May 1, 2009
Nova hasn't been ridden since the last lesson - darn weather!
Anyway, we had another lesson today. As it was on a weekday, I was by myself going down, and because it was also pretty breezy, I decided to walk him down instead of ride. He walked down nicely by himself, so I'm thinking that maybe the couple times with the chain reminded him to act his age. (I haven't used the chain the last few times - it's just been hooked on the bottom ring as a lead just in case.)
I'm so happy with how patient Nova is. I had him bridled and ready to go, and Diane was still chatting with us. I eventually got tired of standing (haha), so I mounted up, and we stood for probably another 5 or so minutes before the lesson started. The most he moved, was to check out Diane's jacket after she threw it over the rail of the fence, but otherwise he chilled out and stood like a rock. Of course, it helps that there's really nothing exciting in the arena to make him want to move.
We started off walking a few laps in half the arena, and of course, he was relaxed and easy going. He felt really nice and was listening well to the reins and legs. Still was a bit iffy on his inside bend to the right, but not bad. We then picked up the trot and after a lap or so Diane asked me to get him moving out a bit more - his fall-back trot is really a lazy trot (where he doesn't really track up or anything). So I started to ask him to pick it up, and he did. Actually, he sort of woke up and after that his trot was almost fast! We then did a couple 20m circles to the left, and he listened well and it felt so good!
Diane also had me work on getting Nova to drive from behind, but also soften a little and drop his head at the trot. (As we can see from the pictures, at the walk he naturally carries his head very level, and we just want that at the trot too.) He was pretty good, but obviously somewhat resistant to my hands were holding the reins firmly. He did drop nicely a few times, so I think he'll soon figure out what we want.
While we were going around, Diane sort of tossed 'pick up the canter at the next corner' at me. Well, of course, we blow it and he picks up the wrong lead. He was doing what he did last year a few times, falling to the inside and picking up the wrong lead. So I got after him and he got thumped on pretty good with my right leg and had to do some tight circles to the right. He picked up the wrong lead once more, but after going another lap, he picked up the right lead beautifully! Like, I was sitting, picked up my inside rein, asked with my left leg and he instantly picked it up. It felt really good. We went around nicely, a little quick, but he listened nicely and we actually ended up doing a smaller circle and he felt good while we went around! He was listening, didn't run through the aids, and neither did he fall in or out of it. As we were coming off the circle and back onto the rail, he slowed down nicely, which also felt so good. As usual, he listened nicely and dropped down to a trot and then a walk calmly.
After we switched directions (to the left), I kept Nova walking for a minute or so while Diane worked with Helga on cantering - I just didn't want to add more confusion or get in the way. So when I picked up the trot, I ended up asking him for a canter in the next corner and he was an allstar and picked it up instantly and smoothly. Have I mentioned before how much I loooooove his canter transitions?! Anyway, he was also a bit quick this way - I think he was feeling spunky today - so Diane had me work on asking him to come 'more together'. Same as we did at the trot, hold and ask him to slow and come down, while keeping my leg and seat on him to keep him going forward. He acted similarly to what he did at the trot, but we did have some success on getting him to slllooooowwww down. We also did some smaller circles and again he felt pretty balanced.
Diane called it a day for us after that, because we ended on a good note. So I pulled him into the middle of the arena to watch while she worked with Helga. I have decided that I absolutely love that Nova is too lazy to be bad! It's much more work to try and get out of doing the work than it is to do it well and stop sooner. And who says all boys are dumb? (Haha, I know I've said it before, but today he was definitely the smarter of the two!)
May 8, 2009
Well, Nova was great to tack up and walk down to the arena. Stood wonderfully while I mounted, and hung out nicely while Diane was chatting with us and we were waiting for Helga to finish lunging. Once we started, we walked around the arena for part way and then we picked up the trot. Well, holy moly! Nova was full of himself! For I think the first time ever, he was actually trying to break into a canter while at the trot. And not just once or twice, but numerous times. Diane was happy with how he was tracking up... Too bad he does that when he's trying to run away with me! Haha. After a bit though he did settle down - he was still quick, but he was happy with just trotting. I think his lungs had a chat with his brain and he decided to do what was being asked. Diane then had us doing big circles in each end, and then start going across the diagonals. I was very pleased with how straight he was! We had a couple semi-wiggley lines, but mostly we were very straight and it just felt amazing.
Diane didn't waste much time, so after we were all warmed up we went into the canter work. Of course, when we were trotting to the right, Nova always broke into a left lead canter... So when we started off with a left lead canter... He gave me the right lead! Bah. Silly boy. But we did get the lead, and he was, as usual, so quick to pick it up. He does it with no running into it at all now! I'll ask and he instantly picks up a lead - maybe not always the right one, but he does give a lead. I think that's the biggest challenge of training, so we have that, once he's 100% on the leads, we'll be golden. Anyway, he was spunky so he was cantering faster than usual, but still not totally out of control. He was also listening well, as we were sort of cantering around and trying to dodge Helga and Tika at the same time. So we did some smaller circles and some bigger circles. He was pretty much the same to the right as well.
All in all, he was good. Not as fantastic as some times, but still very good! We did the most cantering we've ever done, and he was very good about that. I think we'll have it all come together pretty soon!
May 10, 2009
We went for a ride today, and Nova was awesome. (Hmmm... Wonder how often I post that!?)
As we were leaving the yard, he was a bit quick down the driveway, so I stopped him at the end, and he stood well, even when Rhythm went right past us in a hurry. After we decided where to go, we continued up the hill, and I stopped him and turned him to see Tiko running across the pasture. He spotted him, and all was good. Then Dad and Grandma came over the hill in the car and stopped beside us. So Nova poked his nose in the car to say 'hi' to my grandma. We then continued on and decided to go down the lakefront because it was such a nice day.
But before we could get there, we had to brave the big scary, neon orange, cement block sitting in the middle of the trail. It is the first time Nova has had to walk past it, and he was leading. He did some go forward, go back, eyeball it, snort at it, go forward, stop, stare, etc. But he did go all the way up, sniff it and walk past it with no problem. Once we got onto the lakefront there were some people right there, so he got a bit excited, but was still walking nicely - just excited. Then of course, we spot a Canadian goose! Thankfully that goose just wandered away from us. But then we saw two more and they took off away from us. He just lifted his head and watched them. On the point we stopped to discuss where to go from there, and Nova was being a bit fussy about not standing. I backed him up a few times after he tried to walk forward, and he finally decided to just stand. He stood wonderfully until we walked off.
When we went to leave the lakefront, we had to go up this path - on the left is a bunch of trees, on the right is a new house with a retaining wall. Poor Boog was not happy about leading up there. He was very snorty and nervous about it all! But we went, and we did it first. We even walked between the scary big rocks at the end of the path. I was so happy with him! He may be scared, but he has yet to totally refuse to go past something - which is awesome.
We then walked down the road and towards the range road. I stopped and got off of him before we reached the range road, because we were going to ride down it, and I decided to walk him along there just in case he got really excited about all the cars going past him (above him slightly on the road, and going somewhere around 80km/hr). Well, I think he raised his head when the first one passed, and then he totally ignored the rest. So, after a bit further down I decided to get back on. He stood like a rock, and we stood and watched a few vehicles go past before we started off again. He could have cared less about all the vehicles!!! I was so super happy about that, because he'd been so 'scared' of the cars in the village going slowly past him when we first started riding him last year. Anyway, he was really good.
We then turned and went through Spring Hills. Everything there was great, and there wasn't even a single dog that ran out at us! Yay. I pretty much just let him have his head all the way through there. Loose rein, and he just sauntered down the road with his head down and without a care in the world (even when we were second). Actually, now that I think of it, he was pretty much exactly like that the rest of the way home. Nothing exciting happened, and he was nice and relaxed. That's the best feeling ever! To have him be so relaxed and feel so mature. Ahhhh, that's my boy.
May 11, 2009
I know I've said this numerous times before, but Nova is a keeper.
After yesterdays ride, I decided that he was going to be pretty calm today and so I decided to ride him down to the arena. He didn't disappoint - he was awesome. Head down, relaxed walk, coulda cared less about everything (even the big garbage cans that he almost walked my foot into - twice...). Once we got to the arena I was letting him eat some grass outside of it while Helga was inside lunging Tika. I was going to wait for Diane to come and open the gate so I wouldn't have to get off, but then got brave and decided that Nova and I could do the gate ourselves! So I walked him up beside it, stopped, reached over and unlatched it, then slowly swung it open towards us, he turned his haunches away from it nicely and I then pushed it the rest of the way open and we walked through. I then did a circle and had him facing alongside the fence and leaned way over and caught part of the gate to swing it back into place. He stood, but when I asked him to just move up so I could latch it again, he was fussy and wouldn't get near the gate, so I ended up having to do a large circle and come at it from the other direction. He stopped, stood, and I latched the gate. Of course he got a cookie for that! It wouldn't win us any prizes in a trail class, but heck, I didn't have to get off!
We then chilled in the middle watching Helga and Tika while waiting for Diane. Nova pretty much uses any time we stop in the arena for nap time, so he could have cared less. Once Diane showed up and we started the lesson, the clouds had come up and a bit of windy, but it was still really warm out. We started off by walking approximately a 20m circle and worked on having him bend. First to the inside, then to the outside. He did really well. He'd fuss with his head, chew on the bit, and do everything but nicely give me his eye and nostril... But then suddenly he'd relax and give it to me. What I was impressed with is how well he actually could bend to the outside, and still keep a (semi) circle going! We went both ways and he was the same - fuss a bit, then go 'ok' and give me a nice bend.
We had just started trotting, when the wind really picked up. So he got a bit worked up over that - and he did not like the plastic Safeway bag that blew past the arena. He stopped, stared, and was tense, but didn't spook. After we continued on he kept gawking outside the arena at that corner. So I kept cutting it slightly (my choice) to get his attention back and get an inside bend. In all honesty I don't remember much of what I was doing and what he was doing, other than I was trying to keep a bend and he wasn't doing too badly. This is because the wind had really come up and it even started to rain slightly. The wind kept getting worse until Nova finally spooked slightly turned so he was in line with the wind, and planted his feet! I don't blame him because it was really ugly out. I did get off and talked with Diane and Helga for a minute. Then the wind died down somewhat, and we got back on... And then the wind gusted again, so we got off and decided to call it a lesson. (Of course, by the time we were out of the arena the sun had come out, and it's still shining right now. Boo.) I walked him home just because I was already off and I wasn't sure what the weather was going to do, so he got off lucky.
Diane was complimenting Nova and I and how we had some super awesome moments during the lesson, so while I might not remember it right now, I suppose we were doing something right during it!
May 15, 2009
Another successful lesson.
I suppose I can skip over how great Nova is to tack up and lead down (this time because I brought Rhythm along for Diane to ride). So, I'll skip it!
We started off walking both horses around the whole arena, and Nova was his usual self - head down just motoring along. After a few rounds we picked up the trot... And the race began. Well, he seemed to think he was in a race or something. Again, he kept trying to break into a canter and was just so fast and not really listening. He did slow down and start to listen, after a little while. We then cantered both ways. He was fast, leaning, and just wasn't as good as I know he can be. But that said, we did finish off the canter on a good note and it felt as if he was slowing and carrying himself a bit better. (I think I'm going to ask Diane if for the next lesson if we can not canter, just so he doesn't get so racey - unless he's being fantastic and we can just flow into it. He's just getting to worked up over it now.)
We did end the lesson on a really good note though. We worked first at the walk and then at a trot (jog really) about getting him to drop his head and start to come up through his back. It took awhile, and as Diane said, they all do the 'let's toss our head up, down, to the side, chew on the bit like a maniac, and repeat' before finally starting to come down and realize that my hands are a lot softer when he brings his head down. I had a hard time keeping him actually moving forward because he really wanted to just slow right down and go more up and down than forward, with his head in the air. But, I perservered and we got it! He was really starting to come down, and I could totally feel it in the way he moved. Obviously he's not very steady at it, but I was getting more than a couple strides out of him before he had to pop up and hollow out again - it was more like a quarter to a half of the circle. Diane was very proud of us, and told us to call it a day. I have hopes that he'll pick this up and be able to hold himself better as he gets stronger because he naturally walks with his head nice and level - so hopefully we can get him to trot and canter like that as well!
So, I was frustrated with him at the start, but we ended up on a good note. And Diane didn't even have to hop on (though, I would have loved if she had hopped on him and ridden him around) to get him to work through that.
May 23, 2009
Today we hauled Nova and Rhythm to the Blackfoot Grazing Reserve to go for a ride! For the record, this is Nova's first time being hauled away from home for a ride.
He loaded well this morning - though Mom gave him a light tap with her hand to speed up the process (otherwise he'd gladly hang with his head in the trailer for 5 minutes before casually hopping up). Mom said they rode well on the way (about an hour and a half trip), but we did notice that one/both of them didn't like going under the overpasses.
He was last horse in, so the first to unload. He backed out so nice and calm - slow even. He looked around at first but stayed relaxed. (There were a few other trailers around, and other horses still there as well.) We tied them to the hitching rail and he was still pretty chill. It was when a guy came into the parking lot with his team of horses pulling a wagon that got Nova going. They were on the other side, but once he spotted them he became anxious. I'm not sure if it's because he's never seen a wagon before, or because he realized that there were other horses around. The wagon left again a few minutes later, but he still stayed a bit hyped up. (He seemed to get more nervous when he couldn't see one of us, even though Rhythm was tied right beside him - she of course, was totally relaxed.)
We saddled him together - Mom put the pad on, then I put the saddle on. He danced a little bit while I was fussing with the pad and stuff, but once I got it done up he was okay. Then while Mom was packing the saddle bags, I untied him and let him walk out from behind the trailer to look around a bit, hoping he'd relax. We brought them over to the trailer tackroom door to bridle, and I sort of expected a bit of fuss because it's not his favourite thing and because he was distracted - but he was good! Good as he was at home usually (or even better).
When I went to mount, Mom came and just stood near his head, and he stood like a rock for me. We then stood before I asked him to walk off. We followed Mom over so she could mount from a stump, and he stood nicely while she was mounting. I was very happy about this! We then had to walk through the parking lot, and between a truck and a gate before we were on the trail (road). He did well and was only a little looky. Literally 20 feet out of the parking lot, he put his head down and was the Nova I know and love!
We had a lot of ditch riding between the pastures for the first half of the ride, and he was great. He followed the little trail on the side of the road, and was great about being second horse. We had a couple little spooks - you know the scary culverts or ROCKS! But they were just eyeballing the scary object, or if it surprised him, a small jump sideways. But for probably 95% of the time, I had my hand on the buckle and was just so relaxed.
We then stopped for lunch, and because of where it was, we had to tie them to the fence and then go through the gate to eat (no horses on the other side because of a non-equestrian trail there). Nova was good, and was being his goofy rope-chewing self for the most part. But then something freaked him out and he jumped back, and pulled a little, so we jumped up and started to go around to do something. But before we could do that, he pulled again and the clamp on the lead gave and he got loose. Rhythm also pulled a bit, but came forward when we yelled. So I went and grabbed Nova and we tied the rope onto the clip and tied him back up and he was ok for the rest of the meal (though we didn't take too much longer to finish).
We then did a saddle pad adjustment on Nova, rebridled, and then walked them just a bit down the trail because we knew we had to go through a gate, so we saved ourselves a bit of hassle. Just before we got to the gate, a gentleman came through the gate (his horse has done that at time or two!) and rode past us. Of course Nova got all big and excited about that! So we go through the gate and then mount up and pose for a picture (to prove I left the parking lot for sure). He was a bit antsy because he could still see the horse going down the road.
Then true to form, he settled right down again when we started off. Because back on the road we'd done a bit of trotting and I'd asked and let him canter up a couple gentle slopes (he was being so good, so he got to canter), he kind of thought he should try and trot up the hills on the trail. He didn't get away with it of course. I'm very happy with how well he went down every hill! He slowed and went nicely on a loose rein (only I think twice did he think about trying to trot). I'd definitely rather him try to run up the hill than down it! And like on the road, I was riding him on a loose rein the entire time except for hills when I'd take up a bit just so I could stop him from going up too fast.
We ended up passing two small groups (three horses each) of people on our way back. The minute he spotted these horses he grew a few inches and got all prancey. The first group we were a short ways behind Rhythm, and I figured for sure he was going to just dance into the other horses (as in, ignoring me), but he didn't. He stayed on his side of the trail and did his best to look impressive, haha. The second group we were right up with Rhythm, so he was a little better and less of a chance to be so silly. Of course after they passed he settled down immediately.
This next picture shows a part of the trail where the trail goes between two ponds/sloughs. There's one small part that's slightly narrower and Nova eyeballed it but kept walking. Mom hung back for a picture of us going across it.
This is me on the other side looking back to make sure Mom is coming. The thought running through my head at this point is, "Oh shoot, she still has the camera out!" As you can tell, Nova is a wild man and I have concentrate a lot on him!
The rest of the ride was very nice and uneventful. We went off the big trail at one point and followed this single trail out onto a 'ridge' by a pond and rode around it. He stepped over the logs on the trail! I was happy about that because he didn't even think about fussing about having to pick up his feet. And again, when we came down the hill, he walked down slowly and on a totally loose rein! Woot! We ended up having to come back a little ways on the road we went in on, and by then Nova was tired. He wasn't putting any extra effort into his walk (but was still listening to me if I gave him a direction) - but I don't blame him! It was a warm day and a long ride for him.
He was so much more relaxed when we got back to the trailer (probably tired!). We untacked, I brushed him, let him go crazy rubbing head head on the brush, and gave him some cookies. We then led them over to where the tap was and got some water for them. At first Nova didn't want to put his head in the bucket, but of course he really wanted to after Rhythm had her head in it. But when we filled it again, he dove in and had a good drink.
Then as we were resting a bit before loading them up to come home, a lady was walking past with three little girls. I asked if they wanted to pet the horses because I heard one of them get excited about seeing them. The girls were very good and Nova made some new friends. He's always so good about standing for people to pet him. (He was even good with the tiny, tiny little girl the mom was holding [she was probably 1-2 yrs old].)
He loaded up better, no encouragement needed and rode home nicely as well. I think he was happy to get out back at home and go for a big drink when we put him back in the pasture!
ETA: Looking at the pictures, if I'd known his back cinch was that loose, I'd have tightened it - but I know it was tigher when I did it up initially!
So, I am SO PROUD of him!! As Mom said, no one would have known it was his first time 'off the farm' for a ride. He was truly a champ. I was expecting him to be good, but he was actually even better than I planned on! I love him.
May 29, 2009
Nope, no lesson. Haven't had one in awhile because of scheduling conflicts! I really hope we can get one or two in next week.
But today was still a big day for Nova. He has his first set of shoes put on!! He officially all grown up now. Haha. He was better behaved about it than I thought he would be. I figured he'd get pretty fussy when the farrier started to hammer the shoes on. But he did well. Not 100% perfect, but well enough that the farrier commented on how he was pretty good. He did manage to yank his foot away, twice, JUST as the farrier was done nailing, so of course we had to have a discussion and he'd pick the foot back up and fuss with it a bit more. The farrier also said that he's got a brain in his head - I think he doubted me when I said Nova could be better than Rhythm for the shoes because he only sees the ADD side of Nova that comes out for trims, and not the absolutely wonderful side that's out for most everything else! So I think Nova surprised him with how well he actually did do. (I might have practiced some, but I also thought I'd have more time before the shoes went on, but the farrier is leaving for work for the month of June so it was now or never.)
May 31, 2009
We went for a ride today and tried out Nova's new shoes!
I will admit that I didn't really want to go, and went because Mom really wanted to. Mostly because it was crazy windy out. But, I put my big-girl panties on and told myself that Nova doesn't get stupid in the wind (as I witnessed in one of our previous lessons with the storm that blew in) and went out.
All in all, he was really well behaved for the whole ride. He had a few moments of excitement, of course, but they were short lived. We went through Spring Hills and into the field out back and tried the trail through the trees. Unfortunately we had to turn back around because of a tree that was down too far for the horses to go under it, and too much brush and deadfall to go around it. But, Nova has proved that he can step over tall logs! He went over one that was higher than my knees - and he did it without hesitation. I'd gotten off while we were trying to find a way around the tree, so I asked him to come back across it while leading him. He was so careful about it and didn't get upset with how high it was, even when he brushed his legs against it. So proud! He also went over numerous other logs of various heights without problem. We also got to practice some hill work. He did well on the downhills (woot, he's learning that going slow is good), and on the uphills as well (he's using his bum!). He still has to work on going through/over ground that isn't dry. There was one spot that was barely damp and he was like, "OMG!" about it - but did go through with just slight encouragement.
We then went through the rest of Spring Hills, and he was very chill about it. We then went down the ditch to get back to our entrance, and he was good. A bit excited, and he did 'scoot' a bit when a couple vehicles passed us from behind, but it didn't escalate and all was good. He was fine the rest of the way home, and we even had a nice canter up the hill towards our driveway (I asked for it).
As a treat, he got to graze on the lawn for over an hour when we got back. I think that makes having to work worth it!