Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Double Project Update

Lots and nothing going on around our place lately.

I have 2 major projects on the table. The first one is to train Snap. I am doing his training as far as I feel comfortable. Whether that means I'll go all the way to "breaking" him to the saddle the first time, I don't know. But we're going to progress as far as we can together.

I've spent several hours in the round pen with him so far in several sessions. We have been working on basic round pen work. Starting, stopping, inside and outside turns, speed and gait control, coming in, following me around the round pen. This has helped a lot in working with him when we're not in the round pen.

Meal time is much better now as I can move him away from me without fear of being kicked. I can open gates and have him wait politely a few feet away instead of rushing through it like his tail is on fire. We are still working on perfecting that, but it's going really well. I can touch him all over from tips of ears to hind leg pasterns. All of this and Snap still likes me. Still wants to see what I'm up to when I'm outside. Sweet boy.

Our next step is some sacking out with rope and an actual saddle blanket. Not my thick woolback pad, but a thinner, heavier navajo-type pad. Snap is already pretty good about weird stuff being on him. Daniel has put big leafy branches across his neck and back. We've put George the cat on his back. I've even had Kelsey (the small dog) up on his back for a bit. Mostly Snap wants to see if it's something to eat!

I've still got a lot of work to do with Snap, but he's coming along nicely.

The second big project is to work with Rinnah, my 8-year-old niece, to get her ready for her first distance ride later this summer! We were aiming for last summer as her first ride, but Tanna's illness derailed that early on. We've had some problems getting together so Rinnah can ride Serts, but she was finally able to get to the farm on Sunday.

We were planning a trail ride out at Percy Warner, but got rained out. Fortunately, there was a long enough break for Rinnah to ride Serts around our property. After she'd played around a bit on the hill and putting flowers in Serts' mane, we went into the round pen where I proceeded to give her a lesson in posting/trotting. This, of course, is key, because we won't be able to finish a 25 mile AERC ride without trotting!

At first, Rinnah was bouncing all over the place, but by the end of the 30 minutes or so we spent in the round pen, she was doing much better. Not perfect, but she was getting better and being able to go for longer periods of time without me hollering at her to put her weight in her heels, straighten her shoulders, look where she's going, don't let her hands drift so far apart and on and on.

We also were able to fix most of Rinnah's issues from the last time she rode. She had trouble with her jeans riding up her leg and rubbing her. So now she's in cotton tights (not riding tights yet, but they work) and I cut up a sheep-skin girth cover as stirrup leather covers for her, making sure they extended down past the top of the stirrup to protect her shin from the stirrup. Her little saddle also is sporting a cashel seat cushion and a cantle bag to hold her water and snacks. It's so cute. Except for the horn (which I'm considering cutting off and covering with black duct tape), it looks like a real endurance saddle! :D Rinnah didn't complain once about anything rubbing! Yay! More miles might reveal more holes, but she couldn't trot for very long last time before complaining about something rubbing, so this is definitely progress!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Worked Snap in the round pen for about an hour. About 86°, 34% humidity. Did round pen work for about 17 minutes. He was dripping sweat by then. Had some trouble with controlling speed. He went too fast when traveling to the right.

After getting him to focus on me, I massaged him firmly from head to rump and under his belly. Pulled some ticks from his inner thighs. He did really well.

Worked on picking up his hind legs (Picking Up Feet by John Lyons). He would rest the right hind pretty well and we progressed to me being able to pick up the hoof several inches and do 10 small circles and then set it down. The left hind foot almost never rested on the toe. Occasionally Snap would have very little weight on it and by rotating his hock, I could get him to rest it a bit more, but only was able to pick it up twice for a second at a time.

Pleased with his focus on me. Following me, moving his hindquarters over when I asked, not crowding me much. He never once offered to kick, although he did get frustrated with me especially near the end when he couldn’t figure out what I wanted with the left hind leg trying to get him to rest it.

Finished the training session with some leading and then let him go.

Tanna spent about 10 minutes of the session watching from the other side of the round pen. Jealous??