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How to improve our alignment in the saddle with one simple exercise

Image by: Susan Harris off americashorsedaily.com
Image by: Susan Harris
off americashorsedaily.com

A while ago I was asked to do a video on the proper shoulder, hip, heel alignment when riding a horse. Since I’m a believe in rider fitness as well I thought I’d show a very simple exercise that helps with alignment and a few little ways to improve your alignment without having to think really hard. So what’s this secret movement that helps you ask???  SQUATS!

Oh yes the dreaded squats. (ok well I used to dread them).  When done properly squats can seriously help with your riding and you can literally do them anywhere you have room to stand! Now that I know how to do them properly they are so much fun and I won’t lie I actually envision jumping my horses and the rhythm of his canter underneath me as I squat. (I do have a great imagination) And it makes squats so much more fun to do.

Now as you prefect these you can add stability balls or devices to activate your core more like you are when you are balancing over a moving horse but don’t rush into it. Master the simple squat and then think about adding more stability exercises later.

Now the biggest things to remember:

1.) Keep you shoulders level. DO NOT round your back or throw your shoulders down. Find a spot on the wall to look at and think “eyes up” (humm sound familiar?)  to keep yourself from going forward and keep those shoulders relaxed but straight. If it helps imagine releasing the rein over the jump!

2.) Push your booty back. Like straight back. Don’t keep you butt in the same spot. This causes you to fold your shoulders forward, round your back  and come up onto your toes.

3.)Think TOES UP! Keep your weight in your heels. DO NOT go up on the balls of your feet. This will cause a knee injury because you are adding excessive pressure on your knee-joint. If you feel like your going to need to step back to keep your balance  while squatting you are doing it right! Keep thinking Toes up.

So as you squat think: Eyes up, shoulders relaxed and straight, booty back and toes up. Just close the angles of your hip and your knees. Envision that jump! It helps!! Seriously it does 😀

But if this sounds confusing have no fear I put together a video to help explain. It is a tad long (sorry about that) but it helps explain a little bit more in detail.

If there are more things you’d like to see, questions you’d like answered or just to chat  feel free to comment below, send me a message  here or on  Facebook.

 

Until Next Time!

 

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How To Incoperate Horses Into Rider Fitness (And I’m Not Talking About Riding Them)

Rider fitness is one of the most talked about things around this time of year and rightly so. It’s a great time to work on new years resolutions. When most of the country can’t ride much due to weather it’s a perfect opertunity to work on ourselves. (And maybe some not so well kept resolutions)

I am one of those that hands down belives fitness increases the ability of a rider. It only makes sense. The more fit you are, the more balanced and muscle control you have, the better rider you are. But I also think that you don’t have to do the prescribed “eat salads and work the eleptical for an hour” kind. It’s too boring for me and I happen to love food so while a salad is delicious  I prefer actually hearty meals too. But food is for a later post. Right now I want to talk a bit more about rider fitness and how to incoperate it with your horse without actually riding them. *gasp*
WHAT? what do you mean not riding them…..Well it actually quite simple you see….IF you live where there is dry roads you now have a jogging partner! Who needs a dog when you have a horse??? Seriously my boys love it and sometimes they get to snorting so much and prancing (Jack I’m talking to you)  I start laughing so hard it hurts to run….Plus if you push yourself to hard you can ride them home!!! Double win!!! Don’t belive me???  video proof BAM!!

 

Don’t have time to go running or the weathers too bad then check out my workout for when your feeding hay HERE!

Have you ever tried mucking stalls out in the winter time?? If you don’t think thats a workout you are crazy!!! I won’t even get into what it’s like pushing a loaded wheel barrow up a  muddy hill here. But if you wanna really blast it, sprint up the hill with said wheel barrow.

Moving bags of grain? Do some over head presses with those feed bags or just try walking on the ice and not dropping them!

Horses kick down some boards?  Do some lunges and squats with the boards as you move them!

If you put some effort into your daily chores you can add an extra kick to what your already doing without adding a bunch of extra time. I love making time in the mornings for my actual workouts but I know work and life can get in the way and I still want to work on me so I try to add a little here and there to those pesky chores.

I will be doing some more fitness videos and blogs in the future just to keep everyone entertained by my workout shenanigans but in the mean time, if you are wanting to get back on track or just need motivation I have an amazing group of ladies (men are welcome too) who are starting a month of workout/healthy eating challenges. It costs nothing at all to join but if you want to be eligable for the awesome prizes you do have to donate to the prize pool. You can be as active or not as you like. There is gonna be some healthy recipies to share and use as well as workouts and just good ol’ motivation from a bunch of people looking to get fit, stay fit and just feel better about themselves (and their horses like it to. I know mine do)

“Frolicking in February” starts febuary 1st and runs through the 28th. It’s a closed group on facebook so it doesn’t matter what state your in you can participate! If you’d like to join all you have to do is message me or post on facebook and I’ll add you to the group!

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration to add a little something for yourself during your daily routine to keep you healthy and going strong so you can ride your beasties for years to come. (and hopefuly a laugh or two as well)  If you don’t find a workout you enjoy then you won’t continue to do it and what’s not fun about adding your horse/horse chores into it?

We focus so much of our energy into our horses and their nutrition and fitness, that we deserve just a slice of time for ourselves too!!

Until next time!

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Being A Working Equestrian

Ya know, growing up I always wanted to be an adult. Because in my eyes I could sit around and eat cookie dough all day and play with my horses and not do anything I didn’t want to do. (Insert reality check here)

Obviously that is not how my adult life turned out….If only I’d known then!!….. As hard as I’ve tried to win the latest powerball and the occasional lotto those cards are aparently not in my deck so I have to work to support my horsey habit. Do you know how expensive hay is in Washington? YIKES! Hello PBJ for the next few weeks!!!

Now don’t get me wrong I have a pretty cool job but some days (weeks?) I feel  the job I have to afford said beasties actually takes more away from them. There are some days where I literally run out in the pitch black, throw hay, give a scratch or two and run to work. Only to get home in the dark, check to make sure horses are still safe and sound, throw hay and then head to bed and repeat. Or I’m just so exhausted I don’t want to do anything but curl up and sleep.

Now I’ve learned alot at my current job. But seriously do you just HAVE to take time away from my horses??? I mean can I just get a nice 8-4 job that I can clock into and out of right on the dot with a long lunch??? Is that too much to ask???

Oh wait…that would be boring. I can’t do boring. I would be climing the walls within a month….And I wonder why Cash has attention problems in the arena….*sigh* well guess I better stop complaining and go to work. UNLESS there is a rich benefactor out there who reads this and wants to…oh I dunno…support my horsey habits for me? And build me and indoor? and a barn to????….Ok Ok I’ll stop day dreaming. It’s time to go to work anyways.

Keep you heads up my working equestrian friends. It’s worth it in the end!!!

Until Next Time!

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To Koda, The Best Dog I’ve Ever Known!

koda grass

Koda,

My faithful companion growing up! For 14 years you have always been a bright spot at the ranch, even in the darkest of times. You grew up beside my brother and I and always made sure we had fun and were safe. We taught you how to sit, stay and come but you taught us to always be happy because life’s to short to be angry and to love unconditionally to those who matter. You always ran up, wiggle-butt a going, and say hi even if we’d only been gone 5 minuets. You never failed in your duties as a ranch dog and became an invaluble member of the family.

No matter the weather you were always by our side feeding horses and loved jumping up onto koda hay balethe hay so you were the same height as us and could give us kisses and lovings without having to jumping on us. Even at 14 years old when your body was creaky and didn’t want to move quickly you still did it, though not as gracefully.You loved chasing those pesky rabbits, though I don’t think you ever caught one.

You dug me out of snow dritfts when my brother burried me, you’d quietly hide in my room when I snuck you into the house when dad wasn’t looking and you’d happily sit under the porch when he did find you inside. You’d always  say “HI J.D.” to my dad when we asked you to even though you knew dad didn’t like a barking dog. You were happy when mom brought the school bus home so you could eat all the food the kids dropped. You  were there to keep my mom company when I left to start my career and couldn’t take you withkoda school bus me.

You aways greeted everyone who came to the ranch with love and happyness. You roamed the ranch ensuring all was well and holding down the fort when we had to go to town. You have the sweetist heart of any dog I have ever met and when you had puppies you passed it to them and shared your love and happyness to so many families for generations to come!

There will never be another dog like you and you will always be in my heart. I have so many stories to tell and so many good things to say about you I couldn’t write them all down.  I will mourn your passing but I will celebrate your wonderful life and all the gifts you gave me and my family.  You burrowed your way into our hearts where you will forever stay. I love you Koda and I can’t wait to meet you again on the rainbow bridge someday.

 

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When Dogs And Horses Don’t Mix

Well I learned two things tonight!
1.) Husky’s will not listen at all when it comes to them chasing something.

2.) The boys HATE dogs, more so Jack then Cash but Cash took a few good swipes as well.

*warning* I have some strong opinions about this matter and there are actions I will take that some people may not agree with. I mean no disrespect at all but hey this is my blog and my opinions so if you’d rather not know them please don’t continue reading as some people may find them unappealing *warning complete*

pupsI am pet sitting two dogs. (Not quite sure how I got talked into agreeing to this) One is a husky and one is a german shepherd. They are both almost a year old. The husky (aka mica) saw the horses for the first time this evening while I was feeding horses and her instincts kicked into high drive.  She started chasing and barking my horses. In a normal situation I would shoot a dog that does that and won’t listen(I explain below so you understand why), however these are my boss’s dogs and I REALLY didn’t want to have to explain why I shot his husky.(Thankfully the German Shepherd was smart and stayed back)

Mica wouldn’t listen AT ALL. Jack even came close to stomping her twice and had her running with her tail tucked between her legs but something kept bringing her back. I can’t even count how many times he got close to kicking and striking her. Finally I was able to get to the gate, open it and get in to the boys.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my horses??? Well as soon as I got in there they rallied around me and calmed down. They were snorting and shuffling their feet but they calmed down (score for having their trust!) and Mica was just standing barking but she still wouldn’t let me near her and would try to dodge around me to go after the boys staying just far enough away I couldn’t touch her.

I put myself between my horses and her. A very of dumb choice by the way, in fact I recommend never doing that. Then I had an epiphany. Her owner dropped her off with a shock collar on. The remote was in my pocket. Mica went for the boys again and she got zapped until she was out of the pen. Then any time she got near the horses with the intent to chase or think about going in the pen she got zapped again. Needless to say she has a much healthier respect for horses now.

Now I want to step in here and clarify on the shock collar. Under normal circumstances I would never use a shock collar on a regular dog. I don’t particularly like them so if I can avoid it I will. I think they can be very easily mis-used and become almost abusive in how people use them BUT tonight it proved to be the only tool that was gonna stop the whole situation. If she hadn’t had it on either my horses or Mica was gonna get hurt and thankfully the collar was able to stop the whole situation before a vet was needed.

I’m a K9 handler. I love dogs. But it’s moments like these that remind me of why I don’t have one at home. My work hours are too long and too crazy to be able to effectively train my dog so these situations don’t happen. They are the worse situations any horse owner can face because you are really helpless if a dog is truly stuck in the mode of herding them.

I was super lucky in the fact that both my horses trust me and they didn’t trample me while trying to get out of Mica’s way. They even tried to protect me as they seemed to know I was trying to get the dog away. Again I want to repeat. I got VERY lucky I didn’t get myself hurt in the process of helping my horses. Most horses not experienced with dogs and in a flight mode will trample anything and everything in their way to get away from the dog. They will even run through and over fences if they have to.

There are really only two things you can do to stop this type of situation and that is somehow divert the dogs attention (I.E. Shock collar) or shoot them if you care alot about your horses. I hate being so blunt but very rarely have I ever seen a situation defused by someone calling the dog’s name. I was screaming Mica’s name as loud as I could and she just ignored me. I was even in front of her more than once and she didn’t stop.  I’ve seen dogs run a horse through barbed wire or get it so riled up that it was in full-blown panic and lathered in sweat and bleeding from ramming itself into objects trying to get away.  And as much as I love my dogs my horses always come first and I will do an “old yeller” if I have to, to protect them. It’s not my first choice but if nothing else works I will resort to it.  (I hope this doesn’t offend anyone but it’s honistly what I would do. If you know of better ways please tell me but I’ve live around famers and ranchers my whole life so we’ve tried plenty of ways to no avail)

Many people don’t realize how fast a dogs prey drive can kick in (yes even domesticated tiny chihuahua will try to herd you not just big dogs) and it’s amazing how fast a horses fight or flight will kick in.  These animals have been domesticated for thousands of years and their base instincts are still the same as their wild counterparts when it all comes down to it. Some dogs have a stronger herding drive then others and some horses have a stronger fight/flight then others but it is there to be tapped into.

This is why dogs are either banned or have leash laws in effect at horse shows. If I had been riding when this happened I could easily have been seriously hurt or killed depending on how my horses reacted. That’s why at horse shows it is vitally important that if you bring a dog please have it leashed and have 100% control of that leash (seriously have it tied to you somehow) so you’re not the cause of an accident.

If you go hiking with a dog off leash and you see a horse dogs can get protective and aggressive with the horses. Especially if they’ve never seen them before because they don’t know what they are. I don’t know how many people have told me “my dog always listens I’m so sorry” when their dog comes barreling at us and then stops and barks until the owners catch up. Thankfully my horses have great minds and really do try their best with me on board and on the ground (unless it’s a wave or races *Ahem* Cash)  and I haven’t been injured yet in a dog related accident.  *knock on wood*

This situation tonight just reminded me how much I want people to be aware of the dangers of having dogs around horses, especially ones not conditioned to them.  I should have been better prepared for this situation myself. After all I work with dogs all day at work and horses on my off time. But it’s so easy to get complacent and forget just how different an animal can be when it’s base instincts kick in.

Until next time

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The Water Dragons Got Me!

Do you ever have those moments where you suddenly realize why your horse has issues with something say….water? Yep yesterday was one of those rides. It was a moment that clarified that though Cash may be almost 8 now (gosh I can’t believe that!) He is still very much green broke and VERY opinionated.

A friend asked if I wanted to go riding and of course I did. It was a pretty gorgeous day though the wind kicked up about the time I was hooking up the trailer….I should have realized right there this was a bad idea…But hey I’m stubborn and I had people waiting on me so by golly I was freaking going! So I loaded up Cash, swung around and grabbed my friend and headed to the beach where one of her friends met us.

Now the last time Cash has seen the ocean was when we were in California and that has been at least 5 years. Now the key difference between California and here is California’s are not rocky beaches and the surf is WAY stronger. Needless to say the beach was not his most favorite ride there. I conveniently forgot about this. So we start our ride and it’s going pretty well. And then the ocean comes into view and we start walking towards it.

Why did I think I had to put my horses feet in the water….I dunno… It seemed like a great idea at the time. And he had two lead horses to follow so… off we go towards the waves. We actually get in the waves when in Cash’s mind a HUGE wave starts heading his way.  Cash takes this as his cue that the elusive water dragons are trying to eat him and starts jumping waves and water for all he’s worth! (oh yes there is a video below)

Now I’m gonna pause here… You ever have those moments where your watching a train wreck and you just can’t look away? Well I was having one of those moments except I was the train…And it felt a lot longer then about 3 seconds! As Cash was jumping the water he and I parted ways and I hit the water and the rocks. Luckily there was about a foot or two of water between me and said rocks.

The water dragon has swallowed me whole and Cash headed to the closest thing he can…safety in numbers! He goes to the other horses! While I’m fighting for my life, in his eyes, the nice cowboy riding with us grabbed his reins and kept him in the water while I re-emerge from the gloomy depths trying to get as much salt out of my mouth as I possibly can. Needless to say I was drenched to the bone.

Now Cash didn’t freak out any more in the water. I think he figured out he was taller than it and while the water dragon had swallowed me… it had spit me back out so it was alright for the moment.

Of course I couldn’t leave the ride like that. I really do want Cash to get over his fear of the waves and I didn’t want to have confidence issues. So I got back on, shivering n all and with a cringe for the cleaning I was gonna have to do with my saddle off we go down the beach again.

Cash has decided that the water is still scary though it’s not terrifying and we slowly gain confidence in the footing. He still wants to lag behind and in all honesty if I’d have given him the reins he’d have probably happily walked back to the trailer no questions asked. We finally start to trot and then get to a slow lope. Yup he was doing an amazing lope down the beach.

Well of course the riders with me want to lope as well (that’s what you go to the beach at low tide for). Here is where I made a mistake. I let that mare get ahead of us. Anyone who knows Cash knows he HAS to be in the lead. I dunno what it is about him but he just has to win. (I seriously should have raced him. I’d have probably won a shit ton of money)And the race was on. Now the cowboy dropped a water bottle and riding on a cow horse he can quickly stop and turn around. Cash did not like this idea of stopping and decided that he would show his unpleasantness by bucking. Oh yes bucking. And I’m not talking crow hopping… OH NO…I’m talking full on all four feet off the ground bucks!

Now I want to praise myself here. I was smart enough to ride my western saddle though a tad big for me (ok it was my dads that I stole… sorry dad) I managed to keep myself on between sheer power of will and essentially curling around the horn and hanging on for all I was worth. (I did mention I was soaked in water right before this right? Soaked clothes+ wind= lack of fine motor skills…or really any skills at all)Though it didn’t take long before Cash calmed down and all was right…again… in the world. We did ride calmly back to the trailer. Ok I walked the last half mile because the two I was with wanted to gallop the beach and I was just too cold to deal with any of Cash’s tantrums. Walking to the trailer really warmed me up considering I had about ten more pounds added to my feet with all the water and sand in my boots.

Now I also want to add one tiny detail. You know I was soaked to the bone when I got back to my truck I had the sudden realization that I was soaking wet and I had to drive home. Now I get shit from the guys at work (and my family) all the time because my truck looks like a mobile tackroom, minus a saddle (usually). My truck has cloth seats. Wet clothes and cloth seats do not get along! That’s just what I needed to end the day. So with a quick rummage in the back seat I emerged victorious! Cash’s rain sheet was sitting in the back. Rain sheets are water proof! Huzzah!!

So I cranked the heater and off we went to go home. I can say taking my clothes off and sitting in a nice hot bath has never ever felt better! With a glass of wine and a slice of stuffed crust pizza all was well in the world once more!

I have some mighty impressive bruises today that just keep getting better and better as the day has gone on and I’m sure they will be looking like I got jumped in a back alley soon. But hey in the end it was a lesson learned, and now a good story and it was filmed to boot!

Also I had a helmet on and for that I am very,very thankful. While I did land in water I also landed on rocks and my lower back a crossed my spine has the cut and bruise to prove it. It could have been a whole different ride had I not had my helmet on!  Plus it makes a great spot to GoPro from! 😀

Until Next time.

 

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Sometimes Ya Just Need Friends Of The Human Variety

 

My friends are the best. I mean I seriously they are awesome. And I have a pretty diverse crowd so I have had plenty to choose from throughout the years. From people I’ve met at work, neighbors, horse friends and sometimes a combination of both and even some random strangers. Today I was debating on what to post and I was drawing blanks. I mean writers block is a serious thing some days when the wind is blowing and it’s trying to rain and just being a typical grey winter day in Washington.

So I turned to what most people turn to…Facebook…And asked for inspiration ideas, and anything they could possibly think of that I could write about from my friends. I got some great ideas but above all they made me laugh. And sometimes it’s the most simple of things like a laugh with a friend that inspires something to write.

Where would I be without friends? My friends have gotten me through some of the rough moments in my life. They have made me laugh, cry and throw things in anger but they have always been there when I needed them most. Most of them live in different states. They have families and lives of their own but I know if I truly needed something they would be there to help me in the blink of an eye. Andthere are just some things a fourlegged animal cant help with (Sorry :/)

I have let friends go who I thought would be there for a life time. They taught me what they were supposed to and moved on and that was ok. It was hard at the time but it ended up being the right call.  I’ve learned that you can’t keep everyone in your life, but the few who do stay.  They are worth it all. Some are people I never would have dreamed I’d be friends with. We hated each other, saw things from a completely different angle and some of my friends didn’t even have anything in common with me but somehow we’ve gone from acquaintances to life long friends and I’m so thankful for each and every one of them.

I heard a quote the other day “A good friend knows your best stories, a Great friend has lived them with you” and I think it’s so the truth. The closest friends I have are the ones who have been through the grinder with me and managed to laugh our way through it.

Whether it’s in the horse world, work or just everyday life don’t forget the people who were always there for you and stay by your side even in the worst of times. They are the ones who truly matter. Everyone else, well they may be nice but they are like trees in a flash flood. The ones with the weakest roots will get swept away in the onslaught but the older ones. The ones who have buried their roots deep, they are the ones who will withstand and hold you up when everything else seems to come crashing down around you.

Even my new friends, you’re my friends because I see great potential in you…and your just freaking awesome. If I didn’t like you we wouldn’t be friends 😀

So this is a thank you to all of you both new and old who have chosen to be a part of my life and have stuck it out! You are the best! 😀

 

Until next time!

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Branding And The Origins Of A Name

I was sitting here this morning drinking my coffee and hoping it’s not gonna rain and the wind would stop blowing when I realized that I never once told you all why I have the name Rocking LR Equestrian. Well the Equestrian part is pretty straight forward, I think, but not the Rocking LR.

As you may know I grew up on a lovely little ranch in Colorado called Legacy Ranch….Oh hey LR….Legacy Ranch…. that parts figured out….Well we have been breeding and rasing horses since I can remember and being a ranch when I was little we (ok my parents) decided that we needed a brand to help identify our horses and just make our amazing bloodlines known as ours. Besides if you’ve ever met my dad he’s about as cowboy as they come!

Well if you have ever gone through the Colorado brand book you will quickly realize that pretty much any and all brands that are not 4 letters/symbols or more are gone. And in case you didn’t know the longer your brands are or the more complicated the look the harder it is to get the brand to come out legibly, and it’s just a royal pain in the ass to deal with.

Brands are flipped so when you apply them they will come out correctly on the horse.
Brands are flipped so when you apply them they will come out correctly on the horse.

Well after tossing around different possible combinations for weeks we just couldn’t decide on a brand. ( and yes my parents let me help in choosing the brand design! It was a family affair after all) I managed to talk them into LR for Legacy Ranch. After much debate we had it narrowed down to a few hopeful ideas.  My dad happened to be skimming through the brand book and saw a beautiful brand Rocking LR. He got the contact info of the current owner of the brand and with a little hope called the owner up. As it turned out he had no use for his brand anymore and was in fact thinking of archiving it (Basically a room of no return for brands) So for some little bit of money and a lot of paperwork we got the brand ROCKING LR! It’s a name that I have fallen in love with and while I am no longer in Colorado I still claim in as mine!

Branding itself is a very controversial topic in today’s world. It’s still very traditional, and many warmblood registries still offer branding when they pass inspections to prove their worth and of course ranches all over the United States still use it on livestock as identification. In todays technical world people belive that there are better, less invasive ways to mark a horse and I do agree there are but is also huge advantage to branding to branding people over look.

Obviously it marks an animal as yours or coming from your ranch. A very successful horse can be traced back to its breeders via a brand if the state of origin is known. So this is a plus to breeders in promoting their stock but I think one of the biggest helps is in deterring theft.

A brand on a horse is a huge identifying mark and one that is usually very noticeable to Cash western copyanyone looking at the horse. (In the picture you can clearly see the brand on Cash who has no other big identifying marks)  The only time its a little obscured is if the horse has a long winter coat. When a horse is stolen if it’s branded you can let the brand inspectors know and an alert goes out to all brand inspectors to watch out for them locally and can even go out nation wide.

I think a brand is a huge deterrent to potential thief’s because it’s so identifying. A bay horse with no obvious markers is much easier to pass off  and sell then one with a brand standing out on its shoulder or hip. Obviously if a thief is bound and determined enough they can probably still get away with it but it really helps!

Also if a horse is lost and someone finds it (such as getting out of a paddock. Getting away from a campsite…ect)  If they contact the local brand office they can usually track a horse through its brand inspections (if it’s been sold) or through the owners of the registered brand and get that horse home rather quickly.

I think other ways of identifying horses such as using a microchip are also great ways to go too. Actually I think it’s a great idea for all animals that are currently able to be microchiped such as dogs, cats and horses. It’s just another tool to help get an animal home safely should they be found lost and alone or suspected of theft. But regardless of people’s personal views on branding I personally am a huge supporter of it.

Until Next time.

P.S. Oh and for those that might be wondering yes I did brand my western saddle too. Well my dad branded it for me 😀

 

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A Weekend Of Bliss

cash n jack collage
Cash and Jack think the same part of the property is scary when we were lunging.

Oh man this has been an amazing weekend. The boys have absolutely blown me away. On Saturday, due to having to go into work, I ran out of time to ride so I ended up just lunging the boys and HOLY COW! Jack can trot!

I have no idea where this trot came from. The Jack I know likes to do the pokey halter horse trot, dragging feet and everything but BAM there was a jaw dropping beautiful trot! So there is hope yet that he may think he likes english sports! And it wasn’t a one and done kind of thing he kept it up for the whole time I lunged him! Geesh maybe off time really was the best thing for him! He found his spit-fire! I was amazed by it and the even better thing was I haven’t really worked with him in over a month and he still listened! He did his transitions when asked and was calm minus a few bucks to start.

Cash was his normal crazy self haha. It proves that Jack is the brains of the family and Cash was the brawns because Cash ran for most of the time hahaha.

Today is where they really got it going though. We went for an awesome trail ride! The ladies who live around me and one of their husbands invited me to go riding with them. Now I decided to tempt fate and took both boys out! Poor Jack had some swelling in his right hind fetlock( I think Cash kicked him but I could be wrong) but he wasn’t really off on it and I figured that the movement would be good to get the fluids going.  So I grabbed my western saddle (I’m not completely suicidal now) and headed out with the boys.

The single most terrifying thing on the whole ride…. A tiny little ditch with water in it! Oh yes this little ditch (perfect for a cross-country course) must have seemed like it was full of water dragons because both boys were firmly against going over and in fact did their best mule impressions while I was trying to persuade them from the other side. Regardless that little two-legged me could easily hop over it. But still that water dragon was present so it was a huge no-go.

I finally had to bust out my secret weapon! What is that you may ask?? Why treats of course!! It’s amazing how something as little as a treat can motivate a 1200 pound animal to do something but oh it did! Cash went first with a GIGANTIC leap over it! He was determined to ensure those dragons couldn’t grab his hooves and drag him down to his doom even though I highly doubt he could have fit into the creek with his whole body even if he tried.

Jack still wasn’t convinced that the Dragons couldn’t get him and it took a lot of begging to get him over. I swear he knew exactly what I was saying because I could literally see him pondering it and puffing up at my praise. I seriously think they just play dumb sometimes to get treats. With one last final step he launched himself over and came to a surprisingly graceful stop right in front of me demanding his treat for somewhat calmly waiting for his nephew. (The video of the ditch is down below!)

But boy did they make me proud. They may have done flying leaps but they did go over it! And let me get back on without running off with me:D  Now they were quite a handful on the road to start. Both wanted to be in front and going faster than a walk and once we met the other riders it became a tad bit of a war between the two of who could talk the other into going faster.I did more than a little bit of cussing at the boys. They were seriously trying my patience!

It wasn’t for a good fifteen or twenty minuets before I let them get in front of the group that I realized that’s where they wanted to be. apparently the other horses were walking to slowly….and ya know what? After that Cash even kept Jack in line from running in front of him. huh funny how Cash uses Jack when he wants something and Jack plays all innocent young horse….I feel mischievous plans being plotted between those two.

After a while though Jack started getting stiff on his leg again so I figured we had done enough and decided to cut our ride short. I’m sure the boys probably would have been fine but I’d rather be safe then sorry when it comes to them.  They are what keeps me calm and from injuring the mass amounts of idiots I have to deal with on a fairly daily basis. My work schedule is ramping up lately so I’m really taking every moment I can to just hang out with my boys!

They really proved their worth today and I couldn’t be prouder of those two. I don’t care if I ever make it to an advanced 3 day event or not they make every day worth it! (though I do hope we at least get to novice :D)  I just had to have a little faith and a lot of courage  with those two and they gave it back ten fold!

Until Next Time!

 

 

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It’s All About The Personality

A little while ago I was having a conversation with one of my friends and it’s really kind of stuck with me. We were talking about our horses and the different things we do with them and it morphed into talking about preserving a horses personality.

I am a huge advocate to horse health…I mean if you truely have horses at heart you do everything you can for them even if it means eating ramen noodles for a month…but I think alot of people overlook a horses mental health while riding. In alot of disaplines we want that horse to be calm and quiet and do the movements asked but where do we draw the line from calm and quiet to drone? I see so many horses become drones as soon as you put a saddle on. Thats spark goes out of their eyes and they do exactly what they are told because thats the way we are trained to work with horses. They HAVE to do what we ask or we punish them.

At what point to we ignore a horses personality? I agree that a horse should be willing and obedient. But what about happy? I mean truely happy about his work. Where he has confidence and excitment to go out and do his job. When do we take that willingness to please just a tad to far?

I love my two boys and they have very similar but also complete opposite personalities. When I ride I don’t mind those occasional little bucks or the head tossing of an excited horse. I don’t punish them when they are having an exubriant moment because they are expressing their feelings! (This is going to sound a little odd I know but hold out for me just a bit)

Now when I say this if either one of them when bucking down the ring like a bronc I’d get after them but that crow hop of annoyance at doing another canter transition? Meh I might give a verbal “hey quite that” and push him forward a bit to stop it but most of the time I’ll use that to my advantage. If he’s showing his annoyance at what we are doing I might transition into something else I know he enjoys before attempting to go back to what was annoying him. Maybe I’ve riden that circle one to many times and he’s bored, or confused at what I’m asking. Maybe he’s not understanding how I’m asking it or maybe he’s just being a 3 year old and having an “I don’t wanna moment” . I might need to step back a moment and re-evaluate how I was asking and what I was asking him to do and see if I can do it in a different manner to get him to understand. I’ll see if it’s just him being a youngster or if there could be something I’m doing thats causing confusion.

Cash loves to do celebratory head shakes occasionally and sometimes a hop or little buck. He’s expressing his enthusiasm and his pride at completing something he enjoys. I don’t want to correct that and tell him “No you can’t be happy!” I want to take that and praise it (ok maybe not the buck but I’ll just ignore that mostly) . I want him to enjoy what we are doing. I want to build his confidence and his pride in himself. If I want him to trust me I have to let him know how good he’s been and when he’s pleased me. It HAS to be more then a single pat by the way. That doesn’t get anything a crossed. I find telling him he’s doing good and giving him scratches is the best.

If we are jumping he might have knocked the rail down but he tried his hardest and he gave a great effort. We will do it again and if he clears it I will do all the praise I can. Petting and telling him “Good boy oh you’re such a good Cash-man!” He puffs up so big when I do that. I can’t help but do it when he’s done such good things.

Cash will also let me know when he is done with something. And sometimes I’ll ask for just one more of what ever we are doing, but many times I have to realize that I’ve hit his limit for that particular aspect and going any further will just prove frustrating and counter productive and start a fight. I’m not saying let your horses walk all over you and dictate the ride either though. Some days they just want to be stubborn and not leave their buddy (*ahem* Cash this is you like 55% of the time) but know your horse and watch for those signs of confusion, frustration and shutting down.
I’ve seen so many trainers tell riders to get after their horses for the slightest miss step. What if that miss step was your horse saying “Hey this hurts” or “Yo lady. Your leg is blocking my side pass” Just because a horse does something doesn’t always mean it’s malicious. In fact with most horses it’s not malicious at all they are just expressing themselves. Would you want to be yelled at every time you smiled and laughed at work? Or if your back was hurting and your doctor just told you to suck it up and go back to work?

I’m not saying all trainers are bad, that’s far from the truth. And I’m not saying all structured programs are bad. Again thats far from the truth. I just want to point out that taking a step back and really looking at your horse and how they are reacting to the training is a good thing. Do they have that spark in their eye? Do they show their personality in the saddle, or are they dull. Boring. Doing a perfect job with no “Umph” or bounce in their steps.

I find that the more I let my horses relax and enjoy the ride and the more I tailor my riding program to each horse the more willing they become. They are happier when I take them out and the more honest my horses are with me. They definally let me know when they don’t enjoy something and you know what? It may not be what I want to do but in the end it builds an even better bond with my horse and those days when I ask either of them to do that stuff they don’t like they usually conced. (like Cash and dressage haha) I can also tell when something is off to. When he’s not as forward or excited to do his favorite moves. I can sometimes catch things in time before it becomes a huge issue and treat it before it becomes a major injury.

Sometimes we get so focused on reaching our goals and getting to those shows that we loose the bigger picture of the bond and trust with our horses. Don’t be afraid to slow down and let your horse enjoy the ride as much as you!

 

Until Next time!

 

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The First Ride Of 2016!

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Whoot! I got to ride Cash man for the first time this 2016! Huzzah.  It wasn’t very long. In fact it consisted of mostly a walk down the road but by golly I was on a horse and it was glorious!

Do you ever have those days where you just need to feel the horse power benieth you? That comfort of the saddle and warm horse smell? Yeah, today was one of those days. Today my divorce became final. Like completly Final. The judge signed off on it and now we are just waiting for the paperwork to be sent to us. Yup that’s right, I’m back on the market officially *dun nun na na nana nana Can’t touch this* No seriously…. I am actually really enjoying my single, horse crazy life at the moment…so sorry boys you’re gonna have to wait 😀

Today was such an odd mix of feelings. It was relief that it was officially over, saddness that it actually went all the way through, and guilt that we didn’t get it to work and happyness of absolute freedom. Not to mention a liberal dose of frustration bordering on anger and finally resignation that that chapter of my life had finally come to a close.

The sun was shining (*gasp)  and the ground was frozen because it’s in the 20’s here now and I just needed to be in a saddle and going some where so I could just forget the world for a while.

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Now I had to choose my trusty Cash-man. I can’t help it. I have a favorite AND he knows it. Jack usually can’t come any where near if I have treats or I’m dooling out brushing in the pasture…at least until Cash has deemed he’s done with my affections. And Riding Cash is just perfect some how.  I’ve been so many places with him and gone through so many things with him by my side that we just have a better bond.

I wasn’t sure how Cash was going to be. He’s had about a solid month off and He can be a little crazy some days. I grabbed him out of the pasture (He was just a tad muddy as I’m sure you can tell from the picture). I probably chocked on about 5 pounds of dirt and mud that came off of him…..They do say that it improves our immunsystems right? (I should be golden for about 20 years now) I saddled him up in my dressage saddle (it was easist to get to really) and lunged him for a moment both ways before climbing on board and with a prayer above to anyone who would listen we headed off down the road.
Cash is a little tender footed due to it being so wet and muddy for so long and now it’s suddnly hard frozen ground. And he still belives Washington is trying to swallow him slowly, so he’s
very very careful where he puts his feet. This means there was no danger of running away with me back towards the barn we left Jack in his pasture. Cash didn’t even spook at the scary birds that flew up from the blackberry bushes or the heard of horses that took off running next door! I was very proud of him. It was like he knew I just needed so quality beastie time with just him and me. We just went up the road and back. I didn’t want to tempt fate to much today. (I mean seriously there’s only so far I’ll push the limits)

Then I took my time grooming Cash and just enjoying his nuzzles (and occasional nips the bugger) before putting him back up.  It was just what I needed for such an emotional rollar coaster of a day. It was that glorious moment of peace and happiness and a great ride to start off 2016!

So for any of my readers going through some emotionaly tough times right now you’re not alone but we always have amazing therepists sitting in their stalls just waiting for us to take the time 😀

Until next time!