Lesson Fever!

Ok, this spring has been CRAZY! With the crazy schedule of my Master’s Program, work and getting a new job, While getting ready for the summer, I am preparing for a jumping and dressage lessons. This is no small easy feat: I have to prep the trailer, get the horse ready to go but also when trailering a green horse there is always some form of stress attached. Overall I am excited! I am working in  the heart of horse country in Michigan, so this will be a wonderful experience… I hope…  . heidi trot poles< At home The end result of my jumping lesson was very positive. The focus was on seeing what her basic skills were, and to be honest we could be farther along than what we are, but I am taking it real slow with her because of how immature she was mentally. Mentally my mare was not anywhere near ready for the difficulty of pursuing jump training, how I know this is I tried the summer before and it backfired when we took a fall together, really scaring my mare. Part of it is inexperience as my mare is of course a beginner, but she still had that young horse effect of poor leg placement and body use. The beginning of the lesson was warm up and trot poles. The flat work was nothing spectacular as it was the traditional walk, trot, canter, a large focus was on my own form. To be able to correct the horse, I must first be on top of my own problems. I found with the last two years, because of riding mainly dressage that my jumping form has suffered greatly. My hip angle has been open to accommodate dressage form when I needed to close the angle and post up and down and not with so much motion. I also found that I was being generous with my leg, I needed to put my calf on the horse and no let it be too light. So yes this may be general items to practice, but it is always good to go back to basics. The trot pole work was to focus on her rhythm and to get her comfortable with poles. Then we moved on to simple cross rails in which my mare proved she could trot comfortably to the base of the fence and calmly over. Overall I was happy, She was a well behaved girl from start to finish. Loading onto the trailer was worrisome due to not having trailered for over a year. She loaded into the trailer in less than 15 minutes where I was able to lock her in on my own. This is a great accomplishment because for the future I have to be able to trailer on my own. Once at the farm she acted as a young horse would, a bit excited but she was very workable and once I got on her she settled down quickly. On the contrary our dressage lessons have been quite successful with Heidi and I. The main focus has been on keeping her reliable and connected to sustain an even rhythm as well as creating a sustainability for more advance movements. Heidi is typically a more anxious horse and is certainly not an easy ride. This is due to her lack of experience and training and at times her feeling she is “the boss”. She has not learned the concept of teamwork yet.  The most successful and effective way I have found is to keep her balanced and assert authority in a passive way. To passively assert authority you must use a correct balance of correction and positive enforcement. With Heidi this is a simple nudge of the heel, or  a tap of the crop. The importance of timing is absolutely critical. Timing of the aides as well are absolutely essential for the productivity to be at its highest when training horses. This can be difficult as you have to know the exact time and how strong the aid is to be given. This is a continuous learning process and will continue to progress as our training continues. Namaste Everyone! Happy Show Season!

Who Needs a Groundhog Anyways…

Oh the sweet sweet reality of spring being around the corner couldn’t have come at a better time. How do I know this… Because my clothing has now become a fur dumping ground. It was such a wonderful sight to feel… Yes feel. The consistent itching during my ride due to the plethora of fur I managed to get all over myself was impressive. Oh but was it sweet! The reminder of what is to come is encouraging. We are so close to sunny blue skies and green grass I can hardley wait. Plus that means…  Show Season!

On another note my mare Heidi and I have had a bit of a slow winter in regards to training but it has picked up the last week. With the weather being tolerable rather than freezing our but off, literally. The snow is up to her knees so we did a considerable amount of conditioning work, mostly trotting: 20 meter circles, figure 8, and a lot of walking. The snow was too deep for canter work, plus there was mystery ice under the snow so I was mostly concerned with her cardio work. She was a trooper! Being extra careful, which for Heidi is a miracle… it turned out to be a fabulous ride.

Heidi –>Heidi winter

The beginning consisted of walk exercises, which are not exactly a favorite for either of us, but is an essential need to improve the other gaits.

The walk and I have a love hate relationship and is often over looked by myself as well with many riders.I view it as the kind of work that can irritate a horse because you do not have the forward physical momentum and a through connection that can be established, I feel easier at the trot. Yet the love comes in when you get some nice relaxed steps where connection is established and you are able to perform some excellent transitions up, down, leg yielding, haunches in, shoulder 4 and all the while keeping consistent. But alas my own patience and boredom forces me to move on. I mean come on think about it, walk or canter?, walk or canter? Not exactly rocket science, I will always chose canter. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand I create my own demons at the walk, and eventually the walk is forced into training.  So to close on this seemingly boring topic of the walk, it was overall a successful day and am ecstatic to begin show season.  Oh and here is my old man trotting around the day after two 50 degree days melted some of the snow.  He is so cute, the Frankster.

frank winter

Happy Riding everyone,

Namaste

The Boogy Man is Real….

Yes, the Boogy Man is real. It is real and so scary that even the whisper of the wind will create a scare… For my mare anyways…
It seems that the shelterlogic building has a mysterious creature living in it because every time my mare and I walk by the wind makes it flap. This creates a “flight” response in her and causes a minor myocardial infarction for myself.  Normally she is not spooky, since I broke her out at 3 she never was that type. It seems today though that anything that moves is a Boogy monster. I may be able to look past it due to minor exercising so I subconsciously understood why she was behaving in that manner. I still was not amused by her, she made up for it though because we had an amazing ride after that.

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The Boogy Man can’t hold us back… 🙂

Winter Blues, and a Tempermental Mare

It has been awhile since I posted mainly because two jobs, two horses, and Gradute school applications have taken priority. Here are a few thoughts regarding the winter right now.

The winter so far in Michigan has actually been decent this year. We have had limited snow and only a handful of days in the negative range. I have been able to condition my horses at the farm  mildly due to not having a indoor (Prolems of being a student rider… Being broke all the time). My mare has not been enjoying the lite riding and has begun a toddler like attitude. She throws tantrums, acts out in a more than normal agression towards my gelding and trys to play/ break anything she can get her freakishly fine motor coordinating lips on. So my lovely tempormental mare now has an increased work program, even though we have to work with multiple feet of snow on the ground.

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I really cannot complain about the snow because we actually have a lot of fun in it. She enjoys trampling through the snow like a little kid, throwing her head with excitment. Head throwing is her horse version of a toddler screaming “wooohoo”. Although the majority of the time while my face is freezing in place and my thighs going numb from the cold, I am dreaming of spring. My winter blues is hitting me hard this year, possibly due to working 50 hrs a week and not seeing my horses in the daylight too often.
The silverlining in this is spring is almost here and my bank account is to the point where I cannot wait for show season to get here. Only 2 months left… Count down will begin next post.

Next time the topic will be about the big C word, and some interesting facts regarding it.

Happy riding everyone, bundle up and stay warm. I don’t want anyone losing appendages due to frostbite.

Problems of a Student Rider Part II

So Friday Dec. 12th was the end of my undergraduate career. I am now the proud owner of an empty degree cover… 10868192_873345082697538_2223691026001338774_n  I will get my B.S. Diploma in the mail within the next few weeks. So now on to Graduate school applications. My horses are starting to feel neglected I think, because I have not been able to do much with them other than feeding and cleaning their stalls the last two months with having school 3 days a week, work 3 days a week, and internship 4 days a week. I have had hardly any time to sleep. Now that winter is almost here the difficulty will be to get my horses working without an indoor again. It should be workable as long as the rain stops, I will have room in the arena to work. Alas the many struggles of being a student with her horses at home, two jobs now, and no indoor.

I am excited to be able to get back in the saddle, and get myself back into shape and to just enjoy the ride. I found that when I was riding everyday, and training horses, I lost sight of how much I loved working with horses. It wasn’t until this break in riding that I noticed how I lost the appreciation of being in the saddle. I now have a new appreciation and inspiration as well as acknowledgement that riding is what I want to do and will continue to do until I am not longer physically or cognitively able to.

Happy Riding everyone, and appreciate that you are able to!

Namaste

Winter is showing its Ugly Head…

So the past few days here in Michigan we have only had a high of 20 degrees and it has been going down to single digits at night because of the windchill. All I can say is: minion what

We usually do not see any kind of snow until after thanksgiving, but it seems mother nature has other plans. So out came the winter blankets and the trough heater. I wouldn’t have pulled the blankets out yet, but the poor horses were pretty miserable standing in their run-in stalls during the day. So here are some tips I use for winter care, some are pretty standard:

1. Feed hay throughout the day. Do not keep it at just a lot of hay all at once, if you are able spread hay feedings throughout the day. Remember that in order to digest the hay it takes water and if horses are not drinking as much water you can increase the chances of colic by giving too much hay at once.

2. Use powerade powder in either the feed/ or water supply. When the weather starts to get colder I like to put it in my horses grain to help encourage drinking.powerade

3. Soak your pellet grain. I use a combination of a pellet grain and a textured feed while also adding some hay cubes. Even if I don’t have the hay cubes I always soak my grain. Try an experiment and see how many cups of water it takes to make your horses feed expand. That is how much liquid from the digestive tract it uses which can cause an impaction colic if the horses do not drink enough. Hay is the same concept it takes a certain amount of water for it to be digested so take care of the importance water has on your horses digestion.  *P.S. You can make a really tasty treat for your horses, I call it mash and I mix a bunch of yummy ingredients as a treat. That way I know they are still getting the water intake during winter*

4. Use probiotics with the powerade. To help keep a healthy digestive system I like using Probios. Plus it is tasteless, and very reasonable for a 5 lb jar that lasts me months for two horses. probios

5. Use MSM to keep the aches and pains from making your horse miserable. This is a great natural aspirin to help with that joint pain. As you will find out I have researched the use of joint supplements and basically do not use them because of the lack of proof they work. Pain relievers on the other hand are proven to work.

6. Get that water heater out and you use it… Your horse will appreciate it! Two things to remember horses will not drink water if it is too cold or too hot. The heater I have will heat it to a boil so I turn it off after awhile. Now realistically my heater would take days to heat the water to a boil because it is a 100 gallon tank, but smaller troughs it gets really hot. Below is a picture of a trough I am going to try and talk my brother to help me make for future winter seasons.winter trough

7. Get that fluffy shavings from the store. Typically I use pellet bedding because it is more absorbent, but when the cold weather moves in I mix the two together that way when the horses urinate the pellets catch the urine so the shavings last longer.

8. Let your horses move around. This is a lesson I learned the hard way last winter. Last winter we had almost a week long of -25 + degree weather that was miserable for everyone. I kept my horses locked in their stalls for a day and a half and one had an impaction colic. She survived but due to the upset of how cold it was she stopped eating and drinking, needless to say not being able to walk outside probably didn’t help either. So now I am not going to lock them up any longer than a day.

9. Let’s Trace Clip Y’all… I prefer doing a trace clip on my horses because it still leaves enough hair to keep them warm while also cutting down your cool down time.  winter clipping

10. Let’s get the hair dryers out Girls! Girls and boys can use a hair dryer. My horses love after cooling out to have the warm hair dryer help dry them off because they get nice warm air blown on them.

**Disclaimer** When ever you try something new be very careful if it is an activity such as using the blow dryer or any kind of activity that injury may occur. Remember horses are animals and have the behavioral patterns of fight or flight. Also ask a vet about any supplementation additives in case allergies may occur ***

Happy almost winter riding everyone!

Back in Action- Jumper Style

I’m Back! It has been quite awhile now since my last post. Unfortunately, some events that have occurred have kept me away from the keyboard. Not only the negative events have occurred but also some positive, I am finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree and have be insanely busy to where sleep has been limited to 4 hours a night. Anyways on to the horse talk…

I have started jumper lessons with a new instructor that has school horses so I can work on my own technique rather than on my young horses training. I found my jumping technique has suffered a bit from the long break of only working on dressage the past year. So far the lessons have been great! The farm is in the heart of horse country here in MI and the facility is gorgeous, the horse is pretty cute too but a bit sluggish compared to what I like. The horse I am riding is a Hanoverian cross and he is a nice horse who knows his job and is good at it, but he is a typical hunter horse and it is nothing against that particular type, it is just my own personal preference is the jumper style. A horse that is forward, and a fast paced jumping style. I have gotten some great corrections though that have helped me to work on getting my skills back to par. I have particularly been working on gaining my leg strength back and jump position back. I have found that my endurance for holding a correct jump position is weak and so is my leg strength, especially when working with a horse that has what I call a no-go. It doesn’t matter how hard you squeeze the horse has no-go it doesn’t matter if you are using your heel, calf, or entire body to try and encourage movement he stays at one speed. Regardless of my inferiority at the moment it was amazing to work with gymnastics on a school master.

Even after a couple of lessons I see positive results working with my young horse I feel more confident and back to where I left off a year ago. It was like riding a bike, I just needed a schooled horse to get me back into the jumping groove. So to celebrate my excitement for being back to writing and riding, here is a funny cartoon I found online gymnastic

Happy riding everyone!