Thursday, June 28, 2012

Old and new

This evening was cool--what a joy!  I stalked Mezza in the round pen and then we did some in-hand work on turns and backing before going down to the indoor for tacking up.

Once tacked up with the saddle, I had Mezza do some walk trot on a short rope in the halter, then asked her to stand while I did some review of desensitization with the rope hitting the saddle on each side.  She did well with that, so I put her in her side pull, and had her longe on a long line both directions at walk and trot over poles. We followed that by adding the rope to the second side, and I long lined her around the indoor arena. Her turns are getting better each time.

We finished by de-tacking and doing some neck bends. On the way back to the pen we practiced out trotting at side (no flat halter/chain). It was a good time!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Staying Cool Again....

When I got to the barn today I learned that Mezza had been lying down in the sun for more than 1 hour, and several people were concerned. I went out to have a look--it was really hot, and Mezza uses her shelter as a bathroom, so it's not unusual to see her lying down. However the temp today was about 100 degrees. Two friends of Dawn's (Mezza's owner) had been concerned enough to try giving Mezza water from a squirt bottle, but she wasn't getting up. I took her halter and went in. The barn manager showed up, and we checked her gums. She got right up with the halter on, so I took my hat off to listen to her gut. She promptly  spread her legs and peed on it!  Her gut sounded good, she didn't seem dehydrated, so I called Dawn and told her we'd like to give Mezza some electrolyte paste, and I took her into the barn where it was cooler to do that. After the paste, I wet her down with a sponge, and Dawn asked me to wet her pen down as well.

In the end, Mezza was fine--fared better than my hat, which had to be sprayed down too, but took twice as long to dry!  

Jill and John (who board horses at the same barn) told me later this evening that their new mare had been put beside Mezza the evening before, sometime after I'd left the barn. Apparently Mezza had run a lot  along the fence line between them, and Jill thinks Mezza could have been quite tired today.

I am not sure why Mezza's water got moved. I took note of the depth and will recheck tomorrow. She was doing that mouth tapping at the new mare today. Hopefully she's not intimidated by her. If she is, the water may need to be moved away from the shared fence line.

Tomorrow I'll get her out for a bit. We may do more water again. She was curious about the hose today and kept sticking her muzzle in the spray when I wet down her pen!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The water bath

Mezza, cool and relaxed after the 'bath'

I think both Dawn and I wondered if we'd end up wetter than we did!

Mezza, not overly concerned with the spray.

Dawn and I met just after 11am--it was already hot. Perfect for working on bathing Mezza.
Mezza was ambling about in the round pen. We brought her out and Dawn hooked up the hose. It was set so the water was not real cold, and the sprayer was on a light "rain".

Mezza is taking fly spray like a champ now, and takes sponge baths from a bucket, but hadn't seen the hose for a "bath" since last fall. Then she was very wary of it, so we were interested in reaquainting her with it and getting a bit farther along this time.

Honestly she did great!  Starting at the feet Dawn was able to work up to her chest, along her body, and even most of her rear end with Mezza standing well for quite some time. Mezza even let Dawn hold the  hose in front of her face, and Mezza reached out and played with the water several times.

She does not like the water trickling down her back legs, so I started rubbing them as if I were washing her with soap. She did well with that. We got to a good standing point with the water on her and called it a day!  It will have to be repeated, but it was a positive experience.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

To the Show (we did not go)

I arrived at the barn at 6:45am and gave Miss Mezza a partial flake of hay to eat before I put her in the round pen. It was still cool and nice, and we were preparing for her first halter and showmanship show. Things went as usual--stalking, some short longing, inhand work, and then a walk to the small field to practice walking and trotting at side around some of the big jumps out in the field.

Nothing seemed amiss. Dawn and Jennifer arrived with Dominique, an exchange student from Germany, who's been living with them for the past year, and Oliver, his Father. They gathered the other two horses, Luna (Mezza's dam) and Boo, Jennifer's horse. I walked Mezza up to the trailer, asked her to step up, and .... nothing. I asked a few more times, circled her, asked again... nothing.

Dawn and Jennifer tried offering food, treats, tapping her on the butt, picking up her front foot and placing it on the trailer floor--Mezza just approached the trailer each time and stopped right where she should have stepped up, or she pulled her hoof off if it was picked up. She was not upset. She seemed to have decided she was not going for a ride today. She had been on the trailer at least a half-dozen times before, and had ridden to the equestrian center twice before. She'd never refused to get on (only off!)  This was totally unexpected. So, Jennifer put Luna on the trailer first, then Boo, but Mezza could care less. Luna and Boo were taken off.  Mezza was indifferent.

Plan B.
Mezza got to trot circles. After several circles each direction I stopped and brought her to the trailer and asked her to load. Nothing. Repeat. Nothing.  By this time we'd worked about an hour!

Plan C.
Dawn and Jennifer moved the trailer and backed it up to the round pen. I re-stalked Mezza for about 5 min. in the round pen--a little canter, a little trot, and then at the walk back and forth in front of the open gate that led to the trailer. She paused and entered the "alleyway" we all wiggled things and encouraged her and... she decided to step right up and went to the end of the trailer and started eating like nothing had happened. We congratulated her, Jennifer closed everything up, and Dawn took her for a short ride around the barn. We opened up the trailer (she seemed content) rubbed on her again, unloaded her and walked her to cool her down before putting her away to eat her breakfast.

So that was the "Show that wasn't". Kudos to all as no one got upset, least of all Mezza.
Proves that even the best laid plans can never be set in stone!! Learning and practice are never over.

So we rode the other horses instead!
Oliver getting stirrups set
Oliver's first ride

Dominique on Boo

Dawn on Luna, and Jennifer on Boo

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Ride at Pelican Lake (with Hoss & Remmy)

Hoss checking out his surroundings.

Hoss eating breakfast

The ride as seen from between Hoss' ears

Diane with Remmy (white horse) at lunch time

Hoss and I at lunch time

My friend, Diane, next door to where we board Hoss and Scout, has a Quarter Horse named Remmington (Remmy), and has been up for going on some trail rides. We arranged to take part in a trail-riding clinic hosted by Kristi Plutt. The clinic features some time in the arena in the morning, followed by a ride along an equestrian course that takes you around a lake named Pelican Lake, out near Brighton, CO.

One of my goals this summer has been to work on getting Hoss to load and trailer more easily, and actually get him out to enjoy the trails that this horse really likes. Hoss has some bad 'baggage' in the trailering department. He's a long, tall horse, who doesn't like confinement, and most trailers are pretty tight for him. He's been loading in our 3-horse slant, taking up the back two spaces, and is fairly comfortable there, especially when he's got a horse friend on board. I worked hard about 2 weeks ago to trailer him alone, and finally ended up putting Scout in and taking them both for a ride, so I'm not quite at where I'd like us to be, but it's coming along.

The brakes on my trailer have been heating up something awful, so I arranged to have it looked at, as Pelican Lake is close to an hour each way. Of course, timing was awful, the trailer had to go in the day the ride was scheduled. Diane also has a trailer, a 2-horse straight load. She was happy to take Hoss along with Remmy in that...if he'd fit!  Her trailer is actually extra tall. We had to see about the length.

So, for 3 evenings prior to the ride, Diane hooked up her trailer, loaded her horse, and I worked at loading Hoss. He got in comfortable after about 30min of work the first night, and we reloaded him and let him eat and relax 3 times that evening. The next two nights he loaded up great, only backing out once when we didn't ask. So on the 2nd evening, we closed the bottom half of the back door.

On the 3rd evening, we ended by loading and closing him in for a short time--Remmy was also in the other stall in the trailer. Hoss handled it well.

The next morning we loaded them both up without a hitch and headed out. We all met up at Kristi's place in Platteville, and opened up the window so the horses could look around while we waited for one additional trailer. Off we went toward Pelican Lake. When we arrived at the equestrian center, Hoss was a bit wiggly, but Remmy was great. We tacked up and spent a short while working them from the ground. Kristi had us do several exercises in the arena together to get us and our horses aquainted, and to head off potential problems before they showed up on the trail.

The ride was good--quite a few gates to open from horseback, some hills, some flat, a beautiful lake and a few deer.  Only one encounter with a snake--a dead one.

Hoss must have lost 10 years out on that trail!  He walked out like a pro. He did not like the cattle guard near one of the gates we went through, but everything else he seemed to enjoy thoroughly. The only worry I had was that Hoss was so picky about drinking that he hardly drank on the entire trip--even the water I brought he turned his nose up at. He did readily drink when we got home, however.

It was definitely a step forward in our journey together and a very enjoyable time with Diane and Remmy!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Watching at the Gymkhana

Took Mezza along with Boo, (Jennifer's horse) to the local gymkhana to watch the action. This is the second event she's trailered out to watch.

We worked both before trailering out (in the round pen) and again briefly at the gymkhana for a 'refocus'. She was very relaxed again, and I took her out to the middle of the equestrian field and walked her around while everyone was riding, then took her back to the arena to watch. No fuss, no muss. I was impressed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

More Show Practice

This evening I met Dawn and Jennifer for a little "Mezza Practice". We let her run first in the big outdoor arena. She decided it felt pretty good--and we ended up stalking her in there!

We did some in-hand work with the rope halter, then switched to the flat "show" halter with the chain to pretend for halter and showmanship. Jennifer and Dawn set up a cone and we practiced our showmanship course. What fun. A little bit different than the round pen--and the other horses were being fed. Good distractions. The head was up a bit on the trot--she hates the chain beneath her chin!

The turns on the hinds are staying straighter though. Very dusty and good!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wet Pony

I stalked Mezza and practiced for the show (used both halters, and did longe with the chain on, but not attached to the lead, just hooked on the flat halter), and then got out the spray bottle--what a change--after the first few moments of insecurity she let me spray her entire body!!
Then I took a bucket with water and a sock, and I wet down her entire body!!

The puddle wasn't as easy--she finally walked through the mud, but was still hopping over the actual water part, so I left it at a nice walk through the mud and we walked on out to the out door, where I turned her out for a bit. The we continued our walk down to the east end and all the way back up along the road. Stopped at the trailer a moment (for practice) while I got her a few timothy pellets, then continued on to her run. A really good day.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Show Practice

Mezza in a borrowed show halter. I didn't take a photo tonight--we used a regular flat halter and her heavy lead with a stud chain to simulate a show halter and show lead with the required chain. She is handling it like a pro!

This evening I met Dawn and her daughter, Jen, and we had a joint practice session with Mezza.

The session lasted about an hour and Jen had a chance to watch Mezza being stalked, walked, turned, backed,  and trotted. Then Jen got a chance to do the in-hand work with Mezza so she could feel how Mezza handled. They did really well together!

Next we put the flat halter on Mezza, along with the stud chain in the "show" position--running beneath the chin. She's had it on once before in her run, while we tried on an actual leather show halter and lead.
Now Mezza needs to get used to the feel and sensation of this. 

We repeated our in-hand exercises with the flat halter and stud chain. She did really well. Jen and I switched so each of us could work Mezza. Even with the lead loose, she was initially high headed in her trot at side with me, and I need to stretch my legs more. She finally relaxed and put her head down, but she still held her ears back. Jen had better luck with her pace, and the head stayed fairly low. Again, the ears are kinda laid back. We aren't sure why, she's not trying to bite, the lead is loose, so that may just take time for her to relax more. She is definitely watching our position though, as she is really good about slowing to a walk or stopping when we do.

The turns on the hinds need further work so that we can keep our hand just on the lead beneath her chin and turn her without her body bending or her moving her back feet before the full turn is completed. This will simply take more time and practice. 

The last thing we worked on was her giving her head downward to pressure on the lead with the stud chain. She does this pretty well in a rope halter, but wasn't so good at it in the flat halter and chain. She started giving, and I got a really good release finally. I need to practice this daily so the release becomes automatic. Dawn and Jen seem pleased at how she's doing, and I think she is coming along well! It will be a lot of fun to watch/show her in halter and showmanship. I'm sure we'll learn a lot as we do.