Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Oh boy, we did it. We rode out alone.
First, we rode around the driveway making sure our turns were good. And our "Whoa's". And we stood for a couple of minutes at a time to make sure our patience was good.
I already had the big gate open just in case I got brave enough to go outside the fence.
I headed him out there and then around the corner to the sand road. I stopped at the corner to let him look around and see the new world. The corner dogs were not out in the yard so we didn't get to see them.
Then, up the road. I said "Hi, Craig" but I guess Craig wasn't out there. We went past his flapping laundry on the line. No problem but the shiny puddle was a slight issue.
We went by some trash on the road and a flapping supermarket bag. We went by several more puddles. By the big puddles at the end of the line, he seemed just fine with puddles.
I started asking him to keep his head straight by jiggling one rein until his head came back forwards. I stopped him several times and pointed out different things to him. That's Karen's house she has two horses. That's Mike and Delores house. They have two horses, as well.
On our way back the wind came up some but I sang "Hey, shoulda been a cowboy. Shoulda learned to rope and ride. Singing those campfire songs...yeah, shoulda been a cowboy."
He did pretty good. He seemed to want to start to trot a couple of times on the way home but I said "Walk" "don't get to going too fast buddy."
I asked him to stay on the road and not be looking around so much. I had good hands on the reins, I think.
.I actually had some semblance of relaxation so that was good. We rode about one mile total. Half mile up and half mile back.
I stopped him at the corner again on the way home. Then we turned towards the driveway and I had him go past the entrance before turning him to go in.
I had him go around the driveway, then sat for a couple of minutes before getting off him. I took his bridle off, put on the halter and off we went out the gate on foot.
I let him see the houses with dogs and the haunted house going the other way on our road.
We got back in, I punched the button for the gate to close. That startled him but I walked him in and then let him "push" the gate closed by walking him towards it as it was closing.
I tied him up to the patience pole and got his saddle off, brushed him, cleaned his feet. He's standing out there right now waiting for me to come out.
Coming home doesn't mean instant hay.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sir Richard and his owner pull it together today.
We did great. I got home and sat in the home pen, drank my afternoon cup of coffee and waited for Richard to come see me. Of course, I was irresistible and after about 10 minutes of consideration, he came to where I was sitting.
I put his halter on him and then left him standing there while I ran in for the new camera. He was happy I came back out 
We did some little things like back and then we went out to the round pen. I asked him to walk and to trot off line. It didn't take him long to get his mind in the game.
I snapped his lead line back on.
I got up on the rail of the round pen and asked him to come underneath me. He did that willingly. Again, directing him from a distance.
I asked for a turn on the fore on each side and a few turn hind.
Then out to the log section where I asked him to move out on his own to step over on of the big logs. Did that in both directions. Then we did the fan of skinny logs, again asking him to move out on his own while I stood in one spot and directed him around. His ears were perky. Hey, this is something new.
I took his halter off but he followed me all the way to the gate of the big pen so I put his halter back on and took him up front for the platform. He backed off hesitantly but he did manage to do it.
We took a nice break while I played with the other two horses, then, I said "Why not put his saddle on him and ask him to step up to the mounting block." He did great. I mounted and dismounted a couple of times with some relaxing in the saddle for several minutes.
After my final dismount, I asked Richard to walk out [lounge] with the saddle on. He was a bit stickier but I encouraged and he did do it both ways.
A lovely couple of hours spent in my horse world. Felt good.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The adventures of Sir Richard.
Not training related...or maybe it is 
Well, it was a winter wonderland this morning. Fortunately most of it has melted away this afternoon.
I took Sir Richard out to the big pen out back this morning. I left him there and went to pony's home pen, picked up the Pony's halter and then I heard a commotion. Here comes Richard rounding the corner at a lope.
He pranced around showing off for the little horses poking at them over their fencing. He tried to find an escape route. Total dead end both ways buddy.
I grabbed a halter and lead rope and we went back and forth a few times. When he stopped and looked at me, I took the pressure off by turning sideways. He decided to stop and let me come up to him.
I put him back in his home pen and then took Pony out to the big pen. Richard was pacing and calling when I got back. I let him fuss for awhile while I sat on the bench by his pen.
Then I heard a little voice say "Be the leader he needs."
I got his halter on and asked him gently to back, step up, turn left, turn right, get out on the lead and circle. Once I had his attention, I walked him out to the big pen with one stop in the middle to ask him to step out and turn to the right and turn to the left and back and lead by my side.
On the way back in the afternoon we wandered around, he got a few mouthfuls of dried grass, we stepped over a few logs and back to the home pen. I asked him to line up at the mounting block. The fourth time he got darn close to what I wanted. I petted him and told him what a good boy he was. I quit right there.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Okay, Sir Richard and the rest of you probably thought this is a silly idea but.....
My trainer said, "Just tack him up, get on him and sit for 10 minutes. Get off and your done." It teaches him, patience and it doesn't take a lot of your time. and you get used to each other.
So, I brought Richard in from the big pen, cleaned his feet, brushed him, got the saddle on him. Left him in the rope halter.
Now, he is still learning to come up to the mounting block. I went ahead and brought the mounting block to him. He stood like a rock for mounting. Yay!
We sat for 10 minutes. He looked back at me from both sides of his face. I patted his butt, adjusted my feet in the stirrups, rubbed on his neck.
I relaxed. I needed that.
I got off onto the mounting block, took his tack off and we did a bit of brushing and we were done.
Richard thought that was the shortest ride he's ever been on. 
I got some apple slices out. I am teaching the horses to come when I whistle.

Monday, February 26, 2018

I finally got Sir Richard to the new trainer's place so she could look him over and give us a lesson together.

He did really good with all the dogs running around.

He was just a bit worried about the ATV but the guy was really nice and didn't run up on the horse.  When he stopped and turned it off.  Then he said "Nice mind."   "Good looking horse."  "Like his bone."

I asked him if Richard could come see the ATV.  Richard sniffed it and then wanted to meet the guy on it.

The trainer looked Richard over.  She said she loved his "Jewish nose".   He has rather Roman profile.  He also has a furrow down the center of his face.  She thinks there must be some draft in him somewhere.

Good legs, nice feet, maybe just a little long in the back.  She thinks he is a gorgeous horse :)  Of course, so do I.  A nice set of withers to keep that saddle on.

Mentally, the horse has a good mind, she told me.  He is a bit of a couch potato.  "Yes, he is and I don't mind that a bit."  She thinks he keeps an eye out for things kind of in the middle distance and that nothing will sneak up on us.

[However, I do not feel that this horse is looking for trouble.  Just likes to keep an eye on things.  I am making sure I don't create a lookey loo horse by bringing his attention back to me and by being a good leader.]

She thinks he has a nice steady walk and will make a great trail horse...not too fast, not too slow.

She thinks what I think...this horse is a gem. 

After all this, I got on and we sat for several minutes.  Then, we started walking circles.  I have a problem keeping my hands closed around the reins instead of holding them like a teacup :)  I will have to make sure I keep working on that.

I had to pull Richard's head towards the center.  He wanted to look to the outside.  There were lots of things to look at like other horses, the neighbors and dogs across the street, the husband feeding their critters.  I had to make sure I did the release as soon as he turned his head a bit to the inside.  CJ members will understand this well.

Here is the tricky part.  Keep some light contact on the outside rein but pull the inside rein until his head turns a bit towards the center and then release the pressure on the inside rein!  Go ahead and keep light contact on the outside rein.

Richard, quite naturally, felt a bit confused here and there.  We are learning about one another.

The trainer said, "Never let this horse be ridden by someone else.  He is customizing to you.  He is a wonderful horse."  She said, "I could ride him to show you what he can do, but I won't. He is learning about you."

Here is where it got super fun.  I am walking the horse around in a circle.  She says, "Maintain that light contact on the outside, loose rein on the inside.  Now put your inside foot on his side."  Richard bent around my foot like it was magic while we were circling.

For backing, "Shorten the reins, pick them up like you are going forward, now ask him to back."  Now ask him to back more than one step so pressure, release, pressure, release, pressure, release.

So, it is a difficult thing to manage reins.  "Shorten your reins."  "Give out the reins about an inch."  "Tighten the outside rein until you feel the contact lightly.  Leave the inside rein loose."

Then, you add in each foot separately.  So, you end up having your feet and your hands all doing different things.  Kind of cool when it all comes together. 

She also said she wishes I would not  ride out with the neighbor yet.  Keep coming to take lessons.  She would really like that and she thinks that we can go far with me and this horse.  Give the two of us a chance to learn before we go out.  I like that she is patient and wants us to do good.  And she believes in me.  I told her I hoped to be doing good by the end of summer.  Maybe be ready for a trail trial [for fun, of course].  She said "You will be doing great by then."

Basically, we did mounting, standing, walk in a circle in both directions, turn, back.

He did good at standing.  He likes to park out with one foot cocked in the back so you end up sitting on a crooked platform.  I think he took a nap while we were standing and talking in the middle of the ride.

There was a bit of testing by Sir Richard.  He said "I don't want to turn my head towards the center."  I said, "Perfectly reasonable request.  I am hanging in there."  Released the pressure as soon as I got some action.

I so love this horse and I am so glad I found him  We had such a successful day and it wasn't scary at all.  He wants to do good and he wasn't frustrated when things got a little confusing.  He looked content when we finished up.

I did hand out an apple slice after we negotiated the gate out of the arena.

He loaded up like a dream going to and from the trainer's.  He was fine in the parking lot for my restroom break in town.  And he was fine when I stopped for gas.

When we got home, I asked him to step out of the trailer backwards since it is safer and better.  He teetered on the edge on his tippy toes.  I said "You can do this, Richard."  He finally stepped down and I told him he was a good boy.  He said, "Yeah, now let me finish backing out of here." 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

First Ride

Sir Richard goes for a ride...and so do I.
We trailered to my trainers house. Really, I didn't want to be nervous but I was so nervous. The wind was trying to come up and I have never loaded this horse by myself before. I haven't driven my rig in quite some time. The trainer has like 10 dogs running around there [all really nice and good with the horses].
Plus, I was going to get on that horse and actually ride today 
I brushed Richard and cleaned his feet. I saddled him. Left him out back tied up while I finalized a couple of things. Loaded him up and took off.
I let him turn around and exit the trailer facing front.
First of all, the trainer and her hubby thought he was a great looking horse. Hubby said "He has a great mind."
The hubby was on an ATV. He turned it off and I asked him if Richard could come look at it. "Sure." Richard sniffed the ATV.
Really, all I really wanted to do today was ride at a walk. The trainer could tell that just from looking at me.  I just want to get to know Richard and we don't really know anything about him.
He did amazingly well especially when you consider he hasn't been ridden in a couple of years.
We worked on me holding the reins properly and walking in a circle. Hard to explain but there was work to do on my part. Richard tested me a bit but it was mild.
I did pretty good. I finally managed to loosen up a little. I didn't hang on the reins. I got the idea of tipping his nose and then letting off the pressure.
We did circles, stood patiently, backed, turned.
My saddle seems to fit well so that is great.
I actually have every confidence in Sir Richard but I do feel we need to take the time to get to know each other and I am learning new skills at the same time.
I love this horse. He and I are going to be a great team.
I loaded him up and carefully drove home. I asked him to back out of the trailer. He teetered on the edge hanging on by his toes but finally stepped down. So good.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sir Richard and I had a nice day.
I got home about 11:30 and took him out to the big pen before he could start pacing the fence line in his home pen.
On our way out there I stopped at the round pen. First time asking him to do a little something in there. I didn't do a lot. I asked him to walk but he soon decided he needed to trot. I asked him to turn but he turned into the fence so I cut him off and tried it again in another circle. He cut the circle so I shooed him out to the fence several times. He did decide to stay on the fence after that.
I stopped him, turned to the side and let him come in. We did a few little things after that and I put him in the big pen with Pony.
The wind was ripping about 3pm so I went out and got Richard who did fine in the wind. Then Pony who did better than I thought he would.
I messed around with Richard in his pen. He drooled water all over my pants legs and boots. We got a selfie and I talked him into playing with the jolly ball a little.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I brought Sir Richard home last Thursday. We arrived at 3:30 pm.
I finished the platform today. I got this platform built in only 3 days  A new record for our area. We have to drive pretty far to get lumber.
Today, we practiced getting on the platform. We stepped up and walked over it and got off. We stepped up and stopped. We backed off.
We did that from both directions.
He avoided the platform a couple of times. I told him he was cheating! I backed him up and we did it again.
Chilly and windy and might snow a little but I do want to work with him again later. The wind had him a little bit edgy but I asked him to stay focused along the way to and from the front area. We did great.
We can maybe work a little bit in his home pen on a few groundwork exercises if he looks worried about being in his pen. Worst comes to worst and he gets upset and starts pacing, I'll take him out to the big pen even if it is a blizzard 
I want him to feel good about backing off the trailer if we go tomorrow. It will be cold so we might not go to the trainer tomorrow. We will see.
Did I mention I love this horse? Yes, snuzzles and hugs and I smelled deeply of the horse scent on his neck.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Day 6 - Sir Richard
Ignore if you are tired of us. The first couple of weeks with a horse means a lot is happening. We are learning about one another.
I went out to get Sir Richard. I thought, why not tie him up to the blocker tie ring while I run in to get his eye ointment. He might have a bit of an eye infection in the corner of his eye. He stood like a gentleman the whole time.
I thought, "Hey, there's enough time to brush him." He likes the stiff brush. See, we are getting to know each other. He also likes to get brushed on the underside of his neck.
He moved when I went to get the hair brush so I backed him right back into place. I brushed his tail. Then I moved on to brushing out his mane. He looked so relaxed by the time I did his bangs. We did some soft kisses on his big hairy nose and the soft fuzz on the side of his muzzle.
I walked him out of the pen, asking him to back for me to open the gate. I made a left turn at the driveway and we went out to the front area. He sniffed the new platform I am building. We stood out there looking at all the new things and we both sighed and relaxed.
On the way to the back pen, I turned and we did the log step overs. Four fairly big logs that he stepped over without touching a single log!
Then, single line follow on the single track I built.
Stop, back between two greasewood shrubs. Step up. mule  Back, step up. Back, step up. I only had to get big once for him to pay attention on the back. Still a lot of hanging in there on the step up.
Did head down. Had to hang in there. We got it.
Lead with respect. Missed the stop, back up.
I could feel the peace of horse and owner. The bond that we are growing. The letting go of fear on my part [yes, I have fear]. It felt good and right and lovely.
All three horses are out back in the big pen today. We will have to bring them in after dark but I think we will be fine.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Day 5

Having a new horse is daunting in some ways.

Sir Richard had me worried due to his working himself up into a totally sweaty frenzy and making a deep rut where he was pacing in his home pen.

I put him out in the big back pen and put Pony out with him yesterday.

Today I decided to go ahead and put both Pony and Wiseguy the mini out with him today. They are in the little guys pen and his own big guy pen for the night.

Richard did so much better today. Not a sign of sweat. No pacing that I could see. Thank goodness since it is barely above freezing and last night was 8 degrees. The last thing I need is a sweaty horse.

I worked with Richard on the way to and from the back big pen. I mostly had him back, come forward, back, come forward. I did do a few hind and a few front. I bumped him lightly if he lost focus and started lookey looing.

When I stopped and he didn't stop right away, I backed him a few steps.

I made sure I didn't nag and went straight from a small ask on the back to "Hey, back up" since he does know what I am asking for at this point.

I rewarded the small tries at "forward" since he seems a bit like a mule on that coming back to me :) I think he is starting to understand that too.