Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Saddle fit and a funny!

So I switched pony to a fleece bottom pad rather than her normal wool pad, and it completely changed the way she acted!

She was obviously so much more comfortable! I was so happy to see her relaxed and clearly no longer in pain.

It's just another reminder that our ponies will tell us what's wrong if we just take the time to listen to them!

And I saw this on Pinterest earlier, how hilarious is it? Well played horse, well played.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ponys are the lessons that just keep coming!

And welcome to part two of 'listening when your pony tells you something!'

So I've been riding pony, maybe two months ago. She is super forward, mostly at her lope (ahem, almost gallop) but I had slowly gotten her to slow it down a lot. In an English saddle, she gives me a beautiful lope. However, in the past few rides, she's been doing some weird things in a western saddle.

When I asked her to lope she gave me a little crow hop, and then especially on her left lead (which was always her better lead) when going around in a circle she was fine around one side and then she would go in a straight line and not want to turn, while giving a terrible 'jumpy' lope. It felt like she wasn't extending her back legs, and kept them together and kinda 'hopped' from front to back. So bizarre, right?

Except what I'm thinking is that the saddle is pinching somewhere. And sure enough, when I took off the pad today, there was a place where her fur looked like it had been rubbed badly on her left side, and none on the right side. So I'm thinking its pinching on the left side, so when she was on a left lead she tried to get her legs away from her, not under her like they should be.

The thing that I'm confused about is the fact that she was fine for probably 5 weeks, then acted like that once, then twice in one week, and now that's how she feels western.

So here's my question, do you think there is something that might have not bothered her, and then when she was ridden regularly it slowly started to bother her more?

My trainer said she doesn't always do great with a wool pad, so I'm going to switch her to a fleece, and hope it feels better for her.

There is another saddle I can put on her, but I'm first going to switch pads, then saddle so I can eliminate one thing at a time.

The only other thing I could think of would be that she might have lost some weight, and now it's pushing in different places.

She's such an honest, trying horse, that I know there's something going on that makes her uneasy, or hurting.

And here we go people, with the lessons you can learn from your pony! Don't forget that if you really listen to them, they will tell you what's going on!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lets go balance!

Today I had an awesome ride that went nowhere in the direction I thought it would.

I went to the barn expecting to ride in a western saddle and ride without stirrups, in order to work on my balance/bareback riding.

I did that for a little while, with great success, until pony took off galloping across the arena...in her defense, I definitely squeezed when I lost balance.  I am trying to get her to feel me better though, and understand what I want when I squeeze different ways, and understand the difference between 'oh shit I'm falling off' and 'ok lets have some speed'.  Which is obviously tough for a speedy horse to grasp! So I don't expect her to get it, but this is why I'm doing stuff like loping with no stirrups rather than loping bareback! Its all about perspective haha.

After her spaz attack, I had a super tough time getting her back into a nice easy lope, and when we finally achieved that, she was able to stop and walk around! But after a few minutes of that, I thought that actually, it would be fun to switch her to english and cool her off that way.

So I switched her gear to english gear and went back out there.  My trainer was giving another lesson at the time, and set up some trot poles and a (I have no idea what the name for it is) but its two x's with a pole attached, so you can make it ground level, about 6 inches, or about a foot high.

It was at the ground level, and I was working on trotting and walking around and over them in two point.  She was doing fine on all of those things, and then while trotting around the other side of the arena, my trainer turned the x pole over, so it was about 6 inches high.  Me and pony both realized this around the same time, as we were going over it.  She tripped on it, and started to go down, and caught herself, then started to go down again, and caught herself, and then stumbled again.  It was ridiculous! and I rode the entire thing!

There was also a cowboy in the arena, and he came over and said I deserved a cowgirl high five for staying on that one.  My trainer said she is continually amazed with how well I handle falling off, or having a horse trip.

Here are just a few examples of why she feels that way......

1) One of her lesson horses, kadin, was my favorite horse in the world.  However, he had kinda wonky feet and it took a while to get him into shape and his feet in good condition.  In that time, he tripped a bit.  I was one of the riders that worked with him the most/asked the most of him.  At a gymkhana, we did barrels at a nice lope, and on the way home I asked for more speed, which resulted in him tripping at the finish line and me having a nice little fall.  It was honestly hilarious though,  I have it on video.  I will have to try and find that to post.

2) A few weeks after that, we were riding in an arena that we didn't usually ride in, and it had thicker sand than the other ones.  He tripped, badly, ended up rolled over on his side, however, somehow I had already landed a few feet away from him, on my side with nothing wrong other than sand in my pants.

3) We went on a trail ride and went through a gate, and I tried to get Kadin to hold the gate for the people behind us.  However, by the time we got through it, Kadin was dead set on seeing his friends up ahead, and I was deadset  on holding the damn gate! Since I had one hand on the gate and he was walking straight ahead, I tried using my leg to guide him, but I ended up being fully stretched, midair, with only one foot in a stirrup, still holding onto the gate and holding onto the rein on the side that was useless to me.  Finally I had to let go of the gate and I jumped down onto my feet.  The entire trail ride party kind of sat there in shock for a minute, I guess it looked like it was going to be a big dramatic fall.

4) She's seen me fall off bareback numerous times, but its always a step off, land on my feet type of a thing.

5) I used to ride a horse named oreo, one day I went into the pasture to say hi to her.  She was eating and content, and I didn't have a halter with me or anything.  So I jumped on her, bareback, because I had done that a few times before and she usually just walked around with me on her back and kept eating.  However, apparently I left the gate unlatched, because the wind blew it open, and as soon as I knew it she was galloping across the pasture towards the gate with me on her back.  So I swung a leg over, landed on my feet, and started running after her!!


And it just makes me wonder, you know? Because I can't lope bareback to save my life, but when a horse is tripping, falling, or I am falling I have never even been close to hurting myself.  And what it is, is that after so many years of gymnastics training, where we are trained to just let ourselves fall, if you stick out an arm you'll break it, if you stick out a leg you'll break it, so obviously your body as a whole should break your fall.  I just wish I had that instinct for riding bareback!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chats on the farmhouse porch

So through the awesome blogger over at Living a Dream (http://livingadream2.blogspot.com/2012/11/chats-on-farmhouse-porch-thankful.html?m=1) I was able to find another awesome blog called Everyday rurality. She posts chats on the farmhouse porch, which is a few questions that you copy to your own blog and give your answers! Here are her questions!

1. What's the last thing you baked?
2. What's your favorite condiment?
3. Do you have a smart phone, dumb phone, or no phone(we're talking about cell phones)?
4. Do you have a favorite card game?
5. Tell me ten things you're thankful for - please:)

And my answers!

1. I baked cookies last week. The really stupid sugar cookies that come with a picture on them and all you have to do is dump them on a pan and put in the oven! But they are oh so tasty!
2. I really like ranch! And blue cheese from buffalo wings places, they have such good blue cheese I don't know why!
3. I have an iPhone! And I'm attached to it! I do have times where I put it down and spend the day without it, to make sure I'm not like obsessed with it.
4. I love to play card games! There's one called kings crown, or something that we always play at family gatherings that's fun!
5. I'm grateful for my family, my wonderful boyfriend, my awesome pony, the fact that I have a job and can afford to lease pony, the food I have to eat, the roof over my head, my car and truck!, the good health in my family, the circumstances that led me to find my trainer, and my kitties :)


Everyday Ruralty


Monday, November 19, 2012

Problem solved

So if you read my last post, you'll know me and pony had a few problems.

Pony is actually my trainers horse, and I have a full lease on her. Since I've never been a horse owner, and have only been riding a little over a year, it's really nice to have someone who knows the horse inside and out nearby when I have a problem. This way, the problem can get solved the right way!

So, pony is a very interesting horse. She's super honest, super forward, and super sensitive.

Basically, what we think happened was that she got frustrated and was trying to tell me that something was wrong. Usually her left lead is better, but I kept thinking she wasn't picking it up. Since she's so small and has such a long mane, it's kinda hard to tell which lead she's on, so even though I think she was picking it up, I kept slowing her down and asking for it again and thinking she was in the wrong when she was really doing what I asked.

My trainer suspects that when I thought she kept doing something wrong, I got frustrated and she could tell. Amanda (my trainer) describes her as a sensitive little kid. She gets really upset if she thinks your yelling at her.

So, her crowhop was the pony version of laying on the floor and crying because she didn't know why I seemed frustrated with her when she was doing what I asked!

So. The best solution to her little meltdown really isn't working her hard because she honestly loves to work, and it was her way of letting me know she was frustrated upset and confused. So honestly, this one was on me.

The best way to get what you want out of her is to stop her (because what she wants is to just run around, so really stopping her is showing her balking doesn't get her what she wants) refocus her, give her something that she can do easily and right, rebuild her confidence, then try again.

I know if your reading this you might think 'that's stupid, she crowhopped and you let her get away with it.'

While yes, you shouldn't teach your horse that crowhopping or balking is a way to get their point across, she had already given me a lot of hints as to her frustration, and I wasn't listening to her. She did something that I would listen to, but that wouldn't hurt me because she knows me and my seat.

I'm taking it like it was a lesson to me to pay attention to my horse and figure out what exactly it is that they are telling me before I jump to conclusions and use firmer cues etc.

Because pony is a very honest horse. And Amanda got her as a mustang and broke her, and she said she has never seen her buck under saddle in her entire time owning her, which is impressive for a previously unbroke mustang!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Today was a bit rough...

I've been super busy today and haven't had time to see pony as much as I would have liked to.  I rode her on monday, but it was an easy bareback trail ride, and she was already hot on monday.  But then again, she's the type of horse that is ALWAYS hot.  My trainer calls her the energizer bunny haha, and its so true! 

But today, she was just clearly on a whole different playing field.

Usually, when asked to lope, she goes into it nicely, she'll hump up a little if you give her too much rein.   Once in a while though, she will anticipate it and she will shoulder out and hip in.  Today, she tried to do that, and I put leg on when I felt it begin to happen, and do you want to know what her response was? A buck!

Like, what the heck! I couldn't believe it.  It didn't get me off, but it really surprised me! 

I've had horses hump up on me before, but I've never had a horse actually buck.  So, I was a little caught off guard, and since my trainer wasn't with me I didn't exactly know what to do.  My first response was to pull her face to my knee and circle her hard and yelling at her.  Then I loped her, for a while.  

Hold on, it was not a lope.  We galloped.  She's so forward and crazy, she only lopes when you really relax into it, and no amount of relaxing could get her to slow down, so when she finally did a 'not gallop' lope, I stopped, got off, untacked, and then took her back to the place where she bucked, and lunged her until she decided she wasn't going to buck again.  I was not happy with her.  But honestly, I felt bad for working her, but at the same time, she had no reason to buck! The only thing I could think of was that I had too much rein on her, but I honestly don't think thats the case. 

The only other thing I could think it might have been was that she didn't actually buck.  Since I've never been bucked before, she may have done something else, but I thought she bucked.  

Basically it felt like her butt went up higher than her shoulders. I slid forward into the saddle, it didn't unseat me, it was kinda like her back got really low, if thats a way to describe anything? 

Can anyone tell me if you think she did buck?

Anyways, on a brighter note, I have a bunch of pictures that will brighten anyones day!!



This is one of the two barn cats, Miss Kitty. (The other is Waylon)
Miss Kitty is adorable! And she loves spending time in my tack room! We have to check for cats before we lock up, no one wants to lock a kitty in all night! How cute is she? Thats her favorite hangout, is that one saddle.  She's super sweet though, as is Waylon, they loveee a good pet.




After I rode pony, I got a soapy bucket and washed her whites. She has such pretty high whites on all fours, and I felt like making her stand a while longer since I was still unhappy from the buck. 


Look at those pretty whites :)

And then......


Which of course led to.....


Seriously pony?! Seriously!!!!
I guess she was in a bratty mood today.



But, here, meet Mario

Mario is the cutest mini in the world.  He lives with pony (along with a chestnut and a bay) 
He is literally like a big puppy.  If you call his name he will run over to you.  I've met some nasty minis too, but he is as sweet as sugar.

In case you ever wanted to know what its like to look up the nose of a mini


I was rubbing his forehead and accidentally did this.  Woops, sorry man.

And then of course, since Mario was getting attention, Pony got jealous


Doesn't Mario have some pretty colors though?


So she came over.  And then, the chestnut wanted some attention too, and ran Mario away! Poor little guy



Anyways, that was my day at the barn!

Ps. if you read my post about my blanket....
my kitty loves it.









Awesome DIY blanket!

So this post isn't exactly about horses, but it's definitely horse related! 

I went to Joanns last night to get fabric to make this shirt 

(Here's the link to the tutorial in case any three of my followers are do it yourselfers!)

They didn't have any good jersey knit, so I didn't end up being able to make it.  However, when I was walking around I found some awesome fleece! I'm sure everyone has seen those cool no sew fleece blankets

Like this!
(Tutorial link/credit here)

However, I found a super awesome alternative to that! While those are fun, I think the sewn edges can be a little kid-ish (not that theres anything wrong with that! I just didn't think it would go with my fabric as well)

So I found this tutorial that gives this super pretty edge! And it is still totally no sew.

Its fun right! So I found this awesome fleece that was totally on sale, and it had horses on it! What more could I ask for! So I got two yards of two different patterns of fleece.  

First, I moved a bunch of furniture out of the way in my living room. And I laid down my first fabric
Isn't it awesome? A wild west, cowboy fabric!

Heres my second fabric! 

Wild Horses! Isn't it cool?

So first I cut off the excess fabric that is actually called the selvage, which is something I learned last night.


Then I forgot to continue taking pictures.  I had to cut one inch slits all the way around the sides, I laid the two pieces together and cut through them both at the same time.  However, I cut the pieces closer to like two or three inches long, so I had to trim each piece when I cut a small slit in each one.


Here was my scraps pile.  Holy crap.  And then I followed the tutorial I put the link to and used a crochet needle to pull each piece through the one before.  

I did have a little helper with me though




Isn't she cute? She pounced on the tape measure everytime I had it juuuuust right. So dang helpful!


Aaaaaand (drumroll please) here is my finished project! Do you like it? I love it! Its so comfy and cute, and I think the edge looks pretty dang good!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Peaceful ride

After spending the weekend with my boyfriend (as I do every weekend, he lives about 40 miles north) I got home this morning and was really dragging my feet about going to the barn.  The barn is about half an hour drive, but its closer to an hour if you get stuck in traffic, which is pretty much 7-9:30 in the morning, but 4-7 at night.

So finally I got up off my booty and dragged myself to the barn.  Its not that I didn't want to ride, its not that I don't love pony, I just didn't feel like getting up off my butt!!

So I got to the barn and pulled pony out and brushed her and picked her feet and combed her hair, bridled her and jumped on.

Well, I rode her on Friday, but not saturday or sunday, and she was hot.  She's usually sooo understanding of me when I'm bareback, but today she wasn't crazy in the least, she just wanted to do more than I let her do.  So we went out to pasture and up the hill, and it was so fantastic, just sitting directly on your pony in the sunshine looking out over all the hills.

I really need to start bringing my camera with me, I'm always forgetting!!!

The best part of the day by far was when I went to put her back.  She really likes people, but she doesn't necessarily broadcast that.

Everytime you go to get her, she runs away, and its not in a mean way, more like a 'hey lets play a game!' way, because when you stare at her and let her know you're not going to play, she lets you walk right towards her.

So today when I put her back, she stood there with me.   She didn't walk away, she just let me hug her and cuddle her and get all up in her business.  She then walked away to pee, and then came right back over to me! She's such a sweet mare, I honestly didn't want to leave!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The difference a great trainer can make!

So I rode pony for a second time English, on Monday.

She is a very funny and forward little pony, and I am not exactly foolproof in an english saddle (I can count on one hand how many times I've ridden english, so who would be!)

So on Monday morning, I headed out to the ranch and figured I would get through all three gaits today english.  I did wear a helmet (English safety!), and was all alone (the ranch was pretty empty, which is weird!).

I am usually pretty confident with horses, and I really like to push my limits on what I think I can do.  However, I try to take the safest route when pushing these limits.  So, to work with her, I rode her in the round pen! I thought it would be easiest to not worry about directing her, and only worry about my seat.  So, we trotted one way, and then we trotted the other way, and then we loped on her left lead! And it was nice! very smooth, and I thought I sat it quite nicely!

And then, of course, to make things even, I had to lope her on her right lead! Well, I asked for a lope (oops, canter) and she gave it to me, then broke to a trot, then tried to pick up her canter again.  I don't know if it was my seat that threw her off, or if I was hanging on her mouth (I really am pretty good about not hanging on her mouth, I often give her too much rein, which makes her a little crazy when shes allowed to go fast!) but something made her break gait, and boy it was not smooth.

In a western saddle, it wouldn't have been a problem.  However, in an english saddle, I first lost balance, and then my foot went out in front of me.  For those of you that have never ridden english, english stirrups go wherever you point them, unlike western stirrups that only have so much play to them. Once my feet were in front of me, I hung on her mouth, which scared her! She then squirted out from underneath me, and I went flying and ate dirt hard.

I have fallen a fair amount of times (all while trying to lope bareback, silly me, and twice when the horse I was on tripped) and usually I do a cute little step off and then fall on my booty.  But let me tell you, there was nothing graceful about this.  I landed hard, and ended up with sand all over me (for those of you that don't fall much, it gets in your buttcrack, up your shirt, your bra turns to sandpaper) oh its no fun.

So of course, what did I have to do? I had to get back up on her, sweating with anxiety, and lope her! Which I did.  And what did I do after I cooled her down? I texted my trainer and said 'English was super fun until I fell on my butt, can you give me a lesson this week?'

My fall had scared me, but after years of gymnastics training, I have a pretty good fear tolerance.  In gymnastics, if you get scared and you hit a block, there is nothing anyone can say or do until you man up and decide to do it.  And the same holds true to horseback riding.

So today, I had a lesson with my trainer.  In the trot, she told me what to fix and praised me when it was done correctly.  When it came time to lope, we worked on the left lead first, Ponys naturally better lead.  When it came time to lope to the right, I was scared.  But what could I do? My trainer can't hold my hand through it, she can only position my body and trust me to do it.  So I loped her.  And we loped for a while, and lets be honest, it was a great lesson!  It was so much fun! Lots of hard work, but I really got my confidence back, and I was so happy! I was also proud of myself, for simply manning up and doing it!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Patience

Lets be honest, we could all use more patience in our lives.

I have worked with kids for years, but I have much less patience for the younger ones. I find myself getting frustrated when the little guy I'm with now walks soooo dang slow, or when he eats, sooooo dang slow, or changing, or waking up. Lets be honest, when they're three they have two speeds : super hyper fast, and slower than molasses in January.

I also find myself losing patience in my relationship. It's not very fair though, since a lot of the time I am not clear with my feelings.

How do we move past losing patience?

It's tough. I usually take a deep breath, remind myself that it's not whoevers fault, and remind myself that I need to have more patience.

I think that having more patience also runs hand in hand with enjoying the little things in life.

When I get frustrated with my little guys slow moving feet, I look at him and see how sweet he is, how funny he dressed himself, and remember that's just how kids are! They don't understand the urgency us as adults often feel.

It's tough! But remember its worth it to take time to smell the roses and walk in the sunshine.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Woohoo English!

So pony can totally jump, willingly.

So, I of course want to ride her English as well as western.


I have dabbled in English before...my first ever lesson was English, and then I took some western lessons, and then I went back for another English lesson, the same trainer was super rude and condescending when I told her I was taking western lessons. She spent the entire lesson pointing out what I was doing wrong, and how it was because I rode western.

Basically I left the lesson in tears. It took me a while but I was finally able to work up my courage and find a different trainer and go take an English lesson.

So anyways, when I started leasing pony, Amanda said she had a saddle I could use but it had no attachments (leathers, irons and girth). So this weekend, up in Sacramento I found a store that was all consignment tack! Which is awesome! I was able to get a good quality leather girth that fit pony for only 25 dollars! I was also able to find leathers for 7.50! Unfortunately there were no irons for sale, so I bought those at a regular tack store that cost about 35. So I was able to ride pony English tonight!!

However, what I didn't notice until I had gotten home was the leathers I bought. One was in great condition, but the other was waaaay stretched out. Like, I don't know how it even could have happened. Ill include a picture...the picture I took had the leathers lined up even, look how much further down the first hole is on one of them! So...I was able to fix it. Punch more holes of course!

Doesn't pony look cute English? :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Update on my gate success

Haha, it always gets worse before it gets better, right?

Haha, good thing pony didn't mean to hurt me or I'd be pretty mad with her!