Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend......Failure all Around

I didn't get to have my lessons with Top this weekend. I pulled him out of the trailer, and he was lame on all four. My farrier had trimmed him too close. He was fine in his cushy pen, and in the rubber arena...not so good on rocky ground. Called it. Didn't want to cause any damage with inflammation (yeah all I need is a case of road founder). Hosed his feet off up there. One of the ladies grabbed some bute, let him hang out for 20 or so minutes and took him home. CRAP.

He's a party animal at home. Cushy ground in a student's pen, next to what he thinks is the absolutely most beautiful mare he's ever seen. Play and jump and rocket around. Great Top. Just great. You're supposed to be taking it easy on your feet.

After I took Top home I was to meet his previous owner at my pasture. She met one of my students at a local landmark to follow her up to the pasture. It can be tough to find the first time.

I like the girl. It is kind of humorous that she keeps telling how difficult Top is. How he needs to be this or that. How I really wont want to ride him if he hasn't been ridden for awhile, and hasn't been out, or lunged a bunch. That even if he looks calm on the lunge, he may not really be. That's he's really hot etc. I guess it's all in what your used to, and what you know. What seems normal to one person/rider isn't going to feel the same to another.

Okay, I may be a pudgy old woman but Top really hasn't shown me any real difficulties, or exceptional heat. He worries, he's insecure, but hot? Ummmm, not so much. It probably didn't help that I pulled Maisa out to ride. He was not going to go. I felt like I was riding a giant Shetland pony. Kick kick kick....move please move. I'm not talking about impulsion, or being forward...I'm talking please freaken take a step. lol Mr Ambitious. I'm going to buy him Red Cell, I swear. A fly would land on him...slam on the breaks...bite at the fly, sling your head, refuse to move. We have to work on going forward, nicely and consistently. He hasn't done this since he was first started under saddle. Probably shouldn't have let him sit so long.

So, I'm sure this girl thinks "Poor old woman, can't ride, can't make her horse go. Top is going to kill her." Oh well. Maybe it will go better for this old woman the next time she comes out. lol

I had her ride Cami. She actually did pretty good. She rides light. Tends to head a little toward a chair seat, but not horrible. She isn't bad with her hands, and she goes right to work. Cami was in shock. lol She's only used to going like that when I'm on her. She figures..."Sweet, new student...coast day." She was puffing. The girl actually got her going pretty good. At one point, Cami pulled herself together, engaged, on the bit, forward....and the girl says..."Oh she does know this." Uh, yeah....she just wants you to work for gotta be in position, and you have to be clear, not nagging in your request. lol

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cat the Brat

I rode Cat today. She seems to be sound, well at least at the walk. Interesting that the person that had been riding her said she wouldn't walk, she jigged everywhere. Couldn't ride her on a loose rein, that she'd take off. This was not my experience today. Today was the first day I'd ridden her since she's been home. (It was the first day she didn't appear dog lame since she's been home). I didn't even really lunge her. Had her walk around me 4 times each direction, and got on.

She had a hard time standing still for me to mount. Once she stood I got on. She then wanted to walk off immediately. Uh, no that's not allowed. You stand and wait quietly while I get my old fat self arranged, thank you very much. No problem she waited.

When we started to walk, she did want to hurry. Took a light contact and stopped my seat. She stopped. Although, she now throws her head up at every halt, even with the reins pitched. Nice, I just love that. When you ask her to move forward, she wants to hurry and throw her head up. So, I maintained the contact, and departed from the halt to walk in left bend. That helped her keep it together. She departed quietly without throwing her head or hurrying.

I rode around for a little while, with contact and on a loose swinging rein. When she could make three circles and halt without throwing her head I got off. Loosened the cinch and led her to the trailer to untack. Brushed her down, and let her graze for about 45minutes to an hour.

I also wonder what happened to her mane and tail? Her mane used to be past the point of her shoulder, it's now even with her neck, just an inch below her throat. Her tail, that was a big full bell to the ground is tapered and even with her hocks. What the hell?

I guess we'll see how she goes tomorrow under saddle. Still worried about being caught and haltered. Was pretty good about her bridle.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Top's Thoughts on Stockcars

Well, Top isn't a big fan of stockcars. At least not while he's working. He'd go along pretty good, then one of the cars during their warmups would back fire... not good. This warranted dropping his butt and launching forward with his head up. When he'd connect with the line, he'd buck. We'd regroup, be working along pretty good...another backfire. Same reaction. I think maybe if the backfires were consistent in timing it wouldn't be so bad. It's just that they are so random. He gets no preparation, and they are always a surprise.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Top Is Just A Little Different

Top is turning 13 this year, that's what his papers say. Top is maybe 2-4 years old, in his little bitty brain. (Okay that was unfair, cheap shot). Top is very very steady in some aspects. Very well rounded. In other ways he's very young.

This evening I was lunging him. Another horse was being lunged. The owner of the other horse stopped, and let her horse roll. Top was trotting along, saw this horse flop down and roll. He put the skids on, and looked as hard as he could at this horse rolling. He wasn't scared or worried. More fascinated, and confused. You know, horses don't do that in the arena ever, at least not in Top's world apparently. He looked at me, looked back at the rolling horse, as if he was saying, 'Look can you believe this, he's rolling.' I told him, "You're good, walk on." And off he went, not a problem. These kinds of things come up every now and again for Top. Like he's seeing something for the first time and a bit baffled by them. Not worried, not falling apart. Just taking it in, trying to figure it out.

A week or so ago, I did see the Top that got dropped off at my place at Christmas. I felt really bad for him. I had him tied outside his stall. I was grooming him, getting him tacked up to go to work. One of the girls that had had him came by. She was standing there talking. The longer she was there, the more antsy and upright Top became. He started to fidget. He was on hyper alert, head up, eyes huge. He would flinch when you touched him, or moved. I thought, what the hell is going on with you.

One of my students that helps out with Top was there. She says, "Wow, I haven't seen Top like this since you first got him. He's a mess." Of course rocket surgeon that I am I didn't make the connection for another five minutes. I put my hand on his haunch to move him over. Apparently he wasn't moving quickly enough for the previous owner. She steps forward and smacks him. He hops to the side with both hinds together, and blows a little through his nose. I think, 'great pour salt on the wound you moron'. Do I say that, oh hell no wuss that I am. I say, "He's fine, just give him a second. I'd rather have him think about what he's doing than rush and do the wrong thing."

Needless to say, no good work out of Top that evening. Big, blowing and rushing. Held through the back to the point the canter was pronky. Poor guy, really doesn't regroup well after he's spun. He is getting better.

This evening he relaxed enough that the canter lost the lateral quality while still on the lunge. I usually only get that quality of canter under saddle where I can 'help' him.

So, not this weekend but next I have another Carrie lesson. Actually I'm going to do two. One Saturday and one Sunday. We'll see if he can work at that level two days in a row. He really does much better up at Carrie's. Not once has he been the spin cadet he is at the barn in town. Even the first day we arrived there, and I tied him to the side of the trailer. He relaxed, kind of let down and let the air out slow and long. Interesting. The stables in town are really tough for him.

He's pretty good in town if there isn't a bunch of weirdness going on. It's not that activity bothers him. I've taken him to the roping arena. No problem. Ropes swinging, steers flying past him with horses right on their big. Barrel racers flying around the pattern, and sliding to stops near him, not a problem. So, what is the variable that cooks his brain in town?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shikos Shadrack II

When Shad was young I used to take him for walks. I didn't have a horse to pony him off of, so we would go for walks. Most of the walks were pretty uneventful...some were borderline scary. The first time a walk went bad, we were walking down a short stretch of curvy paved road, to get to the woods. There was a drop off, down into the trees. Shad was a yearling. An older beat up green truck was coming up the hill toward us. The truck slowed down, I thought they were being polite. As the truck got abreast of us...the driver honked the horn and gunned the engine. Scared the crap out of both of us. Shad jumped sideways and off the embankment we went. Steep with small trees. We got stopped, and had to half crawl/scramble up the embankment.

Well, I'm pissed. Scared and pissed. I take Shad home, put him up. I head into the house, and I'm rifling through the kitchen. The owner comes in and asks what's going on. I tell her the story. Then I tell her I'm looking for sugar, I'm going to go find this truck and put sugar in his gas tank. She kind of cocks her head, and says, "Why don't you use Karo syrup, it should have the same effect and there will be no tell tale signs of sugar granules." (Breeder is old enough to be by mom). I head out Karo Syrup in hand on the green truck search. I find what I'm pretty sure is the truck. I start to have second what if this really isn't the truck?

I head back to the house. She's waiting for me. "Did you find the truck?" I nod. "Did you put the Karo in the gas tank." I reply, "No, I was worried I could have the wrong truck." She starts to laugh at me. And tells me, she figured by the time I found the truck I would have come to my senses, whether it was the right truck or not. She put the Karo back in the cupboard.

Another time we were almost back to the house. Shad decided to have a fit and fall in it. He started leaping around on the paved road two blocks from the house. Has a big enough fit, he falls down. Scares, me. So, I'm cussing at him...checking him over to make sure he's okay. This guy is standing in his front yard watching this. He is smoking a pipe, has a close cut beard and glasses, and is looking down his nose at us. He says to me, "You know he's just being an animal." All superior, like I shouldn't be upset. So, I walk up to him, leading Shad and hand him the lead line and say, "Then you deal with him." The guy is now holding the very end of the rope, looking shocked and sort of panicked. Shad I swear can smell fresh meat. Puffs himself up, all archy looks this guy dead in the eye...and blows/snorts in his face. The guy looked like he was going to wet himself. I grabbed the lead line back and say, "Yeah, that's what I thought." Shad and I headed back off down the road. Shad is very pleased with himself...I tell him, "You are such a good boy." Ah, a partner in crime. How good does it get?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shikos Shadrack

I started to really understand the hot/sensitive issue in my mid to late 20's. I had a very hot, young Arab gelding. We struggled. I was unfair, and I'm sure incoherent to him for a long time. And he was tenacious, snotty and had a sense of humor. If you blew it, he punished you for days. Vindictive little shit.

I swear he had spacial intelligence. He'd flat creep you out sometimes with what he understood, and did. He disliked most people. He'd pick who he liked, and who he didn't. There was no mistaking what his feelings were. Mostly he was just disdainful of stupid people, and stupid behavior...pretty much like that his whole life. He was more civil about it with age though. (He learned that it was really not okay to chase people you don't like, or bite them, strike them or kick them).

I got him at 9mths old, I was I think the third or fourth owner. (Not a great recommendation). Shad was exquisite. Truly a beautiful horse. I was sure I was going to have a 15.2 or 15.3h Arab. His mother was a solid 15.2h, maybe bigger. Moira (Shad's dam) was very pretty. At 18mths Shad was 14.2h. At 10yrs Shad was 14.2 maybe 14.3h. lol

I met Shad when he was probably 3 days old. He already thought he owned the world. At an hour old he kicked the breeder with both hinds, and then turned and looked at her. He was a chestnut with two high white hinds, and a narrow blaze that dribbled off one side of his muzzle like melted ice cream. When he was really young, I swear he looked like a fruit bat. Giant eyes, tiny muzzle and very upright smallish ears that were tipped.

We got along pretty well from the beginning. I'd moved into the breeder's house, and part of my room and board was helping out. She had two stallions. One AQHA and one Arab. Both very nice boys. Shantar was Shad's sire. 14.2h sturdy stallion. Great mind, easygoing...pretty much happy with everything and everyone. Always the gentleman. The only time you'd seen him at all wound was when it was time to breed a mare. Then he was still Mr. Manners, just puffed up and a little talky. Oh, and he didn't like dogs. Dogs were open season as far as he was concerned. I was riding him bareback out LP land. We rode through a rural neighborhood. Now Shantar was a pretty cush ride...usually a hair too round. I see a St Bernard. Shantar strolls by like no big. I'm thinking, wow not even a snark face at the dog...we get about 3 feet past the dog, and Shantar drops, and wheels around snaking his head, and stomping his front feet. Old bastard nearly jiggled me off he was so round. His back kind of shifted and rolled with the motion. Scared the St Bernard, who was really just lying in his own driveway minding his own business. So, that would be the only thing I would fault Shantar on. Didn't like dogs.

Moira was Shikos Moira. Tall, elegant chestnut mare. She was later a pretty impressive endurance horse. She was one of the quiet, pleasant easy to work with mares. At the time I thought she was boring. See what you know at 22 or 23.

How two such lovely parents could spawn snotty Shad is beyond me. When he was little we called him 'His Nibs'. But boy he was flashy and pretty. Smart too. Learned really quickly, but was easily bored by routine. If he got bored, he'd find ways to entertain himself. He was a biter for awhile. If you smacked him for biting, he'd come back twice as fast again. Just to make sure you were serious I think. If he did anything naughty, he had to do it twice in rapid succession, testing you I think. That too passed over time...unless of course you were new.