Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First snow

I am finally back from my 35 hour road trip.  I went to New England to pick up furniture and equipment and it was a 16 hour drive there and a 19 hour trip back.  UGH I hate driving!  It was nice there though, I saw a some of my relatives and it was in the mid 50's the entire time so I didn't freeze which was a surprise.  Traveling back west, however, there were indications that being warm wouldn't last.  When we hit New York it was in the 40's but sunny.  About the time we hit Niagara it was in the mid 30's and was misting.  When we went into Canada it started raining hard and kept it up even after we made it home.

Yesterday we went about unloading everything and it was again in the mid 30's and it rained.  All.  Day.  Long.  The winter pasture is a muddy, sloppy mess and it makes me very happy to have the indoor arena for a turnout area so the they aren't in this slop.  Then last night RB3 told me we were supposed to get snow.  Wait, snow?  Where did this idea come from, we would get the white stuff?  No way, I was in 50 degree weather just 2 days ago!  Sure enough at night check last night we were getting wet, fat flakes of "fluffy rain" and this morning we have a good couple of inches of snow covering everything.  In a way I am happy because if things weren't so wet and not frozen we would have easily ended up with a foot or more of snow.  On the flip side if things were more frozen I wouldn't have such slop to walk through.

Thankfully everything is in place and ready, everyone has their heated water buckets in their stall, the winter pasture is up and running, the 100 gal water tank is securely in the arena and I even have the tank heater installed!  I got that one done yesterday, I had ordered one off of Amazon that had really good reviews and is supposed to not tax the electric bill as badly.  It came in the mail while I was gone and so I installed it yesterday and it was just in time.  I was impressed with the little unit, it looks rugged enough and the cord clip is a fantastic inclusion.  The clip fits the Rubbermaid trough very well and it does look like it will prevent ponies from playing with it.  We will see!

Hopefully I will get to ride tonight or tomorrow.  I would like to get back in the saddle again to be ready to take a lesson or two in December.  I keep hoping things will slow down for me since November was supposed to be my slow month and it just isn't happening.  Between going out of town, holidays, birthdays and more my month became very busy.  This weekend *should* be slow, just a farrier visit and giving a lesson, next weekend I have to go out of town again and then I have one weekend before Christmas and I have a house full of guests again.  I just need to put riding as a priority again, this having horses at your own place really does kill the ability to ride.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Donkey in action!

This morning started out like any normal morning with the exception of having the present of 5 dead mice, that is a pretty high number.  Go cats!  I was running a little late but made up the time nicely and got everyone fed and turned out and was working on cleaning stalls.  Our dog stays in the chain link backyard while I do morning chores and this morning while I was cleaning the TWH's stall he started barking a warning bark.  Since the dog is afraid of his own shadow and is only brave when he is hiding behind something I went and investigated and there was a large chocolate lab trotting around the backyard and sniffing our dog.  Our dog was barking but also trying to play, good job guard dog.  I walked over to see if the dog would come to me as it had a collar and tags and it didn't, it trotted away and went into the Electrobraid pasture.

I shook my head and told him he didn't want to push his luck and sure enough he ducked under the Electrobraid and went into the winter turnout and trotted around.  Now the winter turnout is woven wire fencing to the ground except where the Electrobraid is so he is now in a 3 walled pasture.  I told him that was probably a bad idea as I know my donkey was a guard donkey and was told she has a confirmed coyote kill.  I was curious if she would defend her herd.  Not 30 seconds after ducking into the pasture, however, here comes Daisy in full alert.  Her ears were up and she charged forward with a mission.

The dog was in a place I couldn't see him from my angle but I heard a yelp and then some scurrying and then saw the dog fly through the winter turnout and shoot under the Electrobraid and out the other side of the pasture by our property line before stopping to see what happened.  Daisy had chased the dog so aggressively she did a reining sliding stop/rear and turn to stay out of the fence which, thankfully, was on.  Of course then she sounded her alarm bray (very different from a normal bray) and I had to walk into the pasture to make her hush.  It was such an odd thing to watch, to see her so focused was definitely different.  I am super happy that A) she will defend her herd and is on the watch for danger and B) despite wanting to kill our dog she certainly doesn't act like that so I guess we are lucky in that respect.  Go Daisy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

One gets higher, one gets lower

The App has always been a hard keeper in the winter, it doesn't seem to matter how may 100's of pounds overweight I make him the App will still shiver and shake in the cold.  Last year he was almost 250 pounds overweight and about 5 years ago the barn I was at made him over 300 pounds overweight to no avail.  He shivered despite the barn owners insistence that he wouldn't if I "made him the proper weight for winter".  No worries, the App has a whole wardrobe dedicated to him.  Rain sheet, medium weight, heavy weight, quarter sheet, cooler, stable blanket, shoulder protector and more.  Double blanketing is not uncommon for him, why double blankets?  Because he still shivers with one blanket.  So yeah, he has an entire wardrobe to choose from.

This past spring I had a fairly difficult time taking the winter weight off, I guess I chalk it up to good hay, and it took me until almost June to get him back down to the 980 pound mark.  No worries I thought, this means it will be super easy to put it back on!  In September I starting upping the App's grain and then increased his night hay to no avail, he was actually a little thin.  Come October he was actually ribby so I increased his grain yet again and introduced hay cubes a few nights a week in addition to more hay.  Come November I was starting to get concerned as the App wasn't gaining the weight I needed, it was getting cold and I had already had to start blanketing with his rain/wind sheet to keep him from shivering the weight off.  Go figure.

When I was at the All American Quarter Horse Congress I was lucky enough to snag some good grain coupons and I talked to all of the reps about my old man.  The Nutrena guy recommended Empower Boost as a high fat supplement plus their senior feed and the Purina guy recommended putting him on the new Senior Active feed.  I had been putting off a grain switch hoping I wouldn't need to change things however due to the lack of progress I went 2 weeks ago and made my purchases.  I got the Purina Senior (not Active b/c no one seems to carry it yet and it will be almost a dollar more expensive anyway) and since no one carried the Nutrena Empower Boost I bought beet pulp.

I introduced things fairly slowly, 1/2 scoop of hay cubes, 1/8 scoop of beet pulp, 1/4 scoop of Senior feed and 2/3 scoop of Omolene 500 (which is what the boys are currently on).  That gives him about 4 pounds of grain a day plus significant hay and now hay cubes and beet pulp.  Over the course of a week I bumped him to 1/2 scoop of hay cubes, 1/2 scoop of beet pulp and eventually 2/3 Senior feed and no Omolene.  It is a pain to feed as I have to bring hot water to the barn and let the hay cubes and beet pulp soak for about 5 mins.  It isn't too bad as my routine is that I pour the hot water on the cubes and pulp first thing and then do some chores and then get around to feeding.  If I use cold water though?  That stuff has to soak for at least 30 mins.  As a result I have gone back into the house several times to get the hot water I had forgotten.  If this is what I have to do to get the App where I need him then this is what I will do.

When I picked up my new bedding this weekend I found that store also carried the Empower Boost, YAY!  I went ahead and picked up a bag to try it out and am now slowly adding it into his rations for an even higher fat content.  I am pleased to announce the new feeding schedule is working and in more ways than one!  The App has gained a good amount of weight since I started his feed change and has probably gained close to 50 pounds.  I am quite pleased his weight is going up so well since I have been having such a difficult time.

The unexpected result is his better attitude, he isn't standing around with his ears back and he isn't being as much of a bully.  I have had to do regular groundwork to get him to respect the person at the end of the lead rope, something I don't normally have to do, with removing the Omolene he has mellowed out a little more and it is a really nice change!  He still pins his ears at the pony but I haven't seen any new scrapes on the pony so that can only mean he isn't being bullied as badly (pony has lots of scrapes from being bitten and having his coat removed).  I can only assume it has to do with removing the extra sugar from his diet so I think I will bite the bullet and keep him on the Senior feed.  It is even more expensive than the Omolene but if it also cures his behavior problems it will certainly be worth it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Daisy gets her learn on

Back when we were rehabbing the donkey she was extremely lame and needed twice daily bute.  Our hope was to get her pasture sound and off of bute by August or I was going to put her down as a life on bute isn't a good life.  After some good trims and a helpful set of xrays, Daisy has not only become pasture sound but a whole new personality has shone through.  She has had her days where she would rather not be caught and the few days where she figured out how to escape and I had to try to catch a sound donkey (not nearly as easy as catching a lame donkey).  She likes her routine and will give a hearty bray if things aren't "just so", if I am late for breakfast/dinner, if she doesn't get the 1/3 cup of oats first during feeding time, if she ran out of dinner hay "too fast", if she doesn't get her "nightcap" of apple or carrot at nightcheck, etc.  As a result of her newly found appreciation of life I have decided she needs a job.

The job I have picked for her is to pull my butt in a cart.  The reason is that is the easiest thing I can think of for her since I don't want to put additional weight on her as a pack donkey or riding donkey due to her feet.  My goals are that she learns to lunge, learns to move off of pressure if I push her, learns to long line and then ground drive and not care about a dragging pole.  Would eventually like to also start ponying her off of a horse in the arena, that is more of a like to have though.  If I can do all of this then I think I can get her to a cart without too many issues.  

I am lucky in that she learned whoa pretty well so far through normal leading.  She learned to stop when I stop, she (mostly) walks when I walk, turns when I turn and so on.  She has learned to move away from the pressure of a gate and will now walk around one instead of trying to either A) barrel through it or B) stand there and wait for the gate to move.  She also seems to be a learn-through-watching kind of donkey as some things she does can't be coincidence and I can only figure she learned it by watching me with the horses.  So last night I brought her out to learn how to lunge and it went pretty well.  I had just a halter, her lead line and a lunge whip in the arena and she figured out how to walk around in the circle pretty fast.  She learned that "Walk On" with a shake of the lunge whip means walk and "And Whoa" means stop.  She gave me what I asked for about 90% of the time, pretty good for the first time in my opinion!  I had her walk over a pole on the ground (no biggie) and turn around (no biggie).  I tried to teach her to trot/pace on the lunge but she wasn't getting it and I couldn't consistently convince her to go faster than a walk.  Oh well, that will be the next step in the process.

We finished the lesson with yielding to pressure, I want her to move her hips or shoulders away if I push on her.  Currently it happens only about 10% of the time when I ask, the rest of the time she pushes right back which is a typical donkey move.  What I ended up doing is taking my (warm) gloves off and if she didn't move away from a push with my hand, I would push with my fingertips for about 3 seconds, release and do it again until she moved away.  A couple times she got really irritated and I was afraid she may actually kick me as she was throwing her head, swishing her tail and stomping not only her front but also back feet.  In the end she seemed to have gotten it figured out, every time she moved away she would get an ear rub (no treats) and a verbal "Good Girl".  She is now moving away from pressure about 75% of the time, that after just one session!  

Hopefully I am able to figure out a way to make her trot on the lunge line, if not then I guess we will just have to bypass that step and start work with a bridle and learn long lining.  My donkey, she has come so far.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The bedding dilemma again - A new review

I am almost out of the newspaper bedding already, thank goodness though as the more I use it the more I can't wait for it to be gone.  I have gotten extremely annoyed at having to clean the App's stall for a minimum of 25 mins.  I am tired of starting to clean stalls at 7:05a and not finishing until a little after 8:00a.  I used to clean at 7:10a-7:15a and be done between 7:45a - 7:50a, I want those days back.

I have searched high and low for bedding options without any new options.  The only bulk bedding options around are 3 options.  Option 1 is a guy that makes mulch and sells stuff on the side, he is local and decently priced however his product is horrible.  It is wood chards, many pretty sharp, mixed in with super fine wood dust.  I used a 6 yard load when I first moved to MI and hated it, I went and looked at it in Oct and the stuff hasn't changed.  You can buy either the wood shards, a mix of chards and dust or just the dust.  If the dust was a little more wood-chippy then it would work well but unfortunately it isn't so that guy is off the list.  Option 2 is a 100 yard load of wood chips, it sounds like what I want however I have no place to store 100 yards (semi trailer load) of material and they don't sell it in smaller quantities so he is out.  Option 3 is the guy I used last year, he is a 1.5 hour drive away and is pretty expensive with his price increase this year.  I am keeping him as a backup and will just suck up the price increase if I have to.

I have found several wood flake/shaving suppliers which aren't too badly priced but I am not really wanting wood flakes/shavings.  It is another option that I will do if I need to but would rather not.  It would be easier to store than bulk bedding but the for the price it would be cheaper to do the bulk bedding.  I also looked high and low for a corn cob bedding supplier which is what the boarder really wanted to use.  Unfortunately the only supplier I have found is TSC and at $7 a bag it is certainly not economically feasible.  Thus I turned to wood pellet bedding, something that came recommended by several people.  I have called over a dozen suppliers trying to find the best price and it seems it is $5.50 per bag if you buy a pallet of them.  That ends up being 3x the cost of bulk bedding but I wanted to try it out after hearing some of the rave reviews so I bought some for the boarders stall.

I put 6 bags in the stall and expanded it and it filled the stall...just okay.  I thought it could have used another bag or two but the boarder said to let it be, if in a couple of days I felt the same then I could do it but to leave it for the night.  I am glad I did, after the pony walked on it and it finished expanding those 6 bags lasted me 2 full weeks before I had to add one new bag of bedding.  It has made stall cleaning for him a breeze, I can clean his stall in about 5 mins!  It requires virtually no sifting as the bedding falls out when you pick up the poo.  It isn't dusty either, something I was afraid due to the particle size.  The wet spots are easy to see as they are darker and come out pretty easily.  The wet spot sticks together pretty well so you can remove about 80% of the wet spot in one swoop after you move the dry bedding away from it.  Then you simply rake the rest of the wet/dark into a pile and scoop and out it goes.  Pretty easy and definitely easier than bulk bedding.

I have been extremely impressed with the product and, as a result, am going to try putting the boys on it despite the price increase.  I want to see if I will use as much as they say I will, 1-2 bags a week per stall at $5.50 a bag adds up fast.  So far I am not using as much as expected with the pony's stall so I can only hope.  It is also easier to store than bulk, easier to move than bulk and is delivered whenever I need so I went ahead and ordered it and it should be here this weekend.  I will do a follow up on it, I will put the App on it next and am very curious how it handles with a horse that isn't as neat of a stall keeper.  A side note if you are interested in pelleted bedding, I have had several people warn me away from Equine Fresh which is sold at TSC.  I have been told it doesn't break down/expand as well, it gets dark much, much faster and it doesn't work as well as other brands.  I am using Wayne Davis which is a Michigan made brand and have heard Guardian is a very highly regarded brand.  Here's to hoping it continues to work this well!

Weekend to remember Part II

Sorry I was gone and didn't finish my part II, life got in the way.  Hopefully I can get back to normal though it isn't looking promising.  The week of Thanksgiving is going to be super busy as I have an impromptu road trip I have to go on, it is about a 35 hour round trip drive.  Ugh!

So when I read Nuzz Muzz's post today I realized I too have been neglecting my blog.  Bad blogger again!  I am having fun reading everyone else's blog but have been too busy to write in my own.  Alas here is a part II of my weekend to remember.

On Sunday I had 200 bales of hay delivered, I now only need 100 more bales and I will be set for the year and won't have to buy hay again until June/July.  Wahoo!  If that isn't something to be excited about I don't know what is.  Thankfully the boarder, her family and RB3 came over and helped me unload the hay.  As a result of the great help, we made quick work of it and was done in about 1.5 hours.  I did completely and totally fill the barn with hay though, enough that I have a pile of about 40 bales sitting in the middle of my barn between the tractors and the poo box because I have no room in my hay stalls.  Hopefully at the end of Dec I will have room for the last bit of hay AND the hay guy will still have hay left.  That is the price to pay when you don't have a hay loft I suppose.

After hay I loaded the TWH up and picked up RB3's horse and we went trail riding out at a state park that she goes to regularly.  It was a nice ride, the trails are well maintained and everything is clean.  TWH was an angel and his only spooky moment was when he was trying to figure out what the other horse spooked at lol.  RB3's horse threw some fits over a tiny bridge, going into water and down into a stream, at one point she slammed into the TWH and I as she tried to spin away from the stream.  Unfortunately she did a number on my knee and the rest of the next 2 weeks were spent trying to reduce the enormous amount of swelling from a suspected torn meniscus.  Ugh horses.  Finally I sent the TWH through the stream and he put his head down, inspected the mud and water and then walked through with cautiousness but no hesitation.  WAHOO!  After that RB3's horse followed and I had RB3 send her horse through again a couple of times to reinforce the good behavior and we continued.

We came to a small lake/large pond with a sandy beach and TWH walked right in it and we even trotted and cantered in it.  I was so proud of him!  He acted like this was absolutely no big deal at all, just how I hoped he would act.  I helped RB3 with some tips on getting her horse to accept the water and we continued on our trail.  We had fun cantering and even galloping through the fields and into the woods.  I had the TWH gallop up a pretty steep slope that I chose to go up instead of the gentle incline and he went perfectly willingly, almost excited for it, and even watched his feet at the top where some roots were exposed.  THIS is the XC horse I was hoping for and am very happy he has progressed to this point.  We only found one jump along the entire 2.5 hour trail, at the end there was a 2' tree in the path.  Most horses stepped over it but I have a XC horse and wanted to see if he would just jump it.  I kicked him into a canter and gave him lots of rein and while he gave a millisecond pause while he looked at it, he jumped over it just fine.  I sent him over a couple more times for fun and finished up the ride.

I had a fantastic weekend, despite getting lost on the way home (road didn't go where I thought it did, ended up in a residential housing area).  RB3 and the boarder were fantastic in making sure I had a great weekend and they were very successful.  I haven't ridden much since that weekend due to my knee, the time I did I paid for it the next day with a knee the size of my thigh so I have taken a short break. I have more to write about, teaching the donkey to lunge, new bedding and more.  Let's hope I can be better about writing it down!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A weekend to remember, part I

This weekend was simply awesome, I got a lot accomplished and had a lot of saddle time and was surrounded by friends.  I don't think you can ask for a better weekend could you?  I even had good weather!

I rode on Thursday and did the 2'6" bounce grid again on the App to make sure the knee issue was resolved.  After some hard knocks and a pole down, the App remembered to pick his feet up and the ride was uneventful.  At the end I made the bounces into a 1 stride to a wide oxer and the App just soared over it.  The boarder was out with me and volunteered to be my jump crew and was fantastic help.  She really enjoyed watching the App jump and we had a great night.  Friday was the biggest fail day as I didn't end up riding but I did give a lesson and then started cleaning to be prepared for a hay delivery.  I was planning on restacking the first cutting of hay and then possibly riding the TWH, needless to say I only got started on the clearing and I didn't get the hay restacked or a horse ridden.

Saturday was a whirlwind of activity that kept me busy from 9a until 10p but I had a lot of fun.  I gave a lesson at 10a and then had to clean stalls and continue to prepare for the hay delivery.  While cleaning stalls I became pretty irritated at my uninvited guests and had an eviction party for the spiders.  I was successful in killing several but mostly I took down the spider webs over the stalls and cleaned the dust off of the rafters.  The down side of my being sidetracked is that I lost an hour that I could have/should have been doing something else, oh well.  Evicting needed to be done anyway!  I got the stalls cleaned and was able to finish clearing a new spot for hay as I knew I wouldn't have room for all of the hay in my hay stalls.  By this time it was almost 130p and I went in to shower before my lesson at 3p.  Suddenly I realized YIKES!  I need to be on the road around 2p, not getting ready at 2p.  It was so random that I made this realization, I would have been in serious time trouble if I had kept up my course of action.

I changed clothes into something presentable and got the trailer packed to haul out.  I grabbed the App and wrapped him up, much to his extreme dismay.  He was not happy when I took him away from his precious hay bag he was sharing with the donkey.  To my pleasure, however, he loaded onto the trailer without even taking a paused step like he normally does.  He walked on like he has been doing it for over 10 years (and he has) and that it was no big deal (since it isn't).  I was so happy!  While I no longer have to fight to get him on the trailer, he always puts the brakes on right at the trailer and has a sniff and a look.  I typically have to threaten with the stud chain to get him to walk onto the trailer.  Wahoo!  We made it to the farm right on time, I wanted to get there around 2:40-2:45p so I could unload and be ready for our lesson and I got there at 2:40.  I unloaded, unwrapped and was on to warm up at 2:55p.  Good timing by me!

Under saddle the App was forward but not hot.  While this was a very pleasant change of pace from the last show we were at where he was a monster who had no brakes. I was hoping I would have the monster App so the instructor could see and hopefully have some good ideas to help defuse him when he gets like that.  Alas I will have to try again sometime as this weekend he was an angel.  I warmed up at a trot and then did some canter and gallop sprints to help settle him down (aka make him tired) and by the time the instructor came over he was at a good spot mentally.  We went over everything she pointed us at and didn't act badly a single time.  He went in and out of water, we went over logs, coups, brush piles, benches and tables.  He picked his knees up over almost every fence and she liked his jumping.  The things we have to work on is mostly me, I was still riding defensively because of the horse I can have and not the horse I have right now.  When I jump, I tend to jump very vertically and don't close my hip angle.  As a result he jumps vertically and doesn't reach forward even over wide fences.  I also need to pay closer attention to my leg and actually apply it for support when the App is being good instead of keeping all legs off.  I am accustomed to him just going (and going and going) without needing me.  She said I was a nicely balanced and didn't have bad habits that needed addressed, besides the being vertical, at least right now so wahoo!

I brought the App home and I rubbed him down with liniment and gave him carrots and he showed no signs of any soreness that night or on Sunday.  I ended up meeting RB3 for dinner and the boarder brought over dessert and we chatted and talked until 10p.  It was a great day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guess what I have to share?!?

So I rode last night and was super excited and created a whole blog post and blogger ate the entire post :(  As a result this one won't have near the awesomeness of my previous post.  The boarder was going to come out last night while I rode however life got in the way and she wasn't able to make it.  She is going to try to come out on Thursday now, we will see how things go anyway.  On the plus side she was willing to be my safety so I still got to jump!

I debated a good bit during the day on what exercise I should do, I wanted the App to pick his knees up and didn't want to push him too hard since we haven't jumped since September.  In the end I went for bounces despite their level of difficulty because I really want to fix his current "hanging knees" habit.  I would strongly prefer not to go cross country with the new instructor with him leaving his knees so far down.  Fix your bad habit App!

From spring, see the knees pointing downwards?
The forearm should be level.  VERY.  BAD/DANGEROUS.  HABIT.
I got the exercise set up and again found my arena is just too small to do any real gymnastics so instead I took the first third of the exercise.  The exercise is for horses that rush and need to pick their feet up, bounces don't allow rushing and it really forces a horse to pick their feet up because the horse doesn't have time to do anything else (ie be lazy).  The full exercise is 3 bounces to a one stride vertical, one stride to 3 bounces.  Since I didn't have enough room or poles I made the exercise be only 3 bounces.  This is the book of my exercises, highly recommend it for anyone teaching a horse to jump.
Sorry for the bad pic.  Didn't realize how dark it turned out until too late.
After an uneventful warmup we trotted over the exercise with the poles down for the App to get an idea of what is coming.  I then put the first jump up to 18" and went over it with the bounce poles still on the ground.  While I normally jump straight to 2' I wanted to start small for bounces and then move up since I knew the first few times would be difficult for my lazy legged App.  After going over the first jump a couple of times I put the last jump up to 18" and left the middle pole down.  It forced the App to see where his feet went and he handled it all like a pro.

I then put everything up to 18" and went over it as bounces.  While there weren't any issues, the App certainly did have to repeat the exercise several times to remember to pick his feet up.  He knocked the poles several times, even knocking a pole down with his lazy legs.  After a half dozen times he finally put forth the effort and picked his feet up correctly and thus I put the fences up to 2'.  He knocked the poles the first time through but after that was perfect and put his legs where they were supposed to be.  I repeated this at 2'3" without any issues, wahoo!.  What does it look like to jump bounces at 2'3"?  Pretty unimpressive as I just sit there and rock back and forth.

Finally I put the jump up to 2'6" and put him over it.  2'6" isn't that big of a jump, that is unless they are bounces.  Ha!  As a rider, bounces force you to sit up and sit back.  The horse is landing with their front feet and jumping in the air again before their back legs really even touch the ground (you can see this if you go in slo-mo).  As a result, the rider must be perfectly balanced over the horse else things go badly quickly.  Too far ahead?  The rider is then too far behind at the second bounce.  Too far behind?  Hard time trying to recover for the next bounce.  The rider should stay in two point and stay balanced over these types of jumps.  As a horse, bounces get significantly more difficult when you go past 2' because they are jumping with their front feet and finishing with their hind feet instead of rocking back and pushing off with their hind legs.  As a result, 2'6" feels more like a 3' jump due to the effort needed.  Yes, I got video (camera on the wall) AND figured out how to edit it to an uploadable size!

2'6" is where we had our first set of 2 poles down, the App got lazy and didn't push/pick up over the first jump leaving him no power to get over the second jump.  A swift tap from the crop got him over the third jump though.  I should have hit him over the first but was too slow and didn't support enough (bad rider!).  The rest of the ride went very well with him not doing more than tapping the last rail with his back legs.  Overall I am very happy with the ride.  The App paid attention and learned/remembered how to do the exercise, the video proved he did pick his knees up and his forearms are level, the App was very willing and there were no fights created.  I am happy with myself in that while I started out jumping ahead, I was able to fix my position and I jumped well.  I will do this again on Thursday to hopefully solidify the lesson and make his new habit of hanging his knees be an old habit lol.

I am also happy I finally figured out how to edit video and keep it as a .avi file for uploading so I can share some of this.  If only I could now have blazing fast internet so it didn't take over a half hour to upload an 18mb file so I could share more of these videos.  Oh well, at least I have high speed internet right?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back in the saddle again

This week is do or die time, I have a cross country lesson on Saturday (pending weather) and I dang well better get in shape for it or I will be paying dearly!  I have successfully ridden twice already this week and am on track to ride every day so I am one step closer to accomplishing this.

Sunday the boarder and I went on a 3 hour trail ride.  We were going to ride on the rails-to-trails trail that is a short ride from my house however first a bridge is out and then when we finally got on the trail a huge tree was blocking the path that I couldn't move and we couldn't easily get around.  As a result we spent most of the ride on the roads but it was fine and we had a good time.  The horses don't mind, the roads are all sparse to medium traveled dirt roads and I had my orange vest on.  The horses handled the trail ride very well with almost no sweating and with the App not being a butthead until the last hour when he really wanted to trot and was denied. We were also successfully able to navigate over a wooden bridge despite being slippery with leaves and neither horse had a problem with it.  Wahoo!  I haven't taken them over bridges in a long while so I am glad they still don't have a problem with it.

Yesterdays ride was fitness for the first time in over 2 months, blech.  Fitness tends to be boring and can be painful.  We start out with a long walk warm up and then work on 5 mins of trot sets in either posting or 2 point and then move up to 3 minute canter sets.  I didn't end up doing the entire exercise but did 2 trot sets and 2 canter sets.  I still need to ride the fitness exercise again to get my stamina back up, maybe on Wednesday I will have the energy for that kind of riding.  Tonight will be some small jumping exercises if I can get someone to come out and be my safety, the boarder is supposed to come out so I should be able to jump but we will see.  I want to get the App to remember to pick his knees up so I am thinking of a 1 stride to an oxer.  Bounces would help too, maybe a one stride to a couple of bounces?  So many possibilities, so few jump poles.  In any case, progress report tomorrow!