2012 - here it is! Another year flies by. Another year of ramblings, musings, analytical riding, and trying to figure out these darn horses.

September, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I saddled Tango up and put some loose side reins on him for a bit of longeing. I used the whole arena so he didn't have to do any small circles. The side reins worked marvelously. He went right back to the way he was before he became sore - he traveled around without putting any pressure on the reins, holding his own frame. The trot both directions was great! Canter to the right was great, and even the canter to the left looked a thousand times better than it did last week. I felt a surge of hope again, and it's been a while since I felt like that. Things ain't over, they are just beginning...just gotta be patient!

After Tango's 10 minute session, I saddled Corky up and rode. I worked a bit on collecting her at the canter and getting her working a bit more underneath herself. I asked her to work a bit harder today, and she kept a pretty good attitude about it. She has been a lot of fun to ride lately, and as soon as the rains stop and things dry up we will head back outside to ride. Other than that...I have no plans. I hate that.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day (or Labor-FREE Day, as in my case!)

What a glorious day! Even though it rained yesterday, the ground was dry enough to ride outside. I didn't know what to expect with Corky - she was good the last time I rode her outside, but was crazy last spring when I tried. She was awesome again today, I had a blast! I even got an impromptu schooling lesson from one of the dressage people at the barn. Our nemesis seems to be straight lines. After a bit of practice, we got better. It was just so much fun to ride...I loved every minute of it. It really refreshed my brain after such a rough week and weekend. I feel rejuvenated!

It was really hot, and Corky needed hosed off when we were done riding. I had turned Tango out in the side pasture and he ran and played a bunch while I was riding, so he was also pretty hot and sweaty. I decided against working him today, I figured his playtime was work enough. I will probably work him on Wednesday. I am toying with the idea of getting on his back this week, even if only for 5 minutes. I just want to keep all that saddle training somewhat fresh in his mind.

Three best friends out for an afternoon ride!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Well, I longed and ground drove Tango and decided to climb back in the saddle. We pretty much picked up right where we left off! He was his usual balky self, and since I didn't have spurs or a crop I had to bang my feet pretty hard on his sides to get him moving. He is a lot stronger under saddle now, and he knows it! I could tell a couple times that bucking crossed his mind, but he didn't do it. However, he was soft to the bit and steered well, so I was happy! It was a quick 10 minute ride. Success!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It was a gorgeous evening, so I saddled Corky up and took her outside to longe and ride. We longed for a long time, but she was wound up and spooking at every noise in the woods and would NOT settle down. Rather than start a fight, I went indoors to ride. She rode great indoors. One benefit to longeing outside when she is wound up is that when I do get on her, she is super loose and free-moving! I have to admit I was a bit frustrated with her...we just rode outside last week and it was awesome. Why was today so terrible? I sure wish I could have the same horse every day, but she is a different horse each time she comes out of the stall.

While I rode Corky, Tango was turned out in the side paddock and ran like crazy. Great exercise for him!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Today was Tango's day. I made the mistake of putting Corky out in the side paddock, and she ran and hollered and acted like a maniac. I tried longeing Tango in the indoor, but Corky's carrying on was really winding him up and he did a lot of bucking and flinging around. I put Corky back in her stall before getting on Tango. He was nice and loose and had a lot of go at the trot, but getting him into the trot was another matter. I asked him to trot and he ignored me, so I had to get slappy with my legs and that made him mad. He actually reared - went up in the air over my feet slapping his sides - no spurs or anything! It surprised the crap out of me...very unexpected. Thankfully I stayed in the saddle,got him moving forward and into the trot. We did quite a bit of trotting since he was so energetic, lots of circles and figure-8's. The rearing thing kind of worried me, though. That was the first and only t,e he has ever done that, but that is definitely something I don't want to turn int a habit! I have never had a horse that reared before, not sure what to do.

I will get Tango back out on Saturday and try him with my spurs so I won't have to slap my legs so much, and we will see how he reacts. I think it is very important we get back into a work routine immediately. I think he enjoyed his vacation a little too much!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gorgeous, gorgeous day! I was determined to ride Corky outside, no matter what her mental state! There was a horse turned out in the pasture next to the riding area, this could either help or hurt us. Corky started out a little wound up, but settled quickly, mainly because the other horse was just peacefully grazing and she fed off of that attitude. I got in a very good ride. It wasn't quite as easy or smooth as the ride I had 2 weeks ago outside (she was a bit jumpy at things) but it was still a success. She moves SO good outside with the large area to stretch out her stride. I am going to miss that this winter.

While I rode Corky, I turned Tango out in the side paddock, so when we were done he was ready to ride. I did a spot of longeing first, and he was quiet and fairly willing. Under saddle he was a bit sticky with his steering, so we worked a bit at the walk before going into the trot. he was hard to get into the trot. I put spurs on for this ride, but didn't want to use them strongly at first. I did get him into the trot after a lot of urging. We did a few rounds, a few circles, then walked again. When I went to ask him to trot again, he was NOT listening so I had to get a bit stronger with my legs, and he did a half-rear. Damn! I got after him pretty hard, then asked him to go forward again. It was a lot of work, but eventually he went back into the trot and did great. I did several more walk-to-trot transitions and they got better every time, but never were they automatic. They all needed a LOT of urging. I will say his trot was phenomenal. Once I got him into it, he was super light in the face and really looked great. I kept watching us in the big arena mirrors and I started getting excited again. You know that feeling - when you get your hopes up again thinking of the future!

I started thinking about what Darla had told me last winter about how important it is to establish forward motion right from the start. We had it established when I was riding him back in June, but it seems to have left! I decided it might be a good idea to canter him a little bit today - just get him into the canter to make him realize that forward motion is his job. I asked him to canter his good way, which is to the right, and unbelievably he went right into it within 2-3 strides! We cantered one full round, then walked a bit. I turned him around and trotted, and then asked for the canter to the left...again it took only 2-3 strides and he went into it! We did another full round of the arena, then trotted a bit and called it a day. I was giddy with joy - it was such an awesome feeling. I can't wait for his 3yo year next year, it is going to be FUN!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I did my usual routine with Tango (longe and ride), this time though I rode with spurs and a crop. He was very sticky getting into the trot, but no rearing today...yay! Once we got through that, I had my best ride ever on him - he was moving out and looked and felt great!

Monday, September 17, 2012

When I got to the barn tonight, there was still a lesson going on so I got on tango without longeing and worked some walking circles in the middle until he loosened up. Our first trot departure was very

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I finally was able to get out to the barn tonight! It was a long week without my horses...I find myself getting cranky when I don't get to spend time with them. I wonder if it is like that with everyone, or if I am just weird?

Jim Dettmer, who owns Tango's sire (Thanks For Com En) was judging a show in Lima today, so he came out to the barn after the show to see Tango. I rode Tango with Pretzel running loose in the arena, and he actually did not react at all to the dog racing by him. I got a fairly good ride in, but his transitions were still really sticky. OK, sticky isn't the work, it was way more than sticky. I have to find some way of motivating him to MOVE when I ask him, without making him overly angry or making him too hot off my leg. What to do, what to do?

Oh well, here is a video from tonight of all the good parts of our ride. The canter was much better today!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I watched last night's video side-by-side with the last video I have of Tango in June before he got hurt. I think his trot has come back 100% (I think it might even be a little better now), but I can see that his canter has a ways to go. It's not as smooth and flat as it was in June. Those pesky wedge shoes are probably to blame...grrr.

Today I rode Corky, and boy was she cranky!!! She did NOT like Pretzel running around her, she did NOT like my leg, it was all female hormonal anger with her. She still rode well for me, but you could see her unhappiness written all over her face. I swear, this mare is bipolar. Can horses be bipolar? I wonder if anyone has ever studied that.

After I was finished with Corky, I got Tango out and put the surcingle and side reins on him and longed him. My goal was to get forward motion out of him every time I asked. I put the side reins on to not only discourage him from rearing, but also keep him from inverting his neck in resistance. He was way more responsible than usual today - he trotted and cantered off right from cue with minimal encouragement. Maybe last night's ride taught him something, or maybe he has finally realized that forward motion is his job and it is pointless to refuse? Either way, I'll take it! We'll see tomorrow if this translates under saddle.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Frustrating ride on Tango today! He was perfect on the longe line - trotted and cantered with a tiny cue. Under saddle, he would NOT respond to my legs or my voice, and tried to hop up into a rear when I asked him forcefully to trot...and even bucked when I asked for the canter! Every single time I asked for a forward transition, he gave me attitude. Once we got into the gait, he was great, but the asking sometimes took half the arena, and when I would get more forceful (after getting no response) then he would really act up. What is going on? He definitely isn't sore anywhere, and he certainly moves easily when he finally commits to the gait. I guess it is just attitude, but it sure is frustrating. I am at a loss as to what to do, because I don't want to get so forceful that he becomes dangerous, and I can tell he is on the edge. He certainly doesn't act angry, his ears aren't back, he is just giving me the finger, so to speak. Ugh....

But, like I always say: A frustrating day in the saddle is better than not being in the saddle at all!

I just realized that the link on the menu to my dog training diary was not working...and several people have e-mailed me about the lack of updates on that page (oops!). I forgot to mention that it has all been updated - now on the third page! Go HERETo start reading from the beginning. WARNING: Very picture-heavy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Corky and tango were wound up and wild tonight! It comes from not getting out much since I was here on Monday. The lessons were still going on when I arrived, so I saddled Tango up and had to get right on to ride along with the lesson. He was very bad - very balky at the transitions, just terrible in getting him to trot. A couple times he attempted to hop up when I got after him. Once he was moving, he was great, but why oh WHY won't he just trot off when I ask him?

When I was done with him, I got Corky out, saddled her, and longed her. She was nutso! She bucked and carried on and was all over the place. When I finally got on her, then she was sore on her front end. There goes that plan! She didn't look sore when she was carrying on, but she might have twisted something during her antics on the longe line. Overall, it was a frustrating evening. Yep, but still a good evening at the barn!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I free-longed Corky and Tango when I first arrived. Tango had plenty of energy, and Corky looked sound so that was great! Tango's ride was first. He was especially sticky today when asking him to move, in fact I think he was worse than earlier in the week. I carried a crop today, and I really started asking him a lot harder, using my crop and my legs when I didn't get an response. You know, he tolerated the demanding a lot better today, but he still didn't react right away and move into the trot. His canter was even worse, going his "bad" way (to the left) it took a2-3 times around the arena before I finally could force him into it. Once we got going, the canter was pretty good. He started pulling the nasty trick of slamming on his brakes and flinging his head up (about smashed my teeth out a couple times) whenever he decided to stop. I had to use the draw reins (I hate using those) - rode with them along with my regular reins - and kept a slight bit more hold of him so that he couldn't invert his neck and brake. Frustrating, frustrating, FRUSTRATING!!!

So...what do I do now? How do I get him past this? How do I get him to trot off when I ask him and not take half an arena and crop and spurs going nonstop? Any ideas...anything? I am at a loss....

On a good note - I got Corky out and longed her after I was done with Tango and she looked great. I hope to ride both of them tomorrow, and maybe even outside! Maybe being outside will "spur" Tango into moving.

October, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

I braved the great outdoors and took Tango outside. I can't believe I actually had to go back in and get fly spray...the bugs were terrible! Kind of late in the year for that, I think. I longed Tango for a bit, he carried on briefly but then settled. Our ride was very very good - after the first few starts he was a lot more forward for me, and we trotted and cantered long straight lines in the outdoor, and even practiced some circles and changes of direction. It was an awesome ride, and I felt so good afterwards!

When we walked back into the barn, I noticed something wrong with Tango's feet. Sure enough, one of his shoes was missing. This spells disaster, as he is wearing 2 degree wedge shoes with rim pads...so one foot (his right front foot) was shoeless and several degrees lower than his other foot. I went back outside, and sure enough I found the shoe out in the grass. I do remember him stumbling in that area, and that's when his shoe must have come off. Amazing - I never noticed a change in gait or a problem. I can't believe I rode that whole time with a wedge shoe missing!!!! Yikes!

I put a call in to my farrier, and he is in Texas until tomorrow. He said he will call me when he gets back and see when he is available to come out and fix up Tango's feet. Until he comes, Tango will be on stall rest because it isn't good for him to get exercise with his feet so uneven. Luckily he didn't seem to do any damage to his hoof or the shoe.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I LOVE my farrier! He flew home from Texas this morning, called me this afternoon, and was out by 5pm to trim and reset Tango's feet. We went with the same 2 degree wedge shoes minus the rim pads. So far so good, and he is not sore...fingers crossed!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I went out in the evening to ride Tango. I didn't even longe him, just hopped on. We were in the indoor, so I wondered how his "forward motion" would be. It was markedly better than it was all last week! I got a little aggressive the first few times I asked for a trot, and after that it got better. Rather than trotting long periods of time, I trotted very short stints, walked a bit, then asked for a trot again. This enabled him not to be so tired (to get a breather between trotting sequences) and also gave us plenty of chances to practice our walk to trot transitions. When I asked him for a canter to the right, he actually took the canter in ONE stride, but then broke and it took the whole arena to get him into it. His canter transitions were pretty bad, but I am not too worried about that yet. He was very forward at the canter, but I just sat back and let him go. I am loving the forward motion! I kept our session short and sweet - about 15 minutes and then I quit. Tonight was a success!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I went out in the evening to ride, and brought Pretzel with me. Pretzel was wound up and raced circles around us as I rode. This really got Tango's juices flowing, and he was very forward!!! Of course, it didn't help that it was also supper time and the rest of the horses were eating! Tango had this huge trot, it was pretty fun. It didn't take much to get him trotting, which was nice. I ended up getting off and tying Pretzel up while I cantered (just to be safe!). Our canters weren't that good. He went into them OK, but was really forward and pushing hard on the bit at times. I just let him move out as forward as he wanted. I will get the forward motion established well before I try setting a slower pace for him.

I received an offer for a free full page ad in the Paint and Quarter Horse Connection online magazine for my birthday, so I quickly played around with my graphics program and made a quick ad. I can never say no to anything FREE! Click on the graphic to the right to bring up the ad in full-page mode.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Corky had her farrier appointment this morning. She grew a lot of foot, which is a good thing because it means a lot of that white line disease is growing out. My farrier decided we really need to leave the hole open to let air get to it. By sealing it off with that epoxy every time, we are making the foot stronger to hold a shoe but we are also not able to medicate the white line disease, so it isn't going away. The scary thing is that the shoe on that foot now will only have one single nail on the inside of the foot, the rest of the nails are all on the outside of the foot. This can be problematic because there is no stability if she steps sideways or grazes that shoe with her opposite foot. I will have to be extra careful - no outdoor turnout and keep her on good, even footing. Oh yeah, and cross my fingers, rub my rabbit's foot, say a prayer, and find a four-leaf clover LOL!

I came back later in the evening after working on the house all day, and decided to do a quick ride on Tango. He was great great GREAT!!! Forward motion was decent, and his canters were actually pretty good! I quit after about 15 minutes. We will hopefully have a chance to do a little more tomorrow. I think I will start tossing some ground poles in the arena just to change things up a bit.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I did another short ride on Tango this morning, and it was another excellent ride! I put a single ground pole down, and we did some walking and trotting over it. It helped give him something different to think about (other than resisting me!). We only walked and trotted today. I did a LOT of walk to trot transitions - I would trot maybe once around the arena, break to a walk, walk 6-7 steps, ask for the trot, trot another short distance, walk a short bit, trot again, etc. By the end of the ride he was much better moving into the trot on cue. Maybe that's the key - more transitions and less length at the gait.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Today was Corky's turn. Ugh, she was horrible. I haven't ridden her in a while...my fault. She was very tight and angry. I think she might be coming into heat - her entire body was super tight and stiff and I could NOT seem to get her loosened up no matter what I did. I will be interested to see - if she does come into heat this week then I will know it was that and not her being a brat. She definitely felt weird, almost off a bit every now and then in the front end. I am wondering....

Wednesday, October 9, 2012

Tango's free ad came out in the Paint and Quarter Horse Connection digital magazine. Here is the link to the magazine: Paint & Quarter Horse Connection - Page 87 :-]

Wednesday, October 9, 2012...later

I headed to the barn right after work to ride. Today was Tango's day again. Forward motion was a lot better, canters were good. I even got him to canter out of a trot to the right after only 3 strides, which is great for him! I wonder how I will get him to canter from a walk, that is going to be a very difficult lesson for him. I did a lot more walking in between other gaits, which seems to make him more willing to go forward when asked.

After I was done riding, I had time to kill so I cleaned stalls while letting Tango and Corky play out in the indoor. I threw Tango's big ball out there. Corky seems to be less and less afraid of it, she even walked up to it on her own and started nosing it. She doesn't enjoy it when Tango picks it up and flings it around, but she isn't panicking anymore, which is good!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I finally bought a measuring stick yesterday. Tango really hasn't grown much since spring - he is 15'3 1/2" at the withers and 16' 1/2" at the hip. Only one inch off, that's a first! I swear, every time I measure him I get a different reading.

Tango's forward motion was better today, but he started a new thing of flipping his head when I take hold of him at the trot or canter. I made myself relax my arms and not take hold so hard, and the issue stopped. I am not sure if he was just being a brat or if I really was taking a hold a bit too strongly. I guess I will see what happens next ride. I tried riding with Pretzel loose in the arena, but Pretzel was wound up and racing circles and he did NOT enjoy that, so I ended up tying Pretzel up so I could keep him focused. Overall my ride was so-so. He just wasn't in a willing, working mood today and I could sense it. Oh well, we will try again in a couple days.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I rode Tango earlier this week and also today. Things are progressing nicely. I still have to use a TON of force to get him moving, but he is not really acting out against my spur anymore, which is good, I guess! I am trying to do a lot more bending, and introducing my leg on the bends (getting him to move off of and away from my leg when I walk circles). He has also been really good with Pretzel running loose in the arena. I just need to ride easy and consistently to continue to strengthen him.

I should mention that I wrote myself a note to remind myself to not be such a darn perfectionist! I think I have been asking him to be a bit too exact with his frame, forgetting that he is only a very green 2yo without a lot of strength. I can't expect him to be comfortable with a show frame yet, so I need to just ask for his face in a lighter way, and accept what he can give me at this time. Yes, this is definitely something to keep in mind because as I did that this week he was MUCH more willing, without any head-flipping or other antics. I also reminded myself "Movement first" - make sure his legs are good before worrying about all the finer points. Legs legs LEGS!

Monday, October 22, 2012

It hit 70 degrees today! It was cloudy and rain threatened, but I decided to chance it and take Tango outside to ride. We longed for a while, he was a bit on edge. The rain started sprinkling, so we headed back inside. He was very jumpy on the walk to and from the barn. The walkway is right in the midst of trees on the edge of the woods, and something was really bothering him. Inside, he was very forward today. Of course first gear was still sticky. I really got after him about trotting off, and after once or twice he was much better in taking the gait. We worked a lot on cantering, he was extremely forward, but when I tried to slow him down a touch he ended up breaking. Not sure if it is just a matter of strength or lack of knowledge. I let him go forward, just asked for a semi-decent frame (keeping his heads from going in the clouds!). We worked on canter transitions, trying to get them a little quicker. It was a very tough ride, he tried to be bad a few times and I just made him work harder. In the end, we ended up on a good note, so I decided to untack him and take him outside and let him graze in the pasture a bit...as a reward and also to get him comfortable with the outside again.

While Tango grazed, Pretzel and I hung out in the pasture. Several times Tango freaked out and took off running. I noticed Pretzel was whining a bit also, and I wasn't sure why. Then I saw the cause for all the issues - three very large (and apparently unafraid) deer were at the edge of the pasture and were playing around and jumping and running in and out of the woods. No wonder Tango was spooking when walking by the woods!

Corky looked ever so slightly off in the front again today when I longed her. This intermittent lameness (I believe it is from the white line disease) has been ever so slight, but you can tell she is not comfortable really moving out. My farrier left her hoof open this time and I have been medicating it. I really hope we lick it for good this time!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another gorgeous warm day, I love these Indian Summer days. Tango started off very well - took the trot within a few strides of me asking. As we rode longer, his transitions actually got sticker instead of better. At the canter he was very forward, and also was very heavy in the bridle and was pulling against the bit. I ended up having to get off and grab the draw reins. This fixed the problem as it did not allow him to lean on my hands so much. He just needs to learn how to balance himself without laying on the bit. This will take time...and wet saddle pads (which his definitely was today after our long ride in the 75 degree heat!).

Corky looked pretty good today on the longe line. If I have time, I might try to ride her tomorrow after I rode Tango. Her soreness comes and goes, so I never know what she will look like day to day.

I definitely need to get Tango out to a lesson somewhere and get some feedback. I noticed I am falling back into a lot of my old bad habits (leaning forward, curling my right leg)...need some feedback also as to what to do next with Tango to develop his frame and strength for self-carriage.