Monday, April 30, 2012

The App jumps again!

I know the posts are now out of chronological order but I really had to get that other one off of my chest.  I am not sure when I will have time to work with the Paint as I am very busy this week but I will have to do something.  My safety seems to depend on it.  Luckily RB4 will be out tonight to ride so she can see how the Paint is acting, maybe she has some pointers for her "easy going" horse.

Sunday I rode the App for the first time since Kota got here, minus the couple of times when we swapped horses.  So the first time I made the App work lol?  As I have a eventing derby show next Sunday (WHAT was I THINKING?!?) I drug out my jumping saddle and went to work on my two point.  Thankfully for the past several rides I have had RB4 going over poles and 12" jumps to condition the App's ligaments so I have that jump start at least.  Despite my not jumping since November of last year, thankfully I was fit enough that I was able to maintain my two point with almost no effort.  AND not be super sore this morning. After a nice walk/trot/canter/flying lead change warmup I threw him over a 18" crossrail and worked on my position.  It took several times for me to not roach my back and a couple of times I was left behind, this is why I practice though.  I certainly was a little rusty.  When I was pretty solid over the 18" crossrail I put up a second jump that was a 2" vertical and the first time he jumped it from a really loonnnng spot.  On the plus side I didn't lose my balance or try to fall off.  The down side is now that I know the App is having vision issues things like this are going to eat at me, did he do that because he can't see it?  In either case I was able to collect him back up and when we presented the fence again the App jumped over it normally.

We jumped for about 30 mins, going over the jumps at both a trot, a canter and an extended canter.  I worked really hard on my position and even jumped without stirrups a few times.  May do that again this week as I wasn't happy with my lower leg but I also didn't want to push myself too hard for my first time back jumping.  The App was really good, he was nice and responsive, he met the fences correctly almost every time, he gave the gaits I asked for and even did flying changes over the fences when I asked for them.  I will keep going over these little fences most of the week to condition him and myself for this weekend, on Friday I will probably knock the fences up to 2'6" which is the height I am showing at.  Luckily I am 150% not at all concerned about the height, I know the App will jump whatever I put in front of him.  I just want to make sure he is properly conditioned.  On Thursday I have a lesson (YAY!!!!) and on Saturday I go cross country schooling in preparation for the show on Sunday.  Updates to come!

Shaken, a very stupid mistake

I made a mistake, one that has shaken my confidence a bit.  It took almost 20 mins for me to settle down after it happened, I haven't been this rattled in a very long time.  On Saturday I picked up the new boarder, he is a 7 yr old paint gelding.  He is about 200lbs overweight and hasn't had much done with him over the past couple of years.  His owner is RB4 and she wants to start riding him to determine if she wants to keep him or sell him and since I have an indoor arena and she likes riding with me, she came here.  He is pretty pushy and has almost no, well I take that back.  He has no ground manners.  He doesn't see people as the boss and assumes he is the boss and has no qualms about taking that responsibility.  He also doesn't back off of pressure or respect space of any kind.  We had a little bit of an issue getting him on the trailer and a heck of a time getting off of the trailer, he refused to back up/off and eventually he had to turn around to get him off of the trailer.  Not that bad in the grand scheme of things, I have dealt with much worse.

He is getting along pretty well with the boys and seems to have pulled rank on the App, something I am quite surprised and happy with.  The App needed knocked down a few notches IMO.  I brought the new horse in Saturday night and threw him a flake of hay to go with his slow feed hay net so he didn't get frustrated for his food as he learned how to use the slow feeder.  He appeared to have taken every piece of that hay and walked it through all of his bedding, grrr.  He was also a handful when I took the donkey out Sunday AM, screaming his head off, kicking the stall, etc.  I brought him out next and he screamed his head off and ran around the pasture until I brought the App and the TWH out.  Grrr.  Last night he came in without too much issue and seemed... at least more settled than the previous night.  I didn't throw him loose hay lol.  During night check I top off water and pick out stalls.  When I went to clean his stall, he charged me as he appeared to want out of his stall.  If it wasn't for the pitchfork I had in my hand, as I was cleaning up his pee spot in front of the stall gate, he would have ran me over and taken out my wheelbarrow.  Fortunately he stayed in his stall, unfortunately my pitchfork didn't survive the ordeal as the top snapped when it hit his shoulder.  Luckily I have replacement heads I guess.  This morning his stall was in fairly decent condition considering the previous morning and he acted up a little less today when I took the donkey out.

I went to halter him and bring him out next and he kept taking his head back into the stall so I couldn't halter him.  After a half dozen tries I went into the stall and tried to halter him and he went to the back of the stall.  I locked the gate (Best idea of the morning) and tried to halter him, he turned his butt to me so I slapped him with the lead rope, he kicked out at me a couple of times.  I went back to the gate and he turned and faced me, I threw his lead over his neck and went to put his halter on, he half reared and backed up so we were both in the back of the stall and he then suddenly bolted forward.  I moved from the left back corner of the stall to the right back corner as I was suddenly right behind his hind legs and waited for a moment.  He seriously considered trying to jump over the stall gate which is a little over 4 feet off of the ground.  I went to the front left corner of the stall to try to get him to back off of the gate and put the lead rope back on his neck and he swung his haunches and pinned me in the corner.  He hit the gate and and backed almost into me three times, each time I braced hard expecting to have the &*%! kicked out of me.  I was in an extremely vulnerable position and absolutely should have known better.

After what seemed like 10 minutes but was probably only about 30 seconds he turned around and went to the rear of his stall so I immediately went to the front right corner so I had the gate behind me and faced him.  This time he let me throw his lead rope over his neck and then I put his halter on.  I grabbed my dressage whip and walked him out to the pasture without any further issues but it took turning the other 2 horses out and 2.5 clean stalls later before I had stopped shaking.  I know better, I shouldn't have allowed myself to get in such a dangerous position.  I easily could have been very seriously hurt by this horse, perhaps I have been drawn into complacency with horses that respect people and space.  Lesson learned though, this horse will be handled carefully and we will start some sessions to get him to respect me.  When I emailed the owner to tell her she said she was surprised as he is "easy going" but gave her permission for me to work with him.  My other other choice is to ask them to leave and I don't want to do that.  Not yet anyway.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kota - Last ride

It is really hard to imagine that Kota has been here for a full 30 days.  Or that April is about over though I knew April would fly by with as busy as it was supposed to be.  I was reading my previous post looking at all Kota has accomplished in the short time here and it makes me proud.  He has a good foundation to bring him through life and I am looking forward to see how things play out for him.

For our last ride I kept things simple.  I worked on groundwork again to make sure he was nice and sharp for when he goes home.  Move haunches, move shoulders, back, forward, halt, the meaning of whoa.  He had almost forgotten some of the basics and didn't immediately move when I asked for a command so I am glad I took the time to review.   He was a good boy and after about 10 mins I hopped on.  Kota stayed stock still for mounting and we spent most of the ride at a walk and trot.  We worked on half passes some more, practiced the turn on the haunches, forehand, side pass and back.  We played with the trot and keeping it nice and slow with both big and small circles and changes of direction.  We even played with a small jump, having him walk over a 15 inch crossrail and even trotting over it.  Though admittedly there wasn't a trot over the crossrail, he trotted up to it, slowed to a walk, stepped over it and trotted off.  I will give him props for not refusing or trying to duck out, he just went over it like he had been doing it the whole time.  It was a nice ride to finish our month together.

Kota will be leaving this afternoon and I will have 2 days of only having my critters here before the new boarder comes.  I shall thoroughly enjoy these next two days of only 3 stalls to clean, especially since Kota is far from a good stall keeper.  Hopefully this new gelding will be a better stall keeper, the owner says he is rarely in a stall now so she can't say how he is.  It shall be a surprise!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kota and the TWH - total uneventful goings

Kota is here for only two more nights and is leaving Thursday afternoon.  I am excited for him and hope his owner enjoys all of the toys I installed on him.  I was thinking about everything I have taught him in a short 30 days and Kota can now correctly perform the following, of which he could not do upon arrival:

Standing while grooming
Standing while mounting/dismounting
Put head down on command
Walk/trot with head down on command
Trot slowly with some collection and lots of balance
Walk and trot large and small circles
Change direction in the trot with balance
Bend his body
Move hindquarters on command, both on the ground and under saddle
Move shoulders on command, both on the ground and under saddle
Back on command, both on the ground and under saddle
Canter with some balance
Canter with ability to steer
Canter via leg cue, which is not "more kicking", with correct lead
Half pass - a real one too, no leading shoulders
Side pass
Knows the meaning of the word Whoa
Will walk beside a person with his head at their shoulder
Halt when a person on the ground stops
Load "by himself" in a trailer
Allow entire face to be clipped with clippers

I am pretty happy with this list and I am sure there is something I am forgetting.  His owner will ride him again tonight and I will ride him tomorrow and that will be it for my first training horse in MI and first training horse in several years.  Success!

The ride last night was pretty boring, we walked, trotted and did some canter.  Worked on some lateral movements, just reinforcing what he has learned with nothing notable to even talk about.  I will do the same stuff on Wednesday and will be surprised if I have anything notable to talk about then either.  I did have RB4 ride the TWH while I rode Kota though, she did some walk and flatwalk and she said she could certainly tell he was out of shape.  He was even slightly sweaty after walking for an hour, poor guy.  The TWH being the true gem that he is, however, walked along like he hadn't just had over 2 months off.  No spooking, no being fast, just plodding along like he had been doing it all along.  Not sure how much he will be ridden right away as I will be getting the App ready for our show May 6th but he will now be available and he has pounds to walk off. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kota - Kota and the trail ride

Saturday I hauled Kota out for a trail ride with his owner, she wanted me to "challenge him" through some parts of a trail she frequents.  One of the requests for training was to get him to load better and, preferably, to load "by himself".  Since this is the one part of training I haven't even touched on, I figured we might as well try it now.  I went to load him and he walked on fine.  I backed him off and put him back on, no problems.  I backed him off and asked him to load again but this time I didn't walk in the trailer with him and he stopped.  I backed him up and tried again and he refused.  I tried a third time and he reared.  Uhhh, Kota don't you think that is a bad idea?  I have been told rearing is his answer to things he doesn't want to do so after he reared a second time I put the chain over his nose.  When he reared the third time and hit the chain he almost fell over but still offered another rear when I again asked him to walk forward towards the trailer.  I changed tactics and aggressively backed him up and made him move his haunches and shoulders.  When he refused to walk forward I would then ask very agrresively for sideways movement and would only let him "rest" if he was near the trailer.  After about 10 mins I let him rest facing the trailer and then represented the trailer to him.  No real surprise when I walked on with him, he walked on perfectly.  I backed him off and repeated and had no issues so I backed him off one last time and asked him to load without me walking on with him.  And he did it!  I asked him to back again and loaded him again without my walking in with him and he didn't give any problems. Hopefully that is the last of that issue, crazy horse.

We got to the trails only about 10 minutes late and he was really good the rest of the time.  He tacked up quietly and while standing, he stood quietly while being mounted and he had no problems being in the front, back or middle of our 3 horse pack.  When he refused to go down a small "drop" and instead wanted to walk around it, I took the time to remind him that if I want him to go down a step then he shall and he obliged.  He handled mud with no problems and wasn't spooky at the "scary trees" his owner says he always spooks at.

His shining moment, however, was when I had him go down a very steep hill.  It had a couple of small drops, a few turns and a small gulley.  I let him have his head, pushed him on and he went all the way down and then went all the way back up without a single refusal.  The gal we were riding with was super impressed and his owner seemed happy with his efforts.

I am happy to report that when we got back to the trailer he loaded up with me and "by himself" without giving a single problem or even thinking about rearing.  He trailered fine and when we got home I unloaded/loaded him several times without any drama.  Sunday I will ride him (and the TWH!!!) with his owner and show her some of his new buttons again.  T minus 4 days and he leaves!

Kota - The final week

Many apologies in the absence, I was out of town last week and wasn't able to post anything, read blogs or even hop on Facebook because I was so busy.  Thankfully I am back and am in the swing of things so things are getting done.

I have ridden Kota a couple of times  since being back and am extremely happy with his progress.  Friday I rode with the intention of a normal ride but there was a super scary TARP(!!!!) covering our wood splitter.  And despite Kota being turned out all day Friday with said TARP(!!!!), he obviously didn't see it until I was riding him.  He first wouldn't even approach it but every time he would try to turn away I would make him face it.  Every time he took a step backwards I would make him circle his haunches or shoulder several times so that it was more work to go backwards than it was to face the scary TARP(!!!!).  Finally after about 15 mins of making it more difficult for him to not touch the tarp, he decided it was okay to touch the tarp.  Though the first time he did I thought his elbows were going to touch the ground as he dropped his front end so low to the ground and was ready to bolt.  He was really good though and didn't bolt and after a couple more convincings he decided to touch the tarp again.

We worked on trotting correctly while neck reining, did serpentines and halts before moving off into the canter.  I will say, he has only been here a month and we have only done canter for a couple of weeks but he has really developed a nice canter (for him anyway).  We were able to get both leads, though the right lead is still pretty sticky to get, and he is balancing well enough we were able to do the 3 circle exercise, a circle, straight for a third of the arena, circle again, straight to the end of the arena and circle again.  It is a deceptively hard exercise to do correctly as the horse needs to stay balanced and rhythmic through the entire exercise.  All in all things went very well.  He even learned the elusive sidepass!

Am very excited about his progress, he leaves Thursday night so I am going to ride every day until he leaves.  Here's to hoping he behaves when he goes home!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Kota - The first review

Kota was a good boy last night and is coming along nicely.  His owner came out to ride and see how he was doing.  He had a bit of an issue being tied, a first with me so far, and danced much more than I would have liked but under saddle he was very good.  Standing while being mounted appears to be installed nicely which was the biggest request of his training.  Once we started riding we were able to get real half passes and some actual turns on the forehand and also some turns on the haunches.  The owner is anxious to have him sidepass so I need to start working on that now that we have both the shoulders and haunches moving when being asked. 

The trot is also coming along with fewer and fewer corrections being needed.  I was able to ride one handed and correct him when he would go faster and he responded the first time almost every time.  His owner was happy that the neck reining hadn't been "uninstalled" and that he will do some of the things he is learning without holding onto both reins.  I did advise that since he is leaving in a couple of weeks these things won't be hard coded in his mind yet, she will need to ride him with two hands for at least another month until he learns his new behaviors as a habit.  She seemed okay with that so hopefully she can keep up on the training aspect of it.

I did show her our canter and she was impressed I was able to keep him on a circle as her biggest complaint in the canter is the complete lack of steering.  I told her that is due to his being so heavy on his forehand and that he has has zero balance so he has a hard time/is unable to respond to directional requests as he is working so hard to just canter.  I suggested to put him on a circle in a field and keep working at getting him to push with his haunches versus his shoulders and that will help him be balanced, once balanced the steering would come easily.  I explained the difference in feel and demonstrated it a few times, she said she was able to see when he would dive onto his forehand versus when I would put him onto his haunches and see the difference it made.  This makes me happy as I wasn't sure if she could see it and am still uncertain if she can feel it.  Hopefully I can get his canter a little more solid before he goes home.  I should be able to, I just hope he can keep it.  He is, however, pretty good with responding to the canter cue and we were able to get both leads last night.  Progress is being made!

At the end of the ride I had her ride him so she could experience some of his new buttons.  She was extremely happy with his standing while being mounted and not moving until being asked.  It is such an easy thing to teach compared to everything else we have been doing but this is what she was most excited about.  Quite amusing IMO.  I guided her through a few half passes each direction and then some trotting each direction.  She said his trot is 100% better, before he would be so bouncy she would almost fall off if she didn't post.  I believe the issue was he was so heavy on his forehand that he was just going fast without balance, thankfully I never gave him the opportunity to show that part of himself to me.  I gave her some tips on how to keep him in the "new" trot and that he shouldn't do any other kind of trot for another 60 days so that it becomes habit and he doesn't revert.  He needs to build the correct muscles, once he builds them it will be easier for him to trot "good" versus "bad".  We finished up with my guiding her through some turning on the forehand/haunches and backing.  She seems happy and I hope it makes them partner better.  Only 2 weeks left with him!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New additions to LogDog Acres

So we bit the bullet and have added new creatures to the zoo around here.  Introducing our new chicks.

Hey Y'all

They are straight run so we won't end up keeping all of them, only the girls.  They came from the home of one of my students and they are super friendly. 

No, we are suspicious.  Don't mistake friendlyness for info gathering
 I have 2 Blue Wheaton Ameracauna's, 2 Black Copper Maran's, a Wyandotte and a Wyandotte/Silky mix.  They were hatched out for me from their flock, I think that is pretty cool.  They hatched on 4/8 and 4/9 so they are still just a couple of days old but they had no problem with the move or adjusting to their new home.  They are currently in one of my big aquariums/old gerbil cage and am hoping it will be big enough until we can move them outside in a month or so. 

Send help, we are being held captive
Until then I get to listen to peep, peep, peeps as they peck around in their cage in my office.  They are quite amusing to watch and their napping is too cute, they droop or flop onto the floor. 

Mmmmm.  Nap.
Hope to keep a picture diary of them as they get bigger, maybe my camera and schedule will cooperate.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In other news

Happy Birthday to our TWH!  He turns nine today, it has been a long road since August, 2007 but we've gotten through it and he is better for it.  He is also now SOUND!  He has been lame since March 9th, I pulled him off of confinement and wrapping last Friday and am giving him this week and next week off and then he is going back into service.  Am very excited to get my blond boy back under saddle.

The App is doing very well, thankfully he has stayed sound this whole time.  He is being ridden almost every day that I ride Kota by RB4 or RB3 so he is staying fit thankfully.  I am hopeful I can get him ready for an eventing derby on May 6th, it will be just 2 weeks after Kota leaves and I haven't been jumping him.  RB4 said she was willing to put him over some small jumps to help strengthen his tendons until I can ride him again, planning on taking her up on that!  Unfortunately he has 2 lessons this weekend, since the TWH is still on rest, so I can't ride him on Sat over fences.  Am hoping I can get some saddle time on Sunday or thrown him over some fences on a lunge.  Need to get moving!

Kota - 2 and a half weeks in

Kota is moving along spectacularly in his training though I really wish I could have another 30 days to solidify some things because time is moving really fast right now.  On Friday Kota went on his first trail ride with me and was awesome.  He even kept a correct trot for about a minute all on his own, a huge improvement for him.  He wasn't spooky at the flapping flag, the kids playing basketball nor even the other kids playing volleyball.  He was well mannered, listened to leg cues and didn't give any trouble.

Last night we worked on leg commands more, introducing the turn on the forehand as well as a half-pass.  The turn on the forehand was difficult for him to grasp during the last ride so I rode in spurs which made a big difference.  He was very confused about what to do and it certainly took longer for him to "get it" then the turn on the haunches but in the end he figured it out.  At the end of the ride I could get him to move all 4 quarters independently of each other and without using spurs.  Success!!  The half pass isn't nearly as exciting as it sounds as he seemed to understand it pretty quickly after figuring out "move haunches".  We were able to do a half pass from the rail into the quarter line each direction so I called that part good for the day.

We then worked on the dreaded...CANTER.  He has a right lead canter but when I cantered before he refused to offer a left lead canter.  No worries though as I was on a mission to try to get both.  His canter feels like he is 95% on his front end, has no balance and he has virtually no steering, you just power along and hope walls or horses don't get in your way.  I am trying to also teach him a canter cue, inside leg on/outside leg back, at the same time as I am running out of time, I am only hoping he gets it before time is up.  We started with his right lead canter and I was able to get him into a circle by pushing him into the reins for balance or really pulling into the correct direction couple of times.  Once he understood circle I tried to get him to balance a little and he finally offered me a stride and a half of balanced canter.  Wahoo!  Big steps for him, he even offered it a couple more times despite not keeping it for more than two strides.

With the success of the right lead, I figured I would try the left lead, we got the right lead.  We tried again, and got the same result.  I tried a circle without success and then tried a sharp turn to force him to push off with the correct lead and voila, he gave a flying change and the left lead introduced itself.  The left lead is just as bad as the right but in the end he gave me a single stride of semi-balanced canter and was halfway decent with steering.  I didn't push the canter much as this is only the third time we have cantered and I know he isn't strong enough to carry himself but it is nice to know he is willing to try a new way.

Only a couple of weeks left and I am gone for 4 days of it.  Have a lot of riding to get done, time for someone to get some serious learn on.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kota - Day seven - Moving away from pressure

Kota is making advances and is learning quite nicely.  Tuesday became it a "spa day" for my lame one, the TWH, and thus he got curried, brushed and clipped so he would look like a respectable beast again.  When I was done I remembered clipping is one of the things I was asked to work on so out Kota came.  Overall he did really well.  We started really slow and he was very good for most of it.  I was able to trim his muzzle, beard hairs and his left ear without almost any reaction.  On the last section though, his right ear, he threw a fit.  He reared and backed several times, cutting my thumb and rearranging all of my aisle mats in the process.  Yanking on the halter wasn't making a difference so I brought out the stud chain to remind him that rearing is never the answer and when he reared I backed him at least 150 feet each time.  In the end he seemed to have gotten it as he let me hold the clipper to his right ear three times and we called it a night.  Last night I started with a review of the clipper session and was very pleased that while Kota threw his head a couple of times, his feet stayed firmly on the ground and he allowed the clippers on both ears.  Progress!  

When I had ridden him on Monday I had noticed his saddle really doesn't fit.  He had a nice sweat pattern everywhere but his withers and his rump so today I took some time to investigate.  Unfortunately the saddle sits directly on his withers and is completely bridged over his back and doesn't make contact again until right behind the cantle.  Damn.  I dug out one of my sheepskin pads and a gel pad and with some creative stacking/folding I was able to get the saddle to sit on him fairly properly.  I, however, was perched about 3 inches above him.  The owner won't be pleased to realize her saddle doesn't fit, hopefully she can get another saddle or find a pad(s) that will work in the interim.

The ride itself went really well, the best ride yet in fact!  Kota stood like a good horse while I mounted, stood while I picked up the reins and walked off nicely when asked.  He bent pretty well both directions at the walk, willingly gave a shoulder in both directions and even offered a baby halfpass.   Wahoo!  He didn't offer to stiffen and blow through my leg a single time (and I wasn't riding with spurs) and was easy-peasy.  His trot is coming along as well, last night we worked on getting him to rate his own speed and it was a success.  We worked on getting a good, slow trot, having me let him go and not touching him unless he sped up.  By the end of the ride we were able to make one lap around the arena with only one correction.  That is a huge step for him in my book.  We also worked on figure 8's and this time he was finally able to get the change of direction without falling apart. 

To finish the ride we worked on some turn on the haunches with success and tried a turn on the forehand with complete failure.  I may need the spurs or a crop again to get him to understand to move the haunches away from the leg pressure.  No biggie though, we are still taking baby steps.  We also worked on backing with a leg cue instead of yanking on his mouth, personally I hate seeing people pulling to get a horse to back.  IMO a horse should back with light pressure from the bit or with a leg cue so I am installing a leg cue as his current "button" is pulling.  A night off tonight, ride tomorrow and the Crazy April starts.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kota - Day six - Bird? Nope. Bend is the word.

Things have started to bubble around LDA as April roars in.  April is a very busy month and this is the calm before the storm, after this I won't have a relaxing weekend until May as I will either have people in (the in-laws), I will be out of town or SO will be out of town.  Hoping I stay sane but there aren't any guarantees!  Anyway, I rode Kota last night and am pretty impressed with the results.  I did about 5 mins of groundwork after saddling him and was able to get on and pick up the reins before he moved.  I got off, moved him back and did it again and he stood stock still.  Progress indeed and it makes me very happy.

Due to being in a rush I had forgotten to change boots and so I was riding without spurs.  I almost went back into the barn to get them but figured why not, I should see what I have first.  We walked around and did some basic bending and I am thrilled that Kota is "getting it".  Of the entire ride he stiffened and blew through my inside leg only about a dozen times, big improvement!  He is getting better at bending and I was able to get him to move shoulders-in both directions a few times.  He is also starting to understand the turn on the haunches better and will do it correctly for a couple of steps about 75% of the time. 

We did a lot of trotting this ride, a first for us.  I worked really hard on getting him to trot at a medium pace, without him changing pace even when I am not touching his face.  It is going to take some time but I think I can get it by the end of the 30 days.  We worked a little on bending at the trot and were able to get a 20m circle at the trot without him locking his shoulder, another big accomplishment for him. 

Overall things went very well.  I am happy with his progress and am optimistic on what we will be able to accomplish.  Today is a day off and then will ride on Wednesday and Friday and probably the weekend too.  At some point he needs to go on a lunge so we can try that canter again too.  Anyone have some time I can borrow?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kota - Progress being made

This weekend went by too fast but I suppose that is how things go anymore.  Saturday Kota's owner came over and rode the App while she watched me ride Kota.  She was very, very happy (as was I!) that Kota is walking with his head down, that he stood still for mounting AND stood still while I picked up the reins.  Wahoo!  Progress is being made.  She wasn't as concerned about him walking like a giraffe under saddle as I am but I will continue on the course of "Horse, head down!".  It will only help him in the long run as he develops correct muscles and can then use his back more.  

Since we had such a time with bending and blowing through my leg on Thursday, Saturday I upped the ante by wearing my spurs.  Note my spurs are very small, blunt english nubs.  Kota's owner was concerned that I would A) train him to not be neck reined anymore and B)train him to only ride with spurs.  It took some convincing that I was not removing his neck reining training but I need to direct rein to install some buttons, like installing her desire to have him move away from leg pressure.  Finally I told her I would re-install neck reining if I needed to.  I also reminded her that none of my horses have to be ridden in spurs and that spurs are a reinforcement aid.  I then showed her how to tell when I was even applying the spurs so she could see I wasn't using them all of the time. 

This ride went much, much better than the first ride.  There were several times he tried very hard to blow through my inside leg when bending but he respects my little spurs and gave a decent effort of trying.  He only tried his sit back/not rear a couple of times which is a big improvement as well.  I tried his trot and he can have a nice slow western pleasure type jog when he stays balanced.  When he gets unbalanced or isn't being rated he will gladly fall onto his forehand and go faster, something the owner would like "fixed".  I told her I can't completely "fix" it with 30 days of training but I that I will try to get him trotting slower more than he will trot faster.  We will see.  She also wanted me to slow his canter so I decided to tried it out.  He only seems to be able to canter on the left lead under saddle and has no education about his canter.  He is very heavy, very fast and very unbalanced.  I will need to try some lunge/long line sessions to get him balanced a little.  I again told her I can't "fix" it with the time frame she has given me but I can get his training started.  She will need to finish it. 

Overall it was a nice ride.  We accomplished the basics of a turn on the haunches, we got a little bend to the right and we got a decent trot.  I will be riding again today, Wednesday and probably Friday.  Hoping he will have enough of a foundation to ride him on the road this weekend and maybe trails next weekend.  Time to get in the saddle!