Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekend Rides (long overdue post)

I contracted something that felt like the plague and coughing sneezing death on Monday this week. So writing this has taken a while, and it's very out of date. I'm sorry. I'm on a 4 drug cocktail with no diagnosis. I'm finally feeling better, so I'm of course going to attempt to see Penn tonight (I haven't seen him since Sunday).

This is my 200th post! Wahoo! I'm sure others out there have a bunch more though!

These rides go from Thursday 1/7 to Sunday 1/10.

I had an exceptionally frustrating ride on Thursday. I rode without my tall boots, so just in paddock boots. I hate doing that, but I don't have half chaps and I didn't have my tall boots.

Things started out ok- Penn was a bit speedy (that would be the theme of our ride). I asked for shoulder in, which he did exceptionally well for his skill level. I moved on to haunches in and approached it the same way Trainer had me. He was so fabulous, I was very pleased. I paid extra attention to where my legs went since I was extra aware of them without boots. He didn't relax as much into it as he did in lesson, but he was on the right path and I didn't cross my inside rein.

That's where it all went to hell. I asked for trot, off we went and he was such a speed demon. I was making an effort to post the trot too since I sit it too much. It was just awful. I worked my corners, then asked for a circle at E/B, work the next set of corners. He wanted to jump into canter as soon as I asked for the circle. He ended up doing a bit of a running walk when he'd want to speed off and I'd force him to stay slower. Canter was like a bomb went off under his tail.

Just awful and frustrating. I went to walk and let him walk on a long rein. He just about walked off his own feet. By this point, Penn was nervous and anxious.

I took a good hard look at what I was doing. It dawned on me that my lower leg isn't as steady as it is with boots. My paddock boots offer no ankle support or resistance, and I have very flexible ankles, so they tend to fold and float with pressure (hang out with me long enough and you'll be around when one of them folds in half and I biff it onto the floor). Penn is sensitive. I think the extra motion in my lower leg was goosing him forward. Classic case of leg says one thing, hands and seat say another. No wonder Penn was upset and confused.

I made an extra effort to fix me and stop trying to fix him - and he quieted down and became agreeable. I worked on canter a little, and by this point, adding any leg to cue for it was way too much cue. The best transition we had? When I adding a tiny about of inside seatbone scoop. He hopped off into canter and it was wonderful. Pat, end ride.

A very good long line day!

I decided to long line Penn Friday night instead of ride. I need to get my skills going again, and after a disastrous ride, I didn't really want to sit on him again. I wasn't happy about the limited hind end engagement that Penn offered on the lines, but every now and then I could half halt properly and he'd step under.

Poll: When you long line (I know I have several readers who want to learn, but I don't know how many have actually done it), do you have the outside line go around the horse's hind quarters and then to you on the circle, or do you pull the line over the spine and then to you? Why?

I was taught to have it go around the hindquarters and above the hocks, and that worked mostly well for Mikey. Every now and then it would sneak up and get snagged under his tail, I'd pull up and jiggle it back down. I cannot seem to make the line stay in place when long lining Penn. At all. I ended up pulling it over his back on Friday and I felt I had much better effect on him.

I was happiest with his canter work. I found a rhythm of half halt and forward in the trot that made him stand up and bend his body instead of rushing and leaning in, so I applied the same idea to canter. He automatically leans in horribly and disconnects on the long lines in canter. Apply half halts and keep the canter time to a lap or two at most and keep doing trot/canter/trot transitions and he eventually stood up and connected both directions. And quietly!

I let him quit after some good right lead canter work. As I was unhooking him, I thought about Megan's pi/pa post. I decided to start working on cueing him to lift individual legs on command. I'd watched a few of Alfredo Hernandez's videos on YouTube- the way he teaches horses to pi/pa just makes sense to me. (Incidentally, I mentioned what I was doing to another dressage rider who just rides and does a lot of auditing, no showing, and she mentioned a trainer near me who uses the same techniques. I don't have access to Alfredo, so this was great news for later on when Penn's actually ready to ride the movements).

I long lined him with a dressage whip (I'm not coordinated enough for a lunge whip and I think that much whip would send him into the next county), so I already had that in hand. I took off his front boots and started tapping on his left front leg.

He gave me a look like, "What the heck? I don't get it." As soon as I added a cluck to it, he lifted the leg I was tapping. Excessive praise, and then I'd tap the leg again. Eventually I could do it without the cluck. He caught on so quickly, within five minutes I could ask him to lift up any leg I wanted (front or back). When he lifts the fronts, he'd bring his knee way up and get his forearm parallel to the ground. Every now and then he'd let it have some hang time. When he'd lift the hinds, he'd bring the leg up high and under, and when he'd set it back down, he kept the leg under himself.

I was so thrilled with him. I know this is just a little thing in the grand scheme of training, but it was an excellent first step, and he seemed to just work in the right direction. I really want a bamboo pole now (or similar)! I tried to get Mikey to lift his feet using this method, and time after time, he just ignored me, so I gave up.

I hooked up the trailer in the rain and darkness (boo) for the last time (yay!) and brought it home. Of course, it stopped raining for me to drive home, then started pouring when husband backed it in and I was outside directing him. Hopefully the neighbors won't be too upset to see all of our cars, plus horse trailer, parked out front.

A little large to be in our driveway.

Saturday was BEAUTIFUL. And I spent the morning emptying the above trailer into the garage. It only has a 4x6 tack room, but I've become quite the pack rat.

The muck bucket and shavings, plus a hidden Stanley trunk live in the horse part of my trailer. The black and gray buckets aren't horsey either. But I seem to be a good packer because even when everything is in there, there's still room to stand and move around.

Some stuff won't go back in (my xc vest, Mikey's double bridle, a second pair of boots that I haven't worn for several years, helmet bag I don't use, etc), but most of it will.

Our house is a parking lot. Good thing we have a long driveway.

Driving to the barn ended up over exciting. A heat shield detached itself from under my car and made horrible grinding noises as I dragged it for a short distance until I could get pulled over. Mom always had me keep cardboard in my trunk to protect my back seats from anything horsey I might have to stuff back there, so I pulled that out to lay on while I tried to get the shield out from under my car. An older gentleman pulled over and asked what was wrong, and was able to pull the heat shield out for me...

One heat shield in my backseat.

I had an awesome ride in the outdoor. Posting the trot and all. Penn was relaxed and bright and springy and happy. He was happy to let me work out how to keep the tempo in posting trot without looking like a fool. I think he was just happy to work outside in the sunshine.

He had his first naughty baby horse moment! I asked him for right lead canter and went, but then he took a single bounding step with his head down and gave it a small shake. The horror! Haha. Knock on wood, he's a complete angel under saddle and hasn't ever put a foot wrong. Even the trainer who broke him to ride said he never crow hopped or bucked or anything in all the time she had him. I decided since Penn had enough energy to bound in canter, he had to canter laps around the outdoor. And do it properly. It was lovely!

The barn was pretty busy since the day was so nice- one of his buddies in the field by the outdoor ended up alone in the field and was not happy about it. Penn wanted to play with him from the outdoor, so I had to shut down that nonsense. I ended up making him do like 10 seconds more work before calling it quits- I'd gotten lovely walk, trot, canter work out of his both directions. Quiet, stretching, agreeable work. It could only go downhill from there, so I thought it best to quit while I was ahead instead of forcing Penn to work through his friend calling and running. Pick your battles right?

Sunday was dreadful- the wind was whipping, it was raining, then it was snowing. I went out to ride anyway, and fetching Penn from the field SUCKED.

I had a good ride again- the wind against the indoor's doors made him look a little, but he kept his head nicely and got to work. Walk and trot went well again, canter left a little to be desired, but I worked on his simple changes and I wasn't riding him as through as I needed to (gee, why did Mikey's flying changes fail? I'm setting Penn up for the same failure!!!). All I was looking for was a prompt come down to trot, and a prompt back up to canter. He does it much better from left to right (the bad direction to the good direction). Overall, I was still happy with him.

I worked a little more on tapping his legs. He remembered his first lesson very well!

He got a mane pull because he was looking unruly and it was still dreadful outside and I didn't want to put him back in the wind and rain... he has the clothes to keep him warm, so no problems there!

My trailer is almost done, however, the big truck batteries in the tack room are shot- they won't charge past 20%. It's around $200 to replace them, so they're not getting replaced for a while. They're about 20 years old, so they're long past their life expectancy. Husband is going to try "charging the shit out of them" to see if that helps break up the sulfates (or whatever he called them) that built up. He has a charger that measures the battery charge and tempers the power down as appropriate (he's been using those to charge them) and then he has another that just plows away full power at them until you unplug them (this will be the new method).

An item that popped up that needs to be fixed is my tack room door. The door frame was bent at some point in my trailer's previous life, and it makes the door hard to shut. The cold snap we got this past week and the amount of open/close the door was getting from Husband's work was enough to make it break. So husband forced it back on so he could lock it for the night, but that's on his list of things to fix tonight.

I'm going to try working Penn tonight- I got a report from Hawk that he's taking out his excess energy on Fiction's blankets! Bad Penn! We like Hawk and Fiction!!! :-(


  1. I hope you feel better soon. And congrats on the 200th post!

    I can't comment on the long lining because I don't really know how. I've done some pseudo stuff that my dad taught me but that was basically to teach our baby ranch horses go, whoa, right, and left. I would love to learn how to do it.

    1. I am starting to feel much better! I can function and do everyday activities like getting dressed, taking a shower without wanting to pass out, making my own breakfast, haha. I'm super excited to see Penn tonight!

  2. I've done it both ways - behind the butt is supposed to encourage them to use their hind end. Over the back is, in my opinion, a way to better encourage contact. I don't think there is a wrong or right way, rather they serve two different purposes.

    Poor Penn was so upset when I brought Fiction in last night to ride. He stood at the gate screaming for a good 30 minutes :(. Meanwhile Fiction just munched on his hay while I groomed him haha. Penn will be happy to see you tonight!

    1. I can see that- behind the butt = better engagement. Over the back, better contact. I always felt that the hind leg movement interfered with my outside rein contact.

      Ugh, Penn. I hope he isn't going to bond super closely to Fiction. They don't scream at all when I pull Penn in, so hopefully it's just Penn's problem when he's left with Cappuccino!

  3. busy busy! re: long lining, i've only ever done it with the line behind the horse's butt. anywho, hope you feel better asap! meanwhile i'm off to go watch alfredo videos on youtube lol

    1. Thanks for the input!
      I am feeling much better than before!
      And you'll love the videos, I did, haha!