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Author Topic: Training adventures  (Read 6378 times)

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #105 on: September 16, 2017, 06:36:28 pm »

Sept 16.  Thursday September 14 is the day I'm going to remember. I hate change and things have really changed. I'm hoping some good will come out of this though, trying  to stay positive. Funny how you can rock along taking things for granted and thinking it can last. You know it can't last forever but you hope it does. Then one day it changes and boom....

I'm trying to ride Amigo every day but it's not always possible. At least I got to ride him today and it was a good ride. It was hot hot hot and neither of us wanted to work so I mostly worked on walking and asking him to drop his head and reach down. If I try to twirl his head....alternating reins directing laterally, not down or back, he will tuck his head to the vertical but he won't reach out and down. But if I just play out the reins he will reach forward and down and he does this at a walk real well. Then when I pick up the reins slowly he comes up with his poll so that his poll is slightly higher than the withers and his head just in front of the vertical. I can't tell if he's just raising his head and sucking back his neck or if he's lifting through the base of his neck though. He's got such a thick naturally arched neck and he naturally carries himself rounded so it's hard for me to tell exactly what he's doing. I'm so used to riding hollow, upside down gaited horses and trying to teach them to drop their heads and round up.....it's a totally different feel. It's easy for me to tell when a hollow horse gets round because the difference is pretty drastic. But with Amigo I think it's more a case of getting a greater degree of roundness....or collection. I don't think he ever really gets hollow, at least not as hollow as I'm used to with the walkers. My problem I think is getting collection without making him contract his neck. I want that neck as long as he can get it. I need some eyes on the ground I think. My tendency is to try to position his head where I think it should be. I think this is a sure way to get him to contract his neck and back...The opposite of what I want. So today I concentrated on letting those reins out, letting him reach forward and then slowly feeling for contact with his mouth. The reins were never tight, I never pulled on him. Instead I would shorten the reins slowly and wait for him to come to me and find his comfort zone where the bit was just resting in his mouth. Then to get collection I closed my legs slightly, not enough to ask him to go faster, just enough to ask him to step up to the bit. At the same time I made sure my position was correct...not leaning forward at all as I'm prone to do. This is all done slowly and carefully because I have to think through every step. I think I'm doing this the right way and every once in awhile it feels like he's stepping uphill. It's a good feeling. I can do this pretty well now at the walk. Now I need to start working on the trot. Today I started trying to trot him on smaller circles than I've done before, about 20 foot radius. He was able to get most of the way around but not totally before he had to drop to a walk. I had him do a couple of figure 8's and then let him rest. This is a really small circle for such a big horse so I can only ask him to do it for a very short time or it can hurt him, and it's going to take awhile before he'll be able to do it. I think doing this small of a circle will help him figure out how to balance better and stay off his forehand without me having to hold him up or get in his mouth. If I do this once or twice every time I ride him I think it will really help him learn to trot collected.

Sept 21   Got another ride on Amigo today. It was very hot and muggy and neither of us wanted to work hard so all I did was walking figure 8's. My goal was to get small perfect circles with a definite and smooth change of bend in the middle. He did pretty well on the circles but the bend change remains hard for him. He did get better as we practiced though and could change the bend within about 3 strides but I had to cue him firmly with my legs and reins. Since this seemed hard for him I only repeated this exercise a few times and then went to the butterfly exercise along the long side. He had an easier time changing his bend in this exercise, probably because the change is more gradual and he can leg yield into it. We did this a few times and then I started doing the same exercise but I alternated between collected walk and long and low walk. I found he has more trouble changing his bend when he's long and low. I guess I need to work more on getting him more responsive to my leg cues. Finally we did some backing up. He first tries to push against the bit, then he gets crooked and moves his rear end to the left usually. All I do when he tries these tactics is just hold my position until he corrects himself. When he gets straight and soft and steps back I give him a release. He eventually got a little softer and straighter. This needs a lot more work. His halt was good today but then it was so hot, halting was his favorite thing to do. I continue to be concerned that Amigo isn't as soft to the bit as I want. I think what I'm doing...giving a release every time he even slightly gives to me....is the problem. I think I need to up my expectations and hold the reins until he does a bigger, more intentional "give". Maybe I'll try that tomorrow and see what happens.

Sept 24  I haven't ridden Amigo since my last entry, it's just been so hot and I have zero motivation. But I have been doing some ground work with him, very low key and slow. Since he's been having trouble with his back up....getting crooked and pushing against the bit....I decided to go back to basics and work on the back up in halter on the ground. First I had him back up with slight pressure and straight...or as straight as he could do. To help with this I had him back through some ground poles set in an "L" configuration. First few times we only backed on the straight parts of the L. But once that got pretty good I started teaching him how to turn while backing up. This is where his confusion was coming from so we went real slow with me asking for one step at a time, then ask for one step laterally with his rear feet, then another step back. What I discovered was he didn't really understand the cue to move his rear end over. I was tapping him lightly on his side where my leg would be if I was in the saddle which is where I cue him for turn on the forehand. For some reason though, going backwards changes the meaning of that cue in his head. So yesterday I started this stuff and I had a saddle on him. He gave it a good try but was generally pretty crooked and at first, had no clue what I was asking for. I just kept giving the cue and he finally figured it out...sort of. So today we repeated the same exercise but without the saddle and he was better. Backing to the left he did great and almost got ahead of me but backing to the right he had more trouble and was very crooked. After one good try I moved him away from that spot and lunged him for just a minute. While doing this something spooked him. He was trotting on about a 20 foot circle around me when he spooked. He started to bolt but then stopped himself, then he started to buck but also stopped himself and then he just halted. I told him to go back into a trot and he did like nothing happened. The cool thing was during that whole spook, bolt, buck....He never pulled on the lunge line. Pretty cool. Once he seemed over his little tantrum we went back to the L and backed through it going to the right and he did much better but he was putting his ears back and got that look, the one that says..." we should probably stop now cause I gave you a great try". So I asked him to follow me around the arena at liberty and then I let him loose. Pretty good lesson. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel more like riding but if not, I may repeat this work with Amigo in his bridle.

Sept 25  Ground work in the bridle today. What I think I'm seeing is Amigo doesn't have a clear understanding of cues on his right side. So I'm going waaayyy  back to the beginning. So with Amigo in a snaffle bit, me on the ground beside his head, I very gently asked him to step back with one foot. He tried to push against the bit, then he tried to step to the side. I kept adjusting until he understood to back up. Then we worked on getting him to back softly with just a very light touch on both reins directed backward. He did get to the point he would back for as long as I asked but he would eventually get crooked. I figured trying to straighten him while backing up would just confuse him right now so instead, I stopped asking him to back up. Then I asked him to stand still, keep his front feet still, and step over one step laterally with his rear feet. At first he wanted to move his whole body laterally. Well, this is what I've taught him so not unexpected. I was cueing him about mid abdomen, right where my leg would be if I was riding him. So far, to him that has meant move laterally. So to make my request more clear to him I moved the cue very far back, literally just in front of his flank. Then I was very particular that he move only the rear legs. Cueing on his left side got a quick response and after a couple of tries, he kept his front feet still and moved his rear end over one step. When cueing on his right side I had to cue him longer and more firmly before he even tried to move over. His attention kept leaving me. I had to remind him we were working here! That's kind of his first little sign that he's not on board with what we're doing. He wasn't mad yet but he was telling me he didn't want to do this. So I just kept everything low key, let him rest and walk forward a few steps between tries. After several attempts, he finally understood. I gave him lots of pets and then repeated a couple of times. He got to the point he would keep his front feet still, move his rear end over one step....With just a very light touch in front of his flank.

What I've found is I can't keep him straight by correcting him with the reins and bit. Doesn't work at all. Keeping his head straight doesn't keep his body straight. So I have to be able to move his body with my legs, cueing him on his sides. I need to be able to move each part of his body separately too. Finally, he needs to learn to bend better through his rib cage. So I'm teaching him these things from the ground first because he doesn't seem to understand my leg cues. Today I started with exaggerated cues...soft touches with a whip placed very far to the rear of his side, close to his flank. I can't reach that far back with my legs when I'm riding, of course. As he learns what the cue by his flank means I can start to refine it by bringing it closer to where my leg will be positioned. Ultimately he'll learn the difference between cues placed only a few inches apart.

Sept 26  I rode Dodah on the tuesday ride today. He did great. It was hot and muggy and the poor guy was sweating buckets but he still was energetic enough to want to gait on the way back to the trailers. I used the parelli saddle on him with the Dixie midnight pad liner and the 1 inch wool diamond (I think that's the brand) pad. That saddle really does seem to work on almost every horse I've used it on so far. It came with a thin pad that you're supposed to shim to make it fit perfectly on each horse. What I'm finding is the thick wool pad works better on Lex and Dodah. Lex has really high withers and kind of an A frame back with a lot of dip behind the withers. Without the thick pad the saddle flops forward due to the width across the front bars. With the thick pad it sits right where it needs to be and doesn't tip forward. On Dodah, the width through the front of the saddle keeps it from pinching his shoulders and the thick pad fills in the slight hollow he has behind his shoulders.  The bonus is he doesn't trip in this saddle....probably due to freeing up his shoulders,  and if I set it just a tiny bit farther back than I'm used to doing, he doesn't get girth sores like he was doing in all my other saddles. It seems his back is changing, maybe due to his age, but also possibly due to saddle pinching in the past....Although I don't ride him very often, still it could be saddle fit. It so I'm hoping his top line will improve now that I'm using this saddle.  Anyway today he did real good and never tripped the whole time and we rode over some nasty trails that had lots of roots exposed after the hurricane. He just put his head way down and watched the trail. I just gave him his head and he navigated it all like a champ. There was one section of trail that was very narrow and real crooked with lots of sharp bends. Dodah is blind on his left side so if I don't tell him to allow enough room for my knees I get smacked. I was guiding him on this trail with my legs because he needed his head to be down so he could watch for exposed roots and washout holes. That was so fun! He did that whole trail and didn't crunch either of my knees! Finally I decided to try riding him in a different bit....In the arena first of course. I've always used an Imus bit on him and he does real well in that bit until I take up any contact. Then he opens his mouth and sometimes pushes on it, especially when I need to slow him way down to go down a steep hill or gully where he needs to go one step at a time. I have a bit that's designed with more tongue relief. It'll be interesting to see if he responds to it better...or softer.

Sept 27  I rode both Amigo and Dodah, today. I continue to be amazed by how easily Amigo learns stuff if I just slow down and explain things to him in terms he can understand. Before I started doing ground work with him to refresh his back up, he would root, push against the bit, get crooked, and just plant his feet every time I asked him to back up. So I spent several days on the ground showing him how to back up softly with slight pressure. I was trying get to get him to back straight but didn't have much luck so I reviewed getting him to step over one step with his rear end to slight pressure on his side just in front of his flank. Today, I started on the groumd. We did back up, walk forward, back up...He did that pretty well but did start getting crooked so I quit that and did some move your hinney which he did perfectly today. Then I hopped on and we did some circles...All walking. I concentrated on keeping him long and low but still bending through his body. He actually did that somewhat better today. Then I asked him to back up. He pushed against the bit slightly the first time and I held my position till he gave and backed up. After that his back up got a lot lighter....still a little crooked but I'll not worry about that right now. Then I did walk, back, walk...what Buck calls the rocker exercise. We did this real slowly because he's never done this before and I didn't want to confuse him. Better to go slow and get it right. He did a real good job.
Then I rode Dodah. For years I've worried about why he seems so uncomfortable in his bit. I tried snaffles, bosals, different curbs....nothing fixed the problem. Today....duh....it finally dawned on me that maybe he needs more tongue relief. I have a curb bit that I've not used on him because it seems to have a port which I figured would be more severe than the imus. Well, not necessarily it seems. I used it on him this morning and he did seem better in it. His mouth stayed closed, and he only slightly pushed against it the first time I took up contact. After that he was halting, backing, collecting, gaiting.....All on a floating rein with no resistance. The test will be how he does on the trail when I need to balance him to go down hill. Also I put the parelli saddle on him today with the parelli pad with shims farther back toward the center of his back rather than right behind the shoulders and it seemed to fit better and still stayed off his shoulder blades.

Oct 1   I continue to work with Amigo on the ground as this is all the time I have right now. With my bad wrist, it takes too long for me to wrestle with a saddle and pad, then ride, then wrestle with saddle again...When I can do the same stuff...or nearly...from the ground. So, I've been continuing the backing exercises, the rocker exercise and move your hinney. A couple of days ago I added spiral in and out. This is done with a 15 ft longe line. I get him trotting out on the end of the line, then slowly take up on the line until he's trotting on about a 8 ft line...so I decrease the circle by roughly half, then I let the line back out till he's back on 15 feet. I've done this exercise in the past both lunging and riding and he's never been able to keep his balance and stay in trot on a circle with a radius less than 10 feet. Now he can do a 8 foot radius. At least lunging, I haven't tried it riding yet. What that tells me is he's getting more supple and is learning how to balance himself better. Yesterday when I did the rocker exercise with him he was starting to shift his weight easier and his transitions from walking forward to backing were a lot smoother and faster. And I have done nothing to ask for more speed, it's just becoming so much easier for him. It's all about balance.
I've been doing the spiral exercise with him trotting but it could also be done walking or in gait. You would need to first teach the horse how to gait on a circle and I've found with my walkers, gaiting on a circle is very hard at first so it needs to be a very large circle to start. Most gaited horses are very stiff, too, so walking circles...regular slow walk...and concentrate on bending, will help with that. Slowly they learn to bend and balance and you'll notice the gait gets better and easier....With Lex this took a very long time. Don't expect things to change quickly. Also don't ask the horse to do endless circles. That's boring and can easily stress their joints. A couple of circles in each direction to begin with is enough. As they limber up you can do more but I never ask for more than 4 or 5 circles at a time, even with my more experienced horses.

Oct 7  Rode Amigo for a few minutes this am. Mostly walking small circles. He was really really having trouble bending to the left. I've been thinking this is a problem for a long time but today he made it very clear both at the walk and especially trotting. I tried moving my center of gravity more to the right, putting more left leg on and lifting the inside (left) rein and really looking to the left with my whole body. All that helped at the walk but trotting he just kept falling in and dropping his left shoulder and looking to the right. This was the first time that I've been so aware of the dropped shoulder. I was trotting him on a pretty small circle, around 10 ft radius. He even gave me some flat head. He definitely thought this was too hard. I kept trying...circle a few times, go on to something else, then come back to circling. It wasn't until I really lifted the inside rein with a lot more vigor that he finally bent. When he did that I could feel how much easier it was for him to trot that circle. He felt it too. I repeated that once more then put him up. I know he remembers stuff so I'm hoping he'll remember how much easier it was to trot with a  bend so next time he'll do it easier and sooner. We also worked on his back up. He still starts out being kind of stuck but quickly gets the idea and then he's pretty light and backs with his head lower and today I felt him get a little round too so progress.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 08:19:12 am by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #106 on: October 08, 2017, 04:29:12 pm »

I got 2 good rides today....finally!  I put myself on glucosamine and aleve and I feel so much better and have more energy for riding.
I rode Lex early this morning. I wanted to see how his feet are doing because I plan to ride him on tuesday. He seemed fine, was moving freely and reaching nicely with the front legs in gait. Then when I asked for canter he picked up both leads just so easy. I did have to carry the dressage whip...didn't need to use it, just carrying it is enough motivation for him...haha. Anyway it was a fun ride and he was a good boy.

This afternoon my niece came over so we caught Lex and Amigo. She rode Lex and I was on Amigo. Lex was so good. He did everything she asked him to do. She did have trouble keeping him going in canter but not because Lex was being lazy. Years ago I taught Lex to stop if I sit deep in the saddle and boy that his favorite thing to do. Today when Jessie was cantering him she kept losing her balance and sitting back and deep and throwing her legs forward....All cues for Lex to come to a screeching halt.....which he did. It was funny. Once I explained to Jess what was happening she changed her position and things went much better. Lex is so good, he'll give you exactly what you ask for....so you have to be careful what you ask!
Then I was riding Amigo. He started the ride being stiff on the left again. I walked him in left circles until he got soft and bendy, which didn't take very long. Then I asked for trot. For the first time ever he resisted trotting. I just could not get him going!  Not sure what his problem was but once I put him behind Lex who was gaiting, and asked him to gait, he woke up. After that the trot was easy. So I trotted him on a left circle and he tried every which way to avoid bending. He dropped his shoulder...I picked it up. He drifted to the right...I blocked him. We did this for a little while but I didn't let up until he gave and softened. It took maybe 15 minutes and he was bending and circling on a loose rein and no longer dropping that shoulder or drifting out. I really think once he's convinced this way is easier we won't have this struggle. I also did some back, walk, back which is improving. I think that exercise is helping to improve his balance as is the circling as long as I can keep him from dropping his shoulder. My current plan....subject to change of course....is to get him really straight and balanced before I ask for canter. I'm hoping if he can stay balanced at the trot through bend changes and speed changes, he'll have a better chance of staying balanced when we canter, and that should make cantering much easier for both of us. For sure, when he falls on the forehand, he feels like he has to rush and that makes me nervous....nothing good can come of that.

Oct 11  I rode Dodah, on the Tuesday ride yesterday....I finally got to ride in the forest...yippee!!!   Dodah, was so much fun. It was cool and the wind was blowing and both of us felt good. Dodah, did some of the best gaiting he's done in a long time. That parelli saddle with the thick felt pad seems to make him very happy and he was able to really reach with his shoulders and did a great relaxed and fast runwalk. I was riding with a new friend who rides a rocky. Our horses are perfectly matched in their gaits and they both were relaxed....no ideas of racing....and we just tootled down the road. It was a blast. I sure hope I can ride with this lady some more, she likes to ride like I do, mostly walking and relaxing with some gaiting. No rushing, no craziness, no drama. We both like to ride challenging trails but we want our horses to be sensible and relaxed. She's been riding with some ladies that gait their horses all the time, have very little control over them, and spend the whole ride yelling at their horses and trying to strong arm them into submission. Not her idea of fun...or mine either. We're both older than most of the people we ride with and we don't bounce like we used to. We break easier and heal slower and with my husband sick, I can't afford to be laid up with a broken back. Many of our younger friends don't quite understand this. So, yippee....I seem to have found the perfect riding buddy! I hope she continues to ride with our Tuesday group, we all have such fun.

Oct 12  I rode this evening...Amigo in the arena. He's starting to get it! Today I started the ride by walking a modified butterfly exercise.....modified because I do spiral in and out on the circles at either end of the arena. He was bending really well from the get go. So then I asked for trot and he went right into a nice relaxed trot.....don't know what his problem was the other day....  It did take him a couple of tries to be able to bend going to the left but he did get it and it wasn't as hard for him today. Also, the butterfly exercise requires gradual changes of bend and he had no trouble doing this today, in fact he changed his bend when I changed posting diagonals right before I asked him to change. We did this exercise in trot a couple of times and then went on to walk, back, walk. His back up is still crooked but he's not leaning on the bit so much and is getting a lot lighter. Also he's much more responsive to my leg telling him to move his hinney over and he can do one step and keep his front feet still now. So he's definitely getting more supple. Finally I asked him to do small serpentines along the long side. We were just walking. In the past he hasn't been able to do this and he's gotten pretty mad when I tried it. Today he did it almost easily and didn't get frustrated at all....Although I suspect he hates that exercise almost as much as I do. Still, I feel like we're making real progress.

Oct 13  I forgot to add yesterday.....When I was riding Amigo yesterday I was using a fairly long rein most of the time. I'm trying to get him balanced to the point he can bend, change his bend, circle, speed up, halt.....All fairly long and low. He never gets as low as Lex does but for Amigo....long and low is pretty much a level topline. What I'm more concerned about is that he sort of extend his neck rather than suck back. So yesterday I started on a fairly loose rein with just enough contact that I could feel his mouth. Then on the left bend, if he didn't bend correctly I'd take up on the left rein, lift as high as necessary to get his shoulder up but not pull back...The lift is actually directed forward. Then if he tried to drift out to the right I squeeze my fingers on the right rein to block that. The second he dropped his head and bent I released the reins. I repeated this as often as needed. The first day I did this I had to lift the left rein way high, I mean really high....not pretty....and when he drifted out I had to haul back pretty hard on the right rein....again not pretty. But by yesterday my cues were much lighter, lifting the left rein only a couple of inches and just closing my fingers on the right rein if needed....and I didn't need to do that but once.
The other thing....at one point I asked him to gait. We'd been trotting and I wanted to see how well he could bend while gaiting. He went right into a fairly fast flat walk....maybe even a baby run walk....anyway it was a lot faster than he's done before and seemed easy for him. He was able to do some large circles but I didn't push the issue because I was just so tickled at the fast gait!

Oct 15  Today's ride on Amigo wasn't as great as some of our previous rides. He was somewhat distracted and I had a little trouble keeping his attention on what we were doing. I thought maybe the problem was the hunter might be in the woods next door but I never heard him over there. Another possibility was Amigo was getting bored with the same old exercises. For whatever reason he wasn't bending to the right very well today....sigh. get one thing fixed and something else falls apart. So we did lots of bending at a walk but he just wasn't really putting any effort into it so I started trotting and bending. He actually was bending better at the trot than the walk...go figure. Then I did trot, halt, back, trot. His back up was really crooked today, he always moves his rear end to the left. Not sure how to correct this. Today I just let him back into the rail. But I gotta figure out a better way. Moving his rear end over to the right with my leg isn't working. I think next time I'll try directing my left rein out to the side while he's backing and see if that keeps him straight. Finally I made him do very short tight serpentine down the long side....walking. He wasn't happy but he did it. I did, however, have to cue him rather strongly a couple of times to keep him bending. At least he's able to do this now, if not beautifully.

Oct 16.   Lew's last radiation tx today! Yea! Now just chemo twice a week...which is bad enough but at least we're not driving to houston every single day...groan. So no riding today. I was reading an article I saved a long time ago written by a former Spanish riding school master. It just happened to be about training the young horse to bend...timely. Basically he says don't drill, keep the horse relaxed, never force the horse and try to keep the work interesting. I think I'm doing pretty well with all that but I find lately I'm working harder to put him into the bend. This guy is saying don't do that. If you have to force the bend, the horse probably isn't ready to bend that much. He also says to work more on straight lines than circles. I agree with all that and have given Amigo lots of time to learn how to bend...at least it seems like lots of time to me. I only started asking him to trot small circles this fall and then I only do 2 or 3 at a time. Still, maybe he does need more straight work for now. So next time I ride, we'll do lots of trotting and gaiting around the perimeter. The article says don't try small circles until the horse can trot the perimeter relaxed with head down. Hummm.

Oct 19  I rode Lex in the forest yesterday with 2 other friends. This was his first time on the trails in 2 months. I kind of expected him to be a little nutty but he was pretty good mostly. We rode some new trails that I haven't been on in, gosh, 4 years? Ish? That was fun but the ride was a bit longer than I'm used to and I ended up with some back pain later in the day.....so out of shape :(   At one point the trail comes out on a gravel road. As we were approaching the road we could hear what sounded like heavy equipment but couldn't tell where it was. Well, the horses found it.....All 3 spooked at once....synchronized spooking....And poof there was a grader coming down the gravel road. That thing got to the place where our trail comes out just as we got there. The guy driving it was either asleep or didn't care because he never even looked up as he passed us. Lex had a minor melt down more because Sylvia had gotten too far ahead of us than because of the grader. Still, he did his spinning act for a few minutes until I got in his face. Then he straightened out and walked through the gully and up on the road like a sensible horse. We followed the grader until we got to the next section of trail. Once we were behind that grader Lex didn't care about it and just walked along. Sometimes he's so good and so much fun and sometimes I could just pinch his head off. I'm always critical of people that yell at their horses and yet yesterday I found myself doing that to Lex. Sigh. You can train them out the wazoo, but sometimes ya just have to get in their face. Then, too, Lex and I have always had a love hate relationship. He sure knows how to push my buttons! But I gotta say, he's made me a better rider and taught me more than I ever wanted to know so I can't really complain. And yesterday's ride really wasn't bad, just not as carefree as I had wanted. I'm hoping to ride Amigo in the forest tomorrow if the weather is ok, supposed to rain though.

Oct 24   Fun ride in the forest today. It was cool and breezy and Dodah was feeling good.. we led for most of the ride and Dodah, was walking out at a good clip...not gaiting, just walking fast. Val rode with us on her rocky. Our horses are nicely matched in their gaits usually but today, when we did gait, Dodah, was managing to out gait her without even trying. He was doing a beautiful run walk which in the past has always been slowish. Today he was speedy gonzalas! I actually had to slow him down. Even doing that, her horse had to step pace to keep up. The rest of our group, all on trotting horses, were behind us and couldn't keep up without cantering. I don't know what got into Dodah, but I like it. My theory is he's getting used to the new saddle and has figured out he can reach with his front legs and lift through his back without hurting his shoulders because today it felt like he was really lifting in front and driving more with his rear. He also had his head pretty low and was nodding along and I didn't have to remind him to round up, he just did it. We only gaited like that a couple of times and only maybe a quarter mile each time, when the horses asked to slow down, we let them.
Also, the trail we took today has lots of logs and some little ditches that are just big enough that the horses can't quite step over but too small to go down one side and up the other like they do with the gullies. They're awkward to navigate and they're also hidden in tall grass. Dodah, has had trouble in the past with tripping over small logs and falling into those little ditches. Today he never tripped and he stepped carefully over the ditches. I let him go along on a totally loose rein and he kept his head down so he could see all the obstacles better...He only has one eye and that eye has a cataract.  I think the new saddle has helped with his ability to walk along with his head down where he can see better because it doesn't pinch his shoulders, and it makes it easier for him to lift his front legs to step over the logs.
The past few rides on Dodah, though, I've noticed I tend to get thrown to the right a lot. I have that tendency anyway but on Dodah it seems worse. I feel like I need to keep straightening my saddle. What I think is happening is because he's blind on his left side, he's starting to hold his head slightly canted to the left which causes him to slightly bend to the left and lean to the right. That throws me to the right. So, I tried riding him with my right rein just very slightly raised in order to raise his right shoulder. Don't know if that's the best way to correct him but it did seem to help. I only did that for a little while because I didn't want to restrict his ability to see where he was putting his feet when he was working so hard to navigate the trail. Gosh I love that horse! He's so business like, takes his job very seriously, takes great care of me, and always...always...tries his hardest no matter what I ask him to do.

Oct 25   Another good ride on Dodah. I took him to my friend Val's. We rode on the greenbelt that runs through her subdivision, mostly power lines but some gullies. I think this area will be a good place for Amigo to get desensitized so I'll try to take him there some day when it's kind of warm and no wind. I'll need to be sure Valley understands this will be a training ride though because I think Amigo will have trouble at first going through some of the gullies where the footing is really bad....lots of wash out and exposed roots. Dodah was, as usual, perfect. I could tell though, he was tired from yesterday....He totally didn't feel like gaining today so we just walked

STUPID STUPID SPELL CHECK!!!!!!!!   VAL....NOT VALLEY.   GAITING....NOT GAINING.   DODAH.....NOT DODAY!!!!   SO SICK OF CORRECTING SPELL CHECK.

Oct 27.  Lew started his new chemo schedule today....Once a week....yea!  Last month was intense with radiation daily and chemo twice a week. So nice to only have one day a week for medical torture.

I haven't been riding Amigo because the weather's been so nice and cool, we've been going out in the forest and our little group has grown. I never know who's going to be riding with us and some of these ladies have young goofy horses, and some of them are inexperienced riders. I don't want to get Amigo in a situation where he's exposed to craziness right now. I could probably handle it if he got scared but with Lew sick, I can't take a chance on getting hurt....riding is certainly a dangerous sport but I think not riding a green horse in situations he may not be ready to handle should at least reduce the risk. Also, I know how Lex and Dodah react to surprises, I don't know how Amigo will react. That makes a huge difference.

Yesterday a friend and I decided to work on some of our trails. These trails go through an area that is thick with youpon and brambles. You can barely walk through there and the horses hate it. So we took my Dr mower out there and mowed those trails. We got them widened and rerouted around some washed out spots and wow they look like some professional trail builders made them. In 2 hours we mowed and cleared about 5 miles of trail. We still have 2 more sections to clear, each about 1/2 mile. I can't wait to ride them. So all total we have cleared about 30 miles of trail. In all, we have well over 50 miles of trail in our forest counting 4 miles of fire road and maybe 15 miles of perimeter trail.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 06:01:49 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #107 on: October 29, 2017, 06:50:19 pm »

Yesterday I took Lex for a ride in the forest. It was just me and Sylvia. She rides endurance and loves to get out on those trails and trot or canter the whole time.....A bit too fast for me but she's so nice to slow things up for this old lady. So Lex and I led and we went on our newly cleared trails. I must say those trails look good! Lex was a slug for the first half of the ride, but Sylvia's horse was being a slug too so no problem. However I sort of got bored so I decided to wake Lex up by gaiting when we got to a relative log free section of trail. He did pretty good but had to slow down and walk over every little twig on the trail. That bone head horse just can't figure out jumping. I even tried to canter him over some of the logs....same thing, canter up to them, walk over. Sigh. To his credit, he did kind of semi hop over one log when I really pushed him to canter up to it. Makes me think I need to get a little more aggressive with pushing him in canter. Sylvia was behind me watching Lex canter. She commented on what a nice canter he has. Yep, he does. If I didn't think he'd lose his mind, I'd canter him all the time. As it was, cantering him the little bit I did got him all jazzed up so that on the way back to the trailers he was looking for reasons to spook. At one point Sylvia got off her horse to cut down a little pine tree that was leaning across the trail. Her horse was standing right next to the little tree, totally loose, and grazing....perfectly calm. Lex and I were standing about 20 feet away from the tree and when she started cutting it he got spooked and almost backed into the next county. Goofy horse. He was either asleep at the wheel in the beginning of the ride, or a goofy maniac at the end of it. At least I learned my wrist is now strong enough to handle him in his moments of brainlessness.
Then today we went to the Haras Cup. This is the working equitation premier show....The top show in this country. Wow, just wow....There were so many gorgeous horses there. What we watched today was the speed event for novice through experienced. The Masters speed class was yesterday....that's the class that gets really wild and wooly. Today most of the riders concentrated on getting through the course with a clean run and weren't so intent on being fast...As they should since most of those horses were still in training. The Australian stock horses did real well. Actually the fastest horse was an Aussie stock horse but was disqualified because his rider didn't navigate the last obstacle correctly. Then of course there were the Lusitanos....just beautiful. This sport accepts all breeds and riding styles. We saw a gypsy vanner, several quarter horses, a couple of mustangs, a nacota, and a whole bunch that I couldn't tell what they were. Not one gaited horse. Sure made me want to get out there and give it a go. And now I'm inspired to make some more obstacles in my arena. Sylvia offered to help.....could be fun for sure, and something to do on rainy days.

Oct 30 I thought about the whole Lex issue with jumping. Here's my take on it. I know he has trouble collecting, always has, partly because I'm no expert trainer/ rider and partly because his conformation makes it difficult for him to coil his back....he's slightly sway back, has been since I got him at age 3 ish.  He can collect easily now to the extent needed to do a good run walk but his canter, as nice as it is, is still strung out. So because he's still very much on the forehand, he doesn't find jumping easy. If I just push him more to get over a jump without getting him to come under more with his rear end I'd be setting him up for failure, either he'd have to start refusing or he might trip. Watching the working equitation yesterday got me thinking a lot more about collection and teaching him to collect at canter.  I also know that working circles is a good way to get the horse to collect, but you can't over do it. Right now Lex can easily canter a 20 meter circle. In the past he's cantered a much smaller circle but only when it was his idea, like in a spook. So what I think I'm going to do, if I can, is start doing spirals with him in canter. I'll start with a 20 meter circle and once he's got that real good....can stay on it and stay balanced, then I'll spiral him in to a slightly smaller circle. At first I'll ask for a smaller circle, do as much as I think he can handle, then let him go straight before he loses his balance. Both directions. This could take awhile. Once he can canter a very small circle, say 10 meters, then I can also start asking him for that degree of collection going straight. I'm betting if I can get that, he'll find jumping much easier. It's a theory. Anyway, I'm going to try it this afternoon. I also want to try to ride him again in the Spanish saddle...it's so comfy...and will give me more security for riding small circles in canter. The reason I haven't been using it on Lex is it tends to throw me forward. Saturday, I rode him in the parelli saddle with the thick wool pad and I felt thrown forward too. I think I need to go back to my pad that has shims in the middle that I've been using on Dodah. I can't remember if I've tried that combination on Lex with the Spanish saddle but it's worth a try. While Lex doesn't have hollows behind his shoulders like Dodah has, he does have significant sway. On both horses, saddles tend to slide back and then I feel pitched forward and that really hurts my back. The pad with the center shims works good on Dodah. It keeps the saddle level and up off his shoulders which is very important to Dodah. Lex isn't so picky about his shoulders but I need to keep the saddle level and in place for my own comfort as well as his.

Later, same day. I did ride Lex in the Spanish saddle. I used an English pad as a pad liner to keep my expensive shimed pad clean. Then the shimed pad  then the saddle. I set the whole thing fairly forward and used my English girth with elastic on both ends. Worked perfectly. I wasn't thrown forward at all and felt very secure which was good because Lex decided to be a jerk. He was in the arena away from the other horses, the temperature is a cool 70 degrees and the wind is blowing. I can't think of a better reason to spook! Years ago he would have been doing airs above the ground all over that arena, today he just spooked once in the scary corner that's closest to the woods.....horse eating goblins live there. So when he spooked I made him immediately look in the direction he spooked from, then he had to circle a couple of times then do shoulder fore down the long side, more leg yield, side pass, and little circles. Then I gaited him back to the scary spot and let him rest. Did all that a couple of times and he forgot to be spooky. I kind of thought he was going to be too nutty to canter so I decided to see if he could gait a small figure 8. I had 2 barrels set up about 10 feet apart. This is too small I figured but what the heck, let's see what happens. He was able to gait real well going to the left and could stay on the circle pretty well. He could even change direction but when we got going on the right circle he had to walk. That's ok, I gave him a pat and let him stretch. He was feeling more settled so I tried to canter. First to the left. He picked it up real easy and did a good 20 meter circle. Then to the right. This time he was a little slow to canter but finally picked it up out of a walk with a little extra encouragement from me....but I wasn't carrying a whip which was good, usually he needs to know I have one before he'll put much effort into his arena work. The 20 meter circles were good so I decided to see if he could spiral down to a smaller circle. I'm not the best rider in the world but in spite of me he was able to spiral down to 10 meters. It was easy for him going on the left lead, more difficult on the right...He did it but was more strung out. I'm encouraged though. If he could do this well the first time, I imagine he'll be able to learn to collect pretty fast....or at least as fast as my ability to ride will allow. Finally, after I let him walk and stretch for a minute I took him back to the barrels and tried to gait around them again. This time he was able to do it going to the right. I did have to lift his shoulder some and ask him to drop his head a bit but he did it. And I noticed when I got my legs and seat in their proper places it was a lot easier for him. He's really learning to bend around my leg. Fun ride and I love that Spanish saddle.

Oct 31   So much fun on the trail today. I rode Lex again with the Spanish saddle and everything worked well....very comfortable and not thrown forward at all, although I could have placed the saddle a little more forward but it wasn't a problem. Lex was a total slug and didn't want to lead in the beginning but soon worked his way to the front. Before he did that, though, the lead horse took off at a strong trot. The second horse also started trotting. That rider was having a terrible time and had to 2 point for the entire trotting episode because her horse was so rough. Me and Lex were next in line. He didn't even ask to speed up and was content to just walk but when it became obvious to me that the trotters were going to keep going for awhile I told Lex to gait to keep up. He went right into a nice smooth rack which I was able to rate to the speed of the trotters. Fortunately the trail was smooth so he didn't have to cross any logs. We gaited until the lady in front of me begged to stop. I was glad she did because Lex was starting to ramp up and was thinking about canter. So then Lex got in front and we walked the rest of the time until we got to the hill behind Sylvia's house. I started gaiting Lex and he was doing a nice fast run walk until a rider came up behind us cantering. Lex asked politely to canter so I let him and the 2 of us cantered the rest of the way up the hill. Lex never lost his mind. Could it be he's finally getting sensible? Nahhhh.

Nov 3   I rode Amigo in the arena yesterday for a few minutes before the farrier was due to show up. He was a very good boy and seems to be really trying hard to be learning how to bend. He was doing great bending to the right on very small circles both walking and trotting. I hardly had to correct him or even ask him to drop his head and bend, he just seemed to want to do it. Going to the left he had a much harder time. At first I tried to sort of force him to do a small circle by lifting his left shoulder and using a lot of left leg and he could do it but he gave me the snarly face. I remembered that article I just read about not forcing young horses to do circles smaller than what is easy for them so I opened up the circle, about doubled the size, and he was a lot happier. I'm going to let him work things out on the bigger circle being careful to have him bending well and standing up straight and then when he's consistently correct, I'll ask him to try the smaller circle. He'll get it I just need to be patient and remember he's not being resistant, he just either doesn't  understand or he hasn't worked out his balance. Then I spent some time working on his back up. He's much better now about staying soft when I ask him to back up and not leaning on the bit, but he's still backing to the left instead of backing straight. I experimented with taking the left rein more lateral and using more left leg behind....didn't help. I did some more experimenting and tried to watch my hands to see if I was inadvertently telling him to back crooked. I think I was. I think my right rein was actually pulling back more than the left rein. I don't pull back much at all when I ask for back up, it's more of a squeeze on the reins. But it seems that I was holding the right rein slightly farther back when I was squeezing. I sort of exaggerated my correction by moving my right hand forward so that it was forward of my left hand. I also kept my left leg on him behind the girth and he backed up straight! The correction with my hands was only a matter of inches but I guess those inches were important to him. I'm going to need to do this a few more times before I can be sure I've figured out the fix. At least I'm glad I haven't reprimanded him for being crooked...that sure wouldn't be fair if I'm the one causing the problem. This is a perfect example of how hard my guys try to give me what I ask for....If they give me the wrong answer, 99.99% of the time it's because I asked the wrong question!
Oh, and lately Amigo has been stretching down while trotting. If I ask for trot while I have him long and low at a walk, he will pick up a trot with his neck stretched down...ish. Then I can collect him up..or put him on a circle and he will collect by himself. Then if I let him go straight and let out the reins he will reach with his neck down and out but not as much as when he's walking. He's been doing this for awhile but I just thought to make a note of it. I think this means he's getting better balanced at trot. May also be why he's bending better and trotting better on circles.

Nov 5   I finished my obstacle course in the arena. I tried to make everything very portable so I can rearrange stuff or remove stuff. I have a cowboy curtain, a bridge,  Cloverleaf barrels, an "L", a jump, and a gate. And I still have room to practice 20 meter circles, figure 8's, and all my lateral work. Then I got Dodah in a halter and walked him through everything. He just went where I told him to go, no problem. Then Amigo, same thing, no issues at all. Finally Lex. OMG! He couldn't do the bridge,  he couldn't do the curtain....eek, eek. I spent quite awhile waiting on him to figure out that he could walk through the curtain without his head falling off, and it took 3 attempts before he could walk the length of the bridge. All I did was set him up to do these things and then waited on him to figure out how to do them. I never pulled on the lead rope except to keep his head facing the obstacle. Next week I'll attempt to ride them through.
I'm especially pleased with how well Amigo went through the obstacles. He's been over bridges before so I didn't expect any trouble with that one except this bridge is a grate, not a solid surface. I started by just turning him loose in the arena and letting him explore by himself. He went right up to the bridge, sniffed it, put a foot on it, and then put both front feet on it. So I put his halter on and led him across like it was no big deal.  Same kind of deal with the cowboy curtain. He's never seen one of those but when I asked him to poke his head through and then follow me the rest of the way he did it with no hesitation at all. He's by nature a very calm horse, very thoughtful and careful and not spooky but when I first got him he was terrified to step down from the trailer or down a hill. I had to work real hard to get him to overcome that fear. I did it by setting him up to take just one step down. Then I waited on him while he thought about it and when he finally did take that step I rewarded him. I never tried to rush him or force him to do anything. Now it seems he totally trusts me. I really believe I'm creating the most solid bomb proof horse I've ever had by using this type of training. This is the philosophy  I've used with every aspect of his training...never force...just set him up and let him figure it out. It works. I sure wish I could have started Lex this way, he wouldn't be quite the nut case he is now I think. However this is the approach I took with him when I got him and started retraining him and he's so much better now than he was when I got him. Still spooky though.

Nov 8  Today I rode Amigo through the new obstacles in the arena. He did great. No hesitation at all going over the bridge. He was a little worried by the cowboy curtain so I just rode him in circles around it but not through it. Then we circled the barrels and wow he was bending like crazy! I mean he was hugging those barrels. We were only walking but that's better than he's ever done even at just a walk. The only time he shied was as I was trotting him along the western side of the arena and he saw a tall weed moving in the wind. What a goof. He did shy sideways while trotting but it was easy to sit and he stopped as soon as I told him to, and then he faced the scary weed, snorted and blew for a minute and then was ready to walk off as though nothing happened. I really hate going through the learning curve with a young horse when it comes to shying and gaining trust under saddle but I know the more things he's exposed to and the more fears he overcomes with me directing him, the more trust we'll have in each other. So far, so good.
Lex was more of a problem. I didn't think he was ready to ride so I just led him. He did much better with the bridge today, only took 2 tries to be able to walk the length. But the cowboy curtain still had his number. He would only go through if I went through first and then it still took him awhile. But I kept working with him and by the time I finished, I was able to send him through the curtain as well as over the bridge. So tomorrow may be the day I ride him through. We'll see.

Nov 10  I rode Amigo again this afternoon. He is so cool. No warm up, I just saddled up and took him into the arena and started riding around the barrels, and circling the cowboy curtain. I also trotted him a lot, both around the barrels and along the west side where the scary weed is. I found he still can't quite navigate around the barrels on a 10 foot circle, trotting, but if I trot around both barrels, which makes it about a 20 ft circle, he can handle that just fine. So I did that both directions. Then we walked around  the barrels on 10 ft circles and changed direction 4 or 5 times and he's getting much much better with changing direction and keeping his balance. I also did a lot of backing up and he's getting a lot straighter with that. I also tried to get him to move his rear end over and keep his front feet still so he was bent around my inside leg and he did it easily so the next step will be to attempt half pass. Once he can back up straight and he can half pass I think he'll be ready to try backing in a circle again. I think I tried to teach him that too soon and confused him. I finally got brave enough to ride him through the cowboy curtain. Well, that was anticlimactic! He did nothing but just walk through but he had a look on his face like he thought I was losing my mind. Still he did it, no spook, even when I grabbed the supports and made the whole thing sway while he walked through. I need to change his name to Amigo Superstar!
« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 07:15:24 pm by zipeddodah »
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 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #108 on: November 12, 2017, 03:16:21 pm »

Amigo was a superstar again today. He can now walk the 10 ft circles, do a figure 8 several times and stay nicely bent and light in my hands. Today I decided to up the difficulty a little so I started doing the butterfly exercise in trot. In the past he's had to drop to a walk when we get to the part where he has to trot around the left handed 20 ft circle. He could get about half way through that circle, then lose his balance. Today he did the whole pattern twice without losing his balance and dropping to a walk. So it seems he's finally starting to figure out how to trot and change direction quickly and keep trotting. He can also walk the little sharp serpentine down the long side...my most hated pattern but it's good for the horse..bleh....but he still can't trot that pattern. I also did practice backing straight and he's getting better and now when he does drift his rear end off to the left I can put my left leg on him and he'll straighten out, so that's progress. I also did some neck reining today. I have ridden him one handed on the trail some what. Basically I just let him follow the trail and I neck rein him to reinforce his movement down the trail. Today in the arena he was neck reining pretty well, doing figure 8's and he only needed a little support with the direct rein once he caught on to the object of what I was asking.
Then he was being so good I decided to see how much gait I could get. Usually when I ask for gait I'm happy with a little flat walk but today I thought I'd push him almost up to a trot and see what happens. Wow. He can gait a lot faster than I thought. The first time I asked for more speed he thought about trotting but I told him no so he just kicked his gait up a notch.. I would say he was doing a slow/medium saddle gait....not quite a rack but not quite a run walk. But it was 4 beat, smooth, and faster than he's done before.
In the arena I never ride him longer than maybe 30 minutes....we both get bored....so I quit after the gaiting experiment. I've been thinking maybe I need to put him in a bit with more tongue relief. So far he's only been ridden in a 3 piece snaffle and he does well but he still can get pretty heavy on the bit, especially when he wants to move faster than I want. I put Lex's bit on him after our ride just to see if he would hate a ported bit and he chewed at it for a minute and then seemed fine. That bit is a curb though and I know shanks and a curb strap will be too much for him. When he had Lex 's bridle on today all I had to do was touch one rein and he was responding to the pressure. I think if I tried to ride him in that he'd freak out. Mylar makes a 3 piece snaffle that has a small port and a D ring with hooks so if in the future I wanted to add some leverage I could use those little hooks to create about a 2 inch shank. Hummm....I think I need to start saving my pennies.
So, great ride today. Amigo is bending better, his balance is improving, his back up is getting straighter, and he is getting lighter in the bit, probably because his balance is improving.

Nov 14  I rode Maisey on the Tuesday ride today and she was really good and a lot of fun to ride....for a change. She did jump every single log but her jumping has improved so much that it was fun and didn't jar my back at all. She hasn't been ridden in close to a year so I didn't know what to expect with this ride but she was a good girl. I met a lady on this ride that was riding her new and very green Anglo arab. Beautiful horse. She has been training him pretty much the same way I've been training Amigo but she's been able to progress a little faster with him because she's a bolder rider than I am. Still, she spent a whole year just doing ground work with him so that the first time she saddled him and got on, he was able to just walk off like no big deal. Today he was being ridden in a mechanical hackmore  and he was very very calm and relaxed even when one of the horses on the ride got a little freaked out and kind of spooked off the trail. I had a chance to discuss training with this lady and was very impressed with her philosophy and ability. She suggested I try a new exercise with Amigo. You need someone to help with this exercise. Your helper will be leading the horse. You will drape yourself over the saddle and hang there like a sack of potatoes, very limp. Then your helper will ask the horse to move and she leads him around the arena. She said most horses will not want to move at first and may even be a little freaked out. The theory is, the horse is used to having his rider take care of him. When his rider is limp and not looking out for him, the horse has to figure out what to do. She said that in her experience, and she's done this with several horses now, something sort of clicks in the horse's mind and they learn that sometimes they have to take care of their rider. She said that in every case this exercise has improved the horse in some way. Sometimes the horse rider relationship improves, sometimes communication improves, sometimes trust, sometimes the horse just gets bolder....but there is always a positive result. I think I'm going to do this with both Lex and Amigo, maybe even Maisey. I figure it can't hurt....unless I fall off head first...that would hurt.

Nov 16  I've been communicating with mylar about bits for Amigo. So far he seems to think more tongue relief would help. I have 2 curb bits with mouth pieces that are jointed and have small ports similar to Mylar's #33 bit. Mylar suggested I ride Amigo in one of those bits to see how he reacts before he makes a recommendation, so I did that today. I used Lex's bit which is sweet iron and has a leather curb strap. I set the bit just touching the corners of his lips where he seemed most comfortable and loosened the curb strap a notch so it didn't engage quite so fast. I did some gentle ground work first, asking for flexes and back up and that all went well so I got on. Amigo seemed pretty much OK with the bit at first. He seemed to be bending and staying very light and his halts were good.  So I decided to ask for trot. He trotted right off, didn't try to rush and halted when I told him to. But then things started to go south. He got crooked when I asked him to back up so I tried to straighten him and he started to curl behind the bit. I held him until he brought his head back up but I hate to think this bit is going to cause him to start doing that again. Later I was gaiting him on a circle and he pulled his old trick of falling out and slamming me against the rail....or at least he tried. I was able to correct that a lot more easily than with the snaffle and he didn't try that again. As time went on his back up got straighter and softer so maybe all he needs is practice. I didn't try to trot circles in this bit. I think he needs to work out all the kinks first at a walk. I'll try to ride him again tomorrow if the weather isn't too bad. I figure I need at least 3 rides before I can tell if this is a good bit for him.

Nov 17  Turns out my 2 ported curb bits with mouthpieces similar to the mylar #33 mouthpiece ARE mylar #33 bits. Haha! I cleaned off some of the dried on grass debris from Lex's bit and there it was..."mylar". Funny I don't remember buying those bits...who knows. Anyway I rode Amigo again today in Lex's bit and he seemed better. We just walked but he was bending much better and his back up is a lot lighter and softer and straighter. The one time he tried to fall out on a left circle, I was able to correct him easily. He never once tried to get behind the bit so I'm happy with that. I still think something about the bit is too much for him. I need to start trotting him in it to know for sure but the feeling I get is if we're out on the trail and he does something that causes me to over react or react too quickly, it may cause him trouble. That's why I need to trot him. With the faster speed, things happen faster and so do corrections. Also my balance and control isn't as good as it is at a walk. So if he can handle me flopping around and sometimes getting in his mouth, he can probably handle any stupid thing I might do on the trail. I went ahead and ordered the mylar #04 with dee rings with hooks. This mouth piece has a little less tongue relief so I'll have a bit more bite should he need it and the hooks on the rings will give me some leverage if I need it. It'll be interesting to see how he does in it. I'm thinking it may be good for Maisey  too. I still haven't found a bit I feel comfortable using on her.

Nov 18  Third ride on Amigo with Lex's bridle. He did even better today. No warm up, I just hopped on and started walking circles and trotting. A cold front is coming is so it was pretty windy and Amigo was watching for buggers but he never did anything and he felt real solid to me. It took him 3 tries but he was finally able to trot the 10 foot circle to the left. Not only did he trot it, he was very forward...not rushy at all, just freely moving out as though trotting that small a circle was easy for him. Go figure. I didn't try to do any abrupt direction changes though, I was just happy to get the small trot circle. I also tried gaiting  him and he did pretty well. I found he could gait better on a very loose rein because if I held much contact he would try to collect too much and then he would want to trot. Once he figured out what I wanted he was able to do a nice gait and it was light in front too. His halts were good, very soft, and his back up was better, still a little crooked but very soft. Pretty much everything I did with him was softer and easier. He never got behind the bit, never leaned on it, never dropped a shoulder. He was quite distracted by something in the woods but still behaved himself. I also was able to do some shoulder fore, and some collected walk, stretchy walk.
Here's the thing. I have always felt more secure riding with a curb bit. This is what I grew up doing and it just feels better to me. I've been using snaffles on all my horses that I've either retrained Lex,  or started...Amigo...because they give a more clear signal and are in some way less harsh due to the lack of leverage and the quick release. But they put a lot of pressure on the corners of the mouth and tongue. Lex did well with that but I guess Amigo doesn't.  I think he was expressing his discomfort by leaning on the bit. He's always been a very quiet undemonstrative  horse and his signs of pain or displeasure are subtle....ears back, slight head shake, squinty eyes. I learned you need to pick up on these signs and change things because if you don't,  he'll reach his limit of patience and that's when bad stuff happens. So rather than continue to force him to bend and get off the bit by strong arming him, I decided to try to find out why he was having trouble and fix it. I hope this bit change is the answer. But there's another aspect to this...my degree of confidence. I think because I feel more secure with a curb bit, I ride with more confidence and that's bound to give my horse more confidence. I have to fight the urge to "bit up" all the time and I struggle with using a curb on Amigo at this point in his training. That's why I ordered the snaffle with hooks of the D rings. I figure that's a good compromise between a curb and snaffle and the mouthpiece will give him the tongue relief he seems to need. Anyway I'll find out when the new bit gets here.

Nov 19   4TH ride with Lex's  bridle on Amigo. His back up was great today, straight, head down but not behind the bit, soft, no pushing against the bit. All I had to do was fix my hands, slightly lean back, just a tiny amount, and walk backward with my seat...and he backed up. I never pulled on the reins, in fact they were draped the whole time. I did some loose walk with reins on the buckle and then asked him to collect some and then with my legs I pushed him up to the bit even more and he did it and I got that sensation of riding uphill without ever pulling on the reins. This was all at a walk and there was only very light contact with his mouth. I love that. Then I let him reach long and low and while he was stretched down I asked him to trot. He did , but he had to bring his head up to a neutral position to do so. Still I was able to trot him on 20 ft circles with draped reins and then I took up a little more contact and he collected his trot some more but he started making a grunting sound which I interpreted to mean he was struggling to do what I was asking. So I had him go collected for several steps then let him walk and stretch again. He still struggles with trotting small circles so I didn't ask him to do much of that today. Even so he isn't leaning on the bit. What he does now is just fall in. He'll almost run over the barrels if I let him, so to correct that I just raised the inside rein and used more inside leg. He corrected easily and still without leaning on the bit. The last thing I did today was to work a little on neck reining. I held the reins with one hand totally as loose as possible. Turning to the left I used my left hand and leaned the right rein against his neck. If he failed to turn I lifted the left rein with my little finger by twisting my hand. This gave him just enough direct cue to get him to understand to turn left. Going to the right I used my right hand. I had to give him a direct cue at first but he caught on pretty quick and before long he was neck reining on a very loose rein with his head down and relaxed. This will need a lot more practice of course, and eventually I'll switch to using the same hand for left and right turns.

Nov 21  Lex was a total slug on the Tuesday ride today. I had to carry a little branch...whip...The whole ride to keep him moving. He was doing his quarter horse crawl imitation.  He was good other than that. I think maybe his feet were sore again. He was a little ouchy on the gravel road but the other thing he did that was concerning was the way he walked down the sides of the gullies. He would put his head way down and take little tiny slow steps. Although I like my horses to go downhill this way, this was out of character for Lex.  Overall, today he seemed tentative,  not fearful, just very careful. Not sure what to make of this but I'm considering putting him back in shoes to see if he gets better. He's also been refusing to load in the trailer...has done so the last few times out, very unlike him. Something's wrong just not sure what. Hopefully he's just got the lazies.
I almost rode Amigo today but chickened out at the last minute. Sigh.

Nov 24  I finally put on my big girl panties and rode Amigo in the forest with several friends. Well, actually I did hedge my bets and selected people to ride with that I know are exceptional horse women, who were not likely to do something stupid and put me in danger on my green horse. I chose well. Everybody was very careful to give Amigo some space and not come crashing up on him. One lady had sleigh bells on her horse....it's hunting season here....and Amigo was pretty worried by that but she stayed far enough away from him at the beginning of the ride that he never reacted to the bells and gradually as he got used to the noise, she brought her horse closer until she was right behind us. Amigo did great. He only made one mistake and we rode about 8 miles over some of the most challenging trails. His mistake happened on the last gully. Going down the side was very very steep. Amigo tried to rush down, lost his balance, tried to recover by cantering, tripped as he got to the bottom, and tripped up the far side. I'm sure he couldn't have looked more klutzy. I just held onto the saddle horn, gave up all hope of halting or directing him and just hung on. He didn't fall all the way down but he was sure off balance. I just stayed passive and let him figure it out and when he got to the top of the far side he halted by himself. He never got scared and neither did I. I kind of half expected him to buck his way up the far side but he didn't.  He was calm almost instantly too. Gotta love that. He did spook a little at a log as we were just starting the ride. He just kind of side stepped but didn't panic and I had no problem staying with him. Later on he saw another scary log but didn't shy, he just kept his eye on it as we walked past. I was riding him in his old bridle with the 3 piece snaffle. He never leaned on the bit which was nice, and I was able to ride him on the buckle most of the ride and even neck reined him most of the ride. The only problem was when he wanted to eat, or that time he tried to rush through the gully, I couldn't do anything about it. I could keep him from eating if I caught him early but once he got his head down, all control was lost. I didn't use the curb bit because I was afraid of hurting his mouth if I accidentally yanked on the reins. Can't wait to try his new bit, should have gotten it 2 days ago. Sigh.
All said I'm totally over the moon happy with the big boy. In spite of his little mistakes, I think he was a super horse out there. Once he gets more miles and I feel more comfortable with his ability to handle scary stuff and obstacles, I'll start trotting him more out there and I bet even let him canter some. For some reason I'm more comfortable cantering a green horse out on the trail than in the arena. He did offer to canter a couple of times today on some parts of the trail that were slightly up hill and I let him do several steps. Oh yeah, he half jumped a ditch too....very smooth jump so now I know he can do it.
Absolutely beautiful day, wonderful ride on my baby horse. I really shouldn't call him a baby, he's 7 yrs old and 16 hh, and built like a tank....so not a baby, just very inexperienced. I think he was born more mentally mature than Lex though.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2017, 08:24:42 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #109 on: November 26, 2017, 02:15:34 pm »

I got Amigo's new bit yesterday and tried it out on him today. It's a mylar 04 mouthpiece with dee with hooks. This mouthpiece has less of a port than Lex's bit which is a mylar #33 and the hooks allow for some curb action but not as much as the real shanks on Lex's bit.  I have to say I didn't like it as much on Amigo as Lex's bit. Amigo started leaning on it right away, he didn't feel as snappy in his halts and when I asked him to back up he got real heavy and refused at first, then he got crooked. He was able to trot fairly small circles but he didn't seem happy at all and finally he didn't understand to neck rein at first. Once I kind of explained it to him he got better. I rode him in it for awhile until I thought he'd had enough time to get used to it. Then I swapped it out with Lex's  bit. The difference was pretty obvious. He immediately started halting off my seat. His back up was straighter and on a loose rein...but he does drop his head way down and curves under a lot but doesn't quite get behind the bit. He felt steadier if that makes sense. This may just be me feeling more confident with a curb bit though. Then I trotted him and he did that better too. He stayed in trot through several direction changes and small circles and seemed more able to stand up and not drop his shoulder. So far I'm liking Lex's bit better. I'll try the new bit again tomorrow but if it's not any better than today, I'll either send it back or see if maybe Maisey can wear it. I still would rather not use much leverage on Amigo if I don't have to. I may order the 33 mouthpiece with dee rings and hooks. At least I know that mouthpiece works well on him.

Nov 27  We played musical bridles today. After riding Amigo in Lex's bridle in which he was able to trot a 10 ft figure 8 for the first time, halt off my seat, back up straight and on a loose rein and neck rein, I decided to just give that bridle to him. He just seems over all happier in that bit. So then I had to find another bridle for Lex. I put him in my other mylar bit. It's exactly the same as his old bit except the mouthpiece is stainless and the old bit, the one that Amigo likes so much is sweet iron. I rode Lex in his new bridle and he did great. I couldn't tell any difference and, in fact, today he did several canter figure 8's on 30 meter circles with a simple change in the middle. The simple change was easier than it's been in the past....probably due to me being more confident cantering him...I don't think I'm any more accomplished at lead changes than I've always been....which is to say I think I know how to do flying changes...but knowing and doing are two different things. I got to get my timing better. Anyway, Lex is now fixed up with his new bridle.
Then, what to do with the new bit I just bought? Dodah has always resented his bit....it's an Imus bit. He's always opened his mouth a lot and pushed against the bit with contact. I tried him in snaffles thinking they would be milder but he hated them. I tried him in a bosal and he got very dull and unresponsive and even ran away with me once, so that was no good. I got to thinking maybe he needs more tongue relief sort of like Amigo. So I tried the new bit on him. He tried to push against it a few times but he was keeping his mouth closed the whole time. He was pretty responsive in it and seemed comfortable so then I had to find a headstall that would fit his big old head and that I could fit through the small English sized holes in the bit. I found an old English bridle and I was able to adjust it to fit his head so it all worked out. So now my 3 trail boys have new bridles.
I'm thinking about riding Amigo on the ride tomorrow. Could be interesting. But I also need to test Dodah in his new bridle so not sure which to ride, guess I'll decide in the morning. Amigo sure was fun the other day....

Nov 28   Amigo went on his first Tuesday ride today. He did great. I used his old bridle with the snaffle bit because I was worried about yanking on his mouth if he should shy or have trouble navigating a gully. See the Nov 24 entry where I tried to describe how Amigo rushed through a particularly steep gully and sort of  fell down. Today I was ready for him. On the first gully, which was a little steep but not really bad or challenging, Amigo tried to rush and tried to lunge up the far side. I had to correct him fairly strongly. My plan was to get him to walk down slowly and then halt in the bottom for a few seconds and then slowly walk up the other side. Right away he tried to rush down. I had to really pull hard to get him to slow down and stop at the bottom. He actually didn't stop until he was half way up the other side so once he was stopped I made him back down the hill until he was at the bottom of the gully. Then he had to stand there until I told him to walk up the far side. This was a pretty strong correction, not asking, I was telling. Well, after that, he would listen to me on every gully and would walk slowly down, stop at the bottom and walk slowly up the other side.  After awhile he did it without me having to tell him to. When we got to the gully where he fell on his previous ride, he seemed kind of worried. He stopped by himself at the top and had to give it a good look. When I told him to proceed, I told him to go slow and he did one step at a time till he got to the bottom. There I told him to stop, gave him a good pat and then had him go up the other side real slow. I was pleased that he listened to me the whole time and that he wasn't afraid to cross that gully. I half expected him to refuse to go through it but he was a champ. On this ride he led some of the time and was placed in the middle of the group some of the time. He had horses coming up behind him and didn't seem to mind. He also had to deal with 2 horses that were wearing sleigh bells and that didn't bother him. Once when he was in the middle of the group the 2 horses in front of him took off trotting and Amigo didn't care, he just kept walking. I didn't ask him to trot to catch up because I knew those horses would slow down before they went too far and Amigo has a fast walk so he would catch up soon enough. The only time he got very concerned was while we were walking on one of the forest service roads. All the horses spread out and Amigo felt the need to watch them all. He got insecure enough that he wanted to place himself right behind his buddy. I let him get right behind that horse and he stayed there until he figured none of those strange horses were going to do anything scary. Then I moved him so that he was walking beside a horse he didn't know and his buddy horse was farther away. He did fine. He also was being ridden with a mare he didn't know. He didn't know whether to cozy up to her....He likes the ladies....or whether to stay away. I made him stay away because that horse's rider is an idiot and I didn't want her to do something that would scare Amigo. He eventually decided to ignore the mare. In all there were 6 horses, the most he's ever gone with. When we got to a section of trail that has good footing and few logs, I asked him to trot. We were in front. He was happy to trot, never shied and didn't mind when the other horses trotted up behind him. I'm a proud horsey mama today!

Nov 29   I need to get over to Vickie's for a lesson. I rode Lex today and I wanted to see how well he could canter a small circle. The object is to help him collect his canter more. Going to the right he was stiffer and his circle was bigger but going to the left he could canter a 10 ft circle pretty easy. At first I had trouble keeping him going without constantly pumping him with my legs. I got a whip and that helped but I had to spend some time letting him make the mistake to slow down and then correcting him before he would canter without me having to constantly push him. Once I got that, then I could get him to canter the small circles. I think if I can get my balance back just a little ( I always tend to lean forward a bit) and get him collecting some more he'll be able to do a canter pirouette,  at least to the left. But right now we're a long way from that. He just has so much trouble coming under and using his back. I think Vickie could help me with this and I know she can help me figure out flying changes. Lex can canter out of a walk now and get the correct lead every time and sometimes, when he's really motivated he can canter out of a halt.

Dec 7   Jessie and Eddie came over this weekend and we rode in the arena and did some obstacles.  Eddie rode Dodah.  His accomplishment for the day was to learn how to back through the "L" without Dodah anticipating and either turning too much or not enough while backing up. It took him 3 tries to get it but once he figured out how to cue Dodah just enough but not too much, he was able to do a perfect back up. Jessie rode Lex. Her project was to learn how to bend him around her inside leg. I wanted her to get him to slightly flex his neck to one side, the bend should be through the whole neck, not just at the base of the neck, and there should be just enough bend that she could see the lateral aspect of his eye. Then she was to move his rear end one step to the same side. The trick was he couldn't move his front feet. Lex does know how to do this so when he didn't do it correctly, I knew it was pilot error. She worked on this for quite some time but all she was getting was a kind of crooked turn on the forehand. I finally stopped what I was doing and watched her and I discovered she was lifting her inside rein but then she twisted her hand so that the rein was crossing the midline over the horse's withers. I corrected that, told her to just lift her hand, don't twist it and don't cross over the neck. She made that correction, literally no more than an inch difference, and Lex did a perfect bend. Jess was gobsmacked. It's hard to really grasp how sensitive and responsive these animals can be until you ride one like Lex. You for sure better know what you're asking for because he will always give you what you ask for.....and if you get the wrong answer, it's because you asked the wrong question.
After we finished riding we got Scarlett out and did some ground work with her. I haven't done much with her for a couple of months so she was not very well tuned into me at first. I showed Jess how to ask her to go out on a circle and change direction. We also did a little spiral in and out. Finally I got the whip and just slapped the ground some and threw the lash over her back a few times. Scarlett was amazingly tolerant of all that. She got a little upset when the whip landed over her rump from the right side and she kind of scooted around for a few seconds. I just let the whip rest there until she stopped, then I took it away. I repeated that a couple of times until she was ignoring the whip. Then I used the whip to tell her to walk off again on the circle. She is starting to understand the difference between intentional cues and unintentional cues. Then Jessie took over and did all the same stuff and Scarlets did very well and Jessie really enjoyed working with her. When they were finished, I told Jess to remove Scarlett's halter and see if she would follow her. That little horse followed Jessie all over that arena and even through a couple of obstacles. We plan to do some more ground work this weekend. I expect to get her doing some leg yields, turn on forehand and haunches and shoulder in. If we can get all that, maybe we'll try some obstacles....cowboy curtain and bridge should be challenging.

Dec 8   SNOW!!!!! It snowed last night!  It never snows here...well almost never. We had a light dusting during the night and it's already starting to melt. Today is chemo day for Lew and I'm hoping all the white stuff is gone by the time we have to get on the highway. Sure is pretty though....and cold.

Dec 10  Jess and I were supposed to ride in the Montgomery Christmas parade yesterday. I decorated the saddles, painted snowflakes on Dodah's butt....not highly recommended btw....and changed their head stalls out to the blingy red ones. Both horses got all groomed and pretty....except for the aforementioned  funky snowflakes...and loaded into the trailer. We got to the appointed parking area and it was jam packed with cars....cars, people, trucks, people....everywhere. then I saw the horse trailers parked out in the pasture that we were trying to avoid because of the recent rain and the likelihood of getting stuck in the mud. I refused to drive out onto that soft ground so we just came on home and turned the horses out, painted butts and all.
 So we had a whole morning to find something to do....it wasn't hard. Jess went and caught Scarlett and we spent the morning working with her. First we reviewed what we did last week. Scarlett remembered everything and did the lunging, direction changes, spiral in and out, all perfectly. So then we started teaching her some lateral cues. Scarlet has always been very sensitive to being touched by a person's legs when  being ridden. Just the slightest bump would freak her out and send her into a whirlwind of running and bucking. All of her dangerous behavior was a result of not understanding what leg cues meant. So my theory has been to teach her those leg cues. Once she understands a rider can put a leg on her and it isn't going to hurt her and she knows what is expected of her by way of response, all the freaked out behavior will stop. So starting those lessons, I showed Jess how to cue her lightly with a short whip back near her flank, and how to release and praise her for the slightest try. It took quite awhile but she finally figured out how to respond by stepping over with her rear legs. We didn't expect perfection at this point, just some kind of soft calm response to the cue. We did this on both sides.
After that lesson, which too a fairly long time, I thought Scarlett needed to do something else so I had Jess remove her halter and ask her to follow Jess around the arena. That went well. That little horse really wants to be with her human. She wants to do the right thing, she just doesn't know how. So to foster even more trust between Jess and Scarlet, I decided it was time to have Jess teach Scarlett how to go through the cowboy curtain. I made this curtain out of pool noodles. A horse can see through the curtain but when they walk through the noodles bump them on the head and back. I figured this would really scare Scarlett so we went real slow with her because I sure didn't want to scare her. What I wanted was for Scarlett to learn that Jess wasn't going to ask her to do something that would hurt her or scare her. Jess started out by walking Scarlett up to the curtain. She asked her to approach until Scarlett said she was worried, about 3 feet away from the curtain. Then they just stood there in that spot until Scarlet relaxed. At that point Jess moved some of the noodles, touched Scarlet on the neck and when she relaxed, asked her to take just one step closer to the curtain. Repeated the noodle touching until Scarlet got bored. Then another step forward. At this point Jess was on the other side of the curtain and Scarlet had her nose through it. Jess just stood quietly and after a few minutes Scarlet asked if she could come closer to Jess and Jess just backed up and let Scarlet walk through the curtain. The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes and Scarlet never got scared, never even startled when the noodles bumped her. It was a very cool thing to watch. Jess was over the moon. Then we decided to see what would happen if we asked Scarlet to walk on the bridge. That little horse first had to paw at the bridge for a minute and then she followed Jess right up and over. So sweet.

Dec 11 More work with Scarlet yesterday. We repeated all the stuff from the day before and she did well with all of it except the exercise with a cue on her side to move her rear end over. She still doesn't get it but she was a little better than yesterday. This is a kind of turn on the forehand. Right now I just want her to move over in response to a very light cue. Once we get that we can start to work on perfection. Then we lunged her and asked her for more than walk. We were able to get her to gait..really pace...without freaking out too much. She did finally figure out to transition from walk to gait smoothly without jumping. We did this also with a saddle on her, one with long strings and some added streamers hanging down. She was fine with that. Finally I bridled her. I started with a plain snaffle first. Her previous owner used an Imus bit on her which I never thought she was happy with but owner needed to feel like she had more stopping power. When I rode her I used a bosal. Scarlet seemed fine with that but teaching lateral work is a little more difficult in that head gear. So, looking for a suitable snaffle. We tried several and Scarlet seemed uncomfortable in all of them. Finally I tried the mylar bit I just got for Amigo, which he hates. So Scarlet was a happy puppy in that bit so yea. She totally stopped chewing the bit, got real quiet in her mouth, and when I asked her to flex she was nice and light. I also asked her to drop her head and she did with a very light touch on the bit. I think we're ready to kick her training up a notch.

Dec 12  I couldn't help it I just had to work with Scarlet yesterday. All I did was put her in her bridle and flex her some. She's quiet in the mouth in that bit...mylar#04 snaffle...but as soon as you make any contact at all she starts chewing and pushing against the bit. I was hoping that was just her getting used to the bit, maybe expressing some recent poor riding experience...but over the 15 or so minutes I worked with her it didn't improve much. I spend some time working on her back up. Every time I picked up the reins she'd push against the bit and throw her head down. Better down than up I guess but I really want her to figure out to move her feet and soften to the bit. I think I'll try the rocking s snaffle tomorrow and see if that helps. If not I may have to assume this is learned behavior and will take more time to retrain.

Dec 13  worked with Scarlet again this am. I put her in the rocking s bit. She chewed for a very long time...really chewing and grinding the bit. I was beginning to think that bit wasn't going to work at all but then she quit chewing and got real quiet in the mouth. So then I asked for a flex and she chewed some but was very light and didn't push on the bit. I did the flexes for awhile and then asked her to step back one foot at a time. She did it with a very light touch on the reins, she chewed but again didn't push against the bit. A couple of times she reached down and out but still didn't push against the bit. So then I tried turn on the forehand and she did it with a light touch on her side. That went so well I tried leg yield on a circle and she did that and let me morph that into a leg yield. I got greedy and tried shoulder in but that was too much for her so I quit. She still chews when I pick up any contact but as I worked with her that got less. Another lesson tomorrow. I'm hopeful this will be the bit she needs.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 11:13:07 am by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #110 on: December 13, 2017, 03:08:54 pm »

Scarlet makes me smile every time I'm around her. I couldn't wait till tomorrow to try the bit again so I had another lesson with her this afternoon after the horses got fed. She hardly chewed at all, even when I picked up the reins. Her flexes were butter soft, her back up also soft and light. She got stuck a couple of times but a little touch on the front leg reminded her what to do.  I'm hopeful I have her bridle needs figured out so Jessie can proceed to work with her and maybe they can progress to mounted work real soon. I'm so excited to see how that will go. The horse and girl have bonded so well, I can't help but think they're going to be a perfect team and Scarlet will finally have her heart person. I know they are going to be great teachers for each other.

Dec 16  Well, this is weird. Yesterday I went to a friend's house because she had an animal communicator coming over to "read" her horses. I've always been very skeptical of this so I wanted to see for myself how this person communicated with the horses. Mostly I was very unimpressed. The things she told my friend were, for the most part, things I would have told her...common sense stuff based on astute observation of the horses involved. A few times she guessed at things and my friend had no idea what she was referring to. Then another friend showed up with a picture of her horse....The communicator can use pictures....  This friend told the lady nothing about her horse and the communicator had never met her or her horse. She came up with really nothing useful. She kept making guesses, all very reasonable given the look of the horse, but nothing was right. She finally blamed the lack of information on the horse not wanting to talk. Again, I was totally unimpressed. Finally I brought out pictures of Scarlet and Amigo for her to read. She started with Scarlet. All I told her was Scarlet's name and age. She guessed Scarlet was a mare....before I told her the name...but not hard to guess since Scarlet is very feminine and petite.  Then she guessed that Scarlet has a vary complicated personality and loves to be around people. True. Then she guessed that Scarlet had a particular bond with a young girl...about 14 ....who had some kind of problem, maybe with drugs. Hummm.....no. wrong on several counts. But then we talked and she said the image she got from Scarlet was of a small girl who was in need of support, maybe emotionally. Well, my niece is a very tiny person but is in her mid 20's so I give her a pass on that. She had been under a lot of stress lately due to her job and working with Scarlet has helped her deal with the stress, so I guess that could be considered needing emotional support. Not sure where the thing about drugs came from. I think that was a guess based on how common drug issues are with young people these days. Good guess but wrong. The upshot of all that was that Scarlet is very fond of this girl and Scarlet knows she's helping her. Then she told me Scarlet is worried about a heart condition.  She recommended her friend who is a vet that practices alternative medicine. Again, hummm...... Scarlet has never exhibited any symptoms of heart problems that I know of but she does have an unusual sound to her breathing when she's excited or has been running.....so?  In a nut shell, I wasn't totally convinced. Most of what she told me was stuff a good observer of horses and humans could have guessed, and the rest was stuff she drew out of me during our conversation. The question I wanted answered.....Is Scarlett happy with the way we've been working with her and does she understand we won't hurt her....was never addressed although I asked several times. Still, I'm keeping an open mind and will have the heart thing checked out, can't hurt.
Next she looked at Amigo's picture....it was a shot of him sniffing some poop on the ground, not flattering at all, and only his head and neck in the shot. Immediately she kind of gasped and sat back and said...he's an old soul..He makes good decisions and he thinks about things. She said he told her this is not his first rodeo and that he and I have known each other before. Ok, that kind of gives me chills. Amigo has always been calm and thoughtful. He is very unflappable and even when spooked he doesn't react much. I've always felt that he's more mature than Lex even though Lex is at least 6 years older. Amigo has always been more like Dodah in that regard. I've always said Dodah is an old soul too. Anyway my question for Amigo was....does he realize that he scares me when he canters on the forehand and gets rushy and that's why I don't ask him to canter. Can he please slow down for me. The response was....you need to get your balance better. Well, duh, that's not helpful at all. I already knew that.

Fast forward to today. Both of those horses seemed a little distant to me. I bridled Scarlet and did some flexes and backing up and she was pretty soft, not much chewing, but not really feeling the love. I asked her to follow me and she ignored me.....not like her at all. So I spent some time hugging her and petting her, listened to her heart....which sounded fine, lungs too....and after that she got to be her normal chummy little self. I wonder......
Then I saddled Amigo. He was attentive but not quite as interested in my actions as usual. So I saddled him and then I picked up both of his bridles, held them in front of him and asked him which one he wanted me to use today. He literally pointed to the curb bridle. True. So I bridled him and we went for a ride. He was neck reining pretty well, trotting easily right off the bat, trotted real small circles, changed direction many times, was forward and interested in what we were doing. His back up was crooked but got straighter as we practiced....but it was so soft and he never pushed on the bit. He seemed real interested and focused so I decided to try trotting leg yield. He wasn't perfect but he did it...Both directions...and when he started leading too much with his shoulder I could correct him. He would have done this exercise much better if I  could ride the trot better of course but I think he realizes I'm learning too. Then I asked him to do trotting shoulder in and he gave me a few good steps both directions. Yippee. Maybe this was the answer to my question....today he was for sure taking care of me. We didn't canter but I wonder if I may be getting close to trusting him enough to try. I know I'm holding him back, I just hope he can stay patient with me. The animal communicator told me I am extremely lucky to have Amigo.....well, duh....I know that!

Dec 21   I rode Amigo today....not a great ride to say the least. I asked him to choose which bridle he wanted and he chose the snaffle. Well, I had such a good ride on him the other day using the curb that I wanted to use the curb again today so that's what I did. He was horrible!!! He tried every trick in his repertoire to get me to quit riding him. He fell out, he dived in, he refused....REFUSED...to go forward and trot. He bowed his neck and a couple of times I thought he was going to buck. He got mad and really let me know. We'll I didn't let him call the shots, I kept telling him to straighten up and go somewhere! I finally got him to trot and once he did that it was like he gave up arguing with me and just did what I asked but he sure didn't like it. Now I don't know if he was really having a hissy fit because I wouldn't let him use his chosen bridle....how weird would that be...but he was sure upset about something. But....All the other horses were being goofy too so maybe there were some hogs in the woods or something. Anyway I'm going to conduct a semi scientific experiment by letting him chose his bridle and then either riding him in his choice or using one that he didn't choose and then comparing how well he behaves when he gets his way vs. When he doesn't.  Could be interesting. I'll also randomly change which hand holds which bridle to correct for any chance he has a preference for one hand over the other. If he does it'll become obvious real quick and that will probably mean he's not actually choosing a bridle but instead is pointing to his preferred hand. Anyway, here goes.....

Dec 22   So the record of my experiment will be recorded here. Dec 16: curb in left hand, snaffle in right. Horse chose curb. Rode in curb, great ride.
Dec 21  snaffle in left hand, curb in right. Horse chose snaffle. Rode in curb, terrible ride.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 07:19:23 am by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #111 on: January 01, 2018, 03:40:00 pm »

Jessie came over and we worked with Scarlet and Amigo. She started the lesson with Scarlet by working her at liberty in the arena. That went pretty well with Scarlet mostly paying attention to her. The few times Scarlet lost focus, Jessie was able to get her attention back by increasing her energy just a little. Scarlet was cantering circles around her very calmly and with no intention of spooking or running off. Then we put the saddle and bridle on her and lunged her on a 15 ft line. Jess asked her to canter and she got another calm soft canter in both directions....sweet. I had hoped we could get Jessie in the saddle today but when she was standing on the mounting block Scarlet got a little worried. So instead of getting in the saddle Jessie started patting the saddle, flopping the stirrups,  waving her arms and jumping up and down. Scarlet was pretty worried but she stood there. Once she settled down a little Jessie hugged her and petted her. Then I repositioned Scarlet up to the mounting block so that Jessie was standing on her right side. Again Jessie started flopping the stirrups, waving her arms and jumping. On this side Scarlet got so worried she had to move away from the mounting block. I went with her until she could stop. Then I brought her back to the mounting block as close as she could get before she started getting fearful again. So she was about 2 feet away from the block. In this position Jessie started waving her arms again and jumping and flopping the stirrups. As Scarlet got less fearful I was able to move her closer to Jessie on the mounting block until she was standing right beside the block and Jessie could  pat the saddle and wave her arms and Scarlet stood still. She was still worried but at least she wasn't trying to move away. We decided that was enough for today. We may need to do this several times before Jessie gets on her. That's fine. We both want to take this slowly and give Scarlet plenty of time to learn how to not be so fearful. She may never be much of a trail horse but Jessie is interested in trying to do some dressage with her, not to compete though, just for fun. I think that will be good for both of them.

I didn't want to ride today but I did want to try to work with Amigo on the lunge line. I was interested in seeing if I could get him to canter on his right lead, something I've never been able to do. I started by trotting him both directions. Then I asked for canter to the left and after several "asks" he finally got the message and cantered. Then, for some reason he spooked, took off and bucked! He never pulled on the lead though and stopped as soon as I told him to. I just told him I thought that was a stupid move and then we went right back to work as though nothing happened. That's what he does on the rare occasion that he spooks. It's over as quick as it starts. So I asked him to canter again to the left and he did perfectly. Then I changed direction and asked him to canter to the right. Again it took a few "asks" before he tried to pick up the canter. He did canter but on the left lead. I stopped him and then set him up to try again. Again, left lead. We did this several times and I was about to give up but decided to try one more thing. Knowing he needed to strike off on his outside hind leg and bend slightly to the right, I shortened the line until I could ask him to almost do a leg yield on a circle so that he was stepping under pretty far with his right rear leg and bending quite a bit to the right. Once he was stepping under consistantly and staying bent, then I signaled for him to go out on the larger circle but still keep stepping under and canter. He picked up that right lead the first time! Wowsa! Success!!!!  I'm so happy! Maybe now we can start to make progress toward cantering under saddle. I want him to be able to do a slow collected canter, both leads, on a fairly small circle on a lunge line before I feel comfortable riding him in canter. Now that he can trot very small circles, I hope he's going to figure out the canter pretty easily. We'll see, but for now I'm just ecstatic that I got him to pick up the right lead. Yea!!!!  Also, just a note, he was able to do that right canter slowly but he was a little on the forehand. He was on the forehand going to the left too so I expect he'll need to canter smaller circles in order to figure out how to collect better....maybe. will have to experiment with that though.

Jan 3  The last time I did much painting I was in college 40 some odd years ago....sigh.....and except for painting a portrait of Blue a couple of years ago I really haven't touched a canvas since....until last fall when Eddie talked me into painting a couple of pictures for Jessie for Christmas. He had taken a picture of these 2 little paintings they saw while we were on our trip last summer. I told him it would be easy to copy them for him but I found I was more interested in copying the idea but actually altering the painting to suit my sense of style. So, I did 2 paintings that were darn close to the originals. Jessie thought they were the originals when she got them but soon realized they were slightly altered. Then I did 2 other pics on canvas that were vastly altered from the original but still the same style. They turned out great. The one I did on the black background was my favorite because the colors popped so much. Fast forward to today. I decided to experiment with a new painting technique I discovered by accident on utube. I didn't have the right kind of paint, didn't have the right kind of medium and didn't have a canvas and didn't have the proper tools. Well, that didn't stop me. I used the wrong kind of paint, extended it with elmer's glue and water, and used an old canvas that I had used to experiment on with Jessie's paintings, grabbed some plastic cups and knives and made a tube out of an old ball point pen. Long story short.....it worked! I did 3 flowers on the big canvas. The flowers aren't perfect but they still look good and the colors are gorgeous.  I had some left over paint and I found another old canvas and painted another flower. This one was better but there's still room for improvement. Fun technique. I applied the paint in layers....several different colors piled up in one spot, then took my pen tube and blew the paint around until it kind of looks like flowers. The paint blended and made lots of colors, kind of looks marbled. I think it would work better if my paint was thinner and if I had used a medium that liquifies the paint and slows the drying time better than the glue and water.  And if I add some silicon I could get better marbling. Once the paint is dry I'll go back and add details to make the flowers look more like flowers. This is fun! Painting has always been a stress reliever for me and since I'm having a bit of stress in my life right now it makes sense I'd take up painting again, I just hope I figure out how to use this technique to paint something other than flowers.....could get really tired of flowers!!

Jan 4  I tried to repeat the good ground work that I had with Amigo. It seems that success I had at getting the right lead canter was a fluke. Today we tried and tried and to give him credit Amigo tried his hardest but he never was able to figure it out. I may not have let him warm up enough first so next time I'll let him do more trotting before we try the canter. I'll also do some leg yields and especially leg yield on a circle to get him a bit more limber before I ask him to canter and maybe that'll help him. He sure tried hard though today. He was cantering to the right on the left lead on about a 10 ft circle. He'd pick up the wrong lead, I'd tell him no, he'd drop to a trot and then try to canter again and get it wrong again. We both were working pretty hard and getting discouraged but he never got mad at me which I was grateful for because I was positioning myself within kicking range while trying to get him to bend and strike off with his left rear. He could have clocked me pretty good if he'd tried. But he was very patient. Such a sweety. So I finally gave up, I just can't justify drilling a horse. If he's trying and can't get it I think drilling just creates more frustration for both of us. So I finished the session by getting him to do leg yield on a circle and shoulder in with as much bend as I could get and insisting he step way under with his right rear. I figure it can't hurt to try to get him more supple on his right side.

Jan 5  Lew's in remission!!!  Yea. But now they're saying he'll be ready to get his transplant late Feb or early March. Too soon!! I'm not ready!  I'll be so glad when this is all over and I know Lew will be for sure. Anyway, so far so good on the cancer front.

Not so good on the canter front however. Amigo tried so hard today but he just couldn't get that right lead. I tried everything I could think of....warm him up first, do leg yields and shoulder in on a circle, expand the circle and ask for canter as he goes out, contract the circle to 10 feet to force him to bend, I even tried to yank him off balance once. I tried lifting my leading hand, dropping that hand, directing it forward, directing it backward.....literally nothing helped. Amigo was so good, he'd take a few canter steps, realize it was wrong, drop to a trot, then try to canter again...Over and over. I hardly had to tell him anything. Nothing worked. When Vickie was working with him, she did it at liberty in the round pen and even then it took him a little while to get the right lead. I'm wondering if maybe the slight pressure of the lead line on the halter when I'm lunging him is enough to torque his head and/or make him stiffen up against the pressure such that he throws himself off balance.  Tomorrow I'm going to try to do this with a lunging cavason if I can find one, or his bridle. Maybe then I can get him to bend better.  The one good thing we accomplished today was to get him doing shoulder in and leg yields easier. Now he will do the lateral stuff with me standing pretty far away and just touching him on the side or on the rear leg. When I touched his rear leg he really stepped under a lot so I think I'll be doing that some more because that has to help him get more limber and also strengthen his left rear.

I experimented some more with my new painting technique today. I'm learning how to mix the paint to get the results I want and boy is this fun. I now have 4 finished experimental canvases.  None of them are good enough to hang on the wall or give to friends but they don't totally suck. So I'm having fun and maybe eventually I'll be able to create something pretty.

Jan 6   Today's experiment with Amigo was sort of a bust and sort of successful. I put him in a side pull to which I attached a strap that went under his jaw and another one that went under his chin and tightened them so that the side pull would act like a cavason. Then I ran a 15 ft line through the side ring nearest me
And proceeded to lung him in that. I started him going to the left since that's his easy side....or so I thought! Trotting he was great, kept the line slack, stayed on the circle, didn't rush. Then I asked for canter and he immediately sped up his trot and fell out to the right. He really pulled on me too. I got him stopped and immediately put him back on the circle and asked for canter and he did it again and this time he nearly got away from me. Again I corrected him, and started over and this time he did pull away from me. Going to the left, his easy side!!!!! Brat. He never did get that left canter either. Well then I tried him going to the right. In this direction he trotted just fine but would not even try to canter. So then I decided to put him back in his rope halter because with the side pull he was learning he can pull away from me. In that halter I have more leverage and a little bite so when he's circling to the left and dives out to the right I can pop him back around to face me....which I did, and then sent him quickly off going to the right. Guess what....He picked up the right canter!!! What??  Thinking this may be a fluke I set him up again. I sent him around to the left and when he tried to fall out to the right and pull away from me I was ready with a hard yank to pull him back around to face me and then quickly popped him on the right shoulder to send him off to the right. He kind of lifted his front end off the ground and pivoted to the left and then struck off in a right lead canter on the right circle. I had him do several circles and then let him stop and rest and get petted.

I gotta say I got mad at him. I was wanting to beat the snot out of him but instead I channeled that anger into something productive. I corrected him with authority....well, more authority than I usually use, which is to say I got bigger and quicker and demanded quicker responses from him. I popped him with the whip too which I never do. Usually I just gesture with it or touch him on his side. Today he got smacked on his shoulder, not hard like I wanted to do but enough to get his attention. He seems to clearly define fairness. When someone uses a whip, even lightly, on him when he's trying really hard to do what he thinks you want he will lose his temper and then watch out. But if he's not trying and is misbehaving, I can correct him and he doesn't get mad....or at least not mad enough to retaliate....and he eventually gives in. So I learned a couple of things today. First, it makes no difference what kind of head gear he's wearing, he still can't get his right lead, but if the head gear doesn't have enough "bite", ie, isn't either a rope halter or bridle with a bit, he'll soon figure out he can dive off to the right and get away from you. Second, he can't get that right lead because he isn't freeing up his right shoulder. When he rocked back and lifted his shoulder to pivot, that freed up that shoulder so he could strike off on a right lead. I need to set him up by putting him on a left circle, disengaging his rear end, step toward him to make him rock back, get him to change direction quickly so he lifts his shoulder then ask for canter. Whew.  Finally, I learned I can get mad at him and sometimes that's not a bad thing because I can channel that anger into raising my energy level to get snappier responses from him. I also think he gets more respectful when I do that....He learns I'm not a total pushover. But I must never act with anger. When I get mad at him I can't ACT mad. I can increase my energy, I can put more pressure on him by getting bigger,  and even using the whip more assertively,  but I can never cross over into punishment. Hitting him out of anger is never justified and he will know the difference and he will not respond favorably.

Jan 13  Another workout in the arena for Amigo and Scarlet. We started by repeating all the ground work with Scarlet and then started some lateral stuff. Scarlet sort of knows how to do leg yields but Jessie is just learning so it was slow going at first until Jess got the feel of how she needed to position herself to get Scarlet to do what she wanted. Mostly we were trying to get Scarlet to bend and soften on her right side. She was pretty stiff today but after awhile she did start to soften just a little and bend. Then we worked on getting her to stand still at the mounting block while Jessie waved her arms and flopped the stirrups on the saddle. Scarlet was having good none of that today and we spent quite a long time with poor Jessie standing on the block waving her arms while me and Scarlet walked circles around her. Finally Scarlet relaxed enough to be able to stand about a foot away while the arm waving was going on. Once she could take a deep breath and drop her head a little Jessie stopped and hugged her. Whew, what a lot of work!
Then Amigo got his turn in the arena. Mostly today I wanted to see if he was still hell bent on falling out to the right when lunging to the left....He only tried it once and I popped him and put him back to work and he stopped that nonsense. I also wanted to do a lot of bending and softening to the right, lots of leg yield and shoulder in and I wanted him really bent and so soft I could have a drape in the lead line. He's actually getting better at this. Then I lunged him on a circle and changed direction and asked him to be snappy about moving his shoulders over. Snappy is not in his vocabulary.  But I still got more than his usual slow step over Ho hum....  I also worked on turn on the haunches, something I've not done on the ground. He knows this under saddle but on the ground he got kind of confused. He did do it though sort of. It'll get better. What I want is for him to start to get the idea to free up his right shoulder so he can start to get his right lead. As far as cantering I finally got him to canter to the left on his left lead....His easy side. Not sure why he was having such an issue with that last week. But going to the right we had no luck with the right lead....again. I really need a round pen.

Jan 14 Maisey got sick last weekend....bad snotty nose, yellow thick gooey snot, and a bad moist deep cough. She didn't act like she felt too bad and was eating ok. I started her on uniprim and she was a lot better the next day. A week later, almost no cough and no nasal discharge. I'm going to keep her on meds for a full 10 days. Lex and Dodah  came up coughing this morning so I started them on the uniprim this morning. Great. 3 sick horses, a solid week of lab tests at the woodlands hospital for Lew and, oh yeah, ice and snow in the forecast.  Yippee.  We're not equipped to drive on ice and snow, sigh. At least my car has 4 wheel drive and hopefully by the time we have to get on the road the bridges should be de iced by all the traffic....I hope.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 05:59:00 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #112 on: January 20, 2018, 02:34:22 pm »

Thanks to the horrible crappy weather I haven't been able to ride or even work with a horse in what seems like forever. Tuesday we had a low of 16, freezing rain sleet and snow.....weird for South Texas to say the least. Lew had scheduled all his tests to prepare for his transplant this week of course. We were able to cancel the tests on Tuesday and reschedule them for next week but we didn't have a choice, we had to make the tests for the rest of the week. Luckily, the roads were better Wednesday and my little all wheel drive car did just fine on the ice so we were able to get his biopsy done. Good news! No myeloma cells found! Still waiting for the rest of the report but so far everything looks good for the transplant.
Lows in the teens and highs in the low 30's through thursday. I had to break ice for the horses 3 times a day until Friday when the highs finally got in the low 40's and the waterers thawed out. Then Roger seemed to go downhill. I saw him laying down almost all day yesterday. At first I figured he was just resting after dealing with all the freezing weather but when he continued to lay around and he wasn't grazing, I decided he was in trouble. He's the oldest, and has lots of physical and mental issues so he doesn't compete well with the other horses. I brought him up to the barn and fixed him up with some hay so that he could eat uninterrupted and out of the rain. He dove into that hay so I figured he at least wasn't going to die right away. Roger has always gotten pretty sick when he needs worming so on the chance that he was wormy, I gave him some ivomec. Today he's feeling better and has scarfed down nearly a whole bale so I guess he's going to survive.
Next week after Lew is done with all the doctor stuff and the weather warms up I hope to be able to ride Amigo again. He needs it and so do I.

Jan 21  Totally awesome work with all the horses this morning. WOW, just wow!  Jessie and Eddie brought their mom's old horse over to have him evaluated for use as a child's horse. He's about a hundred years old, very sway backed and pretty thin. They're working on putting some weight on him and they think they have a home for him. Jess rode him and other than being a horse that may try to take advantage of a very young child, he was very gentle, bomb proof and calm. His favorite gait is halt, haha, but he will trot if you ask him nicely. He's pretty soft in the mouth too but a little stiff on the right side, no surprise. All in all, a nice kids horse.
Then I did ground work with Amigo. He's started doing leg yields and side passes with me standing a good 5 to 6 feet away and using the whip and my body language to signal what I want him to do. He's amazingly soft and will do these exercises with a drape in the lead. I don't think I ever intentionally taught him this, he just seems to have figured it out on his own. So then I got in the saddle. At first he tried to fall out to the right and avoid going straight. I had to get pretty strong with him and insist he go straight and not dodge out to the right. In order to get him straight I decided a little more impulsion would help so I asked him to trot. He bowed up like he was thinking about bucking. Well, that didn't go well. I really got after him then, got in his face, kicked him kind of hard and yelled at him. He gave up real quick and then we started getting some cool stuff done. I did some little trot circles and figure 8's. Then at a walk I had him do leg yields down the quarter line, changing bends and directions the whole way. Did that several times. Then I asked him to do turn on the haunches but with a bend away from the direction of movement such that he had to lift his shoulders and move them over. He did it!!!  So then I had him do shoulder in down the quarter line and change bend every few steps. He did that too. Finally I set him up for half pass and he did that too!  Wow. I think he's been reading the dressage handbook. He did all that lateral stuff just as easy as pie. I do not know what got into him but it's pretty great.
Then we got miss Scarlet out and Jess did some basic ground work to warm her up. Scarlet was not wanting to pay attention to Jess so I had her make Scarlet change direction really frequently and make those direction changes kind of snappy. Scarlet got her attention on Jess and watched her like a hawk after that. She was so good with the ground work we decided to get Jess up on the mounting block to see how Scarlet would respond today to Jessie waving her arms and making noise. Last week she couldn't handle it and had to keep circling around the mounting block, never getting closer than a couple of feet from Jess. Today she walked right up close to the block and stood like a rock while Jess waved her arms, flopped the stirrups, jumped up and down and made noise. Unbelievable.  So then we changed sides so that Jess was standing on Scarlet's right side and repeated the whole thing. Scarlet was a bit more worried on this side but she didn't freak out and settled down pretty fast. She was so good we decided it would be a good time for Jess to get in the saddle. I held Scarlet while Jess slowly put her weight over the saddle and finally swung a leg over. Scarlet had a wild look in her eyes but she stood still and after Jess petted her a lot Scarlet started to relax. I led her a couple of steps away from the mounting block and Jess continued to pet her and Scarlet finally dropped her head and chewed and relaxed enough that we could call it a day and Jess dismounted. What an awesome day of horsey interaction. So much fun. Jess was over the moon at finally getting to ride Scarlet if only just sitting on her, and I'm over the moon that Amigo seems to be finally getting his balance and seems to be understanding the lateral work. Even his little bit of resistance wasn't a big deal and I think I have a good handle on how to correct him now.

Jan 26   Roger started coughing today so I started him on antibiotics, sigh. 4 out of 6 horses have gotten this stuff....bad deep wet cough and lots of thick yellow nasal discharge. The good news is they don't go off their feed and they clear up in about 10 days on meds.
I rode Amigo today. Roger was the only other horse in the barn, all the rest were out in the pasture. I wanted to see how Amigo would behave alone in the arena. He was pretty good. I warmed him up with some ground work, trying to get him bending and soft. He was kind of stiff on the right side, no surprise, but he loosened up after a little practice. Then I got on him and he was straight and forward, not one bit of diving out to the right or refusing to trot. I  fact he trotted very easily and easily did our tiny 5 ft figure 8's....that's getting so much better and easier. Then walking leg yields and shoulder in down the centerline and quarter line. Then I decided to start doing one rein stops with him. I don't think I've ever done this before on him, he sure didn't act like he had a clue. So I one reined him a lot to the right, at a walk, of course, and once his feet stopped, I continued to hold him until he softened. I was very careful during all this that he was bringing his head around level. I want those ears level and his head straight, not torqued to one side, and his neck needs to bend throughout the length, not just at the base. So in the beginning, I was very careful how I asked him to flex by lifting my hand more than directing it back toward my leg and by asking for the flex slowly rather than yanking his head around. This was a mistake I made with Lex years ago. I ended up making him flex from the base of his neck and I like to never got that corrected so he could flex at the poll. So don't make that mistake as it will throw the horse on his forehand and cause all sorts of problems later on.  I wanted Amigo to also take a step back but didn't insist on that so early in the lesson. He sure tried to not bend going to the right. We ended up wandering all over the arena before he finally figured out all I wanted was for him to stand still. He did finally sort of figure it out and then I started asking for that step back. By the end of the lesson he was starting to get the idea. Then when I asked him to back up the way I usually do, I found his back up was very much straighter. Hummmm. So I may repeat this lesson in future rides since it seems to be helping him. Also I need that one rein stop since that's my go to maneuver in a crisis, so he needs to understand what it means. Lex understands it so well, all I have to do is raise the right rein when he starts to get goofy and he stops right away. This is what Amigo needs to learn too, it can be a life saver in an emergency.

Jan 30   I rode Maisey on the Tuesday ride today. She did really well and the cough is completely gone. Well, I should say she did really well after the first 3 logs! The first log was small, about 12 inches but she jumped it like it was a 3 footer.....and bucked on the way over. I almost came off....lost a stirrup and went over her shoulder but I was holding onto the saddle horn, and my jacket got caught on the horn so I wasn't coming off all the way. Still, that's as close as I've ever come to being thrown during a jump. The next 2 logs were big ones, easily 2 or more feet and she always has to jump them. That's usually not a problem but today considering what she did with a little log I figured she was going to get some serious air time over those things. So I got off and sent her over. The first one she did jump really high but landed better and the second one she jumped normally. So then I got back on her and she jumped the rest of the logs on the trail just fine. I don't know what got into her with that first log, maybe she got her stubby little legs tangled up, whatever, by the end of the ride she was being a great little trail horse. She even took the lead a couple of times and didn't spook at anything. She did get worried when we went behind Bubba's house.....yep this is south east Texas and his name is Bubba....Bubba was target shooting out in his pasture and Maisey didn't think that was a good idea at all. All I had to do was tell her to focus on me and stop being goofy and she settled right down. Maybe she's finally getting brave. She sure is getting to be fun to ride on the trail.

Feb 1   I must have wrenched my back when I almost came off during Maisey's  akward jump on tuesday because today my back is really hurting....going to be a 2 aleve day for sure.
             Roger is failing. I've wormed him, I've put him on antibiotics, I've been feeding him extra hay.....He seems to improve for a few days each time I try something new but then he starts acting like he feels bad again. He's eating well but he doesn't try to stay with the herd and he spends more time laying down than what is normal for him. No fever, no colic, really no overt symptoms. He's only in his early 20's but has been a chronic laminitis horse for years. It seems he was padded up for the show ring as a young horse and ended up being sold to dealers when he couldn't compete. His gait is just fantastic but I've never ridden it because he's always been so sore. Sigh. Poor guy. Such a waste. Since I've owned him, roughly 15 years, he's been a pasture ornament, a good life for him but fought with pain. Now I'm struggling with putting him down. He's so sweet, such a kind soul, I hate to see him hurting but I also hate to see him go.  Yep, this is hard. I wish he'd make up my mind for me like Blue did....

Feb 5  I put Roger down today. He was the sweetest animal in the world and I just couldn't stand watching him hurt any longer. This morning he didn't want his food so I knew it was just a matter of time and I couldn't let him suffer any more. Rest in peace sweet boy.

Feb 6  I moved Dodah and Scarlet to my friend's house where she can be sure they get their meds and are watched closely. That leaves only my 3 youngest horses at my house while we're gone for a week for Lew to get his stem cells collected. Very interesting horsey dynamics with just the 3 youngsters. They seem more inclined to run around the pasture and less inclined to stand at the hay feeder like they did when the older horses were here. When I call them up in the morning they come running instead of slowly meandering up to the barn. Makes me wonder....were the older horses leading the behavior or were the younger horses just being respectful and slowing down for the old guys. Who knows. What I do know is I miss Roger and I can't get used to feeding only 3 horses. I'm not missing Dodah and Scarlet because my friend calls me daily to let me know how they're doing. Dodah has stayed with her before and I know he does well there.

Feb 13   Been here 6 days. Lew is getting his second day of stem cell collection today. They think they'll have enough so he shouldn't have to go back tomorrow. Wow this has been quite an experience. He had to get 3 shots daily for 5 days and an additional shot last night. The shots were to get his stem cells to come out of the bone marrow and float around in the blood so they could be collected. This is apparently very painful. Lew has needed pretty strong drugs to keep the pain under control but last night he was better and made it through the whole night without pain. Maybe we're over the hump. Then in 2 weeks the real fun begins....transplant. But maybe it won't be so bad for him because he's in good health other than the cancer. We'll see I guess. Anyway, going home tomorrow so yea!

Feb 16   I finally got to ride Amigo today, seems like months since I've been on a horse. Anyway today's ride was pretty good. My hips were hurting pretty bad....no aleve, in well over a week so arthritis is acting up. Anyway since my hips were hurting I didn't ride for long but Amigo was on his good behavior for sure. I mostly worked on getting him as soft as possible. Walking he's very soft but once we start trotting, and sometimes when I ask for some more difficult lateral work, even at a walk, he'll lean on the bit quite a lot. He gets real heavy on the forehand then. So today I did a lot of the one rein stops, at a walk and very slowly and carefully so that his head stayed level and he flexed at the poll. He got real good at stopping so I held him until he gave to me and softened. Once that got good then I would hold him until he tried to take one step back after the one rein halt and I didn't release him until he was soft. This took quite awhile and I only made him do it a few times before I went to another exercise. After doing something else for a bit I came back to the one rein halts and backs. What I noticed was after doing this for awhile I could trot him and ask him to soften and drop his head at the trot and he did it and got nice and light on the forehand. This is new. Until now I could collect him in the trot but I had to pull back on the reins somewhat and then he would lean on the bit. Today I could get him to soften and collect by just gently alternating squeezing the reins. This was a first and it felt really good. His balance is getting so much better, trotting small circles is easy now and today I asked him to trot shoulder in and he was able to give me a few good steps. I want to get him to the point that I can keep him soft while trotting all the time even when doing lateral maneuvers. This will take some time, I think, but I'm in no hurry. Also today I tried lunging him again to see if he could canter. Nope. He tried to canter going to the right but always picked up the left lead. Going to the left I never got him to canter at all, he just kept speeding up the trot and then trying to fall out to the right. Sigh. I'm going to have to get a round pen this summer. I've discussed with Lew and he's hopeful that by then he'll feel good enough to clear me a level spot so I can put up some panels. I need about a 60 ft round pen. I may need to take down a couple of trees....hope not. I need to measure the spot though.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 07:25:18 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #113 on: February 17, 2018, 01:44:44 pm »

Another good ride on Amigo. Get Out!!!!! Two days in a row!!! Wow I'm  on a roll. Anyway today I caught him up from the pasture and rode him in the arena. All the other horses were out in the pasture still and Amigo was sure worried about that. I was curious to see how he'd do without his buddies near by. In the past he's acted up some under these circumstances....for him acting up involves falling out to the right and refusing to bend. Once he refused to trot but that wasn't related to being alone in the arena, Lex and Maisey were both in the arena that day, I never figured out what his problem was.  So today I was expecting some minor grumbling but all he did was focus his attention out to the pasture. So every time his attention wandered I put him on a circle and made him bend and his focus came back and after a short while we didn't have that problem any more. I spent a fair amount of time doing one rein halts but I didn't ask for him to back up, just halt and give. Then while walking I alternated messaging the reins to get him to drop his head. He did it but not as well as yesterday. So I worked on that till it got better. Then a few steps backward, one step at a time and on a loose rein to see if he could stay straight. He did but only if I let him rebalanced after each step. Then because I haven't done it in a long time and also because my hips were still painful I asked him to gait instead of trot. He started right up in a flat walk that I was able to speed up to a slow run walk. If I asked for too much speed, though, he wanted to trot. What I found was if I sit up real straight with my legs slightly back I can get him to collect real nice on a loose rein and he kind of rocks back on his hindquarters and his shoulders lift. It feels uphill and the slow run walk feels kind of floaty. I'm sure if I do this a lot more with him he'll get much stronger and his speed will increase. I don't think he'll ever set any land speed records though!  Still it's nice to know my little Morgan can still gait after months of trotting only.
Before I got on him today I did spend some time with him on the lunge line, still trying to get that right canter. Today I did at least get him to canter a little to the left without pulling off to the right like he did yesterday. Then circling to the right I first held him on a short lead, about 6 feet and touched him on the flank with a whip to get him to step way under with his inside rear foot. He was almost doing a side pass on a circle. Then I let out the line and asked him to trot. What he did was trot fast on a right lead. I left him alone and he started trying to work out how to canter from that position. We did this several times and the last time he was able to take a few canter steps on the right lead. When I was trying to teach Lex to canter without crossfiring I learned the best way was to let him figure it out on his own without pushing him, and the key to that was to teach him how to collect. It took a long time but now he's  a canter machine. So that's what I'm doing with Amigo. The trick is it's taking me awhile to figure out how to set him up so that he can figure it out. This might go faster if I had a round pen, maybe. But I don't have one so if we can figure this out on the lunge line I think he's going to also have a better idea of how to balance once I'm riding him. It's not like he's never done this stuff. Vickie had him cantering both leads but that was almost 2 years ago and she had a round pen and she trains horses for a living. Even so she never was able to get him balanced well enough that he could canter without being real heavy on his forehand. I can't stand that. It feels like the horse is running away with you when really he's not, he's just laying on the bit so hard you have no control. Now, he's better balanced. His trot is more collected as is his walk and gait. He's much softer in the bit and is lighter in front. I'm hoping this will all help him when I finally start cantering him....If I ever start cantering him....  It sure won't happen any time soon, gotta get Lew through all this cancer treatment first before I go taking chances with my safety cantering a green horse. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Feb 19  I worked with Amigo again today. The wind was really blowing hard so he was pretty spooky in the arena with all the tree debris raining down on the metal roof. So I started out with the lunge line. I just had him walking and trotting and changing directions. His direction changes were slow and sloppy so I had the brilliant idea to lunge him in a figure 8 around my barrels.  Ho ho! I think I cracked the code to getting him to canter on the right lead!  All I did was ask him to walk around one barrel with me standing by that barrel. After a couple of circles I moved to a position between the barrels and close to the other barrel. As he came around the first barrel I asked him to change bend and start around the barrel I was standing next to. My thinking was if he only had 10 feet between barrels he'd need to get a little more snappy to make the change without running into a barrel. Decent theory but there were unexpected consequences.  I just asked him to walk but as he made the first change from going to the left to going to the right, he picked up a trot for a few steps and THEN he cantered....on his right lead!  I didn't ask for it, he offered. So I let him go for several circles, then slowed him to a walk and asked him to change direction. He did and picked up a canter on the left lead going to the left. WOW! I repeated this several times and he nailed it every time without me having to even ask. Makes me wonder if he was a barrel horse in a previous life!  Each time he picked up his lead coming out of the change of bend when he was sort of lifting his shoulders.
After this I saddled him and we rode around working on one rein halt and back up but he was getting more and more concerned about the wind so I got off. Just in time too. I had tied him up and was starting to remove the saddle when a huge gust came through and a small branch came down with a loud bang and Amigo just about laid back on the tie. Good thing he doesn't freak out easily and he calmed down as soon as I grabbed the rope and shushed him.
So then, because he was still pretty goofy, I turned him loose in the arena to let him run off some steam. He started cantering around me to the right, on the right lead. He cantered and cantered. I just let him go, didn't ask him to speed up or slow down but every time he asked to come to me I gestured for him to stay out on the circle. Finally he slowed to a trot so I called him in and let him rest for a minute and then sent him out to the left. He picked up a left canter and continued to canter in a circle around me until I called him in. Then he chose to canter off again, to the right but he was on the left lead. I just let him go so I could see if he would correct himself. What I noticed first was when he did change from left to right lead, every time he would move his head and neck to the outside (to the left when on a right circle) and then pick up the right lead. This supports my theory that he needs to lift that right shoulder in order to get the lead. That's why changing direction helps him, it forces him to rock back and lift his shoulders. So I need to do more exercises that help him free up his shoulders. I know a few but I need to research this to find some more. Homework. I also need to work more on collection and getting him off the forehand.
So I didn't ride much but I think we accomplished something important.

Feb 21  I rode Lex yesterday on the Tuesday ride. He was a slug going out, as usual, and didn't want to take the lead....I made him go in the lead anyway, didn't want to walk very fast...I made him gait whenever the footing allowed. But he was terribly unmotivated. He perked up when we started back to the trailers, he knows the trail very well and knows when we're halfway and headed back. But he still wasn't watching his feet very well and tripped over some small logs. I just let him stumble thinking he'd start being responsible for his own feet eventually. We came to a little tiny ditch that was steep on the sides and slick with deep mud at the bottom. Lex wouldn't listen to me when I told him to take it at an angle,  oh no, he had to barrel straight down in the slickest part. About half way down he decided it might be better to jump but just when he gathered himself to push off, his front foot sunk down in the deep mud and got stuck and he fell over to his knee on that side. Typically I nearly came off over his shoulder. I really was afraid I was going to come off and have him land on me but he caught himself and I snagged the horn again and we made it without injury. He was a lot more careful after that!!!  Then when we got pretty close to the trailers the trail got straight and wide with good footing so I started gaiting him. He wanted to canter so I let him and he did this awesome rocking horse canter that perfectly matched the horse that was trotting next to me. That rider decided she wanted to canter too so she kicked her horse up to a canter and took off. In the past Lex would have lost his mind and I would have been riding airs above the ground. Today he stayed in that wonderful canter and totally ignored that horse. It was wonderful and that canter is the most fun. I think Lex is finally mature. It was a terrific ride.

Feb 22  Today's lesson with Amigo was interesting. I only planned on ground work today so I started off asking him to just trot circles and change direction a few times, slow down, speed up, and move his rear end laterally. He was a little sluggish, or at least not on high alert like the other day so I didn't ask for canter. Then I took him to the barrels to lunge figure 8's to see what he would do. He walked it pretty well, even trotted it but he never offered to canter so I didn't ask. I was having trouble managing the lunge line and setting him up to change direction and the whole thing just didn't flow as easily as the other day. So I decided to take him back to the middle of the arena and just work on circles to see what he would do if I asked for canter. First, to the left. He trotted real fast and tried a couple of almost canter steps but didn't canter. But he also didn't pull away from me so that was good. Then I changed direction and immediately asked him to canter. It took him a few steps but he did try to canter, he just didn't quite get there. So I put him back to the left. This time he cantered and held it for a full circle. I made him change direction and asked for canter and he picked up the right canter immediately and kept it for about half a circle. Then I let him walk and then asked for canter and he got the right canter again. Does this mean we've licked this issue? No. I'm sure he'll have days when he's got it and days when he acts like he never heard of cantering. But he does think about things and usually, given time to ponder a lesson, he'll eventually figure it out. I'm patient.

Feb 24   4 days to transplant. I can't decide if I'm scared or anxious to just get on with it. I can't tell if Lew's scared or just wants to get on with it. Maybe both. Neither of us is sleeping well and we both are having stress digestive issues. Sigh. We just have to make it through the next 7 weeks. I'm going to try to ride as much as I can, might help me keep my sanity. Lew plans to catch up on his reading and movie watching while he's in the hospital. I hope he feels good enough to do both.
My niece came over today. She rode Lex and I rode Amigo. He was pretty bratty today, kept refusing to bend to the right, wanted to fall out to the right and in the beginning refused to trot. I'm beginning to think this behavior is related to having to share arena space with another horse. Who knows. I didn't let him get away with it though, corrected him strongly until he gave it up. Then I started making him trot a few steps, walk a few steps, trot, walk, trot, halt...etc. that got him softer and I was able to get him to reach down while trotting and soften to the bit. Then I did some serpentines, one rein halts, backing. He stayed pretty stiff laterally though, especially to the right which has always been a problem with him...but slowly is getting better. At one point as we rode past the scary corner, Amigo spooked and bolted for about 2 steps. It was easy to shut that down and then we went on as if nothing had happened. After the ride I lunged him and was able to get the right lead the first time I tried but it has to be when he changes direction from a left circle to a right circle. Still, it's getting easier.
My niece rode Lex and worked on one rein halts. I wanted her to get real comfortable with them for when she starts to ride Scarlet again. She's going to need that skill. Then I had her canter Lex and I wanted him on a small circle. She was doing about 10 meter circles in canter. So then I had her do 10 meter figure 8's in canter. She did it but had to do simple changes instead of flying changes. The good thing was she was able to do several figure 8's in a row without stopping which means Lex is getting his balance better and should be collecting more eventually. I really think one day he'll be doing canter pirouettes. Seriously I know he can do it, just not sure I can, but I bet my niece will be able to.

Mar 1  Lew went into the hospital yesterday to get ready for the transplant. They put in a central line and he got the chemo that wipes out his bone marrow last night. Tomorrow he gets the stem cells. So far he feels great and the meds they gave him last night to prevent nausea made him sleep so he slept through the whole night and woke up feeling good this morning. So far, so good. I hope he continues to do this well but he has a long way to go before he's able to leave the hospital.
I rode Amigo this afternoon. He was very good. No other horses in the arena, I really do think that has something to do with his misbehaving.  We worked on trot, walk, trot and circles. I did a few one rein halts. He stops just fine but he can't see the point in giving to the bit on the right rein. Today I held him for quite a long time and he just leaned heavier and heavier on that right rein. He used to do this when I first started working with him 3 years ago. He would lean on the bit and even start to go to sleep. It took forever to teach him to give to the bit and that was on the ground. Now he's doing the same thing with the one rein halts. When I'm riding him he's pretty soft and I have no trouble turning him except for those few times he decides to fall out to the right. The problem is this keeps coming back. I thought he had given it up but apparently not. I'm starting to think this is just going to be his thing that we always have to work on. Sigh. Oh well, it could be worse. Anyway today he started the ride not wanting to trot and I had to really get after him but once I convinced him he had to work, he was fine. I got him trotting a large circle and then started asking him to give to the bit and start collecting just a little and he had no trouble doing that. I'd ask him to collect and stay on the circle and when he was correct, I gave him the reins until he either lost collection or got off the circle. Then I corrected him. I was able to ride those circles pretty much on a loose rein, he only needed slight corrections to stay on the circle and I only had to ask him to collect maybe every 4 steps. When I was teaching this to Lex I had to ask for collection almost every step at first so Amigo is doing ok compared to what I went through with Lex. And I was also surprised and pleased that when I gave him the reins he didn't try to speed up. Only once did he even think about speeding up and I corrected that and he didn't try again so that's pretty good.

Mar 5 Lew started having some of the expected side effects of the transplant last night. He's feeling pretty bad today and I expect this will last a few days at least. So far no mouth sores and his hair is still on his head.
I did ground work with Amigo this morning, just getting him to change directions a little easier and then asking for canter. It only took him 2 tries to get his right lead. Funny thing, now he seems to canter easier going to the right. It's harder for him to get the lead but once he gets it he'll keep going pretty easy. Going to the left I have to work a lot harder to get him to canter but he gets that lead every time.
I rode Lex this afternoon. Whenever I ride him after not having ridden him for awhile I'm surprised at how much fun he is to ride. Even in the arena where we're both bored, I have fun on him. Today I had him do a bunch of obstacles,  cross the bridge across the middle where it's only 4 feet wide and make him stop with all 4 feet on the bridge,  back through the "L" and then side pass over the outside poles of the L. Then go through the cowboy curtain while I'm shaking it. Then I cantered him and did an almost flying change and then asked him to canter on as small a circle as he could. I ended up keeping him on about a 10 meter circle, he could have gone smaller but I felt that my balance wasn't good enough. I know he can do a pirouette though.

Mar 8  Lew's been throwing up his guts all week...that's the transplant...they think he's going to have another 2 days of this. Ugh. He still has his hair though....at least as of this morning. What an ordeal, but worth it if it gives him many years of good quality life and possibly, dare I say, a cure.
I worked with Amigo for a few minutes this morning. I can say for sure now he's making progress. I still have to set him up for the right lead canter by asking for it as he changes direction from a left to a right circle on the lunge. But today he got it the first time and what's even better, he cantered a whole circle before he dropped to a trot and when I asked him to canter again he picked up the right lead.  Then going to the left I was able to get him to canter a little easier than before....seems like the last month or so he hasn't wanted to canter at all going to the left even though that's always been his easy side. So today he finally agreed to canter that direction but he wasn't happy about it and kept giving me his snarly face. At least he did it and I only made him go one circle and then let him stop since he was cooperating if not enthusiastically.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 02:21:43 pm by zipeddodah »
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 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #114 on: March 10, 2018, 07:38:18 am »

Amigo is really making progress with his canter now. Today he was half asleep when I started lunging him so I had to get after him a little to wake him up. Then the first time I asked him to go to the right he first trotted so I just kept asking for him to canter on the circle and he finally picked up the right canter! This is a first, for him to get his right lead while trotting on the circle instead of when he's coming out of a direction change. I think it means he's figured out it's easier to balance if he uses the right lead when cantering to the right. Going to the left he still isn't happy about cantering and I have to use more pressure to get him going but he gets that lead easier. I'm not sure why this is but he'll eventually get over it and then he'll be able to canter both ways equally. It has taken years for Lex to understand these things, mostly because my skills aren't perfect. Still, knowing how long it took Lex, I don't expect Amigo to get really great at this for awhile. Actually he seems to be getting it faster than I expected. Also, because of his conformation, he'll find it easier to collect than Lex has so maybe he'll progress a little faster than Lex did. I know both horses were and are limited by my skill level.

Mar 13   Yesterday was a good day. Lew's doing real well. Most of the side effects have worn off, his white cells are coming back and he may be ready to come home several days early, yea!
My niece came over and we rode the horses in the arena. I lunged Amigo and he cantered both directions, got his leads perfectly and didn't have to rely on direction change in order to lift his right shoulder to get his right lead. Then my niece rode him and we worked on getting her to take up more contact with his mouth so she could ask him to come to her hand and collect. She's had trouble with this in the past because she doesn't want to pull on him. I finally convinced her there's a difference between asking him to come to her hand and pulling him into a "frame".  She got him nicely collected at a walk. When he started trotting she was able to keep him a little collected but was unable to get him as collected as he can do. So while we were fiddling around with that, he decided to just canter! I had told he if he offered, just let him go, don't shut him down. So she let him go. He was cantering to the right and was on the right lead! We let him go about half way around a 20 meter circle and then she asked him to come down to a walk and he did. I didn't want him to canter too long because when they're first learning they can get kind of reved up if they are let go too long. So then we tried the same thing going to the left. She got him trotting pretty well slightly collected but he never offered to canter so we didn't push it. She said the canter felt smooth but rushy, like he was going to get out of control. I told her that's because he was on his forehand and unbalanced. That's why I was trying to get her to collect him more. They both need to practice that some more before Amigo will be able to collect in canter.

Mar 18  what a great day. Lew gets out of the hospital tomorrow, then 3 weeks in the hotel across the street from the hospital until he's ready to move home. One step at a time.
My niece came over today and rode Amigo. He was a very good boy. He tried to fall out on his right shoulder once and she corrected him strongly and that was the last time he tried that little trick. Then she trotted him and asked for canter and got it. Both leads. He was doing so well I told her to try to gather him up. She just jiggled the reins a little and he stopped. So we need to work more on collection at the trot. Then her husband rode Maisey. This was his first time to ride her and she did great. I think all the trail riding we've been doing on her has helped her be more confident because she wasn't at all spooky in the arena today. Usually she's  a little goosey. He's very much a beginner rider but he was still able to get her to gait real well and even centered her a bit. Her canter is awful so he didn't let her do more than a few steps. Then we spent about an hour letting my niece practice loading and unloading Scarlet in the trailer. My niece has had some bad experiences in the past with crazy horses in trailers so she is understandably nervous when loading a horse especially if she has to be in the trailer with the horse. I showed her a couple of times and then she did it until she and Scarlet were both at ease and relaxed. I also showed her how I train a horse to come to me when I touch them on the shoulder. This is my cue for "you need to get in this trailer and quit dicking around". Scarlet has been taught this cue. So in the beginning, when she wasn't real confident about getting in the trailer all I had to do was gesture toward her shoulder, I didn't even have to touch her, and she stepped up into the trailer. I never try to hurry the horse if they're insecure about things at first, I give them lots of time, let them step in with one or 2 front feet, and back out if they need to. But once they're more secure then the shoulder gesture works great and the horse stays calm. I never allow anyone to get behind the horse to try to push or goad them into the trailer because I think it adds to their fear and also, ultimately I have to be able to load my horses by myself.

Mar 23  Lew got out of the hospital last monday. They wanted to recheck his white cell count on wednesday.....amazing, the white cells were almost normal, platelets were almost normal and monocytes were slightly high which indicates the bone marrow is recovering. They think he may get to go home this next monday. He's doing incredibly well, no nausea at all. His hair did fall out but I'm getting used to the look....sort of Telly Savalas meets Mr. Magoo. We went for a short drive yesterday, about 2 hours. I wanted to see how he handled it. He got tired but otherwise did well so today we drove to our house. 2 1/2 hours away, stayed for about 30 minutes, got the mail and checked on the horses, then back to the hotel. It was a long day but Lew really needed to see home so I'm glad we went. I sure hope they let us outta here next week.
I've been thinking about how well Amigo did last Sunday with Jessie riding him. I think my issue with cantering him is I just don't trust my training ability. Amigo has never done anything really bad, other than trying to fall out on his right shoulder which is getting a lot easier to correct....it's almost like he doesn't really mean it, he just does it at the beginning of a ride to check out the rider....or maybe it's just tradition....at any rate it's no big deal. He's never bucked, only shied a couple of times and that was more of a bolt which only lasts a few steps. Training him has been so easy and he's been so good, I just can't believe I haven't left any gaping holes in his training that will bite me in the butt as soon as I get over confident. Lex on the other hand has been a huge challenge to train. He's tried every trick in the book but he's never thrown me. I totally trust him because I know what he's going to try before he does and I know I can handle it. Amigo is so good I haven't had a chance to learn what he'll do when he wants to be bad or scared and that's what makes me insecure with him. My suspicion is he'll just use the shoulder falling out thing. If he does that while I'm cantering him we're going to have a problem, I do not want my leg crammed up against a metal rail and when he falls out, it can be very hard to straighten him out once he gets his neck bent around. The key at the walk and trot is to stay ahead of him and shut him down before he does it. Not sure I can do that at the canter though, at least in the beginning. My plan is to set him up at the trot such that he'll want to fall out. Then I can correct him and get him going straight before I ever try to canter him. Then maybe he'll give up trying it at the canter....yeah, right. But at least I'm really happy with his progress cantering. He gets his leads every time now on the lunge line and when Jess was riding him he got the leads most of the time. Now we need to start working slowly on collection.

Mar 29  we got home last monday. Lew is doing very well. He tires easily but every day I see progress and today he seems to really want to get outside and do something...but he can't yet. Maybe next week.
I got to ride on tuesday! I rode Maisey and had a blast. She was so good. She still doesn't do well in front but she was happy to follow the lead horse and even wanted to out walk him. She jumped the really huge logs perfectly and walked over the smaller ones. I think she's figuring out it's easier to walk over the little ones. The little gullies were very deep sticky mud and I worried she would bog down and freak out. She did great, went through them very carefully and slowly and never put a foot wrong. I'm really enjoying riding her now, I just wish I could get her brave enough to be a lead horse. Some days she will go in front but other days she absolutely refuses to be the lead. I guess I could get more insistent with her but that's more work than I usually want to do.
Yesterday I gave my friend riding lessons on the gaited horses. She's a very good rider but has never ridden gaited. Another friend has offered to let her ride one of her gaited horses on the trail so I offered to give her a lesson so she would have a better chance of having a pleasant experience on the trail. I started her off on Dodah. Her first impression was his walk is so huge she felt insecure. Funny I never felt like he has a particularly big walk but then she's used to riding a quarter horse. Once she started to relax I had her experiment with some lateral work in order to get her more familiar with how Dodah reacts to leg cues and when that got easy I had her step him up into gait. He did good and she was smiling so I think she liked it. She had no trouble getting him to drop his head and do a proper run walk either. Then I put her on Maisey. I wanted her to see how different they feel and to see the difference between a horse that needs to be set up to gait properly vs. One that gaites naturally. My ponies were great little lesson horses.
I was going to take Amigo to a friends house today to ride her trails but we got over 5 inches of rain last night. Not sure Amigo likes to swim through the trails so we decided it's too wet to ride. So today I'm getting caught up on laundry and starting a couple of paintings I've been planning.  I did ride Amigo in the arena today. I worked on getting him to collect and stretch down while trotting. He's getting better. I can collect him quite a bit and then when I ask him to stretch down, he'll do it but it takes awhile and he doesn't stretch very far down. The good news is he doesn't try to speed up when I let him stretch. I also worked on one rein stop. When I bend him to the left he really doesn't want to give to the bit and bring his head around. Today he just leaned on the bit for a long time before he finally started looking for the release. Once he found it, then he seemed to understand what I wanted so that the next time I halted him he was quicker to give to the bit. What I'm finding is after I get him softer bending to the left his back up gets straighter. I'm not sure why this is but if it works I'll take it. Way back when I started training him he couldn't bend to the right so I spent all my time working on that and didn't work much on the left bend. So now I need to go back and get him soft to the left. I also had him doing his fastest flatwalk. He's getting pretty fast too. I was able to gait him on a circle too which was pretty cool. At one point it felt like if I just sat down and cantered with my seat, he'd break into a canter. I didn't do it though because he was feeling kind of rushy at that point and I don't want him to rush into a canter like he was doing with Jess last weekend. Also I don't want him to get used to cantering out of his flatwalk. I'd rather he canter from a trot or better yet a walk but that's going to take some time.

Apr 1   What a great arena ride on Amigo today. We gaited, we trotted, we worked on 1 rein halt. He is still real stiff on the left side with those 1 rein halts. He usually takes several steps before stopping and then he lays on the bit for as long as 5 minutes before he finally gives and that give is barely there, you have to watch for it. So today when he laid on the bit I held him for as long as it took for him to decide to give....it took easily 5 minutes. When he did give it was his usual little half give. I didn't  him a release. I decided I need to hold out for a proper give so that's what I did. He finally gave me a better give but it was pretty half hearted. I gave to him and went on to something else then I came back to the 1 rein stop. I guess I repeated this maybe 6 or 7 times before he finally, finally gave me a good "give". You could see it in his eye when he finally decided to give up, he almost had a smile on his face. I gave him big hugs and called it a day.
But before that, we did a lot of trotting on a loose rein. Actually the reins were all the way out and he was trotting very stretched down. My plan was to see if he would offer a canter but he didn't.  I even, at one point, sort of tried to get him to canter by riding a canter with my seat...He didn't take the hint. I still don't want to have to nudge him up to a canter, I prefer he offer it. So since he didn't want to canter I decided to practice collected trot which he's starting to get pretty good at. Then we did some trotting 10 meter circles and shoulder in and leg yield. He's OK doing these at a trot but he does them much better in gait. I think that's because I ride the gait better than the trot. His back up is getting straighter. Today he didn't try to move his rear end to the left but he did start to go off to the right. All I had to do was touch him with my leg to straighten him out so that's getting a lot better.
My plan is to start riding him on the trail as much as possible. Tuesday with the group, and at least once a week at my friend Val's house. She has trails that are great for exposing horses to lots of scary stuff, chickens in a yard, ducks and geese, cars, golf carts, deep gullys. I'm trying to get him ready to take over for Dodah as my parade horse.

Apr 6  I rode Maisey on tuesday and she was wonderful. She even offered to take the lead and we gaited and cantered quite a lot. She is truly getting to be so much fun on the trails. I even got so relaxed and confident on her that when we came to the last really big log I totally forgot to grab the horn as she reared up to jump. I went over that log almost without being aware we were jumping. I was over it before I remembered I needed to hold the horn! Does this mean my balance is finally getting good? Maybe. Or maybe I'm getting old and forgetful. At least I didn't fall off.
I rode with a new group of ladies today. I took Lex because I knew they like to go fast and he can go fast where Maisey might have trouble keeping up. Well, Lex reverted to his old crazy self and for the first mile or so I could barely control him. The other horses were pretty high and he was feeding off of their energy. Whatever. I was thinking I wouldn't be able to finish the ride as I did not want to fight with him for 9 miles. Finally I got the ladies to let me in front and that was much better and he settled down. We even did some gaiting and cantering but then the ladies complained that there was too much speeding up and slowing down. Not sure how that was happening since I was pretty far ahead of them most of the time. It's hard, when there's more than a few horses, for every one to go the same speed. There's going to be some starting and stopping along the line of horses, same thing that happens in heavy traffic. Anyway, I'm not sure I'm going to ride with that bunch again. A couple of them seemed nice enough but I didn't have a chance to visit with them much. Then a couple of them seemed very full of bravado. In my experience, that kind of person doesn't, as a rule ride in a way that's compatible with the way I want to ride. In my 20's I would have enjoyed that kind of riding but in my 70's, not so much. Oh and the most outspoken lady, the one that wanted everybody to know all the horses she has and all the extreme trails she's ridden on....yada, yada.....fell off when her horse jumped the last big log. Nuff said.

Apr 9  Interesting ride on Amigo yesterday. We did all the usual stuff and he was pretty good on all of it. At the end of the ride I asked him to back up. He got crooked so I touched him on his side to straighten him. He seemed very sensitive to that and corrected himself but then he got crooked by bending to the opposite side. This went on for a little while and all the time he was snorting and getting behind the bit. He also kind of bowed up at one point. He never did anything wrong but I got the distinct impression he was really mad. So I stopped asking him to back straight. I let him walk off for a little while. Then when I asked him to back up again I held the reins just long enough for him to understand I wanted a back up and when he started back I dropped the reins and just used my seat and legs to keep him going. He backed about 10 steps just as straight and relaxed as could be. I haven't repeated this so I don't know if it was a fluke or he really was trying to teach me something. I'll try it again in a few days.kind of interesting though. Today I didn't ride him but I did spend a few minutes lunging him. He picked up both leads first time I asked. That's getting waaaayyyyy better. Then I put the rocking s bit on him. I think I've tried this bit on him before but I'm not sure. Anyway today I just let him get used to it and then asked him to flex both sides and he was verrryyy soft. Then I held the reins in one hand over his withers with just a little bit of contact and waited for him to give and drop his head and it only took a few seconds for him to figure out where the release was. I wonder if this is a better bit for him. I do remember trying out some other mylar bits on him and none of those worked. I may ride him in the rockin s later this week in the arena to see how he likes it.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 07:12:48 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #115 on: April 13, 2018, 03:07:56 pm »

I wish I could make a great announcement about finally cantering Amigo but, sigh, not so. I haven't  had time to ride him this week at all because we've been going out every day hitting up local businesses for contributions for our silent auction. We're trying to raise money to help pay for our new equestrian trail. We've struggled for nearly 10 years to get the forest service to approve an equestrian only trail in our national forest. They have denied,  stonewalled, lied, delayed and basically done everything they could do to keep us from getting our trail. There is a hiking trail out there....for hikers only...there's a cycling trail for bikers only, there's a multi use trail for everybody including horses to use.....but...that trail is used mostly by the dirt bikers and 4 wheelers. Those guys are very polite and considerate around the horses but the problem is they really tear up the trail so the footing for our horses is not good and most of the trail is narrow and the horses have trouble getting off the trail when the bikes come through due to the dense underbrush. We need our own trail. We ride in that forest but only on trails we create by hand and maintain ourselves. We need our own official equestrian trail, properly constructed and with bridges over the bigger gullies where erosion is a problem. Several years ago we got approval from parks and wildlife for 2 grants which would get us started on our trail but the forest service wouldn't sign the required paperwork, an agreement between them and all parties involved until our grants were due to expire. We were able to get the grants extended for one year hoping we could get the paperwork signed but the forest service stalled again and we finally ran out of time. We were devastated to say the least. But someone contacted several of our state and federal legislators and magically the forest service signed the letter. So now we've broken ground on what will be 32 miles of trail in the Sam Houston forest. We have to provide matching funds to the amount of 20% of the amount of the grants. Our volunteer hours will count toward that but we also need up front funds to get some of the work started. We're hoping to raise 5000$ with this first fund raiser. Fingers crossed we can get it done.
So this week I haven't ridden much. I did take Massey on the Tuesday ride and she was pretty great. She led the whole ride and only balked a couple of times when we came to places where the trail split and we could head back home. Then in a couple of places I had her gaiting which she did real well and then when she wanted to canter I let her go and she was the best she's ever been. In the past she's been real bad about throwing her head around when she canters. She does this out in the pasture too. She doesn't buck or anything but the head tossing gets her really unbalanced and it feels like she's going to throw herself down. This ride she cantered straight, no head tossing at all and the canter was smooth. Maybe she's finally figured out how to do it. The other good thing she did was at one point on the trail Sylvia took off cantering past us. We were walking when she did this. Maisey asked if I wanted to canter, I told her to walk and she did without pitching a fit. Pretty great.
I worked with Amigo again with the rocking s bit. Ground work only. He didn't seem as sensitive and responsive this time, in fact at one point he was just dozing off while I was trying to get him to flex so I woke him up by lightly patting his face. I surprised him and then he decided to pay attention to what I was trying to do. He really needs to be ridden out on the trail. Maybe soon.

Apr 15   My niece and her husband came over today and she worked with Scarlet.  It was in the 40's, high wind, and the horses were GOOFY. We expected Scarlet to be full of herself due to the weather plus she's in raging heat. With that in mind Jessie turned her loose in the arena to let her run for awhile before trying to do anything constructive. Scarlet stayed right with Jess and followed her all over the place. Jess finally told her to go out on a circle and canter. Scarlet went out on a 20 meter circle and did two perfect circles at liberty in both directions. Wow. So then we saddled her and did some work at the mounting block. Scarlet was on alert and paying very close attention to everything we did but she never spooked, she just flinched a little a couple of times....very surprising considering the conditions and she hasn't been worked with in 2 months. Jess decided not to get on her though because with all the wind we worried a branch may come down and hit the roof and scare Scarlet. She had been so good we didn't want to undo all the good work.
Then I rode Lex and he did 10 meter canter circles very easily today. I also made him side pass around a ground pole square both directions and he did it without hitting any poles. Boy he was on his game today! Then Jessie rode him. Her comment was Amigo's canter is better and smoother. Well, I've always felt that Lex's canter is awesome and I love to ride it so if Amigo's is even better I think now I really do have to get my big girl panties and learn to ride it. I conned Jessie into coaching me when I try it for the first time...I didn't tell her I want her there to scrape me up when I fall off...ha!

Apr 16    I CANTERED AMIGO!!!!!!!  I didn't even wait for Jessie to help me. I was riding him today and it was warm and not windy and the horses were all being sane. Amigo was doing everything I asked in the arena including trotting shoulder in. We worked on his one rein halt some too and he's getting better about flexing to the left but he's not happy to do it. I also gaited him and his flat walk is getting real fast and today it felt like he was lifting more in front, so much that I thought he might want to canter. So I put him back in a trot and got real correct with my position and when I felt him starting to trot on a lead I scooched my seat and he picked up a left lead canter. His canter is huge! It's smooth and I didn't feel insecure but he does feel like he's rushing and heavy on the forehand. Also, going to the left he wanted to fall out so I worried about getting my leg crammed against the rail. Also he's hard to stop. I know from watching Vickie and Jessie ride him that he's not going to run away or buck and that after maybe one circle he'll want to stop but I don't want him to think he can call the shots. I want him to stop when I say and go when I say. So I halted him after going maybe 1/4 of the arena. He did this when I started trotting him too, halting was difficult....actually that was true in the beginning at the walk too....so this is his training pattern. The more I canter him through transitions the better he'll get both picking up the canter and halting. Today two canter experiences, each on the left lead and each about 1/4 the arena.  He does have a nice canter but I gotta say, at least for now, Lex is still the king of canter in my book.
Oh yeah, I also checked out Amigo's back up today to see if he really wants me to leave him alone when he's backing up. Apparently he does. Today I asked him to back and once he got the idea I loosened the reins and just kept asking with my seat and legs and he backed pretty far before he started to get crooked. All I had to do to straighten him was touch him behind the girth and he moved his rear end back where it needed to be. So the back up is getting much better. I think we've reached an understanding.

Apr 17   It was a bad tree day in the forest today. First, a big tree came down not far from us as we were riding down the trail. It was behind us somewhere, possibly in an area we had just gone through. On that trail there is an old dead tree that today was split at the base and leaning way over and creaking as we rode past. We all commented on how we needed to go through that area quickly because it sure looked like that tree was going to come down soon. We had ridden maybe 15 minutes further down the trail when we heard what sounded like a rifle shot and then the crashing of a tree falling. The horses all spooked of course. Maisey thought it was a good time to put it in high gear and boogie outta there....haha. I told her to be still and she settled right down. Then later on we came to 2 huge logs that have been on the trail for several weeks. We can walk the horses between them such that we only have to jump over one of them but the horses have to jump it from a sidelong position instead of straight on. There was a sharp stob sticking up and as Maisey jumped she got her rear leg hung up on that stob and really scraped her leg. She was 3 legged lame so I got off and led her until she was able to walk on the leg again. No permanent damage but she's going to be a little sore for a few days. Then as I was driving home after the ride, hauling my 3 horse lq trailer, a tree had fallen across our road, sigh. I had to drive off into the ditch to get past it and it still scraped my trailer. Finally when I got home I discovered Scarlet had gotten a small tree tangled up in her tail. I was able to extract the tree by stepping on the trunk while she walked away. Sigh. Trees.
I heard this joke on the radio this morning, little did I know how the day would turn out. Here's the joke....If you're walking along talking to Edgar Allen Poe and he starts to run into a tree....what one word do you yell to warn him....poetry!   Poe a tree. OK it's not that funny but I don't usually remember jokes so I'm keeping this one.

Apr 18  Lew's check up in Houston was good today, cbc, Chem panel and protein electrophoresis all normal. His gamma light chain protein was zero. They acted like that is a big deal but it was zero when we started the transplant so I'd expect it to still be zero, otherwise something would be terribly wrong .  So anyway they released him back to his oncologist in the woodlands. Yippee! No more trips to Houston! Honestly I don't know how people can live in that city. The hospital that we were going to is the same one that Mrs. Bush was in but she was in the cardiac center and Lew was in bone marrow and gene therapy.  Today there were so many people around that medical center that it took us 30 minutes to find a place to park. 2 of the parking garages were full. It was insane. There must have been some kind of a convention there, it is a teaching hospital after all. Still it was crazy and I'm so glad we don't have to go back. The hospital at the woodlands is brand new, everything is right there and they've got it so well organized and coordinated that you can get all your testing and procedures including surgeries all in one place....except transplants. The next time I break a bone that's where I'm going!
A friend of mine just got thrown from her horse....riding a green horse on the road, horse spooked at some dogs...my pet peeve....and she fell off and broke her leg. Thank goodness she had her helmet on or she may have been killed because she hit her head and was knocked out for quite awhile, got a pretty severe concussion. I'm trying to get her to get everything done at that new hospital but I think she's going to one of the older ones in the same area. I think it has something to do with being able to get the surgery sooner. Too bad. Her surgeon also works at the new hospital but I guess he can't get her in a room soon enough....or something. Not sure.
I want to try to ride Amigo again tomorrow, not sure if I'll be able to tho.

Apr 20  I rode Amigo yesterday. I didn't canter him tho. We started off walking and practicing neck reining and one rein stop. He still is resisting flexing and giving to the left. I held the left rein for a long time before he finally gave to it and then it was just a tiny give. You could watch his face and see how he was thinking through the problem. It looked like at one point he considered really blowing up but then changed his mind and gave to the pressure. After that he started giving much easier. He is a bit stubborn sometimes, I know he understands the whole concept of the one rein stop because he does it real well on the right rein but on the left rein, every day we do this, he takes forever to give the first time. I can't tell if he does this because he's just stiff on that side, does he hurt somewhere in his neck or is he just being resistant. I don't really believe horses are resistant for no reason so I'm looking at either stiffness or pain. I suspect he needs some help releasing at the poll but right now I don't know anyone that can help with that so I'm going to keep gently flexing him and maybe it'll get better. Then we did a bunch of small circles walking and then started trotting. I wanted to practice sitting trot so I found I could get him pretty collected, slow him down some and then it was easy to sit his trot. It was fun and he did the collecting really well. Also in that collected frame I did leg yields and shoulder in which he was able to do well in both directions. Then I asked him to go long and low and he did it pretty well but when I let him go all the way on the buckle he suddenly sped up. This was at the end of the ride and it felt like he was preparing to canter like we did the other day. This time though I wasn't asking him to canter so I didn't let him take over. Instead I asked him to halt using just my seat. It took him several strides but he did it. I think this was good practice for getting his halt better when he's cantering since he seems to have trouble with that. Also, I want him to learn to canter out of a sitting trot which is collected so that he can learn to canter more collected and not be so much on his forehand and unbalanced. It's a theory. I almost did that yesterday but didn't because I need to get my balance and timing better in the sitting trot so that when I ask for canter I can do it in a way that makes it easier for him to stay balanced. The one time I centered him in a slow balanced canter....many months ago, I did it out of a slow collected sitting trot. I did it quite by accident then but I know he can do it and it's my bad timing that causes him to get all unbalanced and on the forehand and rushy in the canter.

Apr 22  Amigo was a turd today. He refused to walk with me up to the mounting block...that was weird. Then he had an attitude the whole time I was riding him, mister grumpy face. He did what I asked but not happy about it. The flexing was no good either. So I cut the poor excuse of a ride short and decided to do some carrot flexes to see how stiff he is.  He had to work pretty hard to get the cookie on the left side. I held it by his hip bone but that was too far for him so I moved it up to his last rib. He could snatched it but you could tell it was a real stretch for him. Made him do it twice and then went to the right side which was easier for him. So I guess he really does have some kind of physical blockage that's making it hard for him to flex to the left. I noticed that after several stretches he quit trying so maybe his neck was getting sore. Also I heard a faint pop once when he flexed to the left. I'm going to give him a few days so his neck can recover and then I'll do more carrot flexes and see if he's improved at all.

Apr 23  did more carrot flexes today. He's still stiff on the left side but it seemed maybe a little easier for him today. I did also ask him to take his head as far to the left and as low to the ground as he could do it. What I saw was he could barely bring that head around if it was very low and when he finally did it I heard another soft pop.  Going to the right was no problem for him. Years ago I had a friend that was studying to be an osteopath for horses. She came over and she worked on Lex and really did a good job with him. She also looked at Amigo. Back then Amigo seemed very square to me. He always carried his tail straight and seldom moved it to either side. This friend insisted Amigo needed his back adjusted, that his pelvis was tilted. She adjusted him and ever since he's carried his tail way off to the right. If he's walking, that tail is pointed to the right. I can't help but think she messed him up and now his pelvis really is tilted. I think this may also be causing the stiffness on the left side. My theory is he keeps the muscles on the right side contracted to some degree all the time, this is why the tail points to the right. Since those muscles are under constant contraction the muscles on the left side are stretched and less strong. Doing carrot flexes to the left will help stretch the muscles on the right side and contract and strengthen the left side muscles. Then doing lots of lateral work to the left will strengthen those weak muscles. I think.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 04:44:09 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #116 on: April 27, 2018, 02:59:00 pm »

I rode Maisey on the Tuesday ride this week. She threw her head, snorted and grabbed snacks the whole ride. Just when I think she's got good riding behavior figured out she does this. Oh well, the little girl will go through and over anything, is naturally gaited and is good in parades so I can't complain much if she tosses her head sometimes. And I can correct the snacking.
Amigo is getting much better with the carrot flexes. Today he was able to reach his left hip, left stifle, and almost his left rear foot. Also, still not sure but I think he's starting to hold his tail straighter. I put his bridle on and from the ground I asked for flexes both ways and he didn't resist so that was good. I probably won't try it from his back yet, at least for a few more days.
I decided trying to get Lex to do canter pirouettes was skipping way too many steps even though he can canter a 10 meter circle pretty well now. He still has trouble collecting as much as a pirouette would require and so I'm going to get him to do walking haunches in and half pass, gaited haunches in and maybe half pass ( but that one may not be possible? ) and canter half pass and counter canter before I try to do the pirouette.  So today I started walking half pass. I've already taught him how to do this but he's only ever done a few steps at a time. Today I asked him to go almost the length of the arena and to walk with a good deal of impulsion. He was able to do that so then I asked for haunches in both directions and he did that. He must have been reading the dressage handbook or watching u tube or something because this was pretty easy for him. So easy that I then asked for gaited haunches in. Wowsa! Not only did he do it, he got soooo collected! And it seemed really easy for him...go figure. Now I'm thinking if he can do gaited haunches in he should be able to half pass in gait. But I decided to not ask for gaited half pass. Instead I cantered him and asked him to collect and he was able to get pretty collected on both leads. I didn't make him do a whole lot of this today since it's a lot of work and he needs to build the muscle for it but I'm encouraged that it seemed relatively easy for him. The other thing I've noticed is that now when I have him gait it seems so much easier for him to do and he can stay in a nice collected run walk without much effort for as long as I want him to. I remember how much work it was for him to do a collected run walk just a few years ago. He could rack but that only reinforced his hollow frame so I always insisted on collected run walk instead.  I think all the canter work and lateral stuff combined with all the trail riding we've been doing has really strengthened his muscles so that the work is easier now.

Apr 30   Lew is 60 days post transplant and so far no hitches. Only 40 days left until the recheck and bone marrow biopsy to see how we did. I'm expecting good news but fingers crossed anyway.
I rode Amigo. He did seem a bit more flexible in his neck this time and interestingly, he followed me to the mounting block at liberty and didn't get any of the snarly face when I asked him for 1 rein halts. He was willing and able to maintain a bend going down the long side of the arena in both directions. Also I've noticed he's been scratching his left shoulder like I've not seen before where he has to really crank his head around and bend his neck in a most extreme way to reach the itchy spot. Riding him, he was very forward. I only had to think trot and we did. At one point he wanted to stop and scratch his leg so I let him. After the scratch he didn't even lift his head, he just took off in a fast trot. It felt like he was just feeling good and thought he'd move on out, not like he was trying to be bad or buck or anything. After the ride, while he was still saddled up I did some carrot stretches. At first he thought he couldn't do them, even on his limber side. But after a couple of attempts he was able to stretch almost as much as without the saddle. He's getting cagey though. He tried several times to move his feet in order to reach the treat. All I had to do was tell him no and take the treat away and he quit that maneuver. So I think maybe when I started this he was having some physical pain in his neck that was the reason he was resisting flexing to the left so much. It seems better now and his attitude also seems better. I really need to get him out on the trail though. We're both getting bored in the arena.
I also rode Lex in the arena. We did pretty good walking and gaiting haunches in. Half pass at the walk is OK but slow. Half pass in gait sucks. He can go pretty well if I let him go more sideways than forward but if I insist he go forward things fall apart real fast, which seems weird to me. They fall apart pretty fast either way though. So lots more work on that. Cantering small circles is good but it can be hard to keep him going sometimes. He seems to think he gets to stop after only 2 circles....wrong. I can canter him in a small (10 meter) circle, let him come out of it and then ask for half pass and he can do maybe 2 steps before he gives up and either stops or  falls back down into gait.  This is going to take some time for sure. I'm kind of getting the urge to take him to Cedar Creek and get a lesson with Bobbie....hummm... I could take him and Amigo, stash them at Vivian's or Bobbie's and camp over night in my trailer.....This has possibilities.

May 9   We had our fund raiser to make money for our new equestrian trails in the forest. We have 2 grants that will pay for the first 20 miles and the trail head but we need some up front money to get things going.  We were shooting for $5000 but we ended up making almost $10,000! Un freaking believable! This trail will give us a total of almost 60 miles of trail in our part of the forest. The official trail will be 32 miles but we have an additional almost 30 miles of trail that we've cleared by hand and that we maintain without help from the forest service. Years ago the forest service told us we could ride anywhere we wanted to as long as we didn't use power tools to clear a trail. They really didn't want us out in their forest at all but couldn't keep us out when the cyclist, hikers and motorized all have trails. I think they thought we'd get discouraged and just go away but we haven't and now we're getting our own trail with bridges and a huge parking lot.
So, I haven't ridden much. Took Maisey on the Tuesday ride again and she was pretty good and even led most of the ride and gaited a lot.
I've ridden Amigo a little in the arena. We only worked on collection and backing and a little flexing. I think the carrot flexes are helping. I did them daily for several days, then quit and just rode him a couple of days. Then today I did the flexes again. I had him in the arena totally at liberty and asked him to flex on both sides. He was good on the right side but on the left side he didn't want to reach very far at first. But then he did it and reached really far back and even bent through his ribs. He was almost able to reach his rear foot when I asked him to flex low. And then I asked him to bow and he did it. I think he's starting to hold his tail straighter but it's hard to be sure because just when I think he's straight, he'll position it off to the right again. I think this will take awhile, that's why I'm flexing him for a few days and then resting for a few days. I think this will also help keep him from getting grabby too.
Now that things have settled down some I've make arrangements to take Amigo to a friend's place to start trail riding him. He's kind of out of shape and it's getting hotter. He doesn't need to try to go the whole 9 miles in the forest until he loses some weight and gets in better shape. The trails at my friend's house are short enough to be a good starter trail for him. Also, he'll get exposed to cars, golf carts, dogs, chickens and kids on bikes so this will be good experience for him and may even get him ready for the parade this summer.

May 10  I did some ground work with Amigo today. I've realized he's gotten entirely too fat so I'm cutting down on the groceries drastically. He'll still get the IGR and omega 3 fatty acids but no more pelleted feed and no treats....that means no carrot stretches...or at least they'll be few and far between. Today I experimented with a few exercises to do on the lunge line that can help him bend and I think I found some good ones. I started him out on a 12 ft line and just had him walk, trot, walk for several circles. Then once he was going real good and listening to me I asked for canter and kept him going for several circles then slow back down to walk. Then I had him trot and slowly shortened the line  to about 8 feet. When he wanted to slow to a walk I got after him to keep trotting. I kind of directed my energy toward his flank because I wanted him to do kind of a shoulder in on the circle and I wanted him to keep the line loose. Going to the right was easy for him. He collected a whole lot, kept slack in the line and was able to hold the trot. Going to the left at first he pulled on the line, had trouble staying in trot and didn't want to collect. I just kept working with him alternating between trotting and walking. Every time he could trot on a loose line and not pull on me I let him walk for a bit. I did this with the line fully out to 12 feet but as he got better I shortened the ine. He finally was able to trot in a fair amount of collection with a loose line on about a 10 ft line. Once he's consistently good at that I'll shorten the line more but for now that's about as small a circle as he could do. Even so that's better than he could do before I started the carrot stretches so I really do think they've helped. 

May 14   I think the carrot stretches and the lunge line work is starting to make a difference with Amigo. Yesterday my niece came over and rode Amigo for me. She was able to get him nicely collected going to the right in trot and then she asked for canter and he did a beautiful slow collected canter. Then going to the left, she had a bit more trouble collecting him in the trot. She said it felt like she was in his mouth too much. What was really happening was he was on the forehand, unbalanced and pushing on the bit. I told her to message the reins, separate her hands a little and nudge him up to the bit just a little. That seemed to work. He couldn't collect as much going this way but he quit rushing and leaning on the bit and the trot got a lot better. She tried to keep him collected and ask for canter. He tried but was unable to do it. So even though he couldn't canter collected on the left lead, he was trying and I think he'll get better with practice. Today I did ground work with him and was finally able to get him trotting pretty collected to the left on a pretty short lead, about 9 feet. So his balance is slowly getting better. When I asked him to canter the collection fell apart though, but at least he didn't pull on me too much.
She also worked with Scarlett. She did a lot of liberty work because I wanted to be sure Scarlet was totally focused on her. Scarlet was lunging around her, totally at liberty in the big arena, not a round pen, and would walk, trot, and change direction with just slight adjustments in my niece's energy level. All she had to do to go from walk to trot was raise her hands. To walk she let her arms relax. To change direction she pointed toward Scarlet's rear to get her to turn toward her, then pointed the way she wanted Scarlet to go and she would move her shoulders over and change direction. This is no doubt the most sensitive horse I've ever worked with. Sensitive, smart, and with a highly developed desire to please. She is just wonderful. It's such a shame her early training was so brutish, totally unsuited to her personality. She will never reach her potential but at least she has a home now where she can be happy and treated with sensitivity and gentleness. Our goal with her yesterday was for my niece to get in the saddle and for us to start teaching Scarlet how to understand cues from the rider. Scarlet has been ridden by a lot of different people including myself. I know from my experience with her that she is terrified until she gets to know her rider. Her fear causes her to freak out and she has thrown many people. Her last rider was gentle but uneducated so she was unable to teach Scarlet much at all. I had Scarlet for a year but most of that time I was working on desensitizing her and gaining her trust. I had to give her up just about the time she was ready to start learning what leg cues mean. So now we're starting over. This lesson was getting her OK with my niece sitting on her and moving around. She waved her arms, moved her legs and shifted her weight. Scarlet was very worried so we spent a lot of time petting her and waiting for her to let go of her fear. We discovered that gently flexing her seemed to calm her so every time she tensed up we flexed her gently. Then while I led her, my niece squeezed with her legs and just thought about walking forward several steps, then she relaxed her body and thought about halting. The first time I had to tell Scarlet to walk forward and then halt using the halter and lead but after that she understood my niece's cues and all I had to do was go along with her. I was holding her lead just in case but my niece was using the bridle to give direction and flexing. It all went very well and when we stopped, Scarlet was relaxed and no longer fearful and responding to the rider's cues pretty well.

May 16  Rode Lex on the Tuesday ride this week. It was kind of cool and more crisp that it's been in several days so I figured Lex would be on his high horse. He was. He tried to eat every leaf we passed, wouldn't listen to me at all when I told him to go slow down into the gullies, and just generally pissed me off for most of the ride. I chalk it up to him not being ridden much lately and the unusually cool morning. Also I was already in a bad mood so my fuse was pretty short. I finally lost it on a long downhill stretch where there are a lot of exposed roots and deep holes and the horses stumble and trip under the best conditions. Lex paid no attention to me when I told him to watch out so he nearly fell a couple of times due to rushing through the roots. So I put him at the front of the group and made him work....hard. I made him gait , canter, speed up , slow down, change leads, go down hill literally one step at a time and halt at the bottom. We got way ahead of the group so that I was able to do all this stuff without holding up the rest of the horses. By the time we headed back to the trailers he was much better. I was able to get him to do walk, canter transitions and pick up whichever lead I wanted while we were on a section of the trail that was straight and level. He nailed those leads every time. And when I asked for gait, he went along real well without me needing to nag him to lift his back and round up. I would sell him but not for cheap and only to someone who I know would be able to handle him. He's not really bad, just more work than I want to do. But wow when he's good, he's very very good.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2018, 11:27:02 am by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #117 on: May 18, 2018, 04:01:02 pm »

Today was an awesome day. I took Amigo to my friend Val's house. She lives in a fancy subdivision that is horse friendly and has trails that we can ride on. I wanted to give Amigo a chance to get used to cars, dogs, people and lots of other crazy stuff that he won't see on our forest trails. Also I wanted short trails with easy footing because it's very hot right now and Amigo is very out of shape. I think nine miles through the forest would be too much for him until he loses some weight and gets some muscle. So, today he had to walk beside barking dogs, had a herd of deer jump onto the trail in front of us, had to walk by 2 men using leaf blowers, endured lots of traffic including several 18 wheelers, some golf carts, and lots of cars. Oh and chickens. Lots of chickens and they weren't confined either. They were nesting right by the trail and fluttered up when we walked by. The lead horse, ridden by my friend, walks these trails almost daily. That horse spooked at the chickens and at a possible snake as she walked down the side of a gully. Amigo was right behind her and he didn't react. He barely reacted when my other friend's horse, who was right behind Amigo, spooked at a satellite antenna.  Amigo would just look at all these things and ask me if it was something to worry about and I could tell him to settle down and he did. The only time he got really worried was when a bicycle crossed the trail way in front of us. He didn't spook but he did perk up and watch that thing until it was out of sight. He listened to all my directions , moved off my leg when navigating some badly washed out gullies and was just a perfect gentleman the whole ride. I'm a proud horsey mommy. At one point when the traffic got real busy and the bar ditch sort of went away so we had to walk right on the edge of the road, I got off and led him. He was good and not worried but I felt better getting off just to be safe, no reason to take chances. Anyway when I was ready to get back on I stood on a culvert and put him in the ditch. Then I asked him to come to me and he lined up right next to that culvert so I could just step into the saddle.....he's 16 hands and I'm not quite 5 feet tall. And he did this while golf carts were going by. At this rate he'll be ready to go in the 4th of July parade if it's not boiling hot that day. For sure he'll do the Christmas parade. We plan to do this ride again next Friday and will repeat until he's bored. Then we'll start trotting and cantering him. There's a great little hill, perfect for cantering up.

May 19  In an attempt to get Amigo to lose some weight I cut way back on his feed...He wasn't getting much to begin with, now he gets 1/2 cup a day. I also cut back on his omega 3 fatty acids. He was getting 1 cup a day and I cut back to 1/2 cup. After less than a week he started showing signs of his fly allergy, watery eyes, small sores popping up under his jaw and hair loss on his face. So....I put him back on his 1 cup a day and also started washing his face every few days. He's looking much better now. Those dang flies. I'm using solitude for fly control and it's working well but he still has problems, I guess , if I cut back on the omega 3.

May 23  Sometimes I wonder about my brain....I feel so stupid sometimes. I've been having trouble getting Amigo to canter to the left. That used to be his easy side but once he learned to canter to the right, the left lead became difficult....go figure. To fix his right lead I discovered, quite by accident, that if I made him change directions from lunging to the left to lunging to the right, make the change quickly so he has to lift his shoulders, and the ask for canter just as he changes direction...then he could get his right lead. OK so now he's having trouble going to the left.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me to do the same technique going that direction. It finally dawned on me and I tried it today and it worked like a charm. He has been taking the left lead but he would be heavy on the forehand, unable to collect and would pull on me pretty bad on the lunge line. Today when I had him lift his shoulders during the direction change he was able to lift his shoulders, get the left lead easily, collect easier and he pulled on me a lot less. So maybe this is the key. Also I let him do carrot stretches after all the ground work and he could reach his hip on both sides so he's staying pretty limber in that regard.

May 25   Took Amigo to Val's today. The plan was to ride the trails again but that plan didn't work out. My trailer sank down in some soft dirt on her driveway next to the culvert and I ended up with 2 flat tires. So I called usrider and they sent a guy out to change the tires....fortunately I always carry 2 spares. So we had to wait almost 2 hours for this guy to show up so we couldn't go out on the trails. We decided to just mess around on the trail next to her property that needed trimming. I didn't have any clippers so me and Amigo just practiced standing still and being patient.. while Val and Nancy rode off to trim trail....not the easiest thing for a lot of horses. Amigo wasn't too bad but he did need to move his feet so while they were trimming the trail I was making Amigo walk circles around some trees. It didn't take long for him to learn it's easier to be still. Later on I put him in the round pen to see if he remembered the work he did with Vickie. He did. He walked, trotted, cantered and changed direction all on my voice and body language....I didn't have a whip with me. Later I turned him loose in that round pen...no saddle, no halter....While we ate lunch and I dealt with the tire guy. Amigo got mad and pitched a teenage temper tantrum. Haha. I ignored him. He worked up quite a sweat running around and bucking. Once he settled down and relaxed under some shade I haltered him and loaded up to go home.  So although we didn't get the learning experience I'd planned, Amigo did learn to stand still on the trail, and to suck it up and be mature about situations he doesn't like because pitching a fit is a lot more uncomfortable....especially in the heat we had today.

May 28   I had a good ride on Lex today. It's very hot and the other horses were out in the pasture, Lex was alone in the arena. I half expected him to be uncooperative but he was actually good and tried real hard to figure out what I wanted him to do. I started out by walking around the arena. When he was walking the way I wanted I got real quiet in the saddle and gave him a loose rein but the second he thought about slowing down he got smacked. I haven't done this exercise in a long time and it shows. Lex is real good at teaching me to nag him. So no nagging today. Pretty quick he was walking along at a good forward walk and I didn't have to nag. So then I told him to gait. Once he picked up the proper gait...round and very balanced...I gave him a loose rein and got quiet in the saddle. Again, every time he slowed down or got hollow I smacked him, corrected him and then got quiet when he was doing the right thing. So pretty quick I was riding a great gait without having to constantly push him....so nice. Then I asked for canter. He got both leads every time I asked. He still has more trouble collecting on the left lead but that's getting better and really now there's not a lot of difference between leads. My ultimate goal for today was to work on flying lead changes. We've been doing simple changes for awhile but I haven't been able to coordinate my body and timing well enough to get a flying change. So after cantering on both lead a while I put him back in gait and gaited a figure 8 that covered the whole arena. I put myself in the proper position to ask for canter but didn't ask. Instead at the X in the middle of the figure 8 I practiced changing my body position to the next lead. Once I had a little better control over what my legs and arms were doing I asked him to canter on the left lead. At the X I changed and asked for the right lead. He almost did a flying change but he had to do one trot stride between leads. That's improvement!. I chose to go from left lead to right lead because I figured it would be easier for him to go from his stiff side to his better side. It was too. When I tried to go from right to left lead he had to trot almost half way around the circle before he could canter and then he didn't feel balanced. So he'll need a lot of practice doing that before he gets better. But at least he was trying and that's all I can ask.

May 29   Took Lex on the Tuesday ride today. It was hot hot hot and he was completely unmotivated. But he behaved well, no lost brain, very little trail snacking. But he just would not gait. He just wouldn't.  I even put him behind 2 other horses and he still wasn't interested. I made him gait anyway but it was really poor quality...hollow and a little pacy, and very very slow.  We cut the ride short because of the heat and everybody was hungry. On the way back to the trailers, Val got in front of me and started jumping her horse over the logs. Lex has never jumped. I've tried to teach him by lunging him over some jumps in the arena but he always stops and walks over them or he keeps going but trips and stumbles over them. So I'm not confident jumping him over these huge logs we have on our trails. So today, Val was gaiting up to the logs and then hopping over them. Lex tried to follow her horse but he couldn't quite make the jump. He'd canter up to a log, think about jumping but at the last minute slow down and step/hop over. Actually that's more of a jump than he's done before so maybe next time he'll try harder. Also, when I was riding him up to the logs I tried to remain passive, letting him pick the gait and speed. I tried to just hold onto the saddle horn and leave the decision up to him. Next time I may try to give him more encouragement......maybe.

June 1  Only 10 more days until Lew gets his 100 day recheck to see how well the transplant worked. Can't wait.

I took Amigo to Val's today. Oh my gosh this is a fabulous horse!  He LOVES trail riding!  He couldn't wait to get out on the trail and once we were going he wanted to walk out pretty fast and even got in front of Val's horse for awhile. He ignored the 18 wheeler that passed us going uphill and gunning the motor the whole time. He ignored the car that blasted by him while we were walking right next to the road because we had to go around a culvert. He ignored the baby deer that jumped up, cried, and then ran off...right under his feet. He ignored the chickens and barking dogs and only gave the baby stroller the hairy eyeball for a few minutes. I've found that if he gets worried about something, he'll kind of tense up and raise his head. It's almost like he's asking if everything is ok. All I have to do is take up contact with his mouth and kind of speak to him and he usually relaxes right away. The only time today that he had any issue was when we were walking past the golf course. An old guy was driving his golf cart toward us. He seemed to think he could drive right up to Amigo as we crossed the path. I held out my hand to signal that he needed to stop while we crossed. He waited until I was almost across the path, then he gunned the cart and wheeled behind Amigo and up onto the road. It took us both by surprise and Amigo wheeled around so he could see what was making all the noise behind him. He only spun around and then stopped when I told him to and was immediately calm again. While this was going on, Van got pretty far in front of us. Amigo made no move to speed up to catch up with her but when I asked him to walk a little faster he did it without any issue. We did a little bit of trotting on this ride and he was calm and felt very secure. I even started asking him to flatwalk. He only knows to do this in the arena so today was a little different and at first he didn't understand and tried to trot. I kept after it and by the third time I tried it he got it and we flatwalked. It wasn't fast but that's ok, I wasn't asking for speed, just a correct gait. I kid you not, this horse is such a good boy. He will one day, take my old horse Blue's place. Blue was very regal and had a lot of presence. Most people thought he was a friesian. He died a year ago but I had retired him around 10 years before due to ringbone. I missed riding him because he always got so many complements. Amigo has this same regal look and presence.  I think it's  the hair...He has this double mane that falls on both sides of his neck and is wavy. His tail reaches the ground and is also wavy, and he has feathers. He's really very spectacular looking....16+ hands of black beauty.  And he's so proud and yet so gentle. I can't believe I get to own this sweet horse.
I forgot to add, Amigo went through his first real water obstacle on this ride. It was a fairly deep gully with really deep sand going down....so deep I expected Amigo to get worried about bogging down. The water at the bottom was about a foot deep and maybe 3 feet wide. I was all prepared for him to freak out in the deep sand and then refuse to go across the water. None of that happened. He was very careful in the sand, walked slowly and tested his footing but he wasn't scared. At the water he went right in, thought about drinking and then tried to paw. I didn't let him paw cause frequently the next thing they do is lay down. So I pulled his head up and we finished crossing and up the other side which was also very deep sand. He really is a dream horse.

Jun 4  Lew is starting to get his energy back. Today he fixed the whirlygig that blew over in the storm last night, helped me plant a bush that's been waiting to get planted for about a month, and fixed the fence in 2 places where branches came down last night and wiped out the wire...and it's pretty hot and muggy outside so that's a lot of work for a normal old guy much less one recovering from cancer.
I was re reading my journal and found where I had tried Lex's curb bit on Amigo and he seemed to really like it. I had forgotten about that....that's why journals are good for old forgetful people like me. Anyway I've only been riding Amigo in his snaffle both in the arena and out on the trail. He does pretty well but he does sometimes lean on the bit and when he's hell bent to grab snacks it can be hard to get his head up. So I think I'll go back and try the curb bit again....In the arena to start with. If he seems to like it I may try it at Val's.

June 6   Tuesday ride was better on Lex this week....I carried a whip. He is such a slug going out, doesn't want to gait, barely wants to walk. He doesn't outright balk but he just   moves    so    slow !  So I carried a whip and every time he got sluggish I popped him...hard. I wasn't expecting him to gait, just walk like he had somewhere to go. I hate that I need to do this, especially in this heat. I feel like I'm being abusive making him work when it's so hot. But really, he was just taking advantage of me....When we started back toward the trailers he was happy to walk with vigor, gait, and canter. And when we got to the trailers, he wasn't breathing hard at all and was only sweaty under the saddle. I figure if he's that athletic and has that much energy coming back, he can have that much energy going out. I'll continue to carry the whip until he figures out I have his number.
I got invited to join Val and Vickie at the huge dressage arena at Val's rich friend's place. This guy apparently has more money than God and spends it on property, houses, barns, arenas, and more property.  Hard to figure how someone makes that kind of money. We know the arena alone had to cost a million. The long term plan as I understand it is to develop a big time dressage barn there for his daughter. This area of Texas is big time into dressage, lots of trainers and show people around here.  This new barn and arena looks to become one of the biggest. The daughter is still in Europe though. Her horses are here and are being shown by her trainer. So anyway, until the whole dressage thing gears up, we have the use of the arena. I can't decide whether to take Lex or Amigo. Lex will need at least 30 minutes to settle down and stop spooking but once he's calm I'll be able to do a lot of canter work in that arena. Amigo will be calmer to start but Vickie will be there and I'll have to admit to her that I'm not really cantering him much yet. I hate to admit that, even though I do have a broken wrist and cancer (Lew) as excuses. On the other hand, Vickie may be able to help me figure out how to get Lex to canter half passes and even do flying changes. Decisions, decisions.

Jun 7   I noticed this morning that Amigo has a lot of sores and hair loss on his face and forehead under his forelock. Also around his ears. There are no sores on his legs where he used to get them. I think he's had a reaction to the fly repellant I used on him last week at Val's. This was the first time I've used this particular brand on him and I used a cloth to wipe it on his face and ears, then lightly sprayed his butt. After the ride I didn't wash him because the horse flies are so bad I didn't want to wash it off since it was working so well while we were riding. Must have been a bad choice. Now he's really covered with skin sores. I washed his face this morning and put nolvasan ointment on all the sores.  The offending fly spray is Out Smart from Smartpak. I've started using this stuff in addition to my regular permethrin spray because it does a great job of repelling horse flies. The permethrin keeps the ticks off so I use both. The out smart has peppermint oil in it. Smells great, keeps the horse flies off, but I think may be irritating to Amigo. My other horses seem to tolerate it just fine. Amigo has such sensitive skin. Seems like all my black horses have had skin problems at least as youngsters. Both Blue and Lex got sores every summer until they were in their teens. Maisey and Dodah both have normal skin but they really aren't black, they're dark brown, look black. Anyway, for bad horse fly issues, I think the sprays with peppermint oil, maybe citronella work better than straight permithrin. I still like permithrin best for ticks though. It may not keep them off but it kills them if they do get on the horse.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 11:45:48 am by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #118 on: June 13, 2018, 08:13:15 pm »

I took Amigo to the huge arena at Val's neighbor's house. This thing is the size of a large dressage arena plus extra room at either end and on the sides. It has 3 big ass fans overhead. Those things put out a pretty strong breeze which was nice but these were noisey. Those fans are supposed to be almost silent so something was wrong and we turned them off but not before Val's horse and Vickie's horse both had minor freak outs. Amigo was slightly concerned when I first took him into the arena but after about 5 minutes he was more interested in looking for grass than worring about the fans. After we turned them off the other 2 horses settled down and we were able to ride around without any problems. I almost didn't take Amigo. Both legs on his left side were swollen. The hind leg was more swollen...The whole fetlock and halfway up the cannon. The front leg was only slightly swollen at the fetlock, actually I had trouble deciding whether or not it was really swollen but I could feel the swelling when I compared with the right front. He was totally sound. I checked him when I caught him and first saw the swelling. I walked him on concrete, no limping. Then at the arena I lunged him slowly, no limping. So I decided to try to ride him at a walk and he was fine. Finally I trotted him and he was sound. I have no idea what's going on. Both legs were covered with mud...and we haven't had any rain in weeks so I can't imagine where he got in mud. Also both legs feel like there are small sores, like scratches...but there doesn't seem to be any pain and I couldn't see any raw skin when I washed off the mud. The only thing I didn't do was pick at what felt like scabs....hard to tell if they were scabs or mud. I'll get a closer look in the morning. Anyway I rode him for about an hour and the legs weren't any more swollen when I quit. I'm going to survey the pasture tomorrow to see if he got tangled up in a fence or something. I may also go ahead and treat him for scratches too even though this doesn't look like any case I've seen before.

Jun 14   I had a better look at Amigo's legs today and it's definitely scratches. Worst case I've seen though with all the swelling. Today both legs were a little less swollen but the rear leg was more painful. I started him on oral antibiotics...smz.....and slathered nolvasan ointment on every scabby spot I could find. That nolvasan never let's me down. I've treated a lot of dogs with hot spots....similar bacterial infection....and several horses  with mild scratches and usually in 24 hours the lesions are drying up and scabs coming off. I got to the point, especially with dogs, that I wouldn't even try to clean the lesions first. I'd just gently trim any long hair and smear the ointment on. These lesions are so painful that sometimes it's better to just apply the ointment over the scabs. Usually by the next day they're starting to soften and the pain is so much less that it's easier to clean them and remove scabs then. Dodah used to get mild scratches and this is how I treated him and in 24 hours he was healed. I had a friend years ago that had a big old Draft type horse that had a lot of hair on his legs sort of like Amigo. That horse was so painful all I could do was blob the nolvasan on over the hair. I couldn't even rub it in but the next day the pain was down so much that horse let he clip his hair and pick some of the scabs off and really get the nolvasan rubbed in. He was totally cleared up in a week.  Today I was able to remove some scabs on Amigo's front leg but not on the rear leg. Then I smeared nolvasan on both legs and just messaged it in. It kind of soaks in and dissappears. I don't put a huge gob on because I want the area to dry out some. I usually don't put the animal on oral antibiotics but I did this time due to the cellulitis and also he's had a little snotty nose for about a week. Dang, this horse has the immune system of a baby! He freaking gets everything! This afternoon or tomorrow I should be able to remove more scabs. I expect this to take a good week to clear up knowing Amigo and his crappy immune system.

Jun 15  swelling  much reduced today. The front leg is no longer swollen and the scabs are starting to come off more easily with just a little bit of rubbing. The rear leg is still swollen on the fetlock. Some of the scabs are starting to loosen but the worst part on the medial fetlock and dorsal cannon area still has firmly attached scabs that I can't pull off without hurting him. I did work on one of those scabs pretty hard and when I got a little bit of it off, the skin underneath was raw and he let me know it was painful. He's so gentle. When my efforts started to hurt all he did was gently lift his foot and hold it off the ground. That's all I needed to know I was hurting him so I quit and just put some more nolvasan on and gently messaged it into the scabby part. He immediately put his foot down. It's very reassuring to know that when I'm working on his rear foot and my head is inches away from that foot that he's not likely to kick me if I hurt him. Wow. I'm as careful to stay in a safe place as I can be but I still have to get way too close to that leg to medicate him. Such a good boy!

Jun 16  all swelling down. The front leg almost has no scabs left, just one little spot on the pastern. The rear leg is no longer swollen and today I was able to scratch a lot of the scabs off that were on the back and lateral side of the pastern. The front of the cannon where the biggest lesion is has partly healed. There is still a tight scab on it but it's only half the size it was yesterday and the skin is looking almost normal. On the back of the pattern in the areas I was able to remove scabs, the skin is normal. This is coming along faster than I expected but I'll keep him on oral antibiotics until all scabs have come off. Today I was able to loosen and remove them by just scratching with my fingernails. I didn't have to dig at them or pick them, as I scratched they flaked off. I've been applying the nolvasan twice daily, really messaging it into the hair and skin and then I let him stand in his stall for about 30 minutes until the cream has had a chance to soak in. This stuff will slowly absorb into the skin sort of like hand conditioner so that when he goes out into the pasture it won't get rubbed off in the tall grass.

Jun 17   Removed more scabs this morning from the rear leg. Most of the medial fetlock is now clean and some of the medial pastern. Dorsal cannon is healed and all but one tiny spot of the scab has come off. He really wasn't happy with me picking at his foot today but all he did was hold the foot up. Each time he picked it up I just messaged it, stopped picking at it for a minute and just kept my hand on the fetlock until he put the foot back down. Then I started picking again. We repeated this several times until I had to quit because my back was hurting. We're expecting rain later today and tomorrow. I hope the moisture doesn't set him back in the healing process. Actually it may help remove some of the scabs...I hope. Sure would help my back if I didn't have to spend so much time picking at his leg.

Jun 18   Front leg clear, I picked off the last few scabs this am, skin totally normal if slightly hairless.  Rear leg still has scabs on dorsal pastern and fetlock that I couldn't scratch off but the rest of the leg looks good. I put more cream on the whole area though, mostly to soften the remaining scabs but also to protect any remaining lesions from all the moisture we're expecting today.  Also vaccinated everybody except Amigo for ewt and wn .
The big news is Lex is finally figuring out how to jump! Yesterday I set up 2 four inch pvc pipes in the arena. One end of the pipes is placed on the lowest rail and the other end is on a block and then I placed 2 fifty five gallon drums so that Lex would be less likely to want to avoid the jump. The actual jump is about 12 inches high. My plan was to lunge him over, let him go slow, maybe walk, up to the jump and then encourage him to jump over. Well that plan didn't happen. He was so on his high horse that lunging him wasn't working, he kept spooking and getting nuts. So I turned him loose to let him get his yeehaws out by running around the arena. What happened was he took off running for a few minutes but then came back to me and I was able to free lunge him. He wanted to canter so I just directed him to go over the jump and he did it. He did try to dodge out from the jump and even managed to do it a couple of times but I was able to cut him off and redirect him easily. After he jumped I let him come to me and praised him. Then I asked him to go the other direction and he did it easily. Both times he cantered up to the jump and then jumped and then came to me for his pets. So yea! Then today I decided to try to lunge him on a 15 ft line. He was calmer so he kept his brain between his ears and lunged like an educated horse, walking, gaiting and cantering on cue. So I took him to the jump and asked him to go up to it. I didn't specify the speed, I let him choose. He gaited right up to the jump and hopped over. He did hit the jump and kind of stumbled which I expected but he recovered and after that he was careful to get both front feet off the ground. What's weird, aside from the fact he's jumping at all, is that he's jumping out of gait! This is much more difficult for a horse than jumping from a canter...Lex has never been one to do things the easy way!  The other thing I'm doing is letting him stop and come to me for praise after each jump. He loves his pets and really wants to know he's doing the right thing but also I want him to get in the habit of going over a jump and slowing down or stopping rather than getting more rushy like many horses are inclined to do. There's not much room on our trails for a horse to take a jump and then rush head long down the trail. Often there will be another tree down or a gully or a sharp turn just beyond a jump. This is a national forest, not a groomed jumping course. So woohoo! My boy is learning to jump! The next step will be to ride him over that jump and then he should be able to try it on the trail. My experience has been that gaited horses, or at least my walkers, have really enjoyed jumping once they understand how to get their legs organized. We'll see if Lex follows the trend.
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!
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