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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Ride with your heart and soul ~ your horse can feel it


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Odin Update

See the little teeny blob of a horse and rider?  That's me on Odin at our last lesson!
(photo courtesy of Nell, who was sitting on Zoey at the time)
Now sure, it's a blurry little cell pic, and we're nothing but a blip in the background, but... I noticed two things right away.
The first is I no longer look like Humpty Dumpty on a horse (yay 40lbs gone!) but more importantly, even as a little blob I can see that Odin is carrying himself much better - just look at him stepping up under himself. And this was early on in the lesson, he got much better as it went on.
What I *felt* in that lesson wasn't all an illusion :) 
We had really nice trot and canter work, man does he float when he really gets engaged and starts moving out!  Coach said I need to stop riding him like he's a colt and ride him like he's broke, until we get to something that he doesn't know. lol
I am so looking forward to getting him more 'broke' and started on barrels!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 Years Off My Life

Odin and I had a bit of a scary moment last week...

I was hauling him over to the neighbor's to ride in the indoor with a friend.  Went to load him and he stepped in just fine, tied him and just before I turned to get the divider he pulled back hard.  When he didn't get anywhere he set back and pulled back H.A.R.D.  He ended up slipping and falling.  When he jumped to his feet he lunged forward then set back again, did that a couple times.  Fell at least once more during all that.

*keep in mind I'm at the front of the trailer during all this with no place to go*

My mind was racing trying to figure out what to do.  I had already tried to untie him but he had pulled too hard and the "quick release knot" was jammed.  I didn't have a knife on me but I did have my phone.  Did I have time to wait for someone to get there to help and who would be the quickest to reach and get there?
He paused and I started talking to him.  I honestly don't know how I kept such a calm, logical tone of voice as I spoke to him because I was pretty damn nervous.  I babbled something about needing to stop being bad and act like a grownup, how he had been in the trailer plenty of times and knows how to load, I told him he needed to come and stand up at the front of the trailer beside me and just be g.o.o.d.  He calmed right down and stepped forward, then touched his nose to my elbow like he was saying "Sorry Mom.  I'm not sure why I freaked out." 
He wouldn't come forward quite enough for me to get the divider closed, but he stood stock still while I smacked him in the ass with it to try to get him to step forward.  Oh well, better than another freak out lol 
Then I talked to him about what our options were.  I didn't want to leave him in the trailer alone while I got a knife to cut the leadrope loose just in case he started to pull again.  The knot on the halter was jammed as well.
(so much for the theory that if you tie a rope halter properly you can un-jam the knot if they pull, I guess there's only so much pulling it can take at a time) 
Thankfully I park the truck and trailer beside the barn, I told Odin I was going to slip his halter over his ears, that when he was loose he needed to let me get out of the way and then he had to go to the gate and I'd let him into the alleyway.  Sure enough as soon as the halter was off and I was out of the trailer he stepped out and went right to the gate, I opened it and he walked into the alley nice and calm.  While he hung out eating some stray bits of hay off the ground I grabbed a different halter from the barn and caught him up again.
We went back to the trailer and I closed the divider and loaded him up in the back half.
(probably not the safest way to haul but I was going less than a mile, literally right next door)
I was quite happy with how calmly he just stepped right in, like not a thing had happened just minutes earlier (I know *I* was still shaking, and it wasn't until a few minutes into my ride that I stopped)
When we unloaded at the neighbor's we went right in to ride and he was just fine.  Moved out pretty nice, a bit of a looky-loo at first (it was his first time there).  Went to load to go home and he loaded just fine again.
Why he freaked out will be a mystery.  However it does underline something I've been noticing about this colt... he may have a bad moment here and there but it's usually pretty brief and he comes back SO nicely.  Like Monday night at our lesson, when I asked him to lope he kicked up with his hind end, I said in a stern voice "Hey now, none of that!" and he settled in to work.  Sure he was just feeling goofy but he stopped and came back with a good attitude and a good mind.  The trailer incident was the worst he's freaked out in ages, last time was during the first bit of doctoring that leg wound that was down to bone.  However I hope he doesn't freak out that big again, this one took 10 years off my life!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

That's Gonna Leave a Mark

Last night there was a barrel jackpot at Prairieland and I had the night off so heck yeah I was going!  Better yet, my bestie Nell was going to tag along which meant that I could take two horses :)
(There's a 'no tieing' rule at Prairieland so unless you rent a stall it's really tough to take two horses without a babysitter.  Fees are already a bit steep at these jackpots and being that I was going more to season Lefta and get Voodoo out again I was pretty sure there would be little to no money in it for me, I don't really like dishing out any more than I have to)

Nell and I had a quick warm up on the ponies before the time onlies started.  I had bought 2 minutes for Lefta, being as green on barrels as she is it's nice to put some work on the pattern with her right at a jackpot but before the run.  The huge turnout (over 50 open in the first jackpot, great numbers for a winter jackpot here!) and the amount of people that were wanting time only runs put the start time of the jackpot behind but they still gave us another warm up between the end of time onlies and starting the jackpots so we warmed up some more.  One of the times as she loped by Nell hollered "I love your horse!" :) 
After the second warm up she said Voodoo was feeling really good, moving nicely and he was very soft and responsive  
*keep this in mind*

I had entered both horses in the first jackpot but only Lefta in the second, testing out the "maybe Voodoo is a one run horse" theory.  I was up on Lefta first and we loped through, hey at the last jackpot she was trotting so there's some improvement lol
Then Nell and I switched horses, Voodoo was still really chill and we just hung out for what felt like forever.  (I was up something like 9th on Lefta and 51 on Voodoo)

During the rake just before my run for Voodoo I started to walk him around, and he was a jerk.  Kept trying to drift over and wouldn't keep his nice shape on the circle.  I kinda chuckled to myself and figured not much had changed.  We went in for our run and I was pretty happy that he didn't have any of the gate nonsense he had been having last year.
Our first barrel was okay but he came out quite out of position, heading more for the middle of the second barrel and could easily go to the wrong side so I lifted my rein and used my leg to push him over.  Over he went nice and easy, and then as we turned the barrel he D.O.V.E HARD.  We hit that dang (metal!!) barrel so hard that he actually knocked my stirrup right off my saddle!! :o
(only thing I can figure is that when he hit he also rubbed around the barrel and it made the blevins buckle slide??)
Going to third I knew I didn't have my inside stirrup but just figured I'd keep riding and try to catch it on the way home.  Yeah, obviously that didn't happen and when I went to get off I saw why lol
I turned toward the pen and one of the rakers was already running up with my stirrup.

I took Voodoo to Nell so we could switch horses and she said "I swear he wasn't bad during warm up!"  I told her it was okay and that I believed her, he's can be an angel during warm up but gets on the muscle and a bit ignorant when he knows his run is coming.  I got Nell to hold both horses so I could run to the washroom and check my leg - yep already bruising and a bloody scrape down the front of it just off my shin bone.  This morning it's very tender and swollen.  Darn metal barrels!!  Nice thank you from Voodoo for the two massages he's had in the last two or three weeks! ;)

The second jackpot started and I loped through on Lefta's next run.  It was a bit faster than her first, not much but still improving.  She's a bit all over the place going from first to second and drifts wide going to third.
I'm sure glad I talked to the neighbour about using his indoor, I see barrel practice in the future for two horses of mine ;) 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Brrr &*$^% Brrr!

I've lived almost my entire life here on the prairies, I know it gets cold in the winter.  But holy heck has 2015 started out C.O.L.D!  The weather icon on my computer has more often than not been a little red square with a lighting bolt instead of the temp... the dreaded weather alert icon, in this case a cold warning. 

It's put a bit of a damper on my riding plans.  Not only is penning canceled when it's really cold but my Monday lesson is canceled and I don't haul to the neighbor's arena when it's that cold either.

There's a Facebook group that I joined this year, to help motivate me to keep riding in the winter, the "2015 Twelve Week Horsemanship Challenge".  But this cold weather has put me behind on that as well. 
We're supposed to do 40 hours with our horse and get in 30 rides, and you guessed it... there's 12 weeks to do it.  The time riding counts toward the total hours, part of the time can also be groundwork but heck it's too cold even to do groundwork right now! 
I made the challenge an even bigger challenge for myself by choosing Odin as my partner.  If I'd chosen Lefta or Voodoo I wouldn't be as worried about completing it because I could take them to penning and count that time in but Odin is sooo not ready for that lol

I tell ya, it sure is nice to come inside and curl up by the pellet stove after chores.  That's one bright spot in this cold.  I plan to spend one of these cold days by the fire cleaning tack, but first I have to get some supplies.  I have a "new" saddle that's desperately in need of some TLC and all my regular use saddles could use a cleaning.  Nice project in the winter, too bad I'm not already stocked up on my supplies!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gonzo Ninja Cowgirl

I took Odin with me to my lesson yesterday.  It was his third time being used in lessons but probably about a month since he was at a lesson. He hasn't been ridden much in between and for the most part he was good.
For.  The.  Most.  Part.
He and I both earned new nicknames though, he was "little asshole!" and I became Ninja Cowgirl.
For some reason he just could/would NOT lope to the right.  I don't mean he wouldn't pick up his right lead.  He wouldn't go into a lope. 
He's not sore, he's just a stubborn little *bleep*.  He picked up a lope to the left just fine too. 
We did finally get him going to the right, but it took riding like (as my coach said) a "gonzo ninja cowgirl" to get him moving (hence the new name lol)  I rode hard and like a crazy person, had to kinda get all over the place, there must have been a few ninja moments because I know there were a few times I wondered how I was staying in the saddle ;)  It was a workout!  (but hey, the horses do all the work right lmao)
I know what our homework is, good thing it's nice out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Keeping Busy

Geez it's been awhile since I've posted anything!  It seems like a whole lot of stuff has been happening and yet at the same time nothing.  Lets see...
* Winter has sort of started.  There's not a lot of snow but the temps have been cold, once you add in the "feels like" that is.  If it was just the actual temperature it would be pretty nice out for this time of year!  Most days are between -5C and -12C, but that doubles (or more) with that darn feels like.  We didn't even hit the negative temps until November 8th!
* I can't believe it but the horses are still on pasture!  That will change soon though I'm sure.  Either I'll finally have to say there's not enough grass left or we'll get enough snow to cover it.  It sure is a relief though that so far I'm only feeding hay to the cows and the three little guys.  Hay has been a hard thing to find around here this year :(
* My bestie 'Nell and I have been taking riding lessons!  We found a great deal on group lessons - $100 for 5 weeks for an hour lesson.  The "hour" lesson usually ended up being 2 hours, there were only 5 of us in the group, its super close to my place and I love the instructor (even though I had a bit of trouble understanding her communication style at first) but the BEST part?  We can bring whatever we want to for horses, from broke and finished to greenies AND it didn't have to be the same horse every time!  So Lefta and Voodoo went to a couple lessons and then I used ODIN for the last two... yep I'm finally riding my little boy! (err, not so little... he's probably going to finish right around 16hh)
* At the second lesson that Odin went to I loped on him for the first time!  It was my 5th ride on him (maybe 6th?)  He has had miles put on him and loped under saddle but still, it was MY first time :)
* 'Nell and I are going to keep going with lessons, just the two of us, every other week.  We'll cancel a lesson if it's too cold but we're hoping this will help us keep on riding through the winter.
* Team penning has started again!  Penning started late this year, November 1st, because it was a bit tough to find cattle (at least I think that's the reason they gave)  I missed the first one but made it to the next two.
* We lost Hera :(  A neighbour found her out in the bush at his place.  He said there wasn't a mark on her so she wasn't hit by a car or attacked, but he is pretty sure she was poisoned. Well not SHE was poisoned, but she got into some poison.  From the sounds of it there are some people trying to poison the coyotes so she must have got some bait.
* Riding... I've been trying to keep riding.  'Nell and I plan to suck it up and ride this winter, more than just the lessons, but when it's the wind making it that cold it seems pretty tough.  I want to keep Lefta, Voodoo and Odin all going throughout the winter and hit a clinic in the spring with Lefta & Odin.

I'm sure there's more but it's just not coming to mind, or it's stuff that's not really horse blog material (quite a bit of that in my personal life lately, making my head swim... blech drama!)  Well hopefully I'll be back to posting more regularly now!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lefta

My little girl is starting to be a grown up horse!  It's amazing how much she's changed in the last couple months.
At the Ed Wright clinic this summer I told Ed that I just had NO confidence when I was on her.  It felt like I was sitting on top of something like this ^ and she just didn't feel solid or "there" under me, if that makes any sense, and I sure as heck didn't feel comfortable even loping her anymore!  Ed watched us warm up and said to only go as fast as I felt comfortable with, to not let anyone push us faster than I felt we were ready for - including him.
Lefta was a ball of nerves that first day, she was just recently working through her trailering issues so I'm sure having to go for a "car ride" didn't help.  But being so nervous and on edge most of the day just didn't seem right, she HAS been to places before and around other horses.  Then again, that has been part of the problem.  Even at home when we had jackpots she just doesn't seem to feel comfortable with everything going on.

*she's been to another clinic and spent the winter before last going to team penning, so it's not like she hasn't been in that kind of situation*

On the second day while I was warming up Ed pulled one of his "eyes in the back of his head moments" when I rode past him and said "Nice warm up, you both look better today"  :)
Seriously, how does he do that.  He is very focused on who he's working with and we warmed up BEHIND him lol
When it was our turn I told him I was ready for some faster work.  That she finally felt solid and like she was there beneath me.  It had changed from feeling like I was on top of this ^ to this ---
And we did work... and things were starting to come along except she was having an absolute FIT about going to the left.  Ed said he thought she was sore, most likely in her neck and I told him that she had been but had been checked by my equine bodyworker and was all clear, and that I thought she was anticipating it hurting.  He looked her over and agreed, then he got up on her to do some more advanced work to try to get her over it.  His comment "Wow she sure holds on to stuff doesn't she?!"
Ummm, yes.  Something goes wrong with her and you'll be investing time to fix it that's for sure! (yes, like the trailering!)

Lefta got most of the summer off, other than trail riding, seeing as I took most of the summer off from barrel racing other than going back to slow, "aim for correct & precise" stuff with Voodoo.
But ever since the clinic when I have ridden her, wow!  She's just felt solid and confident.  She even likes to lead the trail rides and doesn't seem bothered by anything (other than dogs that jump out from nowhere)
Well, well... now it is once again the little miss's turn.  We worked in the arena yesterday just to see where her mind is at seeing as she really hasn't had to do much "work" the last couple months . 
Oooh boy howdy did I second guess getting on her for a moment... I put the reins over her head, tightened her cinch a couple holes and then before I could swing a leg over she was gone.  Zipping around the arena with little humpy whale bucks and just ruuuunnnning.
Once she settled down and stood, looking QUITE  proud of herself, I walked over to her and said "Well I hope you had fun, consider that your warm up!"  and then we started trotting and loping.  Lots of different exercises and drills but no actual barrels.  I just wanted to see where her mind was at and I was pretty pleased that she settled down and went right to work after her little shenanigans!  Geez, I was only wanting to see where she was at with doing work instead of trail riding lol
Today I set up the barrels and we headed back to the arena, warmed up and trotted through.  Not bad, not great... didn't like what I felt on the left though.  Loped through and yeah... left was not good.  She's acting like she's sure it will hurt so that second barrel sucks but when she gets to third she's fine.  Unfortunately that is not going to make for a nice pattern though lol
Until she gets through this "ooh noes it's going to hurt" we'll do some body work and lots of work softening and gaining flexibility to the left.  And it will probably also take lots of just riding through it so there will be lots of days she ends up like this:

"I'm tired mom!"