Danger Noodles and Mouse Sized Spiders

I was going to tell you about all our adventures in the last blog post, but it seemed too long. So I broke it into two posts.

I’ve been feeling a lot more confident in Joy’s ability to handle new things this year. I’ve been trying to take her out on the trails by herself more often.

We’ve finally conquered walking past the poop bog. That used to send us careening backward at full speed into ditches and trees. Now she simply gives it the stink eye while nervously walking past.

Yesterday we wandered out to the other side of the field to check out a freshly mowed path. Joy walked on a fairly loose rein the entire time. 

We were on our way back when the branch laying in the path ahead of us started slithering away. 

I’m terrible with identifying snakes. My default is avoidance whenever possible.

I halted Joy with the intent that we’d wait until the snake moved off the path.  I don’t think she even saw the snake.  Some leaf way ahead of us was beyond scary though,  and she was certain we needed to flee immediately. 

A couple of tense moments.  Snake was finally off the path.  Joy and I continued down the path and it was as if nothing had happened. 

I got back to the barn and started cleaning stalls.  I was sweeping up some loose hay in the corner when a small critter the size of a mouse scooted away and buried itself under some other hay. I figured Id shoo it out of the stall.   I moved the pile and this massive spider ran out and stopped next to the stall wall  staring at me.  

I go into attack mode! 

“No spider will allowed to live in my pony’s stall!! ”

I stabbed it with the bristols of the broom as hard as I can. 

I lift the broom,  expecting to see a wounded or dead spider,  but the dang thing had grabbed on to the bristols and was valiantly crawling his way up towards me. 

We lock eyes… 

I see I’m out matched,  so I hurl broom with spider out of the stall door and into the pasture. 

Shit. 

I needed the broom still… 
 

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Still working on the canter

We had some fun adventures yesterday!

I rode Joy. I’m still working on the canter.

Her canter is horrendous. Just God awful to ride. Feels like she’s in four separate pieces and they’re all going different ways. It’s the weirdest canter I’ve ever ridden.

She canters with her hind legs close together, like a bunny hop type canter, when she gets the least bit unbalanced. The front end is always flying off in front of us. The hind end is always waaaay out behind us. It’s terrible. Hard to ride, and pretty much everything I’ve tried has either made her a hot mess, caused too much tension, or overall simply made the issue worse.

So, my latest idea is try more forward! When in doubt, add forward! Ha!

This was our June canter (I have nothing past that), which was rather decent for Joy. She doesn’t look too relaxed about it though. Tense. Tail swinging around. We’re fighting.

 

And this is today:

Nothing super big, but I was happy she was more adjustable and I could steer with my seat. That was cool.

A big THANK YOU to my super generous, and awesome, hubby for video taping the canter last night.

The case of the dastardly turkeys

Joy’s been about as well behaved as a red head with a napoleon complex can be, so I decided to ride her out to the field behind the pastures for a change of scenery.

Wouldn’t you know it, not ten feet down the path that leads to the back field and there’s a massive turkey and her brood of chicks milling about in the path.

Joy comes to a screeching halt when she see’s them. I was praying the turkey didn’t decide to go flapping her wings and scaring Joy into insanity.

We had a few tense turkey-pony stand off moments…

No one was going to make the first move, so I let out a war cry, booted Joy toward the turkey gang, and we chased them into the woods.

RAWRRR

It must’ve boosted Joy’s moral, because she seemed to relax after that.

We walked down the rest of the trail, and over to the path through the field. I wanted to try trotting Joy down the straight away that runs past the back of my pasture. It went well the first time. We trotted past our pasture and to the end of the straight away where I asked her to walk and then turn around. I didn’t want to trot “toward home” yet, so we walked back toward the pasture. As soon as we were half way past my pasture again, I asked for the trot. Joy trotted, then cantered. I freaked out a bit… then realized Joy wasn’t being out of control so we cantered the rest of the way down that stretch of path. When we reached the end, I asked her to walk. No issues. Whew!

However, after that point I only had two choices of gait: walk or canter. No trot. haha

So we cantered around for a while.

It was a BLAST!! That little pony is so much fun to ride!!

We wrapped it up after a while and headed back toward home.

We were casually strolling down one of the paths through some pine tree’s when those dastardly turkeys came out behind the tree’s with spears!

Joy sprung into action and  valiantly chased the evil turkeys off!

Yay!

Joy’s such a trooper. The crap she has to put up with, with me as her owner… hahaha

All in all, a successful, and massively fun, outing by ourselves. I was very proud of my little warrior pony.

 

Communication

I would regale you with my exciting riding adventures,  but there are none.  I’ve been rather depressed,  hot,  and stressed out. Ponies have not been ridden in nearly two weeks.  I’m starting to hate summers here as much as I hate winters…

Anyway…  I decided this week that I better put more bells and whistles on Joy if I’m going to ensure she gets a great home if I sell her.  So yesterday I decided I would teach her…  *drum roll**..

Spanish Walk.

I’ve never done this before.

Don’t worry,  I watched all of the youtube videos.  😂

Thirty minutes of trying to teach it,  and all I can get is that she’ll pick the leg up that I’ve touched,  but only to about fetlock height. Doesn’t matter what I do,  where I tap,  or what I varied,  that’s all she would offer.

I got so desperate that I tried showing her what I want.

Yeah,  didn’t work. Nothing worked.  Total failure of communication.  Back to the drawing board.

Since that obviously wasn’t working,  I decided I’d try to teach Joy to bow.

I’ve never succeeded at this before.  Tried and horribly failed with Ava. BUT,  I watched all the video’s yesterday,  so I’m,  like,  an expert,  you know.

ijer7

Anyway,  first session..  grain in hand,  lead rope in other.. . I pick up her hoof and ask her to back.

Nothing.

Ask again.  Nothing.

Work on backing without the hoof lifted.  That works fine.

Pick up hoof and ask her to back.

Nothing.

We do this over and over and over,  until she just barely will shift her weight back a little. My back was killing me,  my legs hurt from being crouched over,  sun was beating down and I was sweating profusely..

I couldn’t coordinate lead rope,  hoof,  and grain so i take her halter off…

Joy takes a step away,  drops like a stone and starts rolling vigorously.  Then she hops up and drops to the other side.  She stops long enough in her rolling to eat a small offering of grain I held up,  and then pops back to her feet.

I pick up her hoof,  ask her to back…

Nothing…

😂

We worked on that for nearly 30 minutes.  She did start shifting her weight back, finally,  but then i accidentally dropped her leg mid back-up and she decided I was no longer trustworthy, so she left.

Today, i tried again…

Picked her leg up,  asked her to shift her weight back.

She shifted back!   She only brought her knee about halfway down,  but it was progress! Yay!

I had the lead and halter on again,  and decided to take it off.  If Joy actually DID bow,  I didn’t want her to step on the lead (which I couldn’t seem to keep out of the way).

As soon as i take off the halter –  straight down and rolling.

She pops back up and shakes vigorously for a second,  then lets me pick her leg up and ask her to back again.

We never got the knee to the ground. A decent effort on her part,  but she’s not there yet.

Then Joy decided she was done and left.

Maybe tomorrow…

….

Pics

Clean barn!

Foggy morning.

Everyone gets a cape when a new bag of shavings is opened!

 

Excerpts from lesson

This is from the lesson last weekend. We almost look decent at points… then it goes straight downhill at the canter. HAhaha

 

The shoulder-in’s were not very good.

Actually, the canter has improved quite a bit. We’re not flying around the arena. I could steer. We got the lead I asked for all but once (my fault, she was bent wrong). I didn’t have to whack her to go into the canter (well, I tapped her once), and she was picking it up from a leg aid/seat cue (no kissing cue).

Progress!

Another two years and we might be ready for Training Level! HA hahaha

While summer speeds by

Seems like everyone I know is showing this weekend and doing fabulous,  and I’m…  well,  I’m not.  

At least I’m finally getting lessons again.  That’s at least a step forward. 

This past Saturday was our second lesson.  I had to do some remedial trailer training with Joy last week to prepare for this.  She seemed to think she had a choice in staying on the trailer or not,  so i made my choice the easier one for her to choose.  

Joy occasionally proves she’s a chestnut mare.  😂 

Anyway, the lesson went well.  Joy was once again a rock star.  She still has about 10 minutes of jitters,  but settled down quickly.  We rode this time.  

The instructor had me slow Joy’s tempo at the trot down quite a bit.  I had a difficult time with this because Joy kept trying to die out on me.  I’d nudge her to keep trotting,  and then we were too fast.   I’d slow her down and her engine would sputter and stall.  It took us several laps to figure it out.  Once we got it though,  Joy felt more balanced.  

I still couldn’t get that neck out though. At least she didn’t curl under… 

The instructor had us do shoulder-in.  My first time showing this to someone knowledgeable and in person.  I was nervous.  

I never have anywhere with straight lines to do these on,  and I found out we “wander” quite a bit.  In hindsight I probably needed a good half-half and more rider preparation each time we started…  I wasn’t understanding the issue at the time.  

I also can’t seem to keep a consistent bend.  We were all over the place.  

Our canter sucked.  As usual.  

Joy doesn’t want to bring the inside hind up under her body.  I had really hoped that having a bigger,  flat area to canter in would magically fix it.  I thought it was balance issues from cantering on a slop in a small area.  And maybe it was to start,  but it’s not going away.  I’m worried about this… 

I have some more tricks up my sleeve though.  And the instructor gave me an exercise to also try.  We’ll see where that gets us in another couple of months.

Fingers crossed! 

To be honest,  I was most proud of Joy for passing the ballons without a second glance.  And then for loading in the trailer like a pro AND standing in there quietly while I went to use the restroom.  

Joy never spooked at anything, never hesitated, gave her all when i asked,  and did it without complaint.  I couldn’t ask for a better pony! Very proud of her! 

Maximum Effort

Ever have a moment in a ride that’s so good that you’re left feeling like “There’s no way we can top that today.”

I cut the ride short, hopped off, untacked and fed her a million treats (probably why she’s fat).

Best right lead canter we’ve ever had. I mean SPOT ON! Picked it up in balance, correct bend, engaged….  all I had to do was tighten my core and she shifted her weight back even further.  She really tried her little heart out!

I had wanted to work on a few more things that day, but… I think it’s really important to reward “try”.  I don’t care if it sucks, or if it’s not perfect, as long as she honestly tried to answer the question then I want her to feel like she’s won. And boy did she work for that right lead canter. Wow. Knocked it out of the ball park on that ride.

I probably won’t be able to duplicate that canter again for two years. Hahaha

…………………………………………………………

Last Sunday I pulled Joy out and tacked her up for a ride. I hadn’t ridden her in a solid 7 days and Hubby was running loud engines and banging things close by.  It wasn’t until the end of the ride that I realized I didn’t even think about lunging her first. That was about the time hubby shut off the auger and started hammering. Joy didn’t even notice all the commotion.

My little pony is growing up!!

I know… place looks like crap. I’m working on it! 🙂

Not what I expected

I’m going to be honest with you… I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into when I decided to take lessons with the new instructor.

The new-to-me instructor is a USDF Bronze Medalist, an “L” graduate, and a graduated of the “Train the Trainers” Western Dressage program. She’s also super nice, and so far everyone I’ve talked to has loved her training style.

My first lesson was last Saturday.

Everything went well until I unloaded Joy at the trainers barn. After that, Joy was a spit-fire.  Couldn’t hold still, screaming her head off, dragging me around…

20170513_095133

The pic above pretty much captures the situation in a nutshell.

The trainer suggested we work on ground work first, and attempt to get Joy’s brain involved before doing anything else.  I was relieved. I think Joy would’ve been okay to ride, but heck… she wouldn’t even hold still long enough to get her tacked up.

When the trainer said ground work, what I didn’t anticipate was that the trainer meant….
Parelli.

I don’t like to be closed minded about any type of training, but most of the people I’ve met who follow Parelli are utter kooks.

Total kooks.

So, I was skeptical…

The trainer started me off with the basics. And wouldn’t you know it… within minutes Joy was the quiet, calm pony I know and love at home!

We did a few of the “games” with varying levels of success. Apparently the only one I can master is the “friendly” game (you rub the carrot stick on them). I nailed that one!

This pic is showing Joy ground tying within 15 minutes of actually starting the lesson.

JoysSecondTimeOffProperty

I may not be a total convert, but… holy smokes it helped Joy.

 

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to ride, because I really need help with my position. However, the bigger reason for taking lessons on Joy was to get Joy comfortable with hauling to new places by herself. I think these experiences will help her gain the confidence she needs to do that.

So, to recap… it wasn’t what I wanted the lesson to be, but I think it was the lesson Joy and I needed.

Feral cats

When we bought this house,  it came with 20+ cats.  Most of them to some degree of feral. We’ve been trying to get all of them fixed as we have money,  but it’s been… challenging…  to say the least.

The seond to last feral cat had kittens last fall,  so we corralled the whole lot in to the basement to prevent them from freezing to death.

We took them to the vet today.

Our house looks like the scene of a massacre.

Cats are fine,  and on their way to the vets.

Humans are NOT ok.

Did i mention I’m not a fan of cats?

On top of this,  Joy was acting weird this morning.  It was stupid cold last night,  and I thought she’d be okay since she had access to the stall and plenty of hay and water.  Nope.  I come out and she’s shivering terribly.  Ava was fine without a blanket.  Jessie I blanketed because she gets cold easily. Joy’s usually the  hardiest of the bunch.

I’ve got three blankets on her.  Gave her a little banimine, about half a dose,  and waited.  She seemed much better after 10 mins,  and back to normal after 40.

I hate these 30 degree jumps in temps.  Wrecks havoc on everyone.

It’s only 8:30am. I hope this day gets better.

UPDATE:

$100 later, the three feral cats have been fixed, vaccinated, treated for fleas and released back to the wild. Ears clipped by vet to easily identify them as fixed. One is living in the barn, but the other two have not been seen again. I fear they may be dead.

 

Our First Show

Loading, and hauling,  Joy went without a hitch.  We even stopped at the gas station to pick up ice on the way to the show.  Joy was perfect in the trailer. It was cute though,  she saw Bob walking back to the truck with the ice and she whinnied at him.  
We got to the show and I was so nervous about unloading her that I almost wanted to quit right there. Heart jumping out of my chest.   Joy was vibrating like a top and screaming her fool head off.  I was scared…  

We got her off and for the first time ever I used a chain on her. 

The pony was a powder keg. 

Luckily i had a friend there to offer advice and moral support. 

I walked Joy around for a few minutes,  and once Joy figured out that the place was filled with other horses she settled right down.  

I lunged her for a bit.  She was “Up”  but sane. 

And then I got on… 

Yeah…  That’s Joy not giving a shit about anything,  acting like an old pro at all this.  

Ha! 

Best pony ever!! 

So we entered 2 walk/trot classes.  

This show didnt require show attire,  fuzzy show. 

I was on my own game plan.  Just having fun.  Weee! 

To my utter shock,  we won both the classes! Ha! 

What a fantastic pony. 

Oh,  and she loaded up like a dream and rode superbly to come home.  

Definitely a show pony in the making. 

I’m so thrilled with how well she did. 

Next weekend we have our first lesson.  I can’t wait!