Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Stampede Gymkhana!

I had so much fun! It was such a long and tiring day, but seriously worth it.

We got to the barn early (duh) to load up and get to the park.  We got there, and parked up top where the cow horse events park.  What does this mean? That I had about a 1/4 mile walk to and from the trailer to the gymkhana arena.  Which isn't bad, unless of course you end up making the trek about a million times.

Yes, our feet were killing us by the end of the day.

Why was I not on my horse, you ask?

Since Kadin is older, I prefer to do my run, then walk back to the trailer and tie him up and let him eat and rest.  I unsaddled him for about an hour in the middle of the day to give him a break from the weight of the saddle.

Of course, since we were mostly hanging out with the cow horse events, I couldn't hear who was up for gymkhana, so  I had to walk down there a million times to make sure I wasn't going to miss my runs.

It was SUPPOSED to start at 9, but didn't start until close to 10:30.  Then, there was AN HOUR AND A HALF between each run.  There were 5 events.

Yes, this means that I ended up spending FOREVER there.  Approximately 9 hours, to spend a whole two minutes in the arena.  That math seems a little messed up, huh?

My first run was good, it was Birangle (there are two poles one either side of the arena the short way, so you run down the arena the long way, turn left around one, across the arena the short way, left around the second one, and straight back home) and unfortunately, no one was there to video tape it.  Kadin was awake, and was giving me a great working canter.  He broke down to a trot around the first pole, but headed straight to the second without trying to go home first.

The second run was Big T.  I have a video of this one.  It was a great run, but unfortunately I couldn't get him around the last pole and ended up with an off course.  Oh well.  I had leg on, but he wasn't listening to it, and when he figured it out, it was too late. You will see that he did in fact try to go for it, but since I didn't want him to wreck trying to get over to the other side of the pole, I took leg off and said screw it.  Here's the video for that.

My third run was skills barrels.  Which is honestly the stupidest pattern ever.  I dislike it, but mostly because Kadin is not a sharp turner.  You will see that our circles are all over the place, and also since there are so many turns, they are constantly waiting for a cue to run home.  I was letting him pick the pace for the most part, I can handle his fast no problem, so if he decided to pick up a lope, that was just fine with me. It's so nice to have a sweet older horse that I can trust like that (how many horses can you just let choose their speed? Obviously not all the time, but in this instance, completely) Here's the video for that.

My fourth run was cloverleaf barrels.  We did awesome! Yet again, our circles are large, but thats okay, I don't see any reason to yank his face around a barrel.  His second barrel, he gives me a BEAUTIFUL lead change (I didn't even feel it) but then he forgot how to turn at all! the third barrel was prettier, and he ran home like a champ. Also, I was able to drive him effectively through all of the turns, and he never broke gait, which is great for him. Here's the video for that.

While going into the arena for the fourth event, he stopped and pinned his ears.  With another gentle squeeze, he walked in, but that was him telling me that he was done.  So, we had a great run on barrels, and I scratched the last event.  He will stop and pin his ears at you when he's telling you that he is tired or sore or stiff or done.  Since he didn't need much encouragement to continue, and he was happy to pick up speed, I let him on barrels, but I figured there was no reason to make him do the last one.  If it wasn't already such a long day, I would have hung around and let him walk the last event, but at that point it was already 4:30, and it would be an hour and a half before that last run.  That's just far too long to wait!

Plus, what is unfortunate about this gymkhana, was the fact that it is sorted by age groups, and not skill groups.  So rather than competing with people running similar times as me, I am competing with girls that have some SERIOUSLY expensive barrel horses, that were running 17 second runs.  Obviously, me and Kadin are out of our league.  But, it was just for fun, and I had fun!

Kadin did great, and looking back at the videos, we don't look like we're going very fast.  However, Kadin is such a fluid mover, he was holding a very nice working canter throughout the runs, and a pretty nice gallop coming home.  He felt pretty maxed out on the runs home.  He isn't a fast horse, and has never been asked to or taught to extend his gait, which is why he doesn't LOOK like he is going very fast.  For him though, it was great.  He did an excellent job, and I was so happy with him.  I was happy with how much better I look from last year as well!

Also, one thing that I have noticed while watching the videos is the position this saddle puts me in.  It makes my top half come a little forward (also, with Kadin, you really have to be a little foward to be in tune with his motion, its a weird gait to ride) and makes my stirrups look short.  It's one of those annoying saddles that has massive gaps between the stirrup options, so its either semi short or way too long.  Obviously, I choose semi short.

For some reference, here is my video of last years same run on Kadin.  It felt a MILLION times better this year than last, I've really settled into all of the gaits and gotten my seat (even though it doesn't look amazing on Kadin, since I was so tipped forward in that saddle) and also, my communication.  I am no longer thrown off by him suddenly changing direction or shifting weight or anything.  Here's the link to that video.

So, we came home ribbonless, but hot and tired and sunburnt and happy (I never sleep as well as I do the night after a show!) We ran a 24 on Birangle (we ran a 27 last year, but last time it was mostly him, this time it was mostly me!) and 30's on both barrels and skills barrels.  Had I been competing with people in my skill level, I would have had some clean high placing runs, but regardless, oh well! I have more pictures, but this post is already long enough, so I will leave you with this one :)

I've never met a horse with so much expression before!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guess what I got!

A new bridle!

I actually got a new one a few weeks ago, ordered offline, but when I received it, it was really shitty quality. I figured if I had already spent that much, I might as well buy one a little more expensive and that I really loved. So I sent it back, and got this one!!

I think it's really cute, and it's weaver leather, so it's pretty good quality (the one before was stiff stiff stiff)

I am going to the spring stampede gymkhana this weekend, and kadin is going to look so cute in his pink tack!

Treatz? I luvz treetz

Just take a look at those crazy eyes!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vote for me!

If your on facebook, you may have seen the Wrangler Ultimate Cowgirl Competition.

Anyways, I entered, just for fun.

But vote for me!

I hope this link will work!

Monday, April 22, 2013

David Lee Archer

I recently ran across some videos on youtube of a trainer.

This trainer is named David Archer, and has quite a few videos of his trainings.  He seems like he works on mostly problem horses, and so far I really am enjoying his videos.

He really explains what he is doing, and why.

The main thing that stands out to me, is that he has no problems of fear.  He doesn't get afraid of the horses (even if they strike and kick and are VERY aggressive), and he especially doesn't get frustrated with the horses, which I think makes all the difference when training a horse.

Here is one of the videos I enjoyed watching

This horse is super spoiled and super mean.  She strikes at him, and could have seriously hurt him (because the owner of the horse lied and said she was broke and gentle...once she was honest about her, he said that was fine, but he would have taken a different approach if he knew she would strike out at him, duh.)

I am just impressed with how calm and cool he is throughout the entire thing.  

He mentioned a few times that people comment saying 'omg you hit that horse!' and it makes me laugh.

Because its true.  There are people that freak out, because he had to use a little force with the whip.

However, he gives this mare a chance.  He doesn't touch her with it, until she says 'f**k you', and then he gets more aggressive until she responds.

Which is obviously how it should be.  If you don't think its ever okay to give a horse a good smack if they deserve it, then clearly you shouldn't own a horse.

Note that I said 'if they deserve it.'  It's really about safety folks.

He talks a lot about having control of their feet.  If you can control their feet, then your in a position of power.  This doesn't just mean driving them forward, but controlling where they put their feet (change directions a lot, make sure they stop. back them up.  Disengage hind, etc...not just making them move, but actually controlling their feet)

This is a second video I enjoyed.   It's about another aggressive horse.  This horse doesn't like humans at all, but is fine with other horses.  It was suggested that she be put down, since she was a danger to people.  This trainer took her and helped her.

What I thought was cool, was that when he plays with ropes some, he senses anxiety, which I didn't necessarily see at first.  He is calm with him, and gives him room to freak out until he relaxes, then removes the rope.  This next video shows him introducing another person to this horse, something that previously would have ended disastriously.  He uses the rope on foot method, which usually I hate, but in this case he is gentle with the horse and only uses it as a precaution.

Anyways, so far I have really enjoyed watching this guy, and he's got a bunch of training videos covering all bases!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Irresponsible Owners

I haven't been posting much lately, mostly because nothing is going on with me and Pony haha.

I've been riding and she's been being good.

Today, I went to the barn, rode her, grained Kadin, and then as I was going to leave, got sucked into holding a horse for the farrier.

The horse is Pebbles.  Its the big bay that lives with Pony, and I have talked about her before.  She's a big OTTB and I have never known much about her, other than the fact that she can't be tied (I was left holding her while everyone moved arabs a while back).  When I held her though, she was fine.

So today, she was getting her feet done.  Her owner, this little woman who is middle aged, was being walked ALL OVER by her.  She got her foot stepped on multiple times, she kept walking around with her, she would take a step forward and absolutely just run her over when she asked her to back up.

The farrier was also not a huge fan of this horse.  He has been shoeing her for a while now, but it is always the same terrible experience.  She pulls away from the farrier, lifts up another foot and puts all her weight on the farrier, will just use brute force to walk over the farrier and whoever is standing there holding her.

Is she a bad horse? No.  She has not been taught ground manners, and has figured out that she is a big horse and she can use this to her advantage to get what she wants.

The owner went to get her some grain to hope that it would keep her standing quietly, and asked me to hold her for a second.  I told her I didn't mind and kept holding her once she got back.  She tried to run me over and walk straight over me a few times.  The space we were in was similar to a barn alley, not a whole lot of space.   There was other horses, farrier equipment etc, so once she started to walk away from me, I would smack her and yank on her lead, but if she had already gotten too far, it wasn't safe to bring her back where she needed to be, so I would take her outside, lunge her in a few circles, and walk her back where she needed to be.  This way, I wasn't putting myself or any of the horses in danger, but I was letting her know that ignoring me and walking away from me would get her ass worked, then put right back where she didn't want to be.

The owner really needed to leave to go somewhere, and I told her I would hold her, since honestly it was probably safer for everyone involved.

I later found out that this brute of a horse was the woman's daughter, who left to go away to college and only saw her a few times a year.  Other than that, the mother came out and grained the horse and that was the extent of handling that this horse got.

This woman was the sweetest person ever, she gave me a few dollars before she left to say thank you for holding her.  When I was lunging her in a few circles around me, she was talking to the farrier saying 'see, I just can't do this.'

She is clearly not a horse person.  However, she is putting herself in danger and paying for this horse, who her daughter sees a few times a year.  This is SO not fair.  It makes me really angry with the daughter, because its not fair to her mother, or to pebbles.  I am sure at some point that Pebbles had ground manners, but since they were not enforced and people started treating her like she is a big horse, she quickly lost any semblance of training that she at one point had.

Once she was finally done, I went to take her home, and she trotted and yanked the entire way back.  At one point, a car was coming (slowly of course) and she went to drive by me and Pebbles ran at the car, turned around and almost reared up when she felt the halter because I tried to yank her back to me. I was afraid she was going to kick the car!

While leading her back home, she would jig and slowly push me off the road. I am telling you, this horse is big and has a lot of power.  When this happened, I really had to stop and snap that lead rope down and HARD on the halter.  She was absolutely not caring about me being near her.

It is just so sad when horses and their humans reach this point.

It has just reached the point where she is straight dangerous to be around.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Equestrian Challenge Day 21

Describe your perfect schooling outfit :

Considering all I ever really do is school, my perfect schooling outfit is whatever I wear to the barn!

This obviously generally consists of jeans, my cowboy boots and a t shirt.  Sometimes my shirt is cuter than other times (depending on where I was before I went to the barn!) but thats pretty much an everyday outfit for me haha.

Of course, I love my Dapplebay shirt... :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch 88

Everyday Ruralty

Today is a very special chat! Its Wendells chat! Since its Patrice's birthday, Wendell is asking us questions today! Happy Birthday Patrice!!!

Wendell asks:

1. Are you enjoying spring?
Heck yes I am! Luckily I live in california, and we have much more warm weather than cold, I don't know what I would do if I lived where its winter most of the year!

2. Where would you take Patrice for her birthday, if you could spend the day together? Wendell hopes that you would bring her back!
I would take her on a nice long trail ride on horseback!

3. What is your favorite spring flower?
I love honeysuckle. I love how sweet it smells and how it blooms so beautifully. Plus, you can pick it off, remove the stem and suck the bottom of them. Yum!

4.What do you do when your going through a really stressful time?
Horseback ride, of course! No better therapy :)

5. What kind of birthday cake would you get for patrice? And Wendell?
I think Wendell would love a nice carrot cake! And for Patrice, maybe a good Red Velvet, I always love those!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hula Hoops!

So the few days before I figured out what was going on with Pony, we did some fun desensitizing work.

The first day, I played with pool noodles and a parachute and a hula hoop and a ball.  I have pictures of all of it that aren't uploaded right now, but in general she did REALLY good !

She is not good with desensitization.  My trainer looked at the pictures and said she was pretty impressed, because generally getting her in the same arena with any weird object is good for her.

I have a video of her walking with a hula hoop around her neck.  She wasn't totally sure about it, but I think its hilarious because she takes super deliberate and funny steps!

Here is the link to it!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Silly, sweet mare

So I figured out my problem last Thursday night.

I promptly wrote a post about it on Friday morning, and received awesome comments!!

Friday, I went to the barn with a whole new attitude about how I would approach pony.

I arrived at the barn knowing that she deserves 100% from me, and if she has to work, so do I.

The first huge thing was that she was standing by the gate when I went to get her. She looked at me, looked around, shifted her weight as if she might leave, and chose to stay. I opened the gate and held out my hand and clicked at her. SHE CAME TO ME!!!!

This has never happened before!!

I took her in, groomed her, tacked up and went into the arena. I remember how Cindy wrote about how her rides with trax simply need to be longer. That he is just starting to work by the end of an hour long warm up!

So, I had a LONG warm up. I probably rode for about 2 hours overall. I worked on walking for a long time, lateral movements, circles, etc.

When I asked for a trot, I could feel a difference in her from the very beginning. We took a lot of breaks, and worked on managing our trot speed (which has been impossible in the last few weeks).

Finally, we worked on loping. Both leads were beautiful, easy, controlled and slow.

I was amazed.

I am proud of myself for recognizing that there was a problem, figuring out the problem, and effectively changing my riding.

The crazy thing, is that it was a barely noticeable shift. I could feel it, pony could feel it, but no one else could hardly see it. But it made SUCH a difference.

It was my entire attitude, shifted from 'alright let's have a ride' to 'let me help you do what I want' and she appreciated that. In the past few weeks, I had been riding other horses, horses that are MUCH easier to ride, and she could feel it, and my subtleties with her had shifted. There again, it was such a small shift, I didn't realize I had changed anything.

I am so happy, it's crazy how much they can read your mind and body language and react!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Opinionated Mares

So talking about how Pony thinks she deserves a lot of attention made me think of a funny story.

A year or two ago, when my trainer was still riding her, she would have long days.  She would ride a bunch of horses, and then when it came time to take care and ride her own horses, she would be tired and would want to go home.  Pony takes a lot of attention and focus, so instead of riding her, she would just turn her out. (This is when she was in a small stall area at a different barn.)

So what did Pony do?

She went balls out in the arena, and didn't let my trainer catch her for over an hour.

Pony was saying 'you can't cast me off, I deserve as much attention as anyone else.  If you turning me out because you want to go home, thats not gonna happen lady'

The days that my trainer went out and rode her first, or even just turned her out first thing, she would run around for a few minutes, then come and stick her head in the halter.  If she rode her early and gave her full attention, she would be perfect and they could have a short ride.

Pony is VERY funny like that.  She opinionated.  She knows exactly what she deserves, and knows when your not giving it to her.  A lot of horses wouldn't care, but she is obviously sensitive.  (Like we didn't know that one.)

She is not expressive.  She is not a cuddler.  She won't lean into scratches, she won't run up to you, you have to find her ways to show you she loves you.  Like when I put her home and she will stay for scratches without running away when I remove her halter.

At the same time though, she does love me, and does enjoy being loved on.  Its just buried down there, so of course she can tell when I'm half assing anything!

Here's one of the pictures from the photoshoot! I love it!

Man oh man, what are we going to do with these opinionated mares!!


I am so frustrated.

Me and Pony were doing SO WELL. And then we weren't.

Her left hind mysteriously swelled up about 2 weeks ago, and for about a week before that we had been having slow easy rides.  We assumed she probably got kicked, or kicked something on her leg...there was never any heat or obvious pain from her.  She was slightly lame at the trot the day we noticed it (Like, if your looking super hard you can see a slight shift of her of those types of lame) and then just stiff the day after that.  I rode her around in the beginning to get the blood flowing etc.

I cold hosed it, I checked it up and down a million times, there was not a single scuff on the leg.  Just swelling.  After a few days, she started looking a lot better, but her disposition has been kind of funny since then.

The weather has also been a little odd, hot then cold and then windy and freezing then raining then sunny tank top sweaty weather.

I've been getting really bad gaits from her since then, and her left lead lope is just terrible.  It's impossibly fast and I can't get her to slow it down, so I am thinking that something in that left hind is still giving her a little pain or discomfort.  In her trot, I cant keep her at a good pace, its a jet engine then a nice jog, and then a walk.

I think my problem is that I focused on other things, she realized it, and she promptly got pissed.  She is not a sideline horse...she is a give me your entire complete attention horse.

On friday at our photo shoot (pictures to come!) she was just absolutely crazy.  She even did her best impression of running away with me.  I was frazzled, and she was frazzled.

Would you like to know why she was an absolute monster at our photo shoot? Its because for about three weeks prior to that, I had divided my attention between her and other horses, and when I did ride her I had no goals and aimlessly road.

Also, I had expectations of her.  I went out on Friday with expectations of how awesome I'd look and how awesome she'd look and I hadn't put the proper training/workouts into her to be able to go and have expectations.  My expectations should have been 'watch us walk around the arena'.

She absolutely knew that I had expectations of being awesome, but I did not deserve her to be awesome for me.  What I deserved was a half feral Pony with an attitude because she deserved more attention.  And that is EXACTLY what I got.

Man I hate it when our ponies are right.

But it is tough.  It's spring and me and Pony were doing so good that I stopped putting the same amount of effort into our rides and she knew it.

This is funny, because in February I was sick and I went a full three weeks without riding her.  Did she care? Not in the slightest.  She was wonderful when I came back.  She was wonderful and calm and not hot, and she was like that because I wasn't coming out and half assing my time with her.

They know us allllll too well.

I'm sorry Pony.  I'll start stepping it up to the plate.  Promise.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Giveaway Results!

Once again, it is monday.

And once again, here I am to brighten someones day!!

So, drumroll please....

Andrea from Mustang Saga is the winner for the Book giveaway!


If you could email me at horseshoesandhearts at gmail . com, with a shipping address, I will get those out to you asap!

Everyone else, remember to follow Andrea's blog, as she will be hosting the giveaway next and you will have another chance to win it!!