Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mess Mess Go Away!

I haven't ridden Lilly in a few days because it's either been REALLY humid, or raining. Today it rained again and it's quite cool outside. Fall is definitely here!

I've been going out to check Lilly's level of cleanliness and cleaning her cheeks, legs, and tail. And when I went out on Thursday, she was back out in the dry lot where I didn't want her to be. She was fairly clean, but I was pretty darn upset. So I talked to the BO and she said she had moved Lilly like I asked but had to put her back out there because the fence guys needed to work on the pasture she was in. She planned to put her back on the grass pasture for the night. I think I'm too nice. I just DO NOT want her there at all... Ever. But I complied.

Friday morning I went out to the barn to meet the farrier and Lilly was in the grass pasture. The BO said she was going to have to move Lilly once the fence guys arrived so I made sure I took a whole bunch of hay with me out there when I put her on the dry lot.

I hope it's just a fluke. She hasn't been nearly as bad as those first couple days, so hopefully it's going away.

In other news, my Nov/Am point is finally posted with APHA. YAY! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Please, No...

Today was day two of washing Lilly's behind... I HOPE WE'RE NOT STARTING THIS AGAIN!

And it wasn't just a little messy. We're back to the back end of my horse being completely covered in manure, and she was just washed yesterday. It was even caked between her cheeks and her tail was disgusting. So I washed that and put it in a tail bag.

She's on the dry lot out back and that's where it all started the first time. I didn't know that at the time but now that it's happened again, I've come to the conclusion that the dry lot is the cause of her digestive upset. Perhaps she's eating sand, or maybe there is some weed back there she's eating, or maybe it's just not being able to graze (even if the grass isn't that plentiful) that upsets her guts.

So I bought some Sand Clear today and I'll be taking that over to her tomorrow. She's only been on the lot for a week, so maybe I can catch it in time before it turns into a nightmare. I thought the SmartDigest Ultra was working, but maybe whatever was irritating her system just finally worked its way out... and is now back.

I've sent an email to the barn owner begging her to put Lilly in a different pasture. So hopefully Lilly will be somewhere new tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lead Progress!

Lilly's girlfriend left yesterday and apparently, Lilly was not happy about it. Today was the first day in a LONG time that I had to wash her hind end. She is in heat, and she was upset that Fifi left, AND she's on that dry lot out back... I guess all that equals diarrhea. I really hate that dry lot. As I recall, the last time she was put out there was the beginning of all the diarrhea stuff in the first place. So hopefully the fence building will be done soon and she can be moved back to her grassy pasture. She's probably eating sand out there! Ugh!

It was nice to have her attention back! With Fifi gone, she didn't say one word. Poor Ricochet was crying up a storm, but Lilly didn't care at all.

After washing Lilly's butt cheeks, legs, and tail, I saddled up and took her out to the arena. She was really calm and relaxed, but very focused on work. She did all of our warmups without issue. She even managed to walk over the ground poles without hitting them with every foot. :)

So to the trot we went... Her head was perfect the entire time, her speed was just as I requested, and we looked like superstars! Have I mentioned what a wonderful horse I have?

We moved on to the canter. The DREADED canter. :) Seems so long ago that I dreaded the canter. Anyway, I did my "inside leg on, nose tipped in, outside leg back, drop hip to the outside" cue, and off we went! We cantered clockwise first and she did great! Nice transitions and never missed a lead. She even waited to start cantering past the "outside leg on" part of the cue! It's so wonderful to see progress! Counterclockwise wasn't as pretty because she seemed to need a few extra trot strides in there before the canter, but I let her have them, and she got the correct lead every single time. The extra trot strides tell me she's thinking... she knows which lead she's supposed to take, but she needed to get her balance or gather herself up before being able to pick it up. I was just so darn pleased with her!

I've also been working on teaching her to slow her trot. I make sure that she slows down when I do a sitting trot, and then speeds up when I start posting again, so she learns the difference between the two and it seems to be working! There were quite a few times when she was doing a nice western jog... Would it win a western pleasure class? No, but it was definitely slow! :) I really hope we can do some western walk/jog classes next year.

Such a good girl, today!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

State Fair, Here We Come!

Today I sent in my registration for the State Fair. I'm really excited about showing there, and it will complete my list of goals for 2009. My mom and dad will be in town, so it'll be even more fun having them there to help, watch, and cheer us on. I showed Lilly once before at the State Fair when she was a year old and it didn't go so well. She did not like the indoor arena at all and I couldn't get her to stand still. My mom and dad were here for that show too. This year will be much different and won't feel like a waste of time. :) I'm sure this show will be more fun for everyone!

As it turns out, halter classes are $16 and performance classes are $24. I about fell out of my chair when I read that. So, needless to say, I skipped the halter classes since we don't usually place well in them anyway. I even dropped a few of the riding classes I was hoping to show in because of the cost. We're still doing 6 classes, though:

Paint Showmanship - Novice Amateur
Paint Showmanship - Amateur
Paint Hunter Under Saddle - Novice Amateur
Paint Hunter Under Saddle - Amateur
Paint Hunt Seat Equitation - Novice Amateur
Paint Hunt Seat Equitation - Amateur

When I watched the show last year there weren't very many horses in the classes. This year it's one of the CPHC point shows so I think maybe more people will show up. Hopefully the classes are bigger than last year, but we'll see on October 14th.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is My Horse...

Is my horse a lesbian? I think she is! LOL

The barn owner is putting up some new fencing and the horses were all mixed up today to empty the one pasture. Lilly was in a back pasture with another mare named Fifi. They were cuddled up in the corner of the pasture and when I took Lilly out, they both started crying for each other.

The horse Lilly was in with before, Ricochet, a gelding, threw a fit when Lilly would leave, but she could have cared less about him. She never cared about where he was, if she could see him or not... she just didn't care. I never saw her show heat to him either.

But today she cried and cried for Fifi... she even acted like an idiot when I was walking her back to the pasture. She had her head up, kept trying to trot, and was being very pushy. I kept stopping her and making her back up. When I put her back in the pasture, she ran over to Fifi, who squealed, then they started nickering to each other, and the next thing I know Lilly has her tail up and is showing heat to Fifi! She even went around to the front of Fifi and stuck her pooty poo in Fifi's face...

The barn owner even mentioned Lilly's behavior to me... It appears my mare likes other mares more than she likes geldings. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm open minded. :)

Fifi leaves this weekend, though, so Lilly will be pastured with someone else here shortly. I'll be glad as it's tough to keep Lilly's mind focused when she's busy trying to keep her eye on Fifi.

Never a dull moment...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vaccinations

Yesterday AJ and Lilly got their fall vaccines, but before the vet arrived, I rode Lilly. We had another good ride with lovely transitions and progress with leads. I'm still trying to make sure she's set up properly to help her get the correct one as much as possible, but she will still pick up the wrong one occasionally. We're making progress, though. Just the fact that the transitions have improved and she's getting better about staying calm really helps out. When I can actually tell her what I want instead of her just jumping into whatever she thinks we should do, it will make a big difference.

For vaccines, they both got:
Eastern Western Encephalitis
West Nile
Flu/Rhino
Intranasal Strangles
Coggins

AJ would give himself shots if he had thumbs... he is always such a gentleman. He makes me proud. :) Lilly used to be a spaz... the anticipation of the needle was just too much for her, but each year she gets better and better, and this time she didn't even move her feet until it was time to look at her teeth. Then she wasn't too happy. She'll need to be floated here shortly and they usually schedule a time to come out and do all the horses on the farm. It certainly helps with the farm call cost when you can split it up!

It's always fun watching the vet assistant draw Lilly's picture for her coggins... we usually offer them a chair. :)

Here's what's left of her boo boo from the trailer incident we had a few weeks ago. Poor pony.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Great Ride Today

I had the best ride today! And it was great for a lot of reasons. There wasn't one big thing that happened that made it great, just a bunch of little things and a lot of progress that I could plainly see. It was just one of those great rides!


I went out today with the intention of trying haunches in with Lilly, but I'm fairly certain I have no clue what I'm doing. And Lilly is so darn sensitive that I have no idea if we were even close.

So instead we worked on transitions. We really need to practice those, and it's a good opportunity to work on our leads too. So when asking her to canter, I placed my inside leg on her, tipped her nose inside, put my outside leg on her slightly behind the girth, and then finally shifted my weight to the outside. And do you know what my little pony did? She stepped beautifully into the canter! She stepped into it on the wrong lead, but the transition itself was amazing!! So I put her back into the trot and asked again... beautiful transition, wrong lead... back to the trot and asked again, and finally we got the right lead and another really pretty transition. The best part, though, was that I didn't have to trot her around the arena, or make a circle to calm her down to prepare for the next transition. We did many, many transitions to the canter, and each time after the canter, she was composed. She was still chomping on the bit and I had to work to get her head down, but she was manageable! No outbursts, no bucks, no shooting out of the cannon in anticipation, and the transitions were really pretty.

Counterclockwise is the direction we had the most lead issues with today. When we went clockwise, she got her correct lead every time. And the transitions were really pretty in that direction too. I was just really surprised about it all because it seems that her transitions have really improved overnight. She's waiting for the cue, and she isn't out of control.

With as many transitions as we did, she was really getting the idea that when I shifted my weight, that was the ultimate cue to canter. Outside leg on, nose in, outside leg back, and then she finally did the canter when I dropped my hip to the outside. It would be great to be able to set her up with a haunches in, and then shift my weight and have her pick up the canter.

I also experienced something else I found very interesting... during our many transitions, when Lilly knew we were going to canter soon, her trot got REALLY slow. It wasn't a pogo pony trot, it was just a nice, slow trot. Mind you her head was up, but it was SO SLOW. So she's busted if she tries to convince me that she can't slow down at the jog for western pleasure. :)

One other thing I wanted to mention about Lilly... she is SO freaking complicated! I thought about all the little quirks and things I have to do with her when I'm riding and realized that she is not an easy horse to ride. I was thinking about all the things I'd have to tell someone about her if they wanted to ride her... all her buttons. She's not a horse you can just sit someone on and send them on their way. Going back to the geldings of my past, I hopped off and someone else hopped on. It was cake. I would need to write an instruction manual for Lilly!

I'm sure there are a lot of complicated horses like her out there... I've just never had one until now.

I am just SO pleased with her today...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Western-ing It Up

After yesterday's post and all the thinking I've been doing, I decided to ride Lilly western today and test the waters. I had to dust off the saddle, clean the girth, and get the mold off my reins. Not much western riding going on here lately. "And", I thought to myself, "I don't have to wear a helmet today!" Dumb, I know. Like my head is any more safe because I'm in a western saddle. But my helmet was still in the horse trailer from the last show, so it gave me an excuse.

I groomed her and tacked her up, short of putting on the bridle. By this point, I was feeling guilty about my helmet rebellion. Should I go get it? If I fall off I'll wish I had it... Then, just as I was pondering, Lilly spooked at the wind as it whipped through the lean-to. "Okie dokie, girl. Wait right here, I'll be back in a second." I was off to get my helmet.

What a difference between the english and western saddle. I've heard english riders say they hate riding western because there's not enough "feel" with their horse. I never noticed until now, because I used to switch back and forth between saddles so often, but now I know exactly what they're talking about. Having been strictly english for so long, the western saddle feels like a brick wall between my legs and Lilly's sides. No wonder she's so sensitive to leg pressure... she never had any!

So it took me a while to get used to that, and it was actually quite annoying. I couldn't really make contact with her at all, so the cues were not precise and took a while to make it to her brain.

She was really good with the bit. When I first put her bridle on I played with it a little from the ground to see if she'd give, and she did. So when I got on, it took the slightest amount of lift, and down went her head. She was actually better about setting it in that bridle than in her english bridle. Circles were more of a challenge, though. She neck reins well, but when I tried to make the circle smaller, she lost her bend and started thinking about going the direction of the pressure.

She was SUPER fast at the trot, and she wasn't slowing down. Half halt or no half halt, she had places to go. The lope was much better. She was quite fast there as well, but I was able to get her slowed down. I had to be really careful with my reins and the amount of pressure I used because she was quite sensitive to it.

It was fun switching it up. She actually did better than I thought she would... we have a lot more work to do in the hunt seat saddle, though. Two hands, snaffle bits, and lots of contact are what we need for a while yet.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thinking Ahead to 2010

Yeah, I know. It's only September, but I can't help but look ahead to next year. This show season is flying by, and I only have 3 shows left. So the 2010 show season will be here before I know it. Besides, I'm a planner. So I'm planning, darn it!

Lilly and I still have a lot to work on in regards to the basics (haunches in, leads, patterns, and her continuing to anticipate a lot (to name a few)), but I think we're well on our way. We're clicking and figuring each other out. So next year, I want to up the ante.

Originally, my goal for us was to show western pleasure, but we got quite sidetracked this year because of all the training issues we had. And I'll be honest, it was a lot easier to ride her with two hands. Plus, last year at the shows, hunt seat and western was just too much for her. I decided I needed to scale it down and work on just one discipline. Hunt seat just seemed the easier of the two ways to go. I've had a lot of fun showing hunt seat and when I started doing that last year, it was the first time I'd ridden in my english saddle in probably 10 years. I plan on sticking mainly with hunt seat next year as well, but I'd like to start working on western too.

Some of the pieces are almost there already, like her head set. It'll be different for western pleasure, of course, but she understands the concept now. And she's going nicely in a loose rein, even if she is fast.

I've been looking for tips on slowing down the jog and the lope, and I don't know why I'm surprised, but some of the ideas out there are just awful! I think I'll stick to asking her to speed up, and then asking her to slow down... lather, rinse, repeat. Hopefully lots of transitions will help. I'm sure I'll need to address it further once I actually start working on it, but for now that's my plan. And I'm all about planning, remember? :)

Now on to the things I'm pondering...

Here is Lilly's hunt seat bit.

I really love this bit. Lilly seems to love it too and I can't stand the thought of not being able to use it 100% of the time. If we move along to western, though, I obviously won't be able to show in it.

So back in the day, when we were doing western and I was transitioning her from the snaffle to the "big girl bit", this is what I settled on.

It is a nice bit and Lilly seemed to do well in it. I like the fact that the shanks are bent backward, the port has a roller, and it's a spoon bit. The spoons seem to fit her pretty well, and she had a similar english one (it was like a Kimberwick) until I found the snaffle she's in now.

So should I train her for western in her english bit since she and I both agree that it's a great fit for her? Then switch her over to the curb bit once she's graduated from western pleasure school? Or should I only ride in the english bit when we're english and the western bit when we're western? I've heard that horses will learn the difference between the two bits and know what the snaffle means and know what the curb means and will work accordingly. I've never seen it myself, but Lilly is a smart girl, and I assume she'd figure it out. So I wouldn't want to confuse her by switching the bits around willy nilly.

Or, is there a bit that might work better for western? She works well in the spoon, but I'm always open to trying new bits in case I can find something that fits her better and keeps her happy.

Can't you just picture her jogging around the arena nice and slow? I can! :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just A Quick Thank You

I started this blog last year to track Lilly's progress, well, and to track mine too! I enjoy going back and reading about the things we were working on at this time last year and comparing it to where we are this year. I figured some friends and family would read the blog, and it would be a great place to post pictures for everyone to see.

Never did I imagine that I would meet such positive and helpful people simply by posting information about my Lilly on the Internet. It's a lot of fun knowing that people are reading about our progress, and posting suggestions on how we can improve.

I just wanted to say THANKS for all the tips and suggestions. I also want to say thanks for all the positive comments and feedback, and all the congratulations. It is much appreciated and really keeps me motivated.

Here we are in March of this year:

And here we are at the APHA show in August:

I can't believe the progress! All in such a short amount of time, and what a happy horse I've got too. So thanks again, everyone. We couldn't have done it without you! :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We've Got the Basics Covered

The good news is, even though we had a rough night Saturday, Lilly seemed really happy to see me today. She was snoozing in her pasture and when she saw me she turned her head and perked right up. She didn't come to me... she never does that, but her ears were up and she seemed anxious for me to trek across the pasture to get her. ;) Her scrape looks really good and it'll be gone in no time. When I got her to the hitching post, she put her head against my chest and I gave her a big hug with lots of kisses. I was feeling really bad about how things went after the show, so it was nice to exchange affections with her.

She has also decided that she likes peppermints after all. I took some to the Paint show with me and she ate them, but I don't think she was very impressed. Today I had some in my pockets and gave her one. She sniffed it at first, like always, then took a big chomp with her lips. As she chewed it up, she didn't shake her head up and down... and when she heard the wrappers she clearly wanted another one. She's so picky about treats. Unlike her big brother who will eat ANYTHING.

Today I decided to work with Lilly on the basics, just to make sure under normal circumstances that she does have ground training and manners. I took her to the arena with just a lead rope (and halter of course) and we worked on backing, sidepassing, halting, standing, and turning. She is very responsive, very light, and did everything I asked of her perfectly.

She sidepassed over ground poles with the slightest big of pressure on her side, both ways. She backed with and without my use of the lead rope. She'll back when I step toward her, and she'll back if I very gently shake the lead rope. When I said "whoa", she stopped. If I said "stand", she stood while I walked giant circles around her.

I even stood behind her, wiggled the lead rope slightly and asked her to back. She backed up until I said "whoa" and then she stopped.

She did all these things while half asleep. I swear her eyelids were half closed the whole time. And the look on her face was saying "seriously? we're doing THIS stuff?" *YAWN*

So I decided to have her back over some ground poles. She did it with the same half closed eyelids, just as calmly as could be, and without so much as a raise of her head when she tripped and stumbled while being lazy.

We've got our basics covered, so I guess the next step is to hook up the trailer.