Friday, October 30, 2015

Smarty Pants! Not a potato!

Danny was such a smart boy today!!! He retained a lot more of yesterdays lesson than I expected. I only had to remind him with the whip once or twice... Nope! Leg means go. You are not an irish potato! And I was quite proud of how well behaved he was too. I didn't have to lunge first or anything.

We got to Beths' and I was a little worried about how he would do in the jump field but figured I'd give it a shot. He seemed even keeled this week. Our come to Jesus meetings seemed to be sticking. ;) He walked politely all the way down to the jump field and then we warmed up by walking, trotting and even cantering. No antics! He was curious about the woods and kept drifting that way but wasn't spooky or that pushy.

Beth set up a grid, starting with ground poles. We trotted in and cantered out, which was great. He got rewarded for forward and that's how the lines were set anyways. Then she set up an X and he was great. I had to half halt and hold a bit to get him to stick to the trot going into it. And it really helped to think about slowing him down about 2 mph going into the grid. He typically landed in the canter and took the poles well. I noticed he was drifting right so I had to correct that. We built it up to the ground poles, crossrail bounce to another crossrail to a one stride to a cross rail. We worked on forward and straightness and he was getting it. Wheee! Then Ella and Ava trotted into the pasture next to the jump field and Dan was fixated on them but kept working. At one point as we went through the grid Ava squirted off and bucked, so Dan sort of joined in, but he managed to do the whole line well enough and continue on somewhat politely after the little buck he threw in. Then he went right back to work. :) Smart boy. We did it perfectly twice and then moved on to the next thing.

Beth set the barrel on it's side with pole wings and wanted me to walk it. Doh! But it was fine. Dan was actually pretty darn good about walking it, thanks to the work Liz had me do. We had a little bit of a left drift so we worked on straightness. Then we had a right leg yield to a left shoulder drift so I had to figure out how to finess my aids a bit. Danny was getting it! But man... I kept getting tossed out of the saddle though. That kid is hard to sit. He's just not consistent yet in how he's jumping and really puts his head and neck down and out so he pulls me out of the tack. Beth was giggling at me and told me that I really needed to try to get left behind almost and keep my butt in the saddle. So I did but Danny's hiney came up and popped me right out of my stirrups! Beth kept laughing at me. He's just awkward still. But it's okay because he was walking and jumping straight and polite. :)  So we quit with that.

I'm so proud of Baby Horse today! He did so well!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Shock and Awe!!

YAY!! Such a good lesson today for Dan. 
After my lesson with Fleck today I told Kelly that I wanted to do that with Dan too. She said "Really? You sure?"! hee hee. After our last lesson.... ;) But yes.. I did. It was exhausting at my last Cindy lesson. I need to reiterate that go means go. And it was worth taking a whole lesson to do it. 

Luckily Dan was much better behaved this week. I actually got on without lunging him. :) He was a little rowdy but really not bad. He was a little prancy and light on his front end so he did get a little smack with the crop and that made him think otherwise. We did another lap while Caroline was finishing up and then it was our turn.

Kelly and I talked "theory" again and she said that with the youngsters and greenies and those who are spooky or liable to misbehave (coughDancough) that we can still use the crop but in a bit more civilized manner (not overhanded). So while we were talking I realized that Dan was barely moving at the walk and kept stopping. Kelly realized it too and we decided to start at the halt to the walk, rather than the walk to the trot. 

And it worked!! It was magical! It involved some bucks and some bolts, but really he was quite good for it. And his ears were on me instead of being distracted by other things. And I was able to get a trot with a very light squeeze. And then I was able to maintain the trot with no nagging! Dan worked harder than me finally!! :) It worked at the canter too. So yay. Now I just need to remind myself.. NO NAGGING! Shock and Awe baby! I can use the leg for bend and lateral work but no nagging. 

We also discussed what to do if he started slowing down or got sluggish. And the answer is the same as if he breaks. I can be polite and if I want a bigger trot, I can cluck or ask with a slight squeeze first, but if he doesn't respond with a surge forward, he gets a smack. Doing the soft squeeze followed by a hard smack is much more black and white for him than asking once nicely, asking a second time a little less nice, a third time more forcefully, a fifth time really forcefully and a sixth time out of control. It just makes it very clear to him and makes his job black and white. And that makes it easier on both of us. 

We also played with getting him connected some while making sure that he stayed forward and in front of the leg. And I was a bit more polite because we upped the ante, but within reason. I didn't change the rules, I just asked him nicely and gave him a chance. But if he didn't respond, then he got a little smack. 

SOOOO very helpful! Now to just keep this in mind and not forget it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lazy and Sassy

That's Dan. And it's a tough combination. We had a good lesson today. He was actually pretty chill considering the cold, wet, nasty weather. Granted, we were in the indoor, but still.

He's just tough to get in front of the leg. I can't balance not asking every step with still getting a reaction. It's very hard to work on getting him reactive to the leg with working on other things. But I'm trying. It doesn't help that my legs were pretty tired after 20 miles of trails over the weekend. ;)

Cindy had us working on the canter. He really had to collect that right side, which means that I had to hold the right side by keeping my elbows at my side. (which is interesting because with Fleck I always feel like it's my left rein, so.. hey! Maybe they'll even me out!). I can't throw it away in the upward or during. Only when I ask him to soften on that rein while collecting that side (or maybe not collecting, just not strung out), he says it's hard and he doesn't want to do it. So then I have to really keep him going, which makes it hard to maintain my position. Very frustrating.

Maybe this is where I should decide to send him off to boot camp for a few weeks to get the forward instilled in him. But I just don't know if I can. I'm more stubborn than him. But it would really behoove me I think. Sigh.

But we did have some good canters. And he only swapped from the right to left once or twice and held it the rest of the time. I think that when I keep my shoulders turned to the inside a little it helps because it's not sending him to the left. And when I think of riding the shoulders straight, that also helps because... hello, I'm not jack knifing him. 

It was funny though because Dan has decided that he really doesn't like Tommy. Cindy said it's because Tommys' canter is so animated, but I think Dan has just decided to do it to anyone. Because he also went after the other horse in the arena. I really hate when he does that. It's just rude. He pins his ears and snakes his head. So he gets a smack from me. But today, both he and Tommy were cantering towards each other and they both went to bucking. It almost felt like Dan jumped in front of Tommy on purpose, but it's hard to say. So afterwards, while we were untacking, Zanne was joking about kicking us out of her arena. (I hope she was joking anyways!). Dan had clipped himself on the coronary band so I was trying to hose it off. He kept dancing and backed himself into the corner where her plastic cupboard is. He backed right up to it and then stopped and let me hose his wound. So yay! Perfect. And then.. he pooped. Right on top of the cabinet!!! Dan!!! You did that on purpose! I laughed and decided that Zanne really was going to kick us out. Sigh.. goofy horse.

And then after I sponged him off, I put Fleck's scrim on him. And he kept grabbing it in his teeth and pulling. NO!! Bad baby horse! Sigh...

It's a good thing he's pretty. :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Big Boy Trails

Mike and I had a fun day but finished up early. So.... I felt like going for a ride but wanted a change of scenery. Liz said she was heading to Harbins shortly, so I jumped at the chance for company and a change of scenery. I decided to take Dan because... I don't know. I just did. So off we went. 
Liz asked which trail I wanted to do and I joking said "Both... Dan needs to get worn out". And so we did. I didn't realize 10 miles takes that long though. ;) We started out on the 4 mile loop walking and Dan was a twit. I finally decided after about 3 minutes to just go in the front rather than fighting him. He can learn to do in the back after he gets out some of his naughties. Only it only partially worked because he was still naughty. 

He was being his typical silly self but at one point he went straight up. And was upright enough that I had that split second of imbalance and fear that he might flip/fall before he came back down. We carried on and Liz calmly mentioned that she had a suggestion for me. She said that she would have beaten him for that! She said that it wasn't the first time he's done that to me and she had seen him do it quite a few times actually. And as dangerous as it was, he needed to learn that it was unacceptable. She's right. I don't mind little playful crow hops, but rearing straight up, especially on the trail, is dangerous. So she said that Michelle, her baby trainer, says that when they go up, you smack them right between the ears enough and yell enough to make them think that the devil has come out and descended upon them. And then it's done. But you make a point. So... I flipped my whip around in my hand and was ready. Of course he didn't do it again. Not at first anyways. He was still bouncy. And I didn't punish the little antics. Because I'm okay with excitement and little antics. But soon enough, he went up again. On a not so smooth part of the trail. It wasn't quite as big as before and I never felt him get off balance but it was up in the air enough that I felt justified. So... I smacked him between the ears about 6 times rapid fire and then quit. (and I'm not beating him beating him... It was quite fair. I'm not cruel). He jumped around and was like "what the heck just happened". And then he thought about things. We carried on like nothing happened and after about 5 minutes, he went back to his sillyness. It was so much better than before though. He was silly but really thought twice about bringing the front end up off the ground and decided it wasn't worth it. :) 

So we continued on our ride and I let Liz back in the front again so that Dan would learn to lead and follow. We decided to trot and canter some. Liz was walking for my sake but I told her that both of us would appreciate burning off some energy. So we did. They did really well together because Party is so forward and Dan's stride is so long. Of course when we first started trotting Dan couldn't contain himself and kept cantering. Which was okay, because it's a nice canter and he's easier to collect. But he wasn't doing what I asked, so... I needed to make a point. So I asked to be in the lead and that worked. I was able to keep him trotting. So then we swapped again and Liz led and it so happened that it was right about the place where she likes to canter. So Dan trotted a bit politely and then I was able to ask him to canter. So I was able to reward him for being polite at the trot and he got to burn off some more energy. WHEEEE. It was fun. At this point we were finally at the 7 mile point and had turned to head to home. We did a bit more trotting and cantering as it was getting dark and we had been out for a fair amount of time. 

It was so much fun because it was starting to get dark so it was a neat feeling cantering through the woods in the dusk. :) I was hoping Dan was going to be tired but he came prancing home just as energized as he was in the beginning. Although he was much more cooperative about trotting near the end and his antics just about disappeared. 

So yep... super fun ride and super educational. For both of us. :) 

Friday Fun day

Slacker work day... got to ride both.

Flatted Dan in the dressage ring with Peri and Sunny

Dressage lessons

Good baby boy. Worked hard. Worked on outside rein connection, my seat, and cantering up

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dressage Practice

So..... Danny can hold the right lead canter, even when doing some mild shallow serpentines, IF I turn my seat to the inside. Duh... I can try to put my outside leg back all I want but it does no good when my shoulders and seat are twisted. But apparently by turning my shoulders in slightly, it positions my body to help him hold the right lead. Or NOT ask for the left. ;) It also helps if I put my big toe into his girth.

yay! Good baby horse

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bring it!!

Baby horse was on the warpath today! It's a bit crisp outside today and was a bit chillier overnight than it has been. 

Dan came into the arena on his toes ready to dance! We had an "almost bolt" spin and then some other antics. And he was just a fire breathing dragon, rarin' to go. 

We tried to do some cantering over some poles but apparently Dan wasn't willing to let me collect his 18 foot stride so we did lots of 2.5 strides and jumps. Lots of tempi's without always being front and back.

But then we settled a bit. Of course we worked on collecting the right side on him too because it's not just Fleck I let get strung out and long on the right. And Danny was MAD!! We had lots of head flinging and pouting. But.... When I was really good about owning my elbows and staying consistent in the contact, he got much better.

SO.... Winter goal..... even steady contact. :) And work on canter poles. :) 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Yet... he ALWAYS redeems himself

So yep.... He really is a good kid!

 Today was another cold, wet, and WINDY day. I took both kids to Ashland and decided to ride Dan first. That way I could go as long as Fleck wanted. (And in retrospect, it worked well because the deer were out spooking Fleck when it was his turn). However, it was fairly windy when I was tacking Dan up. And a bit cool. I almost thought about riding Fleck first, but Dan was so good at the trailer that I went for it. And he was great!!
He was wonderful. There was no spooking, no antics, no... anything. He was just good. We did some walking, some trotting, and some cantering. Ahhhh... I could canter that horse through the woods til the end of time. It's just... a mesmerizing canter. So big and powerful but rolling and rhythmical. Ahhhh... heavenly. He enjoys it too. 

Then we headed back in so I could ride Fleck. I think that Dan was happy to get out again though. I'll have to make an effort to make sure he keeps getting out so he doesn't get so bored. 


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Boot Camp Time

Oh Danny boy!!!

This 4 year old year is gonna be a loooooong one. The good news is that he was a good boy for his ride. :) Maybe because of the beat down before hand though. Sigh. He's sassy!

I think it's because he's so bored! I took him and Fleck to Ashland and braved the misting rain to get some energy out. I wasn't sure if Peri was going to be able to join me or not so I rode Dan with Kelli, as she had to ride early and get out. 

We were grooming and as I walked by, Dan lifted a hind leg. He didn't kick out and he didn't wave it around, but he lifted it like he was thinking about kicking. So I smacked him a few times. Then as I went to get on him, he bit me! It wasn't a bad bite, just a nip. And he only grabbed my jacket, but.... NO SIR! So I let him have it. Unfortunately he backed into Kelli's truck but luckily he didn't dent it. 

So yep... He's getting a little bit of an attitude, so... I'm nipping it in the bud. When I went to catch him today he wanted to play chase. He's just too big to play his games. So... he's in behavior boot camp. I'm not playing his games. He needs to be a respectful horse. We can play my games!! But not his. 

But then we had a most pleasant trail ride. I thought he might go up in the first few minutes because he was definitely light hooved and acting like he was a kite, flying away. BUT... he actually kept his feet on the ground. I asked Kelli if I could just walk him up the big hill once and then trot him up once to get some energy out. So we did that. And then he was good. We went on a hack for about an hour, just walking because of the weather. And there were no antics. Kelli actually said he was better than he has been for the last few rides she remembered. 

Ha! Boot camp is a good thing. :) 

But I think he felt MUCH better after he was able to get out and expend some energy and get a change of scenery. Phew!