Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Slowly But Surely

Desperately trying to get back on track here! I know some of this is going to be just boring daily recaps, but it helps remind me how much (or in my case, how little) I’m working my horses, so it’s doubling as my training diary -- if that bores you, I promise I’ll try to break it up with lots of cute pony and dog photos!
My last (real) entry was last Wednesday, chronicling our hay-stravaganza from the previous weekend. Wednesday night I unloaded hay and then ran over to see Ruby. I may or may not have lunged her -- I honestly can’t remember at this point (I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, much less what I did seven days ago, let’s be real). 
Totally worth it!
Thursday I had a real ride -- yay! Ruby, as always, was foot perfect even after my ridiculous schedule combined with her stupid fat leg gave her wayyyyy too much time off. I worked on some centerlines and the basic movements for the Training Level tests, since the goal was to enter a schooling show and I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be a complete disaster. No media, because I’m boring like that.
I did get a photo of her begging for peppermints, because, priorities....
Friday I lunged her -- I should have ridden, but I was still pretty wiped out. I’m not gonna lie, I spent most of Saturday (with the exception of chores), on my couch. Everything was soggy after a ridiculous amount of rain Wednesday/Thursday/Friday night, and I was a zombie -- doesn’t help that I am definitely in the process of coming down with a cold. Sunday was absolutely beautiful, DH dragged the arena and it was PERFECT, and I had super good intentions to ride both horses. Unfortunately, on what started as a trip to the grocery store, DH decided it would be a good day to road trip to visit some relatives, and there went any chance I had to ride. I’m not complaining, because family is important, and I had a nice day, but I was disappointed to waste such perfect riding weather, especially with a show coming up. But c’est la vie!
Primary job of dachshund owners -- restoring ears to factory default settings
The dogs enjoyed some sunshine this weekend
Which brings us to Monday -- I told DH in no uncertain terms that both horses had to be worked, and he was a trooper. I worked Cinna first, since she’s at home and easier to access. She came out a little baby dumb, and was kind of a butthead in the crossties for a minute. Over the weekend we switched to day turnout, so Monday she could see her boyfriends in the pasture from the crossties, and there was a small amount of shenanigans before she figured out “oh, time to work”. She was a little exuberant on the lunge line for some of her trot-canter transitions, and I was a little worried we might have a return to baby bucks, but I climbed on anyway. I decided to try the “treat at the mounting block” method, and she only took two steps this time -- hopefully next time will be even less! I am certainly not above bribing my horses for good behavior, haha. 
I had good intentions to edit new photos for the blog, but I was too tired last night. Excuse the repeats!
She walked off like a champ and was very attentive as I worked a lot on changing directions, quarterlines, centerlines, diagonals, and loops, as well as some walk - halt - walk work. Now that we have the basic “stop” and “go” basics, I want to fine-tune steering. I was pleased with how much better centerlines were from our last ride, and how quickly she picked up what I wanted. She does try very hard and she learns quickly, for all my making fun of her “baby brain”. Her “training” has been so sporadic over the past year, but honestly she is much farther along than I would expect considering how little of my undivided attention she gets. I think once show season is over I might swap her and Ruby, so that I can really dedicate some solid time to her over the winter -- Ruby has shown that I can leave her alone for months on end and she comes out the same horse, so it might be time to give her a break and spend the bulk of my time getting Cinna to that point. 
We even practiced some halts in case we, you know, make it to a schooling show or something.
I initially wasn’t sure I wanted to canter her (based on her upward transitions on the lunge line before I got on), but after she put in some solid trotwork, I decided to go for it. The upward transitions were much rougher than they’d been previously, and I really struggled to feel if she was on the correct lead -- I’m not sure if that’s a byproduct of how little saddle time I’ve had in the last month, or if it was her. She crossfired on the lunge a few times, so I would have her return to trot and start over, so I’m not sure if that was also happening under saddle? DH was not as helpful as I would have liked as my “eyes on the ground” because our barn cats were using him as a jungle gym, so hard to say. I do know we did eventually get some good canter both directions, including using the full arena instead of just keeping her on a 20 m circle like I have in the past -- easier to keep her from getting up a full head of steam if she’s on a circle. But she rewarded my trust by maintaining a reasonable canter the full length of the arena, even though I could feel her wanting to bolt after she passed the “scary” corners. 
After that we did quite a bit more trotwork -- I created my own little patterns of full arena circle - centerline - full arena circle the opposite way - sideways centerline (that’s what I call it when I cut the long side of the arena in half) - diagonal, etc, constantly changing what we were doing so she had to focus on me. She put in a good effort and worked up a good sweat, so we ended on quite a few more walk - halt - walk transitions. In previous rides she was kind of hit or miss with these, and sometimes she would violently throw her head around. Overcoming that habit was one of my September goals, so I was pretty happy to see that Monday night, we didn’t really have any of that. Not to say it won’t pop back up, but she was very pleasant for all her transitions. I was also pleasantly surprised that while she was aware of her boyfriends standing at the pasture gate (about 40 feet away from the arena), she didn’t necessarily gravitate towards that area of the arena like I kind of thought she might -- she was happy to work in pretty much the whole arena, although she did have doubts about her very own “troll corner”. She also gave a wide berth to the mounting block, as right after I mounted up it was claimed by the barn cats. As she got more confident in the work, she paid less attention to these things and more to me and my directions, so I’m fine with it. She’s a baby, she’ll sort it out!
To make more baby steps for another September goal, I had DH let us out of the arena so we could meander down to the mailbox and back. Last time we left the arena, we had Trigger as her “security blanket”. This time she had to fly solo. While she felt worried, I never felt unsafe. We walked from the arena down to the flagpole and circled it -- probably 500 feet? Although she gave the hairy eyeball to the dogs barking in the window, she kept on trucking. I even got her to stop and stand reasonably still down by the flagpole so DH could play paparazzi and take too many photos of us... haha. He’s a good sport :)
So much cheesin' in one photo.
After I untacked and got her settled, we headed out to see Ruby. I was dressed to ride, and I really should have, but I underestimated how much energy I would have left -- not riding regularly for the last few weeks really took a toll on me and I was pretty much spent by the time I made it to the barn, so I made do with lunging her. I consoled myself with the fact that I lunged her outside, where the footing was a little deeper after the rain, so at least she still got a decent workout even if I didn’t ride.
Since that was probably enough boring recap for one entry, I’ll save Tuesday’s shenanigans for another entry!


  1. i'm not the least bit surprised you were still so tired from all that hay work.... that sounded freakin intense! glad the horse are doing well tho :)

    1. I think it wiped me out so much more than normal because typically we might do one or two days in a row, but this ended up being closer to 4 by the time all was said and done...haha. Plus starting to come down with a cold -- gross! Thank goodness it's only a few times a year 😊

  2. I love tucking my dachshund mix's ears back and forth.

    1. With four of them, I have to fix ears multiple times a day.... haha. I love it :)