Friday, February 9, 2018

Still Rockin It!

After not having driven my little man since last May when I pulled him out and dusted him off 2 weeks before a drving event and decided, "Yeah, we could do this....." We pulled it off pretty well in spite of only having a few days of work in between rain and a lot of days slick footing to deal with. Little man wasn't totally on top of his game, but he never disappoints, because, well he just don't have it in him. 

In all honesty? I brought my cart home not long after that and haven't driven since. My little man has been living the life of retirement for the most part. I have been working with a friend of mine and her pony at the barn but still loving on him and my mare. But I miss driving, I miss taking my pony out and down the road. He's so easy to deal with and is pretty much 'Point and Shoot'. Obviously by the pic's I put the harness saddle and driving bridle on him the other night and worked him in the lines.  

Little man again- did not disappoint. He was Still Rockin' It! And the funny part? When I let him know I was about to ask for the stop, he was right there ON it. Slamming on the brakes, dropping his ass end a little and even sliding into the stop.  And while I might like that, I might think it's pretty cool.... In the driving world? No, no, no, no, no! It's frowned upon in a BIG way. If the horse slips and goes down, not only can the horse get hurt but the carriage can slam into them and it all goes south. So that's a pretty big deal of why not to do that. 

The funny thing was, there's this new family at the barn and while I was working my ponyman, I had a small audience. The guy was watching us work and noticed how I wasn't yelling "Ho!" repeatedly, (like he does) I wasn't being ignored by my pony (like he is by his horses) and I also wasn't pulling or hauling on the reins/bit to get those awesome stops, (yeah, you know what goes here).  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pic's or it didn't happen

I was able to get a few pictures of my Little Man today in the turnout. 

The weather has been cold (for us!) and everyone has been cooped up for the most part. He has always grown a pretty thick winter coat. 

I really like this pic

He really has a rather thick, stocky build for a little guy.
Look at how wide his back end is.

After unloading hay, I brought him in and put his boots on for a light workout.
Light because of the temps. I didn't want him sweating because rinsing was not an option. A few laps around....

Boots because overreaching is a thing with him.

Head shot cropped from another pic

He's still moving in a balanced frame and is uphill as much as he can be, for being built slightly downhill. 

Light work also because the round pen still has a wet spot. Plus he still has muscles in some spots and others not so much.

He is also still just a cute little bugger with a shit ton of personality.
One of the girls at the barn still can't believe he's 19 years old.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Stretching budgets

I had this post all finished and even published but then blogger ate it. WTH????? So here we go again....

My little ponyman finally gets his own stall bandages and Finn Tack No Bow leg wraps. You know, in case he gets injured or comes up lame or swollen or just because he's 19 and never needed them before but they're always good to have on hand, just in case...  both in Navy blue which is his new accessory color.

Since my little guy is a Small Pony and everything in pony size is still typically too big, I figured these would work great to make 4 wraps. The seams will be vertical on his rather than horizontal.

Fold the wrap in half to find the center and mark with a pin on both ends. Put it on the machine ready to stitch. 

I set my needle to the left and straight stitch across the wrap. Once this is done, I set the needle to the right And using the first row of stitching as a guide, stitch across the wrap again. 

This gives you a channel in which to cut the wraps in two. Both sides are stitched holding things together. You can see towards the bottom of the wrap on the left, the white stuff inside is showing. I will use this at the bottom when wrapping his legs, but to me it just doesn't quite have that finished look yet. 

If you have a Serger, you can finish the edges that way. I do not, so I set my machine to do the Zig-Zag stitch with the medium width of 3 of 5. I stitched along the edges of the wrap and the straight stitch. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end to hold everything in place. 

Repeat the process for the other wrap. Go back and trim any extra's or jagged edges off to clean things up. If you'd like to use Fray Check on the stitches, now would be a good time. There you have it. You're done!

Your pony now has a set of 4 wraps. I considered adding Velcro or 'touch tape' to hold these on and you certainly can do it, but since he also has navy blue bandages, I didn't feel the need.  If I change my mind later on, I can always go back and add it.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Good gone Bad

Because we ALL have those Oh Sh!t moments. Thankfully it looks like nobody was hurt- horses or humans.

The last one is driving so I posted it on this blog rather than TWGH.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Coming back

After not competing for 2 years, I dusted off my little old man and got him ready to show. Back in May, in two weeks....

Surprisingly enough? He did really well.  As in-> Well enough that I showed him in a simple ring snaffle, which hasn't happened in a really, really long time. That hasn't happened since I bought the mullen mouth butterfly bit for him at our very first CDE. I also had a rather loose connection with him thru the reins for a change. I don't remember Any remarks about letting him go, relaxing my grip on the reins or things like that, that plagued us in the comments all the times before.

The Houston driving club offers a different option for the CDE or HDT. They offer two ways to enter, Combined Training which is Dressage and Cones, or you can enter the whole thing, Dressage, Cones and the Marathon. They also narrowed it down to two days rather than three. Instead of doing Dressage- Friday, Marathon- Saturday and Cones on Sunday, you do your dressage test and then head directly over to cones on Saturday, then the marathon was on Sunday.

Since my little guy hasn't been doing a whole lot and I would mostly just be lunging and ground driving him for the two weeks leading up to the HDT, I opted to just go with competing in Combined Training. There was one other guy that did the same. For Pelim Single Pony, there were four other entries that did the HDT, competing both days. My competitive streak being long and wide, besides my curiosity getting the better of me too, I like to see how we compared to all of the entries in our respective class level.

In Dressage, our score was a straight up 73. Not great, but not abismal either. We have done better and we also could've done worse, so considering we had 2 weeks to really prepare, I'm not upset with those numbers. We didn't get eliminated so we were good. The other guy in our class scored a 59.43 so clearly he was more on his game that day.  The other 4 drivers each turned in scores of 65.50,  67.67,  76.33 and 76.50. If it were all 6 of us competing together, Kat and I would have been in 4th place.

Then came the cones course. Kat and I made our way over to the course, I ditched my apron before heading in to circle around and get a heads up of the course since I never got a chance to walk it. I had gone over it on the map and had everything up to 11 or 12 down fine so I just needed to look around at it before we started our time.  Cone 4 you had an option of taking one set closer or one set normally (we did the normal one) and cone 17 was also just set narrow. Although we weren't really lined up for 17 all that well, I brought Kat down to a trot, we curved this way and that and we managed to leave the balls up as we went thru, much to the surprise of everyone watching. Instead we had already knocked down a ball at cone 10. We haven't had any issues with time penalties once we moved up to Prelim and Kat made it abundantly clear how fast he can run.

With one ball down, we had 3 penalty points bringing our score up to 76. Everyone else had at least 3-4 balls down and or time penalties added to their scores. Going back for a look to see where we would have placed? After Saturdays two events, the other scores were-  70.43,  78.01,  78.67,  86.32,  and 88.50. The 70.43 was the other guy who also entered as Combined Training. So if I had entered both days, we would have been in first place going into the marathon on Sunday. Knowing my little man and how well he likes doing hazards too, I can only imagine our scores might have been well enough in line to have locked in our placing.

A friend of mine from the driving club had asked me how the competition here in Houston compared to competition there in Arizona. Since we were sitting pretty much middle of the road after dressage, I had considered it much the same as what we were up against there. Going back now for another look and seeing how there were more balls down and time penalties in cones, it seems our strong areas, might be able to pull us up in the standings as long as we get respectable scores in dressage.

This was also the first and only time my new man had gotten to see us in action. He was quite impressed at how quick we were and at ease we handled things, zipping around the course like it was nothing. Impressed enough with watching us in cones, that he totally forgot to take any pictures! lol He was more focused on just watching us go and with the judges and people there to reset the cones all taking notice, he was pretty proud of us too.  

I'm not sure what the club event schedule will look like for 2018, but I will be getting Kat back in shape and keeping him fit and ready to go, if there is a chance we may be able to enter one here or there and give it a whirl again. At 18 years old the little man can still Rock It! on a cones course. I think he enjoys the big circle we do afterwards to bring him back down before leaving the arena. Of course I praise him and tell him just how Badass he is while we go around slowing down. It's his very own Victory Lap.

Friday, September 8, 2017

It's Nothing Personal

A few weeks ago I took a couple horses out to a different public use arena. First off let me say that it is a quite Beautiful facility!  Covered arena that is worked quite regularly, wash racks, bleachers, a consession stand and even a playground. The horses and I had the place to ourselves the whole time too, which was beyond awesome.

I have been helping the one lady at the barn with her new filly and she told me to take her to the arena and put some miles on her to see how she would do in a new place. She loaded like a champ and was well behaved the entire time. Under saddle though she had some new quirks. Of course she stared hard at the watering contraption at the other end of the arena and gave it plenty of room in case it would jump out to get her, but soon she settled right down to walking past it and ignoring it altogether. She did really good warming up.

When it came time to work on our trotting and loping a new problem came up. She was fine going to the left, but to the right she would pop her left shoulder out and seemed to be evading the bit altogether. Then she would turn her head but not her body. She would not commit to the turn or stay on a circle. I brought it back down to a walk and  got things sorted out, she was relaxed and soft, giving to pressure and accepting my cues, but at the trot it all went south again.  I wasn't even going to try asking for a lope, especially since we are still working on picking up the right lead. Left is fine, right we have issues. I was riding her in my western saddle. I fixed things at a walk again while I cooled her out and put some thought into what was going on, why??? and How to fix it.

Then it came time to get on my OTTB mare. I would be riding her english and since she is much further along in her training, I would be able to sort out more of MY own issues.  We walked around the arena and she did give the sprinkler the stink eye, but igored it rather quickly. I was able to stretch my legs out and down, my arms up and out and found my right shoulder and neck had become really stiff and tight. This is common for me and has been an ongoing issue since back in the day when I rode my mare Tess.

When it came time to do some trot work, She had the same issue with popping her left shoulder out when going to the right.  That was one of those WTH??? moments. Thing is, riding the filly and her being smaller (13.1h), yes the shoulder was noticeable. Getting on my mare and her being so much bigger (15.3h), that just magnified the issue and made it all the more obvious that the problem was me.  I didn't get it sorted out for the day and it left me wondering what was going on and and how to figure out what to do to fix it?

The next day I rode my mare back at the barn. We did the same warm-up routine of big circles to help her stretch and loosen up while I did my own stretches to loosen up and relax. I thouht about the previous rides and thought about getting it right this time. When we started to trot, I remembered to breathe, I sat up and looked ahead at where I wanted to go. Then I asked my mare to trot as I picked up my diagonal and began to post.  I sat up straight and my mare traveled straight. That left me wondering why she hadn't been doing that the day before?  We had a good ride and my mare did really well.

As I untacked my horse and put things away, I looked at my western saddle. I remembered feeling like I had been reaching for my stirrups while riding so I decided to move them up a notch. One side was already up as high as it would go. The other side was on the second hole down. Well no wonder why my horses had been traveling 'crooked'! I was sitting crooked in the saddle, throwing everything off balance for them,  DUH!!!

Sometimes it is simple, minor things that cause us bigger issues. Fix the little things and the rest will follow. Also the size of the horse you're on can show you where your problems are too. The horses aren't blaming us, they are just doing what they are being asked so don't take it personally.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Discouraging discouragement

By the title of this post, I'm not trying to say that discouragement can be even more discourging. Don't get me wrong, it can. But what I'm trying to convey by the title of the post is to discourage yourself from getting into a funk of being discouraged when things seem to wobble or even fall apart a little.

There will be good days and not so good days when working your horse or pony. Things won't go anywhere near according to plan. At least not Your plans of what you were hoping to accomplish that day.

Since the pic's in the last post were taken, the woman at the barn has been on the filly a few times and while eveything was going really well, she mentioned to me after the last ride that there were some serious holes in the filly's training. Major holes. As in the size of holes you could drive a truck thru.

The filly is 3 y/o and hadn't hardly been touched. She is what trainers call a Clean Slate. Nothing to go back and undo, because they haven't been taught anything wrong or developed bad behavior because of it. This is good. She has been working the filly in long lines and getting on her afterwards to walk around a little and cool her out, work on leg yielding, softness and bending and somewhat reinforce some of what was worked on in the lines.

The first time getting on this filly, she stood there and didn't move. Bumping with legs, tugging the reins one way then the other, kissing, chirping and clucking to her all had no effect. She wasn't budging. I went in and led them around, but as soon as I let go and the filly realized it, she stopped. The next few rides she did start walking off on her own, then walked a little more freely, would turn beautifully and stop often of her own accord, but walked off again with little pressure. The last two rides, with a bit of stronger forward encouragement they did manage to get some trotting going on but it was short lived. That's when the holes were discovered.

While the flly is working on a rather loose rein with little or light contact and she is responding to light cues and quiet signals, she is not relaxing enough to drop her head or engaging her hind end to push up into the bridle. Since this filly is just starting out, her owner decided to go back to long line work only and fix everything to keep her working correctly. It would need to be done at some point so why wait and let things get worse before addressing it?

Is it discouraging that thngs were going so well and everything was progressing rapidly and all of a sudden they have to back up? Not really. Not if you let it be discouraging. By looking at it that way, that hiccups and bumps are to be expected, when they show up, then they can be addressed before things get worse. That's where the title comes in. Discouraging ourself from getting discouraged because things aren't still progressing at mach speed and have slowed to a snails pace at times. It happens. There will be days when we can't get it right in how we ask them to do something and if we do't ask them right, how are they supposed to know what we want to respond correctly? There will be days that they don't feel like it. They're cranky, stiff, maybe even sore ad irritable as a result. We all have our days. It's up to us to find something acceptable and good in their work and call it a day. There's plenty of time to work it out.