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

Updated: December 31, 2012
November, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I've ridden Tango several times this week. I am feeling very good, because he is steadily improving. He starts off the ride every time just a bit wormy and squirrelly, but once we start trotting and he gets moving, he gets down to business. Today was the same. I feel his cantering is getting stronger and stronger. Today we got our canter transitions from the trot within a couple strides, which is great! In another month or so I will start working the canter transition from the walk. Not holding myself to any deadline, but once I feel he is physically strong enough I will start asking for it. Right now I don't want to ask him because I feel he is still a little too weak. I laid out 3 poles in a wide "T" formation and did some walking and trotting over them to mix things up a bit. He was pretty good - hit the poles occasionally but wasn't especially concerned about them being in his path.

I like how light he still is with the bit. He is a fingertip-ride, if you know what I mean! I am working hard to keep him that way - focusing more on my release than anything else.

I finally made time today to ride Corky. She was pretty wound up, it's been almost a month since I really worked her. I longed her first, and then got on. It is SO weird to get on her after riding Tango all these weeks. She is so BIG compared to him! I also forgot how nice it is to ride a well-trained horse - ask and you shall receive LOL! I just "think" canter, and she rolls into one. However, she is much heavier on the bit than Tango and today she definitely was not a fingertip ride. However, she has had a month off, so she is very out of shape and it is harder for her to hold her frame when she is a bit flabby. I need to keep up with riding her, but it is just SO hard with working a full time job and everything else going on! I need 36 hour days...or maybe a body that required only 2 hours of sleep a night. That would be great!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I just had the most fantastic ride on Tango tonight! He was super-light, he locked in his frame and I swear I never had to touch him! He is starting to move a bit of my legs when I am working circles. His canter transitions were great. I even tried a couple from a walk (yeah, I know, I just posted yesterday that I wasn't going to mess with that for at least another month!). He was able to pick up his canter to the right (his good way) fairly easily from a walk, it was a bit tougher going to the left and he took the wrong lead a few times. BUT...his canters were very very good. I won't say his frame was locked in, but I really didn't touch his face for most of the canter. I am not asking for him to be perfectly level at the canter yet, just asking for a slightly lowered neck and on the bit, which he is. OK, can you tell I am thrilled??? I seriously am starting to thin about next year, and next year's plans! It's always VERY dangerous for me to do that because that tends to be a magnet for disaster in my life. However, I am letting myself enjoy the moment and get excited. It's fun to have a future to get excited about!

Oh, and I measured Tango tonight, and he is a full 16 at the withers and 16'1" at the hip. Only an inch off - that's the most level he has been since a baby! No wonder his canter is getting so good.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I hauled Tango to the local fairgrounds tonight. They have a huge covered arena and were having an open ride tonight from 6-9pm. It was dark, and about 40 degrees. When I got there, there were about 7 barrel racers running around. This is going to be interesting! I saddled him up and took him out to longe. He leaped in the air a few times, but he figured out that bucking was way too much work. I think I longed about 5 or 10 minutes tops, and then I hopped on.

I am thrilled - he was AWESOME! The only thing that startled him was when they started setting up the poles, but once he got a look at them he was fine. He was locked in on bis frame, and went along without looking at anything, including the traffic whizzing by on the highway or the horses whizzing by as they ran barrels. I can't believe it! What a great mind he has. I even cantered both directions. Those looooong straight lines down the rail were very hard for him to maintain his canter and he broke several times. When he broke, it was nearly impossible to get him back into the canter. Forward motion became a problem very quickly as he got a little tired. It got bad enough that I was spurring him as hard as I could every stride just to keep him at a slow trot. I have never had this problem before with any other horse...and to think he is 7/8 thoroughbred! It is a good problem to have, way better than spooking and running off FOR SURE!

I am going to have to get serious about getting him fit and in shape so that he has more stamina. And I am going to have to get the crop back out and reinforce the whole forward motion concept. I am excited....things are looking good. It was a blast riding him tonight, I love riding without worrying about things like spooking and bolting!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I was in a FOUL mood today. After a long football game with endless lightning delays and a torrential downpour last night, I got to bed around 3:30am, woke up at 7 still exhausted. I spent the day working the chainsaw at our property, cutting dead trees into firewood. I don't think I could have been in a worse mood, even though the day was gorgeous - 60 degrees and sunny. then I went to the barn, and all my troubles lifted. I do love where I am boarding right now. It is such a nice place, so clean, and it always has great footing in the arena. I love that.

I was determined to work on Tango's lack of forward motion problem today, so I rode with a crop. the first time I asked for a trot, he ignored me as usual. I asked harder, he ignored me, then I got the crop out. THAT woke him up! We did several walk-to-trot transitions and I was very forceful in my asking - more like demanding. I was the same when asking for the canter, I wanted it within 3 strides, no argument! I got an immediate response asking for the canter to the left. This is his "bad" way, but we have worked it so much he is actually picking it up faster than his "good" way! I did a couple trot to canter transitions, then I asked for a canter from a walk. To the left it was decent, to the right it took a little more force, and that "force" caused him to be a little speedy at the canter to the right. I didn't deal with that issue because right now our goal is forward motion, even if it is too forward.

I hope I am doing the right thing. I need a lesson soon so I can make sure we are on the right track. I am hoping to get some video tomorrow during my ride so I can see how things are looking. Riding alone without instruction all these months makes videos for self-analysis absolutely crucial.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I rode Tango yesterday, and he was very good. Today he wasn't nearly as good. He was harder to get forward motion out of even with a crop and spurs. He was pretty distracted with Pretzel running around. Funny thing is - I had my friend video my ride and when I went back to look at it I see that he really didn't look distracted at all. I also see that there are a lot of times he is behind the vertical - a big no-no. It's so hard to tell from in the saddle! His canters were far better yesterday, but they were decent enough for the video today. Our transitions were really bad - especially on my part. When he didn't canter, I ended up bouncing around with my legs flapping and crop waving, trying to get him into the canter. It was pretty ugly - ugly enough for me to cut them out of the video because I am too embarrassed for the public to see them! Oh well, we are all learning, right? Here are some snippets from my ride:

Videos are so educational! I wish I was able to have a video shot about once a week so I could keep better track of our progress. I tried yesterday to attach the camera to the fence and video with the remote...it worked, but the only thing I was able to see was about 2 strides that passed in front of the camera. I need some sort of camera that can either video the whole arena, or follow me as I ride. Oh yeah - that would be a human holding the camera - already been invented LOL!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Good ride on Tango today! It was so much better than our ride on Monday! Not sure why - either it was the video camera curse, or maybe he was better today because I didn't have Pretzel with me? Either way it was an awesome ride. I got very stern with him when he didn't pick up the trot right away and that helped. I noticed in the video (the transitions that I cut out from public viewing LOL!) when I was asking him to canter from a trot, I was still posting in order to keep my balance. Today I made myself sit deep in the saddle and hold with my legs as I asked, and I got much better canter transitions. I am not sure why I didn't think of that earlier, but sitting down and watching myself on video opened my eyes to a lot of things.

One of the best things I discovered today is that Tango is really moving off of my leg! I guess I was using my leg unconsciously as I practiced circles and turns, because today I tried walking circles off of just my leg and it worked great - he actually listened to the pressure! This shows that he isn't quite as dead-sided as I had thought...he is just stubborn!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

CRAP! I turned Tango and Corky out in the indoor before riding, and I see Tango limping on his left hind leg. I brought him out and he didn't want to put much weight on that foot. his ankle and hoof were very warm to the touch. I flexed his ankle and he didn't react, it appears it is in his hoof. When I walked him on the concrete he didn't want to put his heel down (walked on his toe)...classic signs of an abscess. If it is only an abscess, I will actually be relieved, because that is minor and treatable! Poor guy, and we had such a good ride last night. I wonder when it started hurting him? He does have a ridge next to his frog that is rather deep - looks to be from a bit of thrush (which has been a constant battle all summer and fall). Not sure if it is an abscess or a reaction to thrush. ugh. My farrier is coming out on Monday, so we will know more once he starts trimming.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tango has been lame all weekend. My farrier came out today, and he no more than barely scraped the sole with his hoof knife and the abscess blew - a large amount of yucky grey pus came out! the abscess is in an odd spot near the center part of his sole towards the heel instead of on the edge. You have no idea how relieved I was to see all that pus coming out!!! An abscess I can handle...I was worried that perhaps he had something structurally wrong with his back feet and would need special shoes like his fronts. Whew!.

The weird thing is that when my farrier took off Corky's front shoes, she had an abscess that also slightly blew right underneath the shoe in her right front hoof - it leaked out a small amount of grey pus. Yet she wasn't lame at all this past week! Hey, I got a two-for-one special on abscesses!!! It's always something...but I can say that phrase with a smile today because in the grand scheme of lamenesses and all things veterinary, abscesses are minor.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This morning both Tango and Corky looked pretty good! I decided to hop on Corky and take her for a spin. Every now and then she took a slightly ouchy step, but for the most part she rode fine. She was NOT happy about Pretzel running circles around her, and she showed it! Funny, because this summer she was the horse that didn't mind Pretzel at all and Tango was the one that was bothered. Now they reversed roles. It is probably because I have ridden Tango more consistently all fall with Pretzel, and Corky has only had a handful of rides. I settled on Corky's back and thought "Ahhhh, this feels like home!". I have spent so many hours over so many years on her back, it really does feel like my second home!

Both horses will get the next few days off, and if Tango looks good this weekend it will be back to work for him!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Man, Corky came out of her stall STIFF today! I free-longed her and Tango yesterday for quite a while and she looked fine, but today she was so stiff it hurt to watch. After about 15 minutes of solid trotting and cantering, she loosened up and looked a lot better. I wish I knew what to do to help her not be so stiff from her stall, but she has always been like this and nothing seems to help other than a LONG loosening warm-up period.

Everyone is sound, so it is time to put Tango back to work. You know, he rode great, simply great! Canter transitions were pretty good, so I decided to go for some walk-to-canter transitions. I got some transitions - several that were simply cue, lift, and canter! Both directions, no less! I think he is officially strong enough. Now I just need to do it. I think the only way to get these transitions consistent is to do them every single day. So that will be my goal for this next month or two - perfecting the walk-to-canter.

I think in 2013 I will combine my dog and horse training diaries. Most horse people have dogs, so it might hold a little interest for some. Plus it saves me from having to edit two different pages (me getting lazy in my old age!). Next year is going to be an exciting year for me - getting Tango prepped for the 3yo stuff and training Pretzel for agility. Wow, I see lots of new goals in my future!

Monday, November 26, 2012

One step forward, two steps back! Canter transitions were terrible today! Tango did do a lot better trotting off from a walk, and he is doing amazing working off my leg. In fact, after working circles where he moved off my leg so nicely, I asked him who had been training him while I was at work!

When I asked him to canter to the left from a trot he took forever to give in and canter. Asking from a walk was a disaster. I did make some progress in keeping his shoulder up - he does like to drop it going to the left.

I think I will haul him to Darla's on Saturday and see what she thinks. I would love some input on getting canter transitions from him. I also noticed he is starting to get a bit behind the vertical at times. I have never had a horse do this, and I am not sure how to fix it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Two steps back, three more steps back. Today was a bad bad bad ride on Tango. I could tell he was full of energy, but that was a good thing at first (we had great walk-to-trot transitions). When I asked him to canter, it took a full THREE times around the arena before I got him into the canter, and he was trying to buck in his resistance to cantering. once he did canter, he took off really fast, and any pressure I put on the bit just made him bow his head and go way behind the vertical. He was especially bad to the right. Going to the left I did get a couple decent transitions, but he still took off really fast and either tried to buck or fling his head around when I tried to slow him down. It was obvious he was NOT in the mood to work. I got a couple decent canters out of him and then quit for the night. No sense beating a dead horse, right? Everyone has those days when they just don't want to work, and today was definitely one of those for Tango.

Tomorrow we will try, try again!

Oh, and it was a major full moon (I like to call it a "fool" moon!). The moon looked twice the size of normal. I think the crazy pull from the moon addled Tango's brain! Yeah, good excuse.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A slight step forward... I made sure Tango had some free-longeing time before I rode him tonight. It helps when he has a chance to run and buck and play a bit, since he doesn't really get much turnout at the barn. Our ride was better tonight, even though I showed up right at dinner time to ride (and all the other horses ate while we worked!). I decided to take a small step back with our training and not push the canter overly much today. We did a few canter transitions from a trot, and just worked on keeping them quiet and easy, and keeping his canter smooth and under control. It definitely worked - he was more relaxed and wasn't fighting me or trying to run or buck. That's always a plus!!! Tomorrow I will ride him earlier, and try a few walk-to-canter transitions to see how he handles them. Saturday we are headed to Darla's to ride. I am anxious to get her feedback.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tango was great today! Just goes to show...ya never know! I think he was well worked this week and he wasn't full of himself anymore, he buckled down and got to work. We got a few good walk-to-canter transitions. I really liked that when I cued him, he paused, and you could actually see that he was trying to think about what lead to take. A couple times he semi-lifted as if to take off on the wrong lead, and then corrected himself before committing. That was cool...he is turning into a . I rode him for a very short time today. he seemed a bit tired (the laziness was back in full force), and I want him fresh for tomorrow's ride at Darla's.

December, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Well, today was an educational day. It started bright and early, Pretzel and I headed to the barn to get Tango, hook up to the trailer, and get to Darla's by 9:30am. I was eager to get her feedback. I have been riding alone for so long, I feel like I have made some good progress with him but my main goal is to make sure I am making the right progress with him, doing it correctly.

Well, it didn't take Darla and Brian long to find the holes in my training. There were lots of them! It seems I have really just been putting a band-aid on Tango's forward motion issues and not actually solving the problem. First off, Darla noted that I am "nagging" tango - basically once I get him into a trot I am anticipating him slowing down or breaking, so I am constantly pushing him every stride. What I need to do is put him into a trot at my pace, and then release and let him make his own mistake of slowing down or getting ready to break, and then getting after him and pushing him forward, releasing immediately when he pushes forward. So that is Number 1: No More Nagging.

Things got really hairy when I went to canter him. Immediately Brian pointed out the fact that I was not doing anything to set him up for the canter - not picking up his shoulders or getting him set, and because of this he is lifting way up with his front end and kind of throwing himself forward into the canter...that is when he actually cantered! He was pretty bad today. I guess I have been so focused on getting him cantering, I haven't been paying much attention to how I have been getting him to canter. Both Darla and Brian said I absolutely should not be trying to canter from a walk right now, and probably not for another 60 days. I have to get true forward motion established, and get better control of his body parts (i.e. shoulders and hips) before taking that next step. So, Number 2: Set him up for the canter correctly, and canter from the trot only.

Another big problem is that I haven't really taught Tango to push forward into the bridle into contact. Basically, he has relaxed his frame and dropped his neck down and I accepted it because that's ultimately what I want, but I skipped the important step of bending and pushing into the bridle to teach him to give, rather than pulling. This is a huge step...can't believe I just skimmed over it and didn't make it a focus...sheesh. Darla showed me an exercise to do to work on getting control of his shoulders and bending, that will hopefully get more forward motion established and give me control of his front end when asking to canter. The video shows one element of it...video is polarized to protect the innocent LOL (but I will tell you that Darla is riding this totally incredible 2yo named Strappy Sandles and I covet him LOL!)! Basically I am to trot a circle, alternately bending to the inside (using both reins and my outside leg or both legs to keep forward motion) and releasing, bending and releasing, controlling the shoulders in and out (doing this both directions, though the video only shows one), and then when I get Tango at the right bend and forward motion, cueing him to canter, all the while still controlling the front end and not letting him giraffe up and take control.

So...Number 3: bend, bend, bend...get control of the shoulders, push him into contact. Another thing I have to remember is to make cantering easy, and everything else hard. So if he breaks at the canter (which he always does!), rather than kicking him immediately back up into a canter, I need to pull him into a tight trotting circle, make him bend and lift and work EXTRA hard, then go back into the canter and release...this way the canter becomes more of a relaxed, easy gait that isn't nearly as much work ans the trotting, bending circles. So, Number 4: Make cantering easy, everything else hard.

Well, at least I have sort of a plan now. I got so much information today that I don't think I was able to process it all. I would probably look really weird stopping every 5 minutes to write things down, but maybe I need to do that! Hopefully I can go back in a few weeks and make sure I am on the right track. I am determined to do this right, and make up for all the mistakes I have made in the past with all of my other horses. Dang, it's hard!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I suppose a nice horse owner would have given her horse the day off after hauling to a lesson, but I was too eager to try the things I had learned. besides, he really didn't work that hard yesterday! My brain was the thing that got worked the most :-]

I did a lot of bending, pushing into the bridle, getting him to give and flex. I started off doing a lot off that at the walk, then progressed to the trot. I was very firm on my transitions. The first couple trot transitions were very good, the third one he kind of balked, and I gave him exactly two strides before I made it extremely clear that I expected him to trot NOW! We did a lot of bending in the circles at the trot, and then when I had him set right I asked for the canter. Once again, it was much easier and cleaner when going to the right. The left was more difficult and he kept thinking about taking the wrong lead (though he always corrected it himself before I could even pull him down). He did start anticipating the canter after doing this exercise several times. I messaged Darla and asked if this was a good or bad thing, and her opinion was to go with it for now, but basically try to cue him in time to make it seem like it was my idea. Our goal = forward motion! I wouldn't say we worked miracles today, but we did get several nice canter transitions without him flinging his head and neck upward and giraffing into it. Once I did get him into the canter, I immediately relaxed and let him cruise. I did NOT ask him to drop his neck or do anything (other than a few times when he went way up with his head). I just let him cruise in a relaxed manner...making the hard thing easier and the easy things hard. That's something I learned from Darla when we were working with Corky.

Speaking of Corky, I decided to ride her today. I can't pass up a high-50 degree day in December! She was stiff as a board as usual, and NOT happy about pretzel running around the arena. Funny, because originally this summer she was the horse that didn't mind his company at all. The longer I rode her, the more I felt just a little something in that right front foot. It's either that big patch of white line disease, or that abscess on the other side of that foot that is bothering her. Which is it? Who knows??? When I free longe her, she looks 100% but when i am riding it starts to bother her. I wish I knew which one it was and what I should do about it. The abscess is near her heel right underneath the shoe, so I cannot get to it. I guess I will know something at our next farrier appointment in 5 weeks or so. Until then I will be keeping an eye on that foot.

Pretzel and Tango have become friends. It's funny to watch them together!

Monday, December 3, 2012

I suck at horse training, seriously. Maybe trying to do this all by myself is a big mistake. I worked on the same exercises with Tango today and his canter transitions were actually worse. He would not let me move his shoulders, he insisted on taking the wrong lead every single time to the right, and he was flinging his head up and evading me when I asked him to canter. I am lost. I seriously got frustrated today, so frustrated I had to just stop what I was doing and sit there for a while to chill out. I hate that. Now I really doubt myself and my abilities. I am not cut out for this horse training thing because I take it was too personally. I feel like Tango is giving me the finger! Ungrateful child LOL! I think I will take tomorrow off, regroup, and try again on Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It is almost 30 degrees colder today than it was 2 days ago...brrrrrr! Today's ride was way way WAY better. I took it easy, did some bending, and did some work on lifting his shoulders first once direction and then the other - at the walk and trot. He was starting to grasp the concept. I worked on controlling his shoulders a little better when asking for the canter from the trot, and I got a few fairly nice transitions. I only did a few canter transitions each direction and I kept it stress-free tonight. I worked more at the trot, and worked more on steering and control. It was a short ride, but very productive! I am feeling better about things, I don't feel like such a complete failure anymore.

Looking at the situation, I feel I am very lucky. I am lucky to have the help of Darla, she keeps me grounded and keeps me on track. I had a similar relationship with Stacey Ryan in Kentucky, when I was showing Taylor, Stacey was always available to answer questions or give help when needed. Yet, I read all over the internet stories of how trainers are like the devil. I hate when people all get lumped together and tarred with the same brush. You get out of every relationship what you put into it. I firmly believe this! I also feel that the people like Darla that are truly generous with their time and knowledge are rare individuals, and worth their weight in gold. Unfortunately you never hear about those trainers on the Pleasure Horse Forum! I need to do a better job of standing up for the people who have stood up for me. Maybe that can be a new year's resolution? yeah, because I do SO well with those LOL!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

There was a bit more improvement in Tango today. I had Pretzel with me out at the barn, and he is always such a distraction to Tango! It wouldn't be such a big deal but Pretzel insists on RACING around Tango and skidding in the arena sand, which causes the sand to fly up in his face at times. It's annoying, but very good practice for when we are in a crowded show pen. When I have Pretzel at the barn it usually takes a bit longer to get Tango focused on his job (again, good practice for show ring distractions!). I didn't canter until close to the end of our ride - I did a lot of bending and trotting circles and figure 8's, concentrating on where his shoulders are. Our canter transitions were decent, I was able to control his shoulders better and was able to get him to work a bit more off his back end when going fro the trot to canter. I think that's a significant problem for us - Tango likes to fling his front end up and into the canter rather than pushing from behind. It's probably just a matter of strength (and laziness - using the back end is always harder work!).

Tango will get another day off tomorrow, we might try to do a little ride Saturday morning and just stay on track.

Corky still looks slightly off. She does NOT want to canter on her right lead, she keeps switching her hind lead and breaking to a trot. I assumed it was her front foot that was bothering her but now I am wondering if it is her hock(s)? I don't see her short-stepping in the back, but she definitely does not want to hold that right lead in the back. Ugh, I hate lameness puzzles.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I haven't updated in a week...bad me! Let's see...I rode Tango Saturday, Sunday, and yesterday. Things are improving slowly in tiny increments. I think maybe that is why I feel so inadequate. Our progress is happening, but it is in such baby steps that I don't always realize it is happening. Yep...that's why I have this training diary! I actually started a training diary in 1998, but it was a notebook I kept under the seat of my car. I felt the need to chronicle the progress I was making so that when I did get frustrated I could look back and see that I did get something accomplished. Funny how that little notebook grew into this massive website of mine! I started putting Corky's training online just because it was easier for me to access. I had no idea people would start reading it.

Well, I can say today I finally hit the dirt in this arena. Yep.... No, Tango didn't throw me! neither did Corky. Nope...I was free-longeing the two of them when Pretzel came running by and got tangled in my legs and I went down HARD, flat on my face. I skinned my knees and everything! Embarrassing, and it hurt!

Today's ride was good, really good! Our canter transitions are slowly getting better. Tango isn't flinging himself upwards like he was when I asked him to canter. The transitions aren't smooth, but they are getting a bit more round. Yay! This week I started working on doing pivots under saddle. I think this will be a help in controlling and lifting his shoulders. I have a lot of trouble manipulating his shoulders so that he is traveling correctly.

I think I need to change things up a bit. Maybe this weekend I will drop some poles on the ground and work him over them. Corky is looking a lot better, so I may go ahead and try to ride her also. I am hoping I can con someone into videoing my ride so I can check my progress. I need to teach Pretzel to run the camera!

My back is really hurting from my tumble today. Wouldn't it be ironic to spend all these months breaking and training a 2yo only to get injured by my dog???

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Today's ride was interesting. It started pouring rain, and the rain was drilling against the metal arena sides. Tango was a bit balkier today, maybe he realized that I decided not to ride with a crop today? I don't want to become crop-dependent. At one point Pretzel ran right in front of him as we were cantering, and he gave a sincere true buck - his first "real" buck! It was OK, not hard to ride through. We kept on with the forward motion, and it was all OK. Tango was a bit more on edge. I had to keep reminding myself to not be such a perfectionist. I need to let him make mistakes and not try to always anticipate the mistakes before they happen. Bad habit of mine - overthinking. Yep, that's me!

Here is a video of Darla with one of her 2yos - shows her progress over the year. Hers is way farther along than mine, that's for sure!


I love watching how others ride their youngsters. I'd feel better if I could see more mistakes though. Am I the only one who struggles with issues all the time? I am sure I am not...but maybe I am in the minority?

I rode Corky today, she looked pretty good on the longe line. She felt totally weird under saddle - trotting felt like two guys in a horse suit (like te front and back were different horses). I couldn't pinpoint a specific leg that she was sore it, it was just really disjointed. Something is definitely wrong.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yesterday's ride was OK, but Tango's canter transition to the left was awful. Today I did a little longeing with side reins before I rode, and I practiced some of those transitions. Under saddle, they were terrible again - Tango was flinging his head to lift himself up into the canter. I broke down and got the draw reins out. I rode with both pairs of resin (I never ride with draws alone). We practiced a bunch of canter transitions, and at first I had to really take a hold of him to control his front end, but the transitions got better and better until I finally got a really nice one to the left with very little pressure. I decided to quit with that one. I am never sure when exactly is the best quitting time. Hopefully Tango will remember that one good transition he gave me.

I will say that there is definitely improvement in his backing. I really don't want a horse that gapes his mouth going backwards, so I have been really light with my hands and asking for only little baby steps at a time. Now he is backing up willingly, dropping his head and not resisting. Progress!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Brrrr! The weather outside was frightful, but it was decent in the indoor. The number one thing I was to preserve in Tango is his positive attitude. Even when I am getting after him, he doesn't lay his ears back or wring his tail. I love that about him! Yesterday I had to seriously get after him to get forward motion established, but today it was waaaaay better....no crop needed! Our canter transitions were really good also - no wrong leads, and no head-flinging. I am constantly reminding myself not to nag - only use the spurs when asking and not reminding, and leaving his face alone unless he really giraffes up. Patience...not always a virtue I possess.

My plan is to haul to Darla's after Christmas for another lesson. This one we will video! The weather looks miserable next week, but I've ridden in worse.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

When I picked Tango's left hind foot out and I dug at the spot where his abscess had been, some liquid came out. So, the abscess is still draining! he wasn't the least bit sore on it. Odd. Our ride tonight was very good - perhaps an early Christmas present? Willing forward motion and decent canter transitions. My life is happy now :-]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

We had quite a snowstorm yesterday - probably 6-8 inches on the ground. It was Pretzel's first snow! I finally got out to the barn today, and as expected the horses were pretty wound up. There was a little moisture coming out of Tango's abscess spot, but once again he wasn't the least bit sore (thank GOD!). Today was a new learning experience for me. Up until today, Tango has not shown fear about anything. Right when I got on him, some snow slid off the arena roof and he bolted sideways! he was thoroughly rattled - enough to cause me to get off and put him on the longe line. Funny, but on the longe line he did maybe one lap at a run and then settled right down. I got back on him and did some bending circles in the corner where the noise spooked him. A little bit later some more snow rustled and he bolted sideways again! For the first time I was able to find out what Tango's instinctive reaction is when he gets truly frightened. It's always good to know, right? So his 'thing' is to bolt in a sideways direction. This is doable...very similar to Taylor's reactions when she got scared. Hopefully he stays the fearless level-headed horse he has always been. It's been a real joy to ride a horse with virtually no spook in him.

I got a little bit accomplished despite the snow sliding on the roof. We have been working on turns/pivots on the haunches. They are hit and miss (today more miss than hit). His backing has improved a lot. He learned that if he backs right away, I only use a fingertip pressure. I noticed while longeing him today that he is starting to lose a little bit of his "baby" look to his body. Riding consistently in frame has started to muscle him up and refine him a bit. One might even call him slightly handsome! Slightly!

Friday, December 28, 2012

I was prepared for the snow sliding off the roof today, and before I started my ride I turned the radio to the classic rock station and I cranked the volume! Worked like a charm, Tango never heard a thing on or off the roof.

Our ride was pretty good. We are just plugging along with the training. I feel that although our rides have left me with GOOD feelings, I am not sure if we are truly progressing. I have no idea! Riding alone day after day makes it really hard to be an impartial judge. Time to get the video camera out, and a willing or unwilling cameraperson. Any volunteers?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

In keeping with my tradition of showing the good, bad, and ugly, I will show a video taken today of our rotten canter transitions. I went home and watched this video, and I was NOT pleased. his canter is flat and strung out with no lift. I need to get him MOVING!!! His canter transistions are so awful-looking, I hesitate showing them. But then what would be the point of this diary? I am sure most people who have attempted to train a 2yo have encountered this, right? OK, so when I started Corky at the canter her transitions weren't nearly this ugly...these are really ugly! Oh well, that's what you get with an amateur "trainer"...things just take a lot longer.

I e-mailed the full video to Darla, and she had some words of advice for me. She recommended I do more circle work at the canter with Tango to help him pick his back up more. Also counter cantering - doing a figure 8 with counter-canter on one circle. that's going to be difficult with him, but I will try! I found a pair of regular 1/2 inch spurs with a square edge, might try those tomorrow instead of my tiny nubby ball-end spurs.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Today I decided to change spurs. The spurs on the right are the ones I have been using all along with tango - they have a rounded end and are pretty short. I didn't change drastically, but the ones on the left are a shade longer and have a straight edge to them. Did Tango notice the difference? You bet!!! At the canter I did a lot more circles, which in turn meant I had to use a lot more leg to keep him going. Now that I am aware (after watching the video from yesterday), I can feel how flat and un-suspension he feels underneath at the canter. I can see how the circles will help, because in driving him through the circle he was forced to collect up and round his back more. He didn't like it much...it was a lot more work than flopping down the rail!

I also took off a bit of the pressure when asking him to canter. Instead of taking hold of him and trying to keep him from flinging his front end upward via the reins, I relaxed my hands and have him his head a bit more, and amazingly our canter transitions got a lot better! I just think I need to take another step back and not worry about him lifting up a little bit into the canter. It seemed the more I tried to not let him left up, the more he worked against my hands and lifted. It figures...I have a gelding who likes to do the opposite...typical man (disclaimer! It's a joke!)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Well, it's New Year's Eve, the most depressing day of the year! Today I look back a year ago at my 2012 goals and realize my failures! Yes, it seems the past few years there have been far more failures than successes. Oh well, I just keep pluggin' on, the eternal hopeful optimist!

2012 GOALS

Short Term Goals for 2012
  • Break Tango to saddle and have him w-t-c by year's end This is a partial success - Tango is broke to w-t-c, kind of!
  • Win a showmanship class with Corky and earn at least a half a point this year - Nope, didn't even show Corky other than one small open show...*sigh*
  • Show Corky in Equitation at least once Nope, didn't do it.
  • Get Corky to a show this year and have a smooth trip and a great experience in a HUS class Nope, didn't really accomplish this either.
  • Get Tango to a show before the year's end and show in a walk-trot class Well, I got Tango to a show to ride around and he was successful, but he developed his foot problem right when we planned on doing our first walk-trot class, so no go!

Long term Goals for 2012
  • Earn a Congress Top 5 Still working on that LOL!
  • Purchase or lease a broodmare and breed another great prospect for myself I would, if I had a place to raise a foal. I think this will be Corky's future soon...
  • Win a Circuit Championship on either Corky or Tango That is still in the works- Tango's future I hope!

All in all, I had a lot of downers this year with finances, lamenesses, and the like. However, I had a lot of pluses also - moving to a great new barn, getting a LOT accomplished with training Tango on my own, having Pretzel join my family, meeting a ton of great new people at the dog shows, and ending the year with horses, dog, and cats all healthy, happy, and sound. Really, that is the most important thing!

So, on to 2013...the training diary will combine with my dog training diary so you are forced to read both at once! Please click on, stay tuned, and thanks for continuing with me on my eternal journey of learning!!!

TRAINING DIARY 2013 - click here