The Spotted Wonder

Monday, February 20, 2012

This weekend things FINALLY came together and I was able to make it out to the barn on Saturday morning.  And as soon as I got there I was sent out to purchase a tow chain as the trusty tractor decided to be not so trusty and break down.  Well, the search for a heavy duty tow chain was not fruitful, so an hour later I headed back to the barn to ride.

I started out with Bugsy.  I'll be honest, I was expecting to have a rather, uh, explosive pony under me.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  I did put him on the lunge line with side reins before I got on.  Let him play and get rid of the bucks that way.  Then when I got on, I had a very well mannered pony who was eager to get to work.  After having the last month off, I think he was very happy to be ridden again.  He gave me some beautiful trot work, and I was really able to push him forward into a very impulsive trot.  Then Bonnie had us work on some halt-back up-canter transitions.  At first, I wasn't being aggresive enough in my canter departs and so Bugsy was taking a few steps at the walk before cantering, rather than immediately cantering.  After a few tries, we started to get it.  Well I started to get it.  I'm really getting excited to show Bugsy this year, especially as we start adding these more difficult dressage movements.

Then it was time to tack up the Spotted Wonder.  He's starting to shed out, so I'm hopeful that maybe sometime soon I'll get him looking somewhat clean enough to take pictures.  I'm beginning to think I need to give him a little more credit.  He might not be as slow as I first thought.  Mentally at least, in terms of his actual speed when riding, well that's still s-l-o-o-o-o-w.  I got on and went right work on bending.  Lots of circles of varying sizes in both directions.  Mystic actually is starting to remember what I want from him.  He was bending through the entire length of his body and really trying not to drop the inside shoulder.  After about fifteen minutes we moved on to the trot and after a few circles he remember that he had to keep doing the same thing at the trot that he had been doing at the walk.

I have discovered that posting the trot on him is nearly impossible right now.  He's just too much work to keep going, let alone get a good trot out of when posting.  I really need to be able to sit down and push my seat and back into him to get a nice forward trot.  Of course the spurs also help with that as well.  I noticed that he was starting to become a lot more steady in the bridle.  He's not fussing with the bit as much or playing around with his head anymore.  He's still green so I'm not asking him for a lot in terms of a frame.  I keep contact with his mouth, but he's perfectly fine with going somewhat in front of the vertical at this stage in his training.  Plenty of time to ask him to come back and accept more contact in the future.

Next weekend I think I'll try him over fences for the first time.  I know he can be a rather enthusiastic jumper, so we'll see how that goes.  Mystic could turn out to be a fun eventing prospect this summer.  Maybe cross country will teach him to actually move.  Or I might just exhaust myself trying to get him to make time.  In the meantime, I think I'll stop at Luster's on Friday.  Seems like it's time for Mystic to get his own bridle and stop sharing Airy's.


In need of my pony fix

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Every winter I struggle with finding the motivation to ride.  It's cold and the weather just sucks.  The ponies all have way too much energy from being cooped up in their stalls.  And I find a lot of times I just don't want to ride.  This winter especially has been made even more difficult by the fact that Derrick's days off have been falling over the weekend recently.  When we get so little time together as it is between our work schedules, I admit I have been sacrificing barn time to be with him.  This past weekend however I was going to the barn.  I would ride and spend time with the ponies.  And then Saturday morning I woke up to snow.  Enough snow that my little Versa wasn't getting out of the driveway.  Damn you PA winters!  Next week though I will make it to the barn. 

So no real riding update, but I couple of things I wanted to share with you.  First this photo was shared with me the other day.  A friend of mine had a half arab colt that she purchased as a baby.  She showed him in halter and ended up selling him when she purchased her new Arabian gelding for Western Pleasure.  KC is now with Gordon Potts of The Brass Ring in Texas and is ready for the show ring.  KC looks amazing, and if anyone is interested in a young western pleasure horse I recommend taking a look at him. 

KC with Nikki in 2009
KC looking all grown up!

And I need to ask for some jingles for a blog friend.  Ashley over at The Process of Learning has been eagerly awaiting her mare Ella's foal.  Well baby arrived yesterday, but she's a little premature.  So everyone please send jingles her way.

Ella and Baby


Equine Bucket List

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Annie over at Eventing Nation wrote a post last night that really struck me.  She started by talking about an interview she heard were a gentleman was taking his life savings and a year to complete all the items on her bucket list.  It got her to think about her own equine (of course!) bucket list.  She then further challenged us to come up with our own.  Well Annie, I'm taking you up on that challenge. 

  •  Complete a long format three day event
  • Earn a USDF medal
  • Learn to drive
  • Ride a reining horse
  • Breed, raise, train and compete a foal
  • Go to Burghley and Badmiton
  • Train in Aiken for a winter
  • Ride a thoroughbred on the racetrack
  • Try combined driving
  • Spend a summer working for an upper level eventer
  • Learn to ride saddleseat
  • Learn to ride sidesaddle
I'm sure there's more that I can add to this list.  And I'm trying to keep it realistic.  I mean yeah I'd love to ride at Rolex, but let's be honest, that's not going to happen.  It's kinda fun to actually put this stuff down on paper (or well in type) and make a list I can check off.

So now I'm challenging you.  What's on your equine bucket list?


A Long Overdue Update

Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter has definitely settled in for western PA.  While we haven't yet had a bad winter, it has gotten cold and it's dark so early.  Unfortunately my time with the ponies has suffered because of it.  I just can't quite bear that much riding in the cold, especially since they all tend to feel pretty good in this weather.  Luckily over the past month or so I have gotten some good rides in.  And added some new ponies to the string.

The week between Christmas and New Year's saw me at the barn pretty often.  The nice thing about working for Pitt is we do shut down for winter recess that week.  So I was able to get out almost every day.  I had several very productive dressage rides on Bugsy.  Slowly but surely we are mastering this whole dressage thing.  And it's making more and more excited for show season to start.  I also had a ride or two on Kaye, which was a nice change.  Although it was very apparent that only the kids had been riding her for a while.  She was very stiff and all strung out.  And she was rather resistant to changing that at first.  But we did a lot of circles where I just dropped my outside rein and made her work entirely off the inside aids.  It worked, but she needs some occasional tune up after the kids.

Buggers got a sweet new pair of kicks, so he got a couple of days off.

Bugsy enjoying his pedicure
I love when Matt is home to shoe the horses.  First he does a hot shoeing, which I just like the fit of the shoes so much better.  And then second, he takes the time to do the job right.  Not that our other farrier isn't great too, Matt just really takes the time.  I tacked up Bugs when he first got there so he could watch him go.  See Bugsy has one front leg that is just a hair longer than the other, so if you trim his hooves identically then his stride is just the tiniest bit uneven.  But Matt watched me work him a bit and then pulled the old shoes and started trimming.  Then I worked him a bit more before the new shoes went on so Matt could evaluate his movement again.  Bugs felt great with the new trim!

Since Bugs got a mini vacation, it gave me some time to ride my own pony.  X was thrilled when I put him back to work.  And I mean work.  Ari's been riding him a lot lately.  And she does do a great job with him, but I've noticed he's been really resistant with his head when changing directions and I'm not entirely pleased with his canter.  So he got tacked up in the western saddle with draw reins and went back to school.  It was an enlightening experience for him.  Everytime I would ask him to change directions he would stick his head up in the air and to the outside.  And everytime he did that I would drop my outside rein and turn him in a small circle, making him bend and give in the head.  With some encouragement from the big boy spurs when necessary.  Eventually he figured it out.

Tired pony after school :)
Towards the end of the week Bonnie added a couple new horses to my string.  I got on Buddy for the first time.  And I have to say, he's a pretty cool little horse under saddle.  He hasn't really done any work at all in a couple of years, and that was evident in how quickly he tired.  But damn if hasn't forgotten a thing.  Typical arab he had to think about it the first time, but then once he got through that first time, it was like 'oh I remember how to do this.'  Of course I did feel like I was practically on the ground.  Slender, 14 hand Buddy is quite a change from rolly polly 16 hand Bugsy! First ride we didn't do too much, just some walk/trot, mainly so I could get used to him.  The second ride we did a little more.  We incorporated a lot of trot work and some cantering.  Again, he tired easily since he's so out of shape but he was a really good boy for it all.

Buddy after our first ride
And then the second new horse added to my string was Mystic.  You might remember Mystic from when Katie was riding him last year.  Well, he's kinda had a break for a while since Katie left the barn in August.  And actually a break was probably the best thing for him.  I tacked him up and lunged him a bit the first day before hoping on.  While he was very wild and full of go on the lunge, as soon as I got on him he turned into western pleasure pony.  Personally, I'd much rather ride a forward horse then one you have to make go all the time.  Did have to get after him with the whip a few times just to get him to move on, and then he was a little better.  The worst part though, was that he goes very much off the outside rein and hardly at all responds to the inside leg.  He really just wants to go around very stiffly, with little to no bend and just drop his inside should and fall around the turn.  Not acceptable!  That first day I just did a lot of circles with him, asking for the bend, making him do it right and hold that shoulder up.  Lots of changes in directions and I started to get him moving off my leg by asking him to spiral in and out of the circle.  Second ride on Mystic was much improved.  While he isn't the brightest bulb in the barn, Mystic can figure things out.  Something from our ride the day before must have stuck because he was a little more responsive.  Of course that also might have had something to do with the spurs I rode in.  :)  It was a lot of the same stuff from the first ride, lots of circles and changes in direction.  And I started to include some baby leg yields.  Anything really to get him moving off my inside leg and carrying himself properly off the inside aids rather than the outside aids that had been favored by his previous rider.  And he is actually learning and starting to change the way he carries himself.  I just foresee lots and lots and lots of circles in his future. 

Mystic waaaay over jumping the baby crossrail with Katie
Even here you can see he's not really bending
I'm really starting to get excited about the new year.  I've got a lot of horses to work with, and I'm planning to show as much as possible with Bugsy.  2012 is looking very good!