Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cash has an appointment


This past week Cash has been a bit "off". Not in a lameness sense, but in a not-himself-at-all sense.

When I rode him a week ago, every time I put my leg on he would slam on the brakes, throw his head up with his ears pinned and give a little kick with his hind leg. Not like him at all. I still managed to get him to trot through use of the seat and voice because I was not about to let him get away with not obeying... You let this horse get away with anything and it's a training nightmare to try and fix.

Additionally he's been off his feed a bit lately. He's lost some weight but I think it's just his "beer belly". He's leaner for sure, but he has put on a little muscle which is good.

So, he is currently scheduled to have his stomach scoped this coming Thursday to be checked for ulcers. I will be very surprised if he doesn't.

Until then I'm just giving him a short vacation, no point in making him work if he's that uncomfortable.

Gives me time to get back into doing harness work with the ponies!

That said, this has been a test of the mobile blogging application. I hope it works alright.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Perfect Evening


Sometimes, the best times at the barn are when you simply walk out into the paddock in the setting sun and do nothing more than stuff cookies in your pony's face and then give each other some love.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Forward, my friends, forward!


The last two days of riding Cash have felt an awful lot like riding a firecracker.... HELLO FORWARD.

On Thursday after watching him leap and buck on the lunge line I popped on and though "whoa, there is a lot of energy in here today,"  Sure enough, it wasn't long until while just walking quietly along I suddenly found myself riding a bunny rabbit.  Hullo.

The next day was the same. I tied the stirrups down for lunging as I was thinking that maybe them banging on his sides the previous day had been causing the bucking.  Nope, even more leaping and bucking on the lunge and WOW WHAT A TROT.  I'll blame the beautifully mild spring weather for his feel good antics, ha!

Thankfully we didn't have any more bunny rabbit episodes under saddle, we did have plenty of spooks... but no spins and bolts thank goodness.  And wow the trot!  We'd come around a certain area of the circle and he'd throw his head up and get super fast to the point of almost breaking to the gallop.  After we'd pass that spot he'd settle, lower his head, take the contact and just give me the most amazingly forward trot ever.  It was an interesting mix of using my core to keep the rhythm, my leg to keep him from sucking back, and my hand to half-halt and supple and keep him from breaking without pulling to encourage him to keep his head down.  A few rounds later (and mostly once he figured out I wasn't going to pull on him) and I was riding one of the biggest, loftiest, most forward trots on him ever.  This horse is going to have a killer medium and extended trot one day.

Later that day I saw a post on Facebook from Tamarack Hill Farm that was talking about Impulsion and how it can be frightening to some riders because it makes them feel on the verge of losing control and that the best way to counter this is through rider fitness to be able to handle the power created by the horse.

And that is so very true.  I got done with that ride on Cash and went "Wow! I'm more out of shape for that kind of riding than I thought..."

I've been working on trying to increase my core strength at home.  I do a mix of squats, push-ups, sit-ups, planks and pull-ups at home when I can.  It doesn't always happen.  Obviously though, I need to step up my game.  With a horse like Cash it is so important that I'm able to direct his energy into that forward trot, I can figure out packaging it later on down the line, but for now, it's forward, forward, forward!!  Because the thing is, if I don't get him forward, that energy gets turned into unpleasant things like spooking, bolting and bucking.

Getting him off the inside shoulder helps too... but that's a topic for another day.  In the mean time, ride your horses forward my friends and enjoy the wind in your hair!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Blog hop: What's in a name


Sometimes these blog hops pop up and often I just plain don't have the time to put something together, but this one looked fun and with Spring Break officially upon me I can actually do something about it!

This Blog Hop is brought to you courtesy of Viva Carlos

The Story behind my blog....

I've been intriqued by blogging for some time.  I consider my "official" start to blogging back when I used to be an active member of the Horse Grooming Supplies forum.  When the forum underwent some upgrades and added on a blogging feature I jumped at it and had fun, writing about horsey adventures and shows and riding and lessons.  I enjoyed it, a lot.

But, all good things come to an end and I got a bit (ok, a lot) fed-up with the forum and some of the drama so I decided that I had bigger and better things to follow and decided to copy another HGS member and made the move to blogger.

I don't rightly remember where or how I came up with the idea of "A Mile High on Horseback", but the logic behind it is pretty simple:

I live in Colorado.  And that means elevation, a lot of it.  As a state we have 54 mountains over 14,000ft, our average elevation is approximately 6,800 and the steps of our Capitol building in Denver is exactly 1 mile above sea level.

While where I'm at currently in northern Colorado is slightly below the one mile elevation mark, I grew up in a town with an elevation of 7,600 and all the locals would always joke about going to lower elevations and feeling so energized because of all the oxygen!!

In short, we pride ourselves on our elevation in this state.  Denver is known as "The Mile High City".  The Broncos play at Sports Authority Field at Mile High... the list goes on.  So while I'm not a resident of Denver (and never will be if I can help it), I figured I'm close enough.  And thus the name was born.

Monday, March 10, 2014

21 Days to Break a Habit...


There is this little theory out there that it takes 21 days to break a habit.  How legit that is, well I don't know, but knowing firsthand how hard habits are to break, I could be influenced to believe it.  As I get my muse on, contemplating this blog post, I began to wonder, does that apply to horses?  Especially race horses?

This weekend was a good one, absolutely BEAUTIFUL weather made for a happy Emily. Though, first, I had to deal with this:
After managing to get about 80% of it off him I went on a group trail ride with all of the riders at my barn.  All the horses but the ponies went. Poor lonely lil ponies! I got a whole of 10 yards from the gate of the farm before Cash lost his marbles and I opted to lead him instead. He fretted and fumed and pranced sideways while dragging me along for the majority of the 2 mile trek.  But, thoroughbredisms aside, he was SO BRAVE!!

We traversed 2 miles of completely uncharted territory for him.  We went on paths through really upscale lake-side estates with trampolines and barking dogs and bicycles and cars and a donkey, ha. We went over sidewalks (some were *gasp* red), through several narrow gates, past big scary ditches/culverts, by a golf course, along a very tall berm/lake dam with rather steep sides, and right by a BIG creaky moving oil well (with two pigeons running back and forth along the top as the arm went up and down--hilarious!).  He spooked at the sidewalks but that was about it.  Otherwise he led the entire gang of horses and never once did he need a lead.  We even splashes through some big puddles.  That's my event-horse-in-training.

Then, I came home to some good horse racing on TV and watched Game On Dude literally run the rest of the field off their feet in his third win of The Big 'Cap at Santa Anita. WOW.  Will Take Charge ran a gallant race but could not catch The Dude.  My favorite, Mucho Macho Man, ran a great race to start but tired coming out of the far turn, bummer.

Anyway... I got to thinking about how these thoroughbred horses really cling to their race training.  Granted, it's all they've known and it's what they are comfortable with... but even as you give them more training or teach them new things, it's their "backup" reaction when they meet something new and that's the hardest thing to train out.  It's just repetition.  That's where my 21 days to break a habit thought came into play. I can't wait till I get to actually ride Cash on a trail ride (what a novel idea), but I really do wonder how long that'll be.  I'm going to see how many rides it takes him to chill, maybe it's right at 21, hehe.  I sure hope it's not 21 times per each race he was in... because that would be 21 squared, and that's a lot.  Yikes.

So now, here's a new thought.... I'm thinking back over the various times Cash has gone nutso on me while riding him off the farm.  Which is like every time, but I digress.  The point I'm wanting to say is that the key thing that seems to trigger all of these "racehorse reactions" is that I've circled him or turned around and headed back another direction.

You're thinking "So what? You've really lost it this time Emily..."

Yeah maybe I have. But work with me a minute.

We've all (or at least, I hope we all) have watched the Kentucky Derby.  Think to the post parade, they lead all the horses, one by one, past the grandstands.  The announcer reads their names, gives their stats, yada yada yada.  This is all done at the walk (or sideways jig depending on the horse), but as the horses reach the far end of the grandstands they turn around and gallop to the starting gate for their warmup.  Ta-da!  Light bulb moment.  That's what Cash is thinking is happening when I turn him around and/or circle him while riding out on the roads.  Poor guy, no wonder he gets so pissed when I try and stop him.

One day, I think he will have that light bulb moment and it'll all click, when that'll happened, who knows.  It took Pie nearly 4 years with me to chill out (he was 13 when that magic moment happened), I sure hope it doesn't take Cash that long... but, until then, if all we do is hand-walking trail rides, well I'm ok with that.