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Going Treeless Part 2!!

jack treeless

I am here to report my progress with going treeless. I must say it has taken some adjustment but not nearly as much as I expected. I believe that both horses are much more comfortable in my treeless then even my Stubben saddle and I am very comfortable it in as well. (If you didn’t see Part 1, check it out HERE)

I’ve had several nice rides in it now and I’ve tweaked it a bit to fit my boys and all I can say is WOW! The feeling in a treeless is so much….more, which is also a bad thing sometimes. Riding Jack, he’s young and inexperienced being out by himself and in my treeless I can feel the second he starts to tense his back muscles and think about doing something.

It’s wonderful in the fact that I can REALLY get ahead of him before he does something silly. It sucks in the fact that I feel him tense ALOT. Not all of it is “Bah I’m a baby” moments some of it’s just insecurity in a new situation or figuring out what I’m asking so I’m having to learn when the tensing I’m feeling is a spook or buck and when it’s just normal tensing at the unknown.

I’ve found the boys are much more forward in the saddle and I am able to keep my balance much, much better with them throughout all the moments and transitions. I feel like some of this is how the saddle sits me in the seat. Since I am able to adjust where my stirrup actually sits in relation to me I can get an actual shoulder, hip, heel alignment without having to force my leg back. It feels as if my leg is naturally sitting where it is supposed to without any huge thigh rolls. I feel I’m sitting much more correctly on my seat and pelvic bones so I’m able to quickly adjust myself to anything going on without falling out of balance or stabilizing myself with the reins. And biggest of all, I’m more relaxed over all.

Somehow I always ride more relaxed in my body while riding bareback. Since I get such similar feelings in my EZ Fit saddle I think the switch in my brain keeps me more loose. Being properly positioned and not having to fight for my alignment REALLY helps as well.

Now onto the comfort for the horses. Like I stated above both my horses seem to be much more relaxed in the treeless saddle! Cash’s strides are much more loose and forward and I can really feel him using his back and not running around on his forehand or working at the speed of molasses. I am actually tempted to try riding in a bit and see if a lot of his chewing was due to discomfort in the saddle. I get wonderful sweat patterns with him that shows even distribution and spinal clearance. He hasn’t had any back soreness that I have been able to detect. He’s much more excited to transition through his paces and over all just a better ride.

Jack no longer has bucking fits on the lunge line and he rarely throws in a little crow hop in the canter anymore. Jack has also stopped most of his dancing around while being saddled up. I think something must have been really uncomfortable for him even though the fit of my treed saddles seemed correct from all aspects. He actually sighs and stands when he realizes I’m putting the treeless on. I think Jack appreciates the feeling and the clear signals I send as well. Like  I mentioned I tend to get much more tense in a treed saddle when doing arena work and since he’s a young’n he really feeds off of me and the snowballs start rolling.

With the weight of the saddle being only 15 pounds I think it has also helped with my horses workability. My boys are in pretty decent shape but every pound you can shave off will always help them work longer and more comfortably.  Between the weight and not having and tree points potentially digging into their shoulders both boys seem to be giving me the rides of approval.

Now I mentioned adjusting the treeless so I figured I’d show you what the “inside” of the saddle looks like so you can see what pieces you can adjust and why I think it’s superior to other treeless saddles I’ve seen.
Treeless underside
The seat is movable. I actually had to move the seat back a bit so I wasn’t sitting on the cantle. These treeless saddles come with three adjustments. Mine is a medium so I can adjust it between 16 and 18.5′ english sizing. My seat is sitting about 17-17.5 right now and it’s just perfect for me. I could have probably used a small size just fine but beggars can’t be choosers.

The Stirrups are adjustable forward and back. As you can see one of the straps forms a D like shape crossed the back of the saddle and one goes over where the typical stirrup line is. This is a pice that really really helps distribute weight of your stirrup pressure, especially if you are a heavier rider. If you’re a petite person you could run them along the same line without much problem. The saddle includes a measuring tape on both sides so you can get the adjustments exactly the same on both sides!

Treeless underside 3That sliver ring in front of the stirrup straps is your front girth ring. You can move those forward and backwards depending on how it’s sitting in your horses girth grove. I find this saddles natural girth position is several inches back from a typical girth location but I find the horses are a lot more comfortable with it. If your horse is prone to galls on the back of their front lets this will help relieve that pressure and prevent more of them from forming.

Everything is secured using heavy duty velcro and then the seat is velcroed down onto the top. I haven’t had any issues with things slipping or coming undone. The seat folds back down and is secured with the buckles ounderside treen the back. The buckles are more of a failsafe on the chance that the velcro releases so I think you would be just fine without them but they don’t bother me at all so I leave them on.

The pads on the bottom of the saddle that create the spinal channel, and also make it possible to ride without the use of a specialized bareback pad are also held on by the heavy duty velcro. I haven’t had any issues with it slipping here either and I love that I can tweak it a bit as the boys grow or fill out/loose weight through out the season AND I didn’t have to spend another $300 on a good treeless pad. I have been using just a regular western pad with no issues so far!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this and if you have any questions on my journey treeless feel free to ask away 😀

Until next time

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Some Days Aren’t Good Days Working With Horses

thelwell

Do you ever have that feeling in your gut somedays that says “No I shouldn’t do that” and then you do it anyway for what ever reason and suddenly regret doing it? Yup yesterday was one of those days for me. (beware. Grab that cuppa coffee and maybe some chocolate, this ones a bit long)

Jacks toes had gotten long and needed to be trimmed. I do ALOT of my own farrier work to save on my pocket book and I have the farrier come out about once every 3-6 months to look at them and ensure there’s no issues going on that I haven’t noticed. Well it’s been pouring the last few days and as I got home from work there was a break and even sunshine out! So I decided “oh what the hell I’m gonna do Jacks feet”

Now hindsight is 20/20 as they say. And I should have worked Jack a good bit before I asked him to stand still a long while, while I trimmed his hooves. And because I’m not a professional farrier of course I’m not lightning quick yet. I mean who really is lightning fast unless you do it every day?

So Jack decided to test me with his feet. He’s pull his feet away, try to kick out…try to lay down. And I was good and calm for most of it. He is a youngster after all and I’ve been practicing yoga (oh yes yoga….and pilates….I am a zen master….apprentice….ok I have a lot yet to learn) .

For a farrier he stands perfectly. Probably because I’m holding his head and someone else is working on his feet…..But about the time I got half way done Jack began his melt down saying “Cash is Eating grass and I wanna and I’m DONE standing here.” (I’m beginning to think 4 year olds are akin to 2 year old humans) again I was fine. I just talked to him a bit, gave him a few “Stop its”…maybe a grumble or two and it was going good. Until he decided to loose his marbles and knock me completely over and jump over the top of me, cutting his leg in the process because he hit it on the nippers (only a minor cut, barely enough to break the skin) and knock his legs against the hoof stand.  Where he proceeded to stand there like I had just beaten the holy hell out of him, when in fact he had done it all to himself. But in his mind I had caused it all.

This is when I lost my temper a bit (I quite possibly had steam coming out my ears). He knows better then to do that. He can stand perfectly still for a good bit while a farrier trims his toes but when he needlessly “freaks out” over absolutely nothing, after a long day at work….I got mad. Now obviously I never beat a horse EVER I find it appalling and no matter how angry I get I’ll never needlessly smack a horse.  But Jack also lives with Cash who routinely gets him jumping out of his way so “angry face” makes him skittish.

Well Jack knew I was mad. I’m sure it was written all over my face and my body posture. I marched over and went to pick his feet up. His skin was twitching a bit and he was most assuredly nervous. He stood for a minuet and I began to relax and breath and tell him “good boy” in as positive voice as I could. He sighed and licked his lips and I thought we were good.

I gave him a treat for standing so still for me to finish clipping his foot. This was also a mistake because I’m coming to learn Jack turns everything into a “game” to see if he can earn another little delicious morsel. He began to lift the opposite back hoof in an odd game of teeter totter with himself, trying to get me to put his foot down and give him a treat…..I should have put his foot down….When his antics didn’t work he decided that yanking his hoof away and slamming it on my foot was the way to go. I smacked him with the small side of the rasp to get him off my screaming foot. Now I barely hit him hard enough to hear a thud. No skin was broken and in all honesty I didn’t hit him hard at all. Which is an amazing fact since my foot was screaming at me in agony asking me why in the hell I had decided this was a great thing to do after a 10 hour day of work. I was questioning this myself…but I had 1.25 feet left to go (oh yes a decimal. I can do math I swear!)

He jumped sideways and tried to panic and pull back on the halter. After a few deep, DEEP breaths I managed to calm myself down and talk Jack back into standing. I was almost done with this hoof. He decided that quietly standing there while I finished was a good idea and I made sure to give some nice belly scratches and “good boys” until I put his hoof back down.

I was excited. I only had 1 more hoof to go. I was ALMOST DONE!!!! Now did I mention that 4 year old horses are like 2 year old children?

I began nipping away….my legs were shaking a bit (ok they were exhausted but man I was on the last one I could make it!). How the hell do farrier do that to multiple horses a day? I had sweat dripping off me but by golly I was almost done and with the other three feet I quickly managed to nip all that was needed off his hoof in record time. I grabbed the Rasp and began rasping his hoof smooth. I was almost done. Like I could SEE the light at the end of the tunnel. I had about 2 more swipes left. Literally two swipes to get the last of hoof nice and smooth and level.
Jack Lost. His. Mind. He reared up and lunged forward and I barely managed to get out of the way before he took me with him.

I pulled the rope undone before he could damage my trailer and he ran backwards. I stepped back sent him in a circle and began to lunge him. I was furious. I was so, so close to the end and he decided that he was gonna melt down, arms and legs flailing and screaming in the middle of the grocery isle.

So he lunged in a circle until he decided standing was a good idea and until I could control the burning fury inside my chest. Deep breaths. More deep breaths. Ok. Lets try this again. I grabbed his front foot and bent over gently placing it between my knees. The second my knees were around it he went up again. Ok bucko two can play this game. I grabbed a spare lead rope and looped it around his hoof and tried again. This time I knew it was coming. So as soon as he reared I stepped to the side and pulled his leg up to his belly. Now this little Jack ass (oh yes his name for the rest of the night…rings nicely with Jack don’t ya think?)  is very, very athletic. He managed to run in a circle rearing and bucking with one leg held up.  And he rope burned my hands but I wasn’t giving up and letting go.   After a while he managed to get his foot down but I yanked it right back up until he stopped moving his feet. Then I gently set his hoof back down….as gently as I could anyways. He had a rope burn on his fetlock, I had one on my hands and we both stood there panting like we had just run a marathon. But ya know what. He happily stood there while I finished. He even kindly asked for some grass. (no joke. kindly touched my side then pleadingly looked at the grass) He didn’t get any until he was back in his pen, though again in hindsight I should have let him have a nibble.

Now when I put him back he went off and pouted. And I walked back to my truck, sat on the tail gate and bawled. Yup big heaving sobs with tears running down my face. I felt like I had just ruined my horse. I felt angry and sad and exhausted and just horrid…and above all guilty. Guilty for loosing my temper and pushing a young horse to stand when I probably should have taken a step back, hanged up what we were doing for a second and then asked him to stand still so I could finish.

Jack didn’t want anything to do with me, and I just wanted to hug him and say I was sorry, even though most of it wasn’t my fault. But I was sorry for loosing my temper. I’ve been working on calm. Calm and I are now great friends…patience and I are getting to be better friends. But sometimes I just can’t help getting angry and Jack can’t help being a somewhat spoiled 4 year old.

Some days are just days that don’t quite pan out with horses, but thats part of horses and part of life. Nothing perfect all the time. It’s how we deal with the situation at the moment, and how we come back from it. For now I have a new game plan in place so that situation doesn’t happen again. Each horse is vastly different then he next and I never thought Jack would do some of the things he did. I sometimes forget that a young horse can be very unpredictable. He’s trying to test as much as I’m trying to teach.

If you have one of those days where it just feels like it went horribly wrong don’t worry. Your horses will forgive you, you’ll forgive yourself and it’ll all work out because we each learn something new and eventually we learn to laugh at ourselves….after the fact….and maybe after a glass of wine or two, and a pint of ice cream.

Until Next Time

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Dealing With A Young Horse’s Antics….Oh Jack

Jack riding

It’s not often that Jack shows his age. Most of the time he’s my little angel of a (now)4 year old that outshines his uncle in manners and his ability to remain calm. However our latest ride this was not the case. Every bit of his 4 years showed up! If you saw the video of jack lunging on my Facebook page then you saw his first two days of work after about a week off. Now he was amazing in the lunge but decided that having to listen to me in the saddle was not very fun!  (The video’s below if you want to watch here as well)

Now I want to point out that with Jack, even his worst day doesn’t compare to Cash AT ALL. Cash can make a bronc master proud and a racehorse weep when he wants to. Jack on the other hand, while he tries his hardest, really can’t get much of a rebellion going.  Even in an english saddle he as to really, really, REALLY try to get me even slightly unseated.

Jack has had the majority of the winter off. I won’t lie, Cash is my favorite(I’ve had him longer AND his mom was m BFF growing up) so when time is scrunched and I can only work one I always choose Cash. Now I’m trying to change my ways. I can’t take the “me next” looks anymore from Jack so I’ve started switching off working horses. One day I work Cash and the next I work Jack so they both feel properly loved and looked after. If I have a really good day I might get to work them both!

So it was Jacks turn. The first day I lunged him and he did his best “I’ve never had a saddle on” bronc imitation but it didn’t take long for him to settle back down and remember that he had to listen and that the saddle really wasn’t going to kill him.  His bucks are much worse on the lunge line then they are when you’re on him. They are maybe a little under half has big under saddle. I decided that it was NOT the right time to ride him and that another day  or two of work to get those brain cells functioning was probably a really good idea. After another day of lunging (the bottom picture in the video) I decided that it was finally time to ride Jack.

Now I didn’t feel like trailering out to the arena and I figured that the ground was probably dry enough in the pasture for a little ride.  So I gathered up my helmet and reins and headed off to the second pasture. Now he was a little snorty about the trees and the manure bucket but nothing way out of the ordinary. I got on and he stared out really good. He even paused long enough for me to get a picture. Then I asked him to walk away from Cash and into the more muddy( his hooves sink a little more it’s not really that muddy) part of the pasture.

*Insert Baby melt down here*

He didn’t wanna, so he thought rearing would be a good idea. Now jacks idea of a rear is probably no more then a foot or two off the ground. Just enough to know he went up. I rolled my eyes and asked him to move forward again and he did. I praised him when he halted like I asked. I asked him to walk forward again and I praised I’m for that. Then he decided he REALLY wanted to go next to Cash, who was calmly standing in the corner watching us.

Jack is apparently buddy sour after hanging with Cash all winter and he seemed to be saying “OH my god i’m 100 feet from cash! There might be a lion hiding behind this tiny bit of grass! I need the herd!” And he proceeded to try to rip the reins out of my hands and walk towards cash (high speed is NOT in Jacks vocabulary thankfully).

Oh no no no. That’s not allowed! So I calmly asked him to turn. Well he thought that THIS was just the most RUDE thing I could ask him and began to do his imitation of a bronc. I pulled his head up a tad and asked him to go forward. I mean really it’s more of an excited rocking horse motion, or maybe one of those old time merry go round in high speed. I almost laughed at him but he was trying so hard I figured I wouldn’t tempt karma or fate and held it in.

Now Cash can get those heels up above his head and spin and put a bronc to shame. (He’s got multiple areas of talent ) and Jack was just kinda humping his back and hopping with all four feet off the ground in a smaller version of his excited lunging. He was very displeased with how I responded to it. He thought I should be shaking in terror and ready to do as HE wished.  Silly boy gets a break from riding and think that he’s the alpha now. So I waited for him to finish his tantrum and just asked him to walk forward again. If I could have seen his face from the ground I’m sure he had the frumpy kid face when his plan was foiled. I’m sure he was thinking “But this would work for Cash! Why is she still on my back? grrrrr” If only he knew what Cash has put me through.

I kept asking for simple walk and halt transitions and praising when he did what I wanted and ignoring all his temper tantrums, other then just doing a correction to stop the action like bucking. But I never kicked him, I never yanked on the bit. I pulled his head up if he was bucking but as soon as he stopped I released everything. I kept my reins long with little contact until he pulled a temper tantrum. And you know what. It wasn’t long before he was sighing, licking his lips and doing what I asked! Once he realized that he wasn’t going to win he quietly submitted and realized it was futile to fight. And I never once had to truly punish him for any of his antics.

This whole session probably lasted 15 minuets (If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may start seeing a trend here) but when he continually and calmly did what I asked I halted praised and then got off. It was a great note to end on and a high point for me. It’s the first time I’ve managed to react so calmly to a horses temper tantrum. With Cash I think I know what he’s capable of and fear makes me act more heavy handed with him when he acts up. I KNOW Cash can unseat me and hurt me if he gets it in his mind he’s not gonna. I’ve learned that the hard way a time or two so I try to hard to stop the action before it progress to something worthy of a winning 8 second ride.

Now waiting out a tantrum is not always safe to do on a horse, depending on the horse BUT if you can I feel it is well worth the effort with a horse like Jack, and even Cash’s smaller antics. I find that sometimes horses are trying to get you to act up and start a fight (*ahem* Cash). Sometimes the best thing to do is make a quick correction to stop the action and then carry on like nothing happened. Each horse is different on what corrections work but after the episode is over try your hardest to let go of any anger or fear that accompanied it (I know it’s much harder said then done)

The biggest thing Cash ever taught me was how to take a deep breath and release my anger. He WANTED that fight and manipulated me to get it. He wanted to prove he was alpha and if I gave him to opportunity he would take it. Once I learned to anticipate when he was going do something and then how to release my anger at his antics afterwards, our bond has really became strong. That ability to release my strong negative emotions is paying off ten fold now with Jack. It took me AGES to finally figure it out so give it a try when you seem to be having a bad ride! It may just end up being a great one if you can get passed YOUR emotions.

While I didn’t get a chance to Go Pro my episode with Jack. It died as I was getting on (One of these days I will remember to charge it BEFORE I ride)  I hope you got a little laugh at his antics and maybe just a slight insight on working with babies.

Until next time!

 

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Best New Grooming Tool: Hands On Gloves

It isn’t very often that I come a crossed a new type of grooming tool  that I like. Most ideas have been tried and done before with just a slightly different shape or material. Well, I just found my newest most favorite grooming tool ever. Cash AND Jack both enthusiastically agree. They are called Hands On Gloves and they are AMAZING! (I do have a video using them on Cash’s muddy butt, but for some reason my phone and computer refuse to talk to each other. One of these days I’ll invest in an iPhone so all my electronics will all talk to each other!)
hands on gloves
You put on these gloves and they have all the grippies of normal plastic groomers but they are on your fingers and palms. I can groom the boys in the most odd of places that I can’t reach normally with a brush or a good scrubber. (Like cash’s favorite of right between the chest muscles or the crease of the leg and chest)  I can carefully get around the boys eyes, ears and all around those weird places on the face and the boys just LOVE IT!  I haven’t seen my horses give me the “oh oh right there….oh please don’t stop scratching” looks so much before. The fact that they are shedding right now probably really helps them love these gloves. And I have drenched them in water and used them just to see. They still work great they just don’t wipe off the hair as easily as dry but they are very good. I’m not sure how long they will last with enthusiastic brushing but if it lasts the shedding season i’ll be happy. I’m really pleased with how much of the dead skin and dirt it pulls up as well. The boys will be gleaming in no time!

*Note* These gloves are a tad expensive at $25 a pop BUT you horses will seriously say thank you! Both Cash and Jack love them and they have two very different tastes for what and how I groom them!

My work schedule has been ridiculous lately and I won’t lie, my time with my horses has suffered because it. (hence my very few posts these last few weeks) and I love just going out to hang with the boys and give them some brushings to get my horse hair therapy going.  These gloves have really helped it for sure! 😀

I think time on the ground just hanging out with the horses is also just as important as riding the horses. I’ve found that when I do work in hand, or I just relax and hang out drinking a cup of tea (or wine) and sit near them while they are grazing really has drastically improved my relationship with my horses. I think in a way it builds their trust with me, and of course great grooming sessions always help, especially when you reach those really, really hard to reach places for them!  Any who I just wanted to jump in and say a quick hello before having to head off to find me some dinner and a really really hot shower before getting ready for my day tomorrow.

Good news! The sun has been shining and I think possibly that summer is almost here! That means a lot more work with the boys since it’s staying lighter much longer! So as long as work doesn’t put me on the crazy schedule I’ve been on the last few weeks I’ll be back to blogging again like crazy!

Until next time!

 

**This is not a sponsored post. I just seriously love these gloves and had to share! Click on the link above or check them out here at handsongloves.com**

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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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Taken Out By A Tree

Yup you read the title right. A tree and I had a fight and I lost with poor Jack caught in the middle. I want to say first that Jack is one heck of a trooper for being only three years old!

So how did I come to battle a tree you ask…. Well it all started with me getting home and deciding, come hell or high water, I was gonna ride my horses.  So I took Cash out for a small jaunt up the road. He did amazingly well considering he hadn’t been turned out and it was a cool windy day. He only had one tiny meltdown but we rode it out and happily ended up back home. Nothing crazy to write home about. So of course I decide I’m gonna ride Jack now that he is finally over the weird skin thing he had going on, and plus he was giving me the ” Please love me,” look that I just couldn’t ignore.

So I grabbed his halter and a lunge line and I took him out to the driest part of my pasture and made him walk, trot and canter. When he was minding his manners he quickly got a saddle and bridle put on and with a few more laps to make sure he wasn’t gonna go bronc riding I got on!

Everything was going great. Horses in the field a crossed the way were snorting and racing around the pasture and Jack kept calm with just an occasional glance in their direction or to Cash’s frantic whinny’s (He has decided he hates being alone and the cows next to him are not the same as horses). Sine he was being so good I decided maybe we would walk down the road a bit.

In order to get to the road, however, we had to pass by my truck with some scary boxes in the back.  All was going well.  Only a snort or two and we were carefully easing our way past the big scary truck with the terrifying boxes.

It was at this moment the neighbors decided to start up their logging equipment. We were half way through when BOOM a loud and terrifying noise that must be signaling a horse eating monster sounded and must have meant that Jack was in the perfect spot to be eaten! Jack, being the awesome horse he is, just hunkered down with his legs splayed as wide as he could get them. His muscles twitched as he debated running but knew it’s not what he should do with a human on board so he froze.

And that’s when the terrifying boxes decided to move! A flap opened up and waved. That was it. Jack couldn’t just sit still and let what ever monster the boom had signified eat him. He was gonna move out and live to fight another day. So sideways we went fearing to turn out backs to the deadly boxes. It was then that the monster struck.

His spindly arms reached out and grabbed on to Jacks butt and smashed a crossed my back and head (Thank goodness for my helmet). He had found us! Jack wasn’t going to freeze again. He ran even faster sideways escaping the mighty claws of the monster named TREE.

But Alas I had not been so lucky. The mighty swipe a crossed my back was enough to throw me to the side. Jack valiantly tried to keep me in the saddle but there was it was no use. I was to far gone. I hit the dirt and it was thus that the battle with the might monster Tree was lost.

On a more real note. Jack wasn’t sure what to do. He kept bunching up and leaping forward and then freezing like he was having an argument with himself of “We run. Run. Running will save us. But the human is over there so I should wait. Run. Stand. Run. Stand.” Until I managed to get back on my feet after a quick check to make sure everything was in working order. He calmed right down when I started talking to him and stood quietly while I grabbed the reins and lead him towards the once terrifying monster.  It didn’t take long before I could walk him through on foot.  Then in true horsewoman fashion I re-mounted and we tried it all over again.

Of course while mounted it’s scarier for Jack. He said that it’s just evil to have to walk through there without anyone to get eaten first in front of him. But with some coaxing and a lot of soothing words Jack finally conquered his fears and walked through. We did it a few more times each direction to ensure that he wasn’t going to die, before we called it a day.

I am going to have some pretty awesome bruises in the morning, I think, but considering all things the ride was actually extremely successful! The fact that Jack tried to keep me in the saddle just shows how awesome of a horse he really is, and that he didn’t run away after I hit the ground. I’m blessed to have such a good baby!

So after painfully completing the barn chores I am now on my way to a nice hot bath to ease the pains of my fall. Lord knows the ground keeps getting harder the older I get!  I think I also jinxed myself this morning while talking to friend  saying “It has been quite a while since I have fallen off”. FAMOUS. LAST. WORDS.

 

Until next time!

Oh and as proof, I captured a photo of the man/horse eating tree and the skid marks from the fall…enjoy!

Tree

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Settling In Horses To New Areas

Cash and jack HOME

For the first time in 7 years I can sit at my kitchen table and relax with my beverage of choice(Okay lets not lie it’s either coffee or wine) and watch my horses graze in my back yard! That is right the boys are home and are settling in just fine! 😀

I can say I moved into the right neighborhood. What is it about horse women that we seem to literally just know when someone new is in the area? I was hooking up my horse trailer to go get the boys and as I turned around a horse and rider were walking down the road. It turned into a fateful meeting of new friends. And funny enough her horse is named Cash as well but he was an older grey gelding. Though I think there must be something in the name because he instantly began nuzzling my hoodie pocket and licking my hand for treats….My Cash does the same thing…..hummmmmmmm…But back to my new horse friend. She even introduced me to two other riders and explained how the trails work around the area and who the neighbors were, and even who the guy is that used to hay my pasture! Talk about awesome friends!

Horse women can either be the nicest or frankly the bitchest of people you meet. Thankfully those I met  are distinctly of the former variety. They are even being so kind as to ride with me to show me all the local bridle paths and trails tomorrow! (stand by for a post on how this adventure is gonna go) Cash better mind his manners!Needless to say I have a fantastic feeling about the local horsewoman here and for once in a very long time I truly feel at home and at peace here.

So on the topic of settling in horses I thought I’d do a little info post. Some standard things when you bring horses to a new environment whether it be at shows or moving to a new barn.

1.) Check the area your horses will be living and working in. Make sure there are no sharp objects or anything that your horse could get caught up in and hurt. If there is fix it before you put a horse in there because, Murphy’s law, they will find it within 2 seconds.

2.) Some horses get really nervous and anxious, especially where they are by themselves or have very limited views of other horses. I have found having their food in their stall really helps. Food quite literally calms horses down, so if you can coax them to eat it will help settle them in much more quickly.

3.) Take the horse for a walk around the area. Let him see the scary sights. Keep everything positive. Let him take his time looking at stuff that looks odd to him. It’s a new place and any prey animal is gonna be nervous to start until they can check their surroundings. If you can ride it do so, if not put on those walking shoes and bring some treats.

4.) Try to keep what ever routines your horses have had before (such as feeding times). Whether by you or the staff at his last barn. Normal routines will help to settle them in. Once they are used to the area then you can mix it up if needed, until the horse gets used to moving (ie. to shows and back)

5.) Be ready for them to need a day or two to fully relax. If going to a show and it’s possible try to coordinate before hand to get there a day or two early IF your horse needs it. If it is not possible(cause we all know it costs that illusive thing called money) then long before the show start to trailer you horse out to different locations and get them used to new areas and going riding soon after you get there. It will make going to the shows a tad less stressful on you and the horse if you’re used to going new places.
-*note*I try to make my trailer a safe place that they know they are ok. If they are tied to the trailer they understand there is treats and goodies in the tackroom, and while they may be nervous  they seem to be more interested in begging for a treats then bolting or pulling back.

6)Take it slow. If it’s their first time out and about be ready for a lot of slow walking or trotting or stopping and staring.
-*note* If at all possible(and really its best safety wise in general to ride with someone else) take a “steady eddy” with you. A good horse that is not prone to spooking and who can act as a guide horse for the inexperienced one. Horses will feed off each other and if one horse isn’t scared the nervous one will calm down a lot more than they would on their own. It also helps to have that horse that will cross streams or ditches that an inexperienced horse would put up a fight over.

7)DO NOT beat a horse with a whip or kick it like crazy to make them go towards something they think is scary. A horse is a prey animal. If you start adding pain to a situation where they are scared that’s when you can induce their “fight of flight” response and create an accident where you and the horse can get hurt.  Give the horse some time to reason out the situation. There are often times where an unsure horse will willingly go forward with just little encouragements and it will be an overall very positive situation. (Check out my post Conquering Ditches to see what I mean about keeping it positive)

 

Have you ever met unexpected friends? Or had some crazy experiences moving your horses?  Let me know in a comment below or on Facebook!

 

Until next time.

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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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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!

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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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So Similar Yet So Different

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Since yesterday was the 4th of July, I decided I wasn’t going to ride the boys today since I wasn’t sure how stressed of a night they had with the fireworks. So I took them out and put them in the arena together. I had one small jump set up in a small vertical just for fun to see what the boys would do. 

While I walked over to get my lunge whip Jack was checking out the jump and decided he wanted on the other side and happily walked over it, careful not to knock down the rail but not wanting to put enough effort into it to actually jump it.  It’s the first time I’ve seen him actually try going over an obstacle without me in the ring and it defiantly made me do a little happy dance.  Cash was nibbling at what ever dried grass he could find.

Once I entered the ring I just started to move them. Cash, being the slightly rebellious one, tossed his head and half reared before taking off like a rocket. Jack loped a few yards before slowing to a jog and eventually stopping to look at me while Cash zoomed around a bit before finding some more grass to nibble on.

As I worked with the boys it made me notice yet again how very similar and yet how very different the boys are temperament wise. They are both moochers and want treats. Some days I swear they think I’m a gum ball machine that just drops treats out as soon as they nuzzle me. But what I noticed between Jack and Cash today is how different they are in their receptiveness of me.

Jack is a much more cautious horse. He’s young and everything is a bit scary to him. He’d defiantly rather spook and get out of the way before looking at it, though he responds amazingly well to pressure when he is scared.  Jack had no problem following my every move and happily diong what my body language told him. If I stepped back to draw him in he happily walked over. If I pushed him by moving his butt away he yielded his hind quarters.  He always pays close attention to me and I must admit it’s quite nice.

Cash on the other hand is a lot less receptive to me and body language. Would he recognize what I was asking? Yes…eventally. It was usually after he finished looking at what ever he thought was interesting or finishing his lap in gallop. He would look over  and be like, “oh hi, yeah I’m coming” long after Jack already responded to it. In watching their reactions it really helps me figure out both ways to train with them.

Jack needs the reassurance that he’s doing the right thing. He’s more nervous and needs a calming presence to help guide him and tell him everything ok. He’s a horse that I think would run himself to death for me if I told him to.  If I stay calm and quietly ask for what I want he’s happy to oblige in the best way he knows how. It doesn’t take him long to pick up things but if I get angry with him he will get nervous and try to flee. My utmost priority with Jack is staying calm and quiet.

Cash needs a calm presence but also a loud one in a way. He needs to be reminded “hey you! listen mister” without getting physically dominant and thats the hardest part with Cash. Being loud enough he listens but not letting it boil over into anger. When Cash gets tired or frustrated he very much shuts down and does his best to ignore anything and everything and goes his own way. You have to have patience. Stop, calm down. Give Cash a break and then try it again and then he usually gets it. He’s a horse I am constantly learning to figure out. How he reacts on the trail is ten times different then how he reacts in the arena…he defiantly keeps me on my toes.

Jack and Cash have similar mannerisms but entirely different mentality when it comes to work. They both love to paw in frustration, they both love to get treats and they both have similar tendencies in their learning curves but they both react to stress completely differently.  Cash will fight, Jack will flee.

The biggest thing I (and hopefully  you as a reader) try to do is to work each horse individually. They are just like us, some learn better one way then another. Some can’t handle getting yelled at and another you can spank them and they’ll just do it out of rebellion.  I don’t believe there should ever be cookie cutter training systems because each horse is going to pick up skills differently. What one horse learns in 30 days another may learn in 10, where one excels the other struggles and so on. Always work a horse with a clean slate. Don’t let frustrations from one horse bleed onto another either. And that can be a challenge in and of itself when riding horses back to back!

 

Until next time!

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The Times Are Changing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Changing It Up

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Heading out with both of the boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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