Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Weekend Recap

We got to ride three of the four days of Christmas. Christmas Eve was a brief, one hour ride out to the alfalfa field. We loped around and did a few exercises, but generally just screwed off and had some fun.

Christmas Day we rode in the morning for a couple of hours. It was cool (I promise not to use the word cold anymore, Iowa) but we put on an extra layer and headed out to the development. We did a nice long trot and some loping out there. We practice taking lead and doing some lead changes. Christmas afternoon we had some friends and family over and stuffed ourselves.

Saturday the weather was gloomy and we caught up on chores and decided to go see a movie. Up in the Air with George Clooney was a nice Saturday afternoon flick.

Sunday, we rode our loop backwards. We trotted down the canal out to the big square. We trotted and loped over some construction pipes at the development and came back around the far side of the canal. From there we rode to the alfalfa field and practiced some stops and rollbacks. I shot some video and took a few pictures that I hope to get posted some time this week. End of the year is a bit hectic around here.

Hope y'all had a great holiday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

THIS is Customer Service

SmartPak is an online merchant for animal supplies. I had used them to buy some bandaging material earlier in the year to outfit a horse first-aid kit for our trailer. Their prices are good and the service was quick.

For Christmas I went to their site on the 3rd of December and ordered a set of five brushes and a grooming bag for my wife. They looked nice on the site. I researched the manufacturer, and found they made a high quality product.

There was an option to have them engraved and I thought this would be a nice touch. The web screen for the engraving process was a little awkward and I plodded through it trying to decide whether to put her name on the brushes or her horse's name. There was a choice of fonts, too. I clicked the "buy" button knowing I should get them in plenty of time for Christmas.

The bag came first, probably around the 10th. I knew the engraving would add a couple of days and sure enough on the 14th there was a small package with one lone, small, face brush in it. What? It didn't have the engraving on it. Hmm. I went to the website and saw I had another tracking number that would be delivered on the 15th and thought, before I called the company, I would wait and see what came. The other four brushes arrived and were engraved very nicely. The brushes just what I had in mind - high quality and the engraving is definitely a very nice touch. I wasn't sure if the face brush hadn't been engraved because of its small size or if I had made a mistake on the engraving order screen.

Not knowing if there was anything that could be done I called customer service. Casey, my representative, listened to my situation, looked up the order, and said, "Let me investigate on our end and talk to our different departments and I'll call you back. We'll make sure you are satisfied."

Sure enough in less than an hour Casey called me back. She wasn't sure what went wrong, but said they would have another brush engraved and sent 2nd day air to insure it got here by Christmas. That's impressive.

It's a crazy time for retailers and this kind of customer service sets a standard. While I've used a variety of online retailers for my horse/dog/cat supplies in the past, this type of service and professionalism requires my customer loyalty. That's a great job SmartPak. Thanks Casey.

Friday, December 11, 2009

And Then It Rained

It rained most of yesterday afternoon and evening. It continues to rain this afternoon. The horses pens are pretty soggy. Predictions are for more rain through the weekend. That's good. We need the water. We will be lucky to get any saddle time in this weekend. That's okay. They deserve some time off once in awhile.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our New Worming Protocol

Stopped by the vet on Saturday to pick up the paste wormer. We have been on rotating schedule, worming every 4 months or so. It was a quiet day at the hospital and I asked the vet why horses used a different protocol than dogs and cats. I'm not a big fan of giving medications of any sort unless there is a reason. She pointed out that they have been noticing a resistance to some of the wormers and their policy was now to do a fecal before worming. This makes so much more sense to me than "just" giving them the paste wormer.

We chatted some more and I left with the plan of bringing a sample of Dusty and Jessie on Monday morning. Samples collected and analyzed were negative on both horses and we decided we would re-test in six months. The fecal exams were $22 each, a bit steep compared to my expectations, but cost wise it may work out to be very close and it will be interesting to see how often they actually return a positive test.

We also talked about pricing and procedures on having a foal with Jessie. I'm not really planning anything in the near future, but would like to have one her foals. It was very enlightening to find out how much it would cost for the insemination, pre- and post natal care, and I'll add this to the cost of the stud and the extra housing needed for the foal and see what happens. In reality, and I know this is heresy, but one horse is really enough...for now.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Urban Trail Ride

It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted because we've been working on the same things. We got a short ride in on Thanksgiving Day, a training ride in the back on Saturday, and a trail ride that Sunday. The same schedule was followed this last weekend. We trained on Saturday and rode out on Sunday. I've been working through the RWC Series II exercises. It's been a challenge because I really want to do these exercises exactly right. I've been wondering if I've been a bit lax in completing some of the exercises. There are times Jessie doesn't seem as light as I think she should be and I think she still likes to drag me around where she would like to go instead of following my leadership (as suspect as that might be).

Sunday was absolutely perfect weather for riding here. We headed off down the street to our alfalfa field. I had the camera and took a few pics. This is one of the streets we ride down to get to the field.

The Road Out

From here we ride by a truck storage/parking area. There are several horses stabled here. There is a large Hispanic population and many of them use this area.

We ride through their lot and out the back end where this concrete and trash has been dumped. From here we head in the direction of the city farm. This is an impoverished part of our town and has been that way for some time. Not sure why this is, but people dump a lot of garbage out in these areas. It offers us unnatural trail obstacles even though it looks like shit.

Cottonwood Villages is a housing track that never even got started. We occasionally ride in there. The ground is good and flat.

The city farm grows alfalfa crops. There is a water treatment plant nearby that's pretty smelly. We try to avoid that. There were a couple of dozen beehives being stored at one end of a field and we rode between the bees and the trash dump on the other side of the road. Having the bees buzzing around us is a pretty good de-sensitizing test.

Water Treatment Plant in the distance

Why someone would haul their sofa here instead of having the city pick it up for free is beyond me. Maybe they didn't want to haul the palm frons away too.

One of the saddest sites we've seen in awhile. Someone dumped their dead colt here.

Hard to say how long its been there. There are always a number of animals dumped out here in the "sticks". We saw a sheep, a calf, and occasionally a dog or two.

There are some positive images like this kestral watching us from a power pole.

I took some video too. I didn't spend any time editing it. First is Ranae and I doing some loping in the alfalfa field. You can see her nice WP lope and good stop followed by cue to lope Jessie and her ignoring me. You might see though that her lope has gotten much slower. The stop is sloppy as she turns to face the camera.

I think next is us riding by the beehives with the garbage on the other side. All the video was shot from horseback so blame Jessie for the bounces. Last, is the ride by the egg farm. These are long sheds that house thousand of chickens clucking on the other side of the plastic sheeting. Another good urban trail riding obstacle.

The quick video

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...well...spring actually. The MSN forecast says it may be 80 on Thanksgiving Day.

It was cloudy and looked like rain on Saturday. Ranae wants to apply for the Ride with the Best program at Equine Affair in February. She wants to do the Matt Sheridan clinic on Trail Classes. We had to shoot some video for the audition. I'm not real crazy about her doing this. Her horse has a reputation for dumping her when he gets in a tight spot and with costumes, carriages, and strange looking horses, the place is rife with tight spots. Nevertheless a husband's role is to support his spouse and, after airing my concerns, we went out and shot some footage.

We set up the gate, cones, a tarp, a tire pull, and a backup "L" and worked shooting each obstacle. After we finished, it was too late to go for a ride so, I took Jessie back there and we worked on our exercises. We are accumulating the loping miles. She is so much easier now to control. I worked on our nemesis the bending at the walk and back-up exercises trying to use as little pressure as possible. That's tough. We also worked on the side-pass at the fence.

Sunday we waited until it warmed up a bit before heading out. We did a basic ride out to the alfalfa field to work on some exercises and then to the big square for some loping fun. We set out some 13" pipes from a construction zone and played with "jumping" over those.

Ranae is on vacation this week. Not sure if I'll get to ride too much with family in town. If not, I'm sure Jessie could use the time off ;>)

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Loping

The weekend weather held up nicely. It was clear and in the high 60's. We went out Saturday afternoon and after working our exercises in the alfalfa field we headed off down the canal. Jessie is improving a little every time. Her lope is getting slower and more easy to control. She's learning to bend more as well.

We also did some loping at the big square (the area we have marked out at a housing development that hasn't been started on yet) Her left lead was pretty ugly and we had to do it twice, but the right lead was very good. We rode for two plus hours getting home just before sunset and the temperature was dropping fast.

Sunday we stayed out back and played with the big ball, rope, cones, and a little jump. When Ranae and I first started riding together we had seen a Craig Cameron exercise where you trot a circle side-by-side and toss a baton back and forth. Ranae and I hadn't yet done that on Dusty and Jessie so I got a two foot piece of PVC and we gave it a try. It's the kind of exercise that forces you to focus on something else (tossing the baton) instead of your riding. It was fun. We were even able to do it at the canter which was quite the thing to get those two to lope side-by-side. We probably were out there for a couple of hours just messing around and having fun. Jessie was getting better at kicking the ball and she even had a pretty good jump over a low rail.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's November, Right?

It's was in the eighties here over the weekend and we were able to have two really fun rides over the weekend. We just stayed in the neighborhood, but we got to work on some loping and steering. Jessie is getting better at bending and her loping is becoming much more controlled.

Sunday we practiced loping side-by-side which has always ended up turning into a race, but the horses stayed relatively calm during the lope and almost even. The night before we had watched Tom Dorrance on Larry Mahan's show on RFD. Larry was riding and Tom instructed Larry to give the release by dropping the reins and folding his arms over his chest. Well, I had to try this. Only I dropped my mecates and folded my arms and then I asked Jessie to trot. I kept my hands off the reins as we trotted down the canal bank. She got a little close to the edge and I was tempted to pick up and then decided to trust her. I sat and with my arms folded she broke to a walk (which is what I wanted), then a few steps later I sat deeper and said "Whoa" and she stopped and backup up a step.

We did it again and I asked for a lope. It was even scarier asking for a lope without holding on to anything and I could feel her ask, "Are you sure?" I gave her a cue and off we went. She was nice and calm. Again she got close to the edge (it's about a 5 foot drop off). We loped about 20 yards and I sat to bring her to a walk and then we did it on the other lead. We tried it a little later out in the middle of an open field and I tried to steer with my legs but she pointed herself for home and my leg cues fell on deaf ears. I picked up the reins to turn her and dropped them again and she stayed in that direction which I thought was pretty cool.

It was a very nice ride. We were out there in short sleeves and it was almost warm. It is November, right?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Long Ride

Saturday the girls went to Tehachapi so, once again, Jessie and I were left to our own devices. The weather was beautiful, probably in the high 70's. I had a full canteen, a fully charged ipod, and a couple of dollars and we headed east.

We rode out to the arena and they were having another roping. We hung out there,
had a water, and watched the roping for awhile. Then we headed east again. We made it to Weedpatch Hwy. It had a nice wide shoulder and we rode north before turning back for home. All in all it was a three and a half hour ride (I stopped the timer at the arena) and we had rode just shy of 15 miles. We had done a couple of long trots and a number of 1/4 mile lopes. Jessie still seemed to have plenty of go in her when we got home.

Sunday's ride was less ambitious. We rode to the alfalfa field and worked on a number of exercises. The four days of consecutive riding has really helped. I think she was bending much better and was more responsive to my cues.

Rain is due this week. We'll see if we get in any work before the weekend. Here's a google map of Saturday's ride. We didn't follow all the roads, we just cut acroos the fields.

View Larger Map

Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to Work

Like a dieter back on the wagon, we are once again going back to what works for us. The last couple of mornings I've been getting up early and Jessie has delayed her breakfast so we could go back to work on Riding With Confidence II exercises.

I've realized that we needed to get MUCH better at the Bending at the Walk exercise. And the last couple of mornings we've been doing the Yield to a Stop and Yield and Bend exercises. We need to improve these because she just seems to want to pull me around wherever she wants to go.

It's a pretty quick workout. I spend more time getting ready to ride, moving horses, and tacking up than we get actual saddle time. It's about 45 minutes though and that's well worth it. Yesterday's workout was pretty messy. Even though I had a plan of what I wanted to do. Either my cues are all screwed up or she is one stubborn gal. I just kept reminding myself how lucky we are to be out playing horse and rider on such a nice morning.

This morning things went a little better. I took my spurs off and used a crop and she resisted a bit, but we worked through it. She seemed more responsive by the time we quit.

Tomorrow the girls go to Tehachapi for another lesson so Jessie and I are going for another long ride, maybe even out the the arena we went to last time. We'll be looking for another roping ;>)

My hope is to do the two early morning workouts in the small training area working on bending, then the Saturday and Sunday rides will be going out and doing a lot of long trotting and loping.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Having Fun

Ranae and I rode both days last weekend. Saturday was hot and very, very humid and we had to wait until late in the afternoon.

We rode early on Sunday and had quite a good time. We rode out to the development where someone had abandoned a car. We call the sheriff's but they put me on hold for about ten minutes and then told me the car wasn't stolen but was in the city and I would have to call the police. As long as it wasn't stolen I decided to forget about it.

We rode over to the big square and then we switched horses. I got to lope dusty around first on the right lead. He kicked up a little when I asked him for some more speed. He's so worried a little running might wear him out.

Ranae took off on Jessie and she has a big lope but not much steering wheel. I can see where we need the work. I can just power her around. Ranae had a little problem steering at first, but then it looked pretty good. Jessie's lope wasn't nearly as smooth as Dusty's, so I think I got the better of that deal.

We rode another mile out talking about the difference in the two before we changed back to our own horses. That's a good experience to switch it up. It helps you see your horse from a different perspective.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Accidental Team Roper

The girls were off to Tehachapi for a lesson Saturday afternoon and Jessie and I would be riding alone. I had marked my calendar with a schooling show that was happening in an arena about 6 miles away. I'm not on the computer on the weekends but I sometimes keep track of things by putting them into google calendar. I had plugged this show in more than a month ago. I had not planned on competing so I really did look at the details very closely.

It was a beautiful, cool morning and after breakfast I leisurely tacked up and gathered my cell phone, canteen, ipod, digital camera and gps for the trip ahead. I had some money if there were anything thing there I needed. No spurs for this ride. I knew it would be a long one and my thinking ws the less poking I could do the better she would take it.

We winded our way through our neighborhood and did a little warm up in the fallow alfalfa field. From there we trotted over to the city farm and we either loped or trotted the whole way across hoping no one would catch us and tell us to leave. Once out of the city farm it was surface streets to the arena. We had about a 3/4 mile walk down a pretty heavily traveled road. Jessie was, for the most part, great through all this. There was a couple of things she shied at and we did our back-and-forth exercise in front of them and moved on. We worked on transitions and bending through some of the areas where the roads were wide enough to accommodate us.

We got to the arena in an hour and 15 minutes averaging a little over 5 miles per hour, a good pace for us. The parking lot was full of horse trailers and Jessie whinnied at the horses in the arena. As we walked around I could see that it wasn't the schooling show I thought it was, but a roping. The riders were warming up in a good-sized arena and the cows were getting staged.

We hung around for a few minutes at the arena gate, then walked around the horse trailers. Our ferrier is a team roper and I thought he might be here. We wound our way back to the arena opening and I tried to spot him among the thirty or more horse and riders walking quietly in the arena. A fella walked past me ponying a horse into the arena and here's where I thought (always a dangerous proposition), "Well, if he can take a pony horse in there I should be able to go in there and walk around looking for my friend."

Then, without giving it much more thought, I steered Jessie into the arena. We were walking along quite nicely and were about halfway down one side and I'm looking around at faces for someone I would recognize when a couple of riders lope past us on the outside. Jessie, who had been an angel up to this point, lunges forward and bolts! I pick up one rein and yield her hindquarters, she slows down, I let her go and boom!, she's off again. I do a couple of more yielding hindquarters and we are doing circles at the far end of the arena. It's not getting much better and I'm not sure if she will break in half on me or not, so I head her for the gate and let her out and bring her back. Finally we get an open shot to a fence and I let her go and she stops at the fence near the gate and we walk out. The whole event was maybe 45-60 seconds, but it felt much longer. I'm glad I hadn't worn my spurs I would have probably overused them. As it was, I was getting the feeling that everyone was looking at me wondering who the hell was this guy with the canteen, mecate, no tie-down, no boots, no rope, yielding hindquarters in our arena? (Though in reality, no one really gave a thought to it).

Out in the parking lot, she was still full of beans and we did some exercises out there until she started to calm down a bit and I dismounted. I walked her around for a while and the roping was getting ready to start. There wasn't a good spectator location from the ground so I remounted and we sat at the gate and watched part of the roping from right behind the chute. Our ferrier was competing but he never came out of the arena. He had 4 tough cows and his heelers missed a leg or two.

After about 30 minutes, we turned and headed for home. We made it home in about the same time although the gps registered an extra half mile. That was probably due a little extra "work" one of us decided to do on the way home. It was a pretty good ride all-in-all. We had ridden almost 13 miles, we had got some exercises in, we loped for a solid mile, and I still had half a day to get my Saturday chores done.

Sunday's ride was an 8 miler out to the development and Jessie seemed a little more responsive and supple. I'm not really sure if that was because of the distance of Saturday's ride or all the bending circles on the way home. Since the days are short now, I restarted the early morning rides. We are working on the first few exercises of RWC II. I think we've missed a couple of details on suppling that I need to go back and figure out.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More on Working Cows

Saturday Jessie and I went out back to pretend to do some cutting. I wanted to work on some of the exercises while they were still somewhat fresh in my mind.

It was pretty crazy. We found out that in order to work cows (pretend or real) we need to be VERY good at three things: the stop, the backup and the rollback. And, very good means very good. When I say "whoa" Jessie needs to stop quickly. When I ask for the backup, she needs to be quick with a collected frame. Looking back at the workshop, we could have worked on just these two items all weekend, because only one of us had these necessary skills and that was the teacher and the horses he rode.

Jessie and I worked on our stop for about 30 minutes trying to get it right. It was much better at the end of our session. We also did some loping just to break up some of the exercises. It was more fun for me than her because it was warm on Saturday afternoon.

We also worked on the backup up. Like many, we have a back up, but it doesn't change speeds much and she's not doing it collected. If I ask her to rollback at the end of the backup she is so much on her front end that it is just not going to happen. I tried using the fence to help us and it did a bit. It was a little better at the end of our session. We need a whole lot more work on this.

Sunday the temperature dropped dramatically and it was almost chilly on our ride. We went out to the development and loped around for awhile. We worked on a few things but mostly just enjoyed the ride, weather, and the company.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Working Cows

We spent the weekend in Tehachapi at a working Cowhorse/Versatility Workshop. We were able to get a lot of riding in and we learned a lot.

It's a very small workshop with only four students and we got a lot of one-on-one attention. We spent Friday afternoon going over Matt's positions #1-#4. I wished we had practiced this more. Matt gives instruction based on these positions and we were pretty rusty with them and it would have worked out much better if we had them down pat.

I struggled a bit trying to mesh my DUH techniques with his. He doesn't ask, "John, what cues do you use to get horse to do this?" He says, "Cue this way do get your horse to do this." So, it was easy for not only me to get confused, but I managed to confuse Jessie too. Still, we were picking up a lot of good information and my philosophy is "I'm not there to show him what I know, I'm there to find out what he knows. So, shut up and pay attention."

Saturday morning we worked more on the skill moves of getting our horses to roll over their hocks. Jessie is front loaded and we struggled with this. We did a lot of backing up. Later, we played with flag a bit before lunch and Jessie did just "okay".

Things were building to what would happen after lunch. We were going to work the flag as it was moving. Now, I was trying hard to follow Matt's instruction. Sometimes his instructions seemed to contradict each other and when I asked for clarification, I didn't really always understand his answers. He is really skilled at what he does on the back of a horse and I have neither the timing or feel he does and chalked up my confusion to this. Friday night he had pulled me aside and said he really wanted me to "step it up" with Jessie. I told him I would and filed this information away. Saturday after lunch we watched a cow working a flag video and when the horse didn't stop, the instructor (who shall remain nameless) said, "We can't make him stop, but we can make him wish he had" and it looked like a pretty aggressive move to stop his horse. I filed this away too. After lunch, Matt was the first to work the flag and when the horse he was riding didn't pay attention to him and he spun that horse halfway across the arena so she would pay attention to him. He had to do it a couple of times. I watched and filed that away. When it was Jessie's turn at the flag, we went across the arena, I asked her to stop, she ignored me, I took hold of her mouth, and Matt was all over me. "Don't. Don't do that!" "Well, crap", I thought, "what had I missed?"

He thought I was frustrated with Jessie and I wasn't. I did need to correct her for not stopping, I had my own way (which never came into it) and I had the way I had seen just a few minutes before and I wasn't able to use either one of them. He's asked me to step it up and now I wasn't really sure what anything meant. We eked our through that exercise, but I was thoroughly frustrated.

In the afternoon we got to track a cow and that's always a fun time. I was trying to learn how to read the cow as well as move my horse, so my brain was just a humming with activity.

Sunday morning we were scheduled to work the flag again. Warming up Jessie I noticed every time we came to the corner of the arena we had struggled in the day before, she would get wound up. We past the flag and she was nervous. So, we worked on those areas during the warm up. We loped a lot in that beautiful arena and I let her rest in the trouble spots. When it came time for us to work the flag I had my mind made up. Since I wasn't understanding what Matt wanted from me AND I felt I knew what my horse needed, I went out and worked the flag the way I wanted. We walked across the arena, stopped, the flag turned and we turned and we walked back across the arena. The whole time Matt was telling me to speed up, to get my horse going, to catch the flag. Jessie and I made four turns and had stayed calm and listening to me which was exactly what I needed her to do. We stopped, backed and turned off the flag. I had gotten what I thought my horse needed and it wasn't heavy handed (it also wasn't fast, but we can always get faster). Everyone else had worked the flag for three times the length I had and when they saw me end the exercise on my own they were a bit stunned. Matt asked me to explain myself and I did. He said if I had been having problems, I should have asked him. I couldn't tell him he was the genesis of my frustration.

He didn't let up however, and later pressured me some more, so I described to him the two reactions I had seen him make when a horse wasn't listening and how I tried to mimic those and we went back and forth with him explaining how his screwing a horse into the ground was effective and mine, which looked and felt the same only a little tamer, was completely ineffective. The conversation was civil, but I really didn't think he was seeing my point of view or really even listening to me. So after a bit, I just agreed with everything he said like I really understood it. It's a character flaw on my part, I know, but the conversation wasn't really going anywhere because I couldn't really see the difference in his reaction to a horse not listening and mine. And, because I had kind of disobeyed the teacher, I now had a lot more attention being paid to me than I wanted and I wanted it to just all go away. Let's move on.

My motivation for learning may be a little different than others. I want to learn how to be a better horseman. I don't want want someone to train my horse. Train me. I'll train her. This is a much bigger challenge. A lot of these guys who have been on a horse all their life can climb in the saddle and know what buttons to push. Teaching a rider whose only been on a handful of horses with only a few years of riding when and where to put his legs and hands is the really tough part.

Working the cows in the afternoon was a hoot. Jessie was solid. She was clam and curious. She showed an incredible amount of interest, whether our not she has the athleticism to be a cutter is something we'll have to see. We don't really have the maneuvers yet to effectively work a cow. (But we do know now what we need to learn).

Despite what I described above, it was a great time. I get very intense when I'm learning something new. I shut out what everyone else is doing and try to focus on what I think the teacher is trying to tell me. I put off a lot of people and I think some misunderstand my wanting to observe and learn as much as I can for thinking I know it all. Really, I only care about the tools I can use to convince my horse to do the things I want her to do. Matt's ranch and arena are a great place to work your horse and I feel very fortunate to have had a chance to take Jessie up there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Part Two, Riding wit Confidence, Series I

Finally finished editing the Riding with Confidence video. This is Part Two of Series I and we run through exercises #10 through #17. I added some production elements. Half the fun of doing the videos, I must admit, is editing them. My goal is to have them look good, but not over-produced. Sometimes I walk that fine line.

I do add some narration now because my brother told me, "I like watching them, but it sure would be nice to know what's going on." I feel that way sometimes when I'm riding.

You'll see me struggling with the Bending at The Walk exercise and the Vertical at the Standstill. I accidentally left out the Vertical at the Walk exercise. Yes, it was accidental.

Riding With Confidence, Series I, Part Two

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Busy Weekend

Saturday I had to take the truck in because the check engine light came on. We dropped it off at 8 am and came home and saddled up. Because they have locked the canal bank gates near our house, we've had to ride through our neighborhood to go around to the other side of the canal. It puts us right in a fallow alfalfa field. There is good footing and we have been taking about ten or fifteen minutes to warm up and do some loping and bending. It's a pretty good good little warm up and the loping has really helped Jessie and I get on the same page. So we started our ride with the same routine, then we did a long trot down the far side of the canal. We rode farther south than we had ever before. We turned west and headed for Union Ave which is Hwy 204 or the old Hwy 99. There was a little market and we got some refreshments and then rode along the highway for about a mile until we could get back to our fields. It was a good experience for the horses with all kinds of vehicles whizzing by. They were solid as a rock.

We've been trying to get the horses to lope side-by-side. Dusty kicks up pretty good when Jessie comes along side and Jessie speeds up and has to take the lead. We got to this one spot that was good to lope and our plan was that we would do circles and then come back around to lope together. If they acted up again we would just do another circle. It was pretty ugly. The "circling" area turned out to be deeper than we thought. It was a mess. It was pretty hot and we were a bit tired after riding for almost four hours so we decided to give it another try on Sunday. Saturday's ride was almost 13 miles.

Sunday was cooler and after warming up in the alfalfa field we headed for our big square in the Development. The plan today was for Ranae to lope the big square and I would lope Jessie around in different areas occasionally coming up and riding by their side and then going off in my own direction. This was much more fun and the horses did much better. Jessie was still a bit speedy (she's just a fast horse ;>) )but Dusty behaved pretty well. Don't know if the lack of kicking up was due to Saturday's ride or not, but I really didn't care, he was doing it. Sunday's ride was almost 9 miles.

Matt Sheridan does a Level 3 workshop in September and October. Its focus is working cow horse and you get to work cattle. He had someone drop out so Ranae bought me the workshop for my birthday. Woohoo. I've been practicing my roping on the ground. I'm pretty good at nailing a road cone from ten feet. Sunday I practiced atop Jessie and I actually caught a cone, a trash can, and a patio chair. (Yep, we branded 'em and turned 'em loose.) The biggest challenge is using the snaffle. Two hands on the reins and one on the rope and I'm a little short-handed. Anyway, I get to ride this weekend up in Tehachapi. We start on Friday afternoon.

I wrote Clinton on Facebook and told him I was getting No Worries Club materials for the last three months and I hadn't subscribed. I don't think his team has the computer thing down all the way. Anyway, I could tell my subscription to the website was turned off this morning. I didn't even get a note acknowledging my email. That was lame.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Xtra Scoop is open for business

My friend Courtney Hutcheson felt so strongly about how much the nutritional supplement Karbo Combo helped her horses that she became a distributor for them. She has announced the Grand Opening of her website Now I'm sure you've heard this type of story before, but believe me, it takes an incredible amount of time, money, and effort to set this thing up right. Time, money, and effort she could have been spending on her horses or her family (oops. might have those two backwards)

If you have a minute go to and read about the wonderful experience she had with her horses Lucy and Black. There is a video of Black before taking Karbo Combo that would be painful to watch if I hadn't also seen a video of him being ridden in a Drill Team some months later.

For those of you interested in the science there is plenty of that as well on the site. I've had Jessie on Karbo Combo for a couple of months now and, while she was healthy and strong to begin with and it's more difficult to notice changes, I think her coat is shinier and her weight is easier to maintain. I think anything that can help a horse's digestive system work better and be more efficient is certainly worth looking into. After all, next to the feet what's the number one problem you hear about in horses? Stomach and digestive problems.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Weekend 2009

Working their way through the "natural obstacles".

Some people can be so rude

It was a beautiful weekend for riding. I went out for a short ride on Friday night. We're still working on those circles and bending.

Saturday we had a two hour ride out to the development. We did some trotting and loped the big square. We also just rode around.

Sunday we did a city farm ride. There is a lot of garbage piled up and we use it as a natural trail course. The horses are used to most of the crap we run across now. We need to do more work on loping side-by-side. Both horses get racy when we do an Dusty gets wound up and bucky. Ah, it's good to know there is always something to work on.

Monday we trailered out to the Kern River. We parked at the Horseman's Park barn and rode east along the river toward Lake Ming. It was a gorgeous day. There is a campground near the lake and the people were breaking down their camps to head back home.

The Mighty Kern River

Negotiating the Trail

Loping circles around a few big trees

And, back to the business of trail riding

A hawk keeping an eye on us (or looking for lunch)

A break for some picture taking

Isn't she shiny?

Oh boy, a chance to use our mounting block exercise!


A little girl at the campground came to get her picture taken

A favorite past time is to float down the deadly river

Cows on the ridge!

More of the river trail

Lake Ming a popular water skiing, boating lake

John & Jessie in the "Big" Country

No, No! Not that way. Can't you see the sign?

This fella was shootin' his own music video. That's a fiddle in his hand. I'm sure he'll be famous one day. Should've got his name.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Long Ride

Saturday clouds rolled in but the temperature stayed warm and the humidity was oppressive. We played tennis in the morning and had a birthday party to go to in the afternoon and just couldn't squeeze in a ride. We did manage to give the horses a bath and get a week's worth of sweat and dirt off of them.

Sunday morning the clouds had cleared and it was drier. After a nice breakfast, we tacked up and grabbed some extra water and headed for the city farm. Our trip on this day was actually going to take us all the way through the city farm and out the other side. It was about 5 miles to a major road and a little store where we knew we could get a snack and some fluids (for us anyway.)

Heading East

There is one big road to cross before we can get to the city farm property. It's busy on a Sunday morning. We had left around 9am and headed to a fallow alfalfa field to work on some circles and do a little loping. Both horses did pretty well with the warm up.


The roads in the city farm are pretty wide and it's a lot of fun to ride. We worked on some speed control and when Jessie got too fast we just did a circle and took off again. It seems like she can go on forever.

The developments in that direction had limited us to certain roads and at one point we had to walk along the shoulder of a busy street. They both stayed calm and collected and it was nice riding by the homes at a pace you could actually look at them. Many of these houses were built when there were nothing but fields out here, but as things change, this area was getting an influx of new homes. There is a new high school that was just built and they had a grassy area that was very inviting. Ranae rode on it first. The grass was established and the dirt underneath was firm. When she loped on it it didn't leave any marks, so I decided to give it a try. Boy, was that nice to lope on. The grass cushioned the footfalls and it was an extremely smooth ride.

Some BIG Bales of Oats

We got to our little store and bought some snacks and drinks and found a shade tree to sit under for about 15 minutes. It was a nice little break. We had been riding for about 2 hours at this point.

Relaxing Under the Tree

After the break we worked our way back. One of my goals was to lope Jessie for a mile. As we got back on city farm property we found a good long road (or so I thought) and took off. She broke down a couple of times as we crossed intersections and we kept going until we hit an edge of the farm that was a dead end so I turned her around and we road back to Ranae and Dusty. It actually was about a mile and a half and she still had some go in her as I was getting ready to stop.

Ranae took off for a lope and Jessie was pretty concerned about her buddy leaving. I tried to have a collected trot but she would have nothing of it. We had to do a bit of work and it turned out to be a much bigger ordeal then the long lope.

We did a little more trotting but, quite frankly, our butts were getting sore. We had been out for about four hours and still had another hour to go. Riding through the fields was peaceful and quiet. Some had been irrigated and when the breeze came up, it felt nice and cool. We just walked and enjoyed the time together.

We got home, gave the horses a well-deserved bath and a snack. We had some watermelon, then cleaned the saddles because it had been a dusty ride. I checked everyone over pretty good this morning and both Dusty and Jessie looked good. The distance meter on my GPS said we had gone almost 15 miles.

The Long Arm Tripod Shot

Monday, August 17, 2009

Just Another Weekend

Is there a prettier looking horse?
I don't think so.

We spent our time on Saturday afternoon going over the last half of the exercises in RWC I. I'm hoping to video those soon. And, I hope she does them just as well as she did Saturday. We had not worked on them for quite some time and yet she did most of them very well. Smart and beautiful. I AM a lucky guy.

Sunday Ranae and I went for a 6 miler. It was hot and we went out to the city farm. I want to lope a mile straight. It sounds simple, but a mile is a long way on some of the trails we ride. I figure we'll work up to it. We were able to lope almost a half a mile before we ran into the bee hives that are stationed everywhere on the farm. She broke down once or twice but she's getting it. We'll go for the full mile on a long ride we are planning for this coming weekend.

Ranae had the day off today. She rode this morning and she is going to have both horses saddled and ready to go when I get home so we can go for a quick evening ride. Days are getting shorter and it will get increasingly difficult to find some workin' time.

My Gaining Respect on the Ground I video on Youtube reached 25,000 views and I now have over 80 subscribers. That's cool. I never thought there would be that many people interested.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our First Trail Class

After the Matt Sheridan Trail Workshop, Ranae and I decided to try a Trail Class. We found an Open Show that had a Novice class and entered. Our horses did pretty good and we came away with a first and a third place. More importantly our horses got us around the course. Here are our runs:

Our First Trail Class

Some of the other classes looked interesting like Western Horsemanship. Not sure all the requirements, but maybe I can find out more about them.

A little recap:

Thursday we set up the trail course in our yard and worked on our exercises. Friday we took the horse out on a short ride. Saturday we took them on a six miler and got to work on a bunch of stuff. I was loping Jessie in a small circle. Sunday, before the show, we went on a quick one hour ride that included a lot of trotting. By the time Sunday evening rolled around everyone at our house looked pretty worn out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Uh-Oh Now There's Two Cameras

We went back up to Sheridan Performance Horses for a lesson with Matt. I learned a lot. Jessie has been pulling me around and I need to work on getting her softer through the body. I took video and here's a little taste of Ranae and Matt working on circles and the beginning of a spin. We had two cameras. One was on a tripod and I held the other one. I thought it would come out better actually, making it more moving and energetic, but it was fun playing with my video editor. It's not too long.

Two Camera Shoot

We are entered in the trail class of Sunday's Show. We'll see what happens.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I Don't Know What I Don't Know

We were able to ride Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The temperatures were quite warm but we toughed it out, the good little horsemen that we are. Sunday we rode along the canal to a feedlot a couple of miles away. The cows are the ultimate scary object. Put them next to a canal and you have the ingredients for an exciting ride. Dusty is the brave one although we each got to take a turn at leading. Once by the cows we had a big open field to do some loping. We even loped side-by-side for awhile without them racing each other.

Saturday's ride was out to the development. We did the loop backwards from our normal direction. This is the aqueduct bridge we cross.

There were some atv riders out there and they were jumping off the bridge. We were on the bridge when one crawled out of the water and jumped from the bank of the canal into the water. The splash caused the horses to do a "standing shy" because the noise came right from under them.

They cleared a new area at the development and it's a graded, big, flat area. We practiced loping and even tried loping circles together and had a little success with that. We can tell the horses are getting in pretty good condition because they did sweat, but it was never dripping off of them, and there was just the slightest breeze. It had to be close to 100 degrees. Well, they're in good condition, that is, if sweating is an indicator of physical conditioning. By the time we get home the only damp spot is under the saddle pad.

Friday evening's session was out back with the cones and rails. Jessie did some really nice loping through the cones. She's slowing down so we can make a little sharper turn and she's anticipating a lead change and quickly drops to a trot for a step as she changes. Flying changes are just around the corner (from the "famous last words" department).

The Feedlot

We had been toying with the idea of going to a horse show. The Paint organization puts it on. They had a green WP class and a green trail class. Instead of taking the horses, after our ride on Sunday we headed over there to scout the class. We think we could have at least not embarrassed ourselves. I'm still unsure if I want to do the whole show scene. Maybe it's my experience with dog shows, but I'm just not comfortable around shows. You see a lot of hinky stuff. One guy was fencing his horse to stop in the 200 foot arena. Okay, I understand you want to train, but the show is over fella, it's 3 in the afternoon, easily over 100 degrees, the footing is not conducive to sliding, do you really need to run this horse down 10-15 times?

It was nice to see the course and we have most of the obstacles in our practice area, except for the bridge. There is another one in August so we'll see how we (Ranae and I) feel about it by then.

How many? Well, we count their feet and divide by four.

Coming up this Saturday we have a lesson scheduled with Matt Sheridan. After the workshop the girls said they wanted to take a couple of lessons and I said I would join them. Each of them have something they want to work on. Sometimes I just have the overwhelming feeling that I don't know what I don't know. The only thing I really want to work on is loping. It's an hour lesson. Can you do that for an hour? Is there something else I should toss in there? Any suggestions would be helpful.

I changed out my mecate reins for split reins. I had made these reins when I had my first horse, Tex. There were a lot of miles on these reins. They even had the little magic marker marks where the center was. Geesh. Who gets nostalgic over a set of reins? It felt funny not riding in them, but sooner or later I knew I would have to change, particularly if I ever want to ride one-handed.

Taking a Break

Monday, July 20, 2009

Loping the Big Square

It's painful in places, but I'm posting it anyway. My arms and upper body are bouncing around, the stop was less than ideal. This is the "big square" we ride when we're out. Just when I think I'm getting this stuff, I have to go and video myself. I'll say no more.

It's Only 111

Saturday evening we went out to the "development". There's a big whole. These are built in many developments to catch water in the winter time. Sewers and drains were put in first and then the housing bust hit and no homes ever went up in this development. So we have this big hole and it's fun to ride down in. People dump garbage there. Californians are such neat folks. It makes for some good "scary object" practice for us.

For those of you who enjoy feet pictures, here's Jessie's front hooves after two hours riding Saturday and two on Sunday. I haven't touched them up with the rasp in a week.

And, this was the sunset on Saturday night. The clouds came in and raised the humidity just in time because it wasn't feeling quite hot enough.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Five Ride Week

While they are not all intense training rides we have been able to saddle up and ride the last five days. Ranae is still in Hawaii and it takes me longer to get everything done. Thursday and Friday were fairly short 45 minute rides down the canal bank. I'm still working on transitions and we do a lot of walk-to-trot, trot-to-lope, lope-to-trot, and trot-to-walk combinations. I would try 3 or 4 in a row and then just let her walk for awhile. Then we would do it again.

We also did a lot of loping. She has improved quite a bit. She doesn't have a slow WP lope by any means, but she picks up the requested lead about 90% of the time. Out in the open trail she does tend to speed up. The ground is hard and to add to the difficulty there are squirrel holes scattered about. She likes to ride right on the edge of the canal bank and scare the s**t out of me. I've been working on moving her over using my outside leg (the one dangling over the water).

Saturday we rode out to the development and stayed at a trot for most of the ride. This, too, has improved and Jessie will actually trot slow enough for me to sit the trot (but just barely).

Sunday was our long ride out to the city farm. A little more than 6 miles, we had to negotiate the way out all by ourselves. There was scary traffic and scary garbage on the side of the road and Jessie stayed brave and kept moving. We found a few irrigation water puddles to cross and had to walk by a staging area with 30 to 40 bee hives. She got a little nervous riding by the chicken farm and, since we were out there alone, I just got off and walked her.

I feel a little guilty. I haven't been doing much groundwork. Actually it consists of about ninety seconds of touch-and-rub forequarters and hindquarters, a bit a flexing, and we're off. It's more out of laziness. I just don't want to move all the horses around so I can use the back arena.

Monday night we got another hour long ride in. We worked on most of the usual stuff, but when we got to a part of the canal where there is a farm on the other side she got all wiggy on me and wanted to go her own way. I wasn't sure what had her concerned (whether it was the equipment, dogs, or the way the water looked) but I turned her back into the direction of what seemed to be frightening to her and we went back and forth across this area several times. She still wasn't paying attention to me so we did it at a trot. When that didn't get it, we did it at a lope. We worked at it for almost ten minutes and she finally started to respond and I let her stand for a minute or two. My frustration level was rising and had to do some internal coaching. She was really leaning on the bit and I couldn't figure out why(although I told myself it really didn't matter - she should be listening to me). The rest of the ride home was uneventful. Our path crossed a dirt bike rider and three other horses on the opposite side and she was fine.

We got our load of hay in on Saturday. I had a company move our front gate so the driver could dump it right on our property. (Unlike last year when they dropped it on the driveway and I had to move it to the back in 6 pickup loads). We only broke two sprinkler heads. They should be easier to fix than moving 88 bales of hay. The price of the hay, moving the gate, the new trailer, sometimes it feels like we're just bleeding money. Oh well, guess it's just all part of the deal.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Matt Sheridan Workshop

Finally got the video edited from or Ranch/Trail Riding workshop at Matt Sheridan's place in Tehachapi. Here's the link: Matt Sheridan Workshop

I would have embedded it here but it looks better on the big screen.

Ranae leaves for eight days in Hawaii tomorrow.

Got a Clinton Anderson NWC DVD in the mail yesterday AND my login works at his website. Weird.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Riding Everyday

I think it was in Rick Lamb's newsletter he gave out a bit of Buck Branaman advice, "The secret to good horsemanship is to ride everyday."

We were able to ride Thursday (see last post), Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday's ride was another solo ride. Jessie was almost 180 degrees from Thursday. She was nervous, and distracted. There were a lot of fireworks going off in the neighborhood and the wind was blowing, but we were riding the same canal bank we always do. We did a short loop and walked the mile back home. It was good just to practice keeping her attention and working to keep her calm.

Saturday we were able to ride 2+ hours and we found all kinds of trail obstacles. We had a water crossing and a ditch crossing and both the horses did very well. We worked on the techniques we learned in the workshop and kept our horses moving slowly through the obstacles.

We rode back around to our open area and practiced some controlled loping and a lot of transitions. I found a couple of pieces of trash and we set them up about thirty feet apart and worked on loping a figure eight around them. We started at a trot, then worked at picking up the correct lead and loping around the curves. Back to a trot through the straightaways, then the different lead at a lope. It was pretty ugly at first, but the horses soon figured it out and Jessie would break to a trot in the center then change leads when I asked her to lope again. Dusty actually did a flying lead change at one of the transitions.

Sunday evening we went out back and worked in our practice area. I had put an eye bolt through a tire and attached a rope and both of us dragged that around for a while. Both horses were pretty good at dragging (better than we were with the rope handling). We weaved our cones and loped our patterns. The weather was still warm and we didn't spend a lot of time out there, but we did get the practice in.

This morning the farrier came at 6:30 am. Dusty had a little "white line" disease (a hoof fungus) but it's not serious. Jessie's feet were so short he didn't even trim her. He helped shaped the right front because she was standing up pretty straight, but other than that, nothing. I had filed some of the cracks off from the Tehachapi ride, but I don't do a lot of rasping on her feet and I was a little surprised he didn't think she had needed a trim. It had been eight weeks. But, her feet looked good so we'll go au natural.

"Sparky" - The kitten we found a few weeks ago.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Big Bang Theory

Last night Ranae had a massage scheduled. I got home fed, cleaned the pens, and even though it was warm there was a breeze, and I decided to go for a ride. I tacked up and we headed for the canal bank. Jessie was a little reluctant going out by herself. She continues to get better with every outing.

We trotted most of the way out. The canal is not all that wide so we worked on changing speeds and moving forward. We would trot and then I would sit and see if Jess would break to a walk. Then we would lope and try to a transition to a trot. We were having a good ol' time as we headed out to the cornfields.

Our canal intersects with a larger, cement-lined feeder canal to the California Aqueduct. There are two cement bridges we use to get across the feeder canal. The east bridge had a few guys hanging out drinking beer and riding an ATV, so we turned and headed for the west bridge. The loop route we take means that whatever bridge we take on the way out takes us to the other bridge on the way home.

We loped a bit around the cornfield. Jessie was a little concerned with "The Children of the Corn" she knew were hiding in that field and the slight breeze made the six foot stalks even more scary. I kept her feet moving and we turned for home still working on our speed transitions.

As we approached the canal intersection things were getting busy. From about a quarter mile away I could see a van pull up and drop off four or five kids and there was now a pickup with another five or six teenagers and the original four guys with the ATV. (We have seen the ATV boys a couple of times out there.) The bridges are about twenty feet above the water and the kids like to jump off the bridge (hey, whatever butters your bread. It's hotter than blazes here). Even if we wanted to head over to the west bridge we would have to ride right by all these people, so I thought we would just work our way slowly over and try to cross that bridge with the now 16 or so people (and one dog) milling about.

We were probably twenty to thirty yards away when a couple moved to the center of the bridge, climbed the 2 foot railing and prepared to back flip into the water. I stopped Jessie so we could watch and about this time the kids over by the pickup lit some firecrackers, The girl jumps off the bridge about the same time we hear the bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop of the machine gun-like firecrackers. When I had stopped Jessie to watch "the dive" I dropped my hand to her mane and relaxed. When the noise went off she flinched (as probably did I) but she didn't move a foot. I sat there scratching my chin looking at everyone and trying to decide if I should try to cross with the new variable, the fireworks, in play. The group had seen me approach from as far away as I had seen them. Of course, we were both on private property, so you could say we both had equal rights not to be there. I didn't want to intrude on their fun, but I wanted to get across that bridge.

About 15 seconds went by and one of the ATV guys said, "Watch it with those fireworks, you could spook the horse". I yelled, "Thanks" and asked Jessie to move forward. She walked carefully up to the bridge with all the people milling about and, like a champ, just moved right on through. As we passed, the thirteen year old who lit the crackers apologized and I tossed him a "No problem, friend". The ATV guy was the last one we passed and I thanked him and he said, "Anytime you want, I'll race you for pink slips." We got a laugh and once I got passed them we headed off in a trot, then I decided to lope. It was about a half a mile to the road and we loped most of the way there. Jessie had some energy and I wanted her to use it up. Her head was a little high. She was moving fast, but not out-of-control fast. When I asked her to slow, she did (and then immediately went back to "her" pace). I asked for a "whoa" shortly before the road. I think she had forgotten I was up there. I picked up one rein and she immediately stopped.

After we crossed the road we went back to working on our walk-to-trot and trot-to-walk transitions. We did that all the way home. This night we had conquered the fireworks.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Heat Is On

It finally got hot here. It's supposed to be 108 today. Friday was very warm as well and we managed to get a ride in after work. We went out about 6:30 pm and did a lot of trotting and some loping. Out among the irrigated corn and cotton fields there was a breeze and it felt a lot cooler.

Saturday we stayed out back in the evening and did some more of the clinic exercises. The girls seem to be getting into riding back there. For the longest time they would look at me doing the CA exercise and then just go out and ride. Now they are setting up the cones and the rails. They each have their own special exercises they like doing and both of them are gaining a lot more confidence. The horses are getting better too. I think they like being out there together.

Sunday was just too hot. We missed our opportunity in the morning and decided to go to the movies and soak up their air conditioning. Ranae had to be at work early this am so I got up with her and rode Jessie out back for about forty five minutes. We started off with the small circles and then did about fifteen minutes of loping circles. She was fighting me with both direction and speed so I just kept her going. I was wearing spurs and it was helping me guide her, but I just don't feel comfortable wearing them (yeah, I know I shouldn't). When we stopped in the center to take a break I took them off and we did the other direction without them. I wanted to see if they made a difference. It wasn't substantial. She did maintain her gait much better in that direction. To cool off we worked on yielding forequarters and the beginning of the spin. I was able to get a good step in each direction.

It was only 7am but I was pretty hot and so was she, so I hosed her off and let her stand awhile before giving her breakfast and heading off to work.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Weekend

Friday evening was pretty warm. We had plans to ride and by the time we got home and all our stuff done it was 6:45pm. When Ranae asked if I wanted to go for a ride I said how about we go for a "sit". Craig Cameron is always saying, "They call it riding, not sittin'", well, sometimes it's just nice to go out without anything in mind but to enjoy the evening. We meandered down the canal and back on a nice 45 min. ride. Someone had abandoned a 3 week old kitten by the canal, so we took it home and gave it a bath, food and water.

Saturday was much cooler and we got to ride around 4 pm. The route we wanted to go took us out through a little arena where the "charros" spend Saturday afternoon doing their cow bulldogging. That's where they ride down a fence line, reach down grab the cow's tail and flip the cow down. Don't see much sport in that, but they find it quite enjoyable and they didn't mind us watching for a bit.

We headed out toward the city farm and got in a couple of good long trots and a number of lopes in using the roads between the crop fields. We rode for a little more than 2 hours. We were getting pretty good at trotting side-by-side, but when we wanted to lope it turned into a race. We still need more work at that.

Sunday morning we set up the cones and rails. We essentially had three stations and Susan joined us as we practiced things from the clinic. We set up a set of cones Craig Cameron likes to set up and you do a circle around then you go in one set, through the middle and turn the other way going out. We did it at a trot, then we did it at a lope. It really helps get the steering working well. I was incorporating the hand and leg positions Matt taught us and Jessie did very well. We dropped to a trot to change leads. Here's a crude drawing of how we set up the cones:

We also worked on side-passing and backing up. I put my spurs on for this session and Jessie was more responsive. After about an hour it was time to put the horses up and head out to spend the afternoon with my oldest brother and my Dad. It was a fun weekend.