Thursday, November 30, 2006

Down and Out

Out of it By a Neck

If I were in a horse race, I would have lost.

I just spent the last two days visiting the chiropractor and physical therapist for my neck. Every once in a while this happens and something goes "out" and will not stay adjusted.

This morning I woke up with a headache and a neck so stiff I couldn't turn my head. I called in sick to school, and called the chiroprator.

Off I went. By the time I was done with all the treatments, a good hour and a half had gone by. This time I think we found the right combination of treatment. However, it is now 5 PM and I am just getting over the last of the pain.

Phooey. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! Temperature up around 70 degrees f. So I lost out by spending the day crashed in bed.

The boys enjoyed it instead. I saw Chance and Tucker horse wrestling several times. Tucker and Toby are muddy too, so rolling must have been in the daily activity plan. I'm sure they didn't mind not working. I have to console myself with the knowledge that there will be other nice days to come, though not in the immediate future.

A cold front is coming through tomorrow with wind and rain. Still warm until Saturday, but wet again. Then it's supposed to drop to the 40's. That's still not bad, but quite a sudden change.

I will be feeding some nice bran mashes tomorrow night, and putting the sheets back on the Boys.

The deer hunters will be out in force on Saturday. Hope they don't rile up the herd too much.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nice Weather for November

Warm Enough for Shirtsleeves

What a shame I have to work all day! Teaching teenagers just doesn't compare to the fun of teaching horses.

Well, unless the horse is an opinionated, sensitive Thoroughbred who will not accept a too strong aid. I shouldn't complain. Tucker has improved so much since I first began working him. Then, if I applied my leg in anything resembling a kick he would rocket launch up in the air. Now, he kind of snarls, naps a bit and then, when I apologize, gets on with it.

We have been working on those canter/trot transitions, heading towards perfecting the canter/walk/canter transistions required in second level. His balance on the downwards is a bit better on the left than on the right, but there is improvement each time out. He is a very clever horse. Once he figures out what I want and how to do it, he will find a way to accomodate so I will hardly need to give any aids at all. When I do a lengthened canter on the long side, all I have to do is sit a little more strongly at the corner and he comes right back. It's one way of using the Thoroughbred's sharpness to advantage.

I nearly panicked a judge right out the booth one time on PJ. He had a huge canter extension and to her, it looked as if he was going to fly right out the end of the ring. Instead, when I got to the corner marker, I just sat up and he collected back. Used to do the same thing with Russell in the hunter classes when they asked for a hand gallop and then a halt. I never had to pull him up, I just sat up, and he sat down in a dead stop.

Toby is super at the transistions too. And, he is a joy to lunge. I just gave him a light work tonight and had fun "kissing" him on and "chirping" him back in the trot and canter. As happy as he was with the praise for a job well done, getting a carrot was even better.

It was dark by the time I saddled Chance up, so I used the lights. That caused a very black horse and rider shadow to track with us around the ring. I think he found that a little disturbing, but certainly not worth a spook. So far, his biggest reaction has been a little eyeballing and a slight bend away from the scary thing. If this attitude keeps up, he'll be a master trail horse before the winter is over.

I just walked him this time as he was a little unsure out there. With the bats flying around--must be warm enough for bugs--and the shadows, I decided to play it safe. I did some rein work teaching him to give to the bit. We're still a long way from perfecting that as to do it right takes a lot more time and patience I have yet devoted to the project. Still, we're making some progress.

Chance likes his carrots too, as does Tucker. Right now, they are a requirement after every work session. I guess I'll be keeping the carrot growers happy.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Doing My Own Thing

Or So Say the Boys

I didn't ride today. Monday is usually the off day.

However, when I got home from school...where I teach...I found three horses in three distinct locations, quite separate from each other.

Chance was happily munching hay in the front paddock nearest the house.

Toby was in his stall doing who knows what.

Tucker was out in the far pasture nibbling at the little shoots of leftover grass.

Quite independent spirits, these fellows. Or else they had a family squabble when I was away.

No one was injured or the least bit upset. I'd accidently left Chance's indoor stall door open, so when I went in to get the feed he was at the tackroom door ready to come in to help. Mind you, the tack/feedroom is elevated from the rest of the barn by about a foot and a half, so he had to step up to try to join me. So far, I've been able to catch him before he gets all the way in.

Not so with Tucker when he was younger. He managed to get all the way into the room and there was no way to get him out aside from backing, which he didn't want to do because of the step. It one point a hoof even went through the floor. Not a pretty picture. Somehow, he wiggled himself to turnaround, though I have no idea how and got himself out before it was a total disaster. Ever since, I've had to watch things.

Everyone came into the barn for food, so all is well there. I guess each horse is confident enough in his own skin to not need the herd all the time. It was just kind of unexpected to find them so happily separated. Silly boys.

I have ordered orange turnout sheets for everyone. Hope they will be here by Friday as I expedited shipping. Deer hunting season starts December 1, and it always makes me nervous.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Into the Woods

And Out Again

With all three Boys!

Chance came to me first in the pasture this afternoon, so I saddled him up and off we went on our first real official full length trail ride in the woods. I have the short trail, the medium trail, and the long trail through the park. The times range from about 15-20 minutes up to a half hour just following the roads without any side trips. Chance and I took the short route. He was wonderful! The only thing that gave him pause were some of the mudpuddles in the path. These have been made by the mini bikes and ATV's that illegally ride through the State Park, creating ruts in some of the wetter spots. I didn't mind that at all as the footing is very slippery and uncertain near the water and Chance was being more careful than scared. He really seemed to enjoy his excursion and almost acted as if he didn't want to go back through the gate to get home.

Toby was quite pleased to go out as well because I let him graze on the patches of long grass along the edge of the field. He is a bit naughty about grabbing for it sometimes, but I feel since he is in semi-retirement, he is entitled to be bad now and then. We took the longish route and had another lovely time in the springlike weather. Nearly 60 degrees f in the end of November.

Tucker stuck his head into the bridle and reached to take the bit into his mouth. I guess after seeing the other two Boys being ridden, he didn't want to feel left out. He was just a little silly about the Blox I had used to prop open the ring gate to the woods, but once we were out, he stepped boldly along. Fallen trees and other unusual looking things along the trail do distract him a bit, but he was as good as gold. What a pleasure to be able to let him amble along on a long rein as we enjoyed the beautiful autumn day.

Animal Control came to get the beagle after church this afternoon. The officer said the shelter knows how to get in touch with the guys who hunt the dogs around here. Apparently, they are always losing the little fellows. This little guy was so sweet. I hope they come to get him soon and treat him well. Otherwise, I have a feeling he'll show up here again. I think he liked the Dog Chow and Milkbones.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Hunters Did Me In

Found a Beagle

I went out to work the horses this afternoon and found a little lost beagle bedded down in my hay barn.

Poor little fellow was all tuckered out and quite happy to see a human. He had an ID tag, but when I called the phone number it was a disconnect. Then I called information on the address and still got nowhere. That left me no alternative but to call the police. Apparently the animal control officer was not available today, Saturday, so the little guy is locked in my garage with nice bed, a bucket of water and a tummy full of leftover beef stroganoff. I only have cat food about, so I hope someone comes to get him. If not, I will go get some proper dog food until the animal control officer comes.

I took a drive around the country block and left notes on all the trucks I saw parked in the usual hunter spots, but it's dark now and no one has come by to claim him. I took off his shock collar, but left the ID one on. The police have all the information that's on it. I can only hope his owner comes looking for him tomorrow. He's not happy in the garage, but at least he's safe.

So, that left me precious little time before dark to work the Boys. I lunged Chance and Tucker with the side reins...very loose for Chance and tucked up for Tucker.

Had to laugh at Chance. On the right rein, not his favorite, he pulled a quick 180 and tried to escape. I had good control on the lunge line and got him back on track pretty quickly, but he surely was a clever guy pulling a quick stop and a roll back to change direction. Looks like he could have a cutting horse future. *lol*

I finally talked to his real human mom, Lauranne. I have assured her he is in good hands and she has promised to send me some pictures of his horsey mom and of him as a foal. That will really be fun as I have never had baby pictures of any of the horses I've owned. I have promised to keep her updated both through this blog and snail mail. I know how hard it was for her to give him up for adoption, but I always try to do the best for my horses, so Chance has a good home here.

Apparently, he had been backed an ridden a little before he came here. That's good because I gives me all the more confidence that his quietness is real and not just confusion. He is a sweetie.

Thanksgiving goes on forever here at Follywoods. My Boys are the best!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rain, Rain Went Away


The forecast called for rain into yesterday afternoon. I was still raining at 1:30 AM.

The sun was out by sunrise.

Fortunately since my land is on a bit of a hill and above a very absorbant aquifer, things dry out quickly. My ring wasn't perfect, but it was good enough to ride in by the afternoon.

I took Toby out on the trail to seen just how much flooding there was in the park. It's been an ongoing controversy in my Township because the warehouse development to the east has been flooding land in our State Park for nearly three years. I have been battling to protec the area for about that long. Now, however, a new warehouse complex has built huge infiltration basins to hold the stormwater runoff and the 4 1/2 million gallons of runoff are no longer going into the parkland. I ride out after every big rain to see how things are progressing. I guess Toby's getting used to the chore as he seemed to be having a good time.

I worked Tucker in the ring. We are working towards the second level tests. The big change is the simple change of lead--canter, walk, canter. Tuck always wants to fall on his forehand into the trot instead of working off his back end. He is certainly strong enough to do it well, just lazy and looking for the easy way out. I had some fairly nice transitions on the left rein pretty quickly as he carries himself with better balance on the left. The right was definitely more difficult. I made a few overly strong corrections to keep him up on the downward and he didn't like that much. I felt bad about it, but he wasn't responding to the lighter aids.

He is an opinionated fellow with a strong sense of justice. I apologized to him for being too strong. I know it sound silly, but I always get the sense he is offended if I overcorrect him. In the end we managed two pretty nice canter/walk/canter changes on the right so I stopped, took him back to the barn and gave him a nice fat carrot.

I rode Chance for about 10 minutes again. It's amazing how quickly he is progressing. Three trot circles this time in each direction. I do have to do some give to the bit work, though. I find it very disconcerting to have his head way up in the air when I am riding him. Still, I never feel as if he is going to do anything dangerous.

It's just me and my "control freak" personality. *G*

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Counting My Blessings

Angels in My Barn

Tucker strikes and angelic pose all snug and warm in the barn on a cold, wet Thanksgiving morning.

And they all don't have four feet.

My farrier, Scott Previte, came today, Thanksgiving Day, to shoe my Boys. This was not an emergency call, but he decided since I had the day off and he had the time, it would be a good day to get the job done.

We brought Chance out first. Scott was gentle and patient with him every step of the way and Chance behaved like a dream. He was a little unsure about putting his hoof on the trimming post, but with Scott's quiet assurance and handling, he figured it out. I think he won Scott's heart with his attitude and friendly personality.
To the right, Chance poses angelically.

For part of the time, Tucker was on the crossties watching the whole thing. He can get a bit antsy when he is being shod, but today, he too stood like a gentleman. We decided to pull his back shoes for the winter, so we'll have to see how they hold up. Since the ground is still soft, it's a good time to try. I always shoe with borium studs and snow pads, but I thought perhaps bare feet in the back would be a better option for the ice and snow this year.

Both Tucker and Toby have had problems with full cracks down their front hoofs, so we can't really take a chance on letting them go totally barefoot. PJ's feet were fine, so for the last several years of his life, he was barefoot, and I hope to leave Chance unshod for as long as possible.

Toby was the third to be done and he was his usual princely self. What a joy to see three horses so well behaved for the shoer. With Scott, his assistant, his great border collie, Jack, and my three sweeties, I had five angels in my barn for Thanksgiving.

My blessings abound.

And the top angel, Toby pauses in his favorite pasttime of cribbing...his one allow me to take his angel portrait.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What to Do In the Dark

Happy Feet

I hate this time of year. As a teacher, I do get home a little earlier than than average 9-5 worker, but once December starts to loom, darkness creeps in too fast even for me.

Last night, I had just about enough time to ride Tucker before needing lights. I do have lights for my arena, though they are a bit unreliable. I made the mistake of listening to the installing electrician's advice as to what kind of lights to put up and, as usual, he was wrong. I intend to replace them someday, but for now, they'll do.

I am working on getting Tucker to balance up for second level. He can do it, but is pretty much confused since I've concentrated on a longer and lower frame for so long to encourage him to stride forward and use his back. Still, he is trying and his little tantrums when he gets frustrated are minor. I think he's finally growing up.

I put Chance on the crossties thinking I was going to either lunge or ride him for a short bit in the gathering gloom. Instead, I decided on a pick up your feet and hold them for the farrier session instead. Well, I soon discovered that a harsh word or correction is not the best way to handle this kid. He is very sensitive. I guess I have another horse who needs soothing explanation and complete patience. He sort of picks up his feet, but not as obediently and responsively as I expect from my horses. So, we worked on that a bit and I held his hoofies for a span, tapping on them with the hoofpick. I do hope to keep him barefoot for as long as possible, but my farrier does need to use tools on him and I don't want him startled by any of them.

All the horses I have had have been expected to stand well for the farrier. I do not believe the owner or anyone needs to be there to hold a horse having its feet tended. So far, aside from some of Tucker's impatience, it's been generally a non-issue. Russell, my first boy, could have been tied with sewing thread and would never have moved. PJ was the same, and my veterinarian's nickname of "The Prince" for Toby holds true whenever he's handled. Tucker is high energy and has been a little more difficult, but lately there's improvement. My shoer is a meticulous craftsman and an expert horse handler, so he's worked with Tucker too. He's not a bad horse, he's just impatient--but time and age is taking care of that. I certainly don't want Chance to misbehave. Good farriers are a treasure and we horsemen need to do everything we can to make sure each visit they make to our barns is safe and productive.

Tomorrow there's supposed to be a Nor'easter blowing through. It's Thanksgiving, so bad weather is a sad turn of events. Still being with family for the holiday can make up for even the cloudiest skies.

May you and yours share the love of the season, and don't forget to put an extra carrot or apple in your horse's feed bucket.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Day Off for Everyone

And a Trip to the Chiropractor for Me

As I have some chronic neck and back issues of my own I go fairly regularly to my chiropractor and some physical therapy. So tonight, things felt a little "off," and I took the night off to treat myself.

I do suppose stripping the stalls and toting four wheelbarrows of fill to help get rid of the mud by the water trough didn't help. *G* Ah well, someone has to do it and I don't see the horses stepping up to get the chores done.

I am starting Chance on some Weight Builder as I would like to see him a bit chubbier as winter rolls in. Trouble is, since I was hurrying to the chiro right after I fed this evening, I didn't supervise or close the stalls. As I was pulling out of the driveway, Chance was outside happily munching hay and Tucker was in his stall with his head in Chance's feed tub.

That's all I need--Tucker the blimp eating Weight Builder.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Into the Woods

Trail Rides for Everyone

It was cloudy and cool, but a dry Sunday. Since it's the only day when there are no hunters about I took the opportunity to take some rides in the woods.

Toby and I ventured out first. He was a happy camper, especially since part of our trail ride routine is to find some nice patches of lush green grass and graze for a bit. I checked out the flooding in the back of the State Park. There is still quite a bit of water there even though the warehouses are not, at the moment, draining their floods over. But it was horribly wet all summer and now that the ground is supersaturated there is no place for the water to soak in.
Toby enjoyed the outing as he always does, and we both came back with smiles on our faces.

Tucker and I headed out next. I took the trail he's been on most to keep his comfort level high. As we neared the turn back home, he decided to go the other way. So, off we went along the rim of the old sand mine. He was happy and interested as we walked along until, at trail's end, we saw the boulder! This is a fairly large gray rock. It has definite horse eating qualities and although we have passed it before, I decided to take the safe way out and cut across the woods to the trail back home when Tucker balked. Considering that was the only flaw in our ride, I had more smiles as we rode back into the arena.

That left Chance. He was very interested in the gate and what lay beyond, so I saddled him up, propped the gate open, mounted up and offered him the option of a little trail ride. Eagerly, he took me up. We weaved our way along the little side trail out to the cut cornfield. The footing was a little deep because the farmer has plowed up to the edge of the woods. I think Chance wanted to trot, but I checked him back to a walk with a chirp and he listened beautifully. About 200 feet up, we turned back into the woods trail heading home. The ride was all of about five minutes, but the kid was an angel. He was brave, curious, and forward all the way. I'm not quite sure how much control I would actually have if he decided to do something silly, but to be honest, he doesn't feel as if he would.

So, back at the barn, I was wearing an even bigger grin.

From the looks of things, Chance will be a super little trail horse and an equally fun ride for just about anything else I want to do with him. Tucker is getting better and better about going out and Toby is still my ace.

Could it get any better?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dry Weather

And A Nice Saturday

Except for the hunter with the whistle and his three very disobedient beagles.

The Boys were so riled up this morning that they would not settle in to eat breakfast. As I was trying to get them in, a car stopped on the road, blasting its horn. In short order, three beagles came romping across my property, setting the horses into another frenzy.

Then, sure enough, I heard that whistle again in the far woods. A bit later there came a hunter, whistling and shouting to his stubborn hunting dogs that had now found my neighbor's house and his geese and chickens. Plenty of noise and shouting later, things resolved themselves as the hunter and the beagles hiked off together back into the depths of the park.

By then, Tucker had eaten his food and Toby's food, so I had to lock Toby in with a new meal and convince Chance it was safe to eat in his own stall.

Needless to say, I waited until later in the day to ride.

I put in a good school with Tucker. Then I rode Chance for about 15 minutes and added some figure eights at the trot. He did quite well. It's still a bit disconcerting when he carries his head way up high, but he is quiet enough, so I just try to ignore it as I encourage him to drop down to the bit now and then.

I lunged Toby and he was quite happy to jump a little jump I'd set up for him. He even did it one extra time on his own. Tomorrow, with no hunting on Sunday, I'll take him out for a trail ride.

Fun day, nonetheless.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fast Learner

The Boy is So Clever

I rode Chance again today for about 15 minutes. This time, we did 2 1/2 circles in each direction at the trot. He was already much more responsive to steering and also to the leg. If this keeps up, I will be able to take him out for a short trail ride very soon.

I also finally have the information from his former owner and am trying to get in touch with her. From what I read she absolutely loved Chance and hated to give him up. However, circumstances and what was best for Chance pushed her to put him up for adoption.

He is living the good life now. I will do all I can to make sure he is well cared for.

I rode Tucker as well. Right now we are concentrating on first going well forward and then shifting his balance to his hindquarters as his front end elevates. This will be the beginning of collection so I only ask for it with about a 20-25 minute training session.

Afterwards, we took a five minute hack into the woods which was extended when Tucker decided there must be some kind of horse-eating monsters lurking in the completely empty cornfield--where the corn is cut so you can see for acres. So, we balked, tried to go backwards and then just kind of minced along at the reluctant schoolboy's pace.

Then when we got back home I rode into the arena. Toby and Chance were by the other gate. Who knows what it was, but the two of them suddenly bolted like maniacs across the paddock.

Tucker tried to take off with them.

There I was aboard a bolting horse with my reins too loose to do anything. Thank heavens for good solid fences. I managed to reel him in before he careened around the corner.

Well, it does prove one thing--Tucker can go forward when he wants to!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Still Soggy

At Least My Footing Holds Up

For now, anyway. As the winter progresses it stays pretty wet even though the ring is sand. Too much water and the horses get down to the clay base underneath and then can slip.

I long lined everyone tonight. Chance is already getting the hang of it after only two sessions. He is quite a clever fellow.

Toby was, as always a star. I started him in lines at age two and we did a lot of work before I ever rode him. He once "told" the animal communicator he liked lining better than riding because he could see me. Interesting. To this day he is an absolute star in the lines.

Tucker was good but lazy. It takes all kinds of encouragement to get him to go forward. He did look great once I got his hind end engaged, but I think I got nearly as much exercise as he did chasing him into the bit. I also started him in the lines, but I don't think he enjoys it as much as Toby does, so he isn't quite as willing. He didn't cut up though as he does when he's really bored, so that was good.

Possible thunderstorms coming through tomorrow and the danger of high winds, although we are on the border of the worst part of the weather front. Hopefully the heaviest storms will be south of here.

I have a friend who lives south, though, and her land does not drain like mine does. (I am on a bit of a hill and my ground is high aquifer recharge which means the water soaks in pretty quickly.) I know she was really wet yesterday. If those storms hit her area, it's going to be terrible. I feel sorry for her.

Hope I'll be back in the saddle on Friday.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Visions of Drier Days

Rain, Rain and More Rain

The thing I hate most about winter is that when it rains it doesn't dry out. Soggy ground and mud puddles do not encourage much good riding.

I did long line Chance today in the rain, though, just to see how it would go. We had a few false starts and a few little tantrums, but nothing too dramatic. I must say, when he puts his head into the frame he is quite a looker and his movement is really nice.

To the left you can see him on a dry day under the apple tree.

Now, here is a picture of Tucker, also on a dry day.

The fence behind him is four feet tall at the top rail. As you can see, he is taller than that at his back. At 16.3 hands, measured just there where his mane ends and his back begins (the wither), he is 5'7" tall.

Chance is 6" shorter and, as you can probably see, considerably thinner.

Tucker (Doitright Tobe) is now six years old and it's amazing how much he has learned since I started him off. He finds most of the work and exercises we try pretty easy, so I think he will have a good career as a dressage competition horse.

Toby, To Be Or Not To Be, pictured to the left just kind of hanging out in the barn in his summer fly sheet, is now 16 years old and semi-retired from the show ring. He stands at 16.1, two inches shorter than Tucker.

He is the herd boss and runs the farm with an iron hoof. At the same time, he is watcher and guardian to his herdmates. When I ride Tucker off the property, he calls for him and worries until we get back safely.

Very athletic and talented, Toby has a huge stride and very smooth gaits.
To see PJ and read his story, look down the blog for other posts.

I have been priviledged to own two other special horses in the past--Russell R, and Sudden Impluse (Si) who died from colic within months of my buying him. Russell and I were blessed with twenty years of companionship and Si won my heart in a few short weeks. I have been so lucky in finding lovely horses each and every time I've gone out to find one for myself.

Fate has been truly kind to me.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Another day.....

Another circle!

Beat the rain to ride today.

I worked Toby a few minutes in the ring to try to get him a little fitter and then went out for a short trail ride. T

hen I rode Tucker. I was going to do the same thing, but Toby and Chance had decided to wander into the arena while the gate was open and they thought Tucker just looked too interesting to leave us alone. So out I went.

Won't we ever get a break? Someone was target practicing again today. The gunshots made Tucker a little nervous, but all in all, he held himself together nicely and we had another lovely ride through the woods.

Mind you, this is a big deal as he has bucked me off out on the trail before. When he settles down, he is really a delightful ride out there. Hopefully, he will keep his head together as time goes on and we can enjoy the winter in the woods when my ring footing is frozen.

That left Chance. I saddled him up and got on. I must say, he is a quick learner. Already he is getting the idea of my leg aids and moved right off when I squeezed. Steering is a little better, but until I do some serious ground driving, I won't expect dramatic improvement. This time when I asked for trot, he was far more willing and I actually managed two full circles on each rein. Again, I only rode for about ten minutes, more than enough for a three year old.

The rain came soon after I finished and will probably continue through tomorrow. Ah well, I did have a good weekend.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Shots All Around

Guess Horses Can Get Used to Almost Anything

It was a gorgeous day today with warm sun and blue skies.

It was also the beginning of hunting season for small game. When I got up to feed the horses, Toby was very restless. He kept leaving his food to go out to the riding arena to stare out into the woods--the State Park partially surrounding my property.

I soon figured out why. Some hunter was blowing a whistle to call his hunting dog. I have to wonder if it was the same little beagle that dropped by here a few years ago as I was trying to get ready for a show. Hunter whistling, calling and shouting--beagle frolicking in my paddocks, completly ignoring his master while my horses bounced all over the place, totally unsettled.

Then, there were the gunshots on two horizons.

I decided to wait to ride until later in the day when only the hardcore hunters would still be out as they are not quite as zealous as the early birds.

Bad call. At that point, someone in the sand mine across the street must have been target practicing, because the shooting was relentless.

Still, by that time, the Boys had been out all day and seemed fairly immune to the kabooms. I did cancel any attempt at even a short trail ride, though, and worked Tucker in the ring, focusing on good forward energy, even when we passed the gate that leads out to the park. He only jumped once at a gunshot, so I guess he can get used to distractions given enough time.

I was going to long line Chance, but the weather tomorrow calls for rain, so I took advantage of the weather and got on to ride again. This time, I carried the dressage whip and just tapped him gently behind the saddle to get him to walk off. It worked perfectly. Daring more, I tapped again and said "trot," and after a few false starts managed to make it around a full circle on each rein at the trot. A fine start because he was completely calm about everything and even managed to steer a little better.

I opted for safety with Toby and just lunged him. What a great time that was! He is such a lovely mover and so steady on the lunge. Working him after Chance is like driving a luxury sports car after pedaling a tricycle. I trained Toby from his two year old year, so we have 14 years under our belts as compared to a week or so with Chance. Now all I have to do is start all over again with the new kid and try to get the same results.

Chance is the third young horse I have started from virtual scratch, or perhaps the fourth, if I consider that my first guy, Russell R., was going on three when I bought him. PJ was four and had been on the track, so he was well used to going under saddle. Toby had had a rider on his back, but no real training, and Tucker was a yearling with no experience at all. Chance had been lunged and supposedly backed, though I don't have confirmation of the details yet. Still, he's a "blank slate" and it's up to me to write in all the details.

Here's hoping I'll do everything for him.

New Beginnings, Taking a Chance

The Little Guy

I put a young rider up on Chance yesterday and he was as quiet as a little lamb.

I still don't have all his information from Crossed Sabers, but I do recall a note on the site saying he had been backed, so I took a chance. My young rider is very experienced with an excellent seat and that "no fear" attitude of youth. Since I had Chance on a lunge line, I was pretty much in control, but there was no need--he never batted an eye.

Today, Friday, I decided I might as well get on myself. Again, Chance stood quietly when I leaned over his back, so I swung over. Nothing happened. Nothing--including any kind of movement at all. He stood stock still. And stood. And stood.

I had to laugh as I realized he has no clue about leg aids. And, since I have only lunged him about four times since he's been here, he also doesn't have much clue about voice commands. I finally wiggled around enough to get him walking, but then next obvious flaw came into focus because I also had no way of steering him.

So many people think you just leap on a horse and off you go. When you mount a youngster for the first time, all of that goes out the window. Totally green horses have no comprehension about even following their heads when the rider pulls on the rein.

That's why I normally do tons of ground work before trying to ride. In Chance's case, things are a bit backwards mostly because winter is coming and I want to take advantage of the nice weather and super footing we're enjoying right now to get him used to a rider. That will give me the winter months to do the ground work and some good hopes of having a nice little riding horse by Spring.

We managed five or so nice kind of erratic circles in each direction, with me using my weight to get the turns. The nice thing is that Chance seems to want to move under where my body goes, so by leaning right or left with my seat, I was able to get him approximately where I wanted him to go.

All in all, we worked for about 15 mintues or so. I don't know of the Ansur Carlto had something to do with it, but Chance didn't feel as small under me as I expected. The saddle does have big knee rolls compared to the Classic, but it doesn't make very broad Tucker feel too wide, so maybe Chance has more to him under saddle than he looks.

Either way, it was a fun experience. I plan to get on him every day for at least a month as long as the weather holds, sometimes just to sit and do the "give to the rein" exercises. That, coupled with some good long lining sessions will have him going in short order.

How nice to have a quiet little fellow.