Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Successful saddling today.  Well, at least no buck.  He still moved away from me and became more tense when I cinched him up, and he was tense the entire time he was wearing it.  Big sigh and chewing after I took the whole rig off.  He only wore it for about 15 minutes, with a bit of standing around and then several trips around the round pen.

I'll try a different saddle tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I need to speed this up and put it to Benny Hill music.  But for now it's the long version.  I find it totally entertaining, which is saying a lot because I don't like to watch videos on the computer, especially of me.  But I don't expect you to be as entertained as I am or to watch the whole thing.  I just wanted to show how hard he tries, at liberty, to do what I'm asking.  He has come so far!  But obviously I need to have a better way of telling him he's in the right spot, he's done moving and he can quit trying so darn hard!  Funny boy. 

Mysterious mystery

Joseph had another big bucking fit today.  Reminiscent of what Tonka used to do - nothing naughty at all about it, just total panic.  It's okay, but I wish I knew for sure what his reason is.

Saddling up, he's still apprehensive about, but not a lot.  However, when I cinch up he moves away from me.  I don't over-tighten.  I was using a rope cinch with metal buckles right against the skin, but switched to a felt cinch with buckles padded.  Doesn't seem to make a difference.  So does it hurt, or is it just a natural aversion to pressure?

Walking to the round pen my dogs were all hanging close because my sister is here and they like her.  As I sent him through the gate my sister watched him get worried about all the dogs milling around, then he humped up as he made the turn through the gate, and he took off bucking.  I just let him go and shut the gate and let him get it out of his system.  My theory is still that the back cinch came into play and he didn't like it.  Could he be like Tonka?  EPSM?  Hmmmm.  He doesn't seem to have the right muscular shape for it, but what do I know.  Maybe it just bothers him, which would be understandable at this level of training.

We used my Ricotti pad today instead of the usual Professional's Choice pad.  The Ricotti has a gradually built up front.  I wouldn't say either pad made a difference in the bucking.

Could it be because the saddle doesn't fit?  Sure, could be.  Although I don't think the fit is that bad. Could be all the noise this saddle makes.  Still sounds like a squeaky brand new saddle.  Could it be that this saddle is haunted?  I surely do not know.  But I do know that Tonka had the same issues with this saddle.  Scout and Bella have never complained though.

Time to fit a different saddle with a back cinch and see what he does about it.

Anyway.  He's handsome.  And he's a good, good boy.  And I cannot wait to get past this and really ride him!

Backing up from just the wiggle of a finger:

Eyeballing the photographer with an ear on me.  :)

I'm off to go play again before the darkness comes.  Eww, speaking of darkness - I'm dreading "falling back" this weekend.  I'll have no daylight left for my horse on the days I work.  I hope the next several months just fly on by!

Monday, October 28, 2013

I've been working on saddling more lately.  He took off bucking with my saddle again, so we went to the round pen and he moved a lot, in all sorts of different ways, so that he could get the feel of it.  I suspect it's the back cinch that's grabbing him and sending him into a tizzy. 

I even set up a little "jump" for him with the barrel and poles.  He moved over it at the walk and trot, and I think he was pretty happy with himself.

When he's not saddled he'll come stand next to me (at liberty) while I'm on the mounting block.  Here he's telling me he can't possibly come over while he's wearing the saddle and I'm on the mounting block.  He eventually changed his mind, but he had to take some time to think about it.

A few days later he checks out his pretty blue pool noodle.
 I got on and off several times while he was saddled the other day.  He did extremely well.  I think my saddle is a bit wide.  :(

Tonight after a short bareback ride:

Handsomely tousled:

I even managed to take a few pictures while mounted.  Here he's looking for his treat:

Here he's thinking about his treat:

Checking things out:
I may have to phase out the treats pretty soon.  He focuses on them to the point where he's not really paying attention to what I'm asking, he's just trying everything he can think of that might earn him a treat.  And now that we're taking some forward steps (literally) we don't get far fast when he wants a treat with every step.

But all in all I don't have much to complain about.  We're making progress!

I took Scout to the group lesson this week and he sure could use the work.  He wasn't bad but he was interesting.  Very silly boy, very interested in everything.  Bright and alert and playful.  What a goof.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A quick thought.

I think the times when we have the most fun, and the best breakthroughs, are when I let my inner child loose and just do whatever goofy thing pops into my head, and let him think about what he wants to do too.  Yesterday I stood on that table you see in the video (it's my fancy mounting block) and waited to see what he would do.  He circled me a few times and then sidled up and asked to do the mounting up game.  So we did.  And then he started thinking about which direction he should offer to walk, and whether it was okay to do with me up there on his back.  The dogs were being totally crazy all around us so I hopped off after he took a couple very cautious steps.  Fun times!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Good Clean Fun

I don't know why, but I've been having fun crawling under my critters lately.  And I like sitting on the ground with them, having a quiet moment.  Scout is the only one I can't really relax with, and I'm not sure I feel like crawling under him any time soon. 

I did yesterday's groundwork exercises with both Scout and Joseph today, but without the stick.  No problem.  Actually a lot of the groundwork from yesterday didn't involve the stick anyway.  But I wanted to prove to myself that the horses can do just as well if not better with no tools, or with tools of my choice (I did use a flag with Scout, just to keep him from sleeping through the whole deal).

After our first try at crawling under, I just knelt on the grass and Joseph dropped his head into my lap and closed his eyes while I gently wrapped my arms around his head and rubbed his jaw.  We sat like that for several minutes.  It was one of those moments that brings tears to your eyes.  Joseph has never done anything quite like that. 

We also worked on ground tying, which was hard for him.  He wanted to follow me so bad, and every time I'd re-place him he was overdoing his movements, looking for the right thing, when all I wanted was for him to stand still.  Silly boy.  But when he got it, he really got it.  He wasn't thrilled, but he stood still for a good long minute. 

I'm not going to take Joseph back for lessons right now.  I think we're right on track with the groundwork we need to do (and some goofy stuff we don't really need to do).  I might take Scout and ride him.  That will be a totally different kind of frustrating experience.  :)  Scout is a lazy bum.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lesson Questions

Went to a group lesson today.  Was really excited about it.  Figured I need some engaging new things to do, and just plain need some inspiration.  Ended up all angst-ridden and undecided.

I didn't like it.  I don't know if I'm just being hard-headed and stuck in my ways, or if I really don't like the way "they" do things.  This person studied with the Parellis.  Parelli isn't my favorite thing, and I really dislike their "carrot stick" unless I really need it, then it's a good tool.  I just don't feel like I need it.  Not with Joseph anyway, and not really with Scout anymore either.  So... Am I just being stubborn because I don't like the tools and the exercises are just slightly out of kilter with my normal body language?  Or do I have a bad taste in my mouth over it for good reason?

I did find some holes - we haven't worked on backing up from direct hand pressure on the nose and that was hard for him, although he can back up from halter pressure, lead rope jiggling, verbal commands, and simple body language.  Funny how none of that translated to finger pressure on the nose.

He did a lovely pivot and dug himself a little hole in the ground.

Body control wasn't much of an issue and he did especially well considering all the distractions.  He was the only horse not being ridden, and there were horses everywhere around us - being ridden and being horses out in the pasture.

He did not move his head away from the stupid stick very easily.  I don't understand why you need to use the stick to move his head, so I asked, "Why???" and she said she uses it when riding bridleless.  I don't think you should need sticks to ride bridleless...  Seems like it would just be noise getting in the way of true communication.  But we stuck with it, and we got somewhere.

We did the weird little exercise where you send the horse in a circle and then give them no input, expecting them to stay in the same gait going round and round (you don't even turn with them, you pass the rope behind your back) until you ask them to stop.  I have always thought that's a bit goofy.  Aren't we supposed to be having a dialog?  But it actually was neat to watch him work his way through it.  At first he was very worried.  He'd start to stop and look at me, and I'd just point my finger and lift my stick if necessary, and he'd move along again.  It wasn't long at all before he could go in a complete circle, and he was very calm and quiet.  Apparently this helps them develop self-confidence and give them responsibility for staying on task.  I don't think it caused him to become detached  from me, but it wasn't a dialog.  He went about as fast as a turtle too, but I think that was mainly because he was unsure.  Usually he has my body language and the quickness of my steps to mirror in order to gauge how fast he should be going.  On his own responsibility, slow was the way to go.  Probably because he was trying to process while not making mistakes.  He's a perfectionist.  I think doing a bit more of this (without over-doing it) will be a good exercise for him.  I can imagine him being proud of himself because he thought through it and figured it out on his own.

He recently discovered that apples are good, after all.  He had a big sloppy drooly time eating my apple core right before I took these pictures.  He thought the other horses were fascinating.

I'm really on the fence about this lesson thing.  I feel like I'm being unkind and closed-minded, but I also feel like Joseph and I have a good thing going, I'm not a complete nincompoop, and our relationship is coming along quite well in our own "organic" fashion.  BUT getting out in a group is a great tool in training, and shows us surprising things we didn't expect (both good and bad).  I just don't know if the specific lessons are the kind of things I want to be teaching him.  Really it mostly comes down to the exercise where I wave the stick at his face and he turns away.  I don't like it.  And that's just one thing, and I can opt not to do it.  But I think I've already come off as a stubborn and difficult person...  But I guess I need to not worry so much about what people think of me, and concentrate on protecting my horse from things that I believe are wrong.  Oh, woe is me, decisions, decisions.

I'm not really complaining.  Any time with my horse is a good thing, especially on such a beautiful day.


Last couple days haven't been horse days, but they've been good days.  I love autumn.

Had family over yesterday and hiked around the property looking for photo-ops for my sister's new camera.

This is my nephew, telling me a story.

Happy grasses.

Stoopit dog.

Trying to wipe off his burrs on the door to the hobbit hole.

Toes!  Eyes!  Craziness!

Happy picture-taking sister.

 Zombie niece at Haunted Palouse

 I don't really have words for my beautiful nieces. 

Our beautiful visitor yesterday.

 Such a baby-like face

 Sleepy, and judging by the blood on its beak, satiated.
Still here in the dawn fire.

She was sitting right in my front yard twice when I opened the front door.  I think this critter may have been the one that killed my chickens.  I hope she doesn't get my cats.  I don't blame her for being who she is.  It was my job to keep my hens safe, and I didn't (unbeknownst to me I had holes in my defenses).  I think the cats are smart enough and skittish enough to avoid her clutches.  Heck, Finnigan might just try to have her for dinner, if she gets too close.

Photo credit goes to my sister on the closer owl photos and the good niece photos.  She's got a nice camera now.  I'm just a wee bit jealous.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Short stuff

The last couple of days I've spent about 45 minutes in the evening with my fella.  We worked on a "walk on" cue and comfortably moving forward with me standing about where I'd be if I was riding, with one hand over his back and the leadrope functioning as reins.  It gives us a good chance to work on "whoa" also.

Yesterday he did pretty well without the saddle, but once I saddled him the same exercise rattled him.  So we did that only very briefly, just looking for a really good effort and not expecting him to be comfortable with it.  Then we unsaddled and called it a night,

Tonight we walked to the concrete pad near the old barn - this is his second time standing on it and he was much more okay with it.  This time he could stand still, in happy anticipation of a treat.  Last time he kind of marched in place, lifting and setting down his feet a lot on the alien surface.

Then we went to the trailer to saddle up.  The dogs knew I was handing out treats and they were being obnoxious.  Here Winston isn't barking or anything, just having a big happy pink mouth, I guess.

We did some circles over poles at the walk and trot, and whenever we stopped he was all eyes and ears.  He's so cute. (It was getting dark and really too late for taking pictures.)
Then we worked on walking forward with me standing in riding position, and it was more difficult than without the saddle yesterday, but better than with the saddle yesterday.  We didn't have the round pen to guide us, so he had to respond to rein cues, every now and then.  He did really well.  Still flinches a bit sometimes at movement or sounds back there, but we are making progress.  He's pretty awesome.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


They look like they could work for a living, don't they?
That's Bella on the right, not Scout.

Guess who got hung up on this genius design of a door latch.  Normally I don't tie horses at that ring, because this has happened once before.  All ended well though.

Floppy boat bumpers?  What floppy boat bumpers?

No big deal.

Bella and my young man.  So sweet together.

Scout wanted his mama back.  As always, the horse left behind got the most exercise.

Waiting for our ride.

Getting ready to go (trail directly behind trailer).

 Hidden trail.

Studly enough to wear pink.

Not his trailer, smelled of pigs.  Not much hesitation on his part. :)
Gotta go do a couple more chores and read to my kid, or I would have written more.  It's been a good couple of beautiful days.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hello again!

Wow, it's been a long while since I've posted.

The fall colors are getting very pretty here.  This is a nice little tree at my friend's place.  I saw some beautiful sunsets up there while I was farm-sitting for her.

John and I took the horses for a nice little jaunt in the woods last week.  He walked Joseph quite a bit while I rode Scout.  Joseph likes him.  Scout was in an interesting place, very nervous.  But it had been a while since I'd done anything with him, so that's not really surprising.

We were all decked out in our hunting season finery.

Scout thought the distant cattle needed watching.

Thirteen years ago today John and I were married.  On Friday we visited the park where we were married.  This tree was in our wedding photos.  I want to dig them out and see how different it was then.

Pretty fall colors at home too.

Joseph and I went to my sister's to play yesterday.  He's such a good, willing boy.  He tried out all the weird obstacles, and I think he rather enjoyed it.

Her horses came to the fence to say hello.  They're so cute.

Joseph wanted to get a little closer, but we didn't want any shenanigans over the fence.

He was a little distracted sometimes, but he was still cute.

Just standing...

This was pretty cute.  I was standing on the tire and I hadn't really asked him to step up, but he really wanted to try it out.  It was a big step up for such a short guy.

A little awkward.

He was so proud of himself!

I think he really liked the view from up there.

When we got home we had a little unloading mishap.  He decided to back out before he was fully untied.  So there I was, stuck in the trailer with him pulling back on the rope in a panic.  All I could think to do was stand there and wait for something to change.  I must have pulled the rope loose because suddenly he was free and we were both unhurt.  I backed him quickly around the field and loaded and tied him again, leaving the divider and the door open so if he wanted to try that stunt again, he could.  But he didn't, and he untied and unloaded very nicely.  Then he got a little pedicure.  I'd let his hooves get to a disgraceful state and they were starting to crack.

That's about all I have to write about at the moment.  Hope you're all enjoying the change of seasons!