Sunday, July 4, 2010

Breezy Beth

My trail ridin' buddy Pat has always admired Kate, so I bribed her to come down and ride her, if she would just accompany me on Beth for our first venture into the big pasture.
Pat's first impression:
Oh, my! She is wide!
Kate tried to buffalo Pat a little, but Pat's a good enough rider to put an end to that right away!
We started out in the arena, with Pat getting to know Kate, and me warming Beth up. This was Beth's third ride this week, and I pushed (and I mean pushed!) her into a few short jogs. Next ride I'll either put on my stubby spurs (trainer guy rode in his big western spurs) or carry my dressage whip for a little added motivation.
We ventured down to the pasture gate, and Pat dismounted to open it. But the wind was blowing something awful, and as we left the lee side of the house, it hit us full force, nearly snatching the gate from Pat's hands! Beth was unwilling to go past the security of Kate (waiting to close the gate) and I decided it wasn't a good day to push our luck with a very green horse, so we decided to stay in the paddock area--which was also new to Beth. It was at this point that I realized I should have the camera, so Pat held Beth while I ran back inside for it.
I had these four posts set up a little to let them air dry a bit before I use them to replace the rickety 4'"X4" posts to the left of us, but they seemed as good as any place to mount.
Beth stood well--twice--Pat wasn't ready with the camera the first time!
Here, she has moved away from the posts a bit, but then stood until asked to move forward--a must in my book.
Then we decided to use the posts as a training opportunity.
(Please note the heavy sweatshirts, and the directionality of Beth's tail in these photos! It's the second of July, by golly, and it's only 60F!)
Beth hesitated the first time through the "obstacle", then proceeded to walk every which way through it that I might ask.
Pat took this photo as I was describing how Jackson was tossing his "toy" (an old horse blanket) around the other day while I was on Beth for only the second time. Pat was impressed that Beth was standing so quietly for my demonstration. I had been impressed with her tolerating Jackson's play.We tried to stand her up for some nice shots against the green of the pasture.
Relaxed, but ears at half mast.
Here, something surprised Beth a bit. We got the ears up, but it's not exactly a "pleasure horse" stance.
I dun gud, right Ma?

On another front...
Or actually, I guess it was another back...
I've been slowly bringing Maddie back into work after her lay-up. Two weeks ago, we started with some easy lunging, to gauge whether she was still showing any tenderness on her left fore. (I also had been asked for a video by a prospective buyer.)

She seemed to be moving okay, so this week I began riding her, starting with 10-15 minute walk/jog sessions, with her Sports Medicine Boots on, for support for her forelegs.
We started mostly in the arena, but took a short ride up the road one day. You would have thought she was ready for an endurance race, the way she headed out the driveway. You would have thought she'd never been away from home, the way she stalled once we hit the road and encountered hazards such as the bridge over the irrigation ditch, a field of cut but unbaled hay, a telephone pole! But we worked through it. The return trip home, we practiced a lot of half-halts (she was ready to be home!) and stopping to stand patiently while I gabbed with the neighbor (also good manners for a horse).
Yesterday we moved up to a regular work session at the jog and working trot. Mostly I needed to remind her where her head belonged, so we did lots of circles, serpentines, and transitions until she was carrying it nicely flexed, with a very light contact.It was the most real work either of us had done in quite a while, so we interspersed the trot work with lots of quiet walk and standing to catch our respective breaths.
I must say, I'm a little sore today!

Suffice it to say, I'm feeling good that my second week of vacation has included much more time with the horses. I'm riding at least one a day, and I'm all caught up on hoof trimming. We started haying this past week, but that never starts until 2-ish in the afternoon, so I'm getting some of my own little projects finished up each morning...after riding. The biggest one for this summer will start with those four posts, and will include at least 12 or 15 more posts, depending on how efficient the PTO post hole digger is that I borrowed.

Edited to add:
Replying to Kate's comment reminded me that I forgot to tell you about Maddie's silliness on Saturday. The first time, she was making her "fuss-face" at me about the work we were doing: ears back (almost but not quite pinned) and you could almost hear her growling at me. When she didn't work out of it after a minute, I reached up and flat-handed her on the neck! It really surprised her, and she jumped hard to the other side. Of course, I'm already a bit off balance from reaching out, so I had to scramble to grab some mane. But it seemed to do the trick: no more fuss-face and she got down to work.
The second incident was as we were finishing up. I had been working on some yielding to my leg and asked Maddie to side pass up to the fence so I could retrieve a short 20 foot piece of hose looped there. She was fine with that, until that "snake" started to crawl off the fence towards her! I momentarily thought that once it was of the fence and hanging quietly at her side she would be okay, but her lateral movement at that point was getting mighty fast, so I decided not to press the point--I dropped the offending hose and got her settled, then we went back and investigated her "kill" on the ground.
What impressed me was that I stuck with her, unlike that fateful day last summer, and it was a boost for my confidence. It will translate to my work with Beth, as well, because she has shown herself to be sensible enough not to explode when flustered, and all I need to do is stick with her in those "green horse" moments.


  1. Have you lost weight? You look great on Beth! She's a really lovely shade this summer. She looks green but willing :)

  2. Beth looks great! And so nice that you're getting in some good work with all of them.

  3. Funder--Yes I have, thank you for noticing. The one positive thing that came out of the pneumonia episode: 20 pounds in 20 days! A little has snuck back on, but now that school is out (there ALWAYS seems to be goodies in the staff room) and I'm working more physically I hope to drop a little more.

    Kate--Yes it feels good to be back at it. And twice yesterday Maddie jumped BIG underneath me, and I stuck with her, so I'm feeling a bit more confident too. Now to just get this body more fit!

  4. Excellent!! I loved the close up of Beth darned cute that golden bay mare!