Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fun, Games, and Rides

Fun, Games, and Rides. 
Opal carrying my sweater in the pasture.

Day 74/75:

Opal had a nice turn out day earlier this week, but the other days she continues to be worked with on her ground manners, respecting space when asked, and picking up her back hooves.  Some days she's great, other days she gets cranky and stomps them.  We're getting there.

Today was a pretty active day for both mares.  Opal wanted to 'help' in the pasture while I was cleaning, so I gave her my sweater to carry for me.  Once we walked over to the rail, I hung it up in the fence where Opal and Satin took turns playing with it.  Satin isn't really happy sharing her toys and would give Opal her grumpy ears and Opal would step back.  Sarah brought a toy for Satin to play with, and Opal was very interested in checking it out as well.  

  Toys are fun. 

Sarah, Satin, and Opal playing with toys.

We had a visitor today, Kelly.  She has a mustang and came down to check out my mares as well as me working with horses.  I let her work with Opal a bit, it was a good test for Opal to see how she would do with someone she didn't really know.  Opal didn't mind too much, just kept looking at me, but was enjoying the grooming.  Kelly even tacked Opal up and Opal did very well standing for her.  I was quite pleased.  Next Kelly walked her around in the arena through obstacles and worked with Opal on the Yo-Yo game. 

 Kelly taking time to expose Opal to a new friend.

After Kelly and Opal had worked around the arena a few times, I hopped on and gave Opal a ride.  I have 2 challenges I'm working on her with.  1) moving her feet at the given gait I've asked for; walk or trot and 2) bending and giving to pressure on her bit.  Opal thinks any pressure means to stop totally, so she has GREAT breaks.  Part of training is knowing when to pick and choose your battles with green horses.  I can have her move, or I can have her bending...both is asking too much.  

My new favorite phrase as of late, because it fits, is 'how do you eat an elephant?' Answer: one bite at a time.  Sometimes you can't accomplish the whole goal right away, so rather than trying to eat an elephant in one bite, you break it down into smaller bites.  I need her to move and bend so she can become a balanced horse in her gaits, but she doesn't know how to do what I'm asking for yet.  I go back and start at the beginning, asking for one thing, then another, working on 2 small elements with the goal of combining them in the next several rides.  Her backing up, however, has greatly improved from in the tack, she was very light today.

12 week challenge 
Hours logged this week: 5
Total hours: 25
Rides: 4 


Ehawee also had a busy day.  Sarah was ready to ride again and she choose Ehawee.  Sarah lounged her, groomed her, and I tacked Ehawee up.  Since it has been 7 months since she last had a rider for the Napa Mustang Day's parade (which I rode her 10 minutes) I told Sarah to spend some time just putting weight on her.  She told me Ehawee was looking at her confused like 'what are you doing?  Just get on.' Sarah walked her around the arena and navigated the obstacles in the ring.  They both had a nice ride together.
 Sarah riding Ehawee.

After 2 months in the paddock, she's got good weight and muscle back on.  Today she would go back home to her pasture with Opal and Satin.  After the rides were done we put the mares in the arena together and sent them around a few laps each direction allowing them to take their 'order' in their herd and work any issues out.  Ehawee had been trying to make the point again to Opal that Opal was NOT in charge, which is fine with Opal, but Ehawee had to make sure Opal KNEW how things were.  They settled down for some nice rolls.  Mares.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Calm and centrered.

Calm and centered.

Practicing the yo-yo game.
Day 72/73:

I've continued working with Opal on backing out of and coming into my space.  We've been working with this mostly on lead, but sometimes at liberty, like when I'd like her to come forward with me while I'm setting up poles for us to work on.  

Opal's pasture mate Satin decided to join us in the arena one day to play.  She would go off and roll, walk around, then come into where Opal was and play the yo-yo game along with her.  Both mares enjoyed the game.

 Buddies playing together.

I brought my little speakers into the arena today to ride to some music with Opal.  Some horses like a type of music, others prefer one artist over another, I know one who doesn't care for higher toned music, but I'm not sure where Opal stands.  Not knowing what she liked, I stuck my iPod on shuffle.  We didn't get through lots of songs today, but at least she liked Collective Soul, which is great because they sing the song that inspired her name, Precious Declaration.  I'm sure I'll be riding to more music the next few rides.

The importance of riding calm, centered, and proper equitation.  Usually I need to send energy to Opal to get her moving.  While riding near sunset today, the neighbors were out throwing balls for their dogs to run and chase after.  Shadows and moving at sunset, running near you, and you can't see what they are, Opal spooked.  She did a 360 to the left, a real fast spin and came to a halt once I said "ho".  I talked to her, spent some time with her standing there looking at the dogs so she could see they would not hurt her.  She calmed right down.

Now, raising my voice at her and shouting "HO" could have made her more nervous.  "Oh my, Mom's scared, it MUST be a really scary thing over there, run away!"  If I had been leaning forward, or off to one side or another, I might have been in the dirt.  Being relaxed and centered in the saddle kept me in the saddle and on her back.  I'm not worried about hitting the ground, but if I ride correctly and balanced, I'm less likely to end up looking up at my horse. 

12 week challenge 
Hours logged this week: 5
Total hours: 20 (half way there)
Rides: 3

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kids and Horses.

Kids and Horses.
 Lounging in the wagon watching Mommy ride.

Day 71:

Today's post is all about Opal since Ehawee enjoined a turn out grazing day.  Today I saddled Opal up for a ride in the horse course.  I wanted to work her over the hill a few passes while getting her to bend and move off my leg.  We took the hill together both directions, and while she prefers going right, she did better today going left.  Another added challenge, Opal's pasture mate Satin was in the horse course as well with Marialaina working on some ground manners.  Opal had to work without going right over to see her friend.

Opal standing at the tie pole. (Left)  Satin in the horse course. (Right)

She's had an amazing journey to this point.  Calm, level headed, smart, willing to learn, and trusting.  My daughter has been wanting to ride her since we saw her at BLM in June, and since her horse (Ehawee) is just getting back into action, once I felt Opal was ready, I promised her that she could.  Today was that day.  Opal was calm and listened to my Daughter's commands, walk, ho, and back.  My Daughter even pet her telling her "Good girl" and used the clicker as well.  Opal would look to me from time to time as if to ask "do I do what she told me to Mom?".  I walked them around on a lead rope and once they were both comfortable, we walked back to my tack room to end the ride.  Greg took a few pictures of the three of us together as well.  Amazing day.

Opal and my Daughter go for a ride.


12 week challenge 
Hours logged today: 3
Total hours: 15
Rides: 2

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A busy week.

A busy week. 

Bracelets made from my mare's tails.
 Day 68/69/70:

Opal had a full week of handling this week.  Lots of in hand work as well as a ride.  OF course the day I rode it was pretty windy, but I'm use to that now.  I've been working with Opal and staying out of my space unless invited while we are working.  Until now she's come to me for security in 'scary' situations, however, since she's progressing more, she can learn to stand/ground tie near me without coming into my space.  She did well once she got the concept.  I also showed her small clippers.  While she wasn't totally sold on the idea of these noise makers being near her nose, she did end up touching them.

We rode for the first time this year.  She did pretty good, until she decided she wanted to go see her friend instead of heading to the other end of the arena where I was asking her to go.  While we started this at the trot, we eventually went to the walk until she got the idea of what I wanted. Opal got some new saddle bags for Christmas and got to try them on today, I think they will do great!

Clippers, we aren't sure about these yet.
Pretty snazzy saddle bags, Thanks Grandmare!

 After a hard day's work, its nice to enjoy the scraps of hay off the truck.

12 week challenge 
Hours logged this week: 10
Total hours: 12
Rides: 1

Ehawee has had a fun week getting to know a new friend, Linda.  Linda has been helping around our ranch for a while now and is starting to work with some horses, including Ehawee.  Linda loves to just brush and love on Ehawee, and Ehawee is more than happy to eat up all the attention (and carrots).  The two of them worked in the horse course today and did very well.  Ehawee has put weight on and is starting to build muscle again, her hoof only has the slightest bump at the bottom of it form her injury nearly a year ago.  

On a side note:  
I always do a one last look before I leave the barn.  This week it paid off.  We had a horse get cast (stuck) under the pipe fencing after a roll.  We ended up having to undo the fencing to get him out, but since I saw him, he was only down maybe a hour total versus two or more hours until feeding time.  This horse also was well trained in easy and ho, making it a thousand times easier to work with him.  Get in the habit, one last look over before you drive away, it may save a life one day.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Welcome to 2014!

Welcome to 2014! 
 Opal hardly holds still long enough for me to take close shots like this.

Day 67:

Hope everyone had a happy New Year and is ready to get the year going.  I was recently invited to join a 12 week horsemanship challenge group on Facebook.  12 weeks, 40 hours and in those 40 hours, get 30 rides in.  Its simple really, if you want to progress forward, you have to put in the work.  This group started as a winter challenge group for a couple of friends, to hold themselves accountable and push through the winter gloom, funk, and come out with a stronger bond with their mount of choice.  Since Ehawee will be ridden soon again, I picked Opal because I can ride her now.  I'll be logging those hours at the end of each post I do here.It starts January 5th and runs through March 29th.

Today Opal and I spent time grooming, working on ground manners, picking hooves, and games in the arena.  This was after she decided to follow me into my tack room.  As far as she could get in...which was the back wall.  Twice!  Silly mare.

 Opal's shenanigans today.

12 week challenge 
Hours logged today: 2
Total hours: 2
Rides: 0


Ehawee is looking so much better now that she has some weight on her.  She's even got some spunk in her step.  I spent time with her grooming her and letting her stretch her legs out since it was her first day back after the holidays.

 Ehawee having fun today.