New Barn and visiting Kira

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Barn

Well it has now been a little over a month since I moved Duck to her new barn. She is LOVING having so much room to move around and grass to nibble on. We have been playing a lot at liberty between her pasture and in the cross ties. I am teaching her to stay in the cross ties without being tied to be groomed, saddled, etc. She is picking it up very quickly!

A couple weeks ago we were able to ride out with the barn owner and see the trails. Duck did great! There is even a gate to open and shut to get on/off the trails, so it was fun to have practiced that and to use it! The trails are quiet in some places, and close to suburbia in others with barking dogs, swimming pools and such. Duck did great! We only had one spook and that was when we were out in the open, with 2 horses in the distance running the fenceline. She did great while we were heading towards them but then they stopped and we turned away from them and headed back into the woods at the same time they started running again. Our one rein emergency stop is great though, so it was no big deal and she settled in fine right after that again.

We also have attended the Lake Norman Savvy Club's trail obstacle day. That was a lot of fun! Although we didn't stay long at all, just to do the trail challenge, it was tons of fun to do all those new things. Opening a mailbox and reading mail, trying to cross a tarp at speed, crossing then backing over a bridge, jumping a small jump, trying to get her front feet into a hula hoop and do a yield the hindquarters, as well as dragging a bag (we skipped that one but I tried it afterwards) were some of the obstacles.

I left right after I did the course because I had family with me and lots to do that day, but we ended up winning! I was super surprised and pleased, although that wasn't why I did it. I just wanted to expose us to more things! It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to doing it again in October.

Next week will be another Lake Norman Savvy Club playdate. Online in the morning and freestyle in the afternoon with Demo's from instructors over lunch. Sounds like a great day and will be good for us to get out again!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lessons and Change

Well, it has been a long time since I have updated either of my blogs. There has been so much going on and I just haven't taken the time to write.

Duck and I are starting dressage lessons. We have only done 2 so far, but it is wonderful! I love that we are able to continue to refine our communication and I love how I am being taught even more about positive reflexes and how to get them.

On the other front, Duck and I will be changing barns soon. It is a very long drawn out story, but basically it looks like our barn is closing anyway, although I made the decision to move her before that really all came to light. The good side? I won't be having to work weekends anymore. For the last 3 years I have been working weekends in order to help pay down her board. This has made it hard for us as a family on the weekends with the kids' activities and also with Church on Sunday's. On the not so good side, I will be commuting 1/2hr to the barn instead of 5 minutes. I know this shouldn't be a big deal as 1/2 hour (or more) has been standard for me while boarding, but I have been so spoiled having her 5 minutes away for the last almost 3 years! The new place should be good though, she will be on pasture board on about 10 acres, so that will be good. She will have grass to eat and be on a decent sized lot. Her current turn out is very small and is a dry lot. This new barn I am told has more trails so hopefully we can go trail riding more often without having to trailer out.

Oh yeah, trailering, that reminds me. I finally bought a trailer! It is certainly nothing fancy, but it will get us from point A to point B. The really funny thing is that it is a brand made in Utah (where I am from), Logan Coach. So no one here has really heard of it, but I knew what it was right away! For the year it is in better shape than all the others I looked at, but it still needs a few things like new handles for doors so I can lock the tack room and hold backs for the dividers, but all in all it is good.

I am still learning to drive it and haven't driven on the freeway or any other place that I have had to change lanes yet. Working on my thresholds you know!

I am so lucky to be so blessed to enjoy time with my horse and continue my horsemanship journey. And I will try to be better updating my blog!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Parellitube Submission

Ok this was WAY out of my comfort zone, but I did it anyway. The theme for August's Parellitube (Parelli's you tube channel) submission is the theme of partnership. I originally just had my hubby take the camera just so I could practice having it around on me, in preparation for my level 3 audition when we get that far. I also thought it would be nice to re-learn how to make videos and edit because it's been so long since I have done that.

Partnership is such a wonderful thing, especially between a horse and a human. We aren't hard wired to act like horses, we are predators. And this can lead to some very frustrating problems with horses. Every day problems that until I discovered Parelli seemed impossible to fix.

This is a theme that just fit Duck and I so well! We've been partners now for almost 3 years. Only the last year and a half have I been able to put more hours into the relationship. So it is slow and steady going for us.

Here are some things I love about our partnership!

I love the way my partner, Duck comes to meet me at the gate EVERY single time I come to see her. I know it is a small thing but how many times have you seen horses run away from being caught?

I love that instead of having an instructor yell at me to use my legs/hands/seat in a certain way, that I KNOW how and why I am using them, not just because the instructor said so! And how to build more on using subtle aids.

I have always wanted to ride bareback and bridle less, since WAY before Parelli. I just couldn't figure out how to get there!

I love that I feel safe enough to put my kids up on Duck. I will say that even a year ago I didn't. She was still quite spooky at foreign things. But with all the progress and relationship building we have done through PNH it just keeps getting better every day!

I don't expect to be chosen for the submission and that is OK with me. It was more than outside my comfort zone for me to submit it and put it up here, too. I did find out that I get a copy of the UK celebration DVD for submitting it which is fantastic!

Guess what horsenality I am?

So drumroll please.....

I think it turned out pretty good! What do you think?

And here is my out takes video. I had about 30 minutes of footage, not everything would fit onto the limit of 3 minutes of video plus some funny stuff.

Funny, isn't it? :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday Night Latta Trail Ride

Ah the wonderful Tuesday night summer trail ride at Latta! I haven't been in a few weeks, one time the weather decided we didn't need to ride, the next week Niels decided he needed to work late. Ah, but it was worth the wait!

As I have been trying to do I played mostly on the ground in the morning to gear up for the trail ride in the evening. That way, I know we've been on the same page before I load up and head out to the trail. We played with the weave on the 22ft line using barrels that were layed down. Funny thing is near the end she offered to jump one, and I said "sure" let's just jump all 4 in a row! She did and I think she felt very smart for it, too!

We loaded up around 5:30pm, and my 8 year old, Christian, loaded Duck onto the trailer. She's becoming quite the champ at traveling! To the point that I can hardly believe that we ever had trailer loading issues at all. Up she goes, straight on in, and stands patiently for me to do the butt bar up and come around and clip her in. My 5 year old got a bit hasty and tried to load Eli before Duck bar was up. She squeeled, and kind of bumped the divider, but didn't try to back out! Yippee!

Did I mention it was HOT. Really hot. 93 but feels like 100 hot, which for this trail ride worked in my favor! We got there, and the horses were already sweating up a storm! Saddled up, moved her around a bit and then sent her to a bench for me to mount. She came right up and we rode on out of the parking lot.

I know that sound pretty boring riding out of the parking lot, but it was huge! In fact, this was the very first time that we had ridden out of the parking lot ( minus a couple non-savvy rides on my part where I should have 2 years ago). Before this ride I had always driven her from zone 3 out of the parking lot to make sure she was ready to ride. She was calm, she even led for quite a bit! Another huge success for us!

And then, to top it all off, we cantered! Four times (not for too long since it was hot). And once she even led! WOW, WOW, WOW! She cantered like a champ and felt totally in sync, and had brakes to boot! I could not of asked for anything more. So you see, the heat played into my favor for cantering, but it was well worth it. We all had a wonderful, warm, relaxing fun trail ride that did feel a bit cooler in the shade of the trees.

I've had this conversation with a bunch of my horse friends. It seems like all foundation work I have been trying so hard to get going well is finally starting to gel. And I am REALLY liking it! I am not saying it hasn't been hard to be patient. I've wanted to trail ride so much in the past but the few times we did go out it was obvious we weren't ready. I can see the difference now, and I wouldn't trade that for anything!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Playin' in the Heat and Playin' with the Truth

So this week has been wonderful! My boys have been at camp at the YMCA this week, all day long! That is a first for me, no kiddos around especially for that long. So I've been spending lots of time at the barn with Duck!
Of course it has been really, really hot, especially today but that isn't going to stop me!
This week my friend Liz and I trailered out for a trail ride at Anne Springs Close Greenway. This was a very fun place with some real hills and trails and Duck went like a champ the whole way. Trailered well, too. I sent her up and right in she went both directions of the trip! There were deer in the woods that she just watched quite curiously, a rickety and narrow bridge that we crossed and later out found out we weren't supposed to be on that trail, and even riding through the Kudzu forest! We kept joking that we shouldn't stop to take pictures because we might get grown over in Kudzu!
Yesterday I was lucky enough to audit a friends' private lesson with 3* Parelli instructor Dan Thompson. What an eye opening experience. He has a wonderful gift of teaching just what is needed and explaining so well using lots of simulations etc. I learned so much!
Today though was priceless. I went and rode this morning which wasn't a super great session but did end well. Still playing with getting Duck to relax and not feel like she has to go so FAST all the time. So played with that but then left, had lunch with the hubby and came back for more fun in the sun!
I decided to test out our "truth." Pat Parelli says that when you take all the ropes off that all that is left is the truth. It's hard for me because it isn't our greatest savvy, Duck is very unconfident, she loves the rope there to hold her hand. And quite honestly things generally go south when at liberty for us. We have a decent stick to me but that is about it. Try and send her anywhere and she is GONE! But, I have been playing with increasing draw online to counter the GONE factor and I would say today went fairly well. The figure 8 has been a big challenge for us at liberty. It's also one of those things I need to be able to do at liberty for my level 3 audition. So we played with it today and had twice where she went GONE when sending her around the cone, but I tried to stick with it and get her back, and it seemed to work. We got 2-3 nicer figure 8's at liberty in the round corral. Then I figured what the hey, might as well ride a bit bareback and bridle less in the round corral. Duck doesn't have near as much "go" in the round corral and I had already ridden her a few hours earlier. Fantastic! Walk/trot/backup and figure 8 at the walk. I was super pleased!
Then I hopped off and wondered since she trailer loaded so well for the trail ride if she really is getting confident or if I am "making" her load while she is online. We played stick to me from the round corral all the way over to where Liz's trailer was parked which is a decent walk. I opened the back, sent her across the ramp (with a nice bring back I may add), then asked her to load up, and she did it perfect all the way in and stayed there until I backed her out by the tail. YIPPEE! I was grinning ear to ear!!
I've been playing a bit more stick to me out around the property with a savvy string on her neck for a safety net, and it has been going pretty good considering how much grass I have to contend with! From letting her graze in the field she will leave the grass and come to me generally from about 20 ft away which is great progress for us!
So I have one more day of fun in the sun tomorrow and I plan to enjoy it with Duck!

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's not the knee

So after having the vet out yet again, we have determined that it is not Duck's knee that is giving her pain. It is still in the hoof. It's good that it isn't the knee, but it is bad in that it is another round of unknown slight grade lameness and that it has been off and on now for over a year. The vet says it may be navicular syndrome and for starters we are going to try putting shoes on her front feet to see if lifting her up off the ground helps. She goes so much nicer on the soft sand, so it is very apparent that with trail riding and such that she is going to need the extra lift of the shoe to make her more comfortable beyond the boots that I have been using to protect her feet. At this point I am up for trying about anything!

Beyond that though things have been going well. I didn't get to play with her over the weekend but headed out today.
But before I get to today's session I want to tell you what I did last week.

Trail ride! Yippee! Duck trailered very well and we rode on the trails for about an hour and a half with friends. She was SO good, even wanted to lead some of the way. And when a tree fell in the woods and was VERY loud (I thought it was a gunshot) She just tensed and didn't even try to go anywhere. All the horses were worried about that, but they all did very well. I was so proud of her! Even ended the ride by standing up on her

The chiropractor was also out last week for Duck. Her shoulders were a bit jammed up, which doesn't surprise me. Other than a few vertebrae here and there that were out though, she was in pretty good shape! That same day while a friend and I were talking with the chiropractor I was letting Duck graze. Well one of the guys at the barn came around by Duck with the really noisy tractor holding an 900 lb bale of hay in the front of it. I tried to tell him to stop but he kept coming closer to Duck and I knew she was going to spook. She took off with the 12ft line still attached and I figured she was going to run all the way back to her barn which is a ways. But I went after her and she only went about 4-5 strides before she turned back around to face the tractor, and me and then came right back to me. I was thrilled!

We have also been playing with the figure 8 a little on the 22ft line, playing with increasing our draw. So I send her out around the cone and bring her right back. At first she was very unconfident to come back. This was very revealing to me of how unconfident she can be about things. But repetition and lots of rest in between has really helped. Now we will be moving on to the whole figure 8 which is what i did today.

One whole figure 8. You wouldn't think it would be so difficult, but it seems to have eluded me after much play in this area. How do I know? Well if liberty is the truth then Duck was telling me that only the line was keeping her from leaving and that she really didn't know the pattern. So, I am breaking it down, and then going to rebuild it, hopefully stronger and better and with her feeling like she doesn't need to go away just to do a figure 8.

We also rode today and even got in some nice cantering. Some not so nice cantering the second time, but the first time was good. If I could just figure out what it is I am doing or not doing that is adding to the inconsistency that would be great. But most of the time we are going well for increasing lengths and that is huge progress!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Undemanding Time

Today I spent over an hour just hanging out with Duck, doing undemanding time. We've been doing a lot lately and I realized I need to give her some more lovin' time! I tried to stay in her turnout pen, but between her and her pasture buddy Oakie, they don't like to leave me alone. Duck asked me to scratch her favorite itchy spot, her butt, so I did. I scratched and scratched all her itchy spots for a good 20 minutes. I got her halter and off we went to graze her favorite spot, the clover by the arena. The hayfield usually is where we go to graze, but it is still real short from being cut a week or so ago. We just hung out in the clover patch and I just let her graze for nearly an hour.
She gets so many flies on her, especially her face, so I did a second try on the fly mask since I first got her 3 years ago and couldn't keep one on her. Well, I found it in the pasture morning. She just doesn't like to wear fly masks even though the flies are so bad they are making her eyes tear and get somewhat goopy. And that is with me wiping fly spray around her eyes, ears, and face!
I tried putting it on again today, we'll see if it makes it until tomorrow. I may just take it off her later tonight if it is still on. Maybe then she won't feel like she needs to rub it off.
There's an idea...