Sugar's First (short) Trail Ride (4)

Yesterday I rode Sugar and went for a short trail ride nearby. We (Gail and me) are hopefully going to take the horses out on a trail ride with the other equestrians soon. 

I feel like Sugar does better outside the arena than in and I love taking her out in the open fields to run around. I took her out yesterday to run around a little and than we went on a trail that I take when I go to the EQ center. I have very good control over her and she's been getting lighter in the reins for sure! She can go sharp turns and bends without a lot of pressure. I still need to get her rate my seat better like Ruby does really well. 

Anyway, on the trail Sugar sometimes brakes into a trot so I shut her down and let her know that was mistake. She likes to go go go, so I have to stop her when she does something without me asking her to. Ruby in her past life was a trail horse but Sugar isn't. I expected Sugar to be scared by a lot of things but she was pretty good about it all. The first spooky object we came to (a chunk of concrete) she put her nose down to investigate and than jumped back. So I moved her feet around it until we ended calmly and not a care in the world standing on it. The second spooky object we came to was park of a car hood. I expected her to spook at this and she did a little but not as much as I thought she would. I kept her feet moving around it and rested her on the car piece. I remember seeing Mrs. Fenwick with her horse Peppy riding by that and Peppy spooked a lot more than Sugar did. 

I didn't go too far with Sugar because I was by myself and didn't have a phone to call if anything bad happened so I turned back. But I felt very confident with Sugar's first-ish trail ride and could of made it to my grandma's house a hill over. But like I said I wasn't allowed to go far by myself with a horse who's hardly been on a trail ride before. 

Dentist/Vet (3)

Today Ruby and Sugar were scheduled for their vaccinations so I was to meet the vet at the stables. Jessie (the neighboring horse) and Ruby got their teeth floated as well, that was interesting to watch. 

The vet had his assistant with him (and his adorable dog!!) while they gave the shots and teeth.

 For giving the shots the vet showed me how there needed to be someone holding the horse while he gave the shot either from the neck or rump. He'd check the horse all over and also to see how the horse reacted from the different positions he walked around the horse. If the horse was nervous or tensed up when he walked behind him/her than he'd know the horse wouldn't like the needle and have a higher chance of striking or kicking. 

Floating the horses' teeth was more interesting. Both horses got anesthetic before the vet worked on their teeth. I have to admit though, it was pretty funny to see them looking drunk and staggering around, but also sad and pitiful. 

The vet showed me different files he used for the teeth. Jessie's teeth were pretty sharp and the vet showed us (Jessie's owner and me) where they rubbed and jabbed on her mouth from chewing. Jessie doesn't work in any way and is more of a pet so she hasn't had a bit in her mouth for I don't know how long. She's 14 years old and had something wrong in her leg in the past to where she couldn't carry a rider. It sounds like she's only had her teeth floated once which was a bad experience (past vet wasn't a good vet). But since Jessie only uses her teeth for mostly chewing and not in riding with a bit, it wasn't too bad. But some of her teeth were long a sharp! 

Ruby's teeth weren't as bad. She was very funny to watch though! After taking the anesthetic I watched Ruby to see how fast it would kick in. It was pretty fast! She started slowing down, dragging her feet and hanging her head. She could hardly walk and even standing looked like a lot of work. The funniest part was where she had her hind legs crossed and when she as led out she looked like she came out of a bar! Sugar was also funny prancing around in her paddock trying to figure out what we were doing with her pal.

While a few other horses got their vaccinations I groomed Ruby how was still half asleep and hosed Sugar down. After feeding the horses Ruby started waking up and walking around (thanks to some help of bossy Sugar). 

The vet said to give the horses a day off tomorrow so I won't be able to work them. I'm also doing lighter/less work on Ruby because she needs to gain more weight. Sugar on the other hand I have the day after tomorrow! I also have Rose the new horse I'm working so at least I won't be bored without Ruby ;)

Rose's Second Training (2)

Today I started with round penning Rose but only for a short while because she did it very well. The only thing I didn't like was she would come off the fence too much. 

I did desensitizing (rope and stick), backing (all methods), flexing from side to side, yielding the hindquarters (stage 1), lunging for respect stage 1 and a little of stage 2. 

She does backing very well expect for keeping straight. She seems to back a little sideways with her left hindquarter sticking out. 

Yielding the hindquarters she isn't the best on. She would try to back up which I was more or less able to fix in the end. And wouldn't keep her anchor foot still very well, I'd say that was pretty hard to get that foot to stay planted. 

Flexing from side to side;      Rose is lighter on one side more than she is on the other. Her bad side I'll be working especially on next time. 

Rose's Training (1)

Yesterday I got to work Rose for the first time. 

When I approached her to put the halter on, I acted like I didn't really care as if I was going to get to her or not. If I ran/walked straight to her or any horse like a predator would it's very likely the horse will be frightened off or run off anyway because the horse knows you want him (probably to work). I've learned this from Clinton, it's especially how to approach a horse I basically don't know.

I desensitized her with the rope and she did pretty well. Cody (her paddock mate) got in the way once in awhile, lol.

I took her to the round pen and desensitized her with the stick and string. I backed her up to see how well she did on that, and I think she did pretty good! I yielded her hindquarters, and I'd say it wasn't the best yield but it wasn't the worst either. I also flexed her neck from side to side. She didn't understand at first when I asked her and backed up or tried to turn around but she got the idea quickly and I was able to flex both sides pretty well. I wanted to see if she could lunge on the lunge line and found she was pretty bad with that. I also could see she had a lot of energy so I round penned her before doing anything else. 

She bolted off as soon as I asked her to move her feet and didn't save her energy with a nice slower lope but instead she was using her reactive side and started wearing herself out faster. I let her go a few times around and then asked her to turn. She didn't turn into the fence but she did hesitate but turned the right way. After that I kept changing her directions and she slowed down a lot and listening much better. After awhile of this I made sure to get in three to five really good turns before letting her come in. I let her rest for about six minutes in the middle with me and then we moved on. She was pretty tired and sweaty from the round penning so I didn't do too much on her after that. She was also nice, calm and listening to me. 

I yielded her hindquarters which is something we need to work on more. I backed her and then tried lunging her with the rope again. She's ether never done it or hasn't for a long time so I had to teach her. I had her going at a nice slow trot and working a little on lunging for respect stage 1. 

Rose is already a really well trained horse so she wasn't that hard at all. Just a few things she doesn't know like the yielding, lunging, flexing, sending ect. Backing she wasn't too bad at but it was a little lazy. 

Training on the Trails

Sugar has been my amazing new trail horse now! I've been training her from a arena horse (her whole life) to a first time trail horse. Let me just say that I can tell she loves being outside of the arena much more! Riding in the arena she'll once 'n awhile get grumpy after days straight of just the arena. She may be getting better in the arena but she's not enjoying and will show how she feels if she's always ridden in the arena (aka it's too dull for her). Early times with the horses I would not have understood how Sugar feels and will probably blame it on her and completely misunderstand her. Before, I never knew a horse could get bored of something or prefer doing certain things. 

For example; in the beginning of Sugar's trail riding experience, she's easier to handle in the arena but when I take her out on the trail it's like a completely different horse. She doesn't walk calmly, spooks at everything, not paying attention to me and keeping her eye on everything else. I would of thought "nope, she hates it, there's something wrong with her and she's way too dangerous to take out", in fact some early trainers who took her once said that same thing and gave up. But when I ride her out, she may be terrified but I can tell she's curious. It was hard for me to see that at the beginning because as she was curious, she was more thinking about running home. I've had a couple of really big ugly spooks with her, but I think we're over the worst. 

In fact I'm so used to controlling a spooky horse! I'm pretty comfortable when they spook and can end it pretty fast. I can act like it never happened which is really good to teach a horse. I also feel like I can stay on a horse. Because after all those spooks, bucking, or disrespectful horses...I've only fallen off once!! And that wasn't because of the horse at all. In fact I was riding bareback and I had lost my balance trotting (cantering is much easier than trotting bareback). So I kinda feel like I can stay on any horse, but I better not jinx myself. Okay enough bragging! ;P

Yesterday I rode Sugar on a short trail ride down to one of the creeks. I knew of a small secret trail I explored on foot a few years ago in fall and it was SO beautiful!! It was by the Sacramento river but when I rode Sugar there it was over grown with black berry bushes so I rode near by till I found an opening to a creek (a branch off from the river). 

I worked her up and down hills, ridges, ditches, logs and the creek. I dismounted by the creek and practiced sending by and in the creek. It was nice that she was sweaty and a little hot from the ride there because the creek felt nice to her to cool off. At first she avoided the water but then went in pretty fast. This is actually the first time she's been in water like this. I've taken Ruby to a lake and swam with her but this was Sugar's first time to experience water. After some groundwork I mounted and rode her in the water. She seemed hesitant going in the creek a certain way but went right away the other way. I only let her in up to her knees (I didn't feel like getting wet) but she was ready to go further. I'm really proud of her! I'm so glad we both love exploring!! 

She's going to be an amazing trail horse! I've been learning so much from her! I'm planning on going back and riding down the creek. I'll have to take my trail riding buddy, Amber with me too! 

And of course Sugar isn't a "perfect angel" yet, she always has spooks here and there. But each time I tell her and often prove to her if I can that there's nothing to be afraid of. If she hesitates a lot of crossing a ditch, I'll turn her around and make her cross it a couple of time until she's comfortable with it. If she spooks at something, I'll have her work around it until she's close enough ton touch it and will stand still dozing off. But it's harder if it's a moving "monster" like a deer or birds. So at the least I'll have her stop and face it. When we're at the stables and I see a bunch of deer I'll work my way up to them and now have her follow them. Now she doesn't get bothered by them very much anymore. She mostly get's nervous if she's not sure what it is or can't see it clearly. 

I have a new horse to train!

Last week I was asked to train a quarter horse using the Clinton Anderson Method.  I've taken care of feeding Rose and her paddock mate, Cody, when their owner Gary left on vacation. Now, Gary would like me to use some of the methods to help his horse Rose.

Cody (a Bay horse) has gone through the Fundamentals training method with Sarah (the trainer in Reno). Rose has not had any method training. Rose needs to learn respect and Gary and his wife would like to have a better trail riding experience with the horses.

My plan is to work Rose a few days a week. I will report on Rose's progress.