Thank you to everyone who signed up! I was a bit nervous posting it. I would have felt like a big loser with no friends had nobody signed up 🙂 Hopefully this becomes the motivation people need to get out and donate their time back to the sport they love.
Below is a list of everyone I have that signed up. If you signed up but are missing from the list, please let me know and I’ll add you. There are 12 on the list which will make it a fun contest for the year!!
A page has been created as well where I will post points as they come in and act as a way for you guys to double check me and make sure I don’t miss anything.
I’ll post reminders as we go to help you guys send in your activity for the drawings. Remember, prizes are given monthly and quarterly! You can submit on any blog post, by emailing me at agemofahorse at gmail dot com or by commenting on the page itself. Lots of chances to submit and win!
If anyone has volunteer hours to submit for January, get on it and be eligible for the first random drawing to take place on 2/1/18!
It was 58F and a bit humid when I got home Wednesday night from work. Having just come off nearly two weeks below freezing it felt darn near summer like. There was no way I wasn’t going to ride!
Feeding the horses took 1/5th the amount of time without having to de ice water buckets and I found myself turning on the arena lights to ride for the first time.
Exercise #2 is a single ground pole set in the middle of the arena and used as the center of a figure 8. You are supposed to mark the center of the pole or use a striped pole (which is what I have) to use as the target for going over the pole each time. Then you ride various sized figure 8s in both directions over the pole. Goals include proper bend, symmetry and proper geometry. The main focus was about learning to look several strides ahead so that you were looking at the pole many strides out (they didn’t specifics how many) and then looking ahead once you were at the pole instead of at it. This was to be done at the walk and trot.
I dressed Gem in the dressage gear this time and we headed out. The darkness played in my favor as she had nothing to look at outside the arena and was forced to focus on me.
The exercise was less exciting than number one and I tried to mix it up as best as I could but it was still pretty repetitive. Repetition is not good for Gem which made this exercise harder than the first one. Gem did super well though and we even started to have a baby amount of bend which is way better than the mostly counter bent way of going we perfected on Sunday.
After a while I decided to canter her for the first time in the arena. This is a big space and I am a wimp, so I’ve been avoiding it but it felt like as good a time as any. She picked up the correct lead no issue but then decided she was having fun and wanted to play. She spent the first two circles flinging her head from side to side and threatening to throw in a few happy bucks. 19 year old mare won’t grow up.
Just as she was settling in and I was preparing to canter a 20 m circle over the ground pole, Wyatt came over and wanted to talk so we meandered to the gate and chatted with him for a while before he disappeared into the night again. This house is so amazing for his independence! With our house pretty much in the middle of the 30 acres and fenced in on three sides with the pond the fourth, he has the freedom to go explore and play without me up his butt all the time. It’s great for everyone.
He left and I turned Gem back to work mode. Typically once she believes we are done and I ask her to work again she becomes a hollowed out pissed off mare, but this time she got back to it although it did take a few circles to get her to relax again. I asked her to do the figure 8s a few more times and then called it a night.
It was only 20 minutes of work, but yak like Gem on a 58 degree night was starting to get that horse sweat smell and was breathing a bit harder than she should after only 20 minutes of effort. Fat mare is out of shape just like her owner. Anyway…these short but more frequent rides have been going super well for us so I called it quits and grabbed Nash after putting her in her stall to dry out before going outside for the night.
This is the second year I have participated in the Printable Pony’s Blogger Gift Exchange and both years I have been a bit generic with my ideas. When you need basically everything because you are too cheap to buy any non necessities yourself, it is hard to break down the list. I basically said “I need it all…go for it” or something along those lines.
I was getting a bit nervous when it was into January and I hadn’t received anything. With moving before Christmas, and giving Tracy my rental address, I was worried it may have been returned or left outside the old house and stolen. I was so relieved to stop by the rental after work one day and find it!
The return address was a name I didn’t recognize and there was no card inside to give it away, so I want to thank all of you that chimed in and helped me figure it out!!! My secret santa is a new to me blog, TBA (Thoroughbred Adventure), and now I am obsessively back reading her blog to learn all about her.
To the goods:
The box was full of great goodies for both Gem and me. The socks are lucky socks and I hope that they work in the future!!! I’ll be trying them out the next time I ride for sure.
Next up was a hardy looking hoof pick. I hadn’t heard of this brand, but hey if it claims to the the ultimate hoof pick who am I to disagree? 🙂 Truth is, I’ve been using the same cheapy plastic pick with brush for 8 years and it is dying a horrible death. This came at a great time.
For Gem, she added Mrs. Pastures treats. I’m a stingy, horrible mom who never gives treats. This is going to be a good surprise for Gem and I am sure she will devour them.
Last, she added in a couple human treats. I failed to get a picture because I ate them immediately upon seeing them before I had to share (and by share I mean give most of it to Wyatt) with the kiddo. It was really tasty with a mix of caramel, chocolate and pretzels. I have no regrets on that decision.
Thank you Amber for the gifts!!!!
One last reminder: the 2018 Volunteer Challenge is closing at midnight tonight, so if you want in on the goodies leave a comment on any post and I’ll add you to the list. The full list will get posted next week.
It took a couple of weeks for the dust to settle back down on the herd dynamics. Nash still isn’t quite fully in the mix of things, but Gem has stopped being a total witch to him and is letting him graze near them now. I was shocked at her response to him. She has never once shown any proclivity towards being alpha, but then again she never had a dog sized equine to boss around either. For his part, Nash is in love with them and whinnies in his tiny voice when he is the last man standing in the pasture which is every night because pony needs to learn to not rush the gate.
Speaking of manners. Nashville has been getting some lessons on ground work. He isn’t bad by any means, but I have gotten spoiled with having the Dynamic Duo for eight years now. They know exactly what is expected of them and what lines they can’t cross. Nash needs to figure out what I’m willing to tolerate and what I’m not and I keep reminding myself that it will take time. Stopping while being led is one thing that drives me crazy. I’ll let you know when you may graze. Otherwise keep up! I’ve been doing a lot of simple things while leading him in and out of the barn such as halting randomly, backing him up, turning various body parts away from me. He picked it up quickly and is very easy to lead now.
He has been really great with Wyatt so far. He can lead him (though it hasn’t crossed over as well that he has to listen to him too), groom him, and dismount all on his own. Mounting isn’t happening yet and I’m cool with that for now.
I have failed at getting a complete tack set situated so it’s been lead line bareback rides so far which Wyatt has excelled at. It may not sound like a big deal, but Wyatt was always too scared to do it on Gem and now he hops on up and asks to go over ground poles and jumps and all over creation. He laughs when he starts to lose balance and in general is learning a lot about balance and self control. All great skills for a 5 year old to learn.
I’ve managed to grab a really nice 14″ jump saddle which is seriously one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. It fits Wyatt well with a bit of room for growth too. It was used, local and a great price. I then snagged a used pony bridle off the Tack Hunter app and we are almost all set. The bit and girth are making their way to my house as we speak and were the only new items I purchased. I love used tack!
I’m a bit nervous about how he will be under saddle and am hoping I didn’t make a big mistake and buy some psycho crazed pony that will scare the crap out of Wyatt. I plan to use my own saddle on him once the bit and girth arrive and put a few rides on him myself to assess his brain and bad habits. I was told he is lazy but honestly I haven’t seen that at all. We will see what happens hopefully this weekend if it comes in time!
In the meantime I’ve been working Nash after my Gem rides. One thing I’m a bit pissed off being lied to about is lunging (another reason I’m worried about how he will be under saddle since the seller lied about this although I have plenty of videos of him being ridden by small children so maybe it will be ok?). Wyatt takes lunge line lessons so my first question to every prospective seller was about lunging. I was told he was good.
Yeah that’s a big nope.
The first time I tried he seemed either very confused or just very good at playing the game to get out of work. He would turn and face me every time I asked him to move on and if I moved my own body he would just shift to face me again. Hmmm…
I grabbed my dressage whip and got to work getting him to understand that I mean walk when I say walk and that turning to face me was not the answer I wanted. He got a bit pissy about it, but after 20 minutes or so he was walking on going left. Rinse and repeat going right. By the end of 45 minutes he was walking on when asked and only stopping to face me when I said halt.
The walking on was in a straight line only. Boy doesn’t bend at all. Worse than Gemmie by a hundred fold.
That was Sunday. On Wednesday I pulled him back out after riding Gem and was curious to find out if he remembered what I taught him and where we would begin. Turns out he is a quick study as he walked on right away on the first ask. I still couldn’t get him to bend or move out on the circle but at least he was moving every time I asked and even offered up a few trot steps. I’m going to have to do a lot more reading on teaching how to lunge as my knowledge is pretty limited. Thankfully he seems to eat up praise and is learning fast.
So that is where we currently stand with him. Wyatt still asks to ride often and seems to be enjoying him a lot and I’m learning what it is like to have a new to me horse all over again. It’s been interesting so far and has shown me how much I rely on Gem knowing what I mean and how life works with us. It has made me really appreciate her a lot more!
I need some help here follow bloggers! I received my gift in the exchange this week, but there was no card and I don’t recognize the name in the return shipping address! I don’t want to miss thanking the person or linking to her blog.
I’ll post the gift and pictures once I figure out who it is from or Friday, whichever comes first!
Many years ago Dusty bought me a copy of the 1010 Jumping Exercises book to give me things to work on with Gem in the arena while we lived in WI. I never made it past exercise 1 though I can’t recall exactly why. Residency probably got in the way. Or I just plumb gave up because I had no clue what I was doing.
Regardless, I ran across it again as I was unpacking and decided that it would be a great way to work with Gem at home now that I have some jumps I can play around with. My bigger goal in using the book is learning how to properly set up a course with striding so as to not create something impossible for us to do.
Sunday afternoon was not deathly cold for the first time in nearly two weeks and proved the perfect opportunity to set up exercise one and get going. Keep in mind that I had not really ridden Gem in two months beyond a few times I got on and toodled around at the walk and trot, it has been cold enough that I’ve kept the horses in at night, and I recently changed foods. All ingredients to a great ride, no?
Exercise 1 is very basic: create a 6-10′ chute with two ground poles and ride a 10-20m circle through the poles in both directions. Goals include: proper bend in each direction, being straight inside the chute, halting inside the chute, making sure you exit on the correct diagonal at the trot. The point of the exercise, per the book, is to get a feel inside the chute what it feels like to have the horse straight under you and then how it feels to have the horse bend around the circle.
I warmed up at the walk and trot at large in the arena and noted that Gem was still pretty focused on outside the arena instead of on me. I got a bit tougher with her as she started tripping over herself a bit when I was asking her to turn and she wasn’t paying any attention. It was annoying and she soon learned that I wasn’t having any of it.
I worked Gem in the walk and trot through the exercise making sure to randomly change directions and throwing in some halts inside the chute. At first I was getting very annoyed at myself, and Gem to be honest, because we had no bend. None. Picture a surf board. Add steel. We were more rigid than that. It wasn’t all Gem’s fault though. I couldn’t get my body to function right. I’d remember to turn my upper body and pelvis and not just my head, but then I’d lose my outside rein contact. Id’ pick that back up and my inside leg would fall off her. I’d shove that back into place and I’d find myself with rigid elbows. Those would loosen just so that my outside rein could get lost again.
All was about to be lost in a sea of frustration and expletives when my perspective shifted. While I was internally chastising myself about my inability to create bend in my stiff horse, I failed to notice how Gem, a horse who used to view halting as something that happened to other horses, was halting square from the trot every single time I asked, right when I asked inside the chute and then would trot off when asked without walking in between. I failed to notice that while she wasn’t paying full attention to me, she was maintaining her rhythm without constantly speeding up or slowing down. I failed to notice how she walked when asked and trotted when asked and wasn’t breaking in between or trying to tranter off into the distance.
So while we couldn’t bend worth crap, there were still a lot of things to be very happy with. I need to stop being so hard on us both. I did text Trainer though and set up a lesson in the future when our schedules align again to hopefully get myself back on track to where I was in November.
The book wants you to not move on until you have perfected the one exercise, but um..not going to happen. Both Gem and I would get very bored with that, so instead I’m going to alternate between two exercises to keep things interesting for us both but yet not really move on until we are ready. I haven’t looked ahead to number two yet, but if I remember from before it is similar to one only with figure 8s instead of just circles.
Dusty headed out to do morning chores Sunday, per usual. Bring the horses in, feed and hay them, let them eat for a bit and then one of us goes out to put them back out an hour or so later.
He barely left the house when my phone rang. Odd. I was snuggled up on the couch with Wyatt watching a cartoon. I looked at the phone and it was Dusty. Even more odd. Answering it granted me with a simple “you need to come out here.” I figured he would have told me if someone was dead or bleeding or something, so I pulled myself out from under Wyatt and ran outside in my pjs and slippers.
I saw this:
That looks ok. Two horses near each other behind a fence. Except there is one glaring problem. Gem is NOT IN HER PASTURE. Pete and Nash are.
So…Pete on the far right is solidly inside the pasture where they have been since moving in. The fence line can be seen BETWEEN Pete and Gem as the row of t posts and tape. Gem is standing in the lane that leads down to the pond and is in between two pastures. It has some tape as a gate of sorts blocking access to the pond lane and that is what Gem is standing behind. Impatiently waiting for her breakfast. Had she been so inclined she could have wandered down to the pond, into the woods and be lost for forever.
We found part of the tape down halfway toward the pond and a pile of Gem poop tattling on her escape route. It is unclear whether she tore it down in her impatience (very possible), if the high winds did it or if a deer (numerous visit the farm) knocked it down. Either way she didn’t look back at the opportunity to try to get to the barn. I fully believe that had the tape not blocked her way, Dusty would have found her in the barn either in her stall or more likely in the hay stall eating. The girl wants to be inside something fierce.
We grabbed the horses and put them in the barn while Dusty got busy repairing the fence. We didn’t string these lines and they are not as taut as we would like, so he spent a few hours tightening everything he could. The next day we had planned to move them to a different pasture anyway since they had eaten all the green stuff out of this one and we have enough room to rotate and not ruin any one pasture.
Miss Mare was on high risk escape watch for the next few days but seems content with the larger space and more green grass. Until she eats that down. Then we might find her on our front porch peeking in.