Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Our time riding in the Buck clinic.

Our time riding in the Buck clinic.
Our photo that was used as part of the art display titled "I'm here for the Horse."

For our 10 year anniversary last year my Husband gave me a great gift, riding in a Buck clinic with Opal.  I spent the last year working on things I felt I needed to improve on her, while trying to balance home life and my increasingly busy training schedule here at the barn.

Well, the time has come and gone, we have attended and returned from the clinic.  Yesterday I don't think I fully came out of my vegetative state until 5pm, I was exhausted, so was Opal.  I found her laying down and eating her breakfast.  

This is going to be long since I took notes and typed up my thoughts each day.   Here we go.

 Loaded up and ready to go!

Buck clinic

Thursday night arrival musings.

Well, we made it here. Rig pulled smoothly. Put shipping boots on all 4 of Opal's legs. She wanted nothing to do with the hind after a mile down the road, I took them off. 😑 Upon arrival, she had managed to get one of her fronts off too....brat mare. Just trying to protect her legs but noooooo....she's not having it.....for now.
What a neat idea for your mustang's tag.

I'm camping out of my trailer for the weekend. Hubby worked so hard to save up for me to come that I couldn't see asking him to spend another $400-$500 for a hotel room for the weekend. 

I'm parked back by the creek and can hear the frogs croaking and horses sneezing or squealing at their new neighbor. For now it's mostly quiet.

Opal got to roll in the soft arena footing so she's happy, camp came together fairly easily so I'm happy.  Could rain tonight - good thing I figured out how to tarp my trailer alone and spent time caulking the seals.

Another horse squealed. There's a few mustangs here- 2 from High Rock as well. Their owners seem pretty nice. There's a lady here I SWARE I know....but I can't place it. Yet.

Tomorrow is our first day to ride. I know I've done some pretty good work with Opal, and I know some of our holes, but I'd be lying if I said I was totally confident about it all, but hey, that's why I'm here right?  To learn and grow, to be better than I was yesterday, to keep moving forward.

Since sleep was miserable last night, I think I'm turning in early.

Friday's viewings:

Colt starting
Lots of mustangs here today. Buck's riders (people chosen by him to help with the colt class) are pretty quiet and impressive. It's good to see a quieter side of starting a horse. There's already some horses bucking at the saddles but the handlers keep going unphased.

Big crowd here watching today. Crowds usually don't get to me but for about a minute I found myself starting to panic.....they will be watching my session this afternoon. I've shown in front of crowds though so I'm sure I'll be ok.

Also, it's cold. Where's my sunshine!?!

With all the new experiences these colts/fillies are having and some of the explosive reactions, not once have I heard the handlers shout or holler at the horses to stop or quit.   Heck, if they are talking at all to the horse, I can't hear it. It's seems to be all body language and pets when the horse makes a good attempt.

Afternoon H1:
Raining pretty hard currently. Group is working on bending and flexion.

I didn't get to finish watching this class since I had to rack up and get ready for mine.

Evening H1 (my class):
Well we did ok. Had a few ah-ha moments and a few "well shit I fucked that up didn't I?" moments.

We worked a circling exercise tonight, trying to drive with out legs and not steer with hands (all good things to use in mounted archery).  Had to stop suddenly several times because while we were close to walking the same circle every track - others were lacking. Most people are trying so it's not all bad, most of them apologized at least - a few have little ring etiquette. Buck even called them on it.

He also suggested a few people change their bits out saying it was too much for either their level or the horse. I like that.

At the start of class Opal was tossing her head a lot 🙄 impatient nerves. She has also been super chatty and she's normally dead quiet.

Working on rolling the haunches was a challenge for me. For years on a circle it's been inside leg at the girth, out side leg back at the haunch. Mostly because it's been about controlling the shoulders or front end.

With this exercise its flipped so I caught myself having to correct my legs a lot. Her roll over the having is better going left than right - or maybe I'm better times up left....something I want to talk to Buck about today now that I've had time to process.

Opal didn't really care for the loud speakers, so we did a lot of one rein stops there. We and walked out of the arena and she wanted to rush out with the crowd, so we stayed behind working from the ground a few extra moments. All in all it was a decent day. I feel we didn't excel at anything, but we didn't totally suck either.

Tomorrow is another day.

Colt class day 2: 

Buck's colt warmup Saturday:

Entered on foot at the walk.
Checked tack
Touching horse with flag
Backed 2 steps
Half circle right
Soft feel out and roll hind right
Back 3 steps
Soft feel lead out right circle
Rolling hind over then back to circle
Roll over with front follow through to reverse
Circling left
Roll over hind and back to circle
Searching for lightness in the lead
Roll the hind then the front to reverse circle
Circling right
Roll the him then front working half circles
Stopped and pet
Back 3 steps
Baked again 7 steps and sent out to circle
Rolled hind to stop then backed
Working both sides backing soft and circle
Roll hind, send the front through, back circle
Backed on soft feel

Mount up:
Flexed head left and right with pet
Walk circle to right, roll the hind, back to circle
Half circle rolled hind reverses
Trots stopped by one rein stop
Rolled hind then front brought through on circles
Trot and stops with one rein
Trot circles and reverse figure 8's
Halt with flexions left/right
Trot circles and short serpentines
Walk long rein circle
Short serpentines walking
Half with a back and long rein
Trot circles and reverses
Trot short serpentines
One rein stops from trot
Left lead canter circle
One rein stop from canter
Right lead canter circle
One rein stop from canter
Right lead canter circles
Broke to trot - picked canter back up
Left was canter circles
One rein stop and halt
Backed 2 steps, halt
Trot circle to right picked up right lead
Trot to halt and back - outside turn
Trot circle left with left canter lead
Halt with back
Right trot circle, outside reverse circle
Halt with back
Trot figure 8's, straight, turns to address "problem areas" in arena
Halt in middle with flexions
Horse took off at trot - corrected with one rein
Asking for soft feel at walk, backed.
Pulled out Lass, working with rope
Trot/canter circles with one rein stop when horse took over
Flexions at walk/halt

Dismount, back on soft feel
Back on lead rope
Hind and follow through with front
Exited arena

Hand to hip to get flexion to roll over hind shorten if need be

Don't stop when working half circles.
Collapse circle inside - circle out

Afternoon H1:
Didn't get to watch much as I was spending most of the time warming Opal up and working her on the ground and in the tack.

Evening H1 (my session)-
Well there was less head tossing but fidgeting of feet took its place. Tomorrow if she moves I'll work her while Buck does his answering of questions and explanations. Those can take a while sometimes. 25/30 people in a class, if 5-6 have questions and each question takes 3-5 minutes to talk about or demonstrate the movements on his horse....well you get the idea.

I found myself asking for too much flexion today with the one rein stops and roll overs. I'll have to watch that. It got better mid way through. Opal was better on her right today by the time we hit the arena, but would brace against bending left - so I chatted with Buck. His suggestion was to roll over the hind a few steps every time she braced. We sorted through that for now.

Our soft feel and backing straight is improving I feel. She's not bracing as much as she has in the past. We began to work on placing the front foot for the turn, we only got a couple successful attempts there - more work tomorrow on that.

More trot work today. Opal kept trying to just follow the butt in front of her, so we did lots of one rein stops at first, then we eventually got into a nice enough trot to sit.

Opal still isn't a fan of the voice coming from the speakers when she goes by. Buck suggested we avoid them until our rectangle was better.  At the end we made a few passes near them with no issues.

How am I feeling about this all?  A bit lost at times. Not lost as in I don't know what I'm suppose to be doing, but lost in that I am not always certain I'm correcting things in the right way or at the correct timing. I could blame it on the headache I've had all day, but that's just an excuse it's not the reason. There's so much going on and so many horses at different levels I feel like a straggler at times.

I guess if it was supposed to be all sunshine and lollipops I wouldn't be here 😄

I had a little bit of an emotional breakdown this morning. Frustration got to me. Not frustrated with Opal, but with myself mucking things up. Also I'm here alone. I've met some nice people here, but most aren't staying on site.  Those that are came with a group and disappear as soon as horses are put away to go to din we as a group. By 8 the only people out and about still are the guys working the arenas for the next session the next day. A few spectators have commented on how we are doing - all positive - I guess it would just be nice to have someone who knows us here to give feed back.  I'm sure that's wearing on me too.

At the same time there's such a crowd here I find myself thinking I might pull out and start working at 1 today instead of 2 just so I can have some quiet time in an arena with me and my horse without others external influences. Opal isn't a fan of the flags....she's got a surprise waiting for her at home - she will get over it.

Day 3:
Colt starting -
Buck's colt warmup Sunday:

Enters on foot
Working short serpentines and circles on ground
Checking for rolling of the hind
Backing with a soft feel

Mount up:
Checking one rein stops and rolling the hind waiting for him to stay soft.

Working circles and rolling the hind in smaller circle

Working short serpentines, directing and placing front inside foot - circling as needed to get proper flexion and foot placement/reach

Trot with one rein stop when horse takes over or braces. Reconfirmed feet to be reached. Working full arena/circles/reverses - mixing up the pattern. 

Trot circle with bend. Fixing the bend as needed.

Correct timing will be difficult when the horse braces. Make sure to do equal amounts of work on each side.

Feeling if the hindquarters are left or right to know what lead they are on. Circles are easy to feel the lead.

Canter work, right lead. Stopped with one rein. Left lead circles. One rein stop when too fast/taking over the ride. Reconfirming lateral flexion

Backing on a soft feel.

Working the gate. Galloping/trotting around arena away from it until it's no longer trying to head for it.

Dismount once quiet and exited arena.

One rein stops when horse doesn't want to stay halted after the release.

Hand positions:
1) in front of leg
2) out and back by hip

Evening H1-

I feel my warm up went better than class did. I started getting ready at 1:15 today (Friday was 2:45, Saturday was 2). Opal was much less jumpy about things, stayed with me better, but still wanted to rush the gate and follow a horse out. We backed out instead.

I kept her moving a lot during the Q&A phase of the start of class. Circles and rolling the hind were better at the end when I got my leg out of her and asked with less.

Reaching with the front out of a roll over we just aren't getting. Maybe partially due to my shorter reins I use for archery/daily use, I'll try swapping them tomorrow.

Didn't ask questions today just kept trying, just kept moving.

After 3 days we have:
some decent flexions
ok roll overs
getting better at carrying a soft feel
our backing has improved

There's just so much I'm not getting, and it's obvious in the increasingly advanced stuff as the days go on. I have a lot of homework to do.

Day 4:
Not much notes wise today for any classes. Most of today is spent fine tuning.  Buck did some backing on a circle using the slobber straps on his horse. He mentioned later that night it would do Opal some good.

Something for me to keep in mind to get Opal back with me and not solely use the one rein stop is to do circles and serpentines. (Sometimes tough in this arena with so many riders)

Working sets were introduced today.
10 steps forward, 10 back
9 forward, 9 back
8 forward, 8 back
All the way down to 0. All the while looking for straightness and lightness, and soft feel.

In our evening session we started out pretty nice, until the opening of the rein to bring the front back and through. After 2 days we still couldn't get it. I asked Buck to see what I was doing wrong. Turns out I was not waiting long enough and was rewarding with a release at the wrong time. So he had me wait and hold the flexion...and hold...and hold (about 2 minutes or more holding)...and as he rode up to he he said "when I say release, you drop EVERYTHING" I said ok thinking she would figure it out - nope - he helped her by giving her a bop on the nose with his reins - she finally moved and he told me release!  I did. It wasn't a hard bop, just enough to get her to move.

We had a talk about the feel of it and what I need to work on in my position and on ground to improve it. He also assisted another time the opposite direction, but no bop was needed. Opal knew he meant business. He also gave me the 'now you know what it is you'll never not wait for ever again' chat.

We also had a talk about leg positions and hand positions. In the reaching move my one leg wasn't far enough forward and needed more rhythm and my guiding hand was in the correct location, just too high. Something I've always struggled with is being aware where my body position is. One reason I never made a great equitation rider. I've never been as fine tuned in that as my jumping trainer Michael or my sister Stephanie.

In working on these things it's shown me (and been pointed out) that she's a little pushy and can be dull in her movements - also things for me to work on because she can move  nicely at times. We also talked about my leg needing to mean more so she will respond better with less down the road.

At the end of day 3 I felt so awful that I honestly thought for a few moments about coming home a day early. I was so overwhelmed and felt like we were getting any of it going. Hence the list of things we did improve on I typed up the previous day. I needed to think about what I had gotten right so I could keep going on day 4.

At the end of the day my new friend and I went to thank Buck and a few people wanted pictures with him so I ran to get my phone.  As he stood next to me I asked if Opal was real bad off and he said "no, she's a nice little pony you've got" so at least I haven't wrecked Opal 😊 and I've got lots of homework to do.

First day home post clinic:

I am mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I went out to give Opal the hay net she hadn't finished only to find her laying down eating the last of her breakfast....I think she feels how I feel.

We roughly spent close to 20 hours in the tack over 4 days, that doesn't include out groundwork time. She's earned a break I think.

A few days ago I was thinking "if only I could go to the next weekends clinic, get a few more days in, more time in, maybe we'd get it more."  Now I know we need to do our homework and if we did hit up the next clinic in Reno, we'd just have the same issues with little to no improvement. For now, we will work on what we have and go back hopefully next year.  


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nearly 2 Months Later....

Nearly 2 Months Later....

It has been a very busy 2 months.  All the Holiday's and Family time are consuming as is, but then add moving on top of that.  Packing, loading, unloading, unpacking, I'm just now getting back to a normal swing in life here.  Training is starting to pick up since I am much closer to the horses now. 

Today was a pretty busy day full of working horses, lessons, a bath for one palomino, clipping, pictures, and cleaning tack.  Opal and I are in the Winter Horsemanship Challenge again this winter.  We're already at a half way point in it, and have a lot of riding coming up to finish it.  Moving killed my time last month.

Sometimes training opportunities just present themselves.  Some rogue Valentine's Day balloons found their way onto the roof over Opal's stall.  Needless to say they were taken down only to be tied to the fence so she could figure out they wouldn't eat well as Ehawee and Emerald. MOM?

Ehawee is plugging right along.  She's a bit chunky right now on a grass only diet, so she's getting worked more frequently.

Emerald is starting to show more brains these days.  YAY!  Today she was lounged on the long lounge line in the big arena.  It was more oval shaped lounging versus a circle, but over all she did very well.  Her manners are also coming along and she's acting less like a 'baby'.

Big arena lounging.

12 week challenge
(40 hours and 30 rides in 12 weeks)
Total hours: 14H 15M
Rides: 12

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from The 3 Mustang Mares.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from The 3 Mustang Mares.

There hasn't been much going on aside from day to day things- if that.  The rain has reduced us to one arena for the last several weeks.  While Emmy and Ehawee are pretty good about lounging on a line, Opal not so much.  In a round pen she is great, in the big arena...well...when she decides to go another way, its hard to argue with 1,100 pounds.  I'll be working on that with her once we have the rest of our arenas open, its just not something I feel is safe to work on while others are using the arena as well.  

We are looking at a wet winter this year.  Thank goodness for covered arenas,  I am able to get them out.  Also, I'm thankful for a stall for my girls to get out of the weather in and good footing in their corrals.  They might not be dry yet, but they aren't fetlock deep in muck.

 Happy to be able to kick up her heels.

 We wish you a wonderful and warm holiday season and a great start to a new year.  See you in 2015!

 From Emmy, Ehawee, and Opal.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Two back to back shots.

Alright everyone, I am so late at posting this.  I got swamped in trying to get ready for my family trip that I ran out of time to write this down.  Plus, the night before I left, my darling Niece fell asleep in my office for the night before I could get my laptop.  Oh well.

Opal has been getting bored standing at the target.  She's a bit too smart also...waiting to walk away from the target until I have taken aim sometimes.  I figured it was time to start moving.  The Owners of the barn allowed me to set up a target away from the arenas and barn so I could shoot with minimal risk of injuring someone else.

I acquired 2 bales of straw at at the suggestion of one of the Owners, wrapped it up in plastic bags for the winter to help preserve the bale.  I took big lawn bags and hay twine to secure the bags.  I even gave myself a mark to aim at.

New targets.

I began by walking Opal up to, around and by the targets, letting her explore them.  Next I shot at the targets while on the ground, then while walking her in hand so she could get the idea while moving.  After she seemed fine with that, I mounted her and shot the targets standing, then asked her to walk.

Target introduction.

Walking in hand and shooting.

Riding and shooting.

We did have one bump in the road.  The wind kicked up and caused the plastic bags to flap, she crow hopped/spooked and in an effort to grab the reins and get her head up, i hit the dirt.  I am ok, bruised a bit, but ok.  Once I figured out what caused her to spook, we lounged by the flappy plastic until she calmed down enough to think, then I tucked the loose ends in and went back to square one, shooting at a stand still.  We eventually were able to walk and shoot again that day.  

Since then I have been walking Opal in hand shooting at the new targets to get her accustom to the new set up.  She also has 2 flappy trash bags living full time in her stall, she's dealing with them a bit better each day.  She has no problem eating in there with them, but every now and then the wind gets them and she gets wide eyed.  

With all of this in mind, I often have to remind myself, and others, that she is just now turning 5 and I've only had her 18 months next month.  Pretty dang impressive if you ask me.  We both are really enjoying this adventure.

We have also finished up the Fall Horsemanship Challenge.  It's been a fun one that gave me a push to do something new.  Who knew it would lead me to my new passion/obsession.  I shoot 4 days a week mounted or on foot now.  

Until next time! 

Kip's Horsemanship Throwdown Progress - COMPLETE!
25 rides
31 hours 40 minutes total

Goals Completed



Do a Job

Preformance Piece - Mounted Archery

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mounted Archery

  Mounted Archery

Opal standing after the costume class.
When I started the challenge and decided my performance piece was going to be Mounted Archery, I had no idea I would end up getting so hooked in it.  Hooked hard.  I recently got my bow and was able to start introducing it to Opal.  I posted a picture on one of my Facebook group pages a few weeks ago and I've had several people ask how I got started with this whole archery adventure.  While I am still very VERY new to it all, I will share what i have learned and done so far.

Since I had not shot a bow since I was in girl scout camp when I was like 12, I wanted to start with a beginning archery class.  The Bass Pro in Manteeca near us has a free class offered a few times a month.  During the class we went over basic form, technique, and left the class knowing what pound bow we were best suited for as well as any additional gear we would need.  (Like an arm guard for me) If you have never shot before, I would deffinetly recommend taking a beginning class.

Preparing a horse for mounted archery
Our barn owners were kind enough to shoot a few arrows for me and Opal before I took the class.  First we started with shooting in front of you, then next to her, and finally off a mounting block over her back.  Opal was non-reactive to this, which let me know I could proceed in the buying of gear. 

Once I got my gear I started in the tack.  We had a costume class for our barn Halloween Play Day, so I went as an Archer.  It was the first time I had ridden Opal with the bow, but it let her get use to me drawing and moving the bow around as we moved.  I did this without arrows.

 Carrying the bow for the costume class.

The next day I had a halter and lead rope under the bridle so my friend, Carol Douglass, could hold the lead rope while I shot.  This was just a precaution in case Opal decided to walk off or spook.  Since Opal didn't mind arrows flying in the air, the next 2 days I did not have her held.   Right now we are just shooting at a stand still, once my form/aim/groupings become more consistent we will begin moving.  At my barn we have a 4-5 stack of straw with salad plate sized targets painted on the bales.

Mounted archery competition 

From what I have researched, I have learned a few things.  Please keep in mind, I've spent less than a month reading up on this and I am still learning, but here's what I have found.
In competition traditional bows are allowed.  No compound or mechanical triggers/releases are allowed.  Neither are bows with shelves.  Recurve, Asian (Hungarian/Mongolian/Horse), Long Bows seem to be the main stream.  Also a draw weight between 30-40 pounds seems to be what the average is for competition.
You will notice my Monarch Recurve Bow has a shelf, so it will not be permitted in competition.  My bow is also a 20 pound draw, I was able to draw a 30 pound, but my form suffered rapidly from the weight, so the lower draw allows me to shoot more arrows with more accuracy.  My bow was a fairly inexpensive one and is strictly for me to gain the basic skills of archery.  Eventually I will get a more appropriate bow, but since they cost a lot more and usually come at a higher draw strength, the bow I have is good for what I am using it for.

Currently my gear list includes the following
Monarch Recurve Bow
12 Easton Genesis arrows 
Bow String wax
Case for Bow
Hip Quiver for Arrows
Arrow Tube for Storage
Arm Guard
Bow Stringer 

Useful Links 
Below are some of the links I have used to read up on mounted archery.  Several I found on Pinterest.
  • The Mounted Archery Association of the Americas (lists 'local' places where people are practicing mounted archery or places to do lessons, as well as competitions)
The next two links were given to me at Bass Pro as places who sell bows and have good reputations.
I have spent the last couple weeks reading a lot.  Like I said, I got hooked on this hard.  If there's something I didn't cover, or you have a question, please feel free to ask.  Its a lot of information to take in and sort out.

Carolynn and Opal practicing.

Kip's Horsemanship Throwdown Progress

18 rides
27 hours total

Goals Completed



Do a Job

Preformance Piece - Mounted Archery: in progress

Emerald and her Owner


Ribbons Emmy and Carol won from the Halloween Play Day.
Last week Emmy's owner, Carol Douglass, came up to spend some time with Emerald.  IT was a busy busy weekend at the barn, and we took full advantage of it.
Saturday was our Halloween Play Day at the barn.  Carol and Emmy did a couple of classes in hand with Emmy.  
Sunday was our Bomb proofing clinic.  We had several obstacles set up for the horses to work on.  Once again, Carol and Emmy did them in hand.  They both worked through them together, building a stronger connection with every activity they did.  
 Bomb proofing clinic.
By the end of the week their connection had become very soft and they worked together easily.  It was a very big week of events.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Challenge Update

Challenge Update 

Trail Challenge competed.

Time has flown by.  I just realized a lot has gone on since my last post a few weeks ago.  I need yo get back into the habit of sitting down at least once a week and doing these updates.

Opal and I were invited out for a nice fall trail ride a few weeks ago with a few other riders form the barn.  Aside form Opal deciding she didn't want to finish going up the hill and would rather side pass downhill, she was a champ.  Not exactly sure what her deal was other than the previous horses protested at a small hole in the trail, and by hole I mean a dip, not a gopher or rabbit hole.  When we came across a group of Boy Scouts out for a nature hike, Opal decided she wanted go with the kids than with her buddies, but listened to me leg when I said no.

 On the trail with barn friends.

At the end of the trail we practiced loading with all 3 horses into a 2 horse straight load trailer.  I am always looking to practice in different trailers.  Having broken down twice on the 10 freeway in Southern California and having to unload horses out of your rig and into another while traffic is speeding by isn't fun.  Even less fun when your horse won't go into any trailer but theirs.   PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!  The rig that rescues you might not be what your horse is accustomed to.

 Checking out the 2 horse trailer after the trail ride.  Opal got a bath right after we practiced.
As far as mounted archery is going, my class is tomorrow.   By the end I will have an idea of what gear I will need and what sizes/weights work best.  In the meantime Opal and I have been working on moving off my leg.  I also was able to find a lighter weight (10 pounds+ lighter) western saddle.  It fits us both well and with the weight of the saddle lightened, that puts less stress on her spine.  

The mares have also been introduced to being turned out with Emerald.  First just Emerald and Ehawee since they are buddies.  After a few laps around at a canter with Emerald wanting to lead and be boss, Ehawee finally let her.  Opal and Emerald, on the other hand, just sniffed each other and decided to eat the leaves together.  When all 3 got turned out together, they ran a few laps, then went to rolling and grazing on leaves.  We have a play day at the end of the month and a bomb proofing clinic as well.  I have done a few bomb proofing tasks with my horses in preparation for the clinic.  The end of this month is going to be very busy.  I will try to update more frequently on it  :)

Kip's Horsemanship Throwdown Progress
7 rides
15 hours total
Goals Completed
Do a Job (new trick, bow.  Load in new trailers)
Trail (see pics above)