Wednesday, July 29, 2015


That's a Quarter Horse butt if I ever saw one.

This year was supposed to be mine and Suzie’s debut in Reining and while they still may be possible at the end of August, it looks like the show I was anticipating for a reining freestyle is going to be an English-only event. While I feel a bit frustrated that Western is no longer included, I also understand that showing Western in this area is not prevalent. I can appreciate and respect a show organizational committee who recognizes and realizes that hosting Western classes just isn’t profitable or fun. Having one or two people in a class isn’t much of a competition.

So instead of moping about it, I decided to quickly change my game plan. Suzie could become an English horse by September, right? I mean, I’ll be showing her English in a Breed Show next weekend, so it’ll give me a bit of a glimpse into the future in a way. Of course, Breed Shows are a whole ‘nother cup of tea and the placings (if any) received next weekend will certainly not reflect placings I would achieve in an open show. Still, it will give me a good indication if I want to attempt to compete with the “big boys” in Western for the Fall Fair at the end of August.

The last few rides I’ve put on Suz have been English-orientated and I can easily say that riding a thoroughly Western-trained horse English is exceptionally difficult. The concept of contact is really hard for Suzie to deal with and I made sure to be as steady and supportive as I could. I tried to incorporate some of the “releases” she normally receives when we are schooling Western. 
Not only is the contact different, but I am now asking her to speed up and go forwards more. It’s mind-boggling to her and I could just feel the uncertainty as she surged forwards in an attempt to get it right. I tried to keep my contact long and gave her pats when she was through her back and quiet in my hands. We’ve been breaking ground slowly and chipping away at it, so hopefully by next weekend we’ll have something more solid. I don’t anticipate she’ll be ready to do a fantastic Dressage test, but she’ll be able to be competent and have a quiet contact. The basis is there and I just need to refine that foundation.

A crappy video still from May to remind me she can be fancy.

So although the few “English” rides I’ve put on her were a bit frustrating, I cannot put the blame on Suz. The last three rides, with the exception of one, were about 20 minutes long. Certainly not enough time to get much (if anything!) productive done. Those 20 minutes included my warm up and cool down as well. If I am looking for progress, I need to give myself time to achieve

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Happenings

The weather has shifted to the other extreme - rain, wind, and more rain.The sun will gingerly peak it's head out between the clouds every so often but it sneaks away as quickly as it has surfaced.

The horses have been enjoying a bit of a break - which in part was due to the weather and partly because Suzie started to look a little less voluptuous. I am not certain why she started to look less "full", but I intended to start fixing it immediately. Mare was put on a concoction of grains which included: 2-3 cups beet pulp (measured before adding water), 2 cups alfalfa pellets, 1 cup sunflower oil, 1-2 cups ProFibre Crunch, and 1 cup Dr Reeds Minerals. It was quite the feast!

Lookin' a little bit shitty.
 Having been on this new feeding program for about a week now, she is starting to look much better and I've also upped her forage intake. Although, both horses have decided that once the hay touches the ground it must be contaminated and they cannot eat it. Cue the hair pulling!

I hopped up on Suzie Wednesday night for our first ride since the whole "sink hole" scenario. She was pretty forward - eager to get out and even more eager to get back home. I hacked out in the English saddle and we went over some exercises at the arena. She was VERY forward (pretty sure it's all that alfalfa she's been getting) and seemed a bit stiff in some spots. We worked through most of it and she gave me a really soft and uphill canter that I could really FEEL was uphill. I wasn't able to get much quality work out of her since she wanted to be pretty bracey and FORWARD on me.

We have quite a bit of work ahead of us before the show on August 8th, so I really need to buckle down and commit to a working schedule of some kind. Too bad I've barely been able to walk since I've started this new work-out program (Tylenol extra strength has been my friend for the last two days).

Spud hasn't been driven in a billion years because the cart is still in the garage at home. We have to fix the single tree before it goes back out and I just haven't gotten around to doing it. So, little pony has been in lunging boot-camp which he is surprisingly very good at.

Exciting developments at the land are starting to surface - we've officially hit clay! Wahoo!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

5 Myths about Senior Horses

A huge part of life with my horses is devoted to caring for them; ensuring their comfort, and keeping them safe. Outside of riding, I am often found repairing fences, scrubbing water troughs, refilling haynets, or making up Suzie's next mash. And in the time Suzie has been in my life, I have compiled a list of necessary things every rider and owner should consider if they are faced with caring for an older horse. Things that may not necessarily come into play with a younger, more athletic partner.

She's not filling out like she used to last year, that's for sure.
(Future post on this to come!)

Myth 1: Their condition won't really change much year to year.

A once solid topline will appear looser and looser as the years go by, no matter how many exercises you do to build it back up again. It is a part of getting older - much like with humans and how things start to "sag" and lose their shape.This isn't to say that an older horse can't be in shape and still functioning - they just won't look the same as a working five year old. It just is not possible.

In addition to this point, it is important to keep an eye on your senior to ensure that your feeding regime is acceptable. What was working last year to keep weight on may not work this year. Keeping a small diary of any changes you notice and the feed you are giving is a good idea (also helpful to look back on in future years to see if there are trends).

She look ready to retire to you?
Nah, me either.
Myth 2: "My horse is ____ years old now so we're retiring him to pasture."

I know a lot of riders will "retire" their senior horses to live out their days in the pasture and enjoy their freedom. While this can be relaxing for a previous show horse, it can also be detrimental. Older horses still require exercise and while it may not be at the same level they previously once were, it is so important to keep them moving and active. Arthritis can be  crippling and debilitating to a senior horse's future, and I am a firm believer in keeping an old horse moving.

If you do intend to ride your older horse, be aware that you may need to tailor your riding regime and possibly go much slower than usual. Muscles that are under-worked or weakened will take much longer to build up!

The deceptive red mares.

Myth 3: "My horse is old and won't ever put a toe out of line!"

I know dozens of older horses who are just downright cheeky! It doesn't matter if they've been broke to ride for the last 15 years; they can (and will!) act a fool every so often. It's important to remember that although they are older, they still should be abiding by the same rules as the other herd members. Tempting as it is to baby them, I've seen this back-fire on more than one occassion (*cough* Suzie *cough*).

I'm a hypocrite, but I'm ok with that.
 Myth 4: An old horse needs to be blanketed in the Winter.

It may be beneficial for some horses, but not all. I've known 28 year olds who do not require a blanket simply because they grow enough hair for it and the horse is smart about utilizing it's shelter. It may make an owner feel better to blanket, which is fine and I'm sure the oldies appreciate the effort we go through but it is important to know that not ALL old horses need them.

In the cases of inclement weather, blanketing would be a good option. And honestly, since I blanket my own senior horse (because I'm the owner that feels bad lol), I don't have too much to add into the topic despite knowing that she doesn't really need it.

Myth 5: They aren't useful past a certain age and it's best to just get rid of them.

Does that face look useless to you?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Breakdown of Breed Showing: AQHA-Style

The Quarter Horse circuit doesn't even know what's coming.
 The plan has been made to attend a locally sanctioned Breed Show in early August since I haven't really attended any of the 'fun days' or shows I set out back in January. I don't find it to be a big deal, as I traded those dates for other things such as Spud's Driving Clinic and a a few Karen Lessons with Suzie. It's been worth it.

In any case, this will be my first Breed Show and in an effort to educate myself, I've decided to compile a list of classes I think I'll be entering and dissecting them down for information sake.

Long-time readers will notice that I have chosen mostly English-orientated classes as opposed to Western ones. There is a good reason for that, I assure you. I've decided to enter the English classes because:

 A) The friend that will be competing with me is only doing English (the in-hand, English, and Reining classes are all on Saturday while the Western classes are Sunday and ain't nobody wanna compete alone).

B) Suzie was a bit hot/fractious at our last show while in the show pen. I feel like having more contact on the reins (if necessary) would be more acceptable in the English division rather than in Western where they would want to see draped reins.

C) There really isn't much difference (to me, anyway!) in the way of going for the horses (someone is going to slap me for that, I'm sure).

Without further adieu, let's get started and of course, since Suzie is a Quarter Horse, I will be utilizing the AQHA rulebook to assist.


Pretty common in the QH world and most will automatically think of Impressive and the influence he had on the Halter horses of today. Thankfully, the trend of HYPP horses is starting to phase out and is much less prominent at smaller venues.

In any case, Halter is the evaluation of the horse's conformation and how it relates to the ideal Quarter Horse. All horses are to be shown in a leather halter as per AQHA regulations and are to show soundness as well as structure. The class is split up into different divisions - Yearlings, Mares, Aged Mares, Stallions, etc. The winners from each division are awarded Champion status. All the Champions from the separate divisions end up combining for a Grand Champion class.

Essentially, Halter is pretty easy to do and so long as your horse doesn't try to kick/bite the Judge, you shouldn't get DQ'ed.

You will typically see more "Western-type" horses in these classes, coupled with handlers in bright/ sequiny clothing or wearing suits.


This is kind of like Halter on steroids in a sense. There is no separate division for Mares, Geldings, Stallions, etc - they are grouped according to competitor status (most commonly Youth and Amateur). All Showmanship classes are pattern-orientated and most have cones set out to show where a next maneuver is required. Generally speaking, the pattern will include jogging/trotting, a 180 degree turn, backing, and "standing up" for inspection.

The inspection is a pretty important part of the ordeal, as the Judge will literally walk all around your horse from all angles. Most 4-H kids will remember the "four quadrants" of the horse and that whenever the judge moves to a different side of the horse, the handler is to move so as to give the judge the best possible viewing of the horse. This class is about precision and showing off your pony.

Faults are accumulated according to the degree or frequency of the infraction. Some faults which are considered 'no nos' in the Showmanship world include: touching the horse, going off pattern, knocking over the cone or "splitting the cone", handler not utilizing the "four quadrants" during inspection, break of gait at the walk or jog/trot, sliding the pivot foot during the 180 turn.

Again, most handlers will be in suits or flashy Western clothing. Hair is usually styled in a cowboy hat, but some have gone in helmets.

Sidenote: that horse is a MONSTER. Either that, or
his rider is tiny.
Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat

If you've ridden Eq classes in the past, this one isn't much different. All Hunt Seat Eq classes are pattern-orientated and are to evaluate the ability of a hunter rider (that's you!) on the flat. Once the pattern is completed by all competitors, they are normally put back out onto the rail to perform various gaits. Patterns are short - usually with 3-4 maneuvers and may include sitting trot, posting, hand gallop, simple changes, etc with cones to depict the change of maneuver.

Severe faults include: touching the horse, grabbing the saddle, loss of iron, wrong lead/diagonal, knocking over the cone, going off pattern, horse's head too low/ too high, over or under turning.

A similar class to this is Hunt Seat Eq over Fences, which is (you guessed it!) a jump course consisting of a minimum of 6 fences. Again, the class is mostly judging the rider's ability rather than the horse's.

In terms of turn out you will see plain tack (no bling), shaped saddle pads, hunt caps (they are not mandatory, altho they are a fad) and close contact saddles. Banding or braiding is acceptable.

Hunter Under Saddle

The purpose of this class is to present a horse who shows potential of being a working Hunter. A free-flowing gait which is ground covering is most valued. In most AQHA World shows you will see Quarter Horses 16hh and taller in the show pen, as Reining-sized Quarter Horse's simply do not have that reach and "flowyness". Think Warmblood-type, hokey-pokey Hunter and you have your next AQHA winner.

This class is judged on the rail and will consist of walk, trot, canter, hand gallop and backing. There is no jumping in this class, as it is only to show the potential of being a working Hunter. This is also the class you typically see horse's with their nose poked out and severely on the forehand (mostly applicable to World shows).

Severe faults for this class include: breaking gait, wrong lead, excessive speed/ slowness, head carried too high/low, stumbling, excessive nosing out (the irony here), failure to maintain contact with horse's mouth, showing too far off the rail.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Recovering from the Sink Hole

Photo is pre-mudhole sinkage. I caught them
napping in the hot afternoon sun.
 Carrying on from the previous entry (which was long enough as it is!), I knew something was up purely based off of the way Suzie was walking. I dismounted and walked my soggy ass home with a muddy red mare and trotting mini in tow.

Once home I went over Suzie's legs, shoulders and hips and found no real pain response. No heat. No wounds. Nothing.

All the heaving and thrashing at the river easily could've made her pull something and make her sore, which is what I figured was the case. And so, I mixed up some bute and tucked her away in the paddock for the evening. A friend suggested cold hosing, but truthfully, I figured the strain was in her shoulder rather than in her actual leg.

You can just see how she was feeling in her eyes/ expression.

The next day Suzie was significantly better, about 99% sound, which was fantastic to see. To be on the safe side, she was re-dosed with bute again and has had the last three days off.

And while "treating" Suzie, I realized that my way of dealing with soreness and/or stiffness may not be the everyday norm. It kind of invokes an interesting discussion, as I know everyone has their own little remedy for certain situations.

First of all, I know most people would easily stall a lame horse, but I prefer to leave mine turned out. My thinking is; if it hurts, she won't walk beyond her limitations. I don't think that this would work for every horse or every situation, but it works for us.

There are exceptions to the "rule", however, in the sense that if she was three-legged lame, perhaps some immobilization would be beneficial (ie. stall). There is also the fact that my horses are the only two on the property - if there were more or ones who enticed mine to run/ act stupid, I'd prefer her to be in a paddock or run in type situation. But for the most part, any time Suzie has been stiff or sore, she's been turned out to "walk it off" (with bute and/or Previcoxx for pain management).

At her age, being locked in a stall for a few days could do some serious damage and like they say, "a body in motion stays in motion".

What do you do when your horse is a bit sore/stiff? Do you stall them? Why or why not?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

That Time My Horse Almost Sunk

Too hot, hot damn.
Last weekend the temperatures were still quite high and the heat-wave was ever-lurking, with no signs of disappearing anytime soon. Doing any kind of riding - be it hacking or schooling - was simply out of the question. But when AJ's owner N suggested taking the horse's for a swim, I embraced the idea.
We waited until 7pm [when it started to cool off]  and hacked down to the river-side - N riding AJ and ponying Flash with me riding Suzie and ponying Spud. The river was quiet, calm, and aside from a family playing in the water further down the shoreline, it was peaceful.

I had unclipped Spud and had him trot freely behind us, like he always has during our trail rides and hacks. The last thing I did before clucking Suzie into the water was kick off my flip-flops (oh yes, I was riding in style. Bareback in flip flops, go me).

It took some urging on my part to get mare-pants into the water, but she toed in gracefully and commenced pawing, splashing, and dunking her muzzle in the river. Spud trotted gleefully past us and literally plunged into the water, swimming in a long circle before coming back to shore. He looked like Micheal Phelp's training for his next 50m dash. In fact, I'm almost convinced Spud was a sea-horse in a past life, or maybe he hails from the pedigree of the almighty Poseidon.

Spud be all like "Just chill, the water is fine."
 But anyways, this blog entry doesn't really have much to do about my large dog's fantastic swimming ability, or the fact that I think he could easily win a breast-stroke competition. This is about Suzie and the crazy shit that happened after we had crossed the river several times.

Everything was going well - the horse's were marching across the river (although Suzie was least enthused). But there was one problem. The water wasn't really deep enough to allow them to swim - it only really came up to Suz's shoulders when it splashed around a bit. And since N and I wanted to swim and perhaps go a bit deeper, we began scouting out our options. I had never swam Suzie before and wanted to make it a good, positive experience and I mentioned to N that I didn't necessarily want to swim the length of the river either. I just wanted a stroke or two to see what it was like.

We had pinpointed a location where N figured it'd be deeper and as she moved off with Flash in tow, I followed a few feet down-stream from them. All was well for the most part, until Flash and AJ reached the other side. Immediately I sensed AJ having difficulties, as his back was roached and he kept flailing to get onto dry land. Flash struggled to get onto the sand, which confused me slightly (I'll delve into more details, don't worry) and I watched slightly aghast as they struggled. AJ humped up several times before N was pitched off into the water and it was then I realized we had a serious problem.

I got closer and closer to land and after feeling Suzie swim about two strides, BAM, we were scrambling to get to land as well. I clung onto her mane as she literally sunk in the thick, wet sand and every time she flailed to get her front leg in front of her and onto the bank, the entire bank would slough away and fall into the water with us. After she struggled a few more times, I bailed off her right side.

It felt like this, but it was actually a lot less dramatic.
(FYI: the horse in the photo was OK)

 In hindsight, I should've threw myself farther away but with a horse who is scrambling and thrashing to get to higher ground, it's a bit hard to do... When I jumped off I sunk up to my hips and remember seeing her hooves flying wildly in front of me, clawing at the sand. Ah, shit.

I managed to scramble up the bank, which wasn't high at all - it was just the fact that the deepest part of the river was literally right in front of the shoreline and the shoreline was disintegrating. Holding onto her reins - which were barrel reins, FYI), I heaved her forwards in an attempt to get her to land. She surged forwards and I fell back, sprayed with sand and mud.

I glanced over at N and AJ - his bridle was off and N was vigorously trying to put it back on. They were standing in the water, with no sinking and no thrashing. Flash had already swam back to the other side and I honestly had no idea where Spud was at this point. Taking a deep breath, I whoa'ed Suzie and watched as she grunted and settled down into the mud, which was as high as her shoulder in the front and sucking her hips down in the back. Oh fuck, I thought.

Here's a random river wading photo from last Summer.

Unclipping one side of the barrel reins from her bit (handy little reins they are!) I was able to make a longer lead and began outweighing my options. Turning her around, back into the water, was not an option - she was stuck diagonally and would have to pivot on her haunches which would only make them sink deeper. And trying to get her to climb out directly forwards wasn't going to work either since the bank kept sloughing away. I opted to walk down the bank slightly and was aiming for her to continue to get towards land diagonally - this way the bank would be firmer and she wouldn't have to worry about getting more stuck.

I clucked and yanked on the line and after one or two heaves, Suzie burst onto the bank. I was so happy I could've cried. I kept petting her and brushing the mud and sand off her neck and cheeks, telling her what a good, brave girl she was. She snorted and licked her lips, I think in an attempt to calm down from all the excitement. Glancing back I saw N wading through the water, swimming back to shore with AJ. I led Suzie back through the water as well, in the shallower parts where it only came up to her shoulders and stopped for a second to wash the mud off her sides.

The horses got lots of pets, love, and cookies. We waded back in the water for a few minutes, giving them a good experience before mounting back up and heading home. N had to carry her paddock boots since they were full of mud and water (good thing her synthetic saddle was on and not her leather one!).

We split up to go our separate ways home and that's when I felt it. Suzie took a misstep. And then another.... followed by one more. be continued.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Fell Off the Wagon

Admittedly, I fell off the blogging wagon and sort of disappeared for the last ten days. Eep! Sorry about that. In an effort to get back up to speed, know that nothing really interesting has been happening since British Columbia was the target of a massive heat-wave and myself and the horses were miserable throughout it all.

So, lots of time was spent at the river and lake with the dogs, sitting in front of the mobile fans, and hosing off the horses in an effort to keep them cool. Temperatures peaked around 34C (that's 93F for you American folk) and while it may not seem hot, it was absolutely excruciating since we are not used to weather like that. Plus, our house does not have A/C in it so the temperature inside hovered around 23C all night long. Ew.

And since BC hasn't had a rainfall in forever, wild-fires cropped up all over the province. People have been evacuated left, right, and center and homes have been lost. It's disastrous and I am thankful that the fires that have cropped up in my hometown have been quite small and easily contained. Hopefully now that the weather has shifted and most of BC is cooling down and rainfall has started the fires will level off.

I do have an interesting story to recount with you guys about swimming with Suzie, but it will take some time to type out and sort my thoughts on. Stay tuned. But for now, enjoy some photos from the last ten days or so.

A friend and I went hiking on Saturday when the weather started to cool off.

So ya... there is my boring life.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Karen Clinic: Day 2

Beast mode - Activated.
Day two was focused more on controlling the haunches and forehand, spins, and more stopping. I was almost late getting out there, but managed to get tacked up and on (thanks to a wonderful friend who again stopped by to snap photos and help out!) in record timing.

We spent a great deal of time focusing on pushing her haunches out and getting more out of her in terms of spinning. It was a great deal of work, as she wanted to pop up with her head and make a step forwards instead of to the side. The leg yields really opened her up and settled her back down to be responsive to my leg. A few times I had to get after her with the spurs and really focus her back on me.

The left lead lope is really starting to improve and after we worked on an endless amount of spins, flexion, haunches in, and leg yielding, we moved onto doing some mock reining patterns. I have to remember to keep her soft and supple in the spins in the pattern, otherwise she gets braced in my hands and fidgets.

Our halt - lope departures were fantastic and we really nailed them on the head (yay). The instructor reminded me to ask for suppleness before and into the transition to prevent her head popping up (leg on and lift reins). When we went into the gallop portion of the circle, Suzie sped up really well but trying to do a reining pattern in a Dressage arena is a bit difficult. We ended up missing our "center line" target badly in the first pattern and after I decided to actually RIDE her, it turned out much better.
Asking for some flexion before working on spins.

Instructor says to practice the variation of speeds - galloping is required in Reining and I need to utilize that gear and get it under control. Suzie is good about speeding up, and a few times we really nailed our slow lope coming through the center line. Same thing with slow jog/ fast jog - practice USING the fast jog and get control. We cannot always practice the same speed all the time. It's kind of like having a sports car and not going past third gear.

Things to take away from this lesson:

1. Practice the fast/slow variations of each gait (collection/ extension) and refine them for obedience and cadence.

2. When practicing spins, know when to "walk out" of the spin (ie. before she shuts down).

3. Block bulging shoulder movement in the spins with the outside rein.

Going over the last two lessons and giving me some

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Karen Clinic: Day 1 (Mostly a photo spam, really).

Mare don't care.
The day started out pretty shitty with me leaving work with a pretty intense stomach ache and feeling like complete crap. I did manage to sleep for about four hours, down half a bottle of Pepto (not really, but almost), and eat a few crackers before getting ready to hitch up and head out. It's funny - I'm a total baby at work when I don't feel well, but will ride even if I feel like death. I guess that's because riding is much more fun?

Nevertheless, I hitched the trailer up with zero issues and Suz loaded quietly and hauled great. I tried to leave around the same time I'd be getting off work, to test to see if I'd have enough time to get to the venue for Day 2's lesson. I shouldn't have worried, as we arrived at about 6:30 and my lesson wasn't until 7:15. It may seem like overkill, being that early, but I wasn't sure if the truck would cooperate and hitch up or if the horse would decide to balk and refuse to load. As horse people, we have to be prepared for anything. And since I was, I wasn't late.

Some minor adjustments.
Fine tuning the left lead.

Getting some flexion at the jog.
After hand walking, grooming Suzie out and taking a few photos of some of the other riders (I do know them, so I wasn't just being creepy), I got tacked up and ready. I have to admit I was nervous to see what Suzie would do/act like, but she was a perfect lady and quietly munched on her hay while she observed her surroundings at the barn. It was a total non-event and I was glad for that, as I didn't want a repeat of our one show outing.

The lesson in itself was really beneficial and pinpointed a lot of things I am doing incorrectly. I tend to get overly "handsy" with her - primarily because I have a English-influenced background. It's not that I jerk on her mouth, it's that I hold the contact for longer than I should be. We had some beautiful jogging and even did a bit of extended jog (which we need to work on).

Instructor popped up on her for a minute.
In the first five minutes or so of the lesson, the clinician popped up on Suzie too, to see what she rode like and to see what kind of exercises would be most beneficial. I thought that was a super idea, as with older horses, their resistance may not totally be due to bad behavior and may be because the horse actually has the inability to do something.

For the most part she gets beneath herself quite well
 I was most excited that we finally got her left lead canter more polished and refined - all within a 45 minute lesson! With a bit of give and take, Suzie carried herself better and really rounded up and balanced. It was really pleasant to ride afterwards.

Some key points to remember and for my own reference:

This is what instructor means as "flat". See her nose poking out?
1. Do not let her get flat in the face. When she gets flat, she'll revert to being on the forehand - keep her "rounded" with some arch to her neck. She has a nice way of going with her neck carriage and she doesn't need to be any lower (other than in the lope).

2. Ask her to lower and round the same way each time. Keep it consistent and get after her if she doesn't comply, but ALSO be fair and give when she is trying.

This was one of our better stops where I wasn't leaning back, but I was
totally unprepared. Lol.
3. When riding the stops from lope, do not lean back to stop. The body must stay with her in the motion and as weird as it feels/sounds, round your back and collapse your bellybutton into your spine. (I was having a heck of a time stopping properly...)

4. Instead of riding the leg yields the "Western way", continue to ride them more "English" to prevent her body from collapsing or creating a "C" shape. (The clinician showed me how to ride them "Western" but we both prefer the English way, as it is more correct).

5. Tilt her hind quarters to the inside before a lope departure, but do not allow her head/neck to drift to the outside.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Recap/ July Goals

Wow, half the year is gone already. Wasn't it just January?

Regardless, I did get quite a bit accomplished with both horses for the month of June. The Driving Clinic was a complete success and the lessons I took on Suzie (recaps coming!) were just fantastic. I feel like we are putting one foot forwards now, which is an exhilarating feeling. Upwards and onwards, right?

Spoiler photo: Day 2 lesson.
Working on some spinning.
June Recap- Suzie

  • Work to get her back into shape - suppleness, bend, trail riding, etc. It is a slow process, but I think we are getting there. Suppleness is very hard to achieve with an older horse and part of the process is being patient.
  •  Piece together more spins.We've toodled a bit with this, but I didn't put much effort into it until we went and did a few lessons.
  • Get better control of the haunches. We worked on this a bit and it is getting better - just have to do more of it now. Also got some good exercises from the lessons.
  • Get better down transitions - continue to work on the halt. The halt isn't where I'd like it to be just yet, but the down transitions are getting better.
  • Piece together her lope a bit more.  This is a HUGE accomplishment for us this month. Her left lead lope is really coming together - very happy with her on this. It especially came together in the lessons - wahoo!
From Lesson #1. We have the "stretch there". Just need to collect it up a bit,
but she is balanced quite well.
July Goals - Suzie
  •  Try and trail ride more - work on jogging and loping on the trails with other horses.
  • Utilize the exercises from the lessons in June/July. Ride a "square", spiraling circles, and practice simplified reining patterns.
  • Start to work on extending and collecting the jog and lope.
  • Pin down the halt - clear cut and concise. 
  • Start to get better spins to the left. Her right is better.
  • Get more lessons if possible (clinician may not be coming back up to the area until August).

Such a fancy pony.
 June Recap - Spud 

  • Attend a Driving Clinic and get some good instruction, have a good time, and hopefully Spud can show off what he's capable of! We went, we saw, we learned, AND we had a good time!
  •  Drive him in the Fairgrounds arena or meadow. I didn't drive him at the local Fairgrounds, but I did drive him in town and also at the Smithers Fairgrounds. So that counts, right?
  •  Work on cantering in harness. We touched on this a bit, but won't be pressing on it for a while.
  •  Work on turning (thru cones if possible). Hell ya. A lot of the clinic focused on turning - and we even used cones!

This chunk is also an escape artist... sigh.

July Goals - Spud

  • Get him in better shape. He is getting a bit fluffy and I don't want to go through issues with founder or otherwise.
  • Put a rider on him (I may have found a small child that is willing to be my test subject, haha)!
  • Continue to drive him and try to set up a date to go out and drive with other driving horses.