Monday, December 30, 2013

Herd bound no more (I hope)

Flash had a hard start in life and has some insecurity issues. His go-to misbehavior is herd-boundness, and boy, howdy, can he put on a show. Since I started leasing him, I've lost count of how many snaps, ropes, and leather halters he has broken by pulling back while tied. Camilla has been helping me with some pointers about his behavior, and I'm pretty much endlessly patient, so we've been making slow but sure progress. Today I tried out a whole new strategy, and he was a perfect gentleman! (Sorry about the whimsical black bars in the video. I must have clicked some weird setting in Movie Maker.)

Today I got on Dakota without lungeing first. He was perfect, of course. He could already go intro level; he's so easy to get on the bit! The canter still needs a lot of work, though. He needs to build strength. I haven't asked for it under saddle yet.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New video! Dakota under saddle

I had company at the barn today--Camilla came out to play with Flash. We each rode and then swapped ponies. My trip to Louisiana to ride, ride, ride is coming right up, and I need to get my riding muscles in shape! Flash is good for that; his trot is huge. Also, Dakota is building up his stamina, so I can start riding him for longer periods. This is the first time I've gotten to see him go with a rider. I love what I see!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lungeing over ground poles

Yesterday I lunged Dakota over ground poles. Either he's pretty smart or he has seen them before, because he trotted right over them with no mistakes or confusion. They did help him relax through his back.

I also worked more on trot under saddle. He needs a lot of help balancing and bending, but he tries very hard. He's just the sweetest little man. I'll work him again tomorrow, and then I'm out of town for a week: first in Las Vegas for training on a new part-time job, and then to Nebraska for a holiday visit with my family.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pass the popcorn

Dakota and I had quite an audience yesterday. I suppose grazing is pretty hard with this much snow still on the ground, so the herd is bored and looking for entertainment. They crack me up.

I shortened the side reins a little more, so Dakota is feeling a good contact now. He's head-high and bracing at the moment. I think I'm going to find some ground poles to get him to loosen his back and neck. I'm really happy with how far he's come in two months, though.

After lungeing I hopped on him again yesterday and we did a little trot work down the long sides and across the diagonal. He doesn't really have brakes yet, and steering is iffy, but he was a perfect gentleman. He's so soft in the mouth -- quite a change from Willow! I'll have to be careful not to let Dakota go behind the vertical as he comes along.

Monday, December 9, 2013


The temperature and the roads were a little better today, so I was able to make it to the barn. As I was walking across the pasture toward the herd, I could see a horse with something strange about its head. I was really puzzled. I finally got close enough and saw that a little chestnut was wearing a blanket and a combo sleazy/hood, but they weren't made to be worn together (the blanket had no attachment points for a hood), and the sleazy/hood had flipped upside down and was hanging over the horse's head, completely covering his eyes.

The poor guy was pretty freaked out and had some bloody scratches on his legs. I had a hard time getting him to trust me enough to let me get near his head, but after following him around for thirty minutes or so, he finally gave up and let me flip the hood back and then remove it. He shook his head and neck for a long time once it was off. I called the barn owner to let him know the scratches might need a little attention, then caught Dakota and worked him. I shortened the side reins to where he's feeling some contact, and he was super. I can't wait to hop on him again--maybe tomorrow

I've never been at a barn that has such spectacular views. With the snow it's just breathtaking!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snow patrol

We don't usually get much snow here. When it does snow, it usually melts the same day.

Yesterday, we got about 8 inches, and it's not going to begin melting until at least Monday. It's a winter wonderland! I'm glad I got Flash and Dakota blanketed when I did. The low tonight is going to be 7.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


We don't usually get much cold weather here in the southern Willamette Valley. Wintertime mostly means rain, highs in the 40s and 50s, and lows in the 30s. This week we've got a real cold snap going: highs around 30 and lows around 10. I'm not planning on blanketing the boys this winter EXCEPT when the weather is like this.

Apparently the herd has never seen horses in their jammies before. There was much consternation and running. They did seem to be settling down by the time I left.

Dakota was so good today! He stood like a rock while I tacked him up, and his speed on the lunge was much more adjustable. His canter departs are getting sharper, too, and the canter is more of a canter and less of a gallop. I am terribly wimpy about cold these days, so I'm not planning to ride him during this cold snap. I can't face wearing breeches and freezing my legs. As soon as the weather breaks, though, I'll be back in the saddle!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The more the merrier

We had a surprise visitor during Dakota's lungeing session today.

Fred was getting into trouble all over the place. Earlier, he found a hole in the pasture fence and visited the neighbors. Then he screamed his little head off when captured and placed in a holding pen until the barn owner could find the hole and plug it. Then he visited Dakota and me in the arena. I think Fred needs a job. I do wish my phone hadn't crapped out when it did--not long after the above video, Fred settled in behind Dakota to participate in the lungeing. I could just eat Fred with a spoon.

With the cob-sized headstall and the full-size cavesson and browband, I now have a bridle that fits in every way except in the throatlatch. I'm just tucking it out of the way for now. Here is Dakota all zoomy from Fred screaming in the holding pen a few minutes earlier. I'm really happy with Dakota's trot. He's got a fairly free shoulder and he maintains good flexion in his hocks behind. There's a lot to work with there.

After lungeing, I brought Dakota over to the mounting block and spent a few minutes lying across his back (no reaction) and then stood several times with my weight in the left stirrup, bumping his hind lightly with my right knee (a tiny bit of surprise, then no reaction). I then swung on over into the saddle. He raised his head a bit and didn't want to move off for about thirty seconds. Then he walked off and the rest of the ride was uneventful. He understood my steering attempts pretty well and gave in his poll when I wiggled my fingers. He's very soft in his mouth. He was quite tired from zooming around on the lunge earlier, so we just walked around for seven or eight minutes and called it good. Yay! Dakota is officially under saddle again after two years off!