Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July with Mezza...

We can now ride with the log. Around and around we go....

 One of the plus' of ground driving!

Here is the video link--there is a big void of action at the beginning, so scroll at least a third of the way. My appologies!

This month has sped by so quickly. I have been riding Mezza in the heifer pen, and out at the equestrian center. We have gotten somewhere with the log (OK, it is really a branch--check out our video). We have also been spending time hand walking on the trail in the open space--near the traffic, crossing the road, and up along the canal. She handles that beautifully.

She is not upset by all the goings-on at the local shows, but we did spend quite a bit of time on focusing and refocusing on our latest ride there. Not skittish, just plenty curious about everything going on and was plenty happy to leave the trail group to go check (other) things out. Well, we are not ready for Golden Gate Canyon yet (check out that butterfly and you'll be at the bottom of a gorge)!

Checking out the logs on the trail

Monday, July 4, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Scout...

On Friday, July 1st, I took Scout up to the trailer, where I groomed him, and as it threatened rain, handed him off to my friend, Janice (who along with her husband, Mark, owns the property where I board Scout), and she took him up to graze him while I quickly brushed down Mezza and gave her a short graze time before putting them both back, as it started raining on all of us.
I headed on an errand, then home. An hour after I'd left, Janice called me--Scout was down, colicking. The vet arrived to give him an exam and tube him--he also gave him IV fluids. His rectal exam concerned Dr. Finley, who warned me that surgery might be his only avenue of recovery, as his intestines seemed displaced. Even though he had been up and perky (and farting) after the initial visit, later that evening he had bloated up tight with gas. On the 2nd emergency vet visit I had Scout put down, as surgery was not an option for us.
Below is my FaceBook post to Scout, I owe him so much, and miss him greatly. It has been very helpful working with Mezza during this time.

In loving memory of Scout, March 1995-July1, 2016. 
Scout was put down due to colic. He has been a wonderful teacher to me for the past 11 years. A BLM Mustang, originally bound for CSU's NFL joint program, he became my equine partner in April, 2005. Because of him, I continued my education in equine studies at Front Range Community College, and learned a great deal about insulin resistance, laminitis, and arthritis. Along the way I've met many wonderful horsemen, and have gotten to know many wonderful vets, farriers and equine industry care givers. For all of you, thank you. For Scout, I will never forget you.
Photos (next 2 below) by Jill Hinderberger

Scout before his last ride, June 26, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday, back at the Equestrian Center

Scout, Mezza and I met my friend, Vanessa, and her gelding, Whiskey for a ride. It was hot, but we all had a good time.
Mezza was in heat, and decided that focus was not her thing, every horse she saw was intensely appealing. : (  So, we spent time working through that. We started in the round pen. She was that distracted!
She and I finished in the big arena. While Whisky worked on his canter and various manuvers, we worked on basics. Much better than where we'd started, if not exactly what I'd hoped for. After a lot of lateral flexion before she was ready to wait for me to ask for something, such as a disengage, and many walk/trot transitions, as we wove left, right, left.... we finally were able to lope the length of the big arena each way nicely. A good note to finish on.

During this time, Scout was tending to the weeds in a small pen, patiently waiting. I traded out Mezza for Scout. She got to relax and weed eat while Scout joined Whiskey on the trail around the center.

It was a nice day. I am in debt to Vanessa and Whiskey for being so patient!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday's time at the Equestrian Center....

It is Murphy's law that the one spot of time you pick to ride or to trailer out will be the time it decides to storm!  It wasn't a bad storm, and we got some good time in before the thunder and rain started. Mezza also got a little graze time before we headed back.
She was amazed by the Clydesdale that showed up, and then the wagon, Here's her watching the wagon being hitched (the Clydesdale is backing into the traces while she's watching). I should have taken the photo from inside the trailer!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday... Saying Goodbye at Brighton

Mezza got the day off today while I journeyed out with a friend to Brighton Saddlery. We spoke to Roger and his wife, Verna, and wished them well in their retirement. Their store will close in a few months, and this is their last annual saddle sale. Kinda sad, since they've been there for so long!
And, of course we checked out all the merchandise in the store!  : )

The saddle I currently use on Mezza is one Roger fit to her.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ground Work....

Well, today was a ground work day. Now that Mezza is feeling like zooming so much, I thought we'd go through some basic ground work, practice some transitions including trot/canter and then play with our log (ok, more like a branch). The heifer pen area is fine for walk/trot, but not great riding at erratic, higher speeds. Too many speed bumps and obstacles!

OK, I'm waiting, what do you want now?

I took my camera, but didn't take video. She is coming along on the slowing--she starts nicely at the walk, the trot is still a little fast, and initially she zooms at the canter and I may need to change directions a bit. Then she slows and we can start transitions. Not the order I'd prefer, but going ok.

We also need to practice some bending separately on a shorter line, although I'm starting to see more of it. We played with the log afterward, and had a couple of times where the rope ran across her hocks when we turned. She was unflustered. We will keep on this. : )

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday on the Ground...

Had to take care of things in the morning, and got a late start. By 10am it was already quite warm (read hot). I'm thankful that I'm not in Arizona!

Warm Up...

Mezza and I started off with the usual groundwork--no round pen unless I trailer out, so I do some short line work--ask for walk and then trotting circles, with yielding the front as she leaves the starting position, and after some circles, I ask for a disengage of the hinds. This is usually followed by disengage from a standstill, and moving the fronts from a standstill. Then we check out desensitizing with the rope, then either a whip or the stick and string, and then the flag. We are at the point where there is rarely a reaction during the desensitizing, which is great. At some point we can go on without all of this, but for now it's my safety check.

Working on Canter...

Now that we've been doing the walk/trot transitions under saddle, and with turnout in the pasture, she is cantering better. Before she was having some issues with stifles catching. I did not want to canter her on a line until that was not an issue. Now, after she's warmed up at walk and trot,  I can add trot/canter transitions to help her strengthen her rear end, and especially her left side, since she prefers her right.

The log, first time...

Then, on to the log. Since she knows how to ground drive, and doesn't mind the ropes on her back legs, I'm introducing a log. I'd like to get so she doesn't mind it, and can accept pulling it. This is the first time she's watched it move on the ground.

Here is a link to the log movie:

She did quite well with this. Afterward we untacked, and took a walk in open space along the canal. We are getting farther. : )

Thursday, June 16, 2016

More Work in the Heifer Pen...

Mezza and I checked out our ground work without a hitch today (no mass exodus of pigeons either) and went on to do a ride in the heifer pen. I had hoped to follow up with hand walking her out in the open space along the canal again, but today she had the fence line calling her name, and we worked an hour at getting rid of that urge to stick to the back fence.

Here is a video of us trotting about. Sorry my camera doesn't track motion, so there are some 'empty' sections, since the pen is quite large! The video is a bit long, so I have to provide a link.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Loading Review

Spent a bit of time grooming both Mezza and Scout today. Followed up with some trailer loading practice with Mezza. We should probably do this weekly, as she would rather stay (hence keeps deboarding after getting in) if Scout is not traveling with her. It was hot, but went well.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Working on 'Hills"

Mezza and I had a great ride today. Again, we started by checking out our ground work, walking and trotting some circles, changing directions on the line, desensitizing, progressing to lateral flexion and disengaging after mounting.
There was no mass exodus of pigeons today to set our ground work off to a fast start, as on Thursday. However, that was an important reminder from "higher up" how circumstances can change in an instant and remind me of my need to review and practice basics.

Mezza walked, and then trotted without getting stuck anywhere!  We repeatedly trotted up the two mounds the cattle stand on, where she stood and surveyed her surroundings. It was a lot of fun for both of us!
Afterwards, I untacked her and we took a long walk in the open space and up to the canal line. This will be one of our riding places, hopefully in the near future.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Short Ride...

Today, Mezza and I slipped in a short ride after some ground work. We are picking up the trot in the heifer pen, as she is no longer trying to hide along fence lines that are shared with other horses.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Day of Grooming...

Monday Mezza's hooves were checked and got an 'OK' for now from the farrier. My schedule was slammed (full) and Mezza was happy to check back out to the pasture where she now gets daily turnout until evening unless it rains. We have been encouraged to ride uphills to assist with hind-end development.

Tuesday became a grooming and hand-grazing (read Scout) day. When time gets tight I at least get some hands on time. My appologies, I lack photos : (

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Back at the Equestrian Center...

Sunday I loaded up Miss Mezza without Scout. Mezza rather thought that stunk, and she was asked back into the trailer 4 or 5 times before she decided it was easier to stay than to turn and come back out (sigh). She definitely likes a buddy, and I definitely need to be that buddy when we are together, and hope that this summer will help her confidence with that.

This time we were able to get into the center, and there was a show going on. Still plenty of room to park. Honestly, Mezza handled everything well!  I met up with Vanessa and her young horse, Whiskey, and Joann, who was riding Vanessa's other horse, Lady. Mezza was immediately happy to see them, although she squealed at the gelding, go figure.

Notice the breast collar--it really did help!

My friends went out to ride on alone, while I warmed Mezza up briefly in the round pen. When Mezza and I finished, I took her over to the warm-up arena to start with. I hadn't even gotten on when a judge came in to explain that he needed the arena for a short time for a class. So, we exited, and Mezza and I started off our ride out in the trail course. All good : )

Vanessa and Joann arrived back, and all of us headed through the show participants and attendees and took the loop around the inside of the equestrian center. Mezza did not bat an eye at anything going on. What I did have to address was her desire to suck up to the horses in front of her. So, everything she started to get close to one of them I disengaged her a couple of times and had her relax and wait until they others were farther ahead. A little over half way around she figured it out, and was happy to follow along without here nose close to anyone's tail.

By the time we completed our loop, the arena was free, so we went in and practiced going everywhere (without getting stuck anywhere) at the walk and trot. Again we had to work at giving up the buddy sour business. It was all good in the end!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Learning a Little Patience

Well, that was yesterday, Thursday, and it really didn't go as planned. I started out with a "D" and finally scraped by with a B- on my disposition and patience (or impatience). In the end it was a lot of learning (patience) on my part, and a wee bit of innovation--or more likely flexibility by demand.

I had the brainy idea that I would ride both Mezza and Scout, so I gave Scout some bute, got the trailer hooked up (on a plus, my backing was a lot better than last time). Got everything loaded tack-wise, and hung a hay net for the first horse (Scout) by a little after noon. Scout hopped right in and promptly turned around in the trailer. I spent a good 30 minutes (or more) with him. He'd get right in, get halfway to his spot (in a 3-horse slant) and then stop. He'd step up, then he'd step back. If he turned, he wouldn't necessarily get out, just stop at the edge. I was thinking, "if you'll get out, I'll just put you back in until you don't wish to get out". Hmmm. Finally every time he took a step toward his spot I rubbed on him. I literally had to stop wishing he would move up and just not care about that--I just needed to care about him and not my stupid schedule. He stopped taking the step backward. I sighed. He finally stepped up in place and contentedly stood there, and started eating. I looked at him and shook my head. He was perpetually relaxed through it all.

 Mezza, on the other hand literally jumped right in and sucked into her spot!  I will see if that happens when I trailer her alone!  Off we went. It's only about 1 mile to the center. There's a left hand turn lane in the middle of the road, then I saw the cones...."can I get around them," I wondered?  There were several men operating a skid-steer thing-a-ma-jig and putting down asphalt on the entrance drive. My heart sank. The entire entrance was blocked off. Dang. I kept the trailer going. Several cars passed me on the right. OK, change of plans, take the next left to G&J Lazy P!

Wondering what we're doing here!

I'd been wanting to take Mezza to G&J's indoor arena at some point, as if the weather got bad that's a close place to go to ride, and good during the week. I thought, no problem. She's used to indoor arenas, outdoor arenas, etc. Hahaha. Never take anything for granted. She screamed for Scout when I first put her in the round pen. I parked along the dirt road and tied Scout to the off side, away from any traffic and where he could have some shade. Mezza was a dirty mess, so I put her in the round pen while I pulled the take and brushes out of the trailer. We did ground work in the round pen (avoiding some water), then cleaned and tacked up and went into the indoor.

Totally relaxed here...

She did well with ground work and hand walking in there (thought the chickens were intersting), but was not the low-key self she had been outside. The saddle pad/saddle kept sliding back, and when I went to get on, things just weren't right. So, instead we went out tied at the rail and I struggled with the pad and saddle. Once that was resolved, back into the round pen we went and I finally realized I just needed to keep doing whatever I was working on until she relaxed, whether it was ground work or ridden work. I needed to lose my schedule and concentrate on her. Hmm, sound familiar?

Looking for patience (mine) and relaxation (Mezza's)

It worked. First I looked for it from the ground. Then when I rode. There was one spot in the round pen where she kept trying to cut through and turn around when I rode, avoiding a big puddle by cutting back inside instead of going around it. So, the only thing we worked on was her willingness to go around the outside of the puddle at a trot, without hanging up anywhere. I'd let her turn, but when she cut to the center I'd disengage her a few times at the trot, taking the pressure off when she faced the way I'd hope she'd go. Seemed like that would never end, but it did! We ended up with a nice trot after about ? minutes of that, then a nice walk, and then she just got to hang out there at the place she had been so determined to avoid. So much for spending time in the arena...I was bushed, and poor Scout was patiently waiting at the trailer.

Scout posing

Well, Mezza got to hang out at the trailer while I took Scout for a walk. My plans got changed, and I have to accept that I am ultimately not in charge of everything. I need to be flexible, patient, and look for the good in each situation without making assumptions. I will try my best to remember this.

I guess it's otherwise known as "Sh-t happens".
Note to self--use a breast collar!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Preparing for the Trails...

Yesterday I loaded up both Mezza and Scout, my Mustang, and headed to the local equestrian center. There I met up with a friend and fellow horsewoman, Vanessa, who has two wonderful trail wise Appys. Her youngest is a 4-year old who she started and regularly takes out on the trails. I've only had Mezza out of the arena twice before, (last summer), but she has been doing so well in the heifer pen that I think we can take another step forward.

Vanessa and Lady

I warmed Mezza up from the ground--going through her gaits in the round pen, before tacking her up. Scout took his post in a pen, where he did some weed wacking.  Vanessa and I then proceeded to the arena. Mezza and I worked on some in-hand circles, disengaging and desensitizing and then I mounted up and went through lateral flexion and disengaging before heading off.

We worked on walking and trotting on a loose rein, making sure there were no places we were getting preoccupied with. Her head carriage was a little high, and her stops need some review. Both had improved enough by the time we were ready to leave the arena that I felt good about going out.

We ended with a loop around the interior of the equestrian center. All went well!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Third Week with Mezza...

Lots of good things are happening, little by little. I have been taking advantage of the heifer pen as much as possible, since today the heifers left for the high country : (

When not muddy, Mezza and I have been hand walking in the heifer pen; doing ground work in there, and then doing mounted work. She has been learning she can move the 3 heifers, who are quite gentle.

In hand...

Waiting for action...

Ah ha...let's watch it!

Riding around and past the 'girls'

Hanging out and watching

We also reviewed the trailer a few days ago, since she had been somewhat uptight about it the day she arrived. We literally spent an hour practicing loading and unloading, with short walks and breaks in between. At the end, she simply relaxed, sighed and stood, let me back her out, came back in, and finally backed out for me a last time in a nice, relaxed state. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Preparing to Ride in the Heifer Pen

Here is a video showing me leading Mezza through the heifers before getting on her. Every chance I got I took her in the pen, we did some groundwork and walked through and around the heifers. Then she was relaxed when I got on and rode around them.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Day 8 with Mezza...

Well most of the rain has passed on, leaving MUD. Yesterday everything was slick as snot, but, today the mud is drying, and it was nice enough to get out and lead around and graze. Here, Miss Mezza is sporting some extra paint colors. Not touching this till the pen is a little dryer!  : )

Happily grazing

I think your nose needs to grow into this halter....

Friday, May 6, 2016

Day 6 with Mezza

Yesterday (Day 5) Mezza saw the farrier, and we continued with grooming and grazing. She will go barefoot for awhile as we work on soft ground and then probably need to be reshod later on.

Today, however, Mezza and I spent time reviewing both sensitizing (asking to move), and desensitizing (relaxation while everything else is moving). We moved on through nearly all of it with only a few spots that seem to need more attending to.

Once that was addressed, I tacked her up, and we took a walk in the heifer pen, where she was initially a bit wary. We started with me leading her. She relaxed pretty quickly as she learned the heifers would back off when we approached. The pen is fairly large, and when she lost focus I'd ask for something--a circle, a disengage, a turn. We desensitized again, and when that seemed good,  I got on and worked on lateral flexion and disengaging. She was awesome!  Then it started to thunder so we finished up there for the day. Sorry not to have pictures in the pen, I put the camera away when I thought we might get rained on. I'll try for pics again next time!