Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 2: Getting started

We started off the week with all sorts of good intentions. I pulled macho out and grabbed my tack from where I've been storing it in my office, only to find the Vienna reins were missing. I've never been in such a big barn, and I forget how important it is to never leave a thing out! Not sure if they got left in the arena, the tie rail, or actually were taken out of my office. Hope they show up, but will have to rethink the lunging plan.

So with the loss of equipment heavy on my mind, I set out to lunge. This time we tried the line over his poll to connect to the other side of the bit. This did seem to help. It is not my preference, but neither is rocketing around! Our goal for the session was walk trot walk transitions. I only slipped in a little canter, and stopped it before he could build to the kite flying stage. He was certainly improved. I just want to slow everything down with him.

So with that same idea I came out on Tuesday with the plan for a walk only ride. He expects walk trot canter and gets anxious, so I switched it up. We did 20 minutes of walk exercises. We started out with a loose rein walk and just letting him walk out on the buckle. He did great. As expected, when I picked up contact he thought trot, canter, stress, etc. He also has some contact evasion issues. He clearly has been taught, even if only briefly at the rescue, that rein contact means put your head down and in. So my biggest goal right now is encouraging him to accept the contact without hiding behind the vertical or fighting by tossing his head up. We focused on straight even contact, following hands, a marching walk, pushing his nose out and forward with the swing of his walk, and subtly lifting the reins when he got too low.  Then I added in changing bend first with circles, then serpentines. He is very attentive to change of weight, so he responds beautifully to seat bones. The work was great. He threw in a ¼ spin and kick out for good measure. Guess he thought we should be trotting! And that would be why we're walking. Hoping to find his brain again before we ask for more.

After our ride he was turned out with his pen mates into our very muddy outdoor arena, where he coated half his body in awful mud. Of course it's too cold to rinse, and he wasn't dry enough to knock it off until after I started teaching afternoon lessons, so he got to stay that way.

Wednesday I got out early enough to find the indoor arena empty!!! So I didn't waste a second getting the mud off, I just turned him out immediately. Our gate is not really meant to hold horses so much as deter them from leaving while ridden, so I had to stand guard there to be sure he didn't just shove through. But that was fine, he clearly didn't need any encouragement to run! I only encouraged him to not run me down or jump the wall! He ran for 3 minutes straight before even stopping for a breather. Clearly he had some pent up energy! He totally forgot to even roll.

Hope I can catch a free arena a few times a week for this. After his gallop, I just cleaned the mud off, and got on with my day. Thursday and Friday didn't allow any time, so aside form mud arena turnout and more rolling, he got off easy. It's looking like major snow really next week, so either I'll have the place to myself and extra time, or I won't be able to get out at all. We'll see what the storm brings!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Re-Start for Macho

The plan with Macho will be Monday, Wednesday, Fridays. So I pulled him out last Friday to officially start. So this will be our official starting picture as a baseline.

Now I've only been on him a handful of times in the past, and all were last fall: trial at the rescue after another rider, two or three rides the first two weeks, and one trail ride. Think I also pulled him out to lunge him the first two days we had him on site. Other than that he's had a mix of people on him over a few months, and when it became clear that wasn't going to be the best for him and most had lost interest, I volunteered.

So Friday was sort of our chance to start over. I tacked him up in the bridle and surcingle with the idea that at some point I'll start him in Vienna reins. There was already one horse lunging at the gate end and one jumping at the far end, so we took about 10 minutes to just walk in hand while waiting for a lunging spot to clear. Turned out to be a great easy warm up for him for his mind and body. I got him to stop speed waking ahead of me and halt when I stopped.

Lunging started out fine, forward, but that was to be expected since I think it's been well over a week since he last left his pen. He clearly wanted to roll in the lovely indoor footing, so he did a ton of trotting with his nose to the ground, but continued to trot like i asked. Great stretch, and it slowed him down, so I took advantage of the situation. Then heading right,  our lunging just turned into kite flying…with a strong wind!

This boy can barrel around.

Things I'm pleased to see-
If he picks up the wrong lead or is cantering disunited from bucking/playing, he will quite naturally fix it with a flying change.
After charging around to the right, we worked on walk trot transitions until he was quiet and listening.

It was a good place to end, so adding side reins will be an adventure for another day. I am always very careful with introducing them to any horse that may not have had them on before, so we'll wait for the right day.

The hardest part will be having the patience to wait a few days in between. It's killing me to have to wait until Monday, but I do love my time with my toddler and husband, so I'll remind myself that this is all a balancing act.

Friday, January 22, 2016

New Era in Training Projects

I have had quite the change in life since first starting my training blog with Lola. When I bought and started her back in 2010 life was much more centered on my horses, both financially and with my time. Six years later I am pleased with what I accomplished with Lola, and managed to fit in getting married and having a baby. Although the baby changed things, and when faced with our second cross country move, I opted for a more secure home (temporarily) for Lola. She is currently on long-term lease and is happily packing around two adult ammies at BN at a friend's barn.

In the meantime, I've landed myself a new project. It will be temporary. He is not mine. But I'll take what I can get! Aside from a two day a week working student position, I don't get much saddle time since job at a riding school doesn't allow for much riding. So when it became clear that a horse at the riding school needed some ride time and training, I offered my time for free.

Here he is the first week we got him at the very end of October 2015. He's on the left. (They other two were adopted from the rescue at the same time. 

And then a better picture, but with about a week and a half more food in him.

His name is Macho Moono (funny race names). He is a 5 year old thoroughbred that came off the track last summer after 10 starts with only one win. He spent a few months at a rescue before we picked him up in the fall. He had an unknown amount of rides at the rescue, and has had all sorts of different people on him since coming to the riding school, but no regular program, just catch rides here and there. Last fall he initially felt pretty good (just green) at walk trot canter, but he got hotter and more anxious as time went on. Not surprising, more feed, more exercise, but no regular rider/training, so I'm optimistic that we'll find his happy place again, and then find him a job.

He's adorable, and I'm smitten, and have to remind myself daily that I don't own him, and cannot buy him. So I'll do what I can to give him a brighter future.

It may be 30 days, it may 6 months, really the situation may change at any moment, but for now, he's mine to set goals with. I've enjoyed the variety of horses I'm on at my working student barn, but there is nothing like having your own project to figure out. Can't wait!