Arizona’s Two Hour Walk And My Near-Fall

I’m sorry blog for I have neglected. It’s been two months since my last entry. I’m back and ready to write about my latest adventure with my Zoni Poni.

Yesterday, neighboring barn buddy Erika and I took Arizona and Whiskey out for a ride around the county roads. We met up at the field short cut between our barns and then continued down a ways, finally stopping at an off-road made of dirt that intersected the two roads. The ditch between us and the road was full of water and instead of going around it I coaxed Arizona through it. The silly horse will plunge into the ocean as far as I’ll let her but balk at a small pool of water on the ground. It was no matter in the end though as she tromped through it like a champ. Whiskey girl didn’t like it at first either but then she too was through it.

We had our share of dogs that day and I myself noticed more than the usual handful. I know which houses has them but some don’t always come out, and I guess I didn’t know just how many each one has. Seriously, each property has at least 3-6 dogs and there are at least 10 houses I consistently pass by. Only 1 or 2 of those properties have their dogs contained in some way so they always come up barking their best at Arizona who usually just flicks an ear and walks on by. Sometimes though if they come up too fast from the side she’ll spook but that didn’t really happen this time.

A while back I wrote an entry about a particular ride during which Arizona spooked pretty bad at the very end, at the property next to ours, when their dog – whom Arizona knows very well – ran up at us from the side. The dog was running fast and took me by surprise too so I don’t blame her but anyway, I digress. This time Arizona spooked in darn near the same spot only there was nothing to spook at! I am not even sure what to call it. I think she skirted to the side and then hopped, because all I can really remember is flying up from my seat, gripping with my legs and losing the reins. I felt myself fall a little to the left and up I went, and it’s funny my thought process had already worked through me landing on the ground and I’d accepted my fate, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t grab the horn but I reached for her mane/neck instead for bracing I guess and on I stayed. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to falling off since I dropped off that bucking pony when I was 8ish… I feel like I don’t know how I stayed on but then again I do think I’m not giving myself enough credit. I’ve always been good about sitting spooks – *knock on wood* – and I think this was just another reflection of decent balance. (Thanks, mom!)

What’s funny is I did just take my feet out of the stirrups and let my legs hang because they were seriously cramped by then, just a few strides before she did that. So not only did I drop the reins by accident I had zero support from my stirrups. It’s not like she ever spooks at stray/dangling tack in saddle or on the ground so I’d be hard-pressed to believe that’s what did ALL THAT. They weren’t even flopping around her sides at the slow walk she was doing. It just makes me laugh (I’m glad I can laugh about it) that the moment I try to relax a bit on the final few yards home all that happens.

Riding Arizona 12-14-2014

Just past the mailboxes there on the right is where it happened both times. To further desensitize her to that area I will probably hand-lead her up and down the road a few times and then ride up and down the road a few more.

All in all it was a great ride. Two hours from mount to dismount and I’m beyond saddle sore today but it always makes me proud. I get to take my horse out and enjoy a breezy Sunday almost every week and she always takes care of me. I’ll take the sore!

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.

Perfect Evening For A Ride

Krissy and I went riding tonight and she introduced me to a new riding buddy named Erica. She has an adorable mare named Whiskey. We took the horses up and down the lovely county road. The breeze was amazing so our ride was nice and cool. The horses did some light spooking but nothing terrible. I was rather impressed with Arizona! She handled the neighbor dogs almost perfectly and didn’t spook at any of the traffic. I’d like to build her (and myself) up enough to get out on the main roads. I see cowboys up and down them all the time but we just aren’t there yet. From the experience we had today I’m thinking I may be best off doing it by myself too and not trying to go with a group, because the group spooked more than she did! She ‘herd-spooked’ once or twice off of Sable (Krissy’s pinto Arabian) and Whiskey (Erica’s bay mare) but I know she wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s interesting to observe this.

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Yes, I was very happy with her performance today. We did a little trotting and she gave me her sweet western trot for a while but then decided it was time to stop. When I asked again she gave me her bumpy Ichabod Crane maneuver. (Am I the only one who uses this as a reference? I tried finding a YouTube video with no success. Gunpowder is one bumpy ride!)

Anyways… I’m looking forward to seeing how Powder does with her feet. We have an appointment with my friend and farrier Jessica, on Tuesday before work. She’s in serious need of a trim! And still a new name… I think once I make a payment or two on her I’ll feel more confident about name changes. I am also watching every Clinton Anderson video I can get my hands on and taking notes to carry with me when I take her out next. I need to work in working her out into my barn schedule. Currently I’m riding Arizona every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Time to go watch more videos. I’m re-watching 2007’s Road to the Horse competition DVD! Side note about that year: It’s awful watching someone as amazing as Stacy Westfall tank so badly >.<

Powder Gets Lunged – Training Day 2

Training Day 2 – 45 Minutes

Today I met with my horsey pal Krissy at the barn and she helped me do a quick evaluation of Powder and even she’s concluded she’s one hell of a mare. I have lead her, bathed her and tied her up until today, and now that I’ve taken her into the round pen and worked her a bit I have more confidence that she will be a breeze to train. (I’m taking my own comment with a grain of salt.)

To my knowledge she’s never been lunged and when we got her out there she in fact did not know what to do. She was also not afraid or threatening. I sent her around me and tried to keep her out of my space – this is one thing we’ll need to work on going forward. She does not make circles around me yet and will often just disengage and face me then walk forward instead. The lunge whip does not bother her even when it touches her rear and this is a great thing.

I also gave her another rinse bath. She moved a bit more this time but I made sure to stop at the right time. After she’s able to lunge properly I’ll introduce more specialized desensitizing techniques like the plastic bags.

In other news, I’m going to rename Powder as soon as the right name sticks! All I can think about is that horrible movie about the albino boy and it doesn’t inspire good memories. Right now I’m thinking about Gypsy or Opal or Sequoia. Hmm.. I’ll be thinking on it.

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.