Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Good Visit with the Boys, and a Few Pictures

Today I made the trip to Wisconsin to visit the boys, and rode both of them in lessons with Heather.  Drifter was up first - he volunteered.  One of his eyes was a bit irritated, so we medicated it.  Drifter was very good today, although there was one spook/scoot/bolt that he came back nicely from.  His forward was a bit sticky today - some hopping into the trot from the walk that we had to work on - Heather thinks he may be a bit stiff from all the weather changes from cold to hot and back to cold again.  I was able to get some decent walk/trot transitions by keeping my hands low - he seemed to be putting his head up and bracing against the bit and throwing himself forward to avoid using his hind end.  He was also distracted by horses coming and going, and we worked through that - he's staring his Chaste Tree berry today, which should help (although why any horse would eat that foul smelling stuff is beyond me). We worked through that just fine and got some nice work done.  Throughout my ride, I continued to work on keeping my focus point at treetop level to counteract my tendency to look down and slouch.

I rode Pie in my trainer's saddle - my objective with him was to do a lot less and keep my body and legs very quiet - this meant keeping my heels down and eyes and head up - it worked like a charm and helped Pie move better as I wasn't over-weighting his forhand.   We had a great session, starting with warm up on a looser rein, and then lots of softening work at walk and trot, slow/fast trot and transitions.  The objective with him is forward and gait quality first, and softening second.  The quality of his gaits now is amazing - he's forward and using his body - he's discovered that he doesn't have to slug around and his body now permits him to move when before he was tight and bound up.  I carried a dressage whip for use as a secondary aid, so that I never took my leg aids above very slight pressure. His neck has completely changed shape - there is now a defined top line with muscle when before his neck was muscle-heavy on the bottom.  And we did some lovely canter work today - the objective was just to keep going at the canter and encourage him to keep his head low rather than inverted - no real softening work yet as he's not quite ready for that.

Heather thinks Pie should be ready to come home by the end of next week.  He's basically an unspoiled green horse that needed some training, and that's all coming along well and I should be able to continue that.  Drifter will be staying with Heather for the month of April - a horse with bad/inconsistent training takes more work than a greenie who hasn't been messed up.  Drifter is making very good progress, but Heather wants to continue to work with him to disrupt some of his old patterns and build in some new ones - it's like a person developing new habits to replace old habits and that takes time, and she wants to take him to some new places to work through that before I have to deal with him moving to a new barn.  She's also going to be trailering both boys out to other arenas and trails for them to have new experiences, and she and I will be doing some groundwork with Drifter - I'm likely to need this when he moves to the new barn.  I'm delighted with how they're both doing and very pleased with the work Heather is doing with them and with me.

And I took tracings and photos to help with their saddle fitting - I'm talking to Dave at About the Horse about ordering a trail saddle that will work for both boys - they're both riding now in Heather's #2 About the Horse tree, which fits them both well, so that's likely to be fine.

Here's Pie having the end of his nap - sweet boy!:


Here's how Pie is looking these days (sorry for the cut-off head but the saddle fitter doesn't care):


And Drifter says "what about me?":


And Drifter models for the saddle maker:


And in Dawn news, she's been on UlcerGard for three days, and her appetite is already noticably improved - she's really chowing down on her hay - and her feisty mare-itude is back, which is a very good sign.

I'll be visiting the boys again on Friday, and can't wait!

13 comments:

  1. All kinds of good things are happening in your world. Enjoy, Enjoy!

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  2. What excellent progress everyone is making!!! That's wonderful.

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  3. I'm glad to hear they're progressing so well! They're both such handsome boys, too!

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  4. I've been away for a while (busy getting house up for sale)... Seems like you've been busy! Thanks for the saddle lead. I love my used Natural Performer Parelli saddle, but the person I bought it from is kind enough to buy it back as the fenders are too long for me. It is light weight and very comfortable... but I will still shop around a bit.

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  5. The boys are lookin' good! So glad Dawn is getting back to her normal self.

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  6. I remember when I put Jackson on the GastroGuard he got what my vet and I labeled "sassy" -- sounds like Dawn is feeling that way too. Yay!!

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  7. Great progress and good news that Pie will be home soon.

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  8. Pie sure sounds like he is making big changes. He sounds like a pleasure to ride. What are you doing to encourage him to keep his head low? That's an ongoing struggle I have with Pippin.
    How great that Dawn has responded so markedly to the UlcerGuard. What a relief... well, maybe the mare-itude isn't so neat ;-)

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    1. Dreaming - the way I encouraged Pie to keep his head low was just a modified form of softening work - longer reins, hands low and apart, creating a "box" within which he could find zero pressure when his head was lowered, but still providing him with some direction, and also increasing the pressure if his head came up. Hope that makes some sense!

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    2. Thanks. Makes sense and it basically goes along what I've been doing. We've (the trainer and I) have struggled as Pippin doesn't give in to pressure on both reins, so we've worked on using one rein and getting him to lower his head as he circles. So, I guess we are creating that comfortable region when he brings his head in and down. So, I guess I'm on the right track!

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  9. I love to hear when fixes work. Good for Dawn. The boys look great and sounds like your work with them at the trainers is invaluable. My filly goes in four days and I absolutely cannot wait to do the same.

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  10. Good for Dawn. Ulcers can be very secretive and if the Ulcergard creates a positive change, then there's not much need to scope.

    Your boys are doing really well. It's exciting to hear that Pie will be back with you soon. I agree that training a green horse is much easier than retraining one that's had some dodgy experiences. Once again, your trainer is very perceptive.

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