Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Little Bit of Work

Maisie and Dawn and I haven't been able to get any work done for days - it's just been too darn hot. Today the heat index stayed under 90F, so I decided we'd try to do just a little bit of work. Poor Noble was very hot and sweaty when I got to the barn, so I gave him a rinse with cold water, scraped him off and put him in his stall under the fan. Then I got Maisie, after retrieving Dawn's ditched fly mask (with velcro still attached - I'd like to see her get out of it) from the pasture.

Maisie had just had her trim and new front shoes this morning, so I wasn't planning on doing much, but just wanted to get on and ride. We took a short walking trail ride - she was able to stay on the grass on the sides - and despite fly and mosquito spray were beset by many biting insects including deer flies, mosquitos and green-headed flies, which are slow but have a wicked bite. Luckily, no B-52s (our name for those huge deadly black horse flies) made an appearance. She got a rinse off too and I put her in a small grass paddock to dry.

Then Dawn got a little work. She's in heat - not raging heat yet but just coming into heat. She was very vocal when Maisie was having her feet done and when Maisie rejoined her in the pasture. Maisie's in heat too although it's not as obvious. But Dawn wasn't too distracted, so perhaps the Mare Magic is making a difference. My goal for today was to work on a verbal whoa with Dawn, which also allowed us to work on our downwards walk/halt transition. Until this is solid, and the verbal whoa is well-established, we won't move on to trot work. Getting forward with Dawn is never a problem, but getting downwards transitions and relaxation at any time often is. Before I got on, we did a bit of lungeing/one-rein ground driving to work on the whoa from the ground. We got a couple good ones in each direction, and then I got on.

I wanted the walk/halt transition within 3 steps using the verbal cue, as well as my seat and then hands, and without having to up the pressure on the reins above a 1 (where 0 is no pressure and 10 is the most pressure you could use), and without her bracing or inverting and putting her head up in the air. We got there in both directions - I'd like it to be cleaner but it'll get better as we work on it. This verbal whoa would be a perfect use of clicker, but Dawn's neck is short and thick and I'm pretty tall with back trouble - getting my hand with the treat to her mouth requires contortions on both our parts that aren't very comfortable.

Then we did some walking over single poles. For such an athletic horse, Dawn sometimes isn't sure where her feet are and has trouble placing her feet to walk calmly over the pole (there's some mental/emotional issues with poles and jumps as well due to some history). This causes her to worry and rush. I'm working on allowing her to find her way over calmly. We've made a lot of progress. She struggled over one pole - coming in with her feet too far away and tripping - and when we approached the pole again she balked and started to back. I didn't up the pressure - I don't do that with Dawn - but just turned away and we did several other poles before coming back to the one that worried her. That time she did just fine and we stopped there. The flies were terrible but I was very pleased with her for sticking with the work. Then she got a well-deserved rinse.

* * * * * *
One of things that irritates me about blogs is how hard it is to get an overview of what the person has done and written about over time. When you start reading a blog after it's been going for a while, your only options are to look at sidebars and favorite posts and labels. There's a new feature on Blogger that lets you add separate pages, and many bloggers seen to be taking advantage of this. These pages can be either static or indices to other things, as I understand it - I'm still figuring it out. I'm thinking of trying to put together some pages or referenced short posts with some of the exercises I do with my horses, both on the ground and under saddle. The descriptions of these things are now buried in the blog's history, and included in posts that often cover other things, and I (ahem) have a tendency to be somewhat verbose. So I'm thinking succinct descriptions of exercises that I can refer to myself and set up so other people can find them too if they want. We'll see if I can pull this off!


  1. First of all good luck with figuring out the whole blogger thing. I changed my page yesterday and it wouldn't post in Safari and Internet Explorer. I finally fixed it but it was annoying.

    I'm glad you got to work a little with both girls today. It was still just too hot and humid here to consider work of any kind with the horses.

    I think it's a great idea to do the verbal commands first before moving on. That's what I do too. And the poles are a nice training tool. Have a nice weekend.

  2. Blogger drives me so insane sometimes that I've avoided messing with my page very much. I do like your widget you added that is at the bottom of each post (the one where you can share the post via e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc.) Where did you find that one? I'm sure it is a common one but just as Dawn has some history with poles/jumping, blogger and I have some history together as well!

  3. Good job working in some tough conditions. All riding is off this week for me due to the heat :(

    I think your ideas for the blog would be very useful. Good luck! I'm like Melissa, I have little patience with sprucing up my page. I'd like to but just don't have the drive to make the time to figure things out!

  4. The most powerful tool is tags, really. If you organize your tags well, people can find the things that interest them. Search is another good tool.

    Ironically I learn a great deal from that random blog post it puts at the bottom of some posts. If I've read something I like, I'll go with that.

    It depends on the goal, I think. Mine is quite different from the one at work - I run the blog there and it's intended to really push out information in an organized fashion.

    Here, my blog reading and writing time is an attempt to connect emotionally and mentally with other horse geeks ... er... passionate individuals and learn.

    I love the way you're working with Dawn. I want to focus more on downward transitions in the saddle with Cibolo. You've given me some ideas to work on.

  5. I wouldn't even consider riding in this BIG FAT HEATWAVE THAT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY. The horses are soaked within 1/2 hour in the pasture and I have been melting too. Your are one tough cookie to ride in this.

    Figure out that blogger stuff and then you can explain it to the rest of us.

  6. That is dedication! Riding in that heat? Phew!.......Makes you want to faint, just readin` about it!

  7. I've often though I should go back and add tags. I didn't do it initially, so now here I am 300+ posts later. My rationale for not doing it is, I usually have so few people actually reading my blog, nobody would care. I'm making it up as I go and mine is basically a blog about nothing (like Seinfeld) anyway. See? Talked myself out of it again.

  8. We have been taking a bit of a training break due to extreme heat as well.

    Thanks for the reminder that work at the walk is just as valid as any other gait... having a solid halt and a lovely self supported walk are the foundation for everything else.

    Also thinking about retooling my blog. After getting acquainted with a number of beautifully crafted, informative blogs, (shameless pandering?) I have some great ideas about where I want to go with mine.

    I'm very new to blogging, and a bit disappointed with Blogger... for instance I can't get comments to show up under my posts - tried everything... any suggestions? However a new look, tagging, and the seperate page functions are on my list for this weekend.

    Thanks for the inspiration :)

  9. Valentino - I think pop-up windows have to be enabled (e.g. not blocked) for the comments to show up properly). If that doesn't help, try the Blogger help forum, and there's a blog run by a Blogger expert that is often very helpful - it's at:

    Good luck!

  10. Kate -

    Blogger help doesn't help - I have followed all of their suggestions already.

    Better luck with the Blogger expert who suggested a way to highlight the comments link.

    Alas - not everyone can achieve emedded comments.

    As with riding, even if the ultimate goal isn't met today, the journey is still a valuable learning experience.

    Thanks for the information - have a great weekend :)

  11. Good work in the heat. I'm impressed.

    But the flies and biting bugs are horrible this year. I have far more here then ever before. The early season wet must have help their breeding conditions and now, in the heat, they are flourishing.

    No B52's here yet, either, thank goodness.


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