Friday, April 26, 2013

Down time

While Kat is enjoying his time off, I have been riding my WB mare and getting her going under saddle. She was ridden as a 3y/o at a clinic and been a broodie for the most part since. Bringing a 13y/o mare along is fun, has it's challenges and also the same rewards of any age horse really.

I am posting about it on my other blog- The Well Groomed Horse  Join us in the journey from broodie to show horse as I prepare her to finally go in the ring under saddle...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Refresher course

Since Kat has had the last two weeks off and then a twist in a string of events kept me from riding my mare on Sunday, I pulled him out and decided to drive. We would just tootle around the pasture, nothing big, just an easy workout. I went with the snaffle and figured we would work on walking, bending and just keeping things relaxed for the most part.

Kat was his normal, calm and quiet self while I brushed him off and he did try slipping under the rail once or twice before I harnessed up. I almost forgot to put his boots on, but grabbed them and slipped them on, put him to and we were ready to go. I climbed into the cart; we went out back and started walking. We did some big circles, smaller circles, serpentines, stopped and walked off a few times and everything was good so we headed out into the big pasture with the cows. Yes we drive in the pasture with the neighbor’s cows and Betsy. We give them room and everyone is good.

Best laid plans, good intentions and all those happy thoughts went right out the window as soon as I asked for a trot. Kat was walking nice enough, but now that we were trotting he wanted to speed up and even canter. Um, NO! I had to bring him back down to a walk and then ask for a trot again and he was still fussing in the bridle and being a little twit. I couldn't just let him run and blow off steam, but I also couldn't get after him too much either for having that extra steam.

We trotted circles, we made a somewhat cloverleaf pattern in the pasture and we trotted down the centerline. There were a lot of change of direction and asking for bend, then change again and go back to bending the other way. Before long, Kat kept offering to stop. He was quitting on me, but if I tried letting up on the reins he tried taking off again and would speed up.

From here it will be back to ground driving and long line work in the snaffle again. Let him work out his own issues without the interference of the cart shafts, me and anything else anyone can think of to blame it on. Another part of the issue is that he is a stallion, it is spring and the mares are all in heat or will be. Expecting him to focus - he should be able to, but there are still times that nature takes over and he has his mind on other things. I'm not excusing his behavior for this, but rather pointing it out to keep it in mind that this is why he may not be responding like he should. If it gets in the way too much, too often- I don't have a problem calling the vet out to take care of that. Good stallions often make awesome geldings.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

All said and done

This part of the CDE is not something I have shared with very many people yet. It was beyond awesome and with all things considered leading up to the CDE and the whole weekend in general- I was beyond thrilled for things to end on such a high note.

I have a lot into this- time, effort, (not so much on the blood, but...) sweat and tears, talking to people and asking questions on how to improve- several DUH! & A-HA! moments along the way, money, travel, etc. and things are not only looking up, but it seems they are about to get a whole lot better... and more challenging, possibly difficult and more than likely tougher at times too.

As the names were called and we each drove forward to accept our ribbons, the gentleman handing them out asked if Kat was a Welsh or at least a cross. When I answered that he is, he told me he thought so, "because typical of the Welsh attitude- Kat had something to say about everything".  He also told me he thought he was a very nice pony and he enjoyed watching our performance in the cones.

I talked to Gary later on back at the barn and was quite thrilled with what I heard. He told me- "Keep working with him and move up to Prelim. He is ready for it and so are you. Besides, the times in the hazards would count, you would be doing the water hazard- you are obviously ready for that-  Move him up."  I am pretty sure I had a huge, stupid looking grin on my face about then. Wow. Okay then...

Later as I helped my friend put her horse to the cart for her cones performance, she too told me to move him up. I told her that Gary had just said the same thing and she said "He's right. You guys are ready for it. He is a lovely pony and has such beautiful movement and he will just get even better." Now I had two well respected opinions and 'votes' to move him up to Prelim.  

After returning to the barn to gather things up, then walking over to the tent area- which was still covered in mud and slippery, sloppy and buzzing with people... I ran into another club member Jim. He is our course designer and judge for the cones portion of the ADT's and he also helps out with the hazards at the events. He is/was an approved ADS judge and a very knowledgeable horseman as well as driver. "My friends and I were seated in the tent and talking about how much we like your pony and how nice he looks in harness." 

That not only blew me away, but it had my mind racing wildly for a minute or two before I could find the words to thank him and let him know how much it meant to me to hear him say that. I'm not sure who his friends were, but knowing Jim, they too were likely well respected and knowledgeable drivers.

I had such a great time at the event, playing in the mud with both the truck and the pony/cart, then to have moved up from 4th to 3rd, posting a quick time in cones going double clear and getting not just one, but three compliments on everything... Yes at one point I was literally jumping up and down playing in the mud like a little kid.  It has been an adventure and the adventure is far from being over.

We will be moving up to Prelim, but for the most part- Kat is getting the summer off. I will still be working him and driving him, posting pics of him when I can, so don't worry about that. The two upcoming ADT's are about 2 1/2 hours away (one south- the other north) so we will be skipping them both. The last two ADT's to finish out the year- Paulden in the fall and Dale Creek in November- we will stay at training level while working on getting things right for the switch next year.

If we make the Grass Ridge CDE in October, I will look long and hard at how he is doing before sending our entries in. Worst case? We tank miserably in dressage and knock it out in the marathon and cones, maybe moving up a placing or two...  or 'E' out altogether with a big donation to the club and ADS. Who knows where it will go, but at least we will give it a shot and do our best.

Monday, April 1, 2013


With cones on the last day, they run the order of entries from last place to first. By moving up one placing in the standings we were scheduled to go right in the middle and then after that you wait around and they bring all of the training level entries (VSE, pony, horse, pairs, etc.) back into the ring to hand out the ribbons.

Our warm up was done out in the muddy area and the vet check- OTM (on the move) was done in the squishy, rutted grass of the holding area. Because the footing was so bad in there, I wasn't pushing him to do much more than expected and even at that, our circles were not all that great. He was sound though and there was no stiffness or soreness from his effort the day before so we were good to go. Watching the one gentleman in our class- he took a slightly different route in the cones and I believe he might have been the fastest on the course for the day. He did it in 3:24 with no time penalties, no balls down.

When it was our turn, Kat and I went in and knocked it out. There were a few places that the grass was deeply rutted crossing our intended route and again, Kat became a jumper as well as a driving pony and bounced his way around the course. He tried a few times to break into a canter and quickly brought it back down with a few words of discouragement from me. That could wait until we were done and he knows it. As usual we flew thru the cones and it was over before you know it. We flashed through the finish line and Kat loped towards the gate out of the arena. He had been whinnying his way through the course, but it wasn't as much or as loudly as he had done in dressage. For our efforts, we were double clear- no balls down, no time penalties.

Standing around waiting for the rest of the training level ponies, then horses to go, Kat was getting antsy. He wanted to do something. I took him out back to the warm up area and let him run. He made several laps going one direction, then several more going the other direction... As long as he didn't get too racy or stupid on me, he could keep going. He wasn't tired or worn out, but he was a lot more relaxed when I slowed him down to the trot again. Little man has got some serious staying power, since most of the other ponies and horses were happy to be standing around and resting for the most part.

Later I checked the scores and we were 2nd fastest for training level, single pony in the cones. We had done it in 3:44. The other times in our division were 3:47, 3:48 and 4:00. We had locked in our 3rd place position overall.