Friday, May 29, 2015

Bella learns the hill

I planned to meet my new friend, Shari, to go for a trail ride.  We rode together about a month ago, and our horses did so well together, we wanted to try it again.  She keeps her horse a short distance down the street.
 
She has a chestnut National Show Horse named Bella, and she is simply beautiful, but she can be a handful.  We rode down the hill and got a good look at the river—it was too high to cross on a pony, and she didn’t mind just riding on the hill.  I told her how I liked to trot back and forth on the bottom, and we tried that, but Bella had trouble with the concept turning around and walking back.  We did it over and over, and there was only a slight improvement in her behavior.

We decided to try riding up the hill—and now Bella really started to fight Shari.  We didn’t get too far, and I suggested we turn around and go back down.  Shari liked that idea.  We walked back down without a problem.

We turned around and headed back up.  Once again, Bella was fighting.  About halfway up, we saw some people with a white dog.  Shari recognized the dog as one that had chased Bella.  She shouted out to them that her horse was bad with dogs, and sure enough—Bella had her head way up in the air and couldn’t take her eyes off it.  They turned around and headed up the hill.  We followed up.  Soon they were out of sight, and that was a good thing.

At the very top of the hill, we turned around to go back down.  Ellen calls this the “demoralization process.”  Bella walked down the hill like a lady.  At the bottom, we started back up, and there was a huge improvement.  She mostly walked and pulled less.  At the top, I asked Shari if she wanted to do it one more time, and she enthusiastically said, “Yes.”

This time, Bella was nearly perfect down and back up again.  I think when she realized that she may not go home when she goes up, she no longer had a reason to prance.  She was completely demoralized.

All along, Cole was amazing.  Fractious horses tend scare him.  Not once did he throw up his head, cringe or even side step away from her.  This was good training for him, too.

During the ride, I explained to Shari how clicker training works and how it would help her with this problem.  Basically, when Bella walked quietly, Shari could click her to reward her for the right behavior.  I think I may have converted her.

Back at the barn, it was time to see how MerryLegs does with traffic.

I walked him down the driveway, and he was scared of the garbage cans, so I urged him to touch them, and he was fine after that.  Then we stood there and watched cars.  After a few cars, I walked him back to the barn, turned him around and down the driveway, again.  We did that once more for good measure.  I think he saw at least 10 cars and never flinched.  I did ask him to lower his head when they approached to get him to focus on me, and that may have helped.  I rewarded a head lowering with a click, of course.  MerryLegs passed his traffic test with flying colors. 


Our other big event was hoof practice.  I got him to lift each front foot 10 times in a row—and he was really good towards the end of it.  I only needed to lightly touch his leg.  When I worked on this on the weekend, I struggled a lot to get multiple lifts.  He seemed to believe that only once was necessary—which it usually is, but not if you want to practice.  I like that I can see such quick improvements.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Rainy Evening with the Horses--It was Still Fun


Kevin and I were going to go for a ride. I saddled up and went outside to wait for him. Before he even got out, it started to drizzle, and he wimped out on me. Cole and I left by ourselves.

As I’ve mentioned before, Cole hates rain as much as Kevin. It was a light rain and a warm evening, so it didn’t bother me at all. Each time I have ridden Cole in the rain, I have noticed that he goes much faster than dry days. I think he wants to get the ride over with. That is no problem for me! We flew down the hill. When we got to the bottom, I was going to trot to the river bank—stopping right before a log we can either step over or jump. Well, he didn’t want to stop, so we jumped the log and he dashed off at a canter—past the riverbank and came to a sliding stop where the trail ends a short distance later. Silly guy—he thought he could get out of going for a ride.

I turned him around, and he reluctantly walked down the river bank. Once we got across, we had a very, very fast ride. When we reached our favorite spot to canter, he was trotting so fast that he simply couldn’t make the transition. Instead, we kept trotting faster and faster. I don’t think I have ever trotted this fast. We slowed down when we got to rough trail, and made it to the next river crossing in no time at all. The rain wasn’t bad, so we crossed and rode about 10 minutes longer before turning home. He really, really wanted to go fast, now. It did start raining a little harder, so I agreed with him, but when he started to get a little out of control, I made him walk the rest of the way.

Once we got back, it really started to pour. Our barn has a metal roof, so the sound is deafening. I had planned to work on traffic with MerryLegs, but that was out of the question. Instead, I led him into the indoor arena. We walked around. He wasn’t very good. I think it was all the noise from the rain. He kept getting worried and would stop. Graddually, he improved.

Kevin came in to watch. I decided to test his lounging skills. I had my 15 foot lead rope and dressage whip. When I asked him to go out on the circle, he promptly told me what he thought of lounging. He said he would face me and not go on the circle. When I would step to the side, he would pivot so he would still face me. After about a minute or so, I realized we weren’t getting anywhere.

I decided to try the opposite side to see if it was any better. He wasn’t as coordinated this way, and I was able to get into driving position and he took a step. I clicked/treated. I tried again, and got it a little quicker that time. Once he realized what was going on, it took less time each time. Kevin wanted me to just have him go out into circles, but I explained I wanted to train him to go away from me, first. In just a few minutes, he was doing excellent. It was only about 10 clicks. Soon, it seemed like he wanted to show me he could do it—and then he started to trot around me. Kevin wanted me to see how many laps he would go, but I wanted to click him for just going on the circle. When I clicked, he would stop and walk up to me for his treat—and then I would send him back out.

Once on the circle, I could see he was trained to lounge well. He paid close attention to me and responded to all my body language and the dressage whip. I don’t think he liked being lounged before—hence his reluctance to want to do it in the beginning. I plan to make him love it.

I went back to the original direction, and this time, it only took a little bit before he was walking away from me with just a tug on the halter and then trotting on the circle. I didn’t work him long or hard, though. My plan was just to review the process and have a good experience—and we did.

I’m glad to say that his trot looked balanced and lovely. In the future, I will click him for impulsion, roundness and self-carriage. This worked wonders with Cole, so I am curious how it will go with MerryLegs.

We ended the day with practicing walk/whoa/walk with the clicker. This is a great way to instill vocal commands and teach him to focus on me. I had to quit when I ran out of carrot slivers.

It was a great evening in spite of the rain.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Reluctantly delete

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 

To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reluctantly deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reluctantly deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reluctantly deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Reluctantly deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Monday, May 11, 2015


Dante’s First Solo Ride of the Year

I had the opportunity to take Dante on a solo ride last week. It is the one part of his education that is really lacking. Dante and Cole are such a wonderful duo together, Ellen has no reason to take him alone. She could take him on solo rides when I’m not around, but she chooses to take Ranger instead. She will then work with Dante in the arena and on the property.

It was a very warm evening, and the mosquitoes decided to emerge from their winter hibernation. I didn’t put any bug spray on him because I didn’t know they would be so bad. Throughout the entire ride, if we were at a walk, he was tossing his head around. Of course, that is forgivable.

He started crying on the way down the hill. When we got to the bottom, he was reluctant to go down the river bank, but once I got him pointed in the right direction, he was fine. We crossed the river and started trotting. He moved a little faster than I remember from the past, and that was great. Whenever we slowed down to a walk, he started tossing his head and neighing.

We arrived at a corner of the trail. Across the street is a parking lot, and there was a truck in the driveway with a yellow flashing light. I thought I would let Dante stop and look over at it. He neighed, and I instantly heard an answering neigh. I didn’t see any horses over there—horses aren’t even allowed there. He neighed again—and was answered right away, again. He got very upset about it—there was a horse over there, and he wanted to go see it. I got suspicious. Once again he neighed—and I was right—he was hearing his echo.

Well, I couldn’t allow Dante to talk to himself all evening, and besides, he was getting even more agitated. I urged him around the corner and down a little slope. He was wired—I could feel the tension in his body. He continued neighing with only a few seconds between each one. I pondered—is it better to keep him walkng and hve him settle down or ask him to trot and hope it distracts him? After walking a couple minutes and feeling no improvement, I decided to try the trot. It worked. He moved out at a nice speed, but he quieted down and was no longer frantic. That was a relief.

When we got to the next river crossing, I turned him around and headed home. It was an extremely hot evening for May, and since he still has some winter coat left, I opted to walk home. He did do some crying, but much less now that he was on the way home. At one point, he started to trot, and when I asked him to go back to a walk, he ignored me. I gently brought him into a small circle, stepped a few strides at a walk going away from home, stopped, turned him around and started walking back towards home. He didn’t try it anymore.

The rest of the way was uneventful. I won’t have many more opportunities to take him on solo rides once MerryLegs shows up, but if I did, I’m certain it would take only one or two more rides and he will settle down. That seems to be the pattern with him.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

To the Show Ring



(Ellen's buddies, Stormy and Stubby are waiting for the big arrival.)

I decided to take Cole Train up to the show ring trails for the first time this year. Kevin was’nt able to ride with me, so I was on my own. I think I may have only taken him up there by myself just once. I usually go with Ellen. I remember he was very bad that day, but since then, I have been there so many times, I wasn’t worried at all.

The reason that I don’t usually go up there on weeknights is that it is a little longer ride, and except for last year, I always had another horse to ride when I got back. That will be changing, soon, so I just figured I should make the best out of the 1-horse situation while it lasted.

We got to cross the river in a spot that I haven’t crossed yet this year. I’m glad it is actually better than it was last year. The winter washed many of the rocks away, added a bunch of dirt in one spot and the remaining rocks are big enough to easily see and circumvent. I don’t care much for the next section of trail—it’s about half a mile that parallels the street—so I just trotted through. We crossed the street, went up the big hill and found the pine forest to be extremely lovely in the evening. It has been so long since I have ridden there in the evening, that I forgot how lovely it was.

The trails up there have the best footing in the whole park—perfect for a horse who needs shoes. Cole has worn his feet down a little too much, but he didn’t seem to mind these trails, at all. We had a lovely time trotting. I didn’t go the whole way—a few minutes from the end, there was a big deer blocking the trail, and since I was going to turn, anyway, I didn’t feel like messing with him.

We mostly walked towards home. When we trotted, he was very “forward” so I just did short stretches and practiced stopping. He was just a bit hyper since it was his firt ride up there. Ellen and I will start incorporating this ride into our weekends very soon. She gets a little nervous on the section by the street, so she hasn’t been in a big hurry to tackle it—but I think they are just about ready to try it.

I think I will be back there with Cole, next week…We can try trotting more…

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Maggie in Black


Maggie's has been photoshopped! The colors have changed, but no extra hair has been added.

More Cute Pictures of Stormy

My sister's cat, Stormy is always so adorable.  Here are some of the pictures she has sent me: