Trail Riders

Yesterday evening I went on a trail ride with Amber and her horse Athena. I rode Sugar and since I haven't been riding her in awhile I worked her a little in the morning before we went riding in the evening again. 

We started out on the opposite side of the trail instead of the side we usually take to change it up (the trail we took a loop). Sugar did very well and only spooked once at a deer who was laying down in the distance. But after that she did very well. Half the trail is hills that we go up and down on. This really helped Sugar with going up and down hills and through small ditches. In fact usually Athena (Amber's horse) does better but this time Sugar was basically calm the whole time and Athena was the one who came to a small problem. Athena seems to be getting a bit barn sour or buddy sour now. When we went down a hill she stopped and started backing up. She did this a few times along the trail because she didn't want to go. Apparently she does a lot worse when she's not with another horse.

Halfway through the loop on the trail we decided to check out the Sacramento river! So instead of going straight back we adventured along the river and found some beautiful places! It's so much more beautiful on horseback too. 

About 10 minutes before we got back Sugar started acting up all the sudden. At first I thought she just wanted to go home so bad. She started trotting at first and wouldn't stop and then zig zapping and shaking her head when I noticed how many mosquitoes there were. We all got them but Sugar got them the worst. Not only that but she is very sensitive to them as well. It got hard to keep her in control with traffic (we rode alongside a street to get back) and I didn't want to work her too hard so I ended up getting off of her and loosened her cinch to tell her she did a good job and so it's more comfortable. I felt bad for her, those bugs were really bothering her..

When we got back she was covered in bumps! I made sure to spray her down with bug spray, which I did before we went on the trail as well. But besides the last 10 minuets of mosquito attacks and the little spook at the beginning, she did amazing!! Even when we were riding to the river there were jack rabbits jumping close by and she didn't flinch. She spooks at unexpected things, mostly deer and birds when they suddenly all fly up. On the way back there were both and she only looked up at them. I'm so proud of her!

Spirit (13)

Today is the first day I rode Spirit (besides a little bit bareback). 

The past few weeks were very busy for me, so getting back into working every morning again was nice. But I definitely missed the busyness because most of it had to do with friends from Germany and France coming here to learn English and see America. And boy do I miss them being here...

I was also asked to work Cody (Rose's paddock mate) for a week before he's sold. 

I took Spirit to the arena and saddled her. She has a light weight saddle (but that saddle isn't very good) because she is smaller than an average horse. I did lunging for respect stage 1 with Spirit and practiced putting my foot in the stirrup, standing, mounting and dismounting. Then I actually mounted and flexed her neck from side to side. I didn't use a bridle because of the bit issue, in fact I'm not sure if she's had a bit in her mouth before or not. But I decided to do the first lessons with a halter and clip on reins since I didn't have a colt starting bridle. Although I did see a bridle in her barn, I didn't want to use it for two reasons; 1, it was a curb bit and I prefer a snaffle and 2, because I didn't want to worry about getting her used to a bit just yet. 

We did neck flexing first, then did some trotting. I did cruising with her at a trot and little at a canter. She still has a lot to learn but I know she'll be great! 

The next few times I'll work on a lot of cruising before I do more of steering her. 

Spirit's Training 2 (12)

Every day I've been working Spirit through the ground work. And for fun I even got on her bareback and worked a little on flexing, walked around and then got back off again.

Roundpenning:

Spirit is doing very well with the roundpenning! Her turns are very good! She pays attention and has hardly even complained (besides slowing down when she thinks it's time to be done). She doesn't quite follow me as much as I'd like her too but each time we finish she get's better and better. From just standing there to coming up and soon follow. 

Desensitizing:

Desensitizing to the lead rope and stick and string. I have to make sure I do this at least once (but twice would be better) every time I work with her. She has never been spooky but she always seems to flinch an inch a few times at the starting of desensitizing. It's the unexpected rope or string that is tossed over her back the first time that she flinches. The only time she moved around a lot in the beginning was 'whipping the ground' beside her. Now of course she doesn't care.

Yielding the Hindquarters, stage 1 and 2:

For the fist few lessons I did the roundpenning, desensitizing, backing up and yielding the hindquarters stage 1 before I went to stage 2. I wanted to make sure she was yielding right and all the way. The first day I got 1-2 steps, the next 3-4 steps and the next day I got her to yield a 360 on both sides. THEN I did stage 2! Which I did for the first time today. It took her about two or three faults before she got it down, yielded and faced me. 

Backing up:

I actually started backing up with her a little at the beginning before I did the rest in order. I did the first method, which is called; 'tap the air'. She is fast learner and is backing very well besides not backing straight (which I wouldn't even ask from her at this early stage). So far I've only done 'tap the air'.


So far those are the exercises I've done with Spirit.

 I've still got: 

Yielding the forequarters

Lunging for respect stage 1

Flexing the head and neck

Sending exercise 

Circle driving

Lunging for respect stage 2

Leading beside

Slap and walk, Helicopter exercise, Head shy exercise


I may have taught her 'Flexing the head and neck' before getting to that point. I got some of the training order mixed up but it worked out great! I thought it was going to be really hard to get her to flex and that's what she made me think at the starting when nothing was happening, but as soon as she flexed once she seemed to understand right away what I was asking for. So that means I'm releasing the pressure at the right time!


Spirit (11)

It's been going good with the new young mustang, Spirit (aka Snickers). The second lesson I had with her I did lunging but on the lunge line because someone else was using the round pen, and sadly there is only one. 

When I took her out in the arena I first went to the desensitizing with the stick and string, rope and a plastic bag. Snickers is much more of a calmer pony than I thought for her age (3 or 4 years old). Yeah she did spook some but not at all as much as I thought she would. She also calmed down pretty fast. 

I also did a little of a backing method with her. 'Tap the air' backing method to be exact. I was some what surprised on how fast she would try to get things down. I mean, she didn't know how to back very well at all (that's what I'd expect out of her) but I could tell she started understanding when I asked her. 

The hardest training that day with her is probably lunging. It took her awhile to understand that I wanted her to lunge in a circle around me. But I also think she didn't want to leave me either. I got a little frustrated with her at the beginning but I kept it up till she knew what to do. After she started getting it down. I didn't have much time to spend with her but the next lesson with her I want to work on yielding her hindquarters. 

So I have;

Round penning

Lunging for respect stage 1

Backing

Desensitizing

and Yielding the hindquarters


And so far this is just the second day with her. She is the sweetest pony ever!


Morning Work (10)

I have mentioned before about a young mustang pony I've been dying to work with. Her name is Spirit and she is about 3 or 4 years old. Had very little training and ridden hardly ever so this will be my kind of challenge. She is also smaller so I thought she would make a great first green horse to work with. But now that I've been working with horses a lot I don't care too much about the size.

Spirit's secret nickname (don't tell her owners!) is Snickers. I'll call her that for now on because it suits her better! XD

I was going to work with Snickers today but her owner forgot to leave a key for me so I have to wait again. I am so glad it's all planned out though! She's a pretty green horse from what I heard so I can't wait to see if I can make a difference! 

I've been asked to work with Rose and work on especially the flexing the neck. She can do it really good on the ground and okay in the saddle. One of the biggest problems is that she keeps walking off right away so I'll be working on that the next time. Yesterday we did a lot of flexing and today we were going to do more but she had something bothering one of her eyes. Rose kept tossing her head and I noticed her eye was very watery and hardly opened. I ended up taking the saddle off and putting her away after cleaning her eye as much as I could. I didn't have anything at the moment to put on but I told her owner. 

I did however take Sugar out. I worked on lunging for respect, backing, yielding and sending for the ground work. Then I worked a lot on teaching her how to rate my seat under saddle. I also did fallow the fence, a little cruising and softening her turns. At the very end I rode her out and went down a street for a little way at a walk. She get's scared of objects, sounds and feels trapped so getting her on a little calm ride was very pleasant. One of the best things about riding on a street is the *click click click* of the hoofs. I think I might end every session like that because I know it will calm her down. 

About That Day (9)

The past two days I didn't ride/work or see the horses because we had company for the 4th of July. But the day before they came I worked both horses from early morning till a little past noon (besides cleaning stalls). I haven't worked Ruby as much as Sugar partly because she had a shoulder issue. That day her health was fine and I did a lot of ground work;

Desensitizing

Lunging for respect stage 1 and 2

Backing (most methods)

Sending

Circle driving

and a little of yielding hindquarters and forequarters.

Starting the lunging with Ruby I did after desensitizing her and saddling her. I knew she would have a little bit of an attitude because she hasn't been worked recently. I've noticed that lunging for respect stage 2 is where she (or any horse who already knows it) would show the most kinks. She did buck a little when I asked her to change directions. This is almost the only time she would toss her head, kick or buck (Ruby isn't dangerous :P).

I rode her as well. She does her stops much better than Sugar does and rates my seat okay. But she doesn't keep her gait the same steady pace as Sugar does. She often slows or speeds and most often takes a gait down. So I need to work with her on that.  

Sugar I did the same training. Except with her I did a little more. I love Sugar's long smooth gaits and she never changes it, slows down or speeds up unless I ask her. She doesn't stop very well and that is probably on the top list of things I need to work with her on. I also did the obstacle course with her too. As far as fear goes Sugar is doing amazing. I still need to work on my lining up with jumps or obstacles and when to keep my feet still. 


For fun and for training (but mostly for fun) I stood on the horses. I also can lay down on them and jump or slip off them from any side of their body. This helps the horses with trust and desensitizing. Whipping the ground and walking around the horses while they stood there is also great desensitizing. I just need a bull whip now! Man can those things make noise! 

Summer Heat! (8)

It's so hot now these days! I've been gone camping last week so I recently got back to blazing hot weather. It's 112 degrees that week and this week. I didn't get to hang out with the horses since I was gone camping but now since I'm back I'm ready to go! 

The early mornings are the coolest times of the day so that's when I'll go down to ride for the first time since I came back from camping (it seems like weeks since I rode, but only about 4 days). 

While I was gone the girls got new shoes AND water misters! I went down to clean the paddock and say hello to the horses the other day and got to stand under the nice cool misters with the horses. It definitely makes a difference! I didn't even mind when I saw that Sugar rolled after she got wet and ruined the perfectly clean horse I made her into a couple of days ago. 

I am planning on swimming with them too since it's getting hotter. Unfortunately the spot Amber and I picked doesn't have any shade at all...   We might find another place that's equally good but with shade there or at least near by. It get's to be a desert out here!

Trail rides will be fun too! There are some trails I'm not interested enough to go on because of how hot the sun gets on the trail. I like ones with lots of shade or near the water. I'm glad we have our rivers, lakes, pools, and creeks (ponds and streams are usually dried out if they're seasonal). 

I've been talking so much about the heat, but one partly good thing comes out of it. Horses are more lazy in the summertime heat so trail rides are going to be easier to train them on. Although I wouldn't get to gallop them as much...

Adventuring (7)

Yesterday I rode Sugar along with a friend (Amber) and her horse, Athena. Gail and I are trying to get both Ruby and Sugar out on the trail more. Last Sunday I rode with Amber and Gail on a really cool trail! 

My last ride with Sugar yesterday was interesting. I came down a little late so I fed Ruby and took Sugar and saddled her. I didn't do groundwork because I was already late. Then Amber and I rode out together to my grandma's house by going through the hills and woods. It was a shorter ride because I didn't have time for a longer ride. 

Sugar had been eating alfalfa and in general had some energy in her. I did some work on the trail with her but not enough as I should have. Especially since she's very new to trail riding. We were almost to my grandma's house, in between two steep hills behind my grandparents' house where it meets up to the main street. I was have Sugar go in circles before taking her around a gate when a neighbor's dogs started barking. In general Sugar is fine with dogs but she was in a jumpy mind and the sound of the dogs and couldn't see them spooked her. She felt trapped between the hills and decided to the crazy thing of running up the steepest park of the hill (which I didn't know she could do). She scared me to death, I was so surprised and was afraid of her slipping and rolling down the hill. She did slip a lot on her knees but I turned her back down and was able to make it to the bottom without any of us falling or getting injured. I then got off her and started moving her feet back, forward, left and right. I did mostly sending and backing. I worked her on the ground around the gate, up the little hill, onto the main street where it was even scarier for her because of all the houses, people, cars, sounds ect. She's never been or showed signs of been scared of vehicles of any kind and as I worked her down the street the results were amazing. She calmed down very fast and was had her focus on me. Only at the starting did she keep trying to run into my space ( I had her back out of my space immediately). I did the sending exercise down the street with ease and the best part of it was that there were dogs barking on all sides and she didn't care a bit about them. When we got to our grandparents I let her rest and desensitized her. I loved how it all turned out! 

Sugar only spooked slightly when she saw some children come running out to play. I want her to get used to that. Children especially she get's scared of because they are always coming out of the middle of no where and are usually yelling or on fast bikes that make Sugar jump. I'm glad they're there! She needs to get used to that, being a arena horse her whole life. 

Only Three Days With Shelbi (6)

So I had three days with Shelbi to work with her on the horses. Sadly she is now gone...;(

The first day we worked on the obstacle course, ground work and trail riding. The second day we did ground work, obstacle course and instead of trail riding we had fun finding obstacles to ride the horses on around the EQ center. And we found a lot! It was like a playground that I never knew was there! We rode them up and down ditches and mounds, around trees, around scary objects like metal junk and giant trash dumpsters and lastly out into my favorite field to ride in. In the field we worked on stops, backing, cruising (all gaits), yielding and more. 

The last day we did the obstacle course again and practiced some of the same things we did the day before. We also went trail riding and worked them on the trails. We rode by the water side to look for a good place for another day to work the horses in. 

I'll talk a little more about the obstacle course.  

Shelbi is back! (5)

Shelbi is back! 

Shelbi (Clinton Anderson Ambassador) came out for a few days and I'm so happy to work with her again! She's helping with the horses for three days and today was the first day. Our goal (Gail's and mine) was to get the girls to be trail horses, but the delay was mostly of our not  knowing how to fix and teach the horses as well as some problems the horses had. 

Ruby's problem;

Ruby in her past years was a trail horse and as far as obstacles and spooky things she's fine. She's not scared of anything on the trail and mostly has no problem staying at a walk. But she's VERY barn sour and buddy sour. It's hard to get her to leave the paddock/barn area where she knows the other horses and rest/food is. Her past owner always trailered her up and trail rides somewhere else so she had no barn to run back to. 


Sugar's problem;

Sugar is almost the opposite from Ruby. She doesn't have too much of a barn sour issue but she's never been a trail horse herself. Her past owner had her as a arena horse. So her problem was mostly spooky things on the trail and staying at a nice clam walk. But what I've noticed with her was that she actually likes being outside the arena much more! As do I


What we worked on;

This wasn't a private lesson with me, Shelbi was to train the horse she rode and I do the other one. She helped me of course but it wasn't focused on getting on me. We saddled them first, I took Ruby and Shelbi took Sugar. I asked about the obstacle course, so after a little of the ground work we went to work them though the obstacles. 

Debbie and Gary were out to go trail riding with their horses so we ended up on the trail with them. The whole time we worked the girls on the trail. Sometimes I had Ruby trot to encourage her but for most of the ride she didn't like being in the front because she likes being near and behind the others. She also learned she couldn't go back so if we were ever too far behind she quickly caught up, not wanting to be left behind. 

Sugar was doing pretty good too. She was curious about everything but willing to go. Shelbi had her working a lot of the time, going in circles, backing, stopping, trotting and loping.