Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Rosie Update

" So I'm a working girl again this morning?  Well, okay but don't forget the treats!"

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. We’ve been busy with barn and property projects.  The horses are all doing well.  Rosie and I have been doing some training and hopefully forging a relationship with each other. 

Rosie is a very willing and talented gal. There’s rarely a time she refuses what is asked of her except when she doesn’t understand the cue.  Then she just stops and we figure a way to let her know what I want.  Once the light bulb goes on, she’s fine and we continue on with the lesson.  

At first anytime I took a slight contact with her mouth she would stop, so I assumed her previous training required her to go with no contact whatsoever and we rode on the buckle for a while and gradually inched up the reins in subsequent lessons.  Now she can be ridden with a light following contact.  We’ve done a lot of walking and circles with a gentle opening inside rein to teach her how to bend and use her body properly.  I know some people subscribe to the training principle of pulling the horses head around to their side and think the horse will then learn how to bend.  I’ve actually been at one barn where they tied the horse’s head to his tail overnight thinking that would do the trick.  It doesn’t and it’s cruel. I’m more about starting with a soft flexion at the poll and letting the rest follow, so that’s what we’ve been working on.

Asking her to trot at first produced a western jog and we figured out that a second pressure from my legs would get a response and a smoother more flowing trot.  I recently found out that she was a western pleasure horse.  So it’s taken some time with her figuring out what her way of going was previously like and how to change it gradually so she understands what I’m asking. Everything we’ve done together so far is designed to reteach her to my way of riding and not to cause her any stress.  I’ve tried to make each teaching moment a good experience and so far I’d say we’ve achieved that. 

We’ve done a lot of groundwork on the longe and she’s learning how to open up her stride and loosen her musculature.  The other day we free longed for the first time and that went pretty well.  She even cantered a bit and looked great.

Small steps and gradual understanding of each other is our way of getting to know each other.  It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It may sound impractical to some but I believe in letting it take as long as it takes to have a happy well adjusted horse who is willing to work with me. And for both of us to enjoy our time spent together.  I’m happy to report that Rosie will now groom me back while I’m grooming her and she will let me kiss her nose and hug her.

Quote for Today
If the horse does not enjoy her work, her rider will have no joy.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Rosie’s Transformation

" Rosie "

      Rosie and I have been working towards changing her riding discipline from Western to English.  The working gaits between the two are different and she's been very hesitant to come out of a jog for any reason, under saddle and even on the longe, though she will trot and canter in the field. I’m used to a regular trot and canter, and her Western jog and lope probably won't be of as much good to us down the road when we want to school some dressage or maybe pop over a few small jumps. So, sorting out her gaits now at the beginning is step number one.  I actually had to do the same transitional training when I got Dusty years ago because she had been trained to ride Western also--and just imagine my surprise when I unknowingly gave her the cue to start spinning!

     With Rosie, we are accomplishing this transition mainly with lots of ground training.  The idea behind working her from the ground is to get her mind and body familiar with what I want from her without the complication of a rider. It also helps me to see what she looks like and how she's moving from the ground.  At first we worked with a simple longe line and halter and she did very well, so we integrated a saddle into the mix.  She will still revert back to the jog if I don’t keep after her a bit.  We never work for very long, maybe twenty minutes at the most, with lots of walk breaks.

This weekend we graduated to a chambon and surcingle combination.  She had a very mild mullen mouth bit and we fitted the chambon loosely for her first session with it to allow her to get the feel of it. She seemed to figure out what she needed to do very quickly.  Rosie is a smart girl and seems to want to always do the right thing.

Rosie and I will continue to work on her ground training this week and we might possibly go for a mounted walk or two this weekend. Here are some pictures of her longeing in the chambon and surcingle:

If you're interested in learning more about the chambon here's a "link"  to check out.

Quote for Today

Horses are as much athletes as gymnasts, ballet dancers, or ice skaters, and unless they learn how to understand and use their bodies by “ basic training,”they can’t be expected to perform well when the going gets rough.

Joy Slater

Friday, March 30, 2018

March Update

Happy Birthday Blue!
 The month of March hasn’t been one of my favorite months.  We had three Nor’easter’s in ten days and then another one the following weekend.  Tons of snow and wind and three more of my neighbor’s trees came down into my yard breaking the fence to make it even more special.  Spring has officially arrived, or so it says on the calendar.  The temperatures are warming up and the snow is almost completely melted.  There are some buds on the trees and sprouts of early Spring bulbs.

There’s not much going on with the horses, we’re all just waiting for the warmer weather and they’re waiting for more than a few patches of grass to appear.  They are as bored as we are. 

Mr. Blue had a birthday yesterday, March 29th, he turned 21 .  Happy Birthday Blue! He’s always been our Mr. Cool and he still is, but it seems since he’s taken on the responsibility of being “Leader of the Pack” he has moments of being Mr. Grumpy old man.  Blue likes to push everyone off the hay now and has claimed Rosie as his harem of one.  She actually listens to him and hangs with him most of the day.

" Blue & Rosie"

Here are some pictures of The Month of March, mainly so I can remember how miserable it was and to remind me not to complain in the summer when the temperatures soar…

Ginger and Nikita loved romping in the snow


they manufactured "ice balls" that stuck to their under carriage! They were hard to get off too.

Quote for Today
 You never appreciate Spring till you’ve been through a tough winter.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rosie Lunging

Because of our ridiculous weather, the indoor has been snowed/iced-in and I haven’t been able to get down there to do much with Rosie.  With this recent thaw, I’m hopeful the weather is on the turn and heading for more Spring-like weather and we can get into a routine. The snow is almost all melted and the footing wasn’t too bad so I took her out for a quick lunging session. Rosie did really well with all her cues and seems to like to work.

Before the snow, I was able to get her down to the indoor to get her accustomed to it.  She seemed interested and a little up, so we had to stop a few times and let her look around.  It’s hard to get a horse not knowing much about their background.  I have no idea if she’s ever been in an indoor, but she took it in stride--except for a few “Uh-oh, what’s that!” moments, on the whole she did very well. 

But the delays caused by the weather aren't such a problem in the big picture.  I decided when I got Rosie that I would take my time with her and let her get adjusted at her own pace.  So far everything we’ve done with her has been working toward giving her a good experience with us.  Our way of thinking is, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to let her acclimate to her new surroundings as long as she’s happy and she has nothing but good experiences.  So in that department we’re pretty happy with how things are going.  She’s getting the hang of the barn routine and fitting in better than she did in the beginning. Riding will eventually just be another part of that routine.

The one thing she does that puts a smile on my face is that whenever I go out to the fence line she will stop what she’s doing (eating) and walk over to greet me.  So I think she likes it here, although, it could be she’s thinking I might have treats in my pocket…

Quote for Today
 A horse is poetry in motion.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bored Horses

This is a short post of pictures.  There's not much going on here due to the weather.  One day it's snowing like crazy and the temps are in the single digits or below zero at night and then two days later its in the 50's. Go figure.  The horses are bored with no grass and only hay baskets to eat from.The only excitement in their day is to either mill around aimlessly or push one another off a particularly tasty morsel from the salad bar. 

"Sami" ..."Treats pleasssse"

"Rosie & Blue"

"Sami & Grady"


"Nikki & Ginger"

 Quote for Today

In Winter, Mother Nature dims the lights, sleeps late, hides from the world, and regenerates. Winter is the hangover of seasons. ~Terri Guillemets

Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy New Year

" Happy New Year "

I’d like to thank everyone for their kind and thoughtful comments on our recent loss of Donnie.  We appreciated that you shared your thoughts with us.  The barn seems so sad and empty without Donnie there to greet us in the morning and his kind presence every day is missed by all.  This has been a year of loss at our farm, losing both Mellon and Donnie, who were an integral part of the herd and our lives.  They left us with wonderful memories of their time spent with us.  Along with the sadness there have also been many happy times spent on the farm to be thankful for this past year.  

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions or goals for the coming year. The one thing I look forward to is spending more time getting to know Rosie and having some nice rides with her. 

That said I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best in 2018!  May you have good health and good rides throughout the year. And most of all lots of fun shared with family and friends, both human and animal. 

Quote for Today
It's never too late to be what you might have been.
George Eliot


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Sad Goodbye To An Old Friend

" Donnie "

We had to say goodbye to our sweet boy Donnie last Saturday.  Sometime Friday night or early Saturday morning, Donnie coliced.  When my daughter came in to feed that morning, the front door of the barn was slightly open, and he was not in his stall.  Somehow he'd slipped out under his stall guard. At first she thought maybe he'd just escaped, but then she saw the grooming stall where he'd pawed up some of the rubber pavers and urinated.  Something was very wrong. She went in search of him found him down the hill by the indoor arena in a sheltered area laying flat out on the grass.  He was in bad shape. His face was scraped and he was covered in sweat and mud, thought he mostly lay still and moaned by this point. 

With an ultrasound, the vets located a "surgical lesion" in his small intestine and they decided since it was in his small intestine he had a decent chance of surviving with a simple surgery.  The horse ambulance came and took him to the clinic.  The surgeon found two lipomas, one of which had strangled a large section of his intestine, killing it. We were offered the option of attempting a resection, with the understanding that there would be no guarantees, a long, hard recovery, and a possibility of chronic colic to follow.  Difficult as it was, we chose to let him go.  He was 19-20.

Donnie has been with us since he was about four. Even as a young horse, he was always a gentleman. But more than that, Donnie seemed to genuinely love everyone around him. He was everyone’s best friend--horse, dog, and human alike.  Donnie was the first one to nicker a friendly good morning to you each day.  He watched out for all his horse buddies, worried about them when they were upset, and tried to help whenever one of them was sick or in trouble.  Donnie did develop some issues and couldn’t be ridden, but he had lots of fun playing clicker games, longeing, and tangling burrs in his tail which would take hours of grooming to remove ;-)  He was the sort of horse that was eager to learn and tried hard to please. He was pleasant to work around, with perfect manners and a friendly disposition.  He was always up for a good scratch or an ear rub, and if you weren't paying attention he'd give you a (friendly) nip on the behind! It was impossible not to love Donnie.  His nature made him the sweetest, kindest and gentlest horse we’ve ever known.  Donnie loved affection and if you hugged his neck he would hug you back, wrapping his neck around you and squeezing.  Donegal will be missed by all of us, especially Sami, his best buddy.

Donnie had a good life with us and enjoyed his time with his friends, but it’s still never easy to say goodbye to such a special horse.  We are going to miss him being with us everyday. The barn seems especially empty without him, and quiet without his friendly nicker in the morning.

 A Slideshow of Donnie
"Wild Horses" by Ray La Montagne