Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Not Much New

Tractor Off Load

I did some shopping after school, so when I got home and fed the Boys, I really didn't feel like riding.

I called Bill's house and got one of his sons who said he and his brother could come over to help unload the tractor.

Well, as usual that proved to be more of a chore than I'd planned. The little trailer was not fully hitched to the truck so when we started to roll the tractor down, the hitch came undone and the trailer tipped back. The two boys had to roll the tractor back and then get the hitch reset. Lucky the darn thing didn't some undone on the way home. I would have had a real mess on the road if it had. Lucky, lucky. The trailer hitch ball is the larger size for the coupler and it doesn't seat as easily as it should. I may want to change that.

OK, so finally the tractor was on the ground. Yea!! The guy in the store said, "Just put in the gas and start it up."

Fine. Did he tell me the battery cables had to be connected first? Good thing Bill's sons knew their business. They fixed that. The engine started just fine, but then the tractor wouldn't move. Was there anything in the manual about that? Nope.

Turns out there is this little pin thing in the back that needed to be pushed in. Don't know if it is a standard operating pin or something put on the tractor for shipping. I will scour the manual to find out what it is, but for now, it's in and will stay in until I determine what it is.

People who write manuals never consider the little details. My car has a flashing light in it that is an anti-theft device. No where in any of the books is it mentioned. So there sits my car with a flashing light and until I called the dealer, I had no idea what it was.

I've had assembly directions say you need a 1/2" wrench to do a job and then halfway through find out you also need a 5/8" wrench as well.

After teaching for so long, I have generally figured out that if you don't write directions very carefully and clearly, someone is sure to misinterpret them.

Wish the manufacturers would figure that out too.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lazy Day

Memorial Day Off

No school today for Memorial Day, the day we remember those who fought for our country. I have my memorial poppy which I get every year from war veterans. And, I did manage to put the flag out this afternoon.

Otherwise, not much else to report. The new lawn tractor is still on the trailer as I haven't been able to get in touch with Bill to get his sons over to help me unload it. I guess they went to the shore for the remainder of the weekend. On a positive note, I do think the ramps will work, so unloading should not be too big a deal--but not by myself!!

I napped a good part of the day after doing the barn chores. Don't know why, just lazy, I guess.

I finally decided to lunge Tucker and Toby and work them over a few little jumps just to keep it entertaining.

There is a sharp contrast between the two. Tucker is laid back to a fault and Toby is enthusiastic to another fault. I gave Tucker more of a flat workout because he is fit and then set him to the little jump.

His first three approaches were at a trot and he trotted over the rail. I fianlly set him to a canter and he jumped with little extra effort. The combination was a one stride, though, and that did give him a bit of a puzzle. He tends to land on his forehand, so gathering his stride to lift himself over the second jump required a bit of effort on his part. However, he figured it out after just two tries and was quite proud of himself in the end. He is totally laid back about jumping, which leads me to believe he would be a nice ride on a course.

Toby, after a shorter warm-up, really took to the jumps with enthusiasm. He was very forward and jumped even the one foot fence at about three feet. He really uses his back and looks tremendously athletic over a jump. In between, he was doing aerial acrobatics with some pretty wicked looking bucks. He had a grand time at the combination, and if he had been more fit, I might have raised it a bit just because he looked to be having so much fun. However, watching him go, I definitely would not like to be in the saddle. He snaps his back, which is good, but at the same time, the "flying" can be a bit intimidating. But, I've jumped him enough under saddle to know I'd be fine on his back. A course with him, though, would be dicey, mostly because he is spooky about new jumps and is very quick of he decides to run out.

Both Boys look to be natural jumpers. Thoroughbreds are just so athletic, it seems they can do most anything. Sometimes it's just fun playing with them to let them show off their talent without demanding much more from them.

Carrots all-round at the end, and a bit of a wistful laugh. As I was working the two older Boys in the ring, I saw Chance watching through his window. I felt kind of bad for him, but three carrots may have made up for being left out of the games.

By the way, the good news is that so far he is eating the bute in his morning feed without fuss. I do mix it in with some tasty sweet feed and water--it is a powder--so maybe it doesn't taste too bad. He just needs to have it until Wednesday, so if he takes it for two more days, we are home free.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Another Hot Day

Tried to Mow the Lawn
But. First I had to use the battery charger to get the Bolens started. Once I did, all was well for about 20 minutes. Then I shut off the mower to clear some branches from the lawn and I couldn't get the mower turning again. I took the tractor back to the garage, shut off the engine and cleared all the debris off the mower deck. Started it up with the charger again and still the blades would not engage. I did this several times and tried every trick I could think of. No go.

The Bolens is over 25 years old and it works well when it works, but it seems to be developing chronic problems. I can send it off for repair, but then I will just watch the lawn get higher and higher.
So, I went to Home Depot and bought a new John Deere lawn tractor/mower. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get it unloaded from my little trailer, fill it with gas and it is supposedly good to go. With my bad knees I simply cannot use a hand mower to cut the grass. I can trim with my DR trimmer, but I have a good acre or more of grass to deal with, so my legs would just not hold up. I know the new mower was a big splurge, but at this point, I've had enough frustration with the old "guy." I'll get him fixed up as he is a powerful critter and good for doing the pasture, as well as other chores. He will have a home here, but I think the new Deere will do the bulk of the lawn from now on.
Speaking of. Part of the plan was to get some grass cut and feed it to the Boys, particularly
Chance who is penned up out of the pasture.

He has a nice little home for now as you can see from the pics. Still, it's not free run of the paddocks and field.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Good and the Bad

Trailering to the Horse Park

I rode Tucker in the morning, and he was, as ever a good boy. Trouble was I waited until around 10 and should have ridden by 9. By 10 it was already hot and miserable. Still we had a good school, even thought I kept it short.

I rode the Second Level movements again and then did a poor redition of a First Level Test. We wouldn't have won any prizes with either effort, but he has no trouble handling all the exercises, so that's just fine.

At 12, I set up the horse trailer for Chance's adventure as he was still definitely lame when I lunged him. He was not as bad as the other day, but definitely off.

Loading him was just a bit tricky. He would go in easily, eat the grain, and then back out as soon as I moved to the back to fasten the tail bar. We did this about four times and each time I made sure I didn't make any kind of fuss or major correction about his backing out. The lead line was long enough that I could just stand at the breast bar and hold it while he moved. Finally he came in and seemed to relax. At that point I chirpped to him and said, "Stand," and he did so that I could fasten the back bar and put up the tailgate.

I drove extra carefully, wanting to be sure his ride was not at all upsetting and luckily didn't have to stop for any of the traffic lights on the way.

Once at the Park, the show was going full tilt. Four rings of competition and two warm-up areas. Chance unloaded quietly, looked around, and settled in to graze on the parking field. Dr. Klayman was really impressed at how quiet he was. He dubbed him "A Prince," his highest accolade which he usually reserves for Toby.

We lunged a little first and it was clear Chance was lame on his right hind leg. A flexion test would have been next, but I can't run due to my really bad knees. My friend Stacie was coming to help out, but she wasn't there yet, so the doctor checked the kid over pretty thoroughly, using both normal palpitations and acupuncture points. Absolutely nothing abnormal showed up.

After she paged us from the show office, Stacie finally found us, so the doctor did flexion tests. Chance was visibly more lame after the hock flexion, but also a bit more off after the fetlock test, so there was nothing conclusive.

So, I was left with two choices. I could keep Chance in for three weeks and see how he was, or we could do nerve blocks to try to locate the problem. Since I already have an appointment set up with Dr. Klayman on June 4, I opted for the more aggressive approach. Chance will be on bute for about 5 days. I set up the run-in shed as a covered and very restricted turnout--we had done that for Tucker when he was lame on his abscessed foot. It is actually kind of a nifty little setup for the hot summer days as that is the shady side with the most likely chance of a breeze. There's a good view of the house and side paddock. It's also right next to the outdoor water spigot, so I can keep a water tub easily full.

I'm sure it's not as much fun as romping free, but it's much better than simple stall confinement.

So, the good is Chance's behavior and his excellent loading for the ride home. The bad is still not knowing what's bothering him.

Time and rest are often the best healers. Now all we have to do is wait and see.

Off We'll Go

Loading Went Fine

Chance didn't jump into the trailer, nor did he jump away. Some gentle persuasion and a nice bucket of feed lured him in just fine. I backed him out, loaded again and called it a night.

So, all should be well this morning. I will lunge him a bit before I go just in case he is recovered. If so, I'll go over to the show anyhow to tell Dr. Klayman he's OK. If not, Chance gets his first trailer ride from home. He came here in a step up stock trailer which is a far cry from a ramp two horse. I am sure he was trailered when he was younger since he moved from the farm where he was born. But you never know what kind of experience that might have been and how it affected him. So far, so good.

It was really hot yesterday. I overheated at school and had to get an ice pack from the nurse. When I got home after another chiropractor visit to get my neck really fixed, I put the fans on in the barn to get some air circulating.

The Boys are already hanging out in the stalls. I know we have mosquitoes and they are not necessarily waiting until dusk to start biting. One gave me a good chomp on the neck at around 5:30. I'm guessing the Boys are getting bitten too.

Once I set the fans up at the stall doors it really helps keep the bugs out. I just feel bad thinking of the poor fellows being trapped inside all the time.

I plan on riding Tucker this morning, doing a quick lunge to check out Chance, and maybe a short ride on Toby. I'll report back about the vet trip and results tonight.

Friday, May 25, 2007



I had anothe migraine thing yesterday. The headache wasn't horrible, but enough to lay me low and the stomach was icky. I went to the chiropractor twice to finally get it sorted out.

So, no horse work, but horse news, nonetheless.

Dr. Klayman called last night. He will be at the New Jersey Horse Park for the big dressage show on Saturday and will be glad to look at Chance there for me.

Yea! I'd much rather get it looked at sooner than later.

Of course, that means trailering and I have no idea if Chance will load.


That means a bit of work tonight when I get home. I will have to hitch up and at first I will try him in the yard. If he is a problem, I will take the trailer into the paddock and feed him in it for the night. The only trouble there is that both Tucker and Toby are master loaders and will be in the darn thing before Chance has a second thought about it.

Of course, one could hope they would be good role models, but more than likely, they'd chase him away if food were involved.

It should be fun.



Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Time Out

Too Tired

Just too tired to do anything with the Boys today.

Kind of an annoying day at school as I was pushed out of my classroom again for testing. That forced me to take my cart of books to the other end of the building to teach there. In the process, I spent the morning hiking up and down the hallways. That always makes my knees really sore.

I called my vet and now have an appointment for Chance on June 4. This is a bad time of year to make non-emergency appointments as mares are foaling all around. New Jersey has a pretty heavy horse population--it is our State animal--and there are many racing stables in my vet's practice area. Add to that how nearly everyone is getting routine spring vaccinations and required testing done and things do get busy.

Chance may be all better by the 4th. If so, that's good. If not, or even if he is "iffy" my vet is great to look at him because of his chiropractic/acupuncture skills well beyond the usual medical treatments he can offer.

I guess now it's just wait and see.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday Sunshine

Two and a Half Horses at Work

Chance is the half worked horse this time because I just lunged him long enough to see how he was going.

He is still lame in the hind end. It is not dramatic but definite. I can't find any heat or any swelling anywhere, so I am most suspicious of the stifle. It is worse when he travels right, but he drops the hip on the right so it may be his left hind. I hate hind end lamenesses as I am not always sure which leg is the problem. If it is the stifle, then left is more likely.

I will call the vet tomorrow to arrange a visit. I'd like Dr. Klayman himself as he does both chiropractic and acupuncture, but Dr. Perez usually comes out here. She does just the acupuncture which is OK, but the two therapies together are better. Right now, I guess I just need to know what's going on with him.

I lunged Toby again, trying to get him at least a little fit. We primarily trail ride so he doesn't have to be really muscled, but since he's older, it's good for him to work a bit. I only had one carrot left so he got it, as it was our agreement that he always be rewarded with a carrot after working.

I rode Tucker with the intent of really trying out the movements of Second Level Test 1. The main challenge remains the simple changes of lead. There are 10 meter circles at the trot and canter and three loop serpentines with no change of lead on both canter leads. Nothing is really too difficult for him, but what I have to work on is getting him more balanced up on the bit. That is my goal for the next few weeks.

I am planning on entering a show near the middle of June, but I will ride First Level Tests 3 & 4 for that first outing and move up to Second Level in July. Patrice Edwards is not coming again until July, so I won't be able to pick her brain. Hopefully Chris will be down soon so I can glean some ideas and good training from him before the June show.

If not, I've been on my own for long enough to sort things out myself. It's just so much easier having a trainer correct those little mistakes before they become big ones.

Tomorrow, I need to buy carrots! Apples too, if I can find a bag with mutiples of three.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Break

Sticking with Tradition

I gave the Boys off tonight. Chance looks fine in the field, but I will only know for sure when I try to work him again.

Mondays have traditionally been a no work day for the horses. But today, I had a doctor's appointment after school, and a plumber's appointment when I got home.

As I was leaving for school this morning I heard the tell-tale hiss and sputter of water. I found it shooting out of the outside faucet attached to the house. I went down into the basement to try to turn off the valve only to have it stuck, leaving me with no option but to turn off the house water completely.

My friend/neighbor's husband on the next road is a plumber, so I called from school. Donna told me Brian could drop by this evening to scope out the problem for me. When I got home from the doctor, he was already here, waiting. Good thing he came because the valve was somewhat stuck, and the problem was a pipe that had rusted through. He manged to close off the offending line so I could have water inside and then insisted on fixing it then and there.

I didn't argue or interfere. It took him over and hour and we had a nice chat afterwards. When I went down later to look, I saw an absolutely beautiful repair job with nice copper pipe replacing the rusted section, and a useless section of pipe removed so the whole system is much better designed. All I can say is I am one lucky person to have such a good craftsman available.

At school today, I took a part in a video project the performing art students are working on. Several of them wrote TV scripts in an in-house competition, and they are now filming the winning entry. I played a teacher--typecasting??? The interesting twist is that I had to play the role twice--once as a person and once as a person in a mask. I read the script months ago, so I don't remember all the details, but it was a fascinating story. I can't wait to see the finished product.

The performing arts teacher really inspires her students to high levels. I always enjoy being involved whenever I can.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lunging and Apples

Sneak Attack on the Apple Bags

I crashed after church today and ended up taking a nap--again. Is this the new Sunday afternoon routine?

Later on, I went out to do something with the Boys.

I decided to lunge everyone. Tucker was first because he came right over to me when I went out to the paddock.

I made the big mistake when I finished with him and lunged Toby. That is, I left one of the inside stall doors open, which meant he was free to go into the aisleway of the barn and to explore the tack/feed room. This means sticking his long neck in through the doorway, perhaps stepping up the foot and a half to stand stretched inside where he found the two brand new plastic bags of apples I had brought over from the house.

Why is it that if horses find a bag with food they must destroy everything in the bag rather than selectively choosing one item to finish off before going after another? When I realized, too late, what was happening, I had two bags of almost applesauce. I salvaged about 6 apples out of the 30 or so in the two bags. Oh well, it just meant everyone had a handful or two of apple chunks as a treat.

The slightly bad news besides the apple attack is that Chance is off. Something just isn't right in his hind end. I suspect first a hock, and I suspicious of the right one, but I didn't see anything wrong or feel any heat. It's just that his trot is not even and he appears to be limping. At the moment, I am not too concerned, but I will give him a good going over tomorrow again to see how he is. I usually don't panic about something like this unless it lasts for more than a few days. He may have banged himself or twisted something just a little. It doesn't look serious as the moment, but be assured the vet will be hearing from me if it gets worse, or...doesn't get better.

In the meantime, I am now also pretty sure the Boys are not happy about the mosquitos. Toby in particular was hanging out in his stall when I went out to feed at around 5. He went back in after I lunged him and really didn't seem interested in going out. Chance spent about 5 minutes in the pasture and came back to the barn too.

Unfortunately with all the rain, the mosquitos will be thriving. Nothing New Jersey for mosquitos. We breed 'em big and hungry.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another Test Ride

No Rain in the AM

But I did need to go buy a birthday card, so that set me back a bit.

I had just enough time to work two horses for short sessions before I needed to go to the birthday barbeque.

I took Chance out on the lines and did a quick set of circles on the right. He settled a bit at the trot, but not as well as I'd like to see eventually. Considering the time restraints, I asked for some canter departs. After one false start on the left lead, he picked up the right lead three times in a row and this time was far more relaxed on the lead. He tempo was slower and his balance much better. I called him in and treated him with a handful of peppermint horse treats and called it a day.

Tucker was calm and relaxed as we explored some of the movements of the second level tests. Travers and counter canter are a cinch for him, as is the canter depart from the walk. His only shortcoming is getting the canter/walk/canter transistion without any trot steps. During the pretend test we rode, that was the only thing he didn't handle easily. However, afterwards I did a quick bit of schooling and he was really improved. I finished with a series of trot lengthenings across the diagonals to encourage him to reach out more and he again improved.

All in all, it was a good horse morning.

And all in all it was a good barbeque. I did stay inside as it kept sprinkling on and off, but that didn't stop me from eating.

The only real disappointment of the day was that Curlin beat Street Sense in the Preakness Stakes, so once again we will not have a Triple Crown winner. Street Sense looked to have the race one, but Curlin caught him by a nose in the very last stride. Some of the reports suggest it could have easily gone the other way, but Street Sense lost a little focus on the stretch. I didn't hear his jockey's interview after the race as my barbeque pals were all talking, but I could see he was really disappointed. Calvin Borel is a fine rider and he cares deeply about his mounts. He rode a masterful race, but this time they just came up short.

Too bad. I keep hoping to see that superhorse again--I was lucky enough to see Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. I guess those moments were far more special that I even realized.
I know Secretariat's wins surely were, and Affirmed duels with Alydar were just incredible!

One more year to wait for the next dream horse to show up....if I don't count the three stars in my own back yard.

Another Lovely Day

Fast Ride and Fast Lime

I rode Tucker for a school in the ring as the weather was gorgeous. He was great. I had looked over First Level Tests 3 & 4 before I went out, and planned on riding through both of them just for the entertainment of doing something.

Well, if I plan to show them again this year, I'd better bone up. Once I was in the saddle I messed up both patterns completely. No big deal as I did all the exercises--just in the wrong places. The nice thing was that Tucker was perfectly fine with it and was very obedient. He was quite agreeable even when I stopped to ponder why the heck I was on the right rein when I should have been on the left and vice versa.

We need to work on getting him more forward and through to the bit, but I wasn't asking for much of that this time. All in all it was a fun ride.

And then came the lime. With rain predicted for the weekend, I thought it would be a good chance to spread some lime in the pasture so I hitched the spreader to the garden tractor, filled it with 6 bags--it's a big spreader-- and off I went. The horses were fascinated and spent the entire time out in the field with me "snoopervising." So glad I could entertain them for the evening.

Bill showed up later and fixed the broken fence rail for me. One of the screws was stripped so even he had a bit of a challenge trying to get it out. At least it wasn't my total incompetence that kept me from getting the job done.

It's not raining yet this morning (10:30 AM) so I should be able to get a ride or two in and perhaps a school on the lines for Chance. Then I am going to a barbeque birthday party for my cousin's son who is now 18. In two more weeks it will be his high school graduation barbeque. Then I have been in invited to a Memorial Day weekend barbeque too--so I guess I will be duly barbequed out this month.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

No Excuses

Did a Bit of Shopping

After school. And I didn't buy a thing. I had a mission and thought I had tracked down a jacket I was looking for. But I wasn't sure, so I scouted out a few other stores in the Mall and by the time I got back to store number one, someone else had bought it.

That brought me home about an hour late, so I fed the Boys who seemed quite happy to see me. The temperature had dropped during the day and it was really a lovely cool--perfect for riding.

But, I have choir practice on Thursdays, so to wait the hour until I could ride was pressing my luck, so I surrendered again. I was frankly, a bit tired, so I suppose that had something to do with my lack of enthusiasm.

I may give Tuck a bit of a lunge when I go out to do late feed--which I plan to do earlier than usual tonight so I can get to bed on time for a change. I didn't sleep really well last night. That's usually what happens when I have to go back to school at night. I wake up too much and can't get settled in once I'm back home. When I used to teach night school, it was terrible. I'd be totally exhausted the next day.

Trouble is, it's supposed to rain for the next two, possibly three days. That may give me a chance to get the lime down if it's not too steady a downpour, but I am not too hopeful.

And I may try to sneak a ride in between the raindrops.

If not, I guess the Boys will just have more time off.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Boy, Talk About Accurate Weather Forecasts

The Storm Blows in At Four O'Clock

Or pretty darn close to it.

Had a half day of school today because we have to go back tonight for Open House. I dropped by the supermarket for a few things and got home around 2:15 or so. Fed the kitties, did a chore or two, and popped on to the Internet to check the weather forecast because I knew some thunderstorms were on the way.

3 PM, partly cloudy. 4 PM possible thunderstorm.

I got into my riding gear and went out to the barn. Toby was being very loveable and clearly wanted some attention, so I saddled him up for a quick trail ride. I was breezy but the mosquitos were out enough to annoy him, so we made it the short trail and were back in about 15 minutes. I gave him his obligatory carrot and collected Tucker from the paddock.

Saddled up, warmed up a bit and then decided to try a facsimile of First Level Test 3, or something akin. Rode through that with a few little glitches to correct and started off on an approximation of Test 4. The wind picked up. Heavy gusts, enough to set Tucker to spooking at wildly waving tree branches. He is usually not bad in the wind but this was WIND!! I opted out, dismounted, led him out with me to close the pasture gate--I keep the Boys out of there when it is thundering as the pasture is on a hill and very exposed--and he bounced around a bit more.

What time was all this? Just about 4 PM. Uncanny that the forecast could be so accurate.

I settled Tucker down and took him into the barn to untack. At that point things were really stirring up outside. Chance was galloping around, Toby was bouncing and then I heard a crash and a cracking sound.

Fortunately, Kenny's training taught Tucker to tie really well, so even though he jumped, as soon as he felt the tie rope, he stopped. I took off his tack in short order and let him back out.

And what did I find? A big limb had broken off the apple tree by the fence and landed on the top rail, cracking it. I couldn't budge the branch by myself so, as the rain began to fall in sporadic drops, I hooked up a chain to the tractor and dragged it off the fence, across the lawn and finally decided to drag it onto the paddock out of the way.

I opened the gate, dragged the huge thing in and lost all three horses out onto the lawn a fraction later.

Next step? Secture the driveway gates temporarily until I was back outside with the tractor and then gather up the happy little herd back inside the fence.

Fortunately, despite the lure of nice green lawn grass, the temptation of feed buckets full of dinner was much more appealing and soon everyone was safely back inside.

That done, I went over to have a good look at the broken fence rail. Of course it was one Bill had secured in place with three huge screws and despite my best effort, I couldn't unscrew them to replace the rail. Bill says he will send his son over once the rain passes. I did manage to get one screw out, but the other two won't turn at all. I have some brand new replacement rails, so that's no problem. It's just getting the broken one out.

This is slip board fencing which should be a cinch. It's just that nearly every man who repairs it thinks the more nails or screws to hold things in place the better. In the pasture, the fence installers used a nail gun. Then the nail head have all ended up inside the holes of the fence posts where the boards slide through so it's almost impossible to pull them out to change a broken rail. I have spent many an hour using a hack saw blade to cut through the nail instead.

But, by then, it was raining pretty hard, so I just surrendered and came back in to take a shower so I can go back to school and greet visitors. (And parents, who will probably want reports on their children. *sigh*)

Where there's a will, there's a way. And even when there's a Bill, there's a way. *G*

Let's Just Skip Tuesday


Luckily I had to go to the doctor anyhow because I was scheduled for my metabolic testing.

My neck was out and I had a vicious headache. Even after the adjustment it took until well after midnight for it to start to really go away.

Needless to say, aside from school, I didn't do anything else worth mentioning.

I'll post again for today if things keep looking up.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Long Lining

For Two

I long lined tonight.

Chance was first, and it's evident he is very anxious about the whole affair. He definitely does not like the rein contact when he first starts out and spends a good deal of the time tossing hie head and trying to escape it.

This is one advantage and disadvantage to the lines as compared to riding. Long lines create a bit of a "remote control" situation with a solid grounding for the handler. It allows me to keep a good hold without getting pulled about by the horse's shenanigans so that I can keep a steady contact. On the other hand, it also limits how quickly I can give the horse a release for a correct response as my hands are farther away from his mouth than if I were in the saddle.

It is a tricky balance to keep the contact enough to make the horse work into the bit without being so strong that it either shuts him off or yanks him around if he starts to fight.

Chance is currently either running into the reins or over bending to escape taking the proper contact. He tends now to go too fast when he loses his balance because he is resisting the bit. But, in between, when he accepts the contact, he is really quite lovely. I was pleased that he managed to take the right lead more often than not with three correct departures in a row the signal that we needed to change rein. Still, his canter on the right lead is fast and he is not at all well balanced yet. But, there is a significant improvement over the last time, so that is a big plus.

Again, when I switched him from right to left I had to start all over again as if he had forgotten how to carry himself on that rein. But in the end he was better on the left and settled into some pretty good work. I will be keeping him on the lines until he steadies up and settles in on both sides before I do much more riding.

Tucker was not the most cooperative on the lines either, but his problems started by his not going forward. It is nearly impossible to get the correct contact when the horse is not forward, so I had to work on that first. I did a long series of canter/trot/canter transistions to get him working well.

That seemed to fix things on both reins until, on the right, he bolted around me at a mad gallop. Something was rustling in the woods by the ring gate to set him off.

Well, I must say whatever the mysterious noisy critter was, it did get Tucker to elevate himself so that we ended on a nice forward, up, and engaged trot. Not exactly the best way to get him to carry himself, but whatever works.....

All and all it wasn't the best training days I've ever had, but I did accomplish something with each horse, and each little step is one more on the road to success.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunny Sunday

And What Did I Do?

After church I did some shopping. I did need a few things from the supermarket, but on the way I managed to stop at the shoe store.

I found some dress Sketchers--nice little white Mary Janes with a strap that fit with my orthotic insoles in and actually supported my foot. By the time I'd left, I'd ordered a pair in black and beige as well. Since my bunion and the stepped on toe, I haven't been able to find anything to wear except athletic shoes and perhaps some sandals for short term wear. These look dressy enough to wear with a skirt and nice dress pants, so now I can look a little more dressed up than sneakers allow.

Then I went to Shoprite for the groceries--oh, I stopped at a new farmer's market too and stocked up on some nice fresh veggies and stuff to make shishkabobs on my new grill--not yet set up. Shoprite was totally out of hot dog rolls! There must have been a run on barbeque foods for Mother's Day, because this is a huge store with plenty of stock and there wasn't a hot dog roll to be found.

That sent me back to SuperFresh about a quarter of a mile in the opposite direction where I did get the rolls and some potato chips--on sale.

I got home, cooked a hot dog and sat down for a bit. Suddenly I was overcome by total tiredness so I lay down on the couch for a bit. Ooops. I woke up again at about 6 PM.

And, I was aching all over, leading me to believe I just may be fighting some kind of bug. But then, I had to feed the Boys, so out I went.

It was still a gorgeous day. So while the Boys were eating, I took out my new little hand saw and sawed down a few trees that are growing up along my riding ring fence. That done, I took out the DR Timmer and began working on the weeds around the ring. Last year they got completely out of hand so this year I am going to attack them before they grow. Aside from breaking the trimming strings, the trimmer worked really well on the growth. I have to learn to be a bit less aggresive with it to keep from breaking the trim strings, but I surely does a great job.

Cleaned the stalls and finally brought Tucker in for a nice little lunging session. I should have ridden, but I ached too much, so lunging was a good alternative. He was a good boy except when Toby and Chance ripped by at a gallop heading out to the field. Still, he didn't manage to break away and the excitement ulitmately improved his gaits to more forward.

Missed my Sunday rides, but sometimes the body just doesn't want to make the effort.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lots Done

Another Busy Day

I started working in the bedroom sorting clothes and managed to fill four big bags for the clothing drives.

The job is not done, but I needed to go get grain so I left it for another day and headed off to the feed store. On the way back home, I stopped at the hardware store where they were having a big sale on gas grills. I bought a neat little Weber grill so I can do some outdoor cooking this summer. It's very portable, and a nice size.

Back home, I unloaded the grain and then started on the lawn. This time I did the trimming first, took a break, fed the Boys and went back out to finish with the riding mower.

Only then did a take the time to ride. I worked Tucker for about a half hour, concentrating on his balance and mine. I did a lot of canter walk canter transitions, and finished up working a circle alternating leads so that half the work was in counter canter. That really helped him get more balanced, especially on the right lead.

Then I took Chance out on the lines. My sole goal was getting him to take the right lead canter working on both lines. It is very interesting to watch him on the right rein. He falls a bit on to the inside shoulder which blocks his stride so that he takes the left lead instead. I could get him correctly balanced but he doesn't canter immediately on command, so what happens is that I ask for the canter and by the time he responds, the balance is on the wrong leg again. It did take a bit of work, but finally, I got him to make four or five canter departs on the right, so it was enough. I praised him mightily and took him back in.

I am pretty sure the bumps were a reaction to bugs, possibly mosquitos. The Azium worked wonders, but I did give him another dose tonight as he had a few little bumps left.

Despite the bumps, Chance's coat is shiny and gorgeous. As a matter of fact, both Toby and Tucker are gleaming as well. Since they are now all wearing fly sheets, they will be less likely to bleach out in the sun and keep their shimmer.

Sometimes I just stand and look at them with a big grin on my face. I am so lucky to have such a nice little herd.

Busy, Busy

Much To Do

I called the vet today and she suggested some Azium to help Chance get over his bumps.

That meant I had to drive down to their office right after school. It is about 25-30 minutes from my house, so a good 45 minutes from school. Fortunately, on the way, I was ahead of the commuter rush. But, I didn't get home until after 5:30. Quite a revelation as I had not been on those roads during rush hour in quite a while. I used to board my horses in the area and drove over regularly then. Good thing my horses are not out that way now because the traffic heading out was horrendous. There was a line of cars trying to cross Route 33 stretching for well over a half mile. To think, were I heading that way instead of home, I would have been stuck in it. If it's like that every day, I can't even imagine what it would be like trying to get to my horses.

I had also picked up a new concrete lid for my aunt's well at school earlier in the day and was driving with about 300 lbs of cement in the back of my car. I did manage to get Bill's two strapping sons to come over to unload the lid--two halves of a circle--and put it on her well so I didn't have to carry it around with me on the weekend. These two young men are a wonderful pair who did a great job setting the lid just right.

By then, it was a bit after 6:00 and I was going to dinner at 7:15 so I really didn't have time to ride. Instead, I tied the gates shut across the driveway and let the Boys out to graze on my lawn for about an hour. I'd shut them out of the pasture all day because thunderstorms were predicted. But the grass out there is nothing compared to my lawn which is growing like crazy. They really enjoyed themselves doing a bit of mowing for me.

I fixed a little mash for each one of them, putting the Azium in Chance's and Tucker's. Amazingly enough, when I called them to come back into the paddock, they did, perfectly willing to leave the grass for a second dinner.

Then I was off to my dinner, an authentic home cooked Indian meal. Good company, fascinating food, and eating with our fingers made for a fun evening.

Tomorrow I need to get grain, and if rain is still in the forecast, lime the pasture. I also have fertilizer for the lawn, but at the rate it's growing now, I hesiate to use it. I might wake up in the morning and not be able to see out my windows through the green blades.

Wish I could get the pasture to grow like that.

Friday, May 11, 2007

May Be Bugs

Tucker Bumpy Too

Well, Tucker had bump tonight at late night snack, so I am now thinking it may be bug bites.

Since both he and Chance are the two who lie down, it may also be low level bugs. Something that lives near the ground. I don't see any mosquitos yet, so it may be some kind of midges. Tucker's bumps are not as bad as Chance's but I find it hard to believe both horses would be allergic to the same thing. So far Toby looks OK.

Chance's bumps were better this morning, but tonight, there were new ones--not quite as bad, but definitely new.

So, I put fly sheets on everyone and used fly repellent on the two youngsters. I also put the hay in the stalls. Toby was already hanging out inside, to that so suggests there are some kinds of biting insects out there at night.

I just lunged Tucker for a short session and while he was working his tail was swishing with that tell-tale bug reaction. He was a good boy, nevertheless, so the work exercise was worthwhile.

Now, if it is bugs, why was Chance's reaction so extreme? Well, for one, he is a chestnut and often they are more sensitive to skin things. Second, he is young which means his system has not built up much resistance to things. And third, he is new to New Jersey summers so we may have some kind of pest here not native to his Virginia area home. I will keep an eye on him and probably call the vet tomorrow to ask if there is something I can do to make both him and Tucker feel better.

In the meantime, I am going to investigate the Internet to see if there are any good ideas out there.

Ah, the coming of summer brings its own rewards....on the wing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bumps Abound

Hives? From What?

I didn't ride yesterday. Mostly because my shoulder was so bad I had to go the the chiroprator again.

When I got home, I unloaded the hay. Since I'd gotten the golf cart running again, I was able to back the little trailer almost all the way into the carport, so unloading was a snap.

Later, when I went out to feed the Boys their midnight snack, I found poor Chance covered in bumps. Now, this is either hives or bug bites, but I am leaning towards hives as neither of the other horses has any signs of bites.

I am a bit puzzled. While I did get new hay, it is the second cutting from the same fields where the first cutting came from. The last time I had a few bales of this, I certainly didn't see any kind of reaction unless his winter coat hid it. If he is reacting to the hay, that is a bummer because I feed free choice and trying to keep this hay from him will not be easy.

I put some skin medication on a section of the bumps this morning, so if there is a major improvement, I will be able to use it. If not, I will have to call the vet for a consult.

The hay was the only change I made, so while it is a prime suspect, there are also all kinds of other possibilities including some kind of weed or pollen blowing about.

On the upside, Chance does not seem itchy on the bumps--another reason I don't think it's from bugs.

I have seen this before and one time Russell had big hives on his belly. Usually, they clear up pretty fast, but we will just have to wait and see. I don't want this to turn into a frustrating, or chronic condition, so I will do everything I can to fix it sooner than later.

Owning horses is a never ending adventure.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Temper, Temper

Mine and Theirs

I got a load of hay as soon as I got home. Second cutting, and nice.

Then I fed the Boys, ate a snack and when a good hour had gone by, I went out to ride.

Tucker was first. The walk warmup was pretty good with some pirouettes. Then I asked for trot and he pulled the ears back, "I won't go unless you ask really politely," trick. After a big sigh I worked through that, go some decent trot work with some nice leg yields, and then cantered a bit. We worked on the canter walk transistions. Eventually he was actually doing the downward better on the right than the left, so, I quit the exercise and went on to something more interesting.

I invented another first level test and again, the work was good until we crossed the diagonal and Tucker decided to shy at some rails lying on the ground. At that point, I lost my patience about it all. That sort of thing just happens too often. I rode the diagonal again, insisting he stay in the correct frame and correct forwardness. That was fixed until I tried a canter trot transition crossing the other diagonal and Tucker decided to throw his head and fall onto the right rein instead of carrying himself.

There was no excuse I could fathom, so we did the exercise again, and again, and again, and again, until finally, he decided it wasn't worth the nonsense and gave me a good downward without all the crooked evasions. By then, the one benefit was that his canter was really uphill and actually bounding along from the hind end, so I took advantage of it and tried to finish up with one more canter walk. Voila! I was great, so we quit for the night.

This time my temper tantrum and his paid off in the end.

Then I took Chance out on the lines. While it was better than the last time, he still insisted on being very erratic with his head no matter how hard I worked to keep the outside contact even and light. It took quite a while to get him steady on the left rein, but he finally managed two full circles without a fuss, so I brought him in and switched directions.

The right rein is usually better. Tonight it was worse. He tried to fall out to the gate, he tried to spin around back on to the left. And then, when I finally asked for canter, he would not take the right lead. Things went from bad to worse. At one point, mostly because my knees are so bad I can't really run with him, he got away from me and trotted off with the lines dragging behind.

Fortunately, I have battled all of these evasions before so I knew if I stuck at it, we would reach some kind of resolution.

Frankly, Chance surprised me with his nearly equal determination. It took nearly an hour of all kinds of tricks and techniques, but eventually, I managed to get him to take the right lead three times in a row and decided that was enough. He was sweating, I was aggravated, and I can only hope we made some kind of breakthrough.

Usually, by the time I first canter a horse I have trained, taking the correct lead is no longer an issue. Until I can get Chance reliably on that lead on the long lines every time I ask, he is not ready to canter with a rider. At the moment, it looks like we have a few more weeks of lining ahead of us.

He needs to learn not to fight the rein and to respond to the voice commands with much more respect. And I, again, need to find the patience to train him. I see a little stubborn streak in him again that I saw the first time I lunged him. It's not dangerous, just a bit of an "attitude."

Nothing I haven't dealt with before. After all, my other horses have all been Thoroughbreds--the masters of temperament.

Some days it just isn't easy.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Not Much to Report


Rushed out of school to my laser therapy appointment.

Then, on the way home, I wended my way through Jersey Avenue to Georges Road to the back entrance of Barnes and Noble in North Brunswick to pick up four more copies of No Fear Shakespeare, Macbeth for my seniors to read. Navigating those streets suding rush hour was really interesting, to say the least.

I got home around 5:30 or so and fed the Boys right away.

It was a beautiful day with cooler temps, and I had planned on riding.

I ate some dinner and as I was working on the computer I was suddenly very tired. I made the mistake of lying down on the couch for a bit.

Error. It is now past 11 PM and I just woke up.

Oh, well. I guess I was more tired than I realized.

I am just a bit concerned. Today in school one of my students came in to class drenched in perfume. I had what I thought was a very bad allergic reaction with a suddenly stuffy, runny nose, and sneezing. Hours later, I am still sneezy. Now I am afraid I may be coming down with a cold.

I am breaking out the cold attack force. Colliodal silver nasal spray, colostrum, and maybe the Airborne.

Hoping it's just an allergy. That I can handle.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Beautiful Day

Riding High

On Tucker, you can't help but ride high. He is nearly 17 hands (a bit over 16.3 by the stick)

I worked again on my seat just being tall and vertical. I decided to stay in the ring as it was cool and very windy when I started. I rode training level tests 1 & 2 just for something to do and then invented a complex first level test to incoporate all the movements into one mess of a pattern. Tucker took it all in stride. I did discover that I could correct his crookedness in places by just sitting more correctly myself, so that was a plus. The trot lengthenings were not great, but the canter lengthenings were really nice and the downwards back to working canter were wonderful.

The biggest issue we have is going from the walk on a long rein back to working walk. As soon as I pick up the reins for more contact, Tucker wants to jog. If I correct him too much, he gets irritated and loses all his forward. I need to figure out what it is that I do to encourage the problem. I may be tensing my seat or somehow sending the wrong signals.

Toby and I did go out on the trail, as he is OK in the wind. We rode all the way back to the flooded area and I am sorry to say it is as bad as ever. A streambed is carved through the farm field, and water is well into the woods. It has been three years of fighting over this with Township government, developers, and the State's Department of Environmental Protection, all to to avail. Good thing I had a nice ride. Otherwise I would be totally disgusted.

I long lined Chance again. What worked really well was veeing the inside rein to give him something to bend on and using a good, consistent outside rein. Once I settled him into actually believing that he had no option but to do some work, he gave me some nice trot and canter on both reins. I intend to long line him for two weeks or so, until he steadies up on the bit. Part of it is baby horse balance issues and the rest is baby horse confusion about just how to accept the bit. I started both Toby and Tucker on the lines, and with Toby in particular, it made an incredible difference once I started to ride him.

I think, too, that Chance is still growing. Hard to tell how he'll wind up, but he is a cutie no matter what. I call him Chancypants, or Pants Man, just because.....

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lots of Lines

Three on the Lines

I opted for long lining today.

Toby was first because he was in the barn already. He is virtually perfect on the long lines as that was how I started him before he was under saddle. I call him the "master." I didn't ask him to work into an upper level frame because he is just not muscled up enough to do that. No point in making him sore or unhappy. We had a nice little workout, and a carrot at the end.

Chance was next and I was interested to see just how much he tried to flip his head around with the bit. At first, I had ''veed" the lines, giving me extra leverage, but that was clearly too much for the kid. At first, he wouldn't even go forward at all. Then, he overbent his head and neck far too much. At that, I changed the rigging and ran the lines through the surcingle rings directly to the bit. He was much happier with that and offered to do a bit of stretching on his own. The big problem was his tendency to drift out to the left when he was on the right rein passing the gate area. It was exactly what he had done when I was riding him on Thursday.

Fixing it on the lines was easy. I just had to make sure I began correcting the bend and turn 2o meters before I actually needed to make the turn. A good thing to remember when riding as well. The drfiting out usually begins well before you notice it, especially if there is a fence on the outside to hold the horse from drifting out anywhere else. Riders tend to ride less correctly with the fence there as it acts as the outside control, so they don't bother to use the outside aids as precisely. Then, when the horse gets to an open spot, the fence disappears and the ride suddenly realizes he/she has to put on the outside control, but by then it's too late to do it subtley. So, the trick is to ride making the corrections all the way 'round, and by the time you get to the trouble spot, it really isn't any trouble at all.

Chance was definitely better on the left rein as far as the steering went, but he didn't offer to stretch down as much. He was also a little more tired at that point too, so it could be that he just couldn't offer it as easily. I do think the lining is really good for him and I must do it more often to get him solid on the basics.

Tucker started off very lazily, not at all willing to go forward at more than a toe scuffing jog. I gave him a few rounds at that and then urged him on with the lunge whip. Soon he was tracking up and offering some nice work. His canter, as always, was really nice and he rounded right up. I did about 12-15 canter/trot/canter transitions on both reins, and he settled right in with some really good, balanced upward transitions.

All in all, we had some really good work today.

Tomorrow, I need to ride in the morning as I have to go to church for a minister's installation service where the choir will sing. Our director managed to get us the morning service off as the bell choir is playing instead.

Maybe if I get out early the ATV riders will still be in bed.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Didn't Ride

No Excuses

I just didn't feel like it.

Lovely day. Good footing and the Boys just seemed happy hanging out, so I picked some grass for them as the pasture is still pretty sad, fed them some carrots, and just relaxed.

I did do some grocery shopping on the way home. Bought some apples and the paper goods that were on sale. Nothing special otherwise.

At least with the blog I am keeping a record of my adventures or lack thereof. Sad to say, it looks like I will be needing to mow the lawn again soon. I also unloaded my bags of lime, so that job is looming in the near future.

Chris will not be coming this week for lessons as he didn't have enough people to make the drive worth it. It's fine for now as I am experimenting with Tucker and don't really feel any pressure to make grand progress. I guess my lazy side is coming out.

In the old days, I was an obsessive rider and I worked my horse six days a week. Of course, if I was eventing, keeping him fit was essential. At the lower levels of dressage that kind of fitness is not necessary. If I do move up, though, I will have to be more regular about the training as the muscles needed for the upper level movement become far more critical.

That is one advantage of Thoroughbreds, though. They are fairly easy to get fit and muscle up--at least when they are Tucker's age. The downside is that when they are "on the muscle," they can tend to be more high strung than other horses. But, usually, when I get a horse that far, he is trained well enough that the extra energy is pretty reliably under control.

Chance may be a different story, but that one has time to be written.

In the meantime, I am just kind of goofing off.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Three for Three

But Not the Best of Rides

I schooled Tucker in the ring for about 15 minutes, just concentrating on that slow trot using my balance and seat and on the controlled canter with the same feeling. The right lead was much better and he seemed to be able to keep the correct balance with less difficulty.

Then we headed out to do the hack I'd cut short the other day because of the deer. Well, either the deer memory or not having been out on the trail for a while had definitely affected Tucker's confidence. He was just looking for something to spook at. This time it was a loud, singing bird. Mind you, it was a songbird, probably a little one, but the sudden burst of song sent my 1200+ pound horse into a startle. It was acutually kind of funny. I gave him a reassuring pat on the neck and soon we were warily back on our way. Once we got into the woods themselves, he settled pretty well and the rest of the ride was pretty good.

Chance was up next and it was rather ironic as to what he decided the training problem of the day would be. The bending was fine. It was head tossing today. I had just posted on Caroline's blog about that very issue as her horse, Jazz does it sometimes. I must admit, my suggesting, of planting the elbow at my side--not clamped, just "determined" to be there, and letting the rein play through my lower arm was just the ticket. If Chance tossed his head and tried to yank the bit, my hand was there to stop him and he did not pull me out of position or pull my arm to his mouth. He has never been so insistent about such an evasion before, so I am hoping it wasn't some new invention on his part.

I did a lot of trot circles trying to get him to do at least one steady one on each rein. He goofed around with his head, or tried to arc the circle way out towards the pasture were the other horses were, or sped up as we headed towards the gate....a certain creative menu of attempted evasions. I was able to correct everything, but it was a bit tedious. Then, I finally got the two circles, told him he was a good boy and he stopped dead. I guess he'd worn himself out with all the nonsense.

I figured he needed a trail ride too. Well, that was a debatable idea. Partway out, I heard the dreaded engine of an ATV ripping along the edge of the field. I dismounted quickly because I just don't know what Chance would do faced with an oncoming ATV. As turned out, it was a probably a good idea. Two young girls, neither with a helmet, raced the ATV up along the edge of the woods, spun it around in the field and then headed back the way they had come, completly oblivious to horse and rider. It might not have been a pretty picture if they had suddenly seen us in front of them.

I led Chance into the woods and mounted again from a fallen log. Fifty yards or so on, the head tossing started up as well as his attempts to trot off--tossing his head when I tried to bring him back to a walk. For the rest of the ride we alternated between a nice walk, a jig, and a head toss try to trot off. One more time, I guess I should have put the martingale on. I don't mind the jigging or the try to trot, but add the head toss so that the bit becomes ineffective and that is disturbing.

We made it home in one piece and with carrot, I lured Toby into the barn. Short on time because I had to go to choir practice, I gave him a short lunging session and another carrot. He is such a pretty mover, I love to watch him go on the line. In the late afternoon sun his chestnut coat glowed to a pretty reddish gold and I told him what a beautiful boy he was. Maybe next time I try to catch him he'll think twice about galloping off.

Either way, it's OK. He is 17 now and deserves to just relax if that's what he wants.

Gee, I wish I could. *G*

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Little Soggy

Opted Out

Of riding tonight as the ring was a bit soggier than I had expected. I guess all the rain is taking its toll. We had a wicked thunderstorm last night.

I dragged the ring again instead. The horses were exercising themselves pretty effectively anyhow, frolicking and racing about, so no big loss there. I had thought to lunge Toby, but the wet conditions changed my mind.

I did plant two new rosebushes. I only lost one this winter, to I'm one up for the new season. The rose garden does need tending, though as there are a lot of weeds coming in. I pull some out every day, but I think they are getting the best of me. I may just go the mulch route ASAP.

School was a mixed bag today as the English department was back together to finish the final exam revisions. We were well on our way to solidly completing the task when the whole computer network crashed. Four exam sections were stored on a network drive which was suddenly inaccessible. That teacher did have some of the files in her email account, but we couldn't even open that. Total crash.

That sent me back to my classroom as my lesson plans for my classes had included an Internet based assignment looking up word definitions. I do, however, have a supply of real paper dictionaries in the room, so I got them out and crossed my fingers that the students would actually use them.

We shall see tomorrow.

All and all, with a trip to the chiropractor to get my shoulder fixed again, it was a relatively good day.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Two on Another Nice Day

And the Attack of the Fangtail

In case you are new to Follywoodspeak, I shall elucidate.

Here in New Jersey, we have the American whitetailed deer. These critters have a triangular shaped tail, often called a "flag" that is white underneath, so that when the deer runs away, the white tail waves in the air.

Now, horses, think these creatures are very dangerous. Well my horses think these creatures are very dangerous. Or, at least my Thoroughbreds think these creatures are very dangerous. Well, Toby and Tucker think these creatures are very dangerous. Hence, the name Fangtails, as they are most dangerous when they are running away. Heaven help us should we meet one face to face--except for the cute little spotted fawn PJ met one day on the trail.

Anyhow, after I schooled Tucker for a bit, I decided to go out on a hack in the woods. But the Fangtails were about! Thus, we did a dramatic spin to head away from them. It was actually a slow motion dramatic spin, quite easy to sit and it ended with a simple stop and a kind of, "Wow! what was that all about?" I turned him back out, but then I spied the Fangs myself and decided discretion was the better part of valor and headed back for home.

So much for the trail ride. Our school was quite interesting as Tucker is now really reacting to my seat. If I sit even a little crooked or if I'm too much weighted in one seat bone over the other, his walk gets all twisted. That'll teach me to do it right!!

The trot was just fine as was the left canter, but he really struggles to keep the right canter as balanced. Patrice has said the right canter is straighter, but I have always found it more difficult. It may be me, but after a bit of work we got a fairly good effort on Tucker's part. The idea is to keep him fairly slow and balanced enough that he does not drag down on the bit. It is an exaggerated slow tempo, so that makes it much harder, but I must say he was quite willing to try as I asked him.

Tucker does have a lovely, natural canter. This is a more difficult version of it and a new concept for him. Since the left is so good already, I am sure the right will come quickly. Counter canter will help a lot, so I will add that to the training repertoire.

For those who do not understand this horse talk, when a horse canters--which is like the gallop--he needs to balance by taking a longer stride with the hind and front leg in the direction that he's going. If he is going left, the left hind and front take a longer stride. This is called the "left lead." Conversely the other way is the "right lead." Counter canter would be to go to the left with the right legs leading instead. It is a schooling exercise that tests a horse's balance and, in that case, can also help a horse develop better balance. Cantering to the left on the right lead makes the right lead work a bit harder and the horse learns to better carry himself on those legs. I can increase the difficulty of the exercise to get even better balance by asking the horse to bend slightly to the left as well, making his body and the right leading legs have to do even more strengthening work as they need to carry him along and control the gait.

Once Tuck and I had escaped the attack deer, I took Chance into the ring for a school. I decided to start off on the left rein this time as he does not bend as well that way. After a bit of work at the walk he got the idea of stepping into my outside rein with his inside hind so we trotted and had some major success. I figured I'd end the ride on the right rein which is usually easier.

Well! The right rein was now as bad as the left usually is. I had to start all over again and correct that.

Conclusion? He is probably equal on each rein and works correctly on whichever rein I start off on.

Solution? Lots of changes of rein to develop overall suppleness on both reins at the same time instead of concentrating on one at a time. Seems to me early on Caroline was having the same issues with Tia and a little with Jazz. One side would be fine and then the other wouldn't be. I've always had horses that were one sided or the other in a fairly regular pattern. This is definitely an intriguing change. I have plenty of exercises to fix it, so no big deal. Since I have just discovered it, I will just change tactics.

After I was done with Chance, I offered Toby a nice little lunge. When he saw the halter and lunge line, he trotted around me in his "catch me if you can" circle and then, when he realized I was actually serious about it, he took off in a wild gallop out to the pasture with Tucker and Chance hot on his heels.

I don't think I need an interpreter to get that message.

Suffice it to say, Toby had the night off.