theridingwriter

Just another WordPress.com site

A Conversation with Lily August 2, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 5:23 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Lily has scratches. That’s a blog post in itself, but for another day. The first day I tried to rub the scabs off she had a fit. I understand they hurt and I understand she is sensitive, but trying to kick me while holding her hind foot is unacceptable behavior. So Lily and I went outside and had a conversation. This was the first serious talk she and I had, and she was initially stunned. I started moving her one direction and then the other and she exploded because she didn’t like being told what to do. However, within only a few minutes she settled down and listened. Good enough for that day.

The following day I went back to work with her again. I figured she would either be like “get away from me you mean lady” or would listen nicely. I was very glad to see that she listened quite well and acted like a lady. She was relatively good for working with her scratches, and she continues to be. She doesn’t like it, but she has not tried to kick me again.

I have since worked with her several more times and she is spot on. Lily is quite smart and willing to work as long as she has her thinking brain on and not her flight brain. (She did break her lead rope spooking at someone wearing a rain slicker. Sigh… We have not gotten to desensitizing with a rain slicker, but it’s on the list.) Today was the first time she had to work while something else was going on around her. A person was bringing horses in while I had her in the outdoor arena. At first she thought it was impossible to focus on me when other things were happening, but it took very little to convince her that she could. Then she tuned into me and didn’t look at the other horses again. I am very impressed with her brain and her willingness. Now only if she can learn to tone down the flight response…

 

Working with Lily July 14, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 8:17 pm
Tags: , ,
Stylized Lily

Lily surveying her new digs at Windy Oak Farm.

Lily has settled into her new life pretty well. This is the first young horse I have not had living on my property. I didn’t give it much thought at first, but I have quickly come to see how important that is to a young horse – especially a sensitive Arabian. Lily is smart, but very reactive, opinionated and has a strong flight response. She is independent and the sort of Arabian that demands you meet her standards of perfection – not an easy task.

When I had horses on my own farm I was the person handling them 99% of the time. I did everything – turn in, turn out, feed, water, clean, exercise, hold for the vet and farrier, etc. The horses learned I was their person, and they could expect the routine to be the same day in and day out. Everything from the order they go in and out to how they walk through gates and into their stalls. Consistency was key, and it worked especially well for the sensitive ones.

With Lily being boarded, there are 6 people (including myself) that handle her. That’s a lot for a young, impressionable filly. It’s impossible (and an unreasonable thing to ask) to keep things completely consistent across the board and with Lily it shows. Initially I thought working with her 4 days a week would suffice, but I didn’t factor in the fact that I am no longer the person doing everything. I underestimated the value of that crucial aspect. Thus, it’s up to me as a horseperson to figure out how to best educate Lily in her current circumstances so that she is a well-mannered filly. It’s a new challenge and new learning experience for me, but that’s what different horses do. They teach you all sorts of things you didn’t realize you didn’t know.

 

Gwen in Her New Home November 18, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 12:05 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The time came for Gwen to find her permanent home. Several different people looked at her, but there was one person Debra and I both agreed upon that Gwen liked the best. But the timing wasn’t right. A year later (maybe more – time goes so fast) the situation changed. Gwen still needed a good home and her person was now able to take her. And as fate, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it, would have it, Gwen was available.

On Saturday, November 14, Debra hauled Gwen to her new home in Virginia. There she has other horsey friends and will live her life as a riding horse and spoiled diva princess – which is how it should be. Debra, especially, was sad to see Gwen go. After all, she had spent every day with her since Gwen came into our lives. I just floated in and out as needed. But we feel good in the home that she now has. We both knew it was the right situation. We just had to wait for the right time. Gwen will be loved and cared for and that’s all we can ask for in the end. It was our goal from the very beginning…to take this injured, slaughter-bound majestic creature and give her a chance at another life. I’m very proud to say that we did that. Many thanks to Debra for taking such good care of her the last few years. She deserves the vast majority of the credit. Job well done.

 

Gwen Emilie2

Gwen checking out her new surroundings…and making sure there is enough grass to eat.

 

Remember Gwen? July 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 2:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s been some time since I’ve talked about Gwen. Debra and I got her from Camelot a little over a year ago. If you need a reminder, this is what she looked like at the time.

G glamour shot

And here is Gwen today.

20140723_110000_resized

She has put on weight. Eating is one of her favorite things to do in life. The only remnant of her cut up legs is a small scar on her left front, which was the most injured of the four. She is sound, sassy, happy and very spoiled. We’ve always been curious of her parentage. A number of us thought she was an Anglo-Arab (Arabian/Thoroughbred cross) so Debra sent mane hairs off to Texas A&M for a DNA analysis. They can’t tell you exactly what a horse is, but they can tell you what the horse most likely is. We were surprised with the results. Number 1 and 2 on the list were Morgan and Saddlebred. Number 3 was Arabian. Now that she’s put on more weight, we can see Morgan in her but none of us can really see Saddlebred. So, we’ve decided she is a Morgan/Arabian cross. It doesn’t really make any difference. Gwen is Gwen and we love her regardless, but it was fun to find out.

Debra wanted me to include this quote for Gwen the next time I talked about her. I don’t know the author so I can’t give credit, but it works for Gwen and probably all rescued animals.

“I have nothing to fear, and here my story ends. My troubles are over, and I am home.”

 

Bahea Goes to a Horse Show May 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 1:58 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

One of the “tests” that remained with Bahea was how she would be at a horse show. This Saturday I took her to a small schooling dressage show and did training level test 1. Prior to the show, she bathed fine and clipped fine after giving her a few moments to remember what the clippers were. Then she tried to eat them and kept wiggling her muzzle while I was clipping it. She loaded on the trailer perfectly and (along with my horse Nadia) off we went!

Now I decided to show both of the horses on the same day because in that way I was taking up one weekend day instead of two. Good idea in theory, but the girls were definitely more worried about where each other was. Thank goodness that Plantation Valley Stable allowed me to use 2 stalls and my friends Carol and Deb were available to help me. If it weren’t for that I don’t think I would’ve been able to manage them.

Bahea warmed up like an experienced show horse and she stood outside the arena like she’d done it many times before. I’m not sure when her last show was, but it’s been years. Still, she obviously remembered what the scene was all about. Alone in the arena, however, she got nervous and tense. She started grinding the bit and wanted to look around a lot. She tried to be a little extra exuberant in the canter. But overall, she behaved herself well and acted how I expected her to. She scored a 61.45% which was lower than I would have liked but good enough to win her class. Good girl!

Storm clouds rolled in soon after we were done. During a break in the showers we loaded the horses up, but the rain started again soon afterwards. I had the misfortune to drive back to the farm in what felt like a hurricane. It was not a lot of fun and the horses were not happy. It started thundering by the time I arrived at the barn so I quickly managed to unload and get them in before it got too bad. Bless little Bahea’s heart she fell asleep in her stall about 15 minutes later. It was a tiring day for the girl.

Of course, in trying to just get the horses, myself and all our stuff, I completely forgot to take any pictures at the show. Sorry about that folks. But, believe me, she was a cutie all cleaned up!

20140512_094352_resized

 

Finally a video! April 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 1:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

With better weather finally the opportunity came to shoot some video of Bahea. You can view it by clicking on the link above. It is unedited and gives a good representation of where she is. She knows a variety of movements, but she obviously still needs to build a lot of strength and suppleness, especially in the canter. Under saddle I’m taking the advice of Cheryl Swing…do 20 to 30 minutes of correct work and quit before she gets too tired. With Bahea’s strong work ethic, she will keep on going even after fatigue has set in. Cheryl also suggested doing some canter leg yield, which is really helping her canter improve.

On the ground, Dr. Deb of PECTS has been doing some massage/chiropractic work focused on her hind end to help loosen and stretch Bahea’s tight muscles. We are also doing hind leg stretches before and after her rides, and I can definitely feel a difference. It’s only a little bit at a time, but slow and steady wins this kind of race.

I’m entering her in a small schooling show on May 10 doing training level. I’m looking forward to her return to the show ring!

 

Bahea the Professional Mare March 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 2:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’m so pleased with Bahea’s progress back to fitness. Her hay belly is going down and her topline is filling in so she looks less like a broodmare that’s been out in the field for a few years and more like a riding horse. My plan of joint supplement and slow, steady work (and let’s face it, warmer temps) has reduced her stiffness and the fluid on the front of her hocks. Focusing on her balance in walk and trot has definitely helped the balance in her canter. It still needs work but I’m at least able to play with it a little bit.

For fun last week I first tried some walk/canter transitions. She took a couple of trot steps then went right into canter. I feel like with a little practice she will be back to having those spot on. Then, since her canter was feeling pretty good, I thought to myself “Why don’t we go across the diagonal and ask for a flying change.” So I did. And she seemed to have no idea what I was asking her to do. She didn’t get upset or fussy – she just kept cantering. So I quickly changed plans. “Okay, let’s see if she can counter canter.” And she did so pretty easily through the short side of the arena. I came across the next diagonal to get back onto the true lead and praised her highly. She didn’t need to know that I asked for a flying change and got no response. She did a good job at counter canter. So I got going the other direction and did the same pattern only skipping asking for the change. Her counter canter going to the right was more difficult for her, but she tried hard and stayed true. What a good girl.

The lessons here? Ones you’ve probably heard before. Have a plan. But when that plan doesn’t work that day, be ready to change it immediately to what the horse needs. Don’t be afraid to play with other skills – like the flying change. But at the same time, don’t punish your horse if he doesn’t do it right or not at all. Remember, you are just playing and any attempt is worth praising. And in my case I figured out right away that Bahea doesn’t know a change so there was no way I was going to get after her. She does, however, counter canter so I praised her for that.

I’m very impressed with Bahea’s work ethic. She knows her job and does it. Work in the arena? Got it. Hack around the field on the buckle? Sure. Of course, I’m still waiting for the weather to improve enough to get her out on the trail, but I don’t know why she will be any different there. She is, after all, a professional Arabian mare.