Friday, July 23, 2010

The Old Sam

The old Sam was with me this afternoon. Sam has been grumpy for a while now but this afternoon he was happy to be with me and work with me. I didn't have long but I wanted to lunge him for a bit and try a new piece of equipment I got. It is the kincade lunging system. The jury is still out but I think it was ok.

Sam was just really soft, looking for me, happy to be with me. I hope he stays around for bit!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hay feeder and SAM has a break through!

My hay feeder is now finished!!!!! I got the idea from 'the hay saver grazing box' Last night was the first night they got to eat from it with the mesh over the top and it certainly helped with the wastage. When I put the hay on the ground they would walk all through it, put it in the hay feeder without the mesh they nose it out so I was happy to see some hay left in the feeder but hardly any on the ground! I like this because their head is in a more natural feeding position. With hay nets and bags I found when they pulled the hay out it helped develop the wrong muscles - under their neck. It also slows them down a lot, keeps them occupied longer both good points I think.
These are some photos from yesterday when I let them out into the lane way.

I forgot to tell you about the big achievement Sam made yesterday!

A bit of back ground first - If he ever stepped on his lead rope he used to freak out, rush backwards and panic. I have been working with this problem a little. I didn't really want to leave a halter on him with a lead rope attached and hope he figured it out - I was concerned he would really hurt or bruise his poll area. When I did any groundwork with him I would pass the lead rope in between his front legs and have it around the pastern area and hold onto the end. If Sam lifted his head then the lead rope would move along his pastern area and put some pressure on his poll. In the beginning he couldn't even cope with this - he would still freak out and rush backwards. Soon he realised to give to the pressure and keep his head down and not fight. I did this with all four legs.

Yesterday when I was over in the reserve after I had finished riding I let the lead rope fall to the ground while he was munching and I was walking around collecting kindling for the fire. I turned around to get him and there he was, head lowered because he was standing in his lead rope!!!!! No panic just standing there watching me, I guess waiting for me to help him! I laughed, asked him to back up and gave him a huge scratch!!!!! I was so proud of him! I really didn't do that training often - probably about 3 times over a 6 week period and for only about 5 - 10min each time. I was really impressed that it had worked, I wasn't sure if I was on the right track or not.

I also found out to hire the indoor arena at the Uni is only $15 an hour!!!!! Now I just have to figure out when I can fit it in!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Double Post Today

This afternoon the sun came out around 3pm. I raced outside, brushed Sam and did some float loading practice. I did this yesterday and was able to get him to load and to stand there while I did the back of the float up. Today I took Sam up to the float, tied him too the float while I put the ramp down and opened it all up. I untied Sam and up he went. Stood still while I closed up the back and walked away. I was so proud!!!!!! That was it I wasn't going to do it again.

There is something that I would like to teach Sam but I am having trouble with teaching him. If I am standing on a mounting block and I would like him to move closer I would like to be able to tap him on the 'off side' to get him to step into me so he is closer. I tried standing at his shoulder and tapping the off side hip. He moved forward, backward, into the whip anyway but towards me. I put the lead rope on the off side and held it up at his wither and turned his head slightly away from me. My reason - so he couldn't go through that off side shoulder. He still moved forward, backward, into the pressure with his hindquarter. At one point I felt a slight shift in his weight toward me so I stopped tapping immediately and praised him. I tried again but got no where. I understand why he won't step into me because he has never been allowed too but now I actually want him too. I guess I will just keep trying.

I then took him out onto the road and we went for a little jog. It took a bit for him to relax next to me but soon he started to stretch down and relax. I then took him into the reserve. I decided to hope on board so I lead him up to a stump, tied the lead rope to his halter and jumped on board! He was quite happy to take me around. After we had wandered around for a bit we headed for home. When we reached a flat section I did some working on halting and turning. I concentrated on my position, what were my legs doing?, what was my back and shoulders doing? He was soon halting straight, moving off straight and bending around my inside leg - why because I concentrated on myself!

When we got back home I thought I would have one more go at loading Sam - why do we do things again when we should just leave them alone? Not that it took long but he did bawk a few times. The best thing was that he backed out one step at a time!!!!!

Still Wet

We had some lovely weather on the weekend - sun was out and the ground had a chance to dry a little. The paddocks were still way to wet to sow and I think it will be a few weeks now before we can have chance to do it.

I was able to ride Sam on Sunday. We could only go out along the road - he was silly as he is full of beans. Poor bugger has been locked up most of the week. At least I know he will walk for me. I had a lot of trouble getting him to settle in the trot so I bought him back to a walk - just to be on the safe side. I think some of it was also that he wanted to turn for home. Today the drizzle rain is back so no riding.

Last night hubby and I put the electric fence up in the lane way so this morning I put them out there. Sam was happy to put his head down and eat, Gull had to check it all out, snort, gallop out, cautiously go back in and check it out again. Due to the grass being to green I only let the stay out there for about an hour. Gave them a hour and a half break then let them back out again for another hour and a half. I have bought them back in and will leave them in for about two and half hours and then put them out for about another hour.

I think I will look into hiring the Uni's indoor arena once or twice a week. I would really like to enter Sam in the dressage comp at the end of August but if I can't work him then there really isn't any point.

I have been a follower and active in Quests forum for a while now and last week they asked me to join their team rescuing horses/educating the community. We are an Australia wide group and help horses in need where we can. I might be getting my first rescue case soon. A Quarter horse mare who has been left in a paddock with a 2yo colt so we are presuming she is pregnant. She has gone through a few fences and is meant to have some nasty wounds. Problem is she is located 5 hours away. Someone is checking her today to see if she will cope with the trip and if so she will come here for treatment. If she is pregnant once I have her healed to an extent she will then go to another team member who has the facilities to deal with a pregnant mare and then a foal. I am excited but also very nervous. I will keep you posted with what will happen!

I hope your having wonderful pony time!!!!! Don't forget to give them kisses and carrots!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rain, rain go away.......

We have had so much rain in the last two days I think the horses are going to grow webbed hooves. Last night OH and I even opened up the shelter so the horses could get out of the biting wind and rain. I figured how much damage can they do? It is already so muddy in there. They love it! It was certainly a lot warmer for them being able to get out of the wind at least.

So they have been locked up since Tuesday afternoon. This afternoon I let them out into the paddock for an hour - help stretch their legs, have a pick, hopefully raise their spirits a little. I think it worked because they were still more than happy to come back in for dinner. Tomorrow I will let them out for about two hours and Saturday a few more. It is just that wet in the paddock as well.

We were going to seed the paddocks this weekend but that won't be happening now. I will take Sam out for a walk on the road to help keep him a little sane but that is about all we will achieve riding wise. It will probably be a ground working weekend - that really isn't a bad thing!

Have fun with your ponies!

Just some pictures for your viewing pleasure

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bad days and Good days

I haven't been able to do much at all lately due to work and the weather. This winter in the Riverina area is the wettest we have had in 10 years. This is great news for farmers and I am happy too but I would like the rain to go away even if it is just for 2 - 3 weeks. Just let the ground dry out, let my shelter dry out so I can put a base down so the ponies can actually use it!!!!! Saturday after work I was able lunge Sam before the rain started. He let off a bit of steam with some bucking and carrying on but he still listened enough to change gaits.

A Bad Day

Sunday I was able to have a ride but not until late - I didn't mount until about 4.45pm. Due to the amount of rain we have had even the reserve was going to be slippery so I decided to head down the road. Sam was forward and eager to do something. He walked out with a big swinging stride even though we went down a road he has never been down before. At the bottom of the hill I asked him to trot. No problem he tells me. He was happy to let me set the pace, I could really feel him pushing from behind. Ears pricked, eyes I am sure where bright and a spring in his step. Our road is quiet but people drive along at a high speed so I only went as far as a blind corner then I asked him to turn back the way we had come. Poor Sam was not happy with this decision. He walked so slowly and kept trying to turn around - didn't I feel terrible so on the way home we had gone past a lane. I took him up there about 200m but I could see sheep ahead and Sam just does not do sheep. It was getting late and the sun sets around 5.45pm at the moment so I decided to turn around again and head for home. Once again Sam was not happy with this decision. I arrived home and he walked straight past the front gate. I thought how lucky am I to have a horse that is willing to get out there and explore!

You are probably wondering why on earth have I classed this as a bad day? You know when you have those days when nothing is easy? I had had one of those days. When I went to unsaddle Sam he kept moving into me. Poor Sam then felt the bad mood in me come out. We did some ground work on personal space, giving to pressure and keeping the head down when rugging. I should have walked away as I was asking for things strongly but still rewarding quickly but I did feel for him. It certainly tuned him up though he was moving off pressure quickly and lightly and kept out of my personal space. I did give him a few handful of pellets when we were done because I felt bad.

Good Day
Monday - today was a beautiful day. Warm, sun shining but still didn't go as planned!!!! The didn't stop ringing and people wanted to talk for ages! I wanted to ride around midday but didn't get out there until 2.45. Even though it was beautiful weather the ground was still very soft and slippery so I planned that we would 'go around the block' I guess it is about 3-4km. Out our front gate turn left, down the road and turn left onto the lane. About 400m up the lane are a mob of sheep. Now Sam has never really liked sheep. He stopped and really had a good look. I could feel his little heart pounding through my seat. At one point he even tried to turn back around. I dismounted to walk him past. I find he seems to be able to cope with scary things a little better if I am beside him. Sometimes he likes to be touching me and other times he is happy to just have me beside him. He watched to the sheep as we passed. We walked up past a house and past some yards. I noticed something up ahead so decided to stay unmounted and all of a sudden there was a loud honking behind us, poor Sam whirled around (but stayed out of my personal space so maybe yesterdays training did do some good) and we watched this massive goose walk away honking. That was interesting. Sam would not walk away until the goose was out of sight. I little further up the lane we met a mum and her two children. The kids had a pat of Sam and I decided to remount.

Up around the corner we came across another mob of sheep behind some trees. Sam stood and watched. I waited not wanting to push him on before he was ready. The sheep ran off after a bit and Sam happily watched them and then was happy to keep going. The lane way became a little dense with trees and I could feel Sam getting a little worried but he kept going. We had a lot of stopping but he is happy to keep going once you give him a moment. Further along we came across another house with a lot of ponies running around. Sam was good with the ponies running around but then there was a large shed and a lot of noise coming from it. He was having trouble with this one as well so I dismounted and walked him past. A dog was barking at us as well but we couldn't see it, I was concerned it would race around the side of the shed but we were in luck. The end of the lane way was just there.

Turn left onto Collingullie Road. Bitumen road that quite a few large semi trailers use. I mounted and we walked up the middle of the road. You can see a fair distance in front and behind so I felt safe that I would have more than enough time to move to the side if needs be. I pushed Sam into a trot and he happily trotted up the road, active behind a little heavy in my hands but lightened when asked. He also came back to a lovely pace when asked. We travelled around a km up the road and our last turn left down the 'alpaca lane' On this corner a friend lives so we dropped in and had a chat. Sam happily munched the green grass, sniffed her dog and generally relaxed. Mounted up again and down the lane way - nearly home!!!!! We also had a lovely trot until we spotted a huge stump. This was scary so we had to stop, look, sniff, walk on.

It was a lovely ride and I really believe Sam enjoyed getting out, seeing new sights. We were gone for an hour and a half. Rain is predicted again tomorrow and Wednesday so hopefully it will then stop and dry in time for the weekend!!!!

Happy trails!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

All Finished!

All finished!!!!I just have to put some footing in the shelter and it is all ready to use!!!!! I have taped it off from the horses for now. I am very excited to start using it!!!
I was saddling up Sam on Monday for a ride but he and Gull decided that a spot of grooming was in order first.
When I finally got Sam back we headed off down a new track - at the end there are alpacas, a huge pig, barking dogs that race up and down the fence line. I just rode Sam in a halter, I am feeling that I have just as much control with a halter as a bridle these days. I was ready for fireworks but once again Sam handled everything with such grace. I hoped off to lead him past all of this but he was too concerned with the two horses that raced up to the fence for a chat! Alpacas no problem. Happy to munch on the green grass while we have a look at them. Dogs no problem, the pig wasn't anywhere to be seen. I was so proud on him!
This is starting out looking down the lane way. This runs alongside our house.

I let Wilbur out in the mornings on his harness to have a bit of out door time before I go to work. The other morning I found him basking in the sun.....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Catch up!

5th Day of Shelter
6th Day of Shelter
So the shelter fingers crossed will be finished tomorrow - it is huge!!!! I think I did over kill! The stable will end up being 4mx4m or 13.12feet x 13.12feet. I won't be getting it divided into stables just yet so I think there will be enough room in there to feed the two horses in there without fights - very handy!

I worked Sam on Saturday but he seemed tense and distracted so I started with ground work. We worked for about 30min and I was able to ride him in a halter only over in the reserve. Just at a walk but he was in an exploring mood so I sort of let him decide where we went. So it ended up a good ride.

Today we stayed in the arena to begin with. I concentrated on myself - I started with my relaxation exercises and let Sam just walk and trot around freely. After our warm up I took up a light contact and without really asking Sam started to round. He wasn't holding a frame for the entire circle but certainly was giving me some nice work. I really started to focus on my position - the better I rode the better Sam went! Amazing isn't it - not really just goes to show, you ride properly and your horse can then work as they are not being hindered by the rider. To cool down I took him over to the reserve. We went for a canter and then back to a walk and took a long track home to cool down.

My OH played farmer today. We borrowed our neighbours little tractor and rotary hoe. He had a great time and did a wonderful job. I even got him to use it to create a few garden bed for me where we could get it in - no point digging when I get a machine to do it!

It was freezing today and the fog didn't left until 2.30 this afternoon. Hopefully next weekend it will be sown with pasture where the big tractor can get in - the rest I will sow by hand. It is getting pretty exciting around here!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My lesson and 3rd day of the shelter

I have been so nervous all day about my lesson. I had to float Sam into my instructors place so I was nervous about floating him, about how he would react at a new place, how backwards my riding has gone lately. I have been sick to my stomach for most of the day.

Sam loaded reasonably well. I wasn't overly happy with it taking 10min but when I look at his history that is very good. He probably sensed my nervousness and was feeding off that. We loaded up and my other half drove for me. I appreciated it because I really wasn't feeling up to it.

We arrived with 30min to spare. Unloaded Sam, walked him around with me while I was looking for a chock for the float. Sam was happy to follow me around with a low head carriage, grabbing a bite to eat when he could. OH held him by the float and I saddled him up. I thought I would lead him down to the arena in his halter and put the bridle on when we were ready. My instructor was already there so we could get started straight away. I mounted and we walked around the arena letting him have a look at everything. He took it all in and didn't spook once. We worked on getting him to go forward at the walk and getting me to relax! So we went through my relaxation exercises and moved up to the trot. We worked mainly on my position for the entire lesson. It was really good. I felt confidant and was reminded of the following points -
# use my ankles in trot as springs
# to stay light in my seat in the canter but maintaining leg length - stretching down through my legs
# when on a circle don't drop the inside shoulder and DON'T take your hands towards the outside - make the inside leg stronger to stop him from falling in - kick if needs be!!!!!

Sam worked well, active behind with out rushing. He did work very hard due to the sand that he had to work through. In all I was worried about nothing - as usual and he loaded very well to come home!

The shelter is coming along nicely. Steve thinks he should be done by Sunday/Monday - I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!