Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm just going to laugh...

Because sometimes that's all you can do to keep from crying.

I got called in to work early for a company meeting at 1. The vice president of the company was there to tell us that they were considering closing our facility. They kept saying a decision hadn't been made yet because they have to discuss it with Union officials first. That's standard procedure though, I'm pretty sure their mind is made up...

They told us we could all go home early... SCORE! I was only there for 45 minutes :-)

Anyway, what a great way to start the weekend, huh? I can't decide if I should be happy because I got the day off, or sad because I will be jobless before long... so I'm going to go with happy, and enjoy the rest of the day. I think I'll start looking for a new job next week....

Anyway, have a great weekend everyone! I'll be sure to let you know how my lesson goes

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday, what a pointless day!

We should just get rid of Thursdays... go right from Wednesday to Friday... that would make me happy.

I gave Rem the morning off, it was wet and rainy this morning anyway. Andy called tonight, we have a group lesson on Sunday. I am excited to bring Remington. Even though that mare was nice to ride, there's nothing like riding your own horse. Un-athletic as he may be, I can't say that he doesn't try his heart out for me. That's all I can ask for, right?

More packing this weekend, maybe I'll accomplish more this time, since I already have all my boxes ready to go. I took next Friday off so hopefully I can be in with my mom by next weekend. Joe's parents are coming up to get him that weekend and I don't want to stay in the house by myself, it would just be too hard.

I want to say thanks to Jennifer for giving me a HUG! Just when I needed it :-)

Now I get to pass it on, and I know just the person...

Andrea at Mustang Saga has been through a lot lately, she deserves a gigantic hug!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lead Changes



Heh, so much for wordless Wednesday...

I decided I'd work on lead changes this morning and it really does help me to write the process down. So you all get to enjoy what I'm learning in lessons about lead changes.

My trainer told us there are many different ways to change leads, but he has found one way that works for him and that is what he's going to teach us.

He then asked us what were some common problems we see when a horse is asked to change leads. One of the biggest things is that a horse will run off after changing leads, or worse yet, he won't even switch leads and he'll run off at the cue to change. Another problem is that a horse will change leads in front, but not in back, he'll cross-canter. We also talked about horses that will buck during a flying change.

Andy specifically teaches changes the way he does to avoid all of those problems.

First I'll explain the process, and then I'll tell you why those problems are avoided using this method.

We start off with 3 cones in a straight line, evenly spaced. To begin with, we trotted our horses from the first cone, to the 2nd cone. We were supposed to be visualizing going from the left lead to the right lead. At the 2nd cone we applied our left spur and asked our horse to move his hip over and at the same time we brought him down to a walk. It's very important that when you apply your spur you are getting the hip and only the hip. You don't want your horse to side pass or leg yield, you want them to swing their hip over and keep the rest of their body straight.
It's also important to come down to a walk when you are asking for the hip so your horse learns that the spur is not a cue to go faster and run off, but a cue to move his hip and eventually change leads. Once you feel your horse move his hip over release all aids and let him walk freely forward to the last cone. Stop there, do a turn on the forehand (reminding your horse of the cue to move his hips) and repeat, going back the way you came.

Once you've got the trot to walk down, you can move up to the canter to trot. Start at cone 1 and ask for the left lead. At cone 2 apply your spur as if you were cueing for the right lead to get the hip and bring him down to a trot. Once he moves his hip let him trot freely to the last cone. Stop at the last cone, turn and repeat.

Next you can go from left lead to right lead, doing a simple change at the 2nd cone. Always stopping at the last cone. This is as far as I've gotten so that's all I'm going to talk about until I learn more about the actual flying change.

But, as you can see this teaches your horse that the spur is not a cue to run off. When you lay the spur on, your horse learns you are asking for his hip, not a faster speed. Using a straight line instead of teaching your horse to change going from a left circle to a right circle ensures that your horse will change both in front and back. A horse that changes in front and not in back does so because his front feet changed direction before his back feet did. I have seen lots of people try to force their horses to change leads by doing a fast direction change and "throwing" them into it, and it may work sometimes, but I mostly see the horse will change in front and not in back.

Even in a reining pattern where you change in the middle of your circles, you should still be on a straight line directly between the 2 circles when you ask for the change.

As far as the bucking goes, I think that comes from a horse who is not comfortable with the spur being laid on them. Once again, using this method, the horse becomes confident knowing that the spur was laid on as a cue to move the hip, and nothing more.

I have a video showing the 3 different steps I described, but it is very small because I didn't have anyone to film for me and it's not easy to get all those cones in frame. I hope you can get something from it, but if not I will do another video when Aubrey is here to film me.



Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to 2nd shift...

I was planning on riding today... preferably in the morning, but that didn't happen. I got to the barn and felt a little bit guilty that I'd be saddling up my horse before he had a chance to eat breakfast... so instead I just picked poop and filled the stock tank after I opened the gate to the pasture.

I went to let the horses in on my lunch break. Thank goodness they come running when I call them. It makes things so much easier when I don't have to go out and catch them. Most of the time they will gallop in, but there are days when they feel like they haven't had enough grass and decide to stay out on pasture despite my calls. So, I end up walking out to catch one, usually Riskie and then Rem and Chocolate end up galloping back to the barn leaving me and Risk to walk back. If only Riskie were a few inches shorter... or I was a bit more athletic... I'd be able to swing up bareback and ride her back... But that isn't the case, maybe I need to teach her to stretch and park out like a Saddlebred. That would give me a few inches to work with... Too bad there isn't a hill in that pasture, or a tree stump or anything really to help me climb on. Man, I must be the laziest person alive, trying to figure out ways to ride my horse instead of walk along side her when doing such a simple task... :-)

I actually thought about going out tonight to ride and turning the outside barn light on. But then I realized there are a few storms rolling through. I don't hear much inside this building, so I have to rely on weather.com to know what the heck is going on outside. They rearranged our office so now it's pretty much set up like a barn aisle with our own personal stalls! I feel right at home :-) heh heh.

Anyway... I should stop rambling on and get back to work... I think my break is up.

Weekend happenings

I keep thinking it's Saturday night... it's actually Monday morning now, what a crock. Saturday I spent much of the day packing after driving around to several grocery stores to try and get boxes. I am having a hard time with this, but I'm trying not to be so sad. I know in the back of my mind that I won't feel this way forever, but it's hard not to think that this horrible feeling will never go away.

I'm not even mad at Joe, because I know what it's like to be homesick. It was hard enough for me to live 4 hours away when I went to college, I can't imagine living 23 hours away. I am just going to enjoy the 2 weeks I have left with him for what it is.

Saturday night I went out with some friends and had a good time. We started out the night with dinner at a nice little roadhouse. It was really good... and I just remembered I have leftovers in the fridge!! mmm.... midnight snack... Anyway, after dinner we headed down the road to a bar that happened to have a mechanical bull. Just about everyone in our group got on and rode it, so it was a pretty good time. I had to have a drink before getting on that thing, considering I try to avoid things that intentionally try to throw me to the ground, but it was pretty fun. I can't say that I'd ever want to do it again though, once is enough for me! I'll stick to Mustangs and bucking Appaloosas, thank you! I saw another good friend of mine out at the bar so it was good to catch up with her, too. Jelaine really wanted to dance, so we headed to another bar that had a band playing. Turns out they were playing music that wasn't that easy to dance to, so I watched a game of pool and then we headed home. I'm not one to go out very often, but I had a good time and I'm glad I was invited.

I got back around 1 in the morning and was in bed by about 2. We had a lesson without horses Sunday morning at 9. We watched a video and went over the rule book. I wished I wasn't so tired! I still got some pretty good information, though, and a better understanding of all the things you can lose points for!

After the lesson I headed over to Steve's house for team roping. Bill brought Brady along for me to ride. I was no good today. The only thing I caught all afternoon was a front leg, how pathetic! I just couldn't seem to get the rope where it needed to be. I think I'll just blame it on the rope... makes me feel a little better.

I was supposed to go to my step mom's family picnic, but I just wasn't feeling well enough to be around so many people. Especially when I knew I'd be getting all kinds of questions about my current situation. I don't want to talk about it with anyone right now, I guess this blog is a good enough way for me to vent my feelings at the moment.

I sure am glad I'm back on my 2nd shift hours starting tomorrow... there's no way I'd be ready to work by 10am. I should probably ride one of my horses tomorrow morning, considering they both had the weekend off. I think the pasture will be dry enough to work on loping and leads with Remington... He's gotten so sticky about picking up his left lead...

Anyway, I also wanted to say thanks for the comments, I really appreciate them. I think I'm going to go re-heat my leftovers and then head to bed. I hope you all have a happy Monday... as happy as Monday's can be, anyway. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blah

First of all, thanks for the encouraging comments regarding my last post. I appreciate the input greatly.

This week has been pretty crappy. It went downhill after Monday. Yesterday, Joe told me he was planning on heading back to Texas at the end of this month. So, I'll be moving in with my mom. Luckily she lives closer to my horses than I do, but at the same time, I feel like a bit of a failure having to move back in with her.

Anyway, that's all I'm going to say on the subject because I'm still pretty upset about it. I've been keeping busy and riding every night after work. The weather hasn't been cooperating with me on that aspect either... It's been raining the last 2 days. I still ride though.

Next week I am going back to my regular 2nd shift hours (2pm to 10:30pm). My trainer told me he might need help riding horses, so I told him when I was back on my 2nd shift hours I could probably ride in the mornings. I am going to see how that goes, but if it's too much I'm going to try to get back on 1st shift at my regular job... The only reason I worked 2nd shift was because Joe worked those same hours... considering I won't have a boyfriend anymore I don't see any point in keeping those hours.

This weekend I don't have much planned as far as horse stuff goes... Aubrey's dad is headed to Michigan with the truck, so I can't haul anywhere. I will probably just pack my stuff up. Wow this is the most depressing post ever...

I am going to find things that make me laugh and add them...








This funny illustration is from a website I like to visit. You can email the artist any
phrase you want and he'll create a picture illustrating it.



Okay, I think that's enough for now. I hope the rest of the week goes better.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sometimes, you've just got to dance with the boy you came with...

I found out last Thursday that we'd be doing a group lesson on Sunday so I emailed Aubrey's dad right away to see if it would be okay to use the truck and trailer on Sunday morning. He said he was going to take it in to get serviced on Saturday, so if all was well Sunday would be fine. Saturday afternoon he let me know that the brake pads needed replacing, and Sunday morning was the only time available. I was pretty bummed out because this lesson we'd be working on lead changes, I called up my trainer to see if there would be a horse available to ride, since I'd be leaving mine at home with no truck to haul him. He said he in fact DID have a horse for me to ride... and she even knew how to turn around. That got me pretty excited, so I wasn't quite as upset that I had to leave Rem at home.

I got to the barn not really knowing what to expect. My trainer pointed out a small bay mare in one of the stalls and told me to saddle her up. She couldn't have been taller than 14.2 hands. She was very plain looking, just a regular Quarter horse. My trainer didn't know a whole lot about her, just that he'd ridden her once and she lopes nice circles and she knew how to turn around well. So, I wasn't real sure what I was getting into. I took her out to the arena and got on. It took a while for me to relax on her... probably because I'm not as young as I used to be, but once I realized how broke she was I started to have a pretty good time. The lesson went well, and at the end my trainer told me to turn her around a little... Man was that ever fun!

It turns out, he had wanted me to ride that mare to show me how much more fun it would be for me to own a broke reiner as opposed to trying so hard to make Remington into something that he may never be. The mare is for sale... but there is no way I could ever afford her, and to be honest she is reasonably priced. I'll be honest though... the most I've ever paid for a horse was $400... Anyway, for the rest of the day I was trying to think up ways to afford a horse like her, because it IS so much fun. But, at the same time... I don't think my trainer gives Rem enough credit. I am realistic about this too, I KNOW Rem has his downfalls, and he'll NEVER be able to turn around the way that mare did... But, at the same time, he just keeps progressing. I know we'll top out somewhere, but we're not to that point yet. And while I agree, when learning to ride horses or starting a new discipline, it's nice to have a broke horse to teach you. But I feel that I am a competent enough horseman to learn from and teach my horse. I may learn much faster with a broke horse, but I just don't have that kind of money laying around to go out and buy that horse. I think I could sell both Rem and Risk and have enough money to buy a finished reiner... but I can't do that. Sometimes emotional attachments suck, but I would need to choose between selling my two horses to get a finished reiner or keeping them and "dancing with the boy I came with". If I couldn't part with Rem at the auction, I'm pretty sure I'm stuck with him... and I'm okay with that.

Tonight I went out and rode him, thinking boy this is going to be nothing compared to the way that little mare felt. But much to my surprise Rem proved me wrong and turned around pretty nicely for me. I'm even feeling a little bit dizzy still. I know he'll get there. I think about how far he's come in such a short time with things like his lope departure... It wasn't pretty right up until a few weeks ago when I really started working on it. He has developed the muscles he needs to pick up his belly and lope off gracefully from a walk. I haven't worked on his spin much lately, so it's only a matter of him developing the muscles he needs to get a little quicker and more collected to just turn right around. I can feel him trying so hard to get into a rhythm and find where his feet need to go, he just needs more consistency, which I'm going to start giving him.

I guess there was a lot on my mind regarding this subject. I just can't believe riding that mare made me think so much about what it would take to get a horse like her... But then hopping on Rem tonight brought me back to my senses. I've just got to keep trucking along with him... We'll get there eventually...

ANYWAY... If you ever get the chance to go to The Melting Pot, I recommend it... but go at a time when they have a special going on, because paying full price would be ridiculous. They had a girls night out special that some friends from work invited me to. We got the cheese fondue with bread, veggies and apples for dipping. Then we had our choice of a salad, followed by chocolate fondue, with fruit and pastries for dipping! It was very good... but I'm thinking I should not have rode Remington after eating... I'm feeling a little sick now... bleh.

Well, one day down, four to go. It's just a never ending problem I have, this thing called a job... Those weekends never seem to last long enough.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I am a dork






And, as you can see... So are my dogs! So it's okay, we're one big, happy, dorky family. So... I am going to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince tonight... yep, the midnight showing. And, if Aubrey hadn't come home today I'd be going by myself. Aubrey's Grandma passed away last night, so Aubrey is home again for a few days. She agreed to go with me to see the movie tonight. I really love Harry Potter, I'm not going to lie... I have the audio books and I listen to them over and over again at work. When the 7th book came out, Joe and I went to the bookstore at midnight to pick up our reserved copy. I don't have book releases to look forward to anymore, just movies. Of course they aren't as good as the books, but they are at least getting better as they go along.

Anyway, enough about my dorkish obsession with Harry Potter... This blog is about horses gosh darnit! I have been getting short rides in after work. The bugs are too bad to do much and the only way to keep them off of us is to keep moving, so Rem gets his workout and then we call it a night. His transitions are really coming along good. There is a show in August at the fairgrounds that I want to go to. I'd like to do the horsemanship class with him. And maybe another walk/trot class :-) I'll probably take Riskie for showmanship, too. Remington is not a showmanship horse... and I don't plan on making him one.

I braided his mane yesterday, and I banged his tail. I was afraid of cutting it too short, so I didn't cut above his fetlocks, but I think it turned out okay. I am not sure if I can really see that big of a difference, but that's okay... I've never done that before so I just wanted to see if it was something I'd like. I don't want his tail to look fake either...



Well, I am going to get a short nap in before I go pick Aubrey up for the show.
Enjoy this cute picture of Remington.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

I read it on the internet, so it MUST be true!

Sorry for the random title... forwarded emails annoy me greatly. I don't mind the jokes and the funny videos, but the political crap I can do without.

Anyway, I got to take Risk team roping tonight. It was fun even though she still needs work. I really like riding other people's broke rope horses so that I can figure out what it's supposed to feel like. Risk will get there, and she's already come so far without much work, but it takes consistency and that's not always easy.

Steve dragged the dummy around for me so I could work on my own roping skills, and that helped. I hadn't caught one all night before we practiced on the dummy, and after that I was able to catch some.

This week sure did fly by! I volunteered to take photos for the 4-H Horse and Pony show this weekend, but I'm not really looking forward to that. In the past I've done it and it's only been a 1 day show, but this year the show is both days, so my weekend is pretty much shot... I'll bring a book to read and work on my tan... which is stupid because I don't tan... I turn red and then pale again. *sigh*

Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A New Halter and Thistles for Dinner

I got my prize from Andrea in the mail today! She held a contest over at her blog, whoever could guess how many porcupine quills she pulled out of her mustang's nose would win a prize. I guessed 21, and the answer was 22. Nobody guessed 22 so I was the closest! I won a hand tied rope halter that Andrea made. I love it! I tried it on Risk right away and it fits great. It's not like the rope halters I'm used to, it is made of thinner rope, but I really like the way it looks. Thanks Andrea! I might have to hold a contest of my own again...



Riskie could be a halter model...

I saddled Risk up tonight and we braved the mosquito swarms together. We worked on picking up the correct lead and stopping when I throw my rope. She's getting it, that's for sure.



Risk in her roping gear


The pasture that I ride in is full of really tall thistles that I have to ride around to avoid. They
are a good way to make sure I've got control of my horse... If the horse doesn't go exactly where
I tell it, chances are we'll end up running into one of these giant weeds.

As I was walking Risk down to the pasture, I stopped to open the gate and saw her very carefully pluck the purple flower off of the thistle! I couldn't believe it! That thing still had thorns on it, too. It was so funny I had to go back and get my camera to get a video of it...



Does this look like something you'd want to eat???





Monday, July 6, 2009

Cutest. Puppy. Ever.

I was just reminiscing about the days when my giant, hairy, smelly, whining Aussie was a wee pup. I miss being able to carry him around. He was seriously, the cutest puppy ever born... I don't care what you say!

Bask in the cuteness that is Puppy Caper...




I guess he did turn into a pretty handsome dog... but it's sad that they don't stay little for longer...




I haven't done much riding due to the ridiculous amount of mosquitos that have taken over the land. I did get on Risk and practiced throwing my rope and stopping. I just worked her along the driveway on the mowed grass. She did much better stopping while we rode away from the barn than she did going towards it... funny how that works, isn't it?

Going back to work wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and another artist is on vacation this whole week so I've got lots to keep me busy. Having too much work to do usually makes the days go by much faster.

Well, I didn't have much to say in the first place so I'm going to end it here before things get random and out of control! Have a good week! Maybe something interesting will happen during mine and I'll have more to write about...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Team Roping, Team Roping and More Team Roping...

Can anyone guess what I've been up to on my vacation?

Heh, yep, team roping is correct. But, not on any of my horses.

Wednesday night I went over to watch my trainer and a few of his students practice. I worked the chutes and listened in on the advice everyone was getting.

Thursday I went over to my Uncle's place to get his horses ready before he got home from work. He let me ride Brady again, and that was a lot of fun. He knows his job so well. The girl who trained him was there and she gave me some good advice. I told her that my mare just didn't know to stop automatically the way Brady does. She told me that heel horses need to stop when they see the rope fall in front of them, so I should just practice twirling my rope off of Risk, and when I throw it, stop her. It's so simple, I can't believe I didn't think to practice this on my own! She's a smart mare so I know she'll get it pretty quickly. The best part is that I don't even need a steer around to practice this part.

Brady was really good for me and I caught quite a few, but only singles. I always manage to catch the right leg, but not the left.

Today I went over to my trainers place again to watch a reining lesson (because it's free to watch!) and then help out with the chutes again. Before they started roping the live steers they were dragging the dummy around and practicing on that. One of the old cowboys that showed up to rope let me ride his little mare. She was a lot of fun, and very much like riding Riskie. Short strided and quick. I got some good advice from those old cowboys, too.

The farrier came this morning and I had him put front shoes on Risk. She's good to go now, so I am going to start riding her a little more. She is so fat and out of shape!

My vacation will be over before I know it, but I think I spent it well... and I even kept it pretty cheap. I had fun, and I relaxed quite a bit, so I'm happy with that.

I am off to read now! I hope you all have a happy (and safe) 4th!