Monday, September 30, 2013

Jog / Trot

Jog / Trot 

 She's not grumpy, she just always has her ears moving.

Yvette was able to grab a video of our first jog/trot yesterday for me (BIG THANK YOU TO YVETTE!)  as well as one of the horse course rounds.  It's a challenge to video and photograph while I ride.  While there were some communication differences, I'm extremely pleased with how Opal did for her first time at the jog / trot.  I chose to post Opal's trot (as I do many beginner horses) because it was a bit choppy and I didn't want to give her a negative experience of a rider bouncing on her back.  We will work on the package first, then me sitting her trot.  

As soon as either blogspot or youtube let me copy the link to the video, I will post it here.  I'm not sure which is causing the occasional issue, but it's annoying.  For now, its on my facebook page.

The jog and trot have the same 2 beat, diagonal movement, but there are differences.  A trot is a faster movement used in english riding mostly.  The riders typically post the trot, rising and falling with the forward movement.  A jog is the slower gait used in western riding and the rider sits the jog absorbing the movement with their body.

I've ridden english since I was 12 and rode western the 12 years prior to that.  I have an english horse and a western horse, but I stick to my english terminology mostly our of habit.

In this video I am helping Yvette's daughter and her daughter's 
horse Tesoro.  Opal was playing follow the leader.

New Adventures

New Adventures 

 I love the face she gives me when she sticks her nose out.

Day 42:

It's another cool but sunny day at the ranch.  Our adventure for the day was walking down the road a few hundred yards to a ranch that was hosting a combined western and english dressage show.  Two other horses accompanied Opal on the trip, Tesoro and Whiskey (owned by the Mendoza family).  The walk over went smoothly, I was hoping to have a motorcycle cross our path, but that will have to wait for another day.

 Heading over to the show.

 As we approached the show parking and arena, Opal became very intrigued with the show horses prancing around in the arena.  She stood very tall, but silent for several moments before she decided grazing on the dead grass was more appealing.  

 Watching the dressage show.

It was another great adventure for Opal.

Day 43:

It was another beautiful day and being that it was the weekend, I was hoping to see more motorcycles and get Opal use to them.  We rode in the horse course with Tesoro.  I had her stand near the arena rail closest to the main road, hoping for more motorcycles.  Thirty minutes passed and no motorcycles.  I knew the moment I got on, a fleet of them would come by, but I didn't have all day.  My plan was to work a few of the easier obstacles with Opal, see how she would do.  

Sure enough about 10 minutes after being in the saddle, motorcycles.  I halted Opal about 20 feet off the rail that paralleled the main road.  She stood perfectly still and watched them as they went by.  Which was awesome!  Opal was wanting to follow Tesoro through the horse course, so I let her.  She did every obstacle from the bridge to the pit and even the teetering platform!  They weren't all pretty or polished, but she was more than willing to do them which is all that matters at this point.


Riding through the horse course.

One time coming down the hill she picked up a trot.  I ha;ted her quietly after a few steps.  At the end of our session she was really moving out in her walk so I urged her into the trot again.  Again, it wasn't polished, but it was fun for us both.  She felt like she was really having a good time.  I can hardly wait to ride her tomorrow.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Picking up speed

Picking up Speed 

Standing at the tie pole. 

Day 40:

Day 40 brought me a 30 minute ride around the arena at a walk with Opal.  She just needed a little bit more of a 'go' to get her going.  I rode with a crop and gave her a bit of a tap with it when she needed reinforcement.  After the second tap with it, she had the idea.  30 minutes later I dismounted, not having to use the crop again.  Keep in mine, this was a tap not a strike.  I never use a crop with excessive force.  They are an extension of the arm not a tool of discipline.  

 Going around the arena.

After our ride, I worked with her feet.  She picked them up with ease (yay!)  Then as we were exiting the arena, she snorted at my daughter's blanket.  I tossed it around, let the wind catch it, used it like a picnic blanket, and of course, covered Opal with it. 

Day 41:

Some exciting news.  There's horse events pretty much every weekend until Thanksgiving!  Even more exciting, if the weather holds and doesn't dump snow the day we leave, in 5 weeks Opal will be joining LRTC (Least Resistance Training Concepts) in her first Parade for Nevada days!!! I will determine whether I ride or walk her the day of, but she will be tacked up and all glitzed out.  Its the 75 Parade so the theme is "Celebrating 75 years".  However, to incorporate a bit of history, our group will be dressed up 'old west' style celebrating with our Mustang horses.  Knowing this is coming up fast, I needed to get her off the ranch, exposed to the world and work with her 'glitz'.  We practiced with one piece of the attire today.  She didn't mind it one bit, in fact, she carried it for about a hour total.

 Working with the Celebration sign.

After our ride today 3 of us took our mustangs a mile down the road to the post office.  This meant walking on and off the road, new smells (Opal caught a nose full of dead skunk, shook her head and snorted) not to mention cars, trucks, trailers, big rigs, and motorcycles.  Plus being away form home and away from her friends.  YIKES!

Opal (as well as mustang Sancho owned by Marialaina and mustang Amigo owned by Greg) did exceedingly well.  She walked along steady, but slow, and did a lot of talking to horses as we went by. 

 Opal, Sancho, and Amigo walk to the Post Office.

I did discover a scary monster for Opal.   Want to know???

Come closer....



Yep.  First one went by as we were hand walking them down to the post office and Opal snorted, huffed, pulled back, spun (there went my lead line, oh please stop) and halted 10 feet form me next to Amigo.  I knew there was a reason I had her in the middle.  Not cars, not trailers, not big clunky big rigs.  Big, loud, hogs. 

Now, I should say this was a very nice rider, he moved over to the other side of the road away from us, and even slowed down, so he wasn't being rude or trying to cause trouble, but Opal thought it was going to get her.  Shortly after a second motorcycle came down the road.  I talked to Opal, and while she stood still, she tensed up in her whole body.  She's going to have to learn to deal with them and even more important, trust me in scary situations. 

We got to the post office and the little market in our two building downtown center.  We stopped for a drink (gave the horses one as well out of a water bottle.  Hey, sometimes you don't have a bucket) and realized for a few moments before heading back to the ranch.  Opal had to not only learn about vehicles, but city slicker stuff as well, like stepping on and off curbs and crossing rail road tracks, both did not phase her.

 Curbs and railroad tracks can present challenges to horses not use to them.

On our walk back, Opal walked with more purpose in her step.  Not racing, but focused on getting home.  She didn't talk to other horses, but they were also busy eating dinner.  We had one more motorcycle come by.  I stopped Opal to let her watch it.  The second she saw it, she calmly walked behind me to hide.....I'll take that over running away any day.  Once home I gave Opal some bran mash to munch on while I un-tacked her.  She hasn't been sure of sticking her nose in buckets and I might need her to some day (very soon) but today, she finally did.  She was a mess, but at least she enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fluffy coats, windy days, and rain.

Fluffy coats, windy days, and rain. 

 Winter not ready for winter.

Day 38:

Wind kicked up today, which is really no surprise.  It seems to follow me to the ranch.  I'm always getting calls and texts along the lines of "Are you here or on your way out?  The wind just picked up."  95% of the time, its a valid question and my answer is yes.  This particular day we nearly stopped afternoon riding because the dust was so bad in the morning.  Opal just had a grooming today because my day was so full.  I love the contrast of her mane and coat and while I was admiring it, I noticed she was getting fluffy.  UGH!  A sharp reminder that colder, shorter days were on the way. 

Opal knows winter in on its way.

Day 39: 

Overcast and 30% chance of rain.  If weathermen could actually predict weather.  Early day because the weather was looking more like 70% as the morning went on.  I had my daughter with me when I tacked Opal up so I had to push the stroller and lead Opal at the same time.  Opal loves kids and is very curious about them.  My daughter had one of her dolls with her, so I shook it around a bit and touched Opal with it, who just looked at it in return, then went back to being loved on by my kid.

 I like the little one.

After I parked my daughter in her stroller before my ride, I walked Opal to the bathroom, which has chickens, ducks, pigeons, and a turkey in the cage next to it.  Hey, sometimes on the trail you just gotta go.  I wanted to make sure Opal was ok with swinging doors and me vanishing.  I kept the door cracked a bit so I could see her reaction and act accordingly.  She watched where I went, but then was content taking a drink form a water bucket next to the building.  I don't think this obstacle will be an issue.

Chickens on the right, bathroom on the left.
 Standing while I'm 'inside' the bathroom.
 Oh there you are Mom.

On a whim I swapped out the rubber bit for Ehawee's D-ring snaffle with copper and steel rollers.  Opal was doing ok with the rubber bit, but I wasn't sold on that being her bit yet.  She'd play with the rollers form time to time, but more importantly, she was starting to turn and bend with it.  We had a quiet ride in the ring and watched other horses get worked.  

 Is this my bit Mom?

 Then while Opal and I had the ring to ourselves, Shaman, a 17 hand leopard appaloosa (yes, he really is that big and yes he has an AMAZING mane and tail) decided he wanted in the arena.  He was turned out on the ranch to graze with several other horses.  Shaman just flips the two gate latches open and lets himself in.  He's a very sweet boy, so I wasn't too worried about him joining us.  I let Opal stop at the opposite end of the ring and watch.  Opal really like Shaman, he was one of her first friends at the ranch.  

This was when Opal first came home, Shaman is on the outside of the pen.

She called to him once, then decided to head towards the gate.  I wasn't sure if she'd walk out or run out, but I figured, what the heck, lets see.    She walked on out, no big deal.  She walked right over to Yvette to say hello.  I figured lets walk her to my tack room and tie pole.  Yvette was kind enough to catch a brief video and picture of us.  Opal has great breaks, her steering is getting better, but her 'go' button needs work still.  We're getting there.

 Shaman at the far end of the ring.
 Gate to exit arena.

After our ride Yvette took one last picture of us.  Thanks for the pics and video!  

My big, brave girl.