Monday, March 19, 2012

Dawn Canter Celebration, and Ick! a Tick!

Today was a big day for Dawn and me.  For those of you who have reasonably quiet horses and who routinely canter in the arena and even on the trail, what Dawn and I did today may seem like not much, but for us - at least for me - it was big progress.  Today we cantered - the first time we've cantered since last May at the Mark Rashid clinic.  That canter work last May wasn't much - we really weren't comfortable enough with each other at that point to canter effectively.  As Mark said, Dawn is "not an easy ride", and she's a horse who prefers to travel at speed and tends to work herself up as she goes.  She's only bolted and bucked (there's almost always bucking if there's bolting) with me once, but I've seen her do it a number of times with my daughter.  I've cantered her before in a familiar arena, but not that much.  Mark tasked us at the clinic to trot, and trot and trot some more - at all tempos and working to maintain our softness - until it was possible for us to just slip into canter without any drama on either side.  Today was the day we crossed this river - we were by ourselves in the arena, it was warm weather, Dawn was feeling good after her chiro work last week, and she was soft and responsive at the walk and trot - we even did some nice stretching down trot work on a looser rein.  And even after three days off, she was relaxed (for Dawn - Dawn is never anything but forward and alert) and attentive.

So after some trot work, including some nice lengthening and shortening, and some transitions, I sat the trot and cued for left lead canter.  She stepped flawlessly into canter - the transition was beautiful - like butter - and maintained her softness for several large circles.  After a rest, we cantered again on the left lead, again with a lovely transition, this time making several laps of the whole arena and also some large circles.  Another rest break, followed by a bit more trot work.  Then we cantered to the right as well - another perfect transition, although the canter itself wasn't quite as smooth - her right lead isn't as good yet - although for her right lead canter it was pretty darn good.  We went back to some walk and trot work, but she was starting to rev up and anticipate - anytime I sat the trot she was thinking we were about to canter (I'll mix it up next time), so we didn't canter any more today.

She was very, very good - we've come a long way together - and I was delighted with her and told her so.  I see a lot more canter work in our future . . .

And in other news, the bugs are back in force - we've had a whole string of days and days in the upper 70s and even 80sF, which is unheard of for our part of the world at this time of year.  We've got gnats, flies and mosquitos, and a few days ago I looked down to see . . . a tick (ick!!!) crawling on my arm.  Usually March, April and even most of May are pest-free, but not this year.  A lady at my barn gave me this fly spray recipe - I haven't tried it yet but it looks good:

15 oz water
5 oz vinegar (she uses apple cider vinegar)
2 oz vegetable oil
2 oz dish soap
4 oz mouthwash (of your choice)
about 20 drops clove oil (until it smells good)
about 10 drops citronella


  1. Hurray! for a great canter session with Dawn. I know just how you feel, she sounds an awful lot like Dusty in her attitudes. I'm happy for you that you've crossed the river and things are going so well with her.I wonder if it might be due to the fact she's getting ridden more consistently with the indoor and she's looking to you for direction since she's not the alpha in the herd anymore. Whatever the reason it's great news.

    We've had 83 today, also unheard of this time of year. Saw a fly on Donnie this morning. I know the ticks aren't far behind. Yuk.

  2. So happy for you, that is a HUGE deal!!

    I'll be curious to hear your report on the fly spray. I've tried a few different essential oil recipes (and using vinegar, listerine, etc) for fly spray and honestly they didn't work any better than "pesticide" fly spray. In fact I always think they are less effective. However I would love to find a fly spray that doesn't require me to breathe in nasty chemicals or get it on my skin every time I use it and that also actually repels flies. So I'm hoping this recipe you have is effective!

  3. I'm so glad to hear you had a good canter experience. My trainer has had us canter the same way that Mark evidently had you guys canter.

  4. Dawn and Lilly are a lot alike! I'm glad she was so good for you at the canter today... congratulations! Sounds like all that hard work paid off.

  5. Congrats! Your hard work is paying off. (And sorry if you get this twice.)

  6. What a day! Very happy for you and have become quite the team.
    I bet you will sleep well tonight.
    Thanks for the fly spray recipe. I seldom use it, but that sounds like a good one.

  7. Yay for great canter work! Winston doesn't buck or bolt but he does go awfully fast, and then he gets excited about going fast, and then he's hard to stop. So, sometimes I just don't canter. He has to be soft like butter (love your description) in his body and his brain or I don't even go there. Cold weather here in California. What's up with this?!

  8. Congratulations! Did you feeling like yelling out with happiness? I had a huge smile on face reading your post because I understand exactly where you are coming from. I am soooo excited for you!

  9. Yeah! That is so awesome Kate!

  10. this is fantastic news! It nice to read about your progress! Let me know how the bug spray works for you im sure it would be much cheaper than store bought stuff. I need to figure out what i am going to do for G since our barn is practically built on a swamp lol

  11. That sounds like a lovely ride :) A good smooth calm canter can cure anything!
    I'll be looking for your review on this homemade fly spray (if you end up making/using it) as we have yet to find a perfect spray. I'd love to stop using Mosquito Halt as I can't stand all the toxins but it's a great product. Not to mention costly.

  12. Congratulations! That's a super accomplishment. Hope Dawn got a nice hug afterwards and perhaps an extra carrot or two????

    We have ticks here all winter, I fear. Fortunately, the other bugs disappear. I am not looking forward to "bug" season this year as it's been a too warm winter. I may end up trying your recipe....

  13. Fantastic news! What an absolutely liberating moment!

    You might add a wee bit of garlic to reduce flies. They use fly predators at our barn, works pretty well at keeping the numbers down.

    Let us know how they fly spray works. I haven't had much luck with homemade recipes. They work for a minute, then that's it.


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