Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gotta see a woman about a horse

Yesterday I met with Chet's owner and set up the lease for three months.  It was great to meet with her and see her work Chet.  I feel like I'm on the right track and now I know what to demand of him.

In three months I'll know if I want to buy him or move on to a different horse.  Currently my only waverings are how he'll do on trail, gymkhana, and do I want such a huge horse or do I want a smaller quarter horse.  Trail riding is the most important.  Gymkhana is just for fun, so he doesn't have to be very good at it, he just has to behave and try.  Eventually I want to try trail trials, but that's a ways off.

Now I have to put the rest of my horsey life in order.  What do I do about lessons at the other ranch?  I think I want to pay for 10 more, but go just every other week.  I'll keep riding Cookies since she's a little quarter horse.  I'll have that comparison with Chet.  I also have to figure out how much I can do to help G stay in shape.  I don't want him to go down hill now that I'm moving on to Chet.

I also have to look at trailers and trucks.  That isn't a big rush, but I'll want to be able to take my horse places.

My arm hurts, I have a good cut from a gate, my nose is burned, and I'm tired...and so happy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

So much has happened in my horsey life lately.  I went to horse camp  and rode some trails I never would have tried on my own.  It was a great experience and gave me new respect for Danny and for my own abilities.

When we got back I asked about buying Danny, but his price was too high.  The ranch has put time and money into him and he is a great horse.  I decided to stop riding him and try others that would be in my price range, $2 - 3,000 rather than pushing $5,000.

I rode Rebel, a cute palomino, and then Cookie, a smaller paint.  I enjoyed Cookie.  She's pretty young and hasn't had a lot of training yet.  I didn't think I would like a smaller horse, but she was fine.  I'm just going to keep trying different horses to see what I like and what is reasonable to expect in my price range.

At  G's ranch, I'm trying a new horse too. His name is Chet, and he is a big boy; taller and much wider than G.  He's sweet and I've been petting him and cooing at him since Saturday.  Yesterday was my first time on him.  He's only 8 and has lots of energy.  It was hard to hold him at a walk, but when I let him trot he was pretty attentive.  I was nervous at first, but when he tested me I must have passed because we did ok as time went on.  He doesn't neck rein and although I'm told he takes leg cues it was mostly direct reining that got through to him.  He has a nice lope, but it's a little hard to keep it to a reasonable pace.

I'm going to ride him as much as possible over the next couple weeks before committing to a lease.  After a few months who knows... But what about G?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Plan revisited

So much for "The Plan".  I'm going to look at a horse on Wednesday afternoon.  I'm bringing Michelle as my horse expert.  I'm excited and nervous.  What if she (it's a mare) is a bust?  What if she's perfect?

If I like her, then there's the vet check.  If the vet check turns out ok, I'll make an offer.  If they accept it I have to get her transported.  If I buy her, I'll need tack.

I need a cookie!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Plan

As always, I like to have a plan.  I want to buy a horse of my very own (hear the whine?)

I am going to continue riding Danny at Don-E-Brooks every Saturday until after the spring break trip in April.  I'll ride Danny at the horse camp at Montana de Oro.  After that I will ask Kelly for a different horse each week.  This will give me more experience with different horses.   It will help me know what I like and what I don't like.  For example, until I rode G, I had no idea how different (horrible) some horses' gaits could be.  Until I rode Captain I didn't realize how much stumbling some horses do.  Until I met G, I had never heard of cribbing.

Part two of my plan is to take an equestrian science class at Pierce College.  There are many medical maintenance things I can learn to do myself.  That will save a lot of money, for example: vaccinations, worming, minor wound care, etc.  This part of the plan doesn't have to happen before buying my own horse, but should happen as soon as possible.  It may not be until next fall that I can get into a class.

Meanwhile I'll continue leasing G three days a week.  When I do buy my own horse there will be two sacrifices.  One is G.  I can't buy a horse and continue to lease G.  If I stop leasing him, he will likely go back to getting little exercise.  I may work something out with Michelle to give him some exercise, but at that point I'll have my own to exercise.  The other sacrifice will be my weekly lesson at Don-E-Brooks.  I have many friends there and really enjoy going.  I can't board there though.  It's just too far away.

So now I have a two part plan towards buying my own horsey.  I don't have any kind of date to do it in mind.  Maybe sometime in the summer, maybe the fall. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Busy horse weekend

Thursday night I went to the gymkhana practice.  It was more fun than the actual gymkhana last month.  There were only five of us riding, so the time between turns was pretty short.  We trotted through the patterns, then we ran them for time.  It was nice to have the opportunity to trot them first.  After everyone had their timed turn, we could do a second or even third turn for time.  I didn't get home until after 8:30, which is pretty late for me.

Friday morning I went to the Buck Brannaman clinic in Pasadena.  It only took me four wrong turns to find it.  I was worried about getting there late and them being sold out, but there was plenty of room.  The first half of the day was ground work.  Buck had the group lunging their horses on leads.  I felt much better about my feeble attempts at lunging when I saw so many people having the same kinds of problems I have.  I wished I was in the arena with G.  I also wished I had a pen to take notes.  I'll try to remember the things he talked about.

The afternoon class was on horseback.  When the twenty riders first entered the ring to warm up, it reminded me of the koi pond.  They moved around slowly, avoiding each other and occasionally surprising one another into darting.  It was very hypnotic to watch. Before directing the riders, Buck spent a long time listening to the riders questions.  I was pleased to hear many of my problems voiced by the students.  Again I wished I was in the arena practicing the things I was hearing.

Buck's mantra seems to be, "Don't take it personal."  By which he means, don't get upset or angry at your horse's behavior.  Just stay businesslike.  Each time you give a direction, use as little a cue as needed.  If a gentle cue doesn't do it, do what it takes to get the appropriate response.  The next time, use as little a cue as you want them to have when they are perfectly trained, but if they don't respond, do what it takes again.  "Offer them the good deal first'," is how he phrased it.  Eventually they'll take you up on the good deal.

Today is Saturday.  I'm getting ready for my lesson on Danny.  I love my friends at that ranch and I love Danny, but I'm also longing to have my own horse closer to home.  My situation now is great and maybe I should be satisfied.  I don't get to practice what I do in class on Danny.  I take what I learn back to G, but they are very different horses.  And G is not the horse I want to own.


Sunday was the gymkhana.  I found that getting off of G between events kept him more calm.  We took second place in the streakin' poles event in our division (the slowest adult division).  Here is a link to the video.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

cribbing collar

When I went to the stable today G was very sad.  M just got him a cribbing collar.  He's causing damage to the pipe stall by pulling the bars.  By keeping him from cribbing, it may help him put on some weight.  She's also going to do a series of wormings.  His coat is still dull and he needs to put on more weight.

He has put on some weight and he has a little more muscle than he did, but the improvements aren't as much as we thought we'd see by now.

Last week I bought another 50 lb of Triple Crown Sr. for $25.

Tomorrow is the gymkhana practice.  I've never gone before.  Sunday is the gymkhana.  Buck Branaman is in Pasadena this weekend, so I'm going to go as a spectator.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

darkest before the dawn

Sunday night the world was against me.  I couldn't sleep.  I was a failure as a teacher, a rider, and basically as a human being.

The next morning I had a critical meeting to determine how a struggling student could be helped.  I had pushed and pushed to get this far in the process.  Now the meeting with administrators, specialists, and the parents was about to happen.  What if I haven't prepared properly?  Will I look incompetent?  Will they determine the student doesn't need additional help?  Will I fail the student and my employer in one disastrous meeting?  All night I questioned myself and the "system".

The day before, Sunday, I had ridden G on trail by myself.  He balked at one point a half hour into our ride and I could not get him to go by a long row of bushy trees.  He had passed it at least four times before, so I couldn't figure out why he was side stepping, backing, and spinning every time I pointed him in that direction.  Was he afraid of the wind blowing them or just being a punk?  I didn't want him to "win" because that sets a bad precedent for future rides, but I didn't want to get hurt or hurt him either.  His spins and backing brought him very close to the edge of a wash and into gopher hole pocked soft dirt.  I didn't want him falling or breaking a leg.

I made him do a few things like circling and going up a different road before turning for home.  I didn't want it to seem like he had totally won, but I'm sure he wasn't fooled.  When I took him back to his stall he bolted in almost knocking me over - this has gotta stop!  Maybe I should just give up, obviously I will never be good at this horse thing.

So, Monday morning came.  My meeting went well, and the student is going to have a full evaluation to determine the next steps. 

Wednesday I talked to Michelle about G.  She told me to take a riding crop on my next trail ride and to make him mind.  She's sure it's bad behavior and not fear.  She also helped me put G away and showed me how to deal with his behavior.  After she showed me, she had me do it and stayed with us until we got it right.  Never once did she make me feel like I was a failure or like I would never be good with horses.

So, today I'm a good teacher again and an acceptable novice horse person.  All is well in the world for now.