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.

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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…

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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! 

May is Here

The start of the show season, the end of the snow, the beginnings of a new summer of possibilities!20170428_230511

I love May!

I’m taking Joy to her very first show May 6th. This is a local, open show. Not a dressage show.

This will be “the test”. She did well with hauling to the neighbors house. How will she do in a completely new environment? I have no idea.

 

Side note: I haven’t taken a horse to a show since 2014. Three years! Guess how many of my show breeches fit?

That’s right, NONE!!

Tubby rider definitely needs to lose weight.

giphy

 

Then, on May 13th, I have my VERY FIRST LESSON in three (3) years!!

Count them… THREE YEARS!!

WOO HOO!

I’m so excited.

giphy1

 

 

 

I am such a massive chicken

The plan was to haul Joy to the neighbors house,  ride around,  and haul home.  

I hadn’t even gotten Joy to the trailer and I was a nervous wreck.  Rapid heart beat,  sweaty palms,  can’t catch my breath…

Joy walks right in the trailer,  but then won’t stay in the trailer.  I work with her for a while and finally she’s at least stopping instead of bolting out the back. 

Hubby walks by to ask what’s the hang up.  

I tell him maybe we should call it off.  Forget the whole thing…. 

He calls me a wuss and tells me to get the pony in there and go.  

I clip Joy in. 

No one dies. 

Pony is secured, and doors are shut. 

We headed off around the block and then to the neighbors house.  Joy was riding calmly in the trailer.  

We parked in the neighbors driveway while her horses screamed and ran around right next to the trailer.  Joy hollered back.  She seemed very tense. I was very tense. 

Actually, I was a nervous wreck.  

I unloaded Joy (she was very good).  

I tied her to the trailer (she was excellent). 

No problems tacking up.  No issues bridling her.  She was fantastic.  

I rode her out to the back field by herself. Did some trot work.  We even cantered a short bit.  

Joy was awesome! 

 Got back to the trailer and tied Joy up for a bit.  She stood calmly while we talked to the neighbor. 

And then we loaded Joy up again,  drove around the block,  and went home. 

Whew! 

That went so much better than i had hoped.  

So,  next goal..  local open show in two weeks.  We’ll take Joy and see how she handles that.  

Progress!  Woot! 

Owner needs to get a grip. 😂 😂 

Our First Haul

I have 2 versions of this story for you. 

My version: 

I was determined to get Joy in a moving trailer this weekend.  Here’s the post for our only other hauling experience together. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Joy. We’ve worked really hard to make Joy as comfortable and relaxed as possible in the trailer,  but…  I was nervous how she would react  

She loaded up easily,  as usual.   I clipped her in and closed the divider.  Normally I dont do this, but no problems. Joy stood patiently.  I shut the rear door,  which I’ve only done once before. Joy was a touch nervous,  but no major issues. A few half hearted, nervous,  paws and that was all. 

We jump in the truck and head out… 

The last haul with Joy,  the one where we brought her home and my only time hauling Joy… by the time we were half a mile down the road,  Joy was climbing the walls and attacking the window with her front feet.  

This haul,  I must’ve held my breath for at least 5 minutes just waiting for the explosion.  We drove…  Joy stood there curiously looking out the window.  We drove some more…  Joy looked almost comfortable.  Some shifting around and she was very alertly looking out the window, but absolutely no hysteonics.  All four feet on the ground.  No flinging herself against walls.  She rode almost like a seasoned veteran.  

Who’s horse is this?! 

I think I started breathing again at this point. 

We only went around the block with her.  A short ride.  Two large pick up trucks passed us,  and I could hear a bit of scramble behind but nothing major. 

When we pulled back into the yard,  Ava and Jessie were screaming their fool heads off and racing up and down the pasture.  I could hear Joy answering them,  but still no major freak outs.  Just yelling back to her friends.  

I opened the trailer up and unlatched Joy,  but asked her to stand in the trailer for a moment while I fed her carrots and made a fuss over her.  She complied.  Then I unloaded her,  which she did calmly,  and let her graze a moment. 

Then I asked her to load again..  I honestly didn’t expect she would,  but she hopped right back in.  

Woo Hoo!!! 

The pony trailers!!!!! 

We’re going for another haul tomorrow,  slightly longer,  to hopefully get another positive experience under her belt.  

Then i can start planning out where her first outing will be.  

I’m so relieved.  This went so much better than I feared it would go (I’m a worry-wort,  worst case scenario dreader.  She probably would’ve been fine long, long before this). 

*******

Grainy pic of our trailer cam. I circled Joy in red. Taking this picture broke the feed,  so we went sans video for half the trip. 


Hubby’s version:

Joy was so thankful to finally be leaving the evil “She Beast”,  Ava, that she didn’t care where she was going. Joy was just happy to be leaving. Joy knew anywhere the evil mare wasn’t at was a good place. 

When Joy realized that her trip had taken her right back to the pit of hell she thought she’d escaped,  she screamed “Nooooo!!”  over and over.  

Eventually her owner came and pulled her off the trailer.  Only to lead her back into the jaws of the evil black mare.  

The End