Saturday, February 25, 2012

Aaannnd... we are in the saddle!


So, today was awesome!

Cash has been doing phenomenally as of late. Despite some yucky/windy weather and having to skip a few days of work, his lunging skills have been coming along in leaps and bounds. We are doing walk/trot/canter without side reins, the canter is still very tense, but it's starting to settle down--the walk and trot are awesome, he's quiet, relaxed, and doing solid circles. Walk/trot lunge work with side reins is going very very well. He's starting to take a steady hold on the bit and accepting contact, YAY! Now I just need me a pair of elastic side reins as I think he's past the vienna reins.

Today I introduced two things, a ground pole and RIDING!! :D

The ground pole was kinda funny, I put it down and had him on a short line on the lunge. He walked over it the first time without blinking. I'm thinking "OK, this could be easier than I thought..." The second time was kinda my bad as I didn't aim him correctly and he kinda squirted out the far end and went around it. The third he stopped cold in front of it and wouldn't budge!! It took a bit of convincing to get him over it, not sure why he stopped, but he did. After a few more times around he was totally cool with it and walked/trotted over it both ways. Next step is to add more poles!

And then of course the BEST PART was that I got on him and walked him around. He was sooo good! He stood still while I mounted, waited till I told him to walk off, and was in general very "Ho-Hum" about the entire ordeal. Steering starting out very iffy but once I showed him what I wanted he picked up on it rather quickly!! As well as halting. We even walked over the pole a couple of times.

I couldn't be happier! He was awesome. He was even giving me a nice steady feel on the reins and really walking forward and swinging through his back. It felt awesome! WIN!

I absolutely cannot wait to get him out and kick some butt at shows. I mean, c'mon, how will judges be able to resist this face?

Happy and content after a great "first" ride :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A look at those February goals so far


So, here is what I had for goals for this month with a current update on our progress for each goal:
- Takes treats out of the hand: Check!! This obviously didn't take long to master
- Being haltered and caught willingly out in a large turnout: Check! He now sees me and comes marching right up, doesn't even blink when a rope goes around his neck and holds his head still for a halter. He is also getting led to and fro from his stall to the turnout in nothing but a neck rope. Awesome!
- Paying attention while being led: For the most part, check, he walks with his head level, when he does get pushy normally asking him to back up, turn a circle, or do something to refocus his attention works well.
- Manners (no biting, pushing, kicking, etc.): Really haven't had to work on this much, he's really good actually and respects my space rather nicely.
- Stand tied quietly without pawing or wiggling: We weren't getting anywhere much tying him by the tack room, away from the other horses, he'd stand but he'd be not focused on me and often jumping around. So I've started tying him up on the other end of the barn, closer to the turnout and he's much better, still gets fidgety sometimes but its getting better. I think he gets bored easily, cuz when he's not paying attention to something else or watching the other horses he's trying to munch on the tie post... grrrr.
- Lunge walk/trot, starting on using side reins: so far lunging on a line in a larger open area such as the arena is hit or miss. He was AWESOME one day and I was even able to ask for a little canter, which he did willingly and without taking off, just very tense. But, thanks to lots of snow I haven't had much of an opportunity to do consistent lunging. But often he's tense and doesn't want to relax, and keeps cutting in. So the last couple times I've done round pen work, which he is really catching on to, he's picking up on and listening to my body language while free lunging, which is awesome. He's showing relaxation and submission, and doing what those natural horsemanship gurus have made millions off of by calling it "joining up". I recently picked up the book called "Beyond the Track" and it had a whole chapter on free lunging in the round pen to start establishing rhythm, balance, and relaxation in the gaits. It refreshed my memory of years ago when we started all the young horses with free lunging, teaching them voice commands off body language, it was then a walk in the park adding the lunge line and moving to the arena. So, that's what I've decided I'm going to do with Cash. I may get lucky and have things melt/dry up this week, so I want to get him going in side reins in the round pen, get him accepting the contact and then moving to the arena.
- Explore roads/trails via hand walking: This had kinda been weather dependent, while he is to the point where I almost feel comfortable, I really don't want to do it with icy/wet/muddy roads, so if it clears up we'll give it a go in the next week or so.
- Free jumping over a small single jump: Again, veeeery weather dependent, the arena hasn't been dry, much less visible under the snow for two weeks now. It's suppose to get warm(ish) this week and next, so maybe I'll be able to free jump him before the end of the month!! We shall see :)
So, really, not bad!! For only being half-way through the month. I'm pleased. Now.... if this mud will just go away!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I own a mud lark


Sooo... I walked out to the barn today to find this:
Yeah... brand new blanket, less than a week and he's got it filthy!!! None of the other horses blankets look like that... c'mon! Ah well. What's really the bugger is that, notice his nice n white socks, not a speck of mud. That's tallent!

Besides from that, while the arena is still covered in snow, there is a large dry patch out in the turnout, so I did a little mini lunging with him, mostly walk, working on focus and circle size, baby steps! He's learning how to stand quietly, I've moved to tying him up closer to the turnout, once he's learned to be chill there we'll try out the new skills further away by the tackroom. In the meantime, he can chill by his buddies.
Cash + Sassy = <3


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Snow Day


Well... my plans to ride Cash this weekend got snowed in. A monster snow storm hit Colorado these past couple of days, dumping a LOT of snow. We got off easy with only 6" of light and powdery snow. However, this made any sort of riding on a green OTTB out of the question. Ah well, my puppy dog and I can still enjoy the snow.
We love snow, we really really love snow!

I wandered out and said hi to Mr Cash, brushed his mane out, fed him some cookies, and gave him some scratches. He has obviously had his mane pulled in the past, he does not even like having his mane brushed, I'm working on trying to trim it up with scissors, it's a work in progress. Overall though, he is getting really friendly and comfortable being caught and being around people! It's awesome and I'm trilled to pieces, I couldn't have asked for a better temperament!
I can has cookies?
 So, now I'm counting down the days till this snow melts and (hopefully) the arena and round pen dry out so that I can work with him again!! I'm rather impatient at the moment. Oh well, I guess this is a good excuse to work on lab reports.... right?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Progress Report


So far things are just moseying right along for Mr Cash and I! I couldn't be happier!

Last week we were having a bit of difficulty with the lunging, he got the idea to go around me, he just didn't get that it has to be a ROUND circle, and that it has to be done at a speed much slower than "racehorse". He would cut in on one side of the circle, then rocket out and hit the end of the line and spin out... and repeat, completely tuning me out. I had started to use side reins on him adjusted moderately loose, 90% of the time he was just braced against him, he'd eventually stretch down into the contact, but it took awhile and I'd end up with only 1-2 circles of quality work with the right muscles.

So, change of plans. I MacGyvered me up a set of sliding side reins (think draw reins in a side rein form) out of a few rings & snaps from my local farm and ranch store and some 1/4" nylon rope I had sitting out. I also moved to our little round pen, I had wanted to avoid it if possible just because it's so small (maaaaybe 15m across) and he's so big and unfit for circles.

We did two days in the round pen, focusing on A) staying out on the end of the line and B) listening and staying at a nice consistent, steady pace.

Today I decided to test what we had learned and lunged in the "big kid" arena! And.... I think it's clicking!! He only tried to cut in a little at first, but I was able to subtly but quickly correct it and the rest of the time he was out on the circle with a steady feel on the lunge line, and about 80% of the time he was stretching down and for the most part, out with his head and neck. Was he consistently on the bit? No. But that will come.

Then he was being sooo good that I asked for a little bit of canter! Which he took quietly, albeit very tensly, and cantered about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way around the circle before trotting. And that was it, he came back to a calm and quiet trot right away after the canter and was none the worse for wear. YAY! No meltdown, no out of control, awesome!

Weather permitting, I plan to start riding him on Saturday, just walking, but to start teaching turning and leg/seat cues.

So exciting!!
So cute!