Saturday, July 28, 2018

Picking up where we left off...

After not being hitched for almost 5 months, I took my cart to the barn and put my little man to. How did he do, you ask? He rocked it of course!  What else would he do????

Obviously I didn't get any picks while driving so I will add those from ground driving a few nights ago.

Of course we started out walking on the lunge line. This allows him to loosen up before asking much more of him. Since all we were doing is long line work, he is only wearing the harness saddle. 

He has loosened up and is starting to overstep at the walk. After a few laps around like this is when I ask him to jog or trot. When he loosens up in the trot and there is a noticeable change in his gait, I will either let him stop or if he's feeling good, I will allow him to lope.  

He's sporting hs new boots... The blue string is baling twine holding the tugs to the saddle. This way if I ned to run the lines thu them, there isn't as much swing and the line stays close to his side. 
Now that he's in the lines, he tries to give me some grief. Because he's like that and he can. lol  While his head is up and he's not on the bit or in the bridle (on or behind the verticle), he is finding his balance and driving up under himself from behind. He is gaping at the mouth in protest as I start asking him to bend. We are back to doing long line work wearing the snaffle- in the beginning we switched away from this because he was putting his tongue over the bit. 

He has started to drive up under himself and lift his shoulders. not quite breaking over at the poll, yet, but he's getting there. 

And sometimes even when they are moving in balance, their head is up and their nose in front of the vertical. 

He's starting to reach out and extend and also soften his jaw and relax. Here he's in a nice woking trot. Soft in the bridle, relaxed and trucking along. We have stopped and changed direction, picking up the trot again. He is relaxed and forward again in a nice working trot. And he gets a little resistant again... fussing and trying to see what he can get away with, because he does this at times. Some horses and ponies do this all the time, where others try once or twice, give in and that's it. This is his way of expressing himself. My mare turns her head to the side and does this weird thing with her mouth. One of the things about working with horses is to recognize their subtleties. They all have these little ways of showing us they like or don't like something.  We as their owners or trainers need to learn what they are and when they do it. It can prevent a big mess later on. And within a stride or two he softens, giving to the bit and going forward again.  The head has come up a little again, but he's moving forward like he should. He's reaching up under himself and making use of the bell boots with the overreaching.  He's such a handsome little bugger.  😁And since we started out talking abut driving, it's only right that the post finishes on that. We did some walking, trotting and also loping, both directions of course. Our upward transitions were easy to get and the downward transitions came just as easily. I have always told my Little Man, "Bring it down to the trot" and he does it so effortlessly. Then I tell him "Easy" and he slows the jog, "Bring it down to the walk" and Boom! He gives it to me with nothing further.  A few soft whups and then whoooaaa and he shuts it Down. Most of the time I don't even get to the whoa because he has already shut it down. He knows it's coming next. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

More pics

Who doesn't like seeing a lot of good pics of a horse? When it's your own horse, they're even better. But when it's your horse that you've not only raised, but also trained- they're the best.

These are a bit blurry, but you can still see the lift, suspension and extension in his movement. I was lunging my little guy the other day and he was really moving like a little Rock Star. And I'm still always amazed by my Katman.




Bell boots are a must because he overreaches 

He's so goofy

Sadly enough, this was the last time he would wear his Roma open front jump boots. After 6 years of a lotta use, scubbing, an alteration to make them fit bettier and having the straps replaced twice- they have split up the back and are literally falling apart. Sadly enough since they are no longer available in white, I have to go with another brand. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

1000's of words

A picture is worth a thousand words and at the show there were obviously people taking pictures. People with their cell phones, people with their pro camera set ups, complete with an assortment of lenses. I managed to get a short clip of video of a couple with their pair of Friesians as they went cruising across the grass by the pond. I was hoping to get them at the canter but by the time I got the camera phone going I was only able to get the trot. They've shown in AZ before and their actually from Round Top.

The lady parked next to us had the only entry for Long Ears, a mini Donkey called Nick. Sally's friend Amy Wink a fellow driver, was there taking pictures and got a few of us. With her permission I share them here....

Nick with Kat in the bakground. Nick is clearly a mini and he is such a friendly little guy. 
I think this was before the ladies to drive class

This is one of my faves-

Always a clown

Between classes

Trying to entertain himself

Waiting for our class

Not sure which class this was

Can we focus? You know, Inside the ring... lol

Walk please...

Really not sure what we're doing here, but we were trotting at least.

And reverse 

Saving the best for last......

This pic is defiinitely going to be printed and framed if I ever get the chance 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pot O' Gold- Games

The show was to be a fun show and learning experience so they had a couple of cones classes and a 'Pleasure Drive/ Marathon' class, which turned out to be more of a Marthon Pace type of class.

Of course we entered these! That's a no brainer considering our past performances and how my little man loves games classes. There have been shows before, where we did okay or even tanked in the main ring, went out to the cones courses, taken our fustrations out on those and got it out of our system- winning those classes pretty easily and boosting our spirits again......

In a typical competition, they measure the widest part of your cart and depending on what level you're showing at- depends on how close the cones are set. Beginner/Training Level is set pretty wide and it is trotting only. As you move up to Prelim, Intermediate and Advanced- the cones are moved closer in and you're allowed to run. As an attempt to keep things fair for everyone, they limited us to trotting only and they did not measure our carts or move the cones at all. The cones were set at 2 meters wide and since my cart is just over 1 meter in width- I had plenty of room to work.

Fault and Out is just as it sounds. There was a course of 10 cones, you must take them in order in the right direction and you get 2 points per cone. You do the course until you knock down a ball. When you knock a ball down, you continue on thru the next cone where your time will stop. You will get points for the last cone. You are allowed 2 minutes and if you make it thru all 10, you start thru them again and keep going until your time runs out and they blow the whistle.

This was the course for Fault and Out. Kat & I made it thru the course once and started back thru it again. We were making the turn back around to line up for cone 7 when the whistle blew. At 2 points per cone, yeah we pretty much killed it. 

Your Route My Route is a bit more fun. Your Route is listed on the map.There are another 10 cones that must be taken in order, in the right direction. Once you go thru the last cone- It's game on! The portion for My Route- is open to interpretation. You have to go thru the 10 cones again, but... You can take them in any order, in any direction, but you can only go thru them each once. The start/finish line is 'live' the whole time, which means you go thru it to start and stop your time only and must be driven the right direction also.

Your Route My Route? Well I had a plan when I went in..... Coming out of cone 10, I thought I would circle around to the left picking off cones 7 & 6, going back across thru cone 4, down to cone 1 and 2. Make a hard left and get cone 8, change rein to make a right and go thru cone 9, another right to go get cone 3 and down to the rail, make a left and pick up cone 5 then left to finish with cone 10 and thru the finish line. 
What really happened? Coming off of cone 6, I went thru cone 9 instead of cone 4 because they were actually a bit closer together and I got a bit confused. (I blame it on our speed and driver error. lol) Thinking on the fly is something you have to be able to do in times like this so I figured I would 'flip' the order' of the two cones. I took 9 instead of 4 so where I would've taken 9- I took 4 instead and still picked them all up.  The Pleasure Drive/ Marathon class was more of a Hunter Pace. There is a course distance with an "Optimal Time" which is not disclosed. There was 2 'hazards' with 4 gates each that you had to go thru in the right order, in the right direction. Your job as the driver is to navigate the course from start to finish and try to come as close to the Optimal Time allowed. If you're going the right speed, you will hit it without issue.The correct 'speed' for ponies to be traveling was 12kph. I'm not sure what that works out to be for us and since I know we almost always get 'dinged' on time for being too fast, I decided to change it up some. There was a hill on the course and across the top of it as it went around the lake- the footing was not the best conditions. For this I allowed Katman to walk. Since it was up on the hill and pretty much right in the middle of the property, it was visible to all. Which meant that pretty much everybody seen us walking and when we got back in, there were plenty of people asking about it. We managed to stay in the ribbons and tied for 3rd. So how did we do? Well of course we smoked everything in the two cones classes. That was pretty much a given and came as expected. Trying to keep things fair by setting the cones wide, really wasn't all that fair in a way because for anyone who has done cones before- it made it hella easy to speed things up. It took off all the pressure of having to be a bit more accurate in leaving the balls up. While everyone else was doing a normal, working trot, we were doing a very extended trot almost the entire time. Kat did break gait and go into a canter a few times, but you are allowed 5 strides to get them back to a trot without being penelized. Fun fact- If driving a pair or multiples, if one horse  breaks gait but the other horse remains steady and trots the entire time, you don't get penelized.  Our efforts for the weekend got us 2 blue ribbons (1st place), 2 yellow ribbons (3rd) and 1 white ribbon (4th). Not a bad haul for a hella lot of fun. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pot O' Gold- ring classes

Last weekend I had several opportunities to get the photos for the next post of putting a horse to a cart, but since we were in a constant state of Hurry Up & Wait, they didn't happen. They will come, I promise. Just not yet for now.

Since the pony at the barn that I have been working with has been on a bit of a hiatus in her training, I dusted off the harness and worked on bringing my ponyman back into work. I mean, Pine Hill is in May again and who knows? We might be able to go..... At least this time I would be giving him a better chance at being in shape before we did it instead of 2 weeks to throw things together.

Kat is admittedly getting up there in years and after being asked by my man what the ratio of horse to human years is, we kind of agreed it is somewhere around 3 years to our 1. When you think about it, horses live to around 20-30 years and we humans live to around 70-80. If you multiply 20-30 years by 3 you get 60-90 years so we're somewhere in the ballpark.

With the little man aging, I keep thinking that at some point he is going to eventually slow down and is not going to be AS competitive as he has been. (I'm trying to be realistic people. Stick with me here.)  So we found an upcoming show and sent our entries in. Our number for the event? 19 just like his age. I didn't even make that connection until well into Sunday.... Doh!

Saturday we were entered in Turnout, Working, Reinsmanship and Ladies to drive. Turnout has never been our strong suit, just like dressage hasn't been in the CDE's or ADT's. It's important to know your limitations. We ribboned in Turnout, though the class was small. It was for modern carriages (metal) or traditional (wooden) and competition for either one was pretty tough. On to Working Pony and we did our best but did not pin in that or Ladies to Drive. Ribbons were only thru 4th and Ladies to drive had 12 entries. They split the class with mini and long ears going seperately from the ponies, horses and multiples (pairs or 4 up).

One of the judges comments to me in the lineup of the Turnout class was to watch the curb chain of the bit, that it doesn't pinch his lip when I use my reins and engage it. I had put him in the butterfly and used the curb setting for the reins since I thought he might be a bit fresh and I would need a little something more. Instead, during our break between Working and Ladies to Drive, I switched him back to the plain ring snaffle. With Reinsmanship being after the lunchbreak, we got to take about a 2 hour break.

Reinsmanship Pony was a pretty good sized class and after our rail work, we were given the instructions for our pattern. The judge likes to use simple patterns that focus on the basics. I have shown under her before and like she said, "It seperates the men from the boys. It might be simple, but if you haven't done your basics it will show now."

We were to come forward out of the line and go to the left to the rail, then follow it around behind the line up across the short side of the arena.  Coming down the long side, there was a pair of cones set up parallel with the rail on both sides of the arena and one pair set up in front of the judge. We were to make a small, two loop serpentine- left and go straight thru the first set of cones and across the arena, make a right coming thru the next set of cones, another right coming up the center line and stop with the ponies nose at the cones. We were to stand for a few seconds and establish the halt, then back 4 steps, halt, come forward the same 4 steps and halt and salute.

We did everything correctly until the reining back part. We did our 4 steps and halted and I saluted. As soon as I did it, I thought "Whooooops. Shit!" We did our 4 steps forward, halted and saluted again.  Yep, I blew that one! Hahahaha   Since there was plenty of time, the judge came thru the lineup and explained to each of us, things she seen where we could improve. "Part of the rein back, is to walk forward." Ummm, yeah....

When she had come to us, Kat decided he needed her attention. The moment she started speaking to us, he backed up so he could be near her and hear what she had to say. I asked him where he was going? The judge asked him where he was going? When I explained to her what he was doing, we all had a good laugh. Kat wanted the judge to explain things to Him. Because in his mind- "I've got this. Her back there in the cart? Yeah, I have no idea what's going on with that." As he rolls his eyes and shakes his head...

She placed us 4th in a good size class so I have no complaints.

Monday, March 5, 2018

In the works

I have a new post I'm working on with plenty of pictures, but it has been giving me issues. As soon as I get things worked out, it will be up.

Harnessing up

I was discussing driving with a good friend of mine, actuallly a blogger friend many of you may know- MiKael of Rising Rainbow. We were discussing the whole process of harnessing the horse and putting them to the cart. Obviously this gave me an idea for a blog post or a small series of them.

We were also discussing how at the first Darby I entered with Katman, I drove down the hill to find Gary G. and have him look over things for our safety check. That. poor. poor. man! I'm sure he had seen a lot of things up to that point, but I doubt he had any idea what he was about to see that day. There were only 3 things he didn't 'adjust' or reconfigure on my turnout. The first one being my bridle and reins and the second being the traces on the singletree and the third being the girth and tug straps. Every other buckle on that harness got undone and redone. This one taken up, that one let down. This strap unwrapped and rewrapped...

We had been driving since March and this was mid to late August so apparently we did it horribly wrong for a few months. Gary asked if Kat would be ok with him changing things up? Sure! Stupid me I sat there on the cart for a minute before jumping down to see what Gary was doing and How he was doing it. I mean what good was it for him to fix everything if I wasn't going to pay attention enough now to look at what was going on?

Let's start with the harness parts and putting them on. With harnessing up and putting the horse to a cart or carriage, it is always good to establish and have a routine. Harness parts go on and come off in order, straps and buckles are done and undone in order, that way nothing is 'missed'. I keep my harness in a footlocker. These are available for around $20 and the first one lasted about 5 years. As I take the harness parts off the pony and put it in, next time it comes out in the order needed to go on.

Yes I need to clean My harness and the box. That is getting done this week.

My reins and bridle are always in on top. Last to go in, first to come out. The $1 store has some over the door hooks that come with either 1 or 2 hooks. These are great because they are portable and don't cost a lot. I have extras for bridlles, long lines, halters, etc. and they don't break the bank. The single hook style is good for the bridle, the two hooks good for the reins. I hang these up while I put the rest of the harness on.

The part that goes around the girth area is actually called the harness saddle. The tugs are attached to this and the shafts of the cart go thru the tugs. I used pads to keep things clean so the saddle pad goes on followed by the saddle and crupper. I buckle the girth snug, but not tight. It doesn't need to be tight while I'm still putting everything else on. Then we need to fasten the crupper in place.

Yes Little Man has a lot of dapples going on.

Many of these have buckles on both sides, some have only one buckle and if yours doesn't have a buckle at all, it might be time for an upgrade. I do body wok with my horses and one of the things in this is pressure points under the tail. I do this and as they lift their tail, I can slip the crupper into place and let them relax as I buckle it.

Next out of the box is the breastcollar and traces. Before removing the breastcollar, I wrap my traces around the neck and tuck the ends in by the buckles. This keeps everything neat and makes putting it all on and taking it off, much quicker and easier. Holding the breastcollar with the actual breastcollar towards their side with the mane, I unsnap the lead where they are tied, slip the breastcollar and traces over their head, replace the snap tying them and slide everything down into place. As I turn the breastcollar, the mane will lay flat underneath. Hair rubbing the wrong way under tack is annoying to the horse.  

The next piece to go on is the breeching. This is fairly easy because it is rather lightweight. Set it up over the rump, slipping the backstrap thru the keepers to hold it in place. Pull the tail thru, over the breeching strap.

Your reins come next. Slide the bit ends thru the turrets, leaving enough to reach the bit. Then slip the very end under the backstrap. Take the rest of the reins and slip them thru the end of the rein under the loop. Pulling the end snug, holds it all in place. Last comes the bridle and buckling the reins to the bit. Now you're ready to put your horse/pony to the cart.