Monday, June 25, 2012

Another beautiful day today.

Today was another one for the record books, but in a good way. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL outside. Warm but not unbearably hot. Yesterday was identical.

After putting in my 6 hour work day at my real job, I went out to the barn to work Gus. We worked outside in the cross-country field and he was really good. Basically, it was a bit of a repeat of last week's lesson. Big figure-8 trot circles, SIs (walk/trot) and nice, loopy 1-loop canter serpentines. We even had a nice hand-gallop at one point.

At the end of about 15 minutes of "work", we went on a little hack around the perimeter of the property. Meaning, we hit the service roads and gravel road. Last time we were on the service road, it was super, duper scary (per Gus, of course) and well, it wasn't pleasant or pretty. Yesterday, it was the opposite. He was much better behaved (last time we were trailing riding with his buddy, Toby) and a lot bolder. Still thought the trees and puddles were going to eat him, but we managed through.

After making it back to the XC field, from the other side, we proceeded to the jump field and trotted/cantered over the poles that were already set out. Again, he was really good. We ended on that note.

Today, it was the same ride. Verbatim. The only exception was that Gus was even better on the service road and gravel road. We even managed to trot a few steps without him thinking he was loosing his mind.

It's hard to take photos while working, but here's a couple.

Gringo was an EXCELLENT boy today. I managed to get out to see him before I went out to see Gus. And wow, has he remembered a lot. I don't think I've worked with Gringo is seriously 3 months, but you wouldn't have known that by watching him go. 

We did pretty remedial work. Walk/Whoa/Walk/Trot/Whoa/Walk/rinse.repeat ad nauseam. He was so very, very good. I think he knew it too. We weren't working in the pasture either, because the other boys were out there (plus the hubby was messing around with the tractor in the same area) so we worked in front of the barn. Despite all the new scenery, Gringo was very well behaved. The couple spooks we had resulted in him stopping and standing in place. A very good response - least compared to what he's done in the past (ie bolt and tear off).

My next step is to add in the saddle again, and see what we have there. Today, while grooming and tacking Gringo up, I did the whole "jump up and down" and "lean on his back" stuff. No reaction, whatsoever. I did get a couple ear flicks, which are good because I know he was paying attention, but no violent reactions. Maybe we're making progress? One can only hope, right?

Anyways, I had a couple "proud momma" moments with Gringo today. Hopefully these small steps forward continue.

Here's a couple pictures of the good boy.

My favorite photo taken today of Gringo.

A VERY good boy.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


[Pardon the lack of a title. I was fresh out of ideas. Again.]

This past Wednesday, I had another great ride on Gus. I had meant to write this post on Thursday, but time eluded me, yet again. Anyways, here's a quick recap of our lesson.

As usual, I warmed Gus up for about 15 minutes on the lunge line. And, as usual, Gus was stiffer then a board. Didn't seem to matter which direction we were going, he was stiff on both sides. By the time I finished with the lunging, he was moving a lot nicer and freer though his back.

Undersaddle work started off with a brisk walk and then right away into a posting trot. We started off the lesson on a giant figure-8, basically two 20m circles, changing directions BUT NOT CHANGING DIAGONALS at X. Boy, you would've thought that trotting deliberately on the wrong diagonal would be easy. Seriously though, it was really difficult.

Anyways, not sure exactly what the purpose of that exercise was, but well its another tool in my arsenal. Seem to help keep Gus moving down and out, along with adding some flexion.

After a few repetitions of that, both directions, we switched to working on shoulders-in (SI) and leg-yields (LY). Unlike our typical, SI down the long side, the turn on the quarter line and LY to the rail, this time B had us SI at a trot from corner to first letter, then walk (still in SI) to the next letter, then trot, then walk the finish in trot. THEN turn down quarter line and LY to the rail. Eventually, we even added in a few walk steps while on the LY. Was a lot of work to keep Gus moving up, from back to front, but we had some nice moments. The SI to the right was fabulous on Wednesday, and B thought that would be our difficult side.

Canter work was at the end of the ride again and well, by then Gus was nearly wiped out. We did easy canter work - 20m circle at  C/A and then a simple 1-loop on the counter-canter. We had a nice left lead canter, but by the time we switched to the right (just like, literally, 5 minutes later), Gus was done. So the right lead was kinda sucky on Wednesday, mainly due to Gus's exhaustion. We definitely need to work on getting his stamina built back up.

Overall, it was a pleasant lesson and gave me and Gus some good, new exercises to try to keep him supple and limber.

I did get new photos of him a week ago. I really need to get some new undersaddle photos but well, it's difficult to do that without anyone around. So, here's those new photos anyway.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lesson In Review

Well, seeing as today is Thursday morning ... Yup. Yesterday was lesson day. I'm going to try hard (I know I've said that before, but I mean it this time) to keep this blog up to date.

So, Gus and I had our lesson again yesterday. This time, we actually had a full hour lesson (well, in actuality, it was 45 minutes as Gus isn't up to par to go the full 60 minutes). After the typical 10-15 minute lunge session, we got to work right away on a 20m circle. B had placed four cones at each "major" point on the circle, so that we could, in effect, spiral in on a 15m and 10m circle. And basically, that's exactly what we did.

At the trot, we worked a lot on getting Gus round (which was EASY going to the left yesterday, to the right it was fairly typical ... I had to work on getting Gus to stay round) and moving out. The biggest issues we faced happened when Gus would get unbalanced. He would then pop out through his outside shoulder and end up basically on his forehand. That's a huge no-no in dressage. I did manage to catch him most of the time though. And B's mantra for the day was "Keep Gus straight relative to the movement". So on a circle, don't ask for too much bend, because I'll end up with bend in the neck but the outside shoulder popping out and the hind end trailing.

Getting back to the spirally circles though ... Basically, we trotted a 20m circle, then a 15m circle, then a 10m before spiraling back out onto the 20m circle. Once we hit C, we trotted the whole arena aiming for a nice big trot (think "working" trot crossed with a "medium"). Rinse and repeated twice both directions, changing across the diagonal.

We didn't want to push Gus in the canter yet, so most of our canter consists of just a few minutes canter, both sides. Yesterday we worked on a 20m circle and 12-15m circle. The goal was consistency throughout the gait. We had a nice left lead canter last night, right But last week, what little bit we did, was WAY better to the right. So, least I know it's in there, somewhere. The exercise we did last night was canter the spirally circles, then trot a 20m circle, then trot around the arena, rinse and repeat both directions. We did this twice.

B noted that Gus was really "blinky" last night. We aren't sure what was causing that, but after last week's "bright eyed and bushy tailed" look, this was definitely new. He had his fly mask on and he still is eating his supps (so he's getting the aspirin), and it wasn't any windier out yesterday - especially compared to previous days. Who knows? He was also stumbling A LOT yesterday, mainly in the front it seemed but B also saw it in the hindend. If he had started stumbling towards the end of my lesson, we would have chalked it up to him being tired. However, he was stumbling from the get-go. Again, who knows? With Gus, anything is possible (and probable).

Plan is to ride again tomorrow morning. I had originally thought about riding again today but I've got a lot of errands to run and with Father's Day this weekend, I need to get some things done (namely, cleaning house).

I HOPE to get photos on Friday of the boys ... B's got a new outdoor arena that I can toss Gus into once we're done working, so maybe I can get some photos that way? We shall see.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's JUNE!

Well, Gus [looks around to see if the Lameness Gods are watching] seems to be sound, for the most part. I've been a slacker about updating the blog but in all honesty, I've been slacking on the "working with my horses" part too. Life has just been hectic these past few months so it's all I've been able to do, to get out to the barn(s).

Anyways, Gus is back into work again and we're taking everything in stride. With the addition of aspirin daily, he seems to have a sparkle back in his eye. And in his step. I'm thinking the daily dose of aspirin is keeping is ERU in check and thus keeping him more pain-free. I really wish I would have asked about aspirin therapy years ago...

On Wednesday, the 6th, Gus has his hooves trimmed and reset again. J's been doing a fairly decent job, IMO, of keeping Gus comfortable. Not sure if its the shoes or the injections (since both were done within days of each other) but Gus definitely is moving more consistently since everything was done a couple months back.

Here's the photos of Gus's hooves post trim (in their standard order):

Close-Up of left front sole ... it's incredibly dry and cracking a lot.

I still think we're dealing with long toes, but in all honesty - he's always had long toes and well, they probably caused a lot of our previous issues but he seems to be doing okay with how things are now. So I guess I'll just monitor things for now, least on that front.

Gus still warms up via the lunge line - usually for about 10-15 minutes. I typically have him lunge both directions sans side reins for a couple minutes, each side. Then I add the side reins in and we do another 5-6 minutes/side until he's moving nicely.

Last week we were having a nice lesson but it ended quite abruptly when one of the workers ended up falling off the muck ramp. She's okay but was really bruised up - and well, my lesson was canceled so my BO/Trainer could attend to her. Fine by me but we were having a really, really nice lesson. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.

Gringo still seems to be doing okay. I've been bad about getting out to see him lately. It's probably quite literally been weeks, if not nearly a month since I was out last. Actually, now that I think about it, I probably saw him last when the farrier was out to trim him back in May.

Anyways, I did see Gringo, granted briefly, on Sunday. I'm hoping to spend more time with him this weekend, when I'm out to the in-laws for Father's Day. I guess my BIL is wanting to start (haha) riding Gringo, seeing as my MIL plans on riding Jade in the near future. I told her (MIL, that is) that I'm all for BIL riding Gringo ... but I don't want to be sued if he should fall off and hurt himself.

Other then that, Gringo is out in a new pasture half-days. Him and Jade spend their afternoons in Toaster's old pasture... mowing it down. The pasture is very much overgrown at the moment, so I have a feeling that I'll be dealing with another chubby gelding this fall. Hopefully he doesn't gain too much weight. I really don't want to worry about laminitis...

I'll try to get new photos of the boys soon too. It's been ages since I've taken (good) photos of them. I'm always snapping away at other horses, but never my own.

Here's some shots from the show back at the beginning of the month. I'm pleased with how the photos turned out though. Even made a few pennies from the show as well.

RRF June 2012
Wilhelm and Toby - New photos of Willy (he's a month old now) and Toby (30 year old Morgan)

Check out my other blog, Ashley Blegen Photography, for more photos and information on my photography side business. You can also see more examples of my work at my smugmug gallery.