Friday, January 29, 2021

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Working in the Arena


Working in the Arena

It is finally time to buckle down and work in the arena  We have been really lucky this winter.  Most days, we were at least able to ride on the hill, and quite often, we were able to cross the river.  Some of the rides were extremely cold, but a surprisingly large amount of them were warm and the footing was decent enough to trot.  Being able to trot helps keep us warm.  We won't trot on the hard, frozen, uneven ground.  Those rides can get pretty chilly--but we did them anyway.

Then we started to get some really, really cold weather with the frozen ground.  Cole recently had his feet trimmed, too, and he was not happy about it.  He kept trying to step off the trail--and when Cole isn't happy, neither am I.  It was time to start arena riding.

Ellen has been riding Dante in the arena all along, so nothing changed for her--except now she has to ride with Cole and me, too.  

Last winter was a mild one, where I did very little work in the arena.  Essentially, I have ignored this part of Cole's training for a long time; and it shows.

The indoor arena at our new barn is really nice.  Unlike the old barn's metal building with doors that flapped all around in the wind, this is a solid wooden arena with heavy doors that only move on the very windiest days.  It is so much quieter--and warmer.  They water the sand every single day, so there is never, ever any trace of dust.  It is such a pleasant place to work our horses.

I have ridden in it a little bit just to get Cole used to the new area, and I have noticed he is far less jumpy than in the previous place.  That makes a big difference for me.  I am spending a lot less time just getting him to stay quiet and focused.

That means we have to work.

On our first day, he didn't want to work at all.  He would barely trot ten steps before he would putter down to a walk.  I have to confess, I was beginning to lose my patience.   It was good to have Shari there.  She reminded me that I have barely worked in the arena with Cole, and I needed to keep my patience.  Thanks, Shari.

That first ride was a tough one.  I decided to come up with a simple plan for my next ride; which was the following morning.  We would work on walk/trot transitions and gradually extend the distance of our trotting--just like we did when he was a baby horse.  I would reinforce his good behavior with clicker training.

Three sides of our new arena have stalls on the edges.  Since it was the morning that they clean all the water buckets, they were still doing the watering.  That meant that the hose was stretched all across the arena and every few minutes, it would move.  Since I didn't want Cole to step on the hose when he was trotting, I used it as my spot to stop, step over and start up trotting again.  This gave me a goal.  

It worked.  In no time, we were trotting half the arena at a time.  What an improvement from the previous day!  Eventually, the hose was gone, and we were trotting full laps.  

Since Ellen was in there, and Dante has a slower trot, when we approached him, I would try to turn him in a circle so we wouldn't pass him.  That is when my next problem showed up.  Cole didn't want to trot away from the wall.  He would drop down to a walk.

Immediately, I knew what we were going to work on the next day.

The following day, I began our circle lesson on our walk warm up.  We would walk a ways and I would ask him to leave the wall and go in a small circle.  He had no problem with that.  As soon as I tried it at a trot, he would go right back to the walk--since that is just what I was practicing.  Okay, that didn't work.

Ellen wanted to change directions, so we did.  On the new way, I didn't practice the circles at a walk, but went right to the trot.  I knew that if I wanted to be successful, I also had to do my share--it wasn't only Cole's responsibility.  I had to make sure I was sitting properly for a bend--something that I have to practice at since I have barely even thought about it in the last 2 years.  Also, I had to keep a driving seat.

This was tough!  I used to be so good at it!  Ellen was smart to not quit riding in the arena.  She still had all of her skills.  I knew what I had to do, but my body wouldn't listen to me.  

Finally, we got some half circles.  I clicked and treated him--and then he suddenly became more cooperative.  We started to get some full circles.  I clicked him for that, too.  As he understood what I wanted, it was also easier for me to sit properly and I didn't need such a strong driving seat.  

And then, Ellen wanted to switch directions.  We were once again going the way where he really wanted to hold on to the walking habit.  Now, I knew what to do, but it was still a bit of a struggle.  We finally got a few circles that I could click him for, and we called it a day.  

After that, we just worked on walking straight along the wall, (not nearly as easy as it sounds if you want to do it correctly.) and bending on the corners at a walk.  That also gave me a chance to practice using my seat properly on bends.

Well, that was our first 3 days in the indoor arena.  According to the forecast, I can see there will be many more to come.  I don't know how long it will take before Cole gets back to where he used to be.  At this rate, as soon as he does--I will be back out on the trail--and then I will have to start all over next winter.



Monday, January 25, 2021

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Thursday, January 21, 2021


The Making of Dante

 The Making of Dante

I have been using water soluble colored pencils on my horse sketches.  Here is my latest of Dante, step by step.

The basic outline plus the white colored pencil in strategic places

Burnt Carmine colored pencil

Orange colored pencil

Yellow colored pencil

I add water with a brush, let it dry and then add the charcoal.

The finished product

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Monday, January 18, 2021

Everyone is Recovered!

Everyone is Recovered!

I have great news.  Starry and Dante are healthy, again.  Kevin is riding Starry out on the trail, and though Ellen never had to stop riding Dante, at least now he doesn't have gross things dripping from his nose.

It has been a very easy January, so far.  We are still able to cross the river.  There was some ice forming on it back in December, but January has been warm enough to keep it away.  We haven't even had all that many days with a frozen trail, so we are able to trot and canter.  

It is so nice that now Kevin and Starry can enjoy the good rides, too.

Saturday, January 16, 2021





Friday, January 15, 2021

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Cole and Dante out Playing

  Cole and Dante out Playing

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Friday, January 8, 2021

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Tough End of the Year


A Tough End of the Year

December was a tough month for us.  We had an enormous snowstorm at the very beginning of the month.  Once we got through all of that and were finally able to get to the park and down the hill, we got one of those phone calls that all horse owners dread.  Starry wasn't eating and he had a 105 degree fever!

Kevin called the vet who told him to give him some Banamine and she would be out the next morning.  He still was at 105 degrees.  She examined him and gave him an SAA test.  I forget what it stands for, but the test is able to see, in just a few minutes, if he has an infection.  It is supposed to measure between 0-50, and he was over 1200.  

She gave him an antibiotic shot, took some blood and did a nasal swab.  Kevin was instructed to give him Banamine twice a day for the fever.  

The owner and her assistant of our new barn were just wonderful. They took his fever morning and night and called Kevin to let him know how he was doing.  We were also going out to give him his Banamine.  Kevin led him around each day.  He was definitely sick, but the only evident signs of it was his fever, lack of appetite and lethargy.

Our vet called the next day to tell Kevin about the test results.  The nasal swab showed that Starry had Equine Herpes--something we vaccinated him for only a month previous.  She called the vaccine manufacturer and told them the vaccine didn't work.  They promised to pay all of Starry's vet bills--up to $5,000.  We were so glad that the vet went the extra mile.

It took a few days to get the fever down.  Once it was, he was more interested in his food.  The vet came back out to check him.  The SAA was downs to 800--better, but he was still ill.  She gave him another shot and said she would be back in 5 more days.

Starry seemed to get better each day.  When the vet came out, the SAA was down to 400.  She gave him another shot and told us she would come back on Christmas Eve.  (Good thing for Kevin that he didn't have to pay for all these visits!)

Since his SAA seemed to drop by 400 each time, we were hoping that we would have a healthy horse for Christmas.  He seemed all right, but when the vet examined him, he had a 102 degree fever and his SAA was back up to 800!  We had a sick horse on our hands, again.  It appeared that he developed a secondary infection--probably bacterial.  The vet gave him a broad-spectrum antibiotic in powder form that we had to give him once a day for 10 days.

That evening, Starry lost his appetite, again.  He would eat his grain, but it took a long time.  He still had a fever, so we called the vet who said to give him some Banamine.  Here we go again...

It took about 3 days for him to start feeling better.  In the meantime, we had another big snowstorm.  

Right about then, Dante got sick, too.  He had tons of nasal discharge--yellow--out of one nostril.  He didn't have a fever and was eating normal.  It looked like he had a sinus infection.  It was time for Ellen to call the vet.  

She checked Dante out very thoroughly.  His SAA was over 800.  She thought he had a sinus infection, too.  She gave us 14 days of antibiotics and told Ellen she could keep riding him.

He went from a nose dripping gross things like Niagara Falls to being nearly back to normal in a week.  Of course, we will give him the antibiotics until they are gone.

When Starry's antibiotics were finished the vet came back and checked him.  His SAA was down to 14!!!  Starry is back!!!  Dante is right behind him!!!  The bad luck of 2020 is over for us!!!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Friday, January 1, 2021