Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time to saddle up

Time to saddle up. 
Saddle all set up for Opal to see.

Day 23:

With as well as Opal did the other day having something (me) over her back, I decided today we would see how she would do with my saddle.  I set it up for her to see on my saddle rack while I groomed her.  She didn't seem to mind it and was willing to sniff it.

Ok, this thing isn't so bad.

Then I took the fluffy cinch and rubbed it around her belly.  She didn't mind that either.

     Letting Opal feel the cinch.

I had a willing volunteer today, Sarah who is Gypsy's and Satin's owner.  Sarah held Opal for me while I approached with the saddle.  I sometimes forget how much heavier my western is compared to my hunt seat saddle.  I approached slow, letting Opal see what I was doing, but after a few moments she let me put it up on her back, she then moved quickly away from me and the saddle came with me.  I talked to her, Sarah gave her some carrots, Opal didn't object to that part.  I tried again and Opal was wiling to let it settle on her back.  I let her stand there for a few moments before hooking up all the straps and letting the stirrups down. I took up the cinch slowly, she didn't mind.  Once it was all hooked up, Sarah took her for a walk while I took pictures.  It's a little easier to get pictures when you have help.  (THANK YOU SARAH)

Opal walking and listening to the saddle.  It has a few squeaks.


I then took Opal in the round pen to let her trot some with the saddle on her back.  Not only would it move with her, but the saddle wouldn't get off her back, and the stirrups would move as well.  Horses being a prey animal don't really like things on their back.  Think of the saddle like a cougar, its on their back, grabs hold and is hard to get off.  Some horses take to it easily, others fight or flight instinct kicks in and they go bucking or kicking around trying to get it off.  Opal took to it easily even in the round pen.

After a few rounds each direction I asked Sarah to hold Opal one more time while I took the saddle off.  Opal stood still for that as well.  She's a champ.  I'm impressed each day with how willing her attitude is and how calm her mind is.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bits, Bridles, and Blocks

Bits, Bridles, and Blocks 

 Basic bridle and snaffle.
 Day 21:

I've been trying on several extra bridles on Opal the last few days, none were fitting her big noggin.  I pulled out an one of my English bridles, took off the nose band and tried it on her to make sure it would fit before adding the bit.  It fit!  I added a egg butt snaffle bit to it.  I usually start the first few fittings by coating the bit in syrup, it makes the bit sweet like a treat and they look forward to licking it.  Opal didn't like the stickyness on her face at all!

No syrup for Opal!

Once I got the bit, bridle, and her face cleaned off, she took the bridle with no problems.  She needed no assistance opening her mouth to take the bit.  She allowed me to put the bridle on and take it off several times with no resistance.  

 Opal plays with the bit on her mouth.

We finished up the day lounging with the bridle in the round pen with the water going.  

Day 22:

I picked up where I left off the previous day with Opal, putting the bridle on.  Her mind amazes me, once we've worked on something, the next day she picked right back up as if she has done it a million times.  She's not overly fond of the bridle being put on with my right hand between her ears yet, but that will come in time.  I had a lot of willing helpers today, thank you Greg and Yvette.  Greg volunteered to hold Opal for me while I worked with her and Yvette took several pictures and all the video today....settle in to your seat, there's several.

I walked Opal into the arena and over to the mounting block.  Today I was going to get her use to the idea of something (me) being above her and touching her sides/back.  This is something predators normally would do, so it can be a bit challenging.  I started just holding her and climbing the block.

 Checking out the mounting block.

Then Greg joined me in the arena to hold Opal while I leaned over her back, touched her, and put some weight on her.  She would turn back to me to see what I was doing, sometimes she would move away from the pressure of me stroking her right and left side at the same time, but we just stayed calm and quiet, giving her lots of phrase (and treats) the longer she stood for me.  She was not tense about the process at all, more curious as to what I was doing.

 Mounting block practice.


We also worked on her picking her feet up.  She let me hold each leg up for 2-3 seconds.  Not a long time in the day to day of picking out hooves or for a trim, but its a good start.

 Working on picking up Opal's front feet.

We finished in the arena with a short round of follow the leader.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Show Time!

Show Time! 

Lots of ribbons.
Day 20:

Sunday the barn I board my girls at had a Play day horse show for the boarders and kids.  There was a lot going on with setting up, kids running around having a good time, and of course the classes themselves.  

 Setting up the canopies.  They can be scary sometimes. 

The kids had been busy in the arena setting up a horse course for the kids to play in, but several of us took our horses in to see what they had created.  First challenge was getting into the arena, as there was pompoms and pool noodles outside the ring.  The noodles didn't bother Opal, but the shinny metallic pompoms blowing in the breeze did.  By bother, I should say she just wasn't willing to enter the ring, she stood there checking them out and listening to them flap in the breeze.  She did eventually walk in the arena with me.

 Pompoms and noodles.

There were several of us showing, including two horses and their owners who I work with.

 Sarah with her horses Satin (left) and Gypsy (middle), both mustangs.
Angie with her horse Tesoro (left).

 Sarah and I took entered the arena with Satin and Opal to check out what the kids had built.  We were also in the In-Hand Trail Trail class together. 

 A ring of bubble wands, perfect for walking around and blowing bubbles near your equine friend.
Watch the eyes though.

Opal was a champ in the In-Hand Trail Trial class, preforming each obstacle with ease.  She won first place in her class and High Point In-Hand Adult division for the day!  

 Opal's ribbons and score sheet.

Sarah with her horses and Angie with her horse went on to receive ribbons as well.  Everyone who showed that day put forth great efforts.  Looking forward to the next show. 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lounge with Water and Show Prep

Lounge with Water and Show Prep 

 How to beat the heat and get work done.

Day 18:    

It was a warm one, not hot, but warm enough.  Today I had a willing volunteer at the barn.  Greg (Amigo's adopter) was willing to assist me in trying to pick Opal's feet up.  She's not prone to flee with me, but I don't really want to turn my back to her and get a chunk taken out of me.  I was just going to try her front feet.  The moment I touched her cannon bone, she lifted her leg and set it right back down.  We did this several times on both front legs.  She began to hold them up a split second or two longer each time.  A good start, we ended that before she could get real frustrated.

Opal still wasn't overly fond of hoses or the way they hissed as they sprayed water.  If it looks like a snake, and sounds like a snake, it must be a snake.  We walked to the round pen and I turned her loose.  Greg handed me the hose and when it was on, I began to spray her.  At first she moved away from it, but never faster than a trot.  She snorted at the hose several times, reversing direction when she came to it.  After a few laps she went right over it and settled into a nice walk.  I was able to get within 5 feet of her with the hose while she stood still.  Once she was dripping wet with water, I turned her loose to graze.  It didn't take her long to find a nice, warm, sandy area in the arena to roll in.  You know, she's the same color covered in sand?  

 Water fun.

Day 19:

Our barn is having a Horse Show Play Day this weekend.  Nothing huge, but there's ribbons (which I made) and High Point awards, so it counts as Opal...errrr...Precious Declaration's first show.  We will be doing 2 of the classes tomorrow, bobbing for apples and in hand horse course.  Bobbing for apples involves me leading her to a bucket, bobbing for an apple myself, and walking her across the finish line with it still in my mouth.  Its fun, especially on a hot day.

Today was a rare occasion where my wonderful husband came out to the barn with me and our daughter.  I don't always think to have other people take pictures or video of me working Opal, but today I did.  He took a video of our whole horse course practice run today.  He also gave Opal a carrot, and she kept looking for his pockets for more.  She's a fast learner.  Thank you dear!  Enjoy, and I'll be posting about Precious Declaration's first show soon!