Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring? Farmin'--and A Windy Day in Washtucna

Spring break is here, even if spring hasn't made an appearance yet.

Finally got my garage/shop plans finished, and approved by the county!  Lumber package delivered.
Bulbs that Pat delivered in a grocery bag are starting to sprout--guess I'd better get them planted...
More baby trees! [from Plants of the Wild]
Rented tiller doing a job on the sandy end of my arena. 
Also chopped up two pastures for re-seeding.
Home-made drag--didn't work as well as I'd hoped.
Added some weight and it was a little better.
Sandy, supervising.
Seeding with broadcast spreader loaned with the purchase of seed.
Adding more seed.
In amongst all this farming, I actually got in a little bit of horse time.  Pat and I hauled down to Valley View Training Center as often as possible during February.  The first time I just took Kate, and she was very good--none of the "airs above the ground" that we usually get the first time out in the new year.

The next time I took Maddie along--didn't ask much of her, just a little bit of relaxed longeing, and then asked her to stand quietly while I worked Kate.  Not only did that not work out so well, Kate also dug a hole to China while she was tied waiting for me to finish with Maddie!

So the following weekend, they both had a lesson in patience...
I have used hobbles on Kate before, but not in a while.  Once she tested them a bit, Kate was pretty good.  Not particularly happy, but good.
Maddie, on the other hand, has never had an initial session with her legs hobbled, so we went to the center of the arena, put them on, and then stepped back to let her explore the experience.  Maddie's always been very sensible when her legs get tangled in anything, so when she stood like a rock I figured that was that.  But when I mounted Kate and began a little work with her, Maddie tried to follow us.

When she tried to step forward, and couldn't, she started to lose her balance, forward towards her nose.  It took her a couple of hops to regain it, but by then she figured out that she could hop on around the space a bit.  Unfortunately, the limitations of the hobbles meant that to maintain her balance, she had to "gal-oop" forward.  She completed four circuits of the arena before deciding that was too much work.  (Pat's green little horse, Chief, handled it quite well, though his eyes got pretty big when Maddie came barreling down the side of the arena towards him; I hopped off Kate to stay out of the way.)  Once Maddie got stopped, I started working Kate again, beginning at the same end of the arena as Maddie.  But as I moved away, Maddie once more gal-ooped along--but this time less than a quarter of a lap.  Then she positioned herself in the corner, facing out, where she could keep an eye on us, but made no further effort to follow.

Once I had worked Kate a bit at the walk and a little jogging, we practiced our ponying, and called it a day.

The next weekend, both girls stood quietly without the benefit of the hobbles.
Maddie worked very nicely on the longe, with no fuss about saddling.  She also stood quietly at the mounting block while I bounced up and down, then laid across her back and stood in the stirrups.  If I'd had my helmet on I might have gone ahead and climbed on, as she showed no hint of her past issues about mounting!  But by the time I retrieved my brain bucket, I'd had enough time to over-think the prospect, and decided that it was not the day to push my luck. 
I went on to work Kate instead.  Significant thing here was that Kate and I actually got into the lope that day--off-balance and dis-jointed, but we did it! 
The following week we got it again, but Kate attitude was lousy.  I'm not sure if it is just that she feels so awkward, that I'm not sitting it well, or if the saddle is an issue with her, as we have suspected it might be with Maddie.  I really don't want to start shopping again!

Fast forward to spring break:
After last fall's mini-clinic and competition at Hooper Crossing Ranch, I had set my sights on doing a semi-private lesson with Keith Danielson again in the spring.  My hope was to get two other riders from the Kittitas Valley Trail Riders to join me, to keep the overall price down, and share gas costs.  As it turned out, we took six riders, five horses and a mule (Gracie Belle!) in two trailers, and ended up with another mini-clinic.

We started out in the arena, doing a lot of suppling work and lateral movements.
Then moved to some poles and other obstacles.
Then we headed out on the outside course!

KATE! leading a couple of greenies across the squishy board! (along with some of the other water obstacles).
 All in all, Kate had a great day!  She tried all but one of the obstacles, even getting across the astro-turf covered, horse-eating mattress!  The only one she wouldn't have anything to do with was stepping up on the stump--she couldn't see any point to that, since she could just as easily walk around.
The biggest compliments we got were when Warren (on the bay Paint "Willybegood") got all excited that Kate was able to convince the two youngsters to cross the water (it was Warren who helped me get Maddie across her first creek, three years ago), and when Michelle commented that "Kate is really getting to be a great trail horse!"

Life is good!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you've been busy on the farm for sure. A lot of nice work with Maddie and Kate. I'll bet you're proud of the compliment about her being great trail horse!