Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kieran speaks! an Animal Communicator

Someone up at the barn scheduled this animal communicator lady to come talk to some of the horses and I figured, what the hey, right? And got in on it. Some of it I believe was cold reading but some of it...I'm not sure where she got the idea from, you know? Anyway, it was interesting, I've always wanted to see what one would say about Kieran.

So, she talked to several other horses first and then I went and got Kieran out of his stall and brought him down the aisle to her to munch on some hay while we talked. One of the first things she said about him is that he likes to have fun and kind of...not joke around, but it's sort of that personality (I don't remember the precise wording). She said he thinks I need to lighten up and not worry so much and that if we do more fun, ridiculous kind of stuff, he'll agree to work harder. (but that I might have to remind him from time to time of that promise). She said while he wants me to 'lighten up', he also needs me to help keep him grounded because he can be kind of head in the clouds. She said he'd pretty much do anything for me (or at least try to do what I want).

She also mentioned something about how he likes to smash things with his feet. Something about smashing. I have no idea where that one came from because I've not witnessed it. She suggested he might want a pumpkin to smash or something like that, and then eat it.

She said he liked the ball (we've tried to get him to play with a jolly ball a few times, which she did not know) and that he wants a BIG ball.

She said he's very sensitive and while of course he likes praise, I could really hurt his feelings if I reprimand him too harshly.

Uhm, what else?

She said he likes to know how many "lessons" we're going to be doing. Like I should tell him this is the first of eight. I didn't clarify if she meant like, lesson sessions (since other people ride him from time to time) or if she meant like...things I'm going to teach him in a given session but I'd imagine the latter. He also thinks we work for too long (hah) but that he thinks I'm a good teacher.

I asked if he thought he'd like to try jumping and she said no, he didn't think so, he didn't think it was very fun.

I asked where he wanted to be itched and she said she was getting image of him shaking his leg like a dog and like I should try around the inside of his hocks. She also asked who had been scratching the insides of his ears (one of the other girls in the barn, apparently) and she said he said that he wanted her to do it more lightly (she has artificial nails).

Uhm, she brought up that he liked playing in water and liked standing in the deep water.

I asked how he was feeling and she said she felt like she was sick to her stomach and wanted to throw up (and asked if he had been throwing up. I'm not sure if that was a put on or if she doesn't realise horses don't throw up). Anyway, he has been having a bit of an upset tummy (diarrea) so that followed with a conversation about probiotics and if pumpkin would work the way it does for dogs.

Hanna, the barn manager, asked what was up with him every morning (she specifically didn't say what she was really asking) and he said something about she needs to stop changing the routine. Which, she said that they don't. And it was something like...he doesn't want to be brought in last, or near the end.

The issue is: they typically let the horses come in one at a time on their own from the pasture and most every horse knows where their stall is. Apparently Kieran NEVER goes to the right spot. He either goes to the wrong stall, wanders down the other aisle, wanders up to the house, whatever. I think he knows where to go but just chooses not to go there.

She said he was like a boyfriend for me (hopefully not in the "ew" sense) and the love of my life.

Oh, and I asked her to ask him what happened with the people he was with before me. (we got the feeling that they were a bit afraid of him and we've never been able to figure out why) The AC said she was getting an image of like...a racehorse and like maybe they were trying to run him too much or something. That really was inconclusive as, as far as we know, they didn't really ride him. There was also something about it being "like trail riding, but more" which I guess she might have been getting at foxhunting but he's never been. So I don't know.

Oh, she says he likes going trail riding and not so much working in the ring.

But the thing she focused on mainly was that he wants to do more fun things and that I need to lighten up and just have more fun with things.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My pony proves me wrong at every turn

So, we haven't done much real work lately. We've been to the show, and we went in a parade, and we went on a camping trip this past weekend but no real schooling.

Tonight was our first lesson back with Christina (she's off maternity leave, yay!) and there were a couple of things I told her I'd like to work on, pending his cooperation (I was anticipating him having brain farts galore with all the time off): I wanted to begin work on rating his canter (in the post about the show, you'll see what I mean), and something else that came up that I said I wanted to work on was sidepassing (like, to open a gate) because we have a judged trail ride or two we want to go to later this summer and one of the things they have you do a gate.

So anyway, I said when we start cantering, he'd probably canter fast and be a bit unbalanced because...he usually is, so Christina just said we'd see how things worked out.

We warmed up, walk, trot, a little bit of serpentines at the walk (asking him to do a faster walk on one half a serpentine, then free walk on the other half, then back again). She had us do slow trotting on the short sides of the ring and then work to get him to extend down the long sides. She had me do some two point and then try to get him to move out more while still in two point ("squeeze with your calves, but don't take them off and then squeeze" she said and I said, "but it already feels like my calves are squeezing!" so I figure I have to work on that as it's likely a muscle issue on my part). Anyway, he was generally very good for all this though he was tending to try to lower his head and lean on the bit. I just tried not to give him rein when he did it (as I was figuring that he was trying to get me to let the reins out) but Christina said when he tried it, I should think about raising my inside rein to make him less inclined to lean like that.

Then, before I got too tired, we did some cantering. First she just had us canter once around each direction and wouldn't you know it? Each time he gave me a very nice rhythmic, balanced canter that felt amazing. No rushing, no running into it. I was kind of disappointed to have to stop at the end of a lap, LOL. Then she set out a pole that she first had us trot over so he knew it was there, then canter over. The idea was that after he cantered over it, she'd ad another pole a canter stride away and then later, once he's figured that out, we could start changing the distance between the poles to get him to shorten and lengthen his canter strides and make him more adjustable.

So, we did that both directions, then added the second pole and did that both directions and he was really good about picking up his feet over the poles (you should've seen when we introduced him to trot poles) though it was a little awkward going the second direction over them as his canter had gotten a bit fast and it was like, he got his front feet over the first pole, then realized he was too stretched out to make it without stepping on them, so his hind end shortened up and it was this really weird stride over them, but he made it! Anyway, we ended that exercise on a good note and after, Christina wanted me to just canter around in two point but while Kieran was plenty willing to do it, I just did not get the hang of getting up into two point after he began cantering (or asking for it from two point). I've lost what little two-point muscle I had! Oh noes!

Anyway, after that we dialed it down and Christina set up three cones in a line that I wove through forward, then she had me do it in reverse which is difficult because ideally, I want him to just weave through in reverse but really how it happens is I turn his head the direction I want his butt to end up and get him to go that way, pause, reorient, turn him the other way, pause, reorient...until we get through.

And then was a bit of work on sidepassing. Mostly...she had us facing with our back to the wall (he has a tendancy to back up when I ask for this as he doesn't really get it yet). Then she had me take my left rein and sort of bring it out and down toward my knee, keeping even pressure on my right rein and start bumping with my right leg. He didn't really get it, going that way. He'd back up, he'd go forward, he'd bulge his shoulder out to the right and go that way. Wasn't pretty. So we got straightened up and tried going toward the right (bring right hand toward knee, keep left rein steady, bump with left leg) and this he'd step over (crossing over and everything) almost immediately. So once he got that, we tried goingn to the left again and ended up rewarding him for a couple of "tries" that way where he stopped fighting me (and I guess maybe I was asking "better") and then ended the lesson.

So he's got a lot to think about now!

All in all, he was VERY VERY GOOD and I'm so very happy with him.

Going to try and ride tomorrow, not sure what we'll do yet. Sunday, GG is hosting a benefit show so I'll be helping out there and not riding. Might go trail riding with Christina on Monday (and she said we could start doing some of this stuff out on the trails too so that should be fun!) afternoon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

First...a rant

Okay, I'm going to get to talking about my weekend but first....

If you are the owner of a horse rescue, one presumes you understand the concept of, "if you, personally, do not have enough money to get the horse, you probably don't have enough money, personally, to KEEP the horse." It's a decent rule of thumb (though of course, doesn't hold so much when you start talking about, say....upper four figure and up horses). Heck, if you were to have a potential adopter that starts talking about, "well....I'm going to need to get a bunch of people to loan me some money so I can adopt the horse" I would HOPE you'd say, ", you don't get a horse" or at least consider the possibility that maybe it isn't the right home.

That's not really my rant.

My rant is this: if you're the owner of a rescue and you want a horse for your own PERSONAL use....well, you need to use your own PERSONAL money to procure said horse.

What do you not need to do?

You need to not get your supporters to DONATE YOU THEIR MONEY so that you can get a horse for your own PERSONAL use!

My mind. It is blown.

No, I won't say who it is here. But I don't understand how someone could blithely talk about this and....NO ONE CALLED THIS PERSON OUT.

Does that seem right to you?


And now, here, my weekend:

We went camping! It was cool! (except for the rain, and Christa's near-stomping-by-horse experience and Kieran being a bit of a PITA for the first part of the second ride.)

Here, have pictures!

Kieran would look SO CUTE right there if David wasn't in the way!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The story of some Gentle Giants and a town parade

So. We've been planning to participate in this local town parade for a while. Then we find out the place we thought we'd be able to use to park the trailers and get the horses ready was...not going to let us do that there. So we thought, "huh, place to get the horses ready or get the trailers into, we just won't go. Trail ride!"

Well, at the last minute, the parade folks find us a place to park.

So we get up at the crack of dawn to get horses and tack ready to be presentable in this parade.

Did I mention Kieran was a mudball and I didn't think I was going to have to bathe him (or I would've done so last night)?

Uhm. Yes. Now imagine we had seven horses to get ready in various stages of not-very-clean. Plus six sets of tack and a harness for the carriage. Luckily, we had LOTS of people.

So...we drive down, we find our spot. It is right next to a group of people having a "dog wash". None of the horses even flicks an ear at these constantly yapping dogs tied up right nearby. Nor the little girls in step dancing outfits (all shiny) with their bouncy curly fake hairpieces (noooot kidding). Random people (with small children) would randomly wander by and want to pet the horsies. Nobody got stepped on! We managed to get all tacked up and ready, finagled with the lineup, then got Manhattan hitched to the cart and away we went!

Except no. Actually....we had to wait. And wait. And wait a bit more. We were number 30 something in a 100 something lineup. A few spots ahead of us were some folks from a local foxhunting group. They had a really nice looking draft cross that the Master was riding but...said draft cross was wigging out something fierce during all the waiting and by the time we actually got in the lineup, the Master was nowhere to be seen, nor his horse. Guess they figured actually going in the parade...wasn't a good idea.

Kieran, for his part, was pretty good. He did not approve of having to stop and stand. And wait. And walk two steps. And stand. And walk two steps. And stand. He was not good in the keeping-clean department. I bathed him (quickly) this morning. Then he came off the trailer with gross stuff all down his back legs. Uh...apparently they just got new hay and everything coming out that end of Kieran? Very green and very wet. So luckily we brought water along and I scrubbed his back legs down. Several times. He managed to look presentable. (until he pooped several times during said parade. And apparently nothing phased Molly [who was behind us] except for Kieran pooping in her direction.)

Anyway, we made it past an ambulance, bicycles, lots of screaming children, lots of people in general, a monster truck, dogs, golf carts, a big tractor, and a giant American flag hanging from a crane over the road. Plus the bands we could hear at all times (Though luckily, we were not situated beside one). Plus the two announcers (one at each end of the parade) telling a little bit about everyone over the loudspeaker as we came by. Then we had to go back through the residential bits of town to get back to where the trailers were and get the horses untacked (and wait until the road was opened up again until we could leave).

All in all, a good day! We had a lot of people ooh and aah at the big horses (I heard lots of, "look at the white horse!!!!") and did some nice public-relations work, I s'pose.

And yes, you can haz pictures!

Getting ready

Waiting to join the lineup.

More waiting

This is Molly. I wanted her SO BADLY when she was at the rescue but as you can see, she's got a great Mom now.

Manhattan, the wonder-former-NYC-carriage-horse. We thought after the fact we shoulda brought some candy to throw from the carriage.

Just what the sign says.



David, for all of his fans.

OMG TERRIFYING BICYCYLE. (funny, there were several of these and I remember thinking "but they closed the road...why are they riding on it?")



Coming up to the end of the parade.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


So...I've contacted someone local about learning to ride sidesaddle. It turns out, she doesn't really do lessons, but she'd be willing to show me more about it (and let me take a test ride in one of her saddles on her horse) and get me in touch with someone who teaches.


Monday, May 3, 2010

First Show of the Season!

So yesterday, we went to our first show of the year. Schooling show, and for us, just a lot of flat classes. A few aspects of the show were a bit disappointing, mostly in that the morning classes (that were mostly supposed to be for green horses ONLY) were MASSIVE and obviously many of those horses weren't actually green. (Plus some of those people also went in the over 18" jumping classes and this was after one of the ladies in our group was specifically told she could do EITHER the green horse classes OR the over 18" jumpers, but couldn't do both). Even the judge commented on it and told our BO that he didn't particularly like it but he had to judge the class he was given.

The afternoon classes were better but I think this is because a lot of people (and not just many of the folks in our group) ended up scratching, presumably because of how the morning went (or at least, that's my read on it). A couple of classes had only two people! That was kind of nice though because the judge was able to actually spend a moment or two talking to us about his impressions and what he thought we needed to work on.

His comments to me were that I obviously needed to work on the canter with Kieran and work on his brakes. Also that he recognized it's difficult to show a nontraditional horse in traditional show classes but he thought Kieran would do very well in spotted draft classes in draft shows (apparently he's a better example of the type than he usually sees and he's fairly knowledgeable since he's into the draft scene and has drafts of his own).

The funny thing about the brakes comment was that Kieran would actually come back down out of gait pretty easily for me, but when we're in the canter, there was no rating it (and the steering wasn't so hot, either, a couple times he'd be coming up behind another horse and I'd be trying my damnedest to get him to turn so we could do a big circle or cross the ring but no, he was determined to catch up to that other horse!). Also because we came in second in the one two-person class I was in because the judge said though me and the other girl were pretty evenly matched, he pinned her first because Kieran kept trying to stop at the in-gate. *facepalm*

Anyway, it definitely pointed out to me some things I need to work with him on. Up till now, when we've been cantering, I haven't tried to slow him, I've just tried to get him into and keep him in the canter until I ask him to come out of it. Now that he can do that fairly reliably, I guess we're going to have to work on, "okay, now slow down but don't go to a trot". Also, since we usually ride alone (and the ring isn't really big enough to have two cantering. I can't wait till the outdoor gets put in) it means we haven't done a lot of schooling on how to act when riding with other horses.

Luckily, Christine mentioned all of us would have to do more schooling with other horses and that we could trailer out to a local equestrian center that has two nice-sized arenas for use.

Anyway, I'm hoping we'll have this working better in time for the next schooling show. :)

And here's a few pics!

And here's some video of one of the classes:

And there are many many more pics over here in my photobucket.