September 30, 2010

March 5, 2008
Not a training day, but I have an amusing anecdote to share.

I went down earlier than usual to feed the horses, and apparently it was early enough that Nova figured it was me coming down to catch him for his goodies, and not to feed him supper. I guess daylight = goodies, and dark = dinner...

So he ran up, I opened and came through the gate, gave him a treat, and then didn't even think about it, but just put the chain over the board instead of latching the gate again (figuring he'd follow me down for supper). But alas, that was not the case. He decided he really wanted his goodies, and the entire time I was putting out hay I could see him playing with the gate. He got it open once, but it swung back at him and he backed up... But just as I was finished and starting to come back up, woosh, open goes the gate, and out goes Nova. And he then proceeds to run and buck up to the tack room, then when I get up there, run over to me all proud of himself. I couldn't help but laugh - and yes, he did get his treats. I did tell him that he's really lucky he's cute, because otherwise he would have been in big trouble.

Dad said that I'd better watch out because he might become a Houdini... I figure I'm safe since so far he's managed to open an unlatched gate... When he starts to unlatch them himself, I'll be more concerned! (And next time, I'll latch the gate after I go through. Lesson learned.)

March 7, 2008
Not every day can be a good day... But every day can end on a good note! That was today.

Nova was being spunky in the pasture before he came to be caught (used the quad on the service road to the subdivision behind our place as an excuse to run and buck and try to get Skye to play), so I decided to lunge him a bit at the dead end to get a tiny bit of spunk out. He was doing okay - the circles were a tiny bit lopsided (because of a bit of ice), but he was listening okay. But when I switched directions he took exception to the puddle (long and narrow) along the side of the road. So, okay, I figured we'd work on the puddle crossing (even though to lunge he had to go beside it, not over or through it) and then go back to lunging. That did not go as planned. He basically stood on one side and refused to come across to the other. And because I had the web halter on I had no leverage. So I ended up putting him around it and then coming at it from the other side (towards our fence, which I thought might help). After a minute or so, he gave in and came across. Good! So did it once more from that side before trying the other direction again... To which he promptly decided not to go across it again. And then he had the nerve to drink out of it! Well, it's obvious he wasn't scared of it in the least. So, I got a bit ticked and started to tap him on the hind legs with the whip... Well of course, he overreacts to that and tries to go sideways through the tree instead of hopping over the puddle.

I will shamefully admit it, I did get very upset with him because he knew what I wanted but didn't want to do it. So I ended up pulling him away from the puddle and we went back to lunging again - but let me say, he was definitely listening to me. And he did a nice powerwalk around me. After a couple good turns and some halts, I led him up to the house (and I could definitely tell he was paying a lot of attention to me), took the lunge line off, and put on the stud chain. I do not like to use the stud chain, but by this point, I don't feel that changing to the rope halter would have been very effective. So, back down we go, and it only took a couple minutes and he was walking through and across the puddle with me (both directions) without a fuss. I'd like to add that I did not have a battle with him with the chain, so he was not abused in any way. Just figured out that he couldn't get away with it, and leaning against the chain was uncomfy so walking across the puddle was a lot easier. So I walked up the hill to the neighbours driveway and came back. By which time I was a lot more relaxed and pleased that we did accomplish something.

And he did get his goodies while I brushed out his mane and tail again. Also picked up his feet, and he was good. Probably knew that 'mum' was not going to put up with anything from him!

So, while I'm not so happy about myself and my bit of temper, he did not get away with being bad, and in fact, I think he has a new respect for me - we'll see if it carries over, but I did feel the complete attentiveness to me while I was leading him. If I could have safely tied him up and walked away for a few mintues I would have, but instead I changed what we were doing (to something he can do) and then came back to the problem. And like the first sentence said, not every day is good, but they should all end on a good note. And for that I'm pleased.

March 9, 2008
When I didn't get to work with Nova yesterday, I decided that baring any horrible weather, I would go out and work him today. And today dawned (one hour earlier) bright and sunny.

He came right up for me to catch, but of course... he'd laid in poo! I'm very glad he's a brown horse! So he got his goodies while I quickly brushed him. After I decided to put the bridle on him again, but this time underneath the halter. That went better than the previous attempt, and I know now that his problem is that he doesn't really open his mouth wide enough to take the bit. So, I'll have to work on making him 'open wide' and that should solve the problem. Or most of it.

I noticed right off that he was chewing it less today than the other day. Still a fair amount on our way down to the arena, but he would take a short break. Once at the arena, I realized my mistake in how deep the snow was. A lot deeper (okay... only a foot or less... But hard on top and difficult to break through) than I'd planned on. Ah well, more of a workout for Nova! Hahaha... Not so much. More of a workout for me! We started off to the right, because that is his bad direction (so I've found), and well... Yep, it was definitely his bad side. Kaila was loose in the arena and every time he'd come to where she was (we're in the middle, she's on the rail) he would slam on the breaks and act like he didn't know what to do. Ugh. But after moving pretty much the whole way down the arena he managed to listen to me and we stopped. And for the first time, he was breathing hard! So was I, though.

So, back to where we started, and after another minute to catch our breath, we went left. And he was PERFECT! While it's not the best, today I probably only had him do 4 or 5 laps that way because he went out and walked nicely, picked up his trot at my cluck, actually cantered (correct lead!), and then went back to a trot, walk, and halt all brilliantly. I was so proud, so I called it a day and we came back home. (I think maybe next time I'll start left for a few rounds, go right, then finish off to the left again. That way I can work both sides a bit more evenly, but still finish off on a really good note.) And while he was working he wasn't chewing on the bit, and between the directions he was breathing too hard to chew.

He walked back beside me quite nicely (and in fact he walked down there quite politely too). Only had to get after him a time or two for trying to jog ahead. He also was not really chewing on the bit at all. For most of the walk back he was ignoring it. And to reinforce the puddle lesson from the other day, I led him around the circle and across the puddle - no hesitation from him. Yay.

But just as we were turning to go back into the driveway, our neighbours little dog ran (silent as a deadly missile) through their pasture and Nova caught him out of the corner of his eye. OMG WHAT IS THAT?! Jump, wheel, snort. So, okay, we walk across the road so he can actually see what it is, and after a snort over that, he realizes that Kaila has gone up the driveway and he's facing this monster by himself. Oh dear! Head goes straight up, nostrils flare, tail goes up - instant Saddlebred mode. After we stood there for a minute, I got his attentioon, and we turned and walked nicely up the driveway.

When I took off the bridle he did quite well too. Didn't flip his head, and let go of the bit okay. (I really try to make sure that it doesn't bang their teeth, but sometimes they make that a bit difficult.)
So a good day, and I know what I have to work on next time.

March 11, 2008
Today was just a hang out and relax type day for Nova and I. The second he saw me walk into the tackroom he headed up to the gate, and was waiting for me when I got down there. (It makes me proud!) Brought him up and gave him his goodies, and while he was eating those I dragged out my tote with my stuff in it to look through and see what I am going to sell at the tack sale. The goof leaped about five feet sideways when I had it half out of the tackroom. I went and brought him back to his tub (which was right beside the door), then pulled it out all the way. And he jumped about four feet sideways and eyeballed it. So, I made him walk up and sniff it. The minute he sniffed it he was okay, so I opened it and he sniffed the lid and the blankets inside. Then went back to his treats.

After he was done his treats and I went into the tack room to grab some cubes to occupy him with, he wandered over and was sniffing the tote all on his own. Apparently it wasn't so scary anymore. Goof. While he was eating the cubes I put the lycra shoulder guard on him for fun. He could have cared less.

After I cleaned up my mess, I decided to try and put my english bridle on him today. The sooner we pratice with it, the better it will be for our show season debut. He took the bit with less fuss than the other day, so each day is getting better. Now that I know he doesn't like to open his mouth very wide, I just make sure to wiggle my finger in his mouth more to make him open. Today though, he tried dropping his head down by the ground in order to get away from the bit - his mistake! I am short! I can go down no problem. But shhh, don't tell him that! Anyway, he kept his head down by my knees while I slipped it over his ears - I wish he'd keep that habit up, it would be nice.

I adjusted it up to fit (his head is smaller than Skye's, but no surprise there), and then we went for a walk around the yard. He chewed on it a bit, but was definitely better than he's been before. We're getting there, slowly! I tried to get him to trot beside me, but the first time he just lagged behind me (and since pulling on the bridle is counter-effective I just went and got my dressage whip). He knows what the whip means, and I just had to flick it at his belly the next time I asked for a trot and he was right there beside me. We trotted a couple more times across the yard, and he did well.

At the end I was standing by his shoulder and then gave a gentle pull on the left rein, and after a moment he turned his head to the left. Then, I tugged on the right rein, and he turned his head to the right. I did it once more each direction, and he gave his head to the pressure with no fight. I grinned and joked to myself that he now has steering! He's good to go.

After the job well done, I took him to the front to graze on what little 'you-can-see-a-hint-of-green' grass was there. He seemed to enjoy it. And after a few minutes, I put him back.

March 13, 2008
Lucky Booger - another relaxing day. Nothing really to talk about, as he came up, he ate, I brushed, and brushed, and brushed, he ate some more, I combed his mane and tail, picked his feet (he was good, except for one hind he was a tiny bit fussy with - wouldn't relax it), led him across the puddle in our yard, let him eat grass, and put him back. Weeee.

I tried out my new... shedding brush? Shedding blade? Whatever it is... Wow! It works really good! He's still not shedding as much as the other two, but hopefully soon.

March 25, 2008
We didn't do much today, other than having some beet pulp, and then a trip down to the arena for a romp. I'm happy that the snow is slooooowly melting in there, and in a couple/three weeks we should be able to do some work in there.

Nova and Skye had a good run in the arena, in fact he got pretty darn excited and was running back and forth all on his own. He also walked there and back pretty nicely, only getting ahead of me a couple of times (didn't help I was trying to lead him and carry the huge lunge whip too).

March 26, 2008
Happy birthday to me!

Instead of just giving Nova his goodies and a brushing today, I decided to actually do some work. I had Matthew here to help me, so I tacked him up and got on. He stood pretty good for the tacking up - could have cared less about the saddle pad and saddle, but wasn't fond of the girth too much. Unfortunately I had Cowboy Magic on my hands, and the billets are still really new, so it took me a few times to actually get it done up.

I walked him around the yard with the saddle on, then dropped the stirrups and banged them against his sides a bit. He flinched, of course, but didn't move away from them. I then had Matthew hold him, and after a moment to realize that 'holy moly, he really is a HORSE now!' I mounted. He stood quite well, and I leaned over him for a minute before settling down on him. His ears flicked back and forth a few times before he relaxed and we went for a walk around the yard. He was doing so well that I had Matthew take us down the driveway and then around the dead end circle a couple of times, then back up into the yard. He was good, and his couple small 'scoots' were normal reactions and weren't any worse than if I hadn't been on. I then had Matthew run in and get the camera for some pictures. After the pics, I asked Nova to walk forward a few steps towards the tack room/Nova, which he did. Perhaps he's slowly getting it! (I will definitely be working on that with him when I 'start' him in the arena. Along with a good whoa button!)

March 30, 2008
Another 'big day' for Nova!

First we dewormed him - and instead of putting it in his feed, we used the tube and actually did it by mouth. He did quite well, and didn't do his giraffe impression like I expected.

Then, because Mom wanted to put the harness on Rhythm and ground drive her a bit, we decided to do the same with Nova after. He didn't even blink when we put the harness on (and only tucked his hiney a bit when Mom put the cruper under his tail). We walked and did a bit of trot in hand to make sure he was relaxed. We did try to put the bridle (with blinders) on him, but it's waaaaaay to big, and too difficult to adjust, so we put my english on him instead. He's still not being awesome to bridle, but I think we're getting a little better every time (and yeah, it still seems that he isn't opening his mouth wide enough for the bit to slip in easily).

I should have adjusted the english bridle up a bit as it was a tad loose in his mouth, and will do that next time for sure. (I also didn't realize that Mom would do so much actual steering with him) After a couple circles in the yard (me leading on a loose lead rope, Mom behind him 'steering') we went down the driveway to the dead end. There we did lots of circles in both directions, and in the end I actually stopped walking with them, and they did a bit by themselves. As Mom put it, she was letting him get his own way a bit (ie. letting him turn in the easier direction to get where she wanted to go), but she was turning him, and when he'd stop she would get him going again (bumping the rein against his haunches). Of course, as with every time you teach them something new, it's not always totally pretty (the slamming on the breaks and the head in the air, before he goes, 'oh, okay' and turning and going on), but he did really well!

We were all proud of him, and of course - pictures!!!
(Oh, please excuse his really long feet, as the farrier is out of town and unfortunately they are due for a trim. And no, the noseband is not done up, I just tucked it into his halter to it wouldn't flop around.)

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