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.