Sunday, March 31, 2013

Riding Diary - 51

Time: 1 hr

Ride: I squeezed in one last lesson before I am forced to take a lesson-hiatus for about a month due to term papers & finals in April. My friend Sarah came out and took some wonderful photos - so this wont be as wordy as some of my rambles tend to be. ;)

We started off with our regular warm-up, and then went on to practice two-tracking. I need to remind myself to keep my reins much shorter so that I can really use my leg and reins to effectively build that block to keep his momentum forward, but also sideways at the same time, instead of him kind of jumping in and out of it.

From the two-track we went on to practicing roll-backs, every.single.rollback I have to remind myself to bring my arm way more out to "open the door" into the turn. It's working, and he's getting snappier through his turns now, instead of lazily stepping through them.

Then we did some more work with ground-poles, first just a line and then my trainer set up a box, with two of the poles elevated by the two others, so that Jingle really had to pick up his feet while going over and through. Sidenote - tried this by myself and woefully missed my trainer who would pick up the poles after Jingle knocked them off, not a good exercise to do alone.

& then, from there, we practiced the gate!
My trainer walked me through each step quite a few times, and we'd practice one part and then just stop, pet, and wait, and then move on to the next. Jingle's biggest problem is moving his hindquarters over when I need to swing around to close the gate. The gate is a really good exercise because it gives me something to judge against and for something that he can translate into an activity. He's always been "stickier" in moving his hindquarters independently, so this will be a really good exercise to practice to get him to more freely move with his rear

For Next Time: Work on all of our trail obstacles, and work towards more limberness with Jingle's hindquarter movement.

After that, Sarah took some fun photos with our shadows, and we had some good laughs.

This one is my favourite.

Playing with shadows.

Dream team.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


On Monday my farrier came out and re-shod Jingle, as well as two other horses. Neither of their owners could make it out, so I was on horse-holding duty of the day. Mac and Finn were pretty much angels for the farrier, and then... there is my horse. Jingle is just exceptionally untrusting of people sometimes, and when someone is filing his toes, or pulling on his legs, he instantly goes into "get away from me mode!" - he starts hopping around, pulling back from the farrier, etc. It's definitely not as bad as it used to be, but it can be pretty annoying at times.

I was explaining to the farrier that I get really disappointed and sort of, ashamed, when Jingle is "bad" with his farrier, dentist, etc. because I have a personal belief that how a horse is with others reflects on how his owner trains him, allows him to get away with things, etc. I also commended him on how patient he is with Jingle. 

I switched farriers two shoeings ago, because my first farrier lives in Edmonton, and I didn't like feeling as if I was dragging him down to Calgary just to shoe one horse. It was a bit of a curve ball for Jingle, however, both hot-shoe, and both are patient with him (even if it's in slightly different ways and techniques) and that was really key for me. I won't go near a farrier who rushes, or thinks hitting a horse with a rasp, will get them to quiet down.

Anyways, we had a long discussion about Jingle and his trust issues. He clearly trusts me, and he's comfortable around lots of people, but he hasn't always been like that, and I often see that scared, untrusting horse come out in situations like getting his feet done, or having his teeth done. My farrier brushed off all my worries about being a "bad horse mom", and mentioned that Jingle was much better this time than he was last, and next time he'll be even better. It may take us longer than the other horses, but in a couple years he'll be an angel too. It was comforting. I try to surround Jingle with people that have this philosophy of horses because I think, in the end, it'll make him a better horse to be around.

Me? Bad? Untrusting? No... Mahm is terribly confused.

Then, after that long morning, my friend Sarah, and her two kids, Abby and Ben, came out to explore around the barn. Abby had ridden at the ranch I worked at, but only for two years, and she was a bit of a timid kid. I jumped on Jingle first, but I had put his halter on underneath his noseband, and he wasn't exactly listening to me. He decided tap dancing was a better solution. haha. When he finally starting getting it together, I threw Abby up there and away we went.

We did some walking around....
I was a little worried Jingle's forward, quick walk would freak her out, but she was fine.

Then we did a lot of trotting just on his lead-shank. He did awesome, and so did she! I was so proud!
She's become such a confident little horse-girl, and Jingle was totally calm and collected as he trotted around me. What a difference a couple years can make for both humans and horses, hey?

My favourite shot of the two of them, this one is going on the wall.

For some of you, you may remember my dentist once telling me Jingle will never be my "show horse", and me breaking down into tears, just wanting him to be a sane and happy horse who could one day pack around kids. Well... 7 months later, and here we are.

So, all in all, a great day. From discussions about trust-issues, to watching my horse pack around a ten year old without any issue, or worry. I was a pretty proud horse-mama.

Thanks for all the photos Sarah, you're a wonderful photographer!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Riding Diary - 50

Time: 2 hr


50 LESSONS! How crazy. Life sure was different 50 lessons ago..

Jingle and I are back in lessons after our two week "slow-down" intensive, and my trainer being out of town. I spoke with my trainer beforehand about slowing things down with Jingle and focusing more on slow, technical work than the faster stuff we've been doing, and she agreed we can definitely do that.

So, Jingle and I jogged A LOT. haha I was really impressed with his cadence, and balance at the jog. He's really starting to listen to me and transition nicely through walk-jog-stop, and back down. If he speeds up I can just rock back my seat and he'll take the cue now. Whereas previously he would have just rushed off at a change in my seat.

We started to work on two-tracking and Jingle was doing awesome! He really responds to my lateral cues through my legs, he always has (when he's not have a pissy meltdown) and my trainer was impressed with how well he was moving off of my leg. My only issues were getting him to really pick it up and two track, especially when we were tracking to the left - that's when he'd try to slow down and deek into a walk. There was a standard set up that I'd have to pass to get back onto the rail, so I used that as a judge to help me with rate and speed.

After some of that, and more jogging, my trainer set up a keyhole in the arena with chalk to practice our rollbacks using something other than the wall as a crutch. Well, my Chicken Little was definitely afraid of the chalk key-hole, he told me afterwards he was sure it was arsenic and that he was just trying to protect us. Sure Jingle, whatever you say. He was blowing and snorting and side-stepping his way out of it.. what a goof. So, we took it down to a walk and I slowly edged him in. Our rollbacks definitely need some work, without the aid of the wall I get a little too short with him, I need to really open up whichever arm and rein i'm leading with and work on getting him a bit snappier. In the keyhole he was deciding that it would be fun just to stop and then do a small circle... that's not the point Jingle!

After that, and more jogging, my trainer set up some AQHA trail type exercises for Jingle and I to work on. First she set up a box and we practiced walking slowly (something that Jingle sometimes has troubles with) in, and doing 360's, then standing, waiting patiently, walking out - doing that again. Then she set up a wider then regulation "L" for us to walk through, back up, etc. Jingle did really well, didn't less his pissy-side overcome his thinking side (and truly, that's all i'm looking for lately, the fact that he is now starting to understand and think through his problems is making me a pretty proud mama!)

So, overall, REALLY good lesson. Walked away with some ways to make that technical stuff a little more interesting and diverse for him. I think i'm going to look more into AQHA trail and get some more pole-type exercises for us to work on.

For Next Time: Rooooooooooollbacks. (I have that walmart song stuck in my head)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Riding Diary: 49 - Cutting

Horse: John Wayne!

Bit: Correctional Bit

Time: 1 hr

Ride: John Wayne was feeeeeelin' good when I went out to ride on Friday. Still working on my position at the warm-up, still not feeling ... right... about it. haha. When I watch Coach he just seems so soft and relaxed, even in that cutter "slumped" position. When I try to imitate I feel like a bracey, bouncy mess. At one point I said, "I feel like my feet are bouncing all over the place and i'm a sack of potatoes!" to which he responded, "I don't see that" and rode off... okay. haha. Guess that's a good thing. I need to find some videos of cutters in the warm-up ring... except they all lope their horses, but still... gotta watch more riders.

My dry work was a bit iffy, due to a some terrible advice in the past, when I ask a horse to stop I have a tendancy to rock back and push my legs forward. I have almost 98% gotten over that ugly habit, but every once and awhile it sneaks up and flairs it's less than pretty head. Coach reminded me to be softer when I ask for stops, and gently reminded me to be softer when I ask for anything when it comes to cutting horses. Yet again, I am faced with the fact my riding translates into the fact my horse is not "soft" nor quick and responsive like cutting horses... we're gettting there!! One of these days!... and so I'm quick to assume I need to guide and help them through things like stops, rollbacks, turn-around etc. where with these horses, I definitely just need to sit there, and "shut up"... as it were.

Our first attempt at the flag was pretty gross to be honest, JW was pretty excited and it resulted it me feeling like a true sack of potatoes, he'd stop, I'd bounce halfway out the saddle. He also didn't have the bend and focus Coach likes to see, and when I'd attempt to get his head and eye more locked on the flag he'd swing his body away. When I attempted to back up, he's jut away from the flag and attempt to run off... backwards. Stuff like this doesn't usually bother my riding much, but because i'm one headed on super loose reins while working the flag I often feel a lack of control (even if I am really in control), and so I scramble to grab my reins, resulting in JW braceing and attempting to try to figure out what i'm asking, when often i'm not intending to ask anything really.

We just weren't translating very harmoniously. So, Coach got on, rode him some and then got me to get back on. He told me I was over-riding, and that for the most part I was using my legs too much and it was causing JW to be nervous and fall apart on the flag. So we practiced and discussed "cow-side" leg theory, Coach said to "ride" less, and then "ride" more when I really needed to. I practiced turn arounds and roll backs, only using my cow-side leg to assist in moving forward, and only bumping slightly through the turns.

When we got back on the flag I hunched right down and got to work, and all of a sudden we clicked again. Afterwards Coach apologized for not riding him beforehand since he was being so fresh, but I didn't mind. Now i've felt how easy JW can fall apart if i'm not coming through with my side of the deal. Cutting horses are deceptive that way, they are so well trained that you almost feel as if you can start to get lazy, but then the second you do - their sensitive sides rear their heads.

I'm starting to get a feel for when something is wrong and when something is right, slowly but surely, and riding "tougher" rides will definitely aid in that sense.

For Next Time: Ride less until you need to ride more.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Moose was getting a little bummed... he told me so.
He said all I do is blog about my horse.
 He isn't even allowed to meet Jingle because horses think he's a bear intent on eating all equines possible.
Then, I blog about some random dog and how sad I am that I can't bring him home. 
Moose said, "Hello?! Girl?! I'm right here!!"

& So, I thought i'd share this lovely photo of my little (really, really big) guy on a wonderful adventure-walk we had today. He is the best Komondork there ever was, and I love him. (Even if he can't come within 50 ft of horses without sending them into panic-flee-getmethefuckouttahere mode).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tennessee aka. Bubba.

Remember that one time I picked up two stray dogs, and was stalked by a guard goat? Well, life has a funny way of coming back around, doesn't it? (Part One & Part Two of that particular story)

In January I picked up a Collie and a Mastiff X on the side of the highway, bordering on the city, I surrendered them to a pet hospital who then transfers them to the pound. I was adamant on knowing where they both ended up - so much so that I filled out forms stating I had first right of adoption if their owners didn't come pick them up. I was told that if their owners didn't claim them, I would get a call in 7 days. The next day I went to Vegas. I looked online everyday on the "impounded dogs" list, neither of them showed up. When I came home I called 311 and was told "Well, if they aren't on the website under impounded dogs, their owners must have come and got them."

Fast forward to last week (March) and an acquaintance of mine "shared" a Calgary Humane Society photo on Facebook with the caption "Look at that face." I thought, oh what a cute dog, and then took a second glance... I knew that dog...

Sure enough, there was my buddy... the Mastiff X. I looked through my photos of him and tried to compare it to the photos the Humane Society had taken of him. I emailed the Humane society and chatted back and forth with a lady who gave me some clues that indeed, this was the same dog. I decided to go see him, but wanted confirmation that I wasn't crazy and that he was the same dog - the one at the Humane Society wasn't neutered. That's a pretty good clue, and although I thought "my" dog hadn't been neutered I wasn't sure.

Fast forward to me calling the City... turns out that the person I had spoken too was just a city phone-operator, to actually get through to Animal Services you had to have a logical reason, and then they'll sneakily put you through to a number you aren't allowed to know. Stupid. Animal Services was honestly really great once I got through to them, two girls searched their files for about 20 minutes on a record of the dogs I had surrendered - they couldn't find any. Then I called the pet hospital - their records are destroyed after 2 months. Sigh.

So, I headed to the Humane Society - sure enough, it was the same dog. I was informed that out of town surrenders never actually go to the pound - they are immediately transferred to the Humane Society. Also, my name was never attached to this dog, meaning my paperwork had been lost. The Humane Society has seen him a couple times, they know his owners - who had declined to come get him this time around. 

They call him "Tennessee", his photos make him look much bigger than he is - he's probably only about 40-50 pounds. He's five, and a total love bug, and I thought for sure i'd be bringing him home.

Turns out my sweet little love bug has one little-big problem... severe separation anxiety, the most severe case that they have seen. What happens is that after a couple minutes of being alone he starts to cry, and howl - condo's and apartments are out of the question for him. Well we have a big dog with an even bigger dog bark, I thought, and very understanding, wonderful neighbors - no big deal. Turns out that separation anxiety, in dogs, is much more of a mental handicap than just an annoyance. What happens is that he literally goes into a mental breakdown state when left alone - even with another dog present, which is - of course - very unhealthy and damaging. The Humane Society has him in a pheromone collar to soothe him, but that wont "fix" his issues.

The Humane Society is being really commendable in how intensely they are screening homes for this dog. "Tennessee's" ideal home would be a stay at home mom, or someone who works at home and can be totally consistent and with him almost 24 hours a day. He shouldn't be left alone for more than 2-4 hours a day, and if it needs to be longer, they require that he goes to daycare. They claim that with consistency, and regular attention, most dogs end up getting over their separation anxiety - but they can't promise he will.

I went to visit with him and he lay forlornly on the ground as I pet him. I got up to sit on a chair and he started to whimper because he couldn't see me - it was very sad. It makes me sad to see something like this... why must humans create these types of issues? How do humans create these issues? It's just, plain, sad.

Anyways... long story short, I certainly can't own him. Who knows where I'll be in a couple years... plus, i'm definitely in a place where I have to work upwards of 8 hours a day sometimes... that just wont work for this big love bug. So that's the story of how this dog came back into my life, but can't stay. However, I am hopeful after talking to the many different, wonderful, people at the Humane Society that they will find him a good home that can work through his little issues.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trying New Things: English Pony!

Cutie pie honey bunch!

Tuesday, Jingle and I, (and Mac and Brigitte!), tried something new - English!

I've ridden "English" before, a horse I used to ride - Harry, was ridden English, but that was a long time ago, and I think I was generally riding Western in an English saddle more than anything. A couple girls at the barn said they'd lend us their tack and give us a jumping lesson, so we went for it!

The Coaches!

It was actually super fun - as you guys know, i've been taking it pretty slow with 'ol Jingle Jangle. He was feeling pretty fresh, giving it his all at the extended trot, at one point one of my "coaches" said "Well.. Jingle doesn't really need to be pushed up anymore than he is", haha, nope.. he never does.

After our warmup they asked us to canter-up... on our right lead... my stomach twisted a bit. Here I was, in this teeny tiny saddle, and I haven't really cantered my horse in three weeks and our right lead is not our best... ugh. But, hey!, this is for fun - what could happen, I had my helmet on. Low and behold - my horse surprised me, sure it wasn't the nicest, softest, slowest canter but he also wasn't galloping like a mad man around the arena AND he consistently picked up his lead - even when he dropped into a trot. Proud of my crazy horse.

They had set up some ground-poles to help us with our "stride", over one ground poles, one stride, over the next. They said that Jingle was doing really well, awesome.. because I was pretty much along for the ride just trying to figure out my position and what not. I worked on holding him steady, and he seemed to figure it out.

Then after some of that, we jumped a little line at the trot! It was just one little cross rail, two ground poles, and a second cross rail. The first time Jingle completely balked, which really surprised me, generally he pops over every little thing I point him towards, but the girls mentioned that the standards and the complete set up is a whole lot different than a log on a trail, or a cavaletti on the rail. I let him go around and they told me that they'd rather me walk calmly and centered over everything then let him deek out, because if I let him do that, he might one day do that on a course at the canter.. and nobody wants that.

Sitting a little western in this one... haha.

So, round two, calm and centered I worked on getting him straight and nicely through the line... the first crossrail he over-jumped and I was pleased that I actually stayed in my itty bitty english saddle. From then on in, he went over the jumps and I just had to work on keeping my legs on him, and getting him straight. Also, I was being reminded to keep my reins short... I kept thinking, "this short?! really?! no, this is SO short?!" Alright Louisa, welcome to English. So I worked on shortening my reins but also staying off his face. He pretty regularly knocked down the last crossrail, but he's figuring this out and so was I - we were having fun, that's all that matters!

We had a lot of fun, and I was pretty proud of him. He looks pretty cute in English tack if I do say so myself! I woke up this morning with little bruises on my shins where my cowboy boots have dug in - huh - would ya look at that. Anyways, it was an awesome night, everyone was just having fun and being positive, and Jingle was really listening to me. We had a couple teeny tiny pissy hiccups along the way, but we got through them all pretty pleasantly. Good Boy!

Afterwards Brigitte and I were feeling a little hungry... so we headed to our favourite late-night Denny's and consumed, respectively, a grand slam (bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, 4 pancakes), eggs benny and then shared onion rings, fries and mozza sticks, 4 different types of dips and then each had a drink and a milkshake... felt a bit sick afterwards, I will admit.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Intensive" cont.

Monday - Do werk. Pissy Horse. Regain Brain.

I had a cutting lesson in the early afternoon and then headed out to the barn to see King of the Pissy Pants, Jingle-Bell-Rock.

Generally I also have a lesson on him on Mondays but my trainer was stuck in Montana due to aforementioned snow storm. I thought it would be a good idea to run through a "lesson" to see how my horse responded.

I set up some serious ground-poles, some barrels, and got to work.

Jingle was forward, very forward. Aint no slowin' this Mack truck down! Ugh. I worked a shit-ton on the wither stop, on trotting the ground poles, on jogging, on walking, on jogging again. Jingle has decided he will drag his nose on the ground during jogging - a girl in the arena the other day commented "he actually looks really cute when he's going nicely" - ahem... you mean when he isn't using his ab muscles in anyway and is instead just stretching away from everything I throw at him? Also, he looks cute ALL.THE.TIME. -disgruntled mother over here-

He was working pretty well, I turned him in figure 8's around two barrels every so often and he was turning really.really.well. Barrel horse prospect? Just saying. When he really wants to that horse can whip around a barrel like no other. Of course, we haven't tried this at a lope, but maybe one day! haha.

I was attempting to diverge his forward motion by constantly making him work and turn his hip, speed up - turn, speed up - turn, go steady - stay straight, etc. It seemed to be working, but he was definitely in a pissy mood for most of the ride. I was happy that he was actually working with me though, instead of during into an absolute nightmare like his ears kept threatening to do.

Finally, we attempted the lope, it was scattered and messy -, I decided to let him run like a strung out mess for a bit and then asked him for more turns, big circles, little circles, but it was getting me nowhere - so, thus, we must again say goodbye to loping and go back to the slow stuff. His stop is getting better and better, so now we can slightly shift focus to lessening that bullet-out-of-a-gun forward motion.

After the whole "HEY MA LOOK I CAN GALLOP" schtick, Jingle spiraled right into his pissy-horse routine... maybe my horse doesn't like mondays? haha. We walked for a really long time, and then I asked for a trot again and we worked on stopping, at first he wanted to be a complete dick, but after some transitioning from walk-trot-walk-jog-trot-jog-walk etc, he started listening to me again and stopping nicely (after some disgusting stops haha). I was happy with that - he had gone into his pissy realm of hatred, and had come back out of it. We quit. 

I put away my "do werk" aids - ground poles and barrels - and he followed behind me and did what he does best - roll for as long as possible so that all his white splotches look like they were eaten by mud-monsters. haha. good boy.

Werkin' it out in the arena...

Tuesday - Slow & Steady wins the race

With yet another mugwump article in my mind, I went to work trying to slow down my too-fast horse. We walked, the entire time. The only time we jogged or trotted was when he broke out into one of those gaits, I would just keep turning him right, left, circles, serpentines, until he slowed down, and then I'd let him walk straight for awhile. If he sped up again, away we'd go. He seemed to pick up on it, and I worked on stops for awhile.

Then, as a test, I tried to communicate speeding and slowing at the walk. When I wanted him to slow down i'd sit back, relax, and ask him to walk slow, when I wanted him more forward I'd sit up, forward and add more contact with my legs. He seemed a little confused, but by the end starting figuring out what I was asking him to do and we transitioned through a walk from fast-slow and in-between for awhile.

He's still not slowing down, but I think he's figuring out the concept.

Before I rode, I went out and took some photos of Jingle and his girlfriend, Quiz. :) Quiz was the horse I rode for the better part of last year (better being literally and figuratively haha), so it's pretty good that two of my favourite ponies have buddied up. They are pretty inseparable, it's adorable.

Cutest couple of the year award!

Echo REALLY wanted me to take photos of her - get outttta the way!

Wednesday - Snow Day aka Ditch Horse & Hang out with Puppy

It snowed again on Wednesday and I was sleepy, so instead of heading out to the barn I hung out with my dog - Moose! Pretty awesome animal to hang out with too, if I do say so myself.


Making tracks in fresh snow

Thursday - Jingle, meet "Equine Practitioner"

On Thursday I brought a Massage/Chiro out to the barn to look at Jingle, and a few other horses. At first Jingle was giving her the wide-eyed crazy look, as per usual. She was asking me about him, and his variety of ailments and issues, and then said "Are you planning on flipping him or keeping him?" I wild-eyed her right beside him, "keeping him. forever. and ever." She laughed. Okay, I am a bit of a defensive horse-mom, I know.

She worked a lot on breaking down some scar tissue around his jaw from his previous injury, and also said there was a ton of tension and strain in his neck and through to his shoulders. She said this was due to the old jaw injury, but unfortunately when the head/neck/shoulders are all out of whack and twisted, it turns the entire body into an out of whack, twisted mess. I wasn't really that surprised. She said that Jingle's neck/shoulders were out to the right (which makes sense, because he's better on his left side), and then his hips were out to the left... my horse is quasi-modo. 

She said his withers were slightly out, but that most horses have their withers slightly out due to being ridden. This was good because I was worried all the saddle fitting issues we've been having lately we're going to really affect his withers. She also said that his back and shoulders are slightly titled to the left due to over-muscling from being so "left-handed"... so all this titling and shifting i've been feeling with all these saddles isn't me being an unbalanced wreck - nice to know.

She said he had a nice strong back, which was good to hear, but then when she got to his right hip she said he was quite a bit out. She popped it back in and all of a sudden his hip bone emerged where previous too it had looked like a large area of even muscle... it was gross, fascinating and pretty cool. It made me into a believer for sure. haha.

She said that he'd be pretty sore for a couple of days, and then be pretty firey after because he'd be feeling so good, but also feeling so different. She commented that after a large adjustment such as that, a lot of horses can feel "off" because they are learning to travel different.

Overall I think he did really well, and I'm happy I had her out. I've done my far share of extensive physio, so I know how much it can hurt in the "feels so good" way.

Friday - The Dentist & The Jingle

Waaaay, waaay back... aka September I wrote this post about Jingle visiting the dentist. After he was looked at I drove into town, pulled over at a gas station, and broke down into a crying episode for about 20 minutes... it was wonderful. haha. I just didn't want my horse to be in pain and felt like he was always going to be some pyschologically messed up, semi-in pain horse due to all his jaw problems. As you guys know, 6 months later, Jingle is bitless, Jingle is way more relaxed and Jingle is well... doing well! haha, He's on herbal supplements that target his jaw - specifically bone and tendons... his herbal supplements look like tea & chalk... I am eternally made fun of at the barn. The Massage/Chiro said he's tight, but otherwise okay. My Dentist said his TMJ is fine - aka, probably no headaches. So... we're doing good.

Also, I just really love my dentist, he is an awesome guy. If your in Southern Alberta and are looking for one - drop me a line and i'll pass along his contact info, he is highly accredited, and again... really wonderful.

Anyyyywaaaays, I'm rambling. My Dentist said that he's happy with where Jingle is at 6 months later, he still had a top erupted tooth and the bottom was uneven, but he said that over time a... levelling of sorts will occur and that with work we can have some more consistency and go longer and longer without having such a large impaction/eruption cycle occuring. I am happy with that - much better, and more positive prognosis than last time, where I think my dentist was a little shocked at how bad the original break, and subsequent natural resetting of his jaw had been.

Love Fergus comics; sidenote - Jingle, fortunately, does not act like this. However, he isn't easily sedated and the entire time stares at me with this "WHY GOD WHY?" look in his crazy eyes.

Saturday & Sunday - Days Off!

Monday - Where we are Now...

Running with his best bro... sigh.. he'll never get that neck low, will he?

My Massage girl (I can never figure out a good name for her on this blog) had said that Jingle might be feeling pretty fresh after getting worked on, and then having a couple days off, and indeed... fresh he was. Once again I tried to focus on just regaining some of his attention and working on slow stuff, repeatedly turning him and attempting to stay off his face to slow him down. The massage had mentioned that he needs lots of long, low, and straight trot work, so I also attempted to get my horse to move in a straight line... guess he's lost that particular ability since learning to go in an arena. Perhaps Jingle has become more of a rail user and abuser than I thought. Good to know!

We did a whooooooole lot at the extended trot because he was just being too much of a piss pot when I attempted to just do walk stuff. He zoomed around and I let him, as long as he didn't break into a canter, when he slowed down and regained some composure I kept him at that pace for a couple steps longer then let him walk. If he wanted to zoom off again, we'd go back to work. He's starting to figure it out. We're getting somewhere with these gaits and our "need for speed" problem, I think.

You can't seeeee us!


Well... the "Intensive" is over, haha. I was only really calling it that half-jokingly, but it was a way to remind myself to ride more, and overthink less. I'm going to really try get out to the barn  more than I was last month, but the end of March/April signals term papers and final exams... so Jingle might get some more time off than he really needs. Then, as soon as I know it, Spring will have arrived and we'll be heading outside to do lots of long-trotting up and down the fenceline. My horse needs to travel straight and build top line, and we both need to get outside.

Jingle has done really well the last two weeks, I see the potential in him everytime I ride him, but it's his attitude that really jars the both of us sometime. I think, my horse and I, are a little toooo alike sometimes. haha. It's not even the real "training" we need to figure out, it's the harnessing of energy and working towards "training" that is really where we're at right now, (if that makes sense) and I think we're getting closer and closer to being there. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Introduction to Intensive....

So, I decided to attempt what I semi-jokingly called "an Intensive" (as in, what yogis do, when they do sit-ins and meditate for days upon days with no words, and just try to find their inner focus) with Jingle. I wanted to find his stop, I wanted to slow him down, and I wanted to just generally slow us down... two full weeks later, and we've gotten somewhere, but we gotta start at the beginning...

Monday (the 25th) - Ride from Hell

Read all about that... Here.

Tuesday - Wither stop introduction

I had read on the Mugwump Chronicles about the Monte Foreman Wither Stop, Mugs claimed that she could get the most unstoppable horse to stop using this technique. Pretty much with my hands in the air, and my eyes on the ground, I grumbled "fuck, might as well try this." I'd link to what she actually said, but i've long ago lost it - however in 2009... i think.. she did a series on stopping.

The jist of the stop is that, at a posting trot, as you rise out of the saddle, push down on your horses withers, and then pull them down into a stop. No woah. nothing but push, sit, pull back. Continue this until the horse learns that the "push" is a cue to stop. Once the horse has this down pat, you can add the woah. Go from there, same concept at lope, but push as the horses lead leg comes forward, "woah" as it hits the ground.

It seemed stupidly simple when I first read it - no, no, no my horse has "issues" with stopping, this wont work - well, I can't for the life of me remember who, but someone once told me... when it comes to horses, stupid.

So, Jingle and I started attempting the wither stop, and by golly - it worked. It's actually a pretty wonderful concept... you "push" on their withers which is a physical cue that something is coming, it also forces the rider to place their hands on their horses neck... which means my reins are nice and loose. Then, when the horse doesn't listen to this physical cue, they are immediately shut down into a stop. Soon, Jingle was listening and attentive, the second he felt my hands come onto his neck, he was shutting down into a nice stop.

Now - it still, by far, wasn't perfect, I was having issues getting my hands on his neck at a rise from a posting trot and not throwing myself off balance and totally forward onto his neck. I was also starting to push to quick, and ask for the stop too quick, I needed to constantly remind myself to slow down the process. Slow down my posting, push deep until he notices, say woah nice and slow, and then shut him down. But, it was working.

Wednesday - Day Off

Thursday - More Wither Stop & Jingle plays with his Big Buddy

Thursday was a continuance of the wither stop technique, as well as I added a lot more backing, turn on the forehand, roll backs, turn-arounds, etc. All of this at the walk/trot or jog. 

Jingle rarely got pissing, but his roll-backs certainly need some work. However, his turn on the forehand is really nice, and he's really starting to understand how to pivot.

Here is a video of Jingle & Jager playing :) We joke that Jingle is the pony-horse to Jager's racehorse due to their size difference. Sorry about the video quality... guess i'm not the best videographer.. but it sure it cute how they run around and play together.

Friday - Outdoor Arena

I had my cutting lesson and headed out to see my boy with the thoughts of fluidity and relaxed riding in my mind.

Friday was absolutely beautiful so we rode outside in the outdoor arena. How could I pass that up? It was a pretty chill ride since the slush had some ice lurking underneath it. We worked on jogging a bit, a couple stops, and then I just had him turn and do figure 8's around barrels and poles that were set up. We did a lot of stopping, backing up, backing at an arc, turning, shoulder-in, etc at the walk.

You know what's nice about slush? You can see perfectly where your horses tracks are. WAY better than thousand dollar, perfectly harrowed, top of the line arena dirt. ;)

Outside in March - aint no big deal!

Taking pictures with the wildie

Pretty cute face, if you ask me

All braided up, and ready for bed!

Saturday - Slow Stuff

Saturday was a plod along kind of day, I probably should have ramped up the work-out a little bit, but we mostly meandered and practiced "standing still". My legs and arms were on fyaaaaah from my cutting lesson - ouchie ouchie oweeee. Jingle loves to leak out of his stops, and loves to jig around when asked to stand - so after every stop, I asked him to stand and we just hung out on a loose rein. At one point another girl that was riding in her horse in the arena stopped and asked me "is everything okay?", I gave her my "one-eyebrow raised" look, doesn't she know we're in a slow-work intensive?!

I loped him on his right lead, he picked it up but was a speedy gonzalaz, back to slow-stuff.

Brigitte & Mac showed up!

Sunday - Snow Day

I had planned to ride Sunday, but between 5 am - 9 am Calgary experienced around 15 cm of snow and blowing winds - we were advised to stay indoors, it was nasty out, and I decided to not make the trek to see my horse. Instead I worked, and then passed out in my street clothes from 6 pm - 10 am... guess I was tired.

The Intensive will continue into the next post!