Monday, August 26, 2013

Off topic...

This isn't 100% off topic, BUT I won't be riding from August 30 - September 9th BECAUSE I'll be going on my honeymoon to Europe... FINALLY!

Stops along the way:

Anyone have ideas/suggestions/things to see for those cities? I hope to ride a few times before I leave this week, but packing is going to take over my nights. :( I am shooting for 3 rides before a late flight on Thursday.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jump, Jump!

After working over jumps Wednesday, I decided to get back on and go at it yesterday. Spyder LOVES it, and it's what I grew up doing (and love to do, as well as missed like crazy).  I didn't feel like I had the best control for it, but I decided to tackle the control issue, make him slow down, and make him steer so we can both enjoy the work together. Now that we move off of leg and have a decent halt, we can bring more into the mix. The steering has come along great with the help of all of the bending and shoulder work.

The flies really aggravate him!
I got out to the field to work on a quick w/t, added the canter, then did our bending move along the fence line. Once we get the bend to the left, we go to the right, and once that looks good, we go back left. He's getting A LOT easier to steer and handle which makes taking the next steps a lot better! The canter is more consistent and we can move around the field quite a bit. The cue isn't just in the spot where we learned to pick it up, and it works all over the place.

It was showering when I got on, but that didn't stop me. I stopped to try to get a picture of the partial rainbow which shows the jumps, too. We worked on our "S" again with the jumps - look up, sit back, find the next jump, come back to a trot (then repeat). Oh, and give him his head! It's a lot to think about, but we had so much fun. We did the line both ways and added in a few extra jumps. We did the newly tackled white gate, the same old x-rail, the x-rail with the gap, the x-rail on the far end of the ring that we've done, and the wishing well.

The 2 x-rails, wishing well, and a rainbow
The x-rail with the gap
Around and around and around,  the canter was lovely! :) I tried to keep the trot between each fence, but if he wanted to canter, I wasn't going to stop him. He just gets a bit confused if he is cantering up to a jump as he doesn't know what to do with his feet. Either way the strides are huge so getting to the next fence is a tough squeeze if either of us falls apart. He was so happy and excited to be moving, it was wonderful. I filmed us going back to the barn down the track, and the flies were really getting to him. Even without the flies, he insists that his forelock and mane are biting.
The white gate/fence jump

For those of you that know my horse, you know he's push, push push. His pace back to the barn was the same as it was OUT to the field. I think someone is starting to like his job! Also, you'll notice that he *tries* to sneak some grass. We're working on that, but he'll pull any kind of stunt to get to it. In this case, "Ahh, the flies! Oh, grass!" He'll have an "itch" in which he finds his way to grass, too.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Little Fun

I thought it would be fun to post a picture of Spyder and then aks people what they thought the breed was. People were guessing a variety of thoughts. Most often guessed was Warmblood and Appendix, and I only listed what people guessed below once (even though there were multiple occurrences). Warmblood was the winner, BUT all Standardbreds look the same, right?

-Cleveland Bay
-Draft Cross
-QH Cross
-Appendix x Draft
- Morgan/QH
-Holsteiner/German Warmblood

Anyways, yesterday I rode after work. The w/t and moving over are coming along nicely. We also went in straight line at the trot to work on bend so we stayed in one direction and moved bend right, then left, back right, back left.. OK, you get the point. From there, we worked on the canter, and I pushed him off my leg in circle while I opened the outside rein. He went and went and went and never broke the gait. He didn't want to stop! This is the case when working in a circle, and on a straightaway, it falls to pieces. It was a lot of fun to see him happy and peppy so we moved to jumping. I don't get how he was so excited on one of the hottest days of the summer yet, but I'll take it.

We did the white gate/picket fence jump first, and I thought he'd jump 4' since we have yet to take that jump. It's been on the ground for a while, and I was always too lazy to get off to move it. Most of the other jumps were smaller than usual so we got to work with a few. He jumped the gate like he has done it all along, and then we stopped. I did that jump again to the next x-rail then stopped to make sure I had control. I came back to the gate, x-rail, then added a x-rail with a gap. Again, I thought he'd fly over it, but he looked, then jumped it like he'd been doing that forever. I did not even get hesitation for one of them.

We did that line of 3 jumps a few more times so I could work on sitting back in between, getting a half halt, and bringing him back down to a trot for each. He was so good that we ended it there after 30 minutes, and now I can't wait to ride again because I want to do more jumping! The 3 jumps made an "S" so it was nice to get to work on steering, too! They aren't all that far apart for his HUGE gait so it makes having to bring him back together a quicker process which makes me think, as well. I think we were both a lot less bored than usual.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Working on Things is Getting Better

Yesterday I had to work late so I used the morning hours and tacked up early. Spyder was confused as to why he was getting ridden in the morning, but he seemed to be more perky than usual which was a good thing. The flies are crazy so we used a lot of spray after he got groomed and went out to the big ring. I didn't do the usual warm up because of our boredom issue lately. I went all around the perimeter of the ring because Spyder was full of pep for some reason, and I wanted to mix it up. He kept looking at the chair at the end of the dressage ring which he hasn't flinched at for quite some time so I made sure he went by it without a problem.

I worked on trotting and pushing him into the bridal while moving off of leg which went REALLY well. What's up with him listening after not wanting to move last week? We moved on to the canter and worked on getting on the bit for that, too. Not only are we cantering decently, but we have a big of control. Again, this is primarily on a circle for a few times around, but I'm sure we can push for longer periods of time. We moved on to jumps at the trot - a cross rail, ground poles spaced for trotting, and the wishing well. He flew over the wishing well like it was 4' so we had to do it a few times before he calmed down. He will get the height the first time and is much lazier the second time around. Each time after that, even less of an effort.

Again, we worked on stopping and listening, and I must say, he is better at doing things "on demand" (which I tie back to our Danny lessons of making him listen and not letting him get away with things). We went back to barn after just 30 minutes to leave it on a good note, but he was all hyped up because they were spreading manure in his old field with the tractor. He LOVES tractors. Apparently, he's "played" with them while mowing the lawn on the other side of his field. He kept wanting to trot and then would break in to the pace which was annoying. I had to bring him back to trot or push him to canter in which he would fall back to a pace because he was too excited. Oh well. We came back to the canter circles to get things under control, and we ended it there.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Questions and Concerns

Barn 2 is the "adult barn"... it's a place where people have "pets" and not the hobby of horseback riding. OK... that's not true for EVERYONE there, but it is for the most part. It's nice, but I'm not there just to chat all the time. Again, it's not 100% true that all they do is hang out, but they definitely don't ride much. Those that ride are on a different schedule so I never see too many people at the farm.

The few that ride when I do are people that I wouldn't trust on a trail to react in a safe manner in the event something happened. Again, this is not everyone, but a general assumption. There are a few kinds of people: the ones that I wouldn't trail ride out with, the ones that won't trail ride, and the ones that don't even ride. That about sums it up. This really doesn't help with switching up Spyder's routine or getting him used to being in the ring with other horses. He's always been behaved at shows, but he gets bored there just as much as he is getting at the farm.

Now how could he be bored? Well, it's me. I won't go on a trail alone, and I very rarely ride over to the "kid's barn" where the indoor is located. The jumps over there are always smaller, but I've been too lazy or not had enough time to get over there. There is SO much to do all over, though - trails, water, track, rings, dressage, jumps, cross country, etc. Any barn closer (or further for that matter) doesn't have nearly the amount of amenities that we have at our disposal. This price is also hard to beat for less things to do. A huge factor is safety. I'm not going to ride out and get hurt and then hope someone finds me or I am OK. Am I scared or just cautious? Not sure.

The problem? The lack of people to ride with. It gets SO boring riding on your own over and over again. I don't try new things for fear of getting hurt and being alone when it happens, if it happens. Do i get a trailer? If I got one, would I use it enough? Would not having a truck limit me? This is debatable because my dad has an extra, in-laws have an extra, and brother-in-law has one; however, they are all within 25 - 45 minutes away - with another 25 minutes to an hour from each location I borrowed a truck. If I had a trailer, where would I go and who would I go with? Is there even a point to getting one?

There is a farm in my development. Yes, I could walk there, BUT it's $100 more and it's just an outdoor ring and an indoor. The place has heat/air conditioning for the indoor, stalls, and tack area, but you are so limited. It's a huge lesson barn, and where you can ride depends on the schedule. Another fault, they only do 1/2 day turn out. While each horse gets their own stall, they can only be turned out for 12 hours because there is limited field space. I think Spyder would go crazy which in turn, would make me go crazy.

So, there leaves the dilemma, and I need a plan for the big picture and the smaller one. Where should we be? What do I want to be doing with my horse? Can that be done in the current situation? What are my smaller goals and how can I gear training towards them? I feel like we've lost this touch and I don't know what to do. Good think I have a honeymoon to go on. I'll have a lot of time to think about it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My, oh my: The Attitude Change

Wednesday I moved forward with my disciple (if you read my last post, you read about his stopping ordeal). I gave him benefit of doubt and went out without a crop. I wore the usual spurs which I didn't use, but I thought I should have them for reinforcement when the time came. I didn't use them because I wanted him to think it was his idea to head out to work. We went around a set of trees to try something new for a warm up, and he was great (to the one direction). I circled on the side of the trees where the barn is to turn around, and he stopped. GREAT.

We headed back to the barn where we tack up, and he was so excited to be going where he wanted. Little did he know, it was just for the whip which I left out on the mounting block. I didn't even have to use it, and Spyder was a whole new horse (peppy and ready to go - up for listening, too!). All you have to do is hold it, and he's on point. His ears are back waiting for the next command, and it's a lot less arguing. We worked on the track at w/t/c and the canter was the best we've had yet. It was consistent with speed and had little attitude. I am even getting bend by pushing off of my leg. He is holding it longer, but it is still in a circle. Once we go straight, it falls apart, but I think the bending will help him think he's on his circle.

Thursday, I didn't use the whip, but kept it out just in case. I was hoping it  was enough to threaten Spyder as I'd like to think he saw it and thought twice about acting up. We went out to the field, and I kept him on the buckle. Again, I wanted him to think it was his idea to. We got out there without a fight, and rode with another horse. Ok, they rode in the dressage ring, and we went in the field next to it. He was excited to be in the ring with someone else, and because of that, I didn't need much leg to get him going.

We worked on the usual w/t, but went all around the field and worked on circles, bending, and even steering. When the other horse and rider left, he didn't throw a fit like he usually does, either. He was focused. We did our steering, bending, and moving off of leg in the canter, too. Instead of figure 8, we worked on pushing through a few circles and then switched directions. I brought him back down to trot to work on an S up and down the field to work on direction. He was bad at halting so we worked on that for the last 10 minutes for our cool down. He kept pulling to walk back, but I think he learned his lesson from last time. You listen, then you can go back. Our 30 minute rides turn into 40 minute rides because he can't help himself. Let's hope he learns soon.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Help! I think?

So I take back what I said last post. Monday, I got on went to the track where Spyder didn't want to move. Now, I thought before when he stopped it was because he had to go to the bathroom... he went and he got over it. This time, there was no moving. Kicking, clucking, pushing, pulling - he wasn't moving. Is something wrong? Is this is his new trick? I almost got off to get a crop, but we kept turning until he would move and pushed through it.

Since he wouldn't move on the track, we went over to the field with cross country jumps and deer. He had a fit - jumping up in the front and throwing his head. Oh joy. I handled it well, but he was not steering and wanted to go back to barn. Great! Is my horse going to turn sour? We kept doing circles right where the deer were and pushed past the path to the barn. New idea - I trotted all over the field and then trotted to the track past where we worked (aka tried) making it *almost* to the big field where we usually ride. FAIL. He decided to stop again. There was not a care in the world that we needed to get there, but again, I pushed through it, did some steering work, and we got there.

We trotted and moved off leg and cantered our figure 8.  We had a decent ride, and he was picking up the canter well in both directions so I decided to head back. He could not stand still after I decided to stop him from pulling me to the gate. He was being so rude; therefore, every time he walked and pulled, I'd ask him to trot. You want to go, Spyder, you can go! We went in the opposite direction he was trying to go. We came back down to halt, and he still wanted to lift his head and pull so we cantered..... and cantered... This was until he wanted to stop, of course.

It only ended up being a 40 minute ride, but we're back to the temporary (hopefully) struggles and asking for opinions. Could there be something wrong? Is this him trying to outsmart me? What am I doing wrong? Ideas? Hints? Tricks? We're always cycling. Again, I'm happy we're working through things, but this has got to end. One ride could be great and another could fall apart so we'll hope for the best next ride.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thursday Ride

I quickly forget what we did on a particular ride if I don't take noted right away so I'm probably missing a ton. Anyways, I got the farm and I wasn't feeling 100%. There were two boarders that I usually talk to that wanted to hear all about the wedding. I was happy to relax and talk to them for a bit because I was feeling better by the time I got tacked up. I got on Spyder a bit later than I was expecting to, but we had a very short ride because it was perfect.

We headed out to the big field where we worked on our trot and bending and quickly moved to canter because he was so good. On the way out, Spyder stopped and WOULD NOT move which was frustrating, but it was feeding time so I figured this was his new tactic. He just had to go to the bathroom... hahaha. After that, he was all for continuing on. Our figure 8 is helping with the command, but the horse of habit is getting the hang of the spots in the field where we pick up the lead and go. I've been thinking about how we can get strong at the canter, but the habits are going to get in the way so we'll need to change things up.

I headed back after about just 30 minutes since he was a good listener and did everything we needed to easily. He didn't even flinch at the deer that were out there taunting us. I'm proud of him for being less fussy during feeding time, as well. I think my baby horse is growing up and finally starting to mature. It's been SO much easier since he's lost his "colt attitude." I did find out that they are just resting the field Spyder was in for a bit to get the grass growing and the mud dried up. I'm happy he won't be staying in the swampy field for long... although it's been dry.

I didn't get to ride this past weekend because I had a migrane Sunday when I woke up. Saturday was nice because we got a lot done around the house and went mountain biking. They took out a lot of the bridges and obstacles to discourage riding where we go, but it was still a good time on the trails. Biking helps a lot with cardio and leg which, of course, helps with riding! :) I'll have to see if Spyder is afraid of a bike because Chris said he'd come with me to try out trails if that would work out. Yesterday was sunny and warmer than usual (but still not up to par with the typical weather) so I had a pool day and relaxed. I haven't had a migrane that bad, EVER. Back to riding this week and hoping for warmer and dryer weather!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Monday and Tuesday - Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride

Monday I was able to get the dog back to its owner to get in some riding. I was SO happy to be able to get to the barn as it's been a while! I grabbed Spyder and tacked up quickly. He was dirty compared to usual, but it's the norm for horses that aren't afraid of dirt. I hopped on and warmed up on the track since another person was grazing their horse in the jumping ring. I worked on moving off of leg and pushing into the bit to get a nice bend, and he was working hard on our circle. It was perfect until he saw other horses coming his way. He gets excited and has to look to see what's going on.
He walks to me when I go out in the field.
There were people going around the track for a trail ride so I walked with them to get the experience. He hasn't been around the track much, and the first time we tried to do it alone, he turned back for the barn and ran off towards it. I was SO happy that he was calm and relaxed. He's quite the follower and is so great with a group that he can trust. I wonder if they spooked if he would, but I'm glad we didn't have to try it. The jumping ring was free so we went in there to work on our trotting (even the sitting trot, ouch). The jumps were set really high so I worked on flat work and did the one small cross rail over and over again. We cantered a bit after the jump, and we headed back.

Nice part
I WANTED to end on that good note, but Spyder kept tossing his head when the other horses left and pulling towards directions he wanted to go. We worked on transitions, stopping, and standing still to make a point. Back to the basics it was until he decided to listen. Backing up was even too much to ask so heavy hands and lots of leaning until he got the point were not very fun with my lack of muscle from the time off. What I thought was a GREAT 40 minute ride ending up ending in an additional 20 minute cool down/listening session. Once we worked on our transitions, he was a lot quieter heading back to the barn. This was one of those rides that took a lot longer than it needed to, but it made me happy to know that we could work through something together. Even a bad ride has turned into a good ride for this reason.

On to Tuesday. I tacked up and warmed up around the barn to head out to the jumping ring. Spyder didn't want to move off my leg so we did some spiraling in and out to work on response time. The bend gets lost when he doesn't want to listen to leg so we have to work on getting that AND moving over at the same time. Since he decided to give up on fighting with me, we moved to cantering. We've got a new exercise to work on, and I must say I am very lucky to have a horse that doesn't want to move without the correct lead. We worked on a figure 8 starting to the left since he's better that way. The concept was to canter the one side of the 8, walk in the middle, then pick up the other lead when changing direction. Lead changes will be fun... not. But the cue is definitely working.

He was much cleaner and super shiny on Tuesday.
He did have an "incident" where he tripped or slipped... something happened. When you're on, you can't tell what he's doing. When he bucks, you can see him thinking about it and warming up to it if you're not looking up and ahead. My new way of riding (how I should have all along, is looking up and where I'm going.. haha) seems to help. Since he's a horse of habit, you have to work through the place on the circle or in the ring where he decides it's the "moment." He had that moment where it seemed like maybe he slipped, but then got mad and maybe tried to buck or he tried to buck, but then slipped.. and then hopped up. Whatever it was, it happened twice, and we worked through it. It ended the ride perfectly. Again, taking a good ride that turned bad back to good by making it a learning experience. I wish it was that easy to think that way in the beginning.

I do believe that we're getting somewhere. It might not be the best looking canter or the strongest, but it's becoming easier to control. We're getting a little bend, we're moving off of leg a tad, pacing is less, and we're getting a faster response time to the cue. I can hug his barrel with my legs and not get an instantly angry response. The tripping and breaking is less and his attitude better. I feel like I can sit back and enjoy the ride because I'm not as worried about what he's going to pull on me next. My seat and hands are better, and I'm sure that adds to enjoyment for both of us.
We walked back to the barn where it was feeding time. I put Spyder in his stall and was taking WAY too long to get his bucket of feed to him so he kept ramming his gate like a crazy horse. I have never seen him so impatient and it bothered me... a lot. This cooler weather should make life more interesting, for sure.
The other boarder cleaned up the tack room for us and it looks amazing!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Mystery Creature

On Sunday we had a long drive home from Virginia, and I was happy to be able to relax once I got home. What I wasn't happy about was not being able to ride all weekend because it was actually nice out. The heat and the rain have been killing the riding time, and I have been looking forward to getting in more time since we made it through the wedding. Needless to say, the traffic didn't help my mood. My parents stopped by, and when they went to leave, I noticed something on the porch. I grabbed my mom to head back inside because I wasn't sure if it was a wild cat, a skunk, a raccoon, or some other woodsy creature. My dad started walking towards it, and I was screaming, "If you get sprayed and the house stinks..." We had to get to a window and shine a light on it to see that it was actually a really tiny dog. Why'd it come on the porch and sit in the furthest corner? I'm guessing it head us talking inside and found comfort in our voices. It was a silent dog, and was a bit nervous since it was outside all alone in the dark.

After I grabbed the dog, it was like she had always known me. She didn't want me to put her down and just kept looking at me. She was so cute, but I had to figure out where she came from. As much as I love dogs. this one is just not my type. My parents saw her following people down the street on their way over, but was she following them because she was theirs or because she was lost? Who were the people she was following? We just moved to our new home in May so I was hoping the neighbors knew something. I felt back knocking so late, but it was about 9:30 and they had lights on. The neighbor to the right didn't know anything and said the one to the left knows more people. I've seen her running a bunch so I probably should have gone there first. She was so excited to get to talk to us since we've hardly met her, but she had let me know she's been chased by all the dogs in the area... and never this one. They gave us some of their dog's food to hold us over until a store opened the next day or we found her owner. I brought the dog back home and put her in the laundry room which is part of the garage. She started to wag her tail and was very thirsty. Since she didn't eat, I knew she couldn't have been away from home for long.
The happiest pom

Now what? I called the police department to see if anyone reported a dog missing, my parents looked for people searching on their way home, and Chris rode his bike around the development twice to see if he could hear them calling a dog or find someone walking the street to look for her. Nothing. I decided to go online where I posted her on two local groups that I belong to as well as the police page on Facebook. This was prior to calling animal control and leaving a message. On Facebook, I was getting a million offers from friends to take her if I was unable to find the owners which was nice, but I was sure someone was so upset to have lost her. I called a few vet offices to get their hours thinking I could take her to get scanned before work in the morning. I had no luck before going to bed.

In the morning, I woke up to a message from a girl saying I may have found her sister-in-law's dog that lived on the next street over. She had also messaged me "I think you have my dog." No phone number, no address, no thank you, no excitement. I don't know about you, but If I lost my dog and knew who had it, I'd BEG them to give me their number or call me ASAP as well as thank them and appreciate the fact that she was safe and in good care. Anyways, with some prodding I found out she is not micro chipped. Reason being? She's an Amish dog she got when her son was little. Does that even make sense? Also, she didn't offer to come get her, she said I can bring her whenever I have time and left me the address. She had my number from the SECOND I responded to her, and she didn't even call me. Come to find out, the dog has fleas so I was sure to call her out on that since I was frustrated. She had an excuse for that, too.

I left work early to take the dog back, and the girl I talked to on the computer wasn't even there. The person that took 3 minutes to get to the door grabbed her and threw her inside. I let her know that I had taken her for a walk to use the bathroom before I left plus she had water and seemed to eat a bit, as well. I got, "Yeah, she doesn't eat much. She never goes far." Not a where was she? How'd she get there? Was she good? Is there anything NICE these people could say? I just left in shock. I'm really hoping that she gets out of there and comes back over our way. A 5 lb. dog smaller than a size of paper should not be traveling as far as it did. I can't believe they weren't even looking for her! Since I was frustrated, I let the in-law know that they didn't even ask questions or thank me... AND she chose to ignore me, as well. GREAT FAMILY. I was just happy to be able to ride since I had gotten her back. I didn't have to be home to walk her any other day that week. I'm bad, I know. If it was my dog, I'd be happy to do it. Gracie needed to go, and I think her owners felt the same way.

I made her room on the floor to head home, and I went to get in the car - she hopped right up on the seat!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Weather

Interesting... the local news meteorologist posted, "Pretty impressive that we're only one day into August...and the Philly International Airport has already broken the rainfall record for the wettest summer ever! (Meteorological summer is defined as the months of June, July, and August.) Over 2 feet(24.78") of rain since June 1st in South Philly...breaking the old summer rainfall record set back just a few years ago in 2011. So while we've been wet this summer here in South could be wetter..."

AHH! The it could be wetter part is not good! I won't be around this weekend because I have a wedding in Virginia, but I hope to get back to a better riding schedule next week. Let's hope it dries up a bit... and stays that way!