in. When a horse canters into a jump he pretty much already has his legs going in the right order to prepare himself for the jump. All he really has to do is lean back on his haunches, bring his front end up, push off with the back end and he’s over.

Now trotting in, his legs aren’t in any good cadence that makes it easy for him to take off. He has to go from a trot stride to getting his legs to gather underneath him, lifting his front feet off the ground and getting his back feet under him equally to push off effectively and make it over the jump.

It’s ALOT more coordination on their part! And well Cash is a boy…multi-tasking is not his forte (don’t boo me, boys who read this blog! You know it’s true…the women certainly do!)

Alright that sounded a bit confusing to me even as I typed it so I hope it makes some semblance of sense. The best way I can tell you is on a seasoned horse first canter the jump and then trot the jump. You will feel the horse is much smoother on takeoff in the canter then in the trot if you pay attention to what his legs are doing.

Cash and I have a long ways to go before we master this gymnastics exercise in it’s entirety but that’s the fun of training! I hope you enjoy this little snippet of the book so you can see a tad of why I think it’s such an awesome book to use for anyone jumping horses.

 

 

**note** when you are setting up the exercise please please please use a measuring tape and check that both sides of the poles are at the correct distances. Don’t just guesstimate. Accuracy really does matter here! take the extra 10 minuets to double and triple check measurements and be ready to reset them if the horse knocks any of the poles. It really is worth it in the end.

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A Breakthrough In Dressage!

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Did you read that headline right??? Dressage????!!!!

Ok so for anyone who has read a few of my blogs know mine and Cash’s strong suit is most assuredly NOT dressage.  We both seem to have this “oh god not another circle” mentality when we go into the ring and we would both avoid it if we could. But sadly jumping ability improves with better flatwork!  *sigh* So every once in a while (ok ok several times a week) I buckle down and do dressage.

Now like I stated earlier Cash see’s theres nothing in the arena and immediately goes to the gate and requests to leave. (I’m not joking) If there is a jump all is fine and dandy but no jumps or ground poles? Nope not happening.

Today I did have ground poles set up but nothing along the rail like I usually do. ( a post soon to follow for the exercise that helped out today) Cash was not impressed with the display and we started our normal warm up.

This is when “spaced out” Cash enters the equation. Cash listens but he’s not paying attention. By this I mean he will do the transitions I ask but his ears and typically eyes are looking outside the arena. Something so simple changed all that.

Before I go on to explain what changed let me say what I usually work on…..his attention span. So I usually walk about 2 laps in the arena if he’s not feeling a bit froggy. If I feel just a tad to much energy then I move him up into the trot. It’s here that I usually try to keep his attention by changing direction, doing serpentines and once he’s warmed up I ask for some canter-trot transitions and such. Usually we are both a little frustrated by the end. Me with him for not truly paying attention or worse making it “intersting” by suddnly not liking a corner of the arena, the bench is suddenly terrifying ect…, and he usually gets frustrated with me for making him go in circles when there is an exciting world to explore outside the arena.

Well I decided to change up and ride an ancient dressage test that I still remember. It was here that the whole scenario change.

I did a few circles of trot and then aimed Cash down the center line. At the approximation of X I asked for Halt and Cash said “Whaaaaaa?” and suddenly his brain was engaged as I never ask for trot to halt. I could literally see the wheels in his brain begin turning. As we continued and I asked for (seemingly random to him) trot and canter circles. Walk and halt and changes of diagonal it was like we were FINALLY in tune. I could feel him go on the bit, engage his back muscles and by the end of the test we were in such balance that I barely had to move to signal to him what I wanted. It was a moment where I felt like Valero and Charlotte and we suddenly completed the olympic test!

It was like we were working as one in a way we never have in the arena.  And I suddenly realized my error with him. I had been keeping things to stagnate and too “boring” I haven’t asked anything to challenge him and I should know better.  With jumps the more challenging the more he loves them so why wouldn’t that translate to dressage?  Instead of working on his attention I needed to ask something hard to engage his brain.

Warming up and transitions is like folding laundry. You can go through the motions and be thinking of a million other things, talking, reading a blog…but when you do something new suddenly it requires all your attention. When he was truely engaged he was in such balance that for once I felt truely balanced on him and I think it was such a needed “light bulb” moment for both of us that I ended it on that wonderfully positive not!

And with all the changes going on right now it was a much needed and fantastic ride!

*Update* To check out the exercise I mentioned above feel free to read “Ground Poles Galore: Centerline Poles

** Image from http://dressagearena.net**[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Going Through The Big D and Don’t Mean Dallas!

Well this post is a bit odd to write. As the tittle says I’m going through the Big D! Well I guess it’s really not that big. Now before anyone starts asking “What happened? Did he cheat? Did you fight to much? Did you cheat? ” No, no it’s not like that.  It’s a mutual discussion between the both of us. Our lives and careers have each done a 180 and taken off in opposite directions. We are still very good friends but our time as husband and wife just seems to be over.

It is a learning curve for sure and every once in a while it catches me off guard. Somehow even though it’s both mutual and we both 100% agree that it’s the right thing to do for us to save our friendship, it somehow still feels like a huge failure.

How much is that social pressure? A lot I think. Everyone always asks me when my husband is moving down and when I say he’s not we are getting a divorce,  everyone looks away and goes “oh….sorry” and stands there awkwardly like its a huge taboo that can’t be talked about.

Thank goodness for the guys at work who are like “Welcome to the club sister!” and high five me and joke about it, make sure I’m good, and then joke some more! At least they aren’t afraid to talk about it. Hell half the people I work with have been divorced at least once before. It just kinda comes with the territory. To much moving and long hours at work!

But why is everyone else afraid to talk about it? Seriously this is the 21st century. People are literally getting divorced all the time! and yet if you utter the D word its like the conversation comes to a screeching halt……isn’t marriage like anything else in life and sometimes like even the best things it can fail? People change, situations change and sometimes the best thing to do for each is to leave the other person.  So is it old stigma’s and hollywood ideals that make divorce so taboo to this day?

In all reality if we were both in the same city (he’s still up in Alaska working) we would throw a divorce party and celebrate the time we have had together and the accomplishments we did have even though our marriage as a whole didn’t quite work out.  Like I said before we are still great friends so it’s just a change to our relationship for the better not a true ending of anything.

Thankfully my horses and working dog are always there for me in those moments everything feels like a huge burden on my shoulders. A lot of changes are going on for me right now and there is nothing like that warm horse smell, a wagging tail,  a loving wet nose and whiskered muzzle  nuzzling you and making sure your alright in their own way.  There is a stability and solidness about horses and dogs that truly make me feel grounded and help recharge, even if I only have 5 minuets to feed them some treats and give them a hug!

I now completely understand those old western stories that are always talking about “Give me a good horse, a dog, a rifle and let me go” because in all reality its the three most dependable things you can have!  Thankfully my family and of course my (soon to be Ex) husband still stand by me and help me out but when your a few states away theres not much they can do physically ( like a gigantic bear hug from my dad) to help and so I’ll continue getting my rib crushing hugs from my horses and the playful attention of my dog to get me through those hard moments!

Have no fear there are happier posts coming down the pipeline and a few already about half written that will be posted soon! I’ve had some fun new breakthroughs with the beasties and I do have some really exciting news to share (but I won’t jinx myself just yet)

For those that have gotten divorced or are going through divorce never EVER be ashamed of something that benefits your life and keeps you happy! Don’t let society bring you down because in the end it is our own happiness and ourselves that we have to live with! Life is way too short to not be happy!  Live life to the fullest and don’t be afraid to let go and do something new!

 

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Book Review: Modern Gymnastics By Jim Wofford

Modern gymnastics

I’ve been toying around with doing some book reviews with some of the books I have read and/or use that seem to really open my eyes or help me out with my horses. This book just happens to be one of those amazing books I always refer back to!

I do have a little confession before we start. I have used this book since…well…since I can remember. Or I should say it’s first predecessor (in the pic below). My mom happened to have a copy of it (which I happened to acquire *shifty eyes*) and I always snag little items from it to work on with my horses when I feel I need some structure and/or help coming up with a training plan as my horses get going. I was super excited to see that it has been re -released with an accompanying DVD, and in full color pictures!

Book review:

The pictures are beauitifuly done and really help show how it should be ridden. The diagrams are very helpful for setting up the grids and the measurements have worked perfectly regardless of the type of horse. Some small horses might have to lengthen a bit but it still rides well. Make the measurements with a good measurements and it will ride like it should so long as the measurements are double checked for accuracy.

The sequence of progression is very horse and rider friendly. Whether you have an experienced jumper or a green horse or rider, this book will most assuredly help build confidence and technique for any challenge in the ring.  Having not progressed to the advanced part I can’t comment on how it rides, but I know the beginning progressions have shown great strides with my horses confidence and their ability to think over fences as well as my own.

The book is well put together and it is easy to find what I’m looking for. The only downfall to the print is since it’s a normal book binding and it can be a pain trying to leave it open and set up jumps without having to thumb back through to verify distances. Instead of fighting with the book I just take a picture on my phone to be able to look at it faster. I would have appreciated the original spiral binding so it would lay flat much more easily.

The DVD: The DVD is not necessary to get with the book but it is nice being able to see the grid being jumped and listening to some of Jim’s explanations help as well. So if you are a more visual person then the DVD will help a lot with the book!

I give this book a 100% recommendation for anyone jumping horses regardless height!

I must say please please please follow Jim’s plan and don’t just jump into the middle of the book regardless of how experienced your horse is. Unless you have done gymnastics like this a lot beforehand you’d be amazed at how hard the horse has to work over the simple looking jump exercises.

 

The gear I use for my grids (same book just older version)
The gear I use for my grids (same book just older version)

 

 

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Are you a parasite?

I recently read a great blog post that asked “are you a rider or a parasite? ” by Cheryl L. Eriksen (it’s an awesome article click the name to read) And this really got me thinking of all I have seen and done in my life with horses.

I think in many ways we all strive to be a fantastic rider. We all wanna be Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro finishing an amazing grand prix or William Fox-Pitt on Bay My Hero winning the Rolex. And it’s here, at this point, that we always seem to run into problems.

Unlike horses we have goals that go beyond getting food, good companionship and staying warm and dry. We want great accomplishments, and ribbons, and trophies. And sadly we will do some pretty horrific things to achieve them and many times not even realizing how horrible they are for the horse.

Like Cheryl I have witnessed some pretty sad things in my time that I was to scared to voice my opinion on. Thankfully I am older now and honestly don’t care how people perceive me as long as I’m happy with myself, and I now have the courage to step up and say something when I see something crazy going on!

I have also been that person who has used contraptions and “see-sawing” horses mouths to get perfect head sets and a “pretty picture” because thats what I thought was needed and what I was told to do.  I admit I have done things that I am not proud of, especially since I now know how negatively it impacts a horse, though I was ignorant at the time.

It took years for me to understand that, that final picture is even more years of training and not just using brute strength to teach a horse where to hold itself. That true engagement and being “on the bit” and the over all balanced picture is so much more then it looks like. Its a symphony of signals and muscle engagements working together. Strength and relaxation. Confidence and joy. And of course for those eventing lovers a healthy dose of  adrenaline I think both horse and rider to complete the course.

I think every good rider and trainer goes through a “parasite” phase because that is what is usually readily taught because sadly it usually brings about quick results and easy ribbons. But those good riders and trainers start their journey to greatness when they realize that using those other methods, whether they be using equipment like draw reins or brute strength to hold a horse or some combination there of, don’t truly promote harmony and a good lasting partnership with a horse.

For a true partnership with horses I really believe that learning has to go both ways, from rider to horse and horse to rider. Every horse I have ever ridden has taught me something and I (hope) have taught them something in return.   Learning to be a great rider is a constant struggle but so worth it in the end!

 

(If the hyperlink doesn’t work for you here’s the web address to the article http://www.peacehorse.net/peace-horse-blog/are-you-a-rider-or-a-parasite)

 

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Finding a sanctuary and an insight

Cash and Jack

When I lived at home one of my favorite spots has always been our tack room. The smell of used leather mingled with horse is just perfectly peaceful and a combination that always immediately calmed my nerves. When I moved I lost that little slice of heaven.

Of course the barn I board at has a tack room but I have a ton of stuff. Somehow saddles and bridles and all those horse essentials seem to have collected and bred so now I have quite a few of each. I didn’t want to crowd their small tack room so my trailer became my backroom. But somehow it just wasn’t the same.

Yesterday happened to be one of those days were my frustrations just seemed to continue to mount. Nothing seemed to go right no matter how hard I worked. I have been gone on a trip for work (the long absence of posts probably was a hint. sorry my iPad and I weren’t agreeing much) And the first day back just seemed to be a shit show. I was frustrated and well frankly pissed off about a lot of things.

I was so frazzled I debated not going to see the boys after being gone so long but at the last minuet I decided I really did need a nuzzle and to give them a treat if nothing else so I drove out to the barn. I unlocked my trailer and suddenly I was enveloped in the smell of a tack room. The warm leather and horse and a hint of grain and apples wafted to my nose and it was as if all the stress of the day suddenly just released. My trailer has become my child hood sanctuary and one that has been badly needed.

If I could bottle up that smell and take it with me to work I surely would! There is nothing quite so amazing as that smell other then warm horse after your done riding of course!!

So I stuffed my pockets with treats, grabbed a halter and headed out to see the boys.  I rushed down and Jack was eagerly awaiting at the gate ( He knows the sound of my truck now) and Cash wasn’t quite so convinced until I started whistling and calling their names. Cash perked his ears and whinnied and Jack sighed and moved out of Cash’s way (sorry Jack) because Cash is the undisputed boss!

So I decided to work the boys today. Nothing too crazy because as some people probably won’t believe, I do not have a death wish and two weeks off and the boys defiantly have a bunch of energy!  So I worked the boys one at a time, and free lunged them over some canter and trot poles and let them get out all their snorts and bucks and think about working again instead of being pasture puffs.

It was while working Jack that I truly had an insight into both of the boys.  Cash is defiantly a more “TB” style quarter horse. He’s all energy and spit fire, long legs and loves speed. And while I was working him he was listening to me for transitions and such but he wasn’t really paying attention. His ears were up and eyes looking at everything that even thought about moving outside the arena. He would snort and look at the scary dog hiding under the apple tree. He’d go over the poles I had set up because they were on the rail and circle back to me to try and weazle a treat out of me. When that didn’t work and I pushed him back out he would continue in the gate I told him to but he would just do a more automatic response of  going over the poles. Snort and shy at the new dump truck and repeat. He never was truly focused on me. And while he wanted to please, it was more for his personal reward then for my affection.

Jack on the other hand is much more of your typical Quarter Horse. Even for a three year old. While he has moments of being a spitfire and snorting and jumping and doing all the things young (and not so young I’m looking at you Cash) energetic horses do he quickly settles down and starts looking at the the things around him. He watches his feet and snorts at some of the stuff outside the arena but he truly listens to me. He really pays attention to where I am in the arena and what my body language is telling him to do. I can turn him by how I angle my body and move towards him, I can stop him, I can draw him further into the arena and push him back to the rail. (ok most of the time not always)

I think having that break from them and coming back kinda helped open my eyes a bit to how they both think. Cash has always had a stallion outlook on life, and a more alpha one for sure. What he says goes and no horse is gonna tell him different and so in the ring he acts like an alpha. He’s gonna look at things, challenge things and be less caring of what I do unless it benefits him. And while he respects me and what I ask him to do, his personality is always gonna be more dominant then Jacks.

Jack was an alpha at one point but now he most defiantly is not and I think a lot of that has played into how he acts during training. Being a lower horse in the “herd” really makes him pay attention to where the leader is. In this case it would be me. And exactly what I’m asking him to do.

I honestly can’t say which personality I like better because they both have their perks and their downfalls depending on what I’m asking them to do.

I think the pecking order in a herd may have a lot of impact on how we train these horses. I could be completely wrong because my “herd” is small here and I’m dealing with two boys. Mares may handle the situation differently and two different groups of alpha and betas may respond completely opposite but it defiantly plays a roll here with these two!

Check back soon. I’ve got some book/product reviews coming up for you! Until next time!