Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year's Eve Shenaningans

Life has been SUCH a whirlwind since New Year's Eve! I've fallen far behind on reading blogs, commenting on blogs, and writing on my own blog. I've got a lot of time in the next several days to catch up on all of those things though!

I had friends visiting over the holiday, and Jess was very interested in racking up a lot of horse time while she was in. Fine by me! We got out to see the horses on NYE and January 1 for a significant amount of time.

On NYE we had the boys, Jorge and Jeremy in tow with us. I began their visit to the barn as I do all visits for newbies around horses in this fashion: liberty work with both of my horses to demonstrate the importance of body language and the huge difference between individual horses. I find that few people are familiar with this kind of thing, yet all of them are highly intrigued and interested by it once I begin. Its all cake for my horses. Its also a great kick start to whatever we're about to do that day. It gets their attention on me and into a "work" mode.

Once I'd finished with my short demos, I tacked up Q for Jess in her halter-bridle and the Ansur. I popped her up onto Q in the inside round pen with some short instruction, then focused my attention elsewhere while they got to know one another.

My attention was focused on getting the little grey horse tacked up in the Aussie stock saddle of Mike's that he left for me to play with. It fits Griffin well, and is a great new tool for riding him since the cantle is so high and the braces really allow for me to sucker myself down in the saddle despite shenanigans on his part.

I started on NYE by throwing Jeremy up on Griffin in the indoor. Griffin figured out in an instant that Jeremy wasn't going to push him very hard and quickly chose standing in the center of the round pen immobile over walking anywhere. I instructed Jeremy to be more assertive with his requests to get Griffin to go, but having witnessed Griffin's antics, Jeremy was hesitant to do this. So I swapped out with Jeremy and got on Griffin to guarantee the little grey horse didn't pick up some bad habits from this little game he was learning to win.

Jess and Q were getting along well in the indoor, so despite temps in the 30s + gusty winds, I suggested we head out to the larger outdoor round pen. This space is significantly larger than what is available in the barn, much better for two people on two horses.

Griffin was in his halter-bridle this day, as well, because I didn't feel like dealing with his crankiness in the bridle with others around. Its definitely something we need to work on, but the argument we typically have wasn't worth having on that day with others around. He moves out much better with less to focus on. He's been responding to the pressure from a halter the entire time I've had him, the bit is new in the past year and has been used significantly less than the halter, so he isn't as accustomed or predictable with it. Time will fix this, certainly. And time is what I have. On NYE though, I just wanted to have a good day with him. Thus, I set him up for a better chance at success by using the halter-bridle.

The stirrups on the Aussie saddle were a little bit long for me, but they were bearable with my Muck boots on that have a thicker sole. I'd not been in an Aussie saddle in a long time, and I quickly realized how much I liked this style saddle for riding Griffin. The braces in front of my thighs coupled with a very high cantle really allowed me to lock myself in when Griffin threatened shenanigans as I tried to push him into a trot. The added confidence of being fairly certain I would not come out of the saddle led to me pushing him along until he acquiesced to my request. He didn't buck.

After I'd succeeded a few times at getting him from the walk to the trot, he seemed to realize the jig was up and quit being SO cranky about it. He was still moderately cranky because the frozen footing wasn't very comfortable, but he obliged me all the same with some nice transitions and forward movement.

I think this Aussie saddle may be just the ticket for when I'm working him off the trail!

I ended Griffin on a good note and then rode Q for a bit as Jess was done for the day.

I've been working a LOT with Q in the inside round pen bareback and bridleless. Inside, away from the weather and other distractions coupled with the smaller space, she's great. I can execute reverses, small circles, cutting the round pen in half, halting, and backing up. I decided I'd try it outside on NYE for Jess, Jorge, and Jeremy to see.

Q was good, but not as stellar as she was inside. I suppose this is to be expected.

Watching the videos though, it doesn't look as bad as I'd thought in my mind.

I've got hope that we'll be better at this with time and patience. =) Its certainly fun. And it makes for beautiful photos and videos!

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