New Pony Gets Groundworked – Training Day 1

We have a new girl at the barn! I’m calling today (12.17.2015) Day One of training Miss Pony (that is her literary filler name, until we decide on what shall stick and I can do her introduction post) even though I worked with her yesterday too.

While she is a bomb-proof [former] pony ride pony there are some holes in her groundwork. As a result I’m training her through Clinton Anderson’s big green book that I’ve mentioned before, Clinton Anderson’s DownUnder Horsemanship – Establishing Respect and Control for English and Western Riders. As I go through it from the beginning I will mark the exercises I do and relay the notes taken on how she did with it that day. I gotta say this little pistol is way more than just a cute painted pony 😉

Here is the training breakdown of her official Day One in training:

  1. The Hula Hoop (pg.49)
    She had absolutely no issues with this. she stands still and doesn’t care about coming into my bubble. I could touch her nose with the stick at first so I simply backed her up a bit. It was also easy to keep her eyes. Perfection.
  2. Desensitizing to the Rope (pg.51)
    No issues here either. I slung it around every part of her body from both sides. She moved her back legs only slightly once or twice at first but she made no attempt to kick or move. It did not last long and her face/ears were calm the whole time.
  3. Desensitizing to the Stick & String (pg.55)
    Again, no issues. She’d already been familiar with the lunge whip apparently. The stick is used to give praise more often than spank anyway, and she’s rubbed down with it often to keep it positive. No issues with the string. I did not slap the ground.
  4. Disengage the Hindquarters (pg.60)
    Will need more work but she did it from both sides at the end. I’ll need to count my cues with rhythm as recommended and remember the proper order for asking through demanding. She does tend to back up so I’ll need to stay with her behind the driveline. I also need to be sure I’m not settling for the wrong feet movement. She needs to cross over correctly.
  5. Backing Up (pg.66)
    Backs up really well with a rope wiggle now. I did reinforce with gentle taps to her chest or marching to get more steps after consistent single steps.
  6. Yielding the Forequarters (pg.77)
    NEEDS MAJOR WORK. When pressure is applied to her fore-end she comes into my space and shoves her shoulder at me. I need a shorter, firmer crop to use in this exercise so she can’t close the distance before I get a good spank in. If she does not shove into me, and sometimes even after she does, she’ll move to go around me. I did back her up back into place when she did that but perhaps not the recommended 20 steps. I’ll pay more attention to that next time, adding more enthusiasm. The “Common horse problems” solution in the book does not work if I can’t get a good smack in. She pushes against anything, even air taps. She is also not in any position to back up as she’s already made contact with me. More help is definitely needed to master this exercise.

We shall see how our review of these go tomorrow, and I hope to have an introductory post with lots of adorable pictures made out for her very soon! 🙂

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Arizona Gets Mud Fever

It’s a sad time out at the barn for my Zoni Poni as she begins a four-limbed battle with bacterial fungus of the pasterns, aka, mud fever. Each leg is affected and the back two particularly are in some discomfort as they are slightly inflamed. The mud in the pasture has reached an all time high this spring and it’s just beginning to –slowly– dry up. I’m not sure how much good it’ll do us though since we’re expecting three days of stormy rain weather again this week. It’s getting to be pretty miserable out there for our horses and I hope none of the others are affected as we truck through it.

Mud Fever On Arizona's Legs

This was when I discovered it. Monday morning I hand washed the mud off her legs and there it was.

Mud Fever On Arizona's Legs

And this was from earlier today. All dried up and being treated with Banixx spray.

And so my poor miserable horse is confined to her stall until it clears up, which could take weeks up to the entire month. I’ll be going out to hand walk her for a little bit each day and hopefully getting some grass will help cheer her up. She was visibly depressed today when I went out there, as last night was the first night she was refused turn-out. If today is any indication of her spirits it’s going to be a rough few weeks for her, but as her human I will be doing my best!

Pretty Arizona's Profile

After our little walk/graze I sat in her stall for a while, just dozing off and enjoying the breeze and her company.

Arizona Scratches

Her favorite itchy spot!

Arizona Goes to the Beach!

I’m ashamed to say this is another delayed post, but better late than never. A couple weekends ago on Sunday October 12th my friend Krista and I finally made it out to the beach with our horses after numerous failed attempts. The weather was against us and it would seem even so that day…

The road to the beach was not an easy one. The morning was a complete mess and all us brave souls on the freeway were going at a crawl because we could not see ten feet in front of us. A search of the rain radar said that our area of Padre Island happened to be cleared up, and sure enough when we got far enough to see through a bit of the darkness we spotted some blue! And brightness! There was sky to be seen after all! When we got there we found ourselves a nice spot on the side of the beach the city doesn’t care about (so we didn’t have to worry about leaving poops behind 😉 ) and retrieved the horses.

Just unloaded and tacking up. They got a bit wet from the rain on the trip down there. Those rainclouds came in fast!I took my boots and socks off and stashed those babies away and the sand was cool and squishy between my toes. I remember noting the horses weren’t as wet as I figured they would be given what we’d just driven through. Arizona was a little antsy about the experience initially after unload, looking up and down the beach with curious eyes. Zoni moved around as much as she could after I tied her up and began grooming her off but it didn’t take long to do since she wasn’t that dirty to begin with.

Just as we were about to pull the saddles from the trailer those black clouds we THOUGHT were behind us crept up and released rain upon us. Again we were getting soaked by the second. A certified downpour threatened to ruin our ride once again even though we’d already “won” by reaching the beach. We talked a bit about leaving but neither of us wanted to forfeit like that – again! We stood huddled next to the trailer, freezing, blinded by the run-off from our eyelashes and just waited. I don’t know how long we gave it but eventually Krista said “Well we’re already all wet, can’t get any worse, let’s just do this. Let’s watch for lightning and ride.”

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If you click this picture open you should be able to clearly see the giant raindrops as they fell on us. We could barely keep our eyes open against them!

So there I went, hopping around for body heat and in spirited rejuvenation. We saddled on up and even though there were a few prominent thunder crashes we didn’t see much of the lightning. When it came time to get on I found that with the sinking sensation of the sand and the lack of my inches given from my boots I couldn’t get on her the old fashioned way. Krista had to get down and help me mount up using the trailer tire hub — and then shorten my stirrups! #ShortGirlProblems

And then off we went!!!

10671341_10205225323657349_1392977036589967712_n10357830_10205225324057359_8492295241616624834_n 10678816_10205225331337541_6879333088109570908_nThe first and second time the waves touched her feet Arizona made little jumps back. After that she was in LOVE! She would veer to toward the water constantly asking if we could go back in. Krista and I rode for a good while up and down the beach, trotting and loping some, going into the water and back out of it and Krista was able to get a lot of neat pictures for me. Shout out to my Lifeproof case for iPhone for providing us with photos even during a storm!

1601299_10205225328097460_9209926507185109288_n 10641078_10205225325537396_5362419682532368967_nEventually the rain stopped completely and the sky was as vibrant and friendly as ever. The last time I took Arizona into the water during the ride I let her lead the way. She went in so deep my feet were starting to disappear. The water felt amazing to me even as little as I felt it, I can only imagine how it felt to her. When I finally took her back out again Krista and I explored a little bit of the sand dunes before heading back to the trailer. It was a lot of fun letting her take care of me. It was liberating to only have to hold on and trust my horse. She’s a great mare. “They know their feet better than we do,” Krista summed it up nicely. “Trust them to take care of you.” Next time I definitely want to ride up and down those some more. On that final stretch back to the truck I dropped my reins, threw my arms up to the sky and closed my eyes and just felt. “This feels so amazing!” was my personal understatement of the day.

After tacking down we let Arizona and Betty have a good roll.

10420371_10205225334377617_1752725117141018220_n 10670199_10205225336057659_8531973052994882852_n1653914_10205225336697675_1891223049685409019_n 10689806_10205225337257689_4830489472041489143_n1779124_10205225337657699_9015777830165733087_nThe second Arizona was up after she’d gotten two solid rolls in she was headed straight back to the water. I cheerfully plugged along side her, recording the experience and feeling happy to share it with her. It’s so fulfilling to see such a happy animal!

10675528_10205225338817728_8068110258186122492_n1972546_10205225342257814_8703256615784415951_n 10632765_10205225343537846_993815586904356288_n IMG_3969This day was one of my greatest experiences in horse ownership yet. The fresh air blew any negative thought I could’ve possibly been having away and the waves took it out to sea for me. It was a very much needed bonding experience for Arizona and I, and a healthy, exciting break from the day to day back at the barn. I know I am truly blessed.

Thank you Krista for not only your kind offer to go riding but your generosity in taking me and my girl with you. You’ve been a great horsey friend and it has been my pleasure getting to know you better! You rock, girl!

Arizona – The Good, The Bad and the Mareish

Today I enjoyed the rewarding splendor of what consistency and patience can provide a gal and her horse. I also received an uncomplimentary reminder that my horse, not unlike myself, is a female.

What I mean by this is…

The Good: I had intentions to ride today, however I happily settled for some bareback ground mounting practice. I know I can get on her just fine with the proper leverage, but in order to improve my body awareness properly I need to work both on and off the horse. Just riding around bareback isn’t enough for me. I finally have to learn this too. Since she was standing much better than times previous I really felt proud and confident that she could take a bit of banging around.

Arizona, showing me the fruits of my labors. Standing quiet, no chewing, no fidgeting about, no trying to pick at the grass... Very good job, girl!

Arizona, showing me the fruits of my labors. Standing quiet, no chewing, no fidgeting about, no trying to pick at the grass… Very good job, girl!

I wasn’t having success actually getting my leg up onto her back enough to get on but I didn’t get too discouraged. I quickly rubbed her down in the areas where I was putting pressure after each attempt and I just let myself focus on the movements I needed to be making. My clumsy self even threw my shin into her hip bone a time or two and she stood like a champ. I was very impressed with her, more than enough to keep me positive about my failures.

The Bad: I wanted to reward Arizona for being such a good girl for me all morning and turned her loose to graze for a while. Sabrina and I took to the hitching post next, for further practicing my form. Just like a horse, a little success builds confidence! And it worked great. Sabrina gave it a try for fun first and third time was a charm! She hit it every time after that.

Well… When it was my turn I greatly underestimated the necessary momentum because of how much shorter the post is than Arizona’s back. I didn’t want to throw myself clean to the other side so I dropped my effort down a notch. Up and over I go only I begin to realize I’m not going to make it. My legs were already hooked around but my upper body didn’t follow enough, and I was dragging myself down. I just held on and let it happen, refusing to accept it, and when I had reached complete upsidedownness Sabrina was laughing hysterically and my arms were in pain. She shouted, “You’re a sloth! You’re a sloth!” between strong bouts of laughter. It was pretty funny to me too but my arms had lost their steam and down I went. After this initial try though, I stuck my landing successfully each time.

And what would my practice fail be without a picture?

Horse life fail.

Horse life fail but practice makes perfect. I’m only glad this didn’t happen with Arizona instead. 😉

A slight wood-burn as a result of scraping my arm down the post to hang on. Some bruising, popped blood vessels and torn up skin but it was worth it.

A slight wood-burn as a result of scraping my arm down the post to hang on. Some bruising, popped blood vessels and torn up skin but it was worth it.

And now…

The Mareish: I guess Miss Zoni just wouldn’t be true to herself if she didn’t give me the horseverbial finger every once in a while right? But really Arizona, on such a GOOD day?? She decided that when it came time to get put up she wasn’t going to take it. I’ve never had so much trouble catching her than I have today in all this time. She made both of us run and exercised us good! When I finally caught her (you could just tell she was thinking “Fine woman, whatever”) I made her arse run circles up and down the small hill beside the barn. It’s enough of an incline to wear her out but hey I figure she wants to run, I make her run. And we’ll build up some topline  😉
I was positively exhausted by this point and it took me a good [sad] while to fully catch my breath. Darn her, making me sweat and stuff. Unfortunately there are no pictures of this. To help make up for it I’m going to share a few pics from our last two rides instead!

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Sabrina and Oreo. Her first time out on the roads! They both did amazing . Tuesday, 10/7.

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Sabrina and Oreo leading the way back to the barn. I think they look good together 🙂 Tuesday, 10/7.

Sunday, 10/5.

Letting Zoni dry off some after a really good 1.5 hour ride out on the country roads. It was a good day to be up early. Sunday, 10/5.

Arizona Practices Her Patience

Training time: 2 hours

Today was a much needed day of easy to grasp lessons for Miss Zoni. We worked on patience and to sum it up: she did great.

I started by tying her up at one of our hitching trees. I groomed her right away because she still had week-old caked on mud on her and I wanted that off pronto.

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After she was as curried and brushed as she was gonna get I simply let her stand there. I pulled my chair and water bottle out and sat in the shade, either on my phone or just sitting there, but ignoring her bottom line. We remained this way for a time before I put her saddle on, cinching to varying degrees of tightness as a time, and then the bridle, and then I let her stand there again for a good long while. And I sat ignoring her. Unless she felt like biting at the bark, then I made myself loud and uncomfortable to make her stop.

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Something like an hour passes by time I messed with her next. I pulled her onto the wash rack and tied her close so she couldn’t reach any grass, and I sprayed down the post so she wouldn’t chew it. If ever she tried I made the same annoyance of myself to her and it was a nonissue. Once she was good and chilled I ended this block of time by tightening up the chinch good at finished.

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After a semi-brief while I began putting weight into the stirrup and pretending to get on. Granted, she was still tied at this point, but she remained still – with her feet and body. She could have still danced about with what space and slack she had but she didn’t.

I decided I was going to try mounting her from the ground solo as well. And as luck would have it after two solid tries I stuck it! It’s maybe a trivial success, but a success to me none the less. She is 15.1 and I am 5″3 and stout! This mounting from the ground stuff isn’t new to me but with her it is. I’ve always used a step ladder, mounting block, fencing, a leg up – whatever was easiest just to get on with minimal strain on her back. Well I wanted to take my lesson further by getting into the saddle and what better day to practice doing it from the ground than this?

Yea. It was a success.

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When I got up I patted her down; neck and rump, and told her what an awesome girl she was. I just stayed out and enjoyed the view, and the amazing 80 degree breeze. It’s as cool as it’s ever been since I’ve been here and it was much appreciated after the rotten humid heat. It was a great day to build on my relationship with my horse and her abilities!

When I was satisfied (and now running on a schedule to pick up the kids from school) I dismounted and undid her tack as structured as I put it on, albeit a bit faster. She stood quiet while I put things away and grabbed a few pellets to reward her with.

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Thank you to my girl for being amazing and receptive. I love her. She is a girls best first-horse-since-childhood hands down.

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“Flash back Friday” to the day I truly bought my girl. Signed paperwork and handed over my final dollar and she was 100% MINE!

New and Ever Changing

Things have been happening in this horse-world of mine and it’s time to share.

First of all, I’ve let Powder go. I stopped payment on her and she was sold to Alberto’s good friend and cowboy horse trainer, Art. I deeply enjoyed the time I put into her and I’m sad to say I didn’t even get to say goodbye, it was such a quick ordeal. I will miss her but at least I know I can check in on her now and then. She’s well treated, well trained and she’s in a happy home.

This means my foal plans have also changed. Instead of having Powder and her foal, I’m going to be getting first pick out of the other mares…

  1. Scarlet, the palomino, is due first in March and she’s bred to his dunalino stud.
  2. Then there’s Missy, the sorrel tank with a head like Arizona who is bred to his smokey black stud. She’s a looker and I’m excited to see if she throws a black or possibly even a buckskin.
  3. And last there’s Roxy, the smokey cream dun. She’s bred to the dunalino stud as well and she’s actually the mother of the smokey black stud Missy is bred to! I’m more than excited about her color possibilities as among them are just about every color I’d be happy with – but especially – GRULLA.

My plan is to see if Missy gives me a black foal before passing on it but even then I’m really wanting to hold out for Roxy. There are just so many options for her it’s anybody’s guess but my heart wants a grulla so bad. I guess we’ll see. Can’t wait for spring 2015!


Arizona and I are doing well. I do enjoy being able to focus on her more now that I don’t have two to train, and we’re working on basic groundwork (still) and bareback riding right now. The last time I took her out was Wednesday I believe, and Sabrina and I both took some time on her, working on feeling our seats and learning the glue, as I call it. If my mother self-taught all her horseback riding skills bareback and it taught her to ‘stick like glue’ then so will I.

Now here are some pictures to enjoy.

Riding Bareback Being Silly

Taking a pass around Sabrina, doing what I do best. =P

We got in a good thirty minutes at least before we started wearing down the ground in certain places. Thanks to the rain we'd had by then the footing was already starting to go.

We got in a good thirty minutes at least before we started wearing down the ground in certain places. Thanks to the rain we’d had by then the footing was already starting to go.

I wish the photos did this sunset justice. It was beautiful to be out riding that evening.

I wish the photos did this sunset justice. It was beautiful to be out riding that evening.

Working on standing quiet. Yes, even this is work.

Working on standing quiet. Yes, even this is work.

Nothing beats friends and horses! Here is Livi with mama BriBri after taking a walk about the small pasture.

Nothing beats friends and horses! Here is Livi with mama BriBri after taking a walk about the small pasture.

That bareback ass that only equestrians understand!

That bareback ass that only equestrians understand! Being dirty is never something to be ashamed of or annoyed with, it shows dedication and hardwork and payoff!


In other Arizona news, she’s picked up wood-chewing something fierce! Without having a vet come out and draw blood to pin-point if there is some sort of mineral/nutrient deficiency, I’ve been trying other possible solutions. Since this is a new habit, and there have been no changes to her diet in a very long time, I’m left to determine that it’s not caused by her food intake, or lack thereof. However of course, if these snazzy diversions don’t work out it’ll be my next expenditure.

Anyway I firmly believe she is bored and frustrated. She does not get a nightly turn-out with my barn owner’s horses and I’m sure that’s no fun. She’s also been seeing 1 or 2 of the other horses chewing up their share of wood lately and you know what they say about copy-catting. In any case, I’ve been dousing the wood in that anti-chew spray and we’ll see how that works. Additionally I’ve started putting her hay in a slow feeder hay net and I’ve tied a small jolly-ball from the ceiling for her to mess with. Hopefully having something to eat for longer periods of time and something to play with will help. Unrelated to the chewing, I also finally got a fly mask for her, as no amount of anti-fly goo or spray or roll-on whatever has been working to keep them out of her poor eyes. She looks rather fetch, no? 😉

Lovely new fly-mask and salt-lick to hopefully keep her entertained a little.

Lovely new fly-mask. The mineral/salt blocks help to keep her entertained a little, but aren’t much for actual nutritional value.

Small jolly-ball hanging toy and new fly-mask. Here's hoping to a bit of distraction!

Small jolly-ball hanging toy. Here’s hoping to a bit of distraction!

Pretty Quarter Horse Mare

And here’s one last picture of my girl, just because she’s pretty. Look at that gorgeous, slim, powerful QH head!

Mr. & Mrs. Go For A Ride

Today Orlando and I went for a quick ride before the sun went down. It’s been a long, trying week and tomorrow marks day one of a new future and there’s no better way to face that than through the ears of a horse. I’m only sad I don’t have a picture of the ride but that would be due to the fact that I rode Oreo today instead of Arizona.

Oreo is currently in foal and due next spring. She is a sweet girl and will fall asleep in your arms if you stand at her stall and pet her. Today she was pretty feisty. Hunger, mosquitoes and a slight case of “I don’t wanna” made her a ride I had to concentrate on. She took off trotting back to the barn and I cut her off and made her turn back around. We proceeded to also face a few neighborhood dogs that were all up in our business and maneuvered a few patterns on both sides of the road. I discovered a gorgeous western pleasure trot of magnificence on her though I didn’t ask for it. When I finally let her go back to the gate we stood and watched a giant truck and trailer go by and when it passed her, semi-spooked and swung her hindquarters around so she could watch it more. Overall after my first ride on this girl I’m not pissed off or defeated. I’m looking forward to putting some more miles on her.

Oreo - APHA Mare

Meet Oreo! She’s a gorgeous in-foal paint mare at my barn.

 


 

Also… Yesterday Sabrina and I rode around the pastures with Arizona and Oreo. The only thing to note is that I got Arizona walking through the puddles on the driveway. Hurray for [small] victories!

Arizona Rides the Open Highway

Today was a GREAT day! I took Arizona out for another long evening ride and it was beautiful and fun. Very relaxing and it took my mind off some things to boot. I met up with Krista, from my old barn (where I got Arizona) down by the bamboo that Alberto was telling me about. I’m glad to know where that short-cut is now so I can bypass the pitbull around the dump. Although, Krista says that dog is a wimp.

Arizona and I faced our fears this evening and RODE ON THE HIGHWAY! I’m very excited for us, we did wonderfully. She only spooked one single time and of all times it was right by our barn… by the neighbor dog… that she sees every day… Jeez, horses. We also trotted more than we usually do and it was okay. I’ll keep working on her collection because she’s still bumpy as hell, even though I know that slow beautiful trot is in there!

Now when I enter Powder’s stall she retreats to the corner and gives me her butt. This is UNACCEPTABLE. Instead of pissing her off though I have been doing the approach and retreat method and I’ve been able to get close up to rub her in the end. I didn’t pull her out and do anything today because Krista was ready to ride but next time I will put her back to work. I didn’t want to start anything I couldn’t finish. She’s not going to get away with testing me anymore though so I hope she realizes her kicking days are done!

I love this girl though. She’s an awesome mare and will make a great rider someday. We’ll get her there 😉

Arizona and I out on the county highway road, doing wonderful together!

My gorgeous view from atop my amazing horse. It was a great first time out on the busy and loud country highway road!

The bruise I got after being kicked by my Quarter Horse mare Powder.

The bruise I got after being kicked by my Quarter Horse mare Powder.

Powder Gets a Bath – Training Day 1

Training Day 1 – 35 minutes.
This event marks day 1 of her training as I’m calling it. The first day of me really getting nitty gritty with her and instilling confidence and my leadership with her.

The other day bode well for Powder’s second bath since I’ve known her. Who knows what number it was in her whole 10 years though, but we know she hasn’t had much training. You can tell by the way she reacts to certain loud noises close to her and the way she is curious yet cautious of the new. This is all fine, she will come along.

So this bath I gave her, it went well! She did not react as much as she did when Alberto gave her one after our ride that Sunday last month. I remember she was doing circles around him. This time I was careful to watch the water pressure and start her gently, and low. Started with the feet and worked my way up to her chest, then down the side of her body. She had a bit of busy feet but I kept with her and talked her down as I went. When I saw her start to stand with acceptance or even boredom I would move the water to another part of her body and eventually the other side. I switched back and forth a couple times and waited for that golden reaction each time. I was even able to jerk the hose over when I needed more slack without any spookage. It was a success.

I also tied her up for a while at the hitching tree to see how she would do during a short dry-off. She was able to stand quiet from the get-go. No issues whatsoever giving to pressure on the halter I’ve noticed, but she does need work on giving from the ground off her body. When I push her back from the chest she usually does fine, I’ve only seen her act even somewhat pissy about it once. However when I’ve asked her to move her hindquarters from the ground she may have offered to kick out. I’m not sure as I was in the stall with her and not keen on testing it like that but I will be paying close attention to her attitude toward that when I get her into the round pen this weekend.

On Sunday Sabrina and I are going to the barn for a ride and afterward I really want to work with Powder. I need to get more of a taste for what kind of effort she’s going to require from me as her boss-mare.