Monday, February 25, 2013


Coming out of the dressage ring after forgetting the last part of the test, I headed Kat over to the cones arena. This is where Kat really shines and where he gets excited. He loves cones and *WE* have learned to keep a steady pace through the whole course to leave things standing. I say WE because I have had to learn to keep him under control and consistent, rather than letting him really extend in the longer stretches between cones. He really enjoys that and it is kinda fun, but we have to keep things under control because trying to reel him back in and line up for the next cone, is not always in his game plan of how it should go. He gets fussy, protests and we knock things down.

The course was fairly easy. Come in and make a long sweeping right circle going through 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 as you make your way back to the far side of the arena for #6 which was a multiple but a straight line of cones for weaving thru and spaced widely apart. Think pole bending here...  Cones 7-14 were a nice serpentine back across the middle of the arena and #15 was another multiple like #6 lining you up for the finish line.

Kat was not happy about waiting around for his turn to go, but I used the practice cones to pacify him and we walked through them, made figure 8's around and through them and we stood around a bit too. Because I had my cell phone in my back pocket and had to take a call, it was another good excuse to practice patience and let him just stand there. (As evidenced by Nuzzling Muzzles below)


My friend Liz commented about this being one of her favorite pictures of the day- me multi-tasking... I like how Kat is standing reasonably square, at attention and ready to go, yet one ear back on me. He knows what is up and what is coming, he was getting amped, but he still just stood there waiting patiently. Which is sorta ironic because as amped as Kat was and as wound up as he gets about the cones, he casually walked in across the arena as I saluted the judge and I had to push him a bit to get him to trot before crossing the starting line. Goofy pony!

Because of Brown Eyed Cowgirls posting about 'finishing her turns' in barrel racing, I have also learned to 'finish my cone' before looking to the next one. I have also learned to look where you want the horse to go- the Center of the cones every time and Never look back. I have gotten to the point where I don’t even look down at the cone as I go through them either. If you are going to wipe it out, looking back throws you off and you lose time setting up for the next cone. Sometimes it can throw you off enough- you 'lose' the next cone and have to look for it. Since cones are also timed, this can cause time penalties as well.

We did so well on the part about not looking back- I didn't know until later on in the day that we were double clear. No time penalties and no balls down. When the scores were posted, I also learned that we had the fastest time in Training Pony for the cones. We had a 2:44 on the course, followed by a 2:47, 2:53 and a 3:00 and since there was 3:20 allowed on course, we all came in safely under that.  My mind was in a fog that day because I missed the 2:47 and thought I had left a wider gap between us and the next horse, but that 2:47 happened to actually be a pony named Firecracker.  He is a mini that the owner recently measured and moved up since he was technically over height.

As crazy as it sounds, the minis often have faster times in the cones and hazards than horses. They are smaller and more compact so they are easier to line up, have more maneuverability and can really whip through things like nobody's business. Being so compact, the length of the whole horse & carriage gives them the advantage. Think about driving a school bus or even a full sized truck vs. driving a sports car like the BMW Z3.  Your turning radius is going to be a lot different, speeds through the turns different, braking time different... It really makes a big difference in the times.

After crossing the finish line, I let Kat go ahead and break into a nice canter. He loves it and enjoys it, so as long as he keeps his mind, I reward him with that. I only require of him that he slows back down and we exit at a slower pace.  If this is his reward now, I can't imagine what it will be when he gets to run through things at an upper level. Maybe he will be tired and the 'reward' he will be looking for is walking

Monday, February 18, 2013


In the morning we had Dressage and cones. We got over to the dressage arena and proceeded to warm up. Kat was a bit excited and my choice of going with the snaffle might not have been the best one, but we were there and that was that. 

I worked him on some big circles to the left and he was beginning to wind down some. As horses often do though, you change directions and they get wound up again. Kat was no exception, but he did work it off in a matter of 2-3 circles to the right. One halt, trot, halt and we were ready to go in. Sort of.

We did Test 4 and while walking it, I thought I had it down. Enter at A working trot and halt at X- we nailed it. (Or it felt that way at least.) Kat was straight, solid and I had hope! I was trying to let him have his head so he might not be fussy in the face. He halted through a walk and stood like a statue.

Working trot to C, track left, working trot to E. As we turned in front of the judge Kat was Da Bomb! He went straight up to the rail and turned so nicely... I was singing to him and heard the judge say "Good bend" as we made our turn. We drove our corner deep and made another graceful sweeping turn heading to E.

Forty meter circle at E. Still singing, I think I really started to let go and Kat was doing well. I had to remind myself again to LOOK UP! Look THROUGH your turns. The circle is a clock and look 3-4 numbers ahead...  This worked so well for me in the past- so I try to Keep Doing IT!  And as crazy as it is, I have to keep reminding myself of this. every. single. time. STOP LOOKING AT THE PONY. He isn't going anywhere without the cart and you...  Smile! Look where you want him to go.

Working trot to A walk to F, F to X free walk, working walk at X- I forgot to really let him go or even push him for this one. He was still a little on edge but the judge managed to see some of the freedom in his walk. It wasn't as good as he had done at home when we practiced in long lines, but things change and you work with the horse you have for the day.

X to H develop working trot, H to B- Bend to the right isn't as good as it could be lately.  Kat is always willing to go and our transition to the trot was good. I remember something in the notes about it, but not what specificly. I did have to take a hold of the right rein and pop him once with the left to get his attention and driving the corners deep again helped us both locate his brain, jump start it and get it back on the idea of what was going on.

Forty meter circle at B- we were both starting to relax. I let him go a little again, he was bent to the right enough for me, could have been better, but I wasn't going to worry about it. I was singing still and had to remind myself again- LOOK UP! Look through your turns, etc.

Working trot to A, working walk a to K, K to X free walk- I had a brain fart. I didn't ask for a free walk until there was almost no room left to do it. Kat was drifting a little and my mind was too.

Between X and M develop working trot.  M to E- Another solid upward transition. Kat was light and willing as usual. Good bend in the turns, drove the corners deep and I think we were both just looking to finish it off at this point.

Working trot E to B, B to A halt at X- Our turns were good, Kat was traveling straight, we went rail to rail, made our right turn at B and he decided he needed a good reminder of right bend again. I overshot the turn at A and we staggered our way to X a little wobbly.

Halt at X 3-5 seconds and back 2-4 steps- Kat stopped at X but felt as if he was going to step back. Since you want forward motion more, I pushed him one step forward. Bad move on my part, but I would rather that, than him anticipate what is next. We stood there, I counted One Appaloosa, cursed Sherry, laughed a little and called it good. I learned not to Tell Kat to back up because he will on his own until you send him forward. It won't be straight, it won't be pretty, but he will just go backwards on his own.

Working walk to G, Halt, salute and leave the arena at a working trot.  I drew a complete B.L.A.N.K! I couldn't rmember if we were supposed to walk or trot to G. We started off trotting, I slowed him to a walk for a few strides. I questioned it, we trotted a little more, slowed him down to a walk again right before G, halted and saluted and left the arena rolling my eyes. I could not be upset with Kat for my mistake at the end. I knew it would cost us, but that was all on me.

Overall our scores were a handful of 6's and 7's, an 8 for the second movement and two 4's, one for one of the walk portions where he broke gait twice and for the last movement when we should have been walking.

The bottom portion- collective scores were as follows-

Gaits- 7 Kat needed to be more consistent and steady in his gaits. Some days he is, other days he is not.
Impulsion- 6 needs to be thru the back more
Submission- 5 Kat was fussy in the bridle, which he is at times and it shows here...
Driver- 7 "Keep working in relationship. Lot of talent here."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ADT# 2- AJ

At the ADT in AJ this weekend, it was not exactly the weather we are known for in the Valley of the Sun as the Phoenix area is commonly called. The sun was peeking from behind the clouds if it wasn't hiding altogether. It was cold. It was breezy and it did sprinkle on us some too.  It was a bit chilly for the most part. In the morning I was sporting 3 shirts- a long sleeved thermal, a short sleeved shirt over that and a sweatshirt on top of that. It was ok, but later in the day, I grabbed my jacket and kept it on for the duration.

Although my hip was hurting and I had taken some ibuprofen, I had a LOT of walking to do. I'm not sure of the mileage for the day, but parking is over here, walk to the bulding where there is check in and bathrooms, walk out to where the dressage arena is set up- Enter at A and proceed to walk my dressage test, walk back across the grounds and over to the west end to the arena where cones was set up- walk the cones course. Then it was back across the grounds and out to the trailer...

Kat needed to be lunged. He was full of energy, had been cooped up all week and I just didn't feel like screwing around with him losing his mind. I threw his boots on and let him go. Little turkey just kind of jogged around like no big deal. Sure he kicked it up to a canter- tail in the air for half a lap and then back to just jogging along like no big deal. So I took him over to harness up. Kat stood like a champ and acted like he was eager to get moving. After getting everything on him I stepped back to take a few pictures of him. Alert, at attention and ready to roll!

A little blurry because he was throwing his head. He wanted to get going, not do a photo shoot.

For the surprise- I will be posting that soon to The Well Groomed Horse blog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Muddy Pony

Although I was and am hurting from my injury, I needed to drive Kat over the weekend. 1) the ADT is this Saturday and 2) I need to be sure he is in shape for the CDE next month. I know, it is going to be here before we know it! Dang where does time go?

Saturdy afternoon I hitched Kat up and we worked on a few things. Stopping is one, backing up is another one and he did both a lot better with the adjustments made to the bridle. How it all works this weekend in the dressage arena? Who knows! But we will find out one way or another, that's for sure...

Since the rain came down and washed the ADT out the previous weekend, there was still a big puddle out on the edge of the neighborhood along the side of the road where we normally go through to get into the desert and get Kat in shape.  We also had a bit of water in our back pasture because they were draining the CAP (Central Arizona Project) canal for routine maintenance, so they diverted it through the neighborhood irrigation system. Kat was a little lit and wanted to go, but he wasn't all that fond of spending time in the pasture dodging the water. so we moved out to the front pasture.

The neighbor has been irrigating our pasture in return for seeding and turning the cattle out on it. They have several head of Angus and a few Angus cross cows and steers. Our one lone heifer Betsy is out with them to keep her quiet, otherwise she is bawling night and day because she is lonely.  Kat and I routinely drive in the pasture With the cows. They mind their business and we go about ours, life is good. Occasionally we get a little close to each other, one of the steers may spark an interest and follow us, but the whip gets their attention and they lose interest quick moving on to grazing again while we go work somewhere else.

Since Kat was a little wound up already, we worked on walking on a loose rein, some softening work and moved into our trot-stop sets and did some strong trotting to let him get it out of his system.  A few times he tried bolting away because the neighbor was out working on the fence. When that didn't get him anywhere but scolded and feeling like a dork, he gave up on it. We stood and talked to the neighbor for a minute too. It was good for Kat to have to stand there and behave himself.

Finally he was relaxed and responsive so we headed out.  Kat was well behaved all the way out and when we hit the wide sandy path and the dirt, he still didn't need much encouragement to take off into a strong, ground covering trot. As we approached the puddle he did slow down a bit, gradually coming to a walk, then stopping before the water. He hesitated, looked at it and decided to move to the right and avoid it altogether. Why not try? It worked before...

A firm hold on the left rein and my whip on his right side blocked his exit route and with a sigh he stood to figure out the next plan of evasion. With a cluck kiss and a tap of the shaft of the whip on his hip, he went into the water with very little hesitation. We waded the whole length of the puddle and in the deepest part it was up to his knees. There were a few times that as his hoof came up out of the mud, I could hear a sucking sound as he lifted it.

As we reached the end of the puddle and the water became more and more shallow, Kat picked up a trot and started moving out. I think he was happy to be getting out of the water.  He was trotting along and I was praising him the whole way.  We made the corner and went along our way.

The real test came on the way back. Not only did we go through the same puddle again, and this time he went wading right in, but because of the CAP drainage, there was another puddle up ahead, but the water was also running alongside the road and heading right for us, to join up with the other puddle.  Kat trotted boldly forward until he realized there was water up ahead and it was coming our way.

It was shallow but wide and making its way slowly enough, but he still balked. I made him hold his position and before long he walked towards the water. There was one area where the water had made a Y and I headed him right up the little 'iland' part of it. From there is he went left, right or forward, he ended up in the water. He didn't have a chance to fight it. Again, he let out a sigh and went right in. This time he was comfortable picking up a trot in the water and as we neared the end of the small stream at the bigger puddle, he didn't hesitate or slow down at all.

Kat plowed right into the water at a trot and just kept on trucking along.  I was trying to contain my happiness and mostly keep the smile off my face for fear of eating some mud being flipped up the front of me from his hooves.  He is getting to the point of being a 'point and shoot' horse. Aim him where you want to go and let him.

I obviously couldn't take pics or get video of it, but it was a BLAST!  When we finally got home after walking all through the neighborhood, I slid off the cart to open the gate. While we were going through the neighborhood, Kat shook his head and slipped an ear out of the bridle. He stood patiently while I got off the cart, fixed things and got back on. When fiddling with the driveway gate, Kat shook and slipped both ears out of the bridle this time. I put it back on to get him over to where I unhook him. He stood like a champ while I snapped a few pictures of the aftermath of our adventure.

Although you can't really see it in the photos, he had a thin layer of mudd up the front of his back legs, down the back of his front legs and all along his belly. His socks are not exactly white either...

Looks like I may need some fenders on the cart... and the diamond mesh does nothing to keep the mud or water from splashing through

He's still got all four boots on!

Mud all up underneath. It was on everything.

And while I was snapping pics of the cart? Off went the bridle again. This time- all the way off. 

Clowns to the left of me


 Jokers to the right

But I'm stuck in the middle with you

Muddy legs

I Love my pony!