April 7, 2009
Nova walks on water!!! .... Wait, I mean, through water. Though I'm sure he'd rather walk on it...
Anyway, back to the beginning. He seemed pretty spunky tonight as I was leading him up from the pasture, so I was doubting my idea to ride him down to the arena. But, he stood like a dream to tack up, and mount, and actually on the way down there he was my good boy. Head down, just sauntering down the road like the Nova I know and love.
Got to the arena, and his reaction was sort of like, 'oh gross, mud...' There's still a layer of snow (slush) over most of it, and the footing is really wet, but still not that bad considering. So we spent our time wandering around down there making tracks all over. I wasn't asking him of too much - mostly just to go where I pointed him and not asking for any bending. He was very good, nice and relaxed. I did ask him to walk through the corner of the arena that has a huge puddle in it. He was not very pleased about that decision! He wasn't scared of it, but more like, 'I'm going to be passive resistant about this and hopefully you'll give up.' (Which for him is, I can thump on him all I want and he really could care less. I did gently 'slap' him with the ties on the back of the saddle to encourage him - which seemed to unstick his feet and he'd go forward.) But I did get him over/through it about five times.
After some more wandering around we decided to head home, and he was of course, absolutely wonderful on the way back. I was commenting to Mom how much I hope that with some training that I'll be able to keep his head and neck as level at the trot/canter as he naturally holds it when he's walking.
It's days like this that I am just so totally in love with him. Makes up for the last few times when he's decided to 'act his age' when I'm on him. Which I can't say is even that bad at all, but when he's perfect most of the time it just seems worse.
April 12, 2009
Well, as it is gorgeous outside today - now that spring is here, we decided to go out for a ride. I decided to take Nova, and was hoping for a very nice relaxing ride........ As it turns out, parts of it were relaxing, and parts were pretty adrenaline filled!
Things started off quite well, as he was awesome as always for tacking up. I'm getting my english reins lengthened so I had to use my trail riding reins today. I also put on a new running martingale on him (one of those cheap rope ones), which I think made him look pretty snazzy. Mounted and walked down the driveway and up the hill very relaxed, which made me happy. Last year he liked to try and race up the hill and got kind of excited.
When we got to the path out to the lakefront, we had an unexpected surprise. Rhythm had been ahead of us and had stopped and looked in the direction of the trail with her ears pricked, but I didn't see anything so let Nova just pass her. Well, about four steps after passing her I look over, and just down the trail are two random dogs standing on it. Not sure what happened, but about a split second after that Nova is doing some fancy moves to get the heck outta there! He leapt forward and sideways and spun and who knows what else. But thankfully neither him or Rhythm got away on us, and I got him stopped and turned around to face the dogs, who were now standing at the end of the trail by the road. Nova still thinks they're monsters, so when they walked onto the road he did a jump sideways and was watching them with buggy eyes. After a few moments, Mom rode Rhythm up to I think try and see if the dogs would move off and leave Shauni (my dog) alone. They didn't move off, but weren't aggressive either. Nova then got brave and walked up to one to sniff at it, before we turned and continued on our way. I have to admit my heart was still beating pretty quickly.
So just down the road and around the corner is a dog we knew was there. She's on a cable and can run back and forth. It worked out well, because we walked up so they could see her, and she started to bark at them so they knew what she was before she moved (because the cable makes noise on the rope when she moves) and Nova wasn't even that worried about her. Which is great considering we had quite the scare not even 5 minutes before that.
He did well after that, did stop and take a look at some other dogs that were in a pen barking at us, but passed by them without issue. The next thing we see a little ways down the road are two young boys on pedal bikes. They were great and stopped when Mom asked them, and waited before quietly riding off after we were past. But of course at the same time as Nova's kind of eyeing up the bikes and these kids, there's another dog that's barking and coming through some trees at us. Thankfully that dog was barking a lot so they weren't scared of her (and as Rhythm was between him and the dog). So he didn't even react to the dog or the bikes.
Then, of course we come to the range road and had to stop and wait while some vehicles went past us. I was so happy when he didn't get nervous as they drove past (at probably 80km/hr) - as he had gotten very excited and nervous during the winter (though I think it was because of the noise of the tires on the snow/slush). We crossed the road and continued on into Spring Hills. He did really great and was walking with his head down and was nice and relaxed - it felt AWESOME! If he went along like that all the time, I could die a happy, happy girl. He truly felt like an old packer gelding just goin' along.
Today Nova got to meet the two mini's that live in Spring Hills. It's highly amusing to me that every one of our horses thinks the mini's are the scariest things! Nova was standing on the road watching these two little ones trot up to the fence and poke their heads between the boards. Just watching. Then Mom rode Rhythm up (who has seen and sniffed them before), and Nova wanted to go up, but was pretty unsure. Did the 'head up, three steps forward, stop, stare, two steps, stop stare, and repeat', but he did go right up and sniff at them. They are just adorable and very friendly, though one was being a bit saucy and tried to nip Nova's nose once. I was happy that when we turned to leave (Mom did hang back for an extra couple moments) that Nova didn't try to race away like they were going to eat him.
After that, he ended up falling behind Rhythm as we continued on, and he didn't even care, which was great!! Means he's not totally set on being first horse. He actually walked behind her the rest of the way back to the range road, and was nice and relaxed the entire way. We again had to wait while about 4 vehicles drove past us again, and he did very well. Got a bit tense once, but didn't jump or do anything, and when we went across the road he walked calmly across. Of course Stewie the mini donkey was watching us from his pasture, so Nova and Rhythm had to stare at him for a minute, but he walked on nicely after.
Different people have moved into Stewie's old home (he's at a different house now), and they have three great danes. It was kind of amusing when they came running, Nova stopped, looked at them and let out a very loud snort. We then were watching the dogs, and their people came over to the gate, so when the people showed up Nova wanted to walk over and see them. So I just let him, as the people were friendly and chatty. The lady then lifted a young boy up to pet Nova, and he was all over that. And I was so happy when he just ignored the one dane that was barking and snarling at him as we got up to the gate. He stood like a dream for the lady to pet him and was very cute and friendly. After a few more minutes we said goodbye and continued on our way. There's one straight stretch of road, so we did a bit of a trot. I did a sitting trot the whole way, with a nice loose rein and he kept a nice relaxed pace. The rest of the ride went perfectly and he was just the nice, loose-rein, head down, relaxed walk. Again, I can't say enough how much I love it when he walks like that.
I do have to say that this ride today has completely restored my faith that Nova is really a good boy, and those few rides where he was a bit stupid (but no where near dangerous or anything) were just because he's young and was feeling frisky. He really and truly is an awesome horse! He was totally worth the 2+ year wait to ride him. I was on cloud nine when I got home and he got lots of cookies for being so good!
April 18, 2009
Today was the first lesson of the year! And of course, Nova was awesome.
I have a video clip of the lesson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAYmovwAFpU
At the start I was walking Nova in an 'oval' shape while Diane was talking to me about stuff. Well, after a few minutes, Tika got loose from being lunged and took off like a lunatic across the arena. I stopped Nova, and as Tika was running towards us, I kept hoping that she wouldn't try to kick us on her way past. She ran past fine, and Nova stood, but he did shuffle sideways because the line she was dragging behind her went past us. After I did get off, just to stay safe. He was completely fine when I mounted back up a minute later and we continued on.
After that, we moved to the other end of the arena so I could start to trot. Diane made a comment about how it would be okay if he goes fast (excited) at the trot, but to try and keep a steady pace... Well, after about a lap, she was suggesting 'kicking him up' to a faster pace. Haha, yep, that's my Nova! He's a wee bit on the lazy side. We worked mainly on getting him to take an inside bend on the corners, and he was actually doing not bad. We'd just barely started doing that last fall, so I was happy with how he was going - even to his bad side (right).
After about 5 laps in each direction, we went and started to do figure-eights in that half of the arena. Working on getting him to turn lightly, and with a bit of a bend, of course. Well, that was the best he's ever turned for me!! What you can't really see in the video is how well he was listening to the rein aids and was going really nicely. He was truly a rockstar.
Then, Diane asked if I wanted to leave him on that good note, or canter him. Well, duh, I wanted to canter! So off we went to the left. When I sat and asked for it, he sucked back but gave me a few strides, then broke. I asked again, and he did the same thing. So we went one more round at the trot and then I asked again, and I got it and he continued on. After a couple of laps we broke to a trot, then walked, then Diane suggested we go again. So we picked up our trot and I asked again, he was still a bit hesitant, so I gently tapped him with the ties on the saddle (as you can see in the video) and he picked it up right away. He felt nice and relaxed that way - much like he did last fall. To the right, he was egar to pick it up (he must have remembered that cantering was fun!) and did well. He wasn't as relaxed this way, but I think he was excited from cantering the other way, and it's not his better side, so he might not be quite as comfortable going this way. But if felt good, was just faster than to the left.
So all in all, he was as awesome! I'm looking forward to working with him a lot over the summer. I think we'll make a lot of progress.