Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Today it made it to almost 50F although there was quite a bit of wind, making it feel a lot colder.  We're expecting rain on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, so I decided to try to get in rides on Dawn and Drifter before I left for my music lessons, in order to cement our getting back into work.

Dawn was first up.  I tied her in the arena and groomed and tacked her.  Yesterday she was clearly uncomfortable in her usual bit - a single jointed Mylar snaffle - so I bridled her with the ported Mylar snaffle - it's a bit with very good tongue relief - and it was clear from the moment I put it on her that it was a no go - she gaped her mouth, shook her head, and lolled her tongue - she's always been a horse that readily accepts the bit and never fusses so this is very much out of the ordinary.  I can only conclude that her tongue was badly enough injured back in December - the cut was over 4 inches long and very deep - that as a result of how it healed either the bit is uncomfortable or somehow the sensitivity has changed in a way that make the bit feel funny.  So I took off the bridle and got Pie's sidepull.  She'd never been ridden in it before, but the action is very similar to my "modified" Dr. Cook's with the crossover disabled - although her head shape is more "normal" so she doesn't need the extender on the jowl strap.  We did a moment of in-hand work, including some backing, to confirm that she was good to go with it and she was.

Then we did a brief refresher on standing still after I get on - she'd been inclined to be a bit rushy the last time we rode.  That was quickly fixed - she knows how to do it but is just eager to go.  Once I was mounted up, we did some figure work involving the cones at the walk, and also some backing and just standing halted.  She did very well - I was encouraging her to stretch down as she's a horse that tends to "cramp up" with her head and neck.  Good Dawn!

Then I got Drifter out of his paddock.  This was the first time he'd been worked in the morning, and he took it well - I expect the poor boy is so bored all by himself in the paddock that he welcomes the interaction.  I suppose that's one unintended side benefit of his being in isolation for three weeks.  There was one big new first for him - after a brief period of free lungeing - he wasn't too high energy - I ground tied him to groom, and picked all four feet successfully, and easily, while he was ground tied.  For a horse that would snatch his fronts away and cow kick with his backs, this is really good progress (and I picked his feet again in the stall tonight and he was perfect again).  He got lots of praise for his good behavior, which was even more remarkable because he had to watch Sugar head out on a trail ride while I was grooming.

His mounting work improves with each session - today it didn't take long at all to reestablish coming up to the block in the correct position and standing for everything - today I mounted and dismounted several times and he didn't move a muscle although he was on a completely loose rein.  Then we did about 15 minutes of work on speed regulation and halting, both on minimal pressure - he's beginning to glimpse the idea and his backing is improved as well - in our next ride or so I should be able to really make progress on this by taking longer and really working on it, but today the objective was just to confirm his mounting work and have him enjoy his ridden work for a fairly short interval, to build on what we did a few days ago - it's only his second ride since last fall and he's still learning not to be a baby.  And I was reminded of another "baby" trait he has that I now remember from last fall because he wasn't getting the direction he needed - he likes to head to the arena gate - I expect this is another learned behavior - he tried that on a few times with me today but I didn't pay much attention and kept directing him away - he complied pretty easily so I expect that behavior will disappear pretty quickly.  Good Drifter!

And after I got back from my music lessons I was able to squeeze in a lovely trail ride on Pie - we were with Charisma and did lots of trotting - it was a lovely afternoon and a good time was had by all.  Good Pie!

13 comments:

  1. Kate, I admire your dedication to getting as much work with your horses as you do. Good stuff.

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  2. Busy....busy...busy. I hope it's 50 here tomorrow! You are one disciplined woman!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Three great rides on three great horses! Isn't this spring-like weather the best?!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It sounds like consistency really paid off with him. Smart boy--he's coming along fast.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are getting so much work done! I am jealous! Sounds like everyone was really well behaved. A testament to the good work you are doing

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kate, have you described how you train the to the mounting block? I have seen many different approaches and I'm curious what yours is.

    Scritches to all three from their Texas fan!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good for you and them getting in some nice work. Drifter is coming around quickly, smart boy. Wonder what's up with Dawn's tongue, you would think it would be healed by now. Pie was perfect as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  8. So glad the weather is improving and that you got in rides on all three sweeties!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Breathe - the standing still for mounting work is described in detail in this post, which is also on the sidebar:

    ayearwithhorses.blogspot.com/2011/01/working-towards-softness-patience-and.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. The situation with Dawn's tongue and the bit is worrisome. While bitless is always an option, being able to use a bit is a handy thing too. I do hope she will be OK for it. *frown of worry*

    Good Drifter and Good Pie. All that horse searching seems to have turned up two real gems.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's so useful to have them stand still when you get on. Echo will stand perfectly if we're schooling, but if I'm going out hacking, she can't contain herself and just wants to go!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great post and I enjoyed my first visit to your blog. I too am working with a gelding that seems to have issues with bits.

    Look forward to your future posts.

    ReplyDelete
  13. How wonderful that Dawn did well with the side pull! Sounds like a lovely day all around!
    Sue

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting - we appreciate it. No spam or marketing comments will be published.