Monday, January 19, 2015

30 Day Challenge - Five of your favorite flatwork exercises

I need to get back into this and actually finish it!

Ooh, this one really made me think. Here's my top 5 flatwork exercises:

1. Shoulder-in. I really do like doing shoulder-ins. It's a great way to engage the hind end, lighten the front end and get my horse paying attention to me.

2. Canter leg yields. This is definitely geared towards Jetta, since strengthening her canter is something we're constantly working on as it's her "weakest" gait.

3. Transitions within the gait. Especially with Jetta and strengthening her canter, doing a "shorter" strided, almost collected canter for a few strides, then opening to a working canter for a few strides, then doing a lengthened canter. Also helpful for jumping, doing the same exercise with a pair of poles on the ground and changing up the number of strides you get between the poles. 

4. Bending on a straight line. Really helpful with Misty and getting her to listen to my seat when I ask for turns instead of dropping her shoulder. The problem with doing both ranch work type stuff and then dressage is that if you let her, she will completely drop that inside shoulder and turn on a dime. Not quite the objective in dressage. So getting her to wait for the turn by bending her on a straight line, then sometimes turning her and sometimes straightening her out again and getting her to not anticipate.

5. Stopping and backing. It's not something I've seen a whole lot in the dressage/english world but I find it really useful for getting Jetta off her forehand and lighter to my aids when I ask for a halt. Also, super useful for western horses to get their weight settled back to make nicer sliding stops and to prepare them for rollbacks.

In other news, I went to a tack sale over the weekend and managed to find two out of the three items I needed! I got Jetta a neck cover for $30 which was exactly what I wanted to pay, since I can't seem to justify spending more money on the neck cover than I have for any of my blankets. It's a brand new SmartPak brand. It is a size medium, which I was afraid would be too small, but it fits perfectly even with her Weatherbeeta blanket.

Laser-eyed pony

I also found a nice, soft pair of plain brown leather english reins to go on Jetta's new Horze bridle. I don't like breaking in reins in the slightest, so for five bucks I get to skip that step!

Lastly, I didn't find Misty a new medium weight blanket with or without a neck cover so I guess I'm saving up for a new one. She's still rocking the lightweight blanket with a liner but it's annoying and just doesn't fit quite right. Overall a good sale as always!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Trimmed Up

Today's weather was gorgeous out! I thought it was supposed to be rainy for the next few days, but when I got to the barn the sun was shining so I couldn't resist getting the horses outside. I lunged both of the horses in the roundpen and then went for a spin on Misty in the indoor (where it wasn't quite so muddy).

I really need to stop riding bareback or at the very least, bareback without a pad. It huuurts. Misty has lost all her summer chunkiness so I can feel her spine and add hard stops and turns to the mix and I really need some cushioning down there.

She looks a little less homeless without all that hair. Now I just need to wash that mane...

I finally charged up my clippers and attacked some of the wooliness that was happening. Both girls got their bridlepaths, chins, fetlocks and whiskers cleaned up. I also clipped their white socks because I just like how it looks so I did Jetta's one back sock and Misty's two front socks. What a difference!


Of course the only bad part about the day was that I forgot Jetta's bridle at home. I really wanted to ride her, but of course since I've been keeping all the bridles in my closet to keep off the mold, I need to actually remember the bridle. Sigh. So that was depressing, but Jetta's been a touch foot sore since her trim so I guess it's not all that bad, giving her time to recover. Though hopefully the Keratex treatment today helped. I swear that stuff is magical.

I don't think she's disappointed about not being ridden

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snot Nosed Trio

This morning's view at the barn

Ugh. I hate being sick. I've had an annoying cold since the 1st, but all of the sudden it evolved into this death sickness, complete with a lovely fever, hacking cough and total lack of desire to leave my bed.

I think I'm finally over the worst of it and ready to return to the world of the living!

During my almost two weeks of sickness, the ponies weren't that much different. Both girls got runny noses and coughs, which most of the horses in the barn seemed to have as well. They didn't seem too much worse for the wear though and recovered much more quickly than I did. It was almost kind of funny that we were all snuffling and coughing at the same time. Almost. But not really.

I had some great rides on both girls. I'm really enjoying getting back on Jetta. I just need to stick with it. It killed me a little to be at the barn ALL ALONE (which rarely happens) and to not ride because I felt like I was going to keel over at any second.

She got some well deserved treats after this ride!

Misty is so much fun, as always and hopefully I'll have a couple people come to see her in the next couple weeks. Still need to find the poor girl a new home :( She's been getting better and better at bridleless, but still not 100% trustworthy tackless. She absolutely knows when she doesn't have a halter on that she can't be made to follow any sort of rules, so we've retreated to the roundpen where I can take her halter off in a much more controlled environment. We're getting there.

My bruise from Jetta developed wonderfully and is now fading, though it has still left a bit of a knot. I'm kind of surprised with my spectacular bruising ability that it didn't get even more beautiful, but it was still pretty bad.

I think it looked worse in person

Both girls got their hooves trimmed today. I usually maintain their hooves with a rasp until they need actual trimming (still too timid to wield nippers or a hoof knife) and one of Misty's hooves started to flare and Jetta's bars were looking long so I decided it was time for the professional to come out. She hasn't been out in about four and half months but said both girls' hooves were looking good and I was doing a good job keeping their hooves balanced. Always nice to know I'm not ruining them!

I cleaned alllll of my tack too. It took me three straight hours. It was awful. You know you have way too much tack when it takes you that long. This is why I hate winter. MOLD. That stuff is nasty. I've been doing a good job of checking my tack that I keep in the trailer and wiping it down before it got too bad but then I got sidetracked.

Cats are really helpful when cleaning tack btw:

Mold loves really nice tack apparently. It barely grows on my not-so-nice tack but it loves the expensive stuff. So now all of my bridles, breastplates and anything else with a scrap of leather on it are living in my closet. It's a good thing I have a big closet.

Of course, all the roommates threw in their leather objects to be cleaned as well. I can be bribed pretty easily. ML had a really moldy bridle and she had the brilliant idea to soak it... in bleach water. I walked into my bathroom (of course it was my bathtub she chose to use instead of her own) to this monstrosity:

Bleach is a very, very bad idea

It is still to be decided if I can rescue this poor bridle.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bad Girls Club

First off, Happy New Years! I have really high hopes that this is going to be an absolutely wonderful year!

Exciting news - I finally rode Jetta in the arena! It has been MONTHS since she's been ridden inside. I seriously need to kick my butt in gear and ride her consistently. She actually was not terrible. I've been lunging her in side reins and finally decided that she looked sane enough to climb aboard. It felt so good to be back on her. We only had a few minor spooks and  I even felt comfortable enough on her to let her canter, something I didn't think I was going to do.

Fuzzy monster

Foamy lips

Now, the bad girl part comes the day before. I stuck her on the lunge line and she took off bucking and kicking. Not unusual for her. But this time she actually kicked me, right in the thigh. Now, I always say that Jetta kicks. But she has never actually kicked any one, much less me, in the 6 years I've owned her. 

It didn't hurt too much at the time, she just gave me a glancing blow, but later that night my entire thigh went numb and it hurts quite a bit now. Luckily it doesn't interfere with riding and it's not all that bad but still, it'll make for an impressive bruise. I was in shock that she actually kicked me. Bad, bad pony.

Now with Misty... we also had a good day and a bad day. I was lunging her and just felt like hopping on bareback in her halter. I even mounted her from the ground without a mounting block, something I've never been able to do successfully with another horse without the use of some hill or ditch. She was quite surprised that I was running at, then jumping on, her but she stood without fuss and I had a fantastic ride on her. I was so happy. I put the lunge line around her neck and rode her as if we were bridleless (or I guess halterless). She was so incredibly responsive, I had a blast.

She had her listening ears on

So, of course the next day I thought it would be perfect to step it up a notch and actually do it completely tackless. It did not go as planned. She was being so sassy and bad (for her). She trotted along with her nose dragging through the dirt and when I asked her to raise her head, she tossed it and hunched her back as if she was going to buck. Her spins and stops were ok, but a little lackluster. She decided more than once that she was going to take a detour and go stare at herself in the mirror whether or not I actually wanted her to go in that direction. Then another horse came in the arena to lunge and she became completely enamored with him and kept trying to get close to him despite my protests. Sigh. It was not a good ride.

The plan is to try again with Misty, first starting out with the halter on, and then taking it off after we warm up. And not doing bridleless work with another horse in the arena until I feel like her responses are better in tune to my requests.

With Jetta, I'm going to try and keep up some consistent rides! And hopefully neither of us attempt to kill each other.