Well, yesterday was our first real ride! I longed Boomer while John was installing our blocker tie ring (http://tedblocker.com/) and when he was done I had John longe him for a few minutes as well.
I decided to order a blocker tie ring because of Boomer's pull back problem. The belly rope is very useful but when he is tied he just sets back and pulls against it like it is tug of war. He doesn't mind holding his breath to pull back. So I ordered a tie ring which is basically a ring attached to an eye hook, the ring has a magnetized tongue that the rope is looped around. When Boomer pulls back, the rope will slide through the ring and the hope is that he will not feel trapped and will stop when he doesn't feel pressure from the rope. In the mean time I have been grooming him with the lead rope hanging over his neck or on the ground. He is great about it! He doesn't really even move if I walk away to get something out of the tack room! We have been working on the 'head down' cue and he is still somewhat resistant but it really seemed to help us with bridling yesterday!
*back on track*
After John longed him enough to make sure he had control I got on and we walked around a few laps in both directions. I had John walk up to us and unhook the longe line and walk back to center. I asked Boomer to walk on and he did. John just held out the line as if he were longing Boomer and he didn't even have to encourage him forward or reinforce my cues!!! Boomer walked, trotted and stopped from BOTH gaits!!! He also reversed and cut across center! The reverse is coming along well but cutting through center was confusing because he wanted to stop next to John. He was so good and I was so impressed with his responsiveness to cues! It felt really great to be on my own horse and see that my training has paid off!
His rain rot is still getting better every day and he is getting better about balking when going towards the hose. I solved that the traditional training way... He used to set back and pull against the belly rope with John on the other end, which is quite a feat. John is 6'3", about 200 pounds of muscle, and determined as hell. While is no match for any horse he can sure give Boomer a run for his money! So I have started following them with a longe whip. Wouldn't you know, Boomer walks along like a prince! John was a little confused at first as to why Boomer wasn't putting up a fight!
I am really excited to ride again but I will have to wait until NEXT Saturday because John is out of town for work! We will probably take this week a little easy (not too easy) and just do a lot of longing over ground poles and I need to clean my saddle also.
Speaking of saddles, now is as good a time as any to talk about tack! A lot of the photos you have seen where Boomer is wearing a saddle is actually of my crappy saddle. When I was a kid my dad got me a Crosby England Olympic Works saddle. It is 16", I think. When I worked for Steve Thebossfromhell I was working mostly OTTB's and my saddle was too wide causing it to pitch forward. I used a wither pad until I could afford a new one that would have a better 'all around' fit. As I had never ridden in a saddle other than one of extreme quality, I was unaware of the ramifications of buying a cheaper saddle. The saddle I chose was a Regent 16.5". I used it twice a day on many different horses with a pair of good chaps and never had a problem with fit. The leather was sub par and the construction was shoddy, but it worked and it cost $400. After I moved to Bartlesville with John we started taking lessons together, he to learn to ride and me to jump a little. I used my saddle a few times but without chaps the leather over the stirrup bars would bruise my thighs. I tried to sell the saddle but had no interested buyers. Along comes Boomer and I now have a use for a crappy saddle- Breaking a horse! It was a good thing I had this saddle because there was more than one occasion when the saddle ended up in the mud. The last two rides I have done in my Crosby and It got a little muddy and needs to be cleaned and oiled. The Crosby is well over 10 years old and looks newer than my 2 year old saddle. It is beautiful and comfortable and I am in love with it, if that is possible! At some point I would like a saddle better suited for endurance as my Crosby is a close contact hunt seat saddle. My dream saddle is the Solstice from http://www.arabiansaddles.com/endurance.htm It looks so comfortable with such a deep seat, long flaps, and minimal-but-still-there knee rolls. The leather is beautiful and it comes CUSTOM FITTED to your horse! I'm thinking that I won't get a saddle like that for a while, considering is costs three months salary at the job I haven't been hired for yet. Not to mention that I need to take general horsey costs out of those paychecks! I swear, I have already spent my first two checks!
*non-horse related topic*
I just started my Masters degree in Library and information studies at OU's Tulsa campus. It will probably take me 1.5-2 years to complete. I have an online class which I was voted to be a group leader for (!) and a class on Thursday nights from 5:30-8:30. I am currently trying to get into another course on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-8:30. I have had an interview at the Bartlesville Public Library for the reference desk assistant job. I go in on Tuesday afternoon to meet the head lady there and I assume they will make an offer. The hours are MTW 5-9, S 8:30-5:30, and SU 1:30-5:30. I will only be able to accept the position if they will give me Wednesday off for school. I am a little concerned that this job will not leave me enough time with John and I know neither of us would be happy if we only got to see each other in passing. Also, the only time I would have to go out and work with Boomer would be in the mornings, which is fine, but I don't want to ride him unless John is out there. Which would limit our rides to Fridays and Sundays. I'm not sure that would be enough time to really work with him. I think I should take things one step at a time and my first goal is to get into the Wednesday night class. Then I will go to the library interview and if I am still hesitant, I will tell them I need to think about it. For now, thats all... I'm headed out to hang with Boomer.