Equine Tuesday

Man the weather made it tough to get anything done. We had snow on Tuesday, bitter cold on Wednesday, rain all weekend… you get the point. Luckily I set small goals in anticipation of this.

Brush each horse at least twice

Sounds easy, but remember how I mentioned rain. Well rain = mud horses. Not muddy horses. Mud horses, literally. They were caked hoof to ear and nose to tail in thick mud.

Lunge each horse for at least 10 minutes each

I ended up lunging these guys on a whim. I had originally planned to fit it in yesterday, but on Thursday I was feeling restless and ready to be outside. So I pulled out a very muddy Finnegan, got him in his lunging outfit (side reins and all), and dragged him to the round pen. He was not in a working mood (hence the use of side reins to help deter some explosions), but my stubbornness and patience outlasted his and eventually I had him going in a nice, albeit a bit slow, walk. We even trotted some! I was so happy just to get him moving in a forward, circular direction rather than a backward scramble. I’m slowly learning what works best with him and what he responds to. Hopefully the next lunging session will end as nicely.

Timbre, on the other hand, was an angel. I can just throw a rope halter on her and she’ll go beautifully. She looked a bit stiff/off to the right, but to the left she went great. I had her do a lot of walking and slow trotting in big circles to work on building her muscles back up.

Work on Finnegan’s attachment issues

Kind of dropped the ball on this one. It is so hard to do this because Finnegan is SO attached. While he is eating dinner, I lead Timbre out into the paddock within view of him. He starts to fret even then. I led her out there a couple of times this week but no where near as much as I should. I really need to be consistent – lead her out the same distance, keep her there until he calms a leetle bit and then bring her back – and increase my distance and my definition of “calm” as he improves. I am a bit pessimistic on this one. Any horse people out there have any suggestions on how to deal with attachment issues?

Next week’s goals

The weather is looking a bit better than it was this past week, but not fabulous. Guess that saying “April showers bring May flowers” will be true this year, at least the April showers part.

  • 2 lunging sessions each (mud-permitting) – 10-15 min max because these guys are so out of shape, I can’t do long lunging sessions because going in circles is tough on an out-of-shape horse’s legs.
  • 2 brushings each
  • A ride?? Maybe two?! – if it isn’t too muddy T and I may be able to get one or two rides in this weekend.. fingers crossed!
  • Work on Finnegan’s attachment issues – EVERY NIGHT
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Equine Tuesday

Since I am about to leave for vacation tomorrow (cannot wait) and next week’s Equine Tuesday post will also be on vacation, I decided to write about my long-term goals.

Longeing

As I mentioned in my previous post, Finnegan is not good on the long line. He tends to quickly back up in circles or flip out. This past summer I got him going well, but then this fall he fell back into his old ways and would randomly stop and back up in circles. I could not get him going again, despite everything I tried. Those sessions would usually ended with him standing in the middle of the ring looking smug and me banging my head on the round pen fence.

I know Finnegan responds best to consistency and lots of attention. So my long-term goal with him is to be patient and keep trying. The key will be to stop on a good note, even if he’s only been doing one small good thing for 10 seconds. He loves praise and I think I need to be more free with it. Now I just have to get over my frustration and approach our longeing sessions with an open mind and the drive to succeed in any possible way.

Timbre is much better on the long line, i.e. she will actually go in a circle, respond to voice commands, and listen. Because of her foot injury, I want to ease her in to longeing since it can be hard on her legs.

Ring Riding

I don’t have a riding ring, nor do I have a trailer to take the horses to public riding ring. We live on a very hilly piece of property so schooling the horses is often very difficult. Luckily, my neighbors have a riding ring that they let me use. It is a bit of a hassle to get over there, but I am so grateful they let me school my horses in their ring because it has been a life saver a number of times. When my horses haven’t been worked in a while, they get pretty wild and mischievous (like many horses).

1381305_10201039198442017_2083886851_nT and I will be working with Fin and Tim in the ring a lot, not only to work on their behavior, but also to improve our skills and their fitness. I can’t wait to actually canter with them in a controlled fashion within the ring. Maybe by next fall we will be schooling over small jumps – but that could be wishful thinking.

Trail Riding

Finnegan is surprisingly well behaved on the trail. He tends to act up more in a ring (I guess he knows he has to work more in the ring). But he will sometimes startle at a deer running past or a dog running up behind him. He is also very tense when he is out alone, so it will be a while before I trail ride Finegan alone. He will need a lot of consistent riding before we get to that point.

Timbre, on the other hand, is the opposite of a cool cucumber. She tends to get herself worked up once we pass a certain point on the trail. She feels like a ticking bomb ready to explode at any time – certainly not material for a peaceful ride. She tries to wheel around and rush home. I do a lot of circling with her and we are slowly working our way further and further along the trail. The key is to refocus her energy and make her work a little so she can’t focus as much on her nervousness. Before a riding accident a year and a half ago, she was going really well on the trail. But now I feel like I am starting over again. At least I know she can be calm, which gives me something to work slowly toward.

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The key for all these goals will be for me to find the time and the will to confront these problems. Like I said in past posts, my confidence is not what it used to be, so while my horses take baby steps in their training, I will be taking baby steps in building my confidence. This is why I started these weekly posts – to create small weekly goals to work toward.

When I return from vacation, I will dive headfirst into working with Fin and Tim and writing weekly goals and updates.

Equine Tuesday

As some of you may have noticed, I have many many interests. As a result, this blog has no real focus – it is not a photography blog, a running blog, a writing blog, or an equestrian blog. I just can’t seem to confine myself to one of those areas. Perhaps I should as that would probably build readership. But alas, it probably will not happen. So! Without further ado, I present… Equine Tuesdays!

Equine Tuesdays will feature the progress (I hope) that I am making with my two rather barn-sour horses. For my non-equestrian readers, barn-sour means that my horses do not like leaving the barn (or each other) and act up as a result. I talked last fall about how I lost all of my confidence as an equestrian. In order to face those fears, I signed up for riding lessons and they really helped. I plan to sign up for another round once the weather is nicer. But I also want/need to conquer my fear of riding my own two horses. I decided to start these weekly posts about my progress because I need something to push me and hold me accountable, but also because I hope my adventures (or mis-adventures) will reach the eyes and ears of other equestrians struggling with the same problems.

Let me introduce you to my two demons (I love them dearly).

Meet Sweet Timbre

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Nicknames: Timbre, Tim, Timmi, Tim Tim, Stubborn, Miss Piggy

Gender: Mare (female)

Breed: Quarter Horse/Warmblood cross

Color: Chestnut (the color of a copper penny)

Age: 15-17?

Markings: 4 white socks, adorable white stripe

Height: about 15.3 hands (1 hand = 4 inches)

Timbre is a food-driven boss. She rules the barn and whatever she says goes. She is sweet as can be to any human who wants to feed her a carrot or two and give her a good brushing. She’s an angel on the lounge line as well. While riding, she likes to hold her nose in the air and constantly tries to bolt back to the barn. She feels like a coiled spring of nervous energy. My goals with her are to work her on the lounge line to get her back into shape (slowly) and to refocus her energy when she tries to run home. Easier said than done, her nervous energy makes me nervous too!

Last summer, she had a deep tissue bruise in her front foot and was out of commission for months. After a round of shoes and lots of time off, she seems to be better, but it’s something to watch as I ease her back into training.

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Meet Finnegan

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Nicknames: Fin, Finners, Fin Fin, Pig, Snorty, Clown, Crazy One

Gender: Gelding (castrated male)

Breed: Cleveland Bay

Color: Bay (dark brown with black mane, tail and legs)

Age: 12/13

Markings: One little white coronet band on hind foot

Height: about 16.1 hands

Everyone falls in love with Finnegan. When he is bored, he shakes his head up and down, snorting like a pig. Even the vet does not know why he does this. He’s a wonderful mover, but a true jokester. If he gets bored or just doesn’t feel like working, he’ll start pulling tricks. In order to ride him, you have to be prepared for anything and be willing to outlast his stubbornness. In general, he’s an easy ride, especially if he is being worked regularly (he loves attention). But there’s one caveat… Finnegan LOVES Timbre. He goes nuts whenever she leaves without him. He won’t come in to eat if she’s not there first. Thus, it’s hard for me to ride him alone. He’s not awful, but he feels anxious and I am afraid one day he’ll just lose it. He’s also terrible on the lounge line. So my goals are to get him working well on the line, work on his attachment issues, and increase my confidence while riding him.

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In short, I have a lot of work to do with my horses to get us all back in to mental and physical riding shape. I’m hoping that setting weekly goals for us and signing up for riding lessons will help me face down my fears and bring my ponies back to their former glory.

This week I probably won’t get much riding in due to an early March snowstorm and frigid temperatures. So I’ll be cleaning my (English) tack in preparation for all this upcoming riding.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am siked for the time change next weekend – more daylight after work! This means more riding, running, playing, etc. Stay tuned for next week!