Sunday, May 20, 2012

Moving time!

It's almost the end of May and we're a bit of a mess as we scramble for our upcoming move in a week and a half.  We are moving ourselves first then are moving most of the horses June 11 and the rest in July/August latest.  In the mean time since my last blog post, I have been working hard both with our own and with client horses!

Skittles - 2yo (fall) QH filly
I have been doing all the usual exercises with little Skittles, plus more – including saddling her, sacking her out with the saddle, teaching her to yield her head and neck and to yield her haunches from the saddle (but doing so on the ground), and mounting/dismounting.  I have been working her 3 times a week and the last two weeks in particular she has done exceptionally well – she has been very respectful, very light, and very responsive.

Kismet - 5yo Draft x mare
I have put a few rides on Kismet over the past month and a half - the most recent was last week where she was extremely braced and tense throughout, but we ended on a good note with a relaxing trail ride.  She is doing very well overall however; she just needs a lot of time, patience, repetition, and consistency.  Her trot is VERY forward and she holds her canter very consistently; we continue to develop her balance and lateral work.  Out in the fields on our trail rides she is extremely relaxed now.  Recently - I think with the new sugary grass shoots popping up - Kismet has been more on edge but with time she will come around.  Her and her owner did very well in their lesson last week - I have her scheduled for two rides and one lesson with her owner next week.

Charlee - 5yo QH mare
I have had several recent breakthroughs with Charlee, all pertaining to her propensity for shutting down.  The first breakthrough we had was related to her shutting down after only 3-4 steps of disengagement to the right (ie, disengaging her hind off my left leg).  After 3-4 steps, Charlee would usually simply say "no" - at that point if I continued asking she would grow increasingly anxious and desperate.  I decided to approach this on the ground - dismounting each time Charlee shut down to move her haunches from the ground before remounting.  After the third time I dismounted and remounted, Charlee finally exhibited some try instead of simply shutting down on me.  Henceforth her disengagement has been impeccable on either rein.  I have been using the same approach in regards to other times Charlee tends to want to shut down (the latest one was concerning sidestepping over a log) and it has really been working well.  Charlee has still been very inconsistent but slowly I have seen and felt Charlee increasingly relax.  She is starting to exhibit more "try" as opposed to automatically, almost robotically, giving me answers and not thoroughly listening and responding thusly.  I continue to use a lot of suppleness exercises and gradually I have seen Charlee have more and more moments of (almost) thorough suppleness, including more lengthening and a little swinging of the back.  I am also getting a lot more thrust from behind and increasing softness.  We have even been working on a little canter on the long sides of the arena and while at first it was pretty tentative and tense, now Charlee's canter is more forward and confident.  Charlee has a very long way to go still but has lost a lot of brace overall and thus far has not exploded once.  I continue to really focus on teaching Charlee not to shut down and to instead really listen to her rider, then on top of that my focus is relaxation, suppleness, and rhythm - she has got about 5-6 sessions left before she is done training.

Bella - 4yo QH mare
I started working Bella three times a week a month and a half ago, then reduced her to 2 sessions per week once she started to settle in a little.  Though she is still somewhat on edge initially and in general, she is mostly back to her usual self and we have been riding in both the outdoor and indoor arenas and have ridden out in the fields some.  Most recently we have been working some at liberty and have accomplished a lot as far as getting Bella into a better, calmer frame of mind.  With strong, assertive leadership and guidance, Bella continues to do very well - she is certainly a very fun horse to ride!

Soraya - 5yo CWB mare
I have been working with Soraya relatively regularly over the past month and a half, in particular on her forwardness, responsiveness, and respect under-saddle.  She has been progressing very well and is an exceptionally quick learner.  I really had to earn her respect our first session back after a couple week break however her attitude has been great since.  As a part of all the aforementioned I have been working on really earning Soraya's leadership and as a result she has progressively been giving it to me.  Her lateral work is coming along and she is solid in her w/t/c in the arena.

Link - 8yo Thoroughbred gelding
The infection we were battling in April cleared up and he was in sufficient condition for us to attend the Scott Hofstetter Green Hunter clinic at the Mane Event.  Not only were we greatly improved over last year, but we learned so much at this recent clinic - it was an incredible opportunity and a very fun experience!   Until this past week my work with Link has been very consistent and as a result he has been developing nicely both under-saddle and physically.  Three days prior to the clinic I switched bits; Link continues to do very well with the bit change and has really relaxed.  We have been doing a lot of lateral work and suppleness exercises and they are paying off in a quieter, even happier horse.  I can't wait to have him on our new farm and in work even more regularly!

Silver - 17yo Quarab gelding
Silver recently placed very well with his junior rider in their 4H club show in showmanship, english equitation and pleasure, and western equitation and pleasure; their year-end show between all local clubs takes place at the end of the month and 4H on Parade at the Stampede is the first weekend in June.  After 4H on Parade Silver will be heading up north to spend a year with my parents before we get him back.  I will get some recent photos of him up asap as he is looking very good with the recent work!

Koolaid - 12yo DWB x Quarab gelding
Due to time constraints and other complications I have not brought Koolaid up to the barn I board most of our other horses at and thus have been unable to work and sell him; instead we have decided to leave him behind until July/Aug then bring him out to our farm.  I'll use him for myself to build my confidence and further learn on and start showing; at that point in time we can decide to sell.

Phoenix is looking and feeling pretty good however I have been unable to work him; it will have to wait until we are moved onto our farm.  Rayne and PA Lady Daringer have been doing well - Rayne and Phoenix recently had their teeth done and will be part of the first load of horses to our farm.  Lady and Koolaid will stay behind for a month or two max before they are brought out to the farm.

Cisco - 4yo QH gelding
I did a test ride on Cisco prior to taking him on for training (30 days), during which he was very quiet and compliant even if a bit intrusive on my space.  Upon arrival for training a bit of 'tude' was evident - while tied he would paw with pinned ears and would even back and kick out rudely with a hind.  He was initially quite rude with his shoulder and always wanted to be in your space.  Earning Cisco's respect on the ground was important as it carried over to his level of respect under-saddle.  Under-saddle Cisco was a wonderful, very enjoyable ride - his movement was balanced, fluid, and very uphill.  He quickly became extremely responsive and soft and tried hard once his respect was earned.  I was very sad to see this guy go home as he was a very fun little horse to work with and a very athletic, nice ride!!  We walked and jogged around the fields both with and without company and amongst and turning cattle, dragged pool noodles and tarps and walked over tarps, mattresses, and wooden bridges, and developed really correct lateral work.  With an assertive leader, Cisco was a very obedient, confident, fun and dependable little horse!