Friday, February 28, 2014

Update on Everybody

Update on Everybody

We have had snow, we have had cold and we have had so much ice. I think February was worse than January, but I’m not sure. It all runs together in my head. It has just been a rotten winter.

We had at least 2 more periods of extreme cold this month. Then, we had a brief thaw that melted a lot of it—except for the hill leading to the river. During the thaw, Kevin talked Ellen and me into walking down to the river to see the huge ice jam. It was enormous—huge blocks of ice as far as the eye could see—piled high.

Now that was a depressing sight. We didn’t think it would be gone before June. We walked up the hill with heavy hearts. Thanks, Kevin, for showing us the ice.

The next day—the ice jam was gone. Thanks, Kevin for showing us the ice. We would have never believed it was so high if we didn’t see it with our own eyes. There is still huge hunks blocking us from crossing, but maybe the next big rainstorm will wash them away.

We ended the month with another week of temperatures 20 degrees below normal. Not a couple days of it—a week! Will it ever end? According to the long-term forecast—maybe in April.

I shouldn’t complain. We are still riding, but I really just want to be trail riding—real trail rides—not the multiple trips on the hill that Kevin does this time of year. I am getting rather tired of the indoor arena.

Ellen and I have gotten Cruise and Ranger out on a few rides on the weekends. We have a long driveway that goes to the back of the property and they made a loop there. We can take them out and ride around and around the loop. They love being together, so much. Ranger takes the lead most of the time, but about once a lap, he wants Cruiser to go first. Cruiser happily passes. In less than a minute, Ranger changes his mind and marches past—making evil faces. Cruiser usually doesn’t care, but will now and then throw in one of his evil faces. This is how they have been together for the last 20 years—why should it change now that they are geriatrics?

Kevin, who is retired, usually takes Starry on the hill, and they ride in 5 times, up and down. With the partial thaw, it is now very hard snow with thick ice in many places—not something we want to ride to old guys on.

We don’t want to ride the young guys on it, either. Cole isn’t always the best on the hill in good footing on warm days, let alone tricky footing in the cold. We haven’t gotten to the point of trusting Dante on the hill at all. It is tough for the horses to do multiple trips because they want to go home when they get to the top and can get fractious when they don’t get their way. Consequently, I am waiting for the thaw for Cole, and I think Ellen will wait a little longer for Dante—at least to do multiple trips. Besides, it is pretty cold out—much warmer to ride them in the arena.

Cole and I have reached an impasse, and I very frustrated. I worked hard all winter to prepare us to do the right lead canter—something we have struggled with terribly. We worked on bends, shoulder-ins and my seat. I thought I had it, and I was getting perfect transitions. I was clicking him for it, and it was wonderful. He was doing them from a walk—precisely when I requested it—and it felt great. I had Ellen and my niece watch me on the following Saturday, and they confirmed I had the correct lead—except the one time I knew it was wrong. On Sunday, I had my sister video us—and when I watched—each time was wrong. I don’t know if we were getting them correctly before that or not. I think I was, because I can now tell immediately that he is doing them wrong, and I could tell they were right before. I am confused and disheartened about it. Now, I try it a few times, and when we fail, I just give up and work on trotting. I am sure I wouldn’t be so tired of arena riding it I had succeeded with the leads.

Ellen, on the other hand, is doing wonderful things with Dante. There are a few things that she learned are very handy from watching me with Cole. One of them is “head down.” He seems to have nailed that one. He targets the whip when she puts it in front of him. Another incredibly useful thing is “stand.” She is working with him on that after her rides. He loves to be with people, so it is mentally challenging to him to stay put when she walks away from him, but he is getting better and better at it.

Another accomplishment—which is related to standing—is standing at the mounting block. When I rode Dante, I just mounted from the ground, but that isn’t easy for someone who is recovering from a broken ankle. Ellen wanted him to be perfect with no fussing around. With the help of the clicker, he is perfect. Now they are working on him lining up his body with the mounting block.

As far as their riding is going—it’s going great. Ellen and Dante are both improving with leaps and bounds. Keep in mind, Ellen never sat a trot on a regular basis until she got Dante. Range’s trot is definitely one to post. Dante’s trot is very smooth—quite a pleasure.

Dante does have a touch of laziness in him. Ellen has to ask him to work, because he won’t offer it. She found that the best way to do that is to ride well. As her riding improves, he becomes more enthusiastic, steps deeper underneath himself and his whole frame becomes rounder. This encourages Ellen to ride well which encourages Dante to move better. It is a wonderful, positive spiral.

Overall, the best word to use with Dante is consistent. He is becoming the most consistent horse in the arena in our little herd. Now, what will he be like on the trail this year…?


Hannah said...

The weather this year has just been awful. I have probably only gotten to ride a dozen times. Huge windstorms, rain, snow.. ugh.

That is great that the clicker helped with the mounting block! My mare went through a phase where she refused to stand at the mounting block. I brought out the clicker and haven't had any big issues since! I actually don't even need the clicker for getting on anymore, but I still do sometimes give her a click and a treat for being patient.

Judi said...

Yes, clicker is marvelous for mounting. Glad it worked for you, too.

I mount Cole from the ground--easy to do since he is so little. I clicked him so much for it that he expects to be clicked--so in a way--it backfired--but not really--Since most of the time when I am mounting, I am on the trail which is loaded with distractions. He refuses to move unless he gets clicked. I know that if a loud truck goes by, horses come galloping around the corner or a tree branch falls while I am mounting, he is unlikely to move until he gets clicks.

achieve1dream said...

This was a horrible winter!!! So awful! I'm so glad it's almost over. Do your horses not get to go out in a pasture at all in the winter? I couldn't imagine that... mine are out 24/7 all year round because I don't have a stall to put them in, so even when the weather is bad they are out. Luckily I'm in the south so our winter, although bad, wasn't nearly as bad as yours! Thank goodness! I don't know how you guys live up there in the winter lol. I know the arena is getting boring, but I'm glad you have one! There would be so many times you wouldn't be able to ride without it. I wish I had one. I would probably ride more in the winter if I did.

I really need to work on standing still and the mounting block with Chrome. Most of the time he does great, but sometimes he's impatient and wants to walk off. I can't really blame him though since I haven't worked on it in ages!

Sorry you haven't been able to get the leads. I wish I could help, but I have no idea how. I hope you can figure it out!