Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pay it Forward!

Went out Saturday morning to drop off the jump standards and poles we had rigged up last week. They looked really great, and I was happy to get them in the field for when it dries up and I can start jumping Moon again.

While we were there, M was out working so we offered him a hand. Turns out he was fencing off the 'tack shed', so that you could ready your horse or trailer-up without having a hundred horses harrassing you. Which is perfect, since I'm so eager to start lessons, but knew that with no riding partner, I couldn't get the trailer out of the farm without all the horses following me out of the gate.

We helped M all day, and managed to sink all of the support posts, and came back after lunch to help finish putting up the rails. Now it looks excellent, complete with a horse and a human gate. M and T said they'll be pulling the trailer out next week and with the new gravel drive, we can start working on making sure everyone loads properly. I'm think I'd like to start lessons in a couple of weeks, so I need to call Wendy sometime this week and see if I can set-up a meeting. Want to watch a couple of lessons and discuss my plans/goals with her.

Since I didn't get to ride at all last week (unfortunately, I was bogged down with work and Spanish lessons, else it was raining), I took the time to groom Moon and just love him up. After peeling all the mud off of him, I saw him staring over the gate at me. I wandered over, gave him a treat, and then he walked right to the biggest mud hole, and rolled. Got up, looked at me, went to the next biggest mudhole, and rolled on the other side! I swear he does it just to drive me nuts!

So, if I manage to get out this week, and if T has the trailer out, this week will be lessons in going for lessons!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Confidence or Consciousness?

The other week I was confessing to T that I'm not a confident rider; I always feel like others are critiquing and judging me when I ride, and that I fail to live up to their belief of what a good rider is.

Lately, I've been out at least twice, if not three times a week to work Moon. I've been working hard to training him to lunge properly, and was out both on Monday and today working him on the line.

On Monday, I was REALLY hesitant to take him out, because T was there grooming the other horses and could see me. I know it sounds crazy silly, but part of me thinks that others will watch me and think that I don't deserve to be working with him and that I'm doing him harm in trying to train him or in my riding.

Determined that wussing out and not working him on Monday would do more harm then good, I did the lunge lesson anyway. Almost as soon as I had him going out around me, my entire focus was on him and what we were doing. 30 minutes later, we were done and headed back to the barn, and he tried to rub against me. My favorite instructor always told me that it's a sign of disrespect when a horse rubs against you. You means nothing more then a post or a tree trunk to him. Never let them rub against you. So when Moon tried to use me as a post, I gave him a quick smack to get him to reconsider the pecking order...

...and looked up to what I think was T staring at me. Instantly, I felt guilty. I had hit my horse, even if it was lightly and with good reason. Now I shouldn't own him, I thought for a second.

And then changed my mind.

What I am not, is lacking in confidence. I'm actually a very confident trainer in things that I know, and when out on the trails or working in the ring, confident in guiding my horse to work and listen to me.

What I am, is self-conscious. VERY self-conscious. I'm much the same way with my dog, who I trained myself, is extremely well trained (pulls a wagon, does agility, flyball, rides in a canoe, very obedient, etc.), and yet I still hate training or working her around other people. It's the 'judgement', that I'm mishandling my dog, because my methods differ from theirs. And I believe very strongly in my methods and approaches (they work and came from very highly regarded trainers), yet I don't like to be watched! And no, I don't beat horse or dog, as it serves no purpose. But I also don't believe that treats are the be all end all. A creature should listen to you out of respect, not because it wants a piece of candy. Imagine if our parents raised us that way!! :O

So in my hatrid of being watched, I was left wondering how I'd ever compete? It's all about judging!

Anyway, at the end of today's lunge lesson, and Monday's, I was happy to say that I have a horse that's learning and becoming a better mount. I'm not perfect, but I'm a good rider and trainer (certainly no expert, but I try hard, study lots, and give it my best), and for all my years of lessons and training, not nearly as bad as I fear people think I am.

What a confession.

In all of this, I just wanted to log my work to overcome my self-consciousness, since I've been actively working him when others are around to watch. And will keep doing that. And ride him down the road again, and get him out to the lesson barn, and remind myself every time, that I deserve my horse, and he deserves me riding him as who I am. To hell with everyone else!

Good ol'Mr. Moon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Learning means doing it again.

Today was a gorgeous day, so I headed out to the barn to work MoonSox for a bit. After a good long grooming to get him looking in tiptop shape again, I attached his lunge cavesson and we went back out to the field to practice our lunging.

Well, it was way easier this time then last! Though he was pretty firey and even gave me a bit of a canter! He did wonderfully, trotting and walking and really keeping a consistent rythym at times. Even started to lower his head and round out his back. We still have a really long way to go, but I'm crazy proud of him.

By the time we were all finished, he was covered in mud and his whole belly, chest and even cheeks were sweating! Never mind the fact that I was sweaty too!

I scraped him down and cooled him off, and then gave him a quick brushing. And what did he do when I let him go? Roll! And then shake chunks of mud all over me when he stood up. Total dofus!

The one thing that caught my attention was two muscle lines on his belly. They're much more prominent then I remember on a lot of horses, and I'm wondering if those are the ones we need to build up, if they're just covered with fatty deposits from needing exercise, or if he has extra large stomach muscles?

Other exciting thing? T is hoping to fill the ring with sand this summer! Which means a coach would be willing to come in, such as Elaine Banfield. Might be a nice option if trailering doesn't work so well. Jumping will also be a thousand times nicer for us too.

: ) Looking forward to more days like today!

And the shopping bug hits again!

Okay, so I HAVE to stop spending money, especially after my huge vet bill this weekend for my dog, and the impending tractor payments...and necessary car payments.

I'm running it tight and still want to get Moon's teeth floated this year, plus start lessons, and cover board fees. But the deal was awesome and I couldn't pass it up.

I found on HSG (Horse Grooming Supplies) forum, a Baker Summer Sheet (size 78" to fit my oversized Moon), and a Weatherbeeta Kool Coat UV/Fly protector (size 78, and more run-out friendly) for Moon, at a steal of a deal. $100 shipped. That's $70 for the Baker and $30 for the fly sheet. Both are in brand new, never used condition, and the Baker runs $99 on sale at Greenhawk and the best Canadian price I can find on the Kool Coat is a local place clearing them out for $45. Which means worst case, I saved $44.

I just want to pick up a sleezy from Greenhawk for Moon and then try him out in his sheets. I think this slightly larger size will fit him a lot better and be less of me worrying about him rubbing. And I like the idea of him having SOME time free from all the bugs.

I paypal'd the girl this afternoon and she should ship ASAP with tracking. I think it should be arriving in the next week or two, right when things start to dry up for blanket weather.

: )

And yes, I'm curbing my spending now. And yes, I know I've said that before. I mean it this time. I think... ; )

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The dangers of ex-bosses...

Ex-bosses are dangerous folks; especially when they're old polo bosses that despite all of your self-preservation instincts, you keep in contact with them. They're not bad people just crazy convincing.

Seven or so years ago I worked for a fellow; for some crazy reason he hired me even after I fell off his horse during the job interview. I rode and groomed for him for the summer and had a bad mishap with one of his horses that left me in the hospital. Came back in the fall and rode a bit more. Two summers later while waiting to start my career I agreed to mow the polo field for a couple of bucks and groom part time. And work for one road trip tournament. I don't know why, but I love polo, and despite everything, really enjoy working for the fellow. To this day, I don't know why!

Anyway, I was in contact with him again looming to try Moon out at polo, and looking for a boarding barn. So today he calls me up, we chat barns, horses and all that. And he tells me that Hobo is retiring likely at the end of this polo season. Hobo is about 16 now, and was my favorite polo pony he had. Super trust worthy, sweet as honey. I loved him and always said I'd buy him in a heartbeat.

'G' is looking for a retirement home for Hobo and one other horse of his and thought of me. But he heard I already had Moon...

Sooo...we spoke a bit regardless and will stay in touch in case I need some companion horses. Now I'm sitting here thinking about sweet Hobo and wondering if I need two horses. I could probably afford board for them this fall at T's place and keeping them on our property whn the time comes wouldn't be an issue. Dear sweet Hobo...

Hmmm. And to think I tease the BF that he doesn't need two quads and two snowmobiles! Maybe I need two ponies?

So, would you take in an old friend, even if you've a current riding partner??

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Making 'Cool' Jumps

So I bought some supplies to make my own jump standards, and have been looking at the dull pressure-treated posts...can't paint them, since that's the wonderful part of pressure treating. No need to ever paint cause they won't rot.

A little 'day dreaming' on, and I came up with a great, inexpensive idea. I even have some old bed sheets from my mom that would work perfect! And with some creative painting, maybe some logos on the centre panels too.

These, are examples of my idea:

Fabric sleeves for the poles, and panels to create solid jumps! Just sew different colored strips and slide them onto the poles for a creative, unique design.

Here's another great example:

Last thing, is to swing by the Home Depot and pick up a panel of PVC lattice. That will make a perfect panel jump as well. So it looks like this summer, we'll have some really neat jumps to ride over. I'm even going to dig up as many used silk flowers as I can to place in pots around the jumps. What a neat look it will give the place!

Now to go do some sewing!

Worry-warts are expensive.

It's a fact. I worry a lot when it comes to family, and my pets are part of my family. Only two thankfully: MoonSox and my dog Halo.

Well three weeks ago we noticed a sore on Halo's face and have watched it spread to the other side of her muzzle and below her chin. Worried all through my trip to Montreal and despite trying to save money and look forward to spending my tax return on horse gear, riding lessons and maybe some new glasses and a teeth float for Moon, I knew I needed to take my dog to the vet just to be certain that it wasn't severe and that she wouldn't get sick and then we did out we could have done something to make her better sooner.

So today I called our vet and got her in.

Hair plucking, poking, blood taking (I got to help out which reminded me how much I loved being a technician in the clinics) and a painful ear sample later, we knew she didn't have parasites, a systemic infection and likely wasn't going to die from it. $277 later, we have had 30 days of pills, ear wash, ear ointment, topical antibiotics and no real answer. Vet thinks she's been rubbing it; second guess was ring worm, but he's never seen it there...and the bf and I are both ringworm free! At least I'm less worried now and feel like we're doing something for her. Even if it means forgoing some pony gear and toys for myself. They just come first. Sure hope Moon stays healthy. And it'll be awhile before I can transfer his papers now, just because of the expense.

Suh is the price of love : P And worry!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finding the right lesson barn...

I've taken lessons at more stables then I care to remember. And have visited even more then that, always looking for the 'right' place. Well, I'm hunting again, expect this time, I have a horse of my own. Which makes it even more difficult.

I need someone who can help me train MoonSox, who has a facility that makes trailering in easy, who is an EC coach, who is compatible with me, who has an indoor ring for all weather so we can ride even when it's raining out, who's flexible to meet our schedule, is close enough to not waste gas and is reasonably priced.

Seems impossible!

When I'm back home this weekend (in Montreal for work right now), I'm going to give Wendy Barnett of Bar W Stables a call. I found an ad of hers that I saved awhile back, and visited her website. Seems like it might be the perfect fit...

My math tells me that she's only 8 miles away. Even picking up a friend, it'd be no more then 12 miles, one way. That's pretty darn close. She's an EC Level 1 Coach. Perfect! She is willing to teach riders to train their horses, and welcomes trailer ins (need to visit the property to see how much of a pain the trailer turning would be), she has private and semi-private lessons, an indoor arena with viewing lounge, is big on dressage and is only $110 for 4 semi-private or $130 for 4 private lessons. Perfectly in my price range!

I'm really excited about this now. M was pulling the truck and trailer out at the Ranch when I was by last Monday, and all I could think about was getting back into lessons. I've been keeping on top of Prairie Nerd's lessons with Handsome (shout-out ; ) ), and I can't help but be jealous! You can already see how much progress they are making, and after our less then perfect ride last week and our beginnings of a successful lunge training day (drawing from my old coach's teachings), I just want to get back into the learning!

Next week, I hope to continue our lunging, and start working on ensuring MoonSox loads nicely into the trailer. And then maybe talking to T about using it once a week.

: ) I just want to get home!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Success is being patient enough to wait for it to happen...

Went out to work with Moon today, since the weather was gorgeous and I'm still on track with my 3-days a week working with him.

I was orginally planning on going for a trailride, but everything is still wet and I didn't really want to deal with his hyped up springtime jollies. He's just balastic lately.

So I gave him a good grooming, pulled on his new bell boots, and (with a lot of adjustments) got my old leather cavesson on him. We were going to try lunging!

Last summer, I had decided to try and lunge him. Moon, from what I could tell, had never lunged before. He stared at me. He walked towards me. He nuzzled me. He didn't turn corners. He tried to chew on the lunge line. It was FRUSTRATING!

After a few failed attempts last year, I started working him in the round pen. It even took WEEKS of work to get him to figure out how to go around me in the round pen, until eventually at summer's end, he had managed that. Granted, he ran with his head high and it took a LOT of encouragement to keep him moving, he at least didn't stop and come in for a cuddle on every turn. : P

I'd tried him a few times in the round pen over winter, and had marginal success. He'd go round, head high, lots of encouragement, same routine.

Today, the round pen was full of water, ice and snow. Icky. Not at all suitable training conditions.

So I took him out to the driest part of the field. Snapped on the lunge line and sent him out.

...same old, same old.


Ask for forward, encourage with whip, cluck, push on, one circle, stop and reward before he could screw it up.

...another circle, more line out, more whip, little bit of fancy footwork, encourage, encourage, encourage him to keep going for more then one loop. Sometimes he didn't. Sometimes he came in. Sometimes he looked at me like I was an idiot. Keep doing it. Keep asking...

...two circles, no stopping. TREATS!

And on, and on we went, until FINALLY, I had him trotting around me in a nice, maybe 10 m circle, without coming in and without stopping. Granted, his head was high as a kite, and I needed to keep on the whip, but he was staying out and circling.


Then I tried the other side...

It's AMAZING that it's a completely different request when you ask a horse to move in the other direction. We were RIGHT back where we started, but encouraged by the success we had going to the right, I kept at it.

Until he was circling (not as well, but still successfully) to the left. More treats!

I pulled him into the main pasture, and tried the process again, only to the right. This time, we did transition work, I laid off the whip except when he was slowing to change gaits, and I tried my darndest to get his head down.

Well, we successfully transitioned from halt to trot to walk to trot to walk to whoa. Score. And we did that at a length of line that left him JUST out of reach of the lunge whip.

Unfortunately, he was still Mr. Head-sky-high, but we'll work on that. My arm ACHED (lunge line was never slack, which is appropriate, though he was leaning on it a bit), and I knew to be grateful and rewarding for our success.

I really didn't believe last summer he'd EVER figure it out. Apparently, I just needed a little patience!

As an aside, I re-measured him for a blanket...76? 78"? 74"? Who knows. I think I'll aim for a 74/75 in a Rambo, and hope for the best. : P

I also brought home his Baker and Fly sheets to sew some leg straps on them...the fly sheet probably needs some more cross surcingles and another front strap as well...

Lastly, I measured Moon's spine. From point of wither to point of hip, he was 33". Then, following the curve of his spine, he measured at 35". Which means he really doesn't have swayback. He needs topline muscle, but he's not an old swayback. He's just built that way, and that's appropriate. : ) Can't wait to get him into shape!