Monday, January 31, 2011

If Jessie Had My Dog's Rollback

We would win every competition that scored for rollbacks. Max has the perfect rollback. It's up on his back end and it's 180 degrees and perfect. Ah, if it were only transferable.

It's been cold and damp with fog here all week. The Tule fog we are known for in this area seeps through your clothes, clenches whatever warmth you have, and yanks it right out of you. By the afternoon it had warmed up enough to try and ride. Ranae was staying in the house, so I thought we would just go over to the old alfalfa field for a few exercises - just to get a ride in. The neighbors were dragging the pen where we usually do our groundwork and I just did a little "check-up" in the yard before leaving.

Jessie walked out to the field nice and calmly. When we got there the fallow field was now oozing with about ten inches of wild, yummy, green, green grass just for the taking. We started trotting around and Jessie could not believe her good fortune. I had brought her out here - alone - so she could have all this grass herself! Her trot was fast and excited as she was looked around and I countered with the serpentine exercise. Every time I brought her head from one side to the other she would drop it and try for a bite of grass. About the third change of direction SHE decided to demonstrate her frustration by kicking up. I gave her a strong correction by yielding hindquarters and we started again. Apparently, my correction had not been strong enough because she immediately did it again. I made her hustle pretty good (or so I thought) doing both sides this time. After the third time, I moved her off the grass and made her hustle. Now, the ride wasn't much fun anymore (for me anyway. She was having a great time). I decided to get off an make her work really hard. I started lungeing her and the first three or four changes of direction were a rodeo. She reared big time, pulled back (I had gloves on and went with her), and kicked up. I just kept doing it because "heart attacks are free". After about five minutes I did some desensitizing, then some backing up and then back to the lungeing. The second time around was much smoother and quieter and I had most of my horse back. She was still tight and now my boots were wet from tromping around in the tall, wet grass. I baited her to take a bite of the grass and she passed. I got back on and walked her around the the outskirts of the field moving in and out of the grassy areas. I didn't really want get into another battle of wills just then, though looking back perhaps I should have. It was getting dark and we headed back home where I worked with her in our yard, which has grass just obviously not as tasty, and we ran through four or five exercises very nicely. I tied her up to the patience pole for about an hour before feeding her.


The forecast called for rain. It was cloudy and had sprinkled early in the morning, but the temperatures were noticeably warmer. About 11:30 we decided the rain couldn't hurt us more than not riding, so we headed out. About a mile out, there was a fairly strong and steady sprinkle. It looked like it was passing through so, as quickly as we could, we headed for the one tree on our route that could offer protection. We stood there for a few minutes then headed further out to the development. I loped Jessie around and she did very well. The circles were a bit awkward with inconsistent speed, but loping a big rectangle was much better. She kept her lines much straighter and her speed was more consistent. We did a few side-passing games and backing up then headed for home.

About two blocks from home it started to rain steadily. By the time we made it through the gate is was raining hard. By the time we got them untacked and put away, it was really coming down. By the time we got in the house and into dry clothes it had stopped. Later Sunday evening it really poured and there was half an inch of rain in my gauge. But, at least, we got our ride in!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Our Little Jumpers

We've been playing around with jumping 55 gallon barrels during our groundwork sessions. The horses have been getting better at it so we thought we would try it under saddle. HUH?!?!

We had a really nice ride Saturday. We loped for 5 minutes trying to get her back in condition. It is still cool here and I didn't want to work up too much of a sweat. We did a lot of transitions and Jessie seem to be listening well.

Sunday we set up the back area with props. We put the barrels, cones, pipes out and went to warm up. We did some groundwork first and worked on jumping the barrels and did our other exercises like C-pattern, backing up, etc. After tacking up, we did a little warm up and Ranae took Dusty over the barrels. He did pretty good. She went over a couple of times in one direction. Then it was our turn. I trotted Jessie by the barrels a couple of times and she seemed to want to jump, but I steered her away (approach & retreat). Then we trotted up and she went right over. I must admit the landing was a bit rough. I'm not sure where my body is supposed to be, but I'm fairly certain it's not where I was at the time. We tried it a couple of times in each direction and she actually seemed to enjoy (accept) it fairly well. After about 40 minutes of playing around we went out on a long trot circling our usual haunts. There is little to compare with the feeling you get when you ask your horse to do something challenging and they come through.

It was a good weekend.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yeah, We're Still Here

I realize it's been over a month since our last post. December was crazy with rain and the business has kept me fairly busy (thankfully) since Christmas. So here is a quick recap:

Bakersfield total rainfall averages just under 6 inches a year. With the season a little more than half over we've had over 7 inches so far. Most of that fell the 10 days before Christmas. Our pens, which are 40' x 45' each, where completely covered in water. The horses pack down the ground all year long so it's lower than the surrounding area, then when the rain comes it's like a big bowl catching the water.

A few days before Christmas I decided I would try to pump the water out. I got a submersible pump and hooked it up to 150' of garden hose to go to the street and had extension cords and such all ready to go. It was about 9 o'clock at night by the time I got everything hooked up. Just to insure the horses safety fro electrical shock We took them out of their pens before we plugged the pump in.

Jessie had been none too pleased with her accommodations for the last four days and she let me know about it. I didn't blame her. It was a crappy situation and we should have better stables in place to protect them from the elements. I let her bounce around the end of the lead rope for awhile and get it out of her system. The ground was still very slippery though and I didn't want her to hurt herself so I regained control by doing some yielding and backing.

Over the next couple of days (and a couple of pumps) we got most of the standing water out of there and we were just left with mud. The weekend weather has been too ugly to do much riding but we have been able to do groundwork at every opportunity. The sun is out today and it hasn't rained for a couple of weeks now and the ground is finally drying up. I moved some dirt around our property to try and give her a high dry spot to at least lay down on. We're hopeful we can get back in the saddle this weekend...both of us really need it.

We have a new video. It's a bit of a recap of some of our past experiences set to music. I wrote the music publisher trying to get "official" permission to use the music, but never heard back. I'm not sure if youtube will remove it or not. Even though I have music right to some generic music, it's so much nicer to put together a montage to music that means something to you.