Thursday, August 26, 2010


Tonight we did a lot of cantering again (like, a good half of the lesson was spent doing things related to it).

And guess who gave me one very nice walk to canter transition with absolutely no trot steps between?

It felt so nice, too! He's such a good boy. :)

Also did more with slowing down and speeding up his cantering. Also talked about bridging reins (which I've never really done) and going up into two point while cantering.

And Christina said since he's getting the walk->canter thing, we'll probably now do a lot with that transition and less with trot->canter. We also talked about how he's sort of figured out that the lessons go "warm up walk, some trotting, then working on cantering, then ease it back down again..." and when we get to that middle part, he's already figured out what he thinks I'm going to ask him to do instead of waiting for me to tell him so next time will probably go more like: "warm up walk with circles and serpentines, then straight into cantering, then ease back down."

Oh yeah, we also did a lot of trotting serpentines and spiraling in and back out again and mostly that at the sitting trot.

And a lot with no stirrups. (while Kieran was walking around cooling, Christina had me first do an exercise I think I've mentioned before where I [with stirrups], go up into two point with my hands stretched out to the sides, then slowly lower my chest toward his neck while keeping my leg in the same position, then slowly back up to two point, then stand straight up, then back down to two point, etc. Then she had me do it [without the standing straight up] with no stirrups.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Working on the weekend

I'll get some pictures and things up soon of the rescue expo at the Montgomery County Fair (Kieran was a star! Who's surprised?) but in the mean time, here's me talking about our lesson yesterday. :)

Now, we only rode for about a half hour (and my legs were DYING by the end of it, I was sure we'd gone longer than that but Christina assured me she'd only planned for a half hour lesson since she figured we'd do a lot of no-stirrups work and I wouldn't make an hour, LOL).

So, I mentioned rating his canter (which I think I've talked about before). She said okay and had me get him to canter and then work on half-halting (but using my legs to keep him moving) to slow down and then use my seat and legs to speed up again.

Guess who proved me wrong and did it really well (I think only once or twice did he seriously try to break back into a trot and even then, a squeeze with my legs and a push with my seat kept him moving)?

So we started schooling walk->canter transitions instead. Without stirrups (mostly for the leg-work for me and because I have a tendency to draw my legs up and lose my stirrups anyway so I think Christina wanted me to work on pushing them down without considering the stirrups). We haven't really done walk->canter transitions. Pretty much every other time I've asked for a canter, I've done it out of a trot so we had to go back to what we did when I was originally asking for canter transitions from him. Really strong outside leg cue, maybe tap with the crop, etc. He figured out pretty quickly that I'd be asking him to speed up so a "working walk" wasn't too difficult to get out of him. :)

Anyway, by the end of the lesson, Christina's yelling at me, "push your leg down!" and I'm like, "I'm trying!" but I couldn't make it go so we backed off the cantering.

And then she made me post around the ring with no stirrups. I about fell over.

We finished walking him out with me on the ground because I wasn't entirely certain I could keep myself up there any more. =P

Come to think of it, though it was hard at the time, I don't think I could've worked myself all that hard because my legs aren't sore today. Huh. Something to keep in mind. :)

Anyway, with the renaissance festival starting up this weekend, I'm switching back to doing lessons on weeknights so I'll go back again on Thursday. Not sure what I want to work on, yet. Possibly Christina is going to bring her horse (he needs the workout too), in which case we might work on that whole "standing where I tell you to and not necessarily right on top of the horse beside you" thing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Someone needs some schooling

So...despite shows and drill team and such like that we've been doing this summer...Kieran and I haven't managed to get much in the way of regular schooling in and it's starting to show.

Somewhere in there, he's developed a touch of herd-boundedness. (OMG THE OTHER HORSES ARE LEAVING WE'RE GOING TO DIIIIIIE!). I exaggerate a bit on how frantic he gets because, for him? It's fairly frantic and foot stompy and jiggy and OMGAGGGHE! But in the grand scheme of How Badly Horses Can Act Up? It's not really that extreme. He did bolt off with me one day when we were all of fifty feet away from the other horses but he stopped immediately upon returning to them (and if we hadn't been surrounded by spectators and about to be called into the ring and I'd had my wits together I probably would've made him go away from the horses again and walk back calmly).

Anyway, he's also been developing bad habits about standing. I think because of nerves or anticipation because at the end of drill team when EVERYONE is standing...he's cool with it. But like, at the Montgomery County fair show the other day, at the end of the English class when everybody's in lineup, he absolutely refused to stand. He kept sidestepping over into David and stuff so we'd circle, come back into place, stand for half a second, start fidgeting into David again, circle, stand, fidget, wash, rinse, repeat.

And in drill team practice, like I said, finish the routine and everybody's standing? He's good. Stand in the starting lineup? Stand in the zipper and wait his turn to trot off? Stand in the lineup for the pinwheel before we start turning?

Yeah, not so much and it's getting to be really obvious.

So last night, after we practiced, I asked if we could spend a few minutes on teaching him how to stand quietly again wherever I tell him to (because we won't get another chance to school on it before tomorrow when we're doing the performance). So first they had me move him out of the lineup and back in and have him stand a minute. And that was fine, because he knew we were "done". So they had me walk him to the other end of the ring and stand facing away from the rest of the horses.

That didn't last so long.

So then they made me take him back to the horses, trotting (working trot!) the whole way, circle around them a couple times, turn, circle the other way, then trot back to the spot on the other end of the ring facing away and stand. He stood.

Then we lined up like we were going to start the routine. He stood. Then we lined up into the "zipper" formation. He started jigging and got made to trot around everybody again several times before reentering formation and being made to stand. He stood.

Then we had to do it again in the pinwheel lineup. Same thing, he started jigging, he got made to work.

He quickly figured out it was easier to just stand until I asked him to do something else.

Here's hoping that carries over into tomorrow. :)

(and I need to remember not to tense up when he does this stuff, but just take a deep breath and sink down in my seat.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Is it really such a terrible thought?

Someone out there posts for help. They know someone else with a very old (over 30), very skinny (VERY skinny) mare who doesn't seem to be improving condition, though this person has been trying to help her out of a bad situation and is "doing everything right" according to what we're told the vet says. They now are hoping someone else out there has the time and resources to take on this mare and rehab her.

It's already difficult to give away a pasture pet.
It's even more difficult if they're very old and aren't an easy keeper.
Who do you really think will take this mare on and fatten her up?

Can it be done?

Well, maybe. I won't say it can't be. Maybe the person just hasn't figured out what's keeping her from gaining weight. Maybe she has a parasite load or bad teeth or ulcers or some combination thereof.

Then again. Maybe she has cancer. Maybe she's simply in pain all the time (horses don't sit around complaining about it the way humans do, after all).

Maybe it isn't such a bad thought to consider the possibility that instead of passing her on to someone else who may or may not be able to help her, you can give her a happy several days of lots of love and treats and then have the vet come euthanize her.

I expressed this opinion and, more or less, the response I got from most people was that I think she should be put down just because she's old or something. With an implication that the mere thought of euthanasia for a horse with no diagnosed actual health issue (beyond, you know, being ancient in horse years and not gaining weight when fed what is presumably a good diet) is something terrible to contemplate.

You know what I think is terrible?

Keeping that poor mare around, just existing. Passing her on to someone else when it turns out to be a problem you can't deal with. Forcing her to somehow manage through the upcoming winter.

Hell, if I were ancient (in human years) and were borderline emaciated and couldn't put on weight and had the prospect of having several days of happiness and then just going to sleep and not waking up or the prospect of months or more of just existing with no end in sight and no hope for improvement in my lot in life? I know which one sounds more appealing.

Euthanasia is NOT a bad word in animal rescue, people!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Howard County Fair

Today Kieran and I showed in halter, English under saddle, and Western under saddle and have some pictures and a fourth place ribbon to show for our efforts. :)

Every time we go to a show, I end up asking myself, "why do I put us through all this work and stress for this?" I still haven't figured the answer out yet but we did have a few fun moments so all is well, anyway. ;)

I won't even tell you how many baths he got.