Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Arabian Nationals!!!!

I didn't get any pictures or video this year, my camera battery charger recently went missing.

I did have an awesome time though!!! I drove down to Tulsa on Monday afternoon and stayed with John's sister. This morning we went to the show and I had an absolute blast showing my niece, Kameron, all of the horses. She is just barely 2 years old and was thrilled to be seeing and petting the horses! She is going to be a horse for halloween this year. I think I have successfully planted the 'horse bug' in little Kami! My mother-in-law also came along and she was amazed by the elaborate stall displays. We drove separately and they all went home after an hour or so for nap time and I stuck around for a few more hours for horsing and shopping.

My favorite part about nationals is always the warm up rings. I really love watching all of the horses being lunged and ridden by their trainers. I think that you generally see better rides in the warm up ring than the show ring, especially when it comes to amateur classes. I only watched two classes while I was there, I saw both sections of a WP class and both sections of a Show Hack class. The WP class was one that another Arabian blogger was riding in. Unfortunately, she did not make the cut for the F/SF round.

I really enjoyed Nationals this year, but it was somewhat bittersweet for me. It was a hard transition to leave the Youth division and not continue showing. Watching from the sidelines and not having a 'barn' to associate with is a strange feeling. It isn't so much the competing that I miss, it is the people. One of the best things about showing is the community. Each barn is like a family. The stall area is a 'home base' for the duration of the show and there is no feeling like cheering as a group for a fellow rider. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be grooming and cheering for my little niece!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Training visit!

I went to visit Boomer in Missouri today! It started pouring down rain when I was halfway there and didn't stop until I was almost home. The trainer and I talked for about an hour while Boomer was in his stall. He was happy, looked healthy, and didn't appear to have lost any weight. It was really nice to see him and get to brush and pet him. He was friendly and didn't act like a jerk at all. I wasn't sure how being in training in a new environment would affect his attitude and it seems to have served him well! We talked about the training halter she has been using for his 'pulling back' issue. You can find it be searching for "be nice" on valleyvet.com. She put it on him and showed me how he responded to it. He was actually very forward and responded quickly to pressure. She told me a great story about how he reacted the first time he wore it. She said that after he broke the lead ropes she put it on him and he fought like crazy. He pulled until he started to lather up and he had that halter pulled about as tight as it could squeeze. She said that he actually laid down when he got tired of pulling back. He just got down and flopped over on his side. She said that she got behind him and gave him a kick in the rump and he got up, jumped forward, pulled back, jumped forward, then stood still. She said that after that she tried jumping around him, waving feed sacks, etc and he didn't move a foot after that. I couldn't believe what a temper tantrum he threw! I wish I could have seen that! Hopefully he will learn his lesson on that one!

Kelly and I also talked about how he was doing on the trail as well. She said that she really enjoys riding him and that he has great gaits. She is having good results with getting him to slow down and go down hill carefully. He is also doing well with going over logs and through water. The water crossings were hard for him at first, but he is doing better. She said that the first time she took him out on a certain trail that heads from the road where he had to step across a small ditch he refused and didn't want to cross. She said that she gave him a good 'over under' with the end of the reins pretty hard and he jumped straight up and leapt forward into the canter across the field. She said that she brought him back and made him cross it about ten more times. Ever since that, she just has to raise her hand a little and he goes forward for her. So, she thinks he is just testing and being a 'teenager' and seeing what he can get away with. He knows what he is supposed to do and he has been getting away with doing less.

Pretty much, it seems like she just hauls off and gives him what for as soon as he steps out of line and that pretty much takes care of the problem. Where I had been much more timid and trying to avoid pissing him off and escalating the situation. I'm glad that she is so much braver than I am and can get him right where he needs it.

I am going to go out and ride with her on Thursday and she wants to work with me on being much more aggressive and confident with him. She thinks that I just need to learn some new ways of riding him and that I shouldn't have much more trouble with him. We talked a little about how I am not sure when I should let his behavior fly and when (and how aggressively) I should correct him. I really think this has been a great opportunity and I am really happy to get some feedback on Boomer as well as see someone else interact with him.

On another note, I am watching the live video feed of Arabian US Nationals and I plan on driving down to visit on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Training update

Here is the latest from the trainer:

Some day I should hope that you should be able to tie Boomer up anywhere. I may try and find you a b-good halter just in case though so that you have one handy. Don't be scared of him when he flips out. Get behind him when he's jerking back. Clap your hands. Push him forward. Be aggressive towards him so that he knows he should be paying attention to You the whole time you're around him and not just jerking back just because he's impatient.
Also, a lot of the time, a horse will transfer over from using a b-good halter to a rope halter pretty well because it has the same feel on their head.
At first he was a little barn sour and did the whole stopping, spinning around, or backing. When he does this to you I really want to work with you on getting after him. All it took for me was to give him a swift kick in the ribs and deepen my voice and push him forward and he Knew he'd better move out. He knows what he's supposed to do and even though he tests you, what's nice about Boomer is that he's not mean. He doesn't want to hurt you.
If you're aggressive he's easy to push around.
Also, the first few rides I know what you mean by hyper-alert. He looked at Everything. Now he's beginning to focus on what I'm asking him to do instead of worrying about everything around him.
I plan on going out on Sunday afternoon and possibly riding with her. I am having a bit of an internal conflict because I am sort of getting the feeling that he is going to need more than 30 days. The only problem that this raises is that our boarding barn may not hold our spot for more than 30 days. However, there are other places to board around town and I don't want that to influence my decision, but its hard not to think of that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Training progress

I got a second email from Kelly about Boomer's training. He still sounds like himself. Here is what she wrote:
Boomer's doing good. We've had some issues with pulling back and breaking leadropes ( 2 ) but I've put a halter on him that kind of fixes that problem. It's called a "B-Good" halter and when a horse pulls back with it, it tightens up around their face until they step forward and then the pressure is released. It only took him twice and he's now got it figured out.
He's not spooking or anything. He just doesn't want to stand tied.
He really threw a fit when he tested it the first time but I've seen worse. At least he's smart and knows when to quit.
On the trails he's doing great! At first he was kind of hesistant about leading, going thru the mud and what not but now he's going like a pro. I'm planning on spending more time on him by himself this week.
I've been riding him with a twisted wire o-ring snaffle with a martingale and he's getting a lot softer in the mouth and starting to travel a little more collected.
By the time you pick him up I would like him to be in a shanked snaffle. Have a couple of different ones I'm going to try out on him and see which works best.

This gave me a lot to think about. I'm sure I will be thinking about all of this in the next few days and will hopefully have one more update before we go visit this weekend.

First of all, I kind of cringed when I read that he had broken two more lead ropes (that brings the total to around six). I evaluated my reaction and I think that I have been repressing and ignoring the pulling back issue. He is fine in cross ties and in all other situations, we just avoid tying- so pulling back hasn't been a 'problem' for us lately. In a way, I guess I had hoped that we could just ignore the issue for ever and never have to deal with it, because it is scary to see a horse pull back and flip over. After examining my response, I am really happy that she is working through this issue with him. I want, and need, to be able to tie him to the trailer, to trees, to anything.

When it comes to the riding stuff, I am letting her do her thing with him. I think that experience is the best thing for him. I did email her back and ask how he was doing with riding on the roads, being barn sour, etc.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weather and thoughts!!!

If they kept records on the most perfect weather, today would have been a record day. Blue skies, slight breeze, high of 71. It was glorious! I took Charley to the dog park for a fun diversion after Physics. You know what I really wanted to do? Ride my horse. I think yesterday and today were the first times I have missed him since he has been gone (about 10 days). Of course, I have had plenty of time and space to think about him and how I feel about him. I was talking to the ladies on the trail ride yesterday and one of them in particular, Melissa (she lent me the horse for the day and also lends John a horse sometimes), really had some good words for me. We talked about sometimes people not clicking with a horse, we talked about arabians maturing slower mentally, and about how it is scary to give up on the 'future'. She really seemed to think that I should stop worrying about making a decision about him and said that a year from now I will know what to do. I think she is right. He is in training now, we will have the winter to work on arena stuff, then back to training in Feb/Mar, and then see how it goes from there. I think that if by next fall I am still not having fun and trusting him on trail rides, I will be able to come to a solid decision on what to do with him. For now, I am just going to try to do what I can.

I do have some new goals.
  • After winter, I would like for him to go to a month of training as a refresher.
  • Then I would like to go to some clinics here. The reason I picked that place is because it is close (4 hours) and they offer 'extreme trail rider challenges'. If there is anything that we could use help to build our confidence it would be extreme challenges on the trail. I think these types of clinics are a good idea for us so that we can really bond and learn to do these types of things together.
  • In addition to those clinics, I would like to do an endurance ride. I feel like I have been waiting long enough and I want to try one out!
  • Another idea I have for this year is to go on a spring break (March 13-21) camping trip in Oklahoma. I always wanted to ride at Lake Carl Blackwell (50+ miles in loops) in Stillwater and Bell Cow Lake (35 miles in two out and back trails) in Chandler. Both of these trails are designed for horses and are supposed to be the best marked and maintained in the state. I think it would be great to camp out and visit both, having a nice week of riding!
I think those are all reasonable and attainable goals for the next year. I haven't come up with any short term goals for when Boomer gets back from training. I know we need to work on cantering in a controlled way, side passing and despooking. I would also like to trailer out to Kill Creek or Shawnee Mission Park as they do not close for the winter unless it is muddy. I think that would be fun to do with friends! SMP was great exposure for all of the horses. We saw deer, golfers, frisbee golfers, jousters/medieval fighters, bikes, kids, dogs, etc. It was probably busier than usual because of the awesome weather yesterday, but it was a great training/experience park!

I'll post again as soon as I get another training update on Boomer!

Shawnee Mission Park!

I went with five other girls from the barn on a trail ride yesterday. We went out to Shawnee Mission Park, which is near Kansas City. I rode a friends horse, Storm. She is a small 7 year old quarter horse. She is very well trained and was a good girl. She tested me for about 20 minutes, but then settled down for the final two hours of the ride. I felt very comfortable on her and it was nice to not have to worry about if she would be OK with whatever we were passing, crossing, etc. I also felt safe getting stuff out of my saddle bags, which was nice. It was the most perfect weather and we had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First training update

I sent an email to the trainer today asking how Boomer was settling and how she was doing with him and all of the rain. She wrote back that she has ridden him twice with plans for another ride this afternoon. She said that he has been getting used to being in the barn as she feeds him and saddles him up in there. Her comments on his first two rides sound just like him:
"First ride he was pretty spooky and flighty but then lined out and seemed to enjoy himself. Took the lead and had a nice walk going down the trail. We stayed on the outskirts to stay out of the mud.
Second ride took him through the mud and we pretty much hopped back and forth across the trail until he got tired and started to walk through it."

So far, I think this sounds about how I expected him to react. I am happy that he is riding the same for her as he does for me. I really hope that she can figure him out and work him into being a great trail horse. I am also 100% willing to leave him for an extra month if 30 days doesn't really feel like enough to her. I am also willing to send him back in the spring for another 30-60 days. I think in the long run it will be totally worth the time and money. I think that training is the best option for him at this point. I am really happy with the situation and can't wait to see the progress in 30 days. We might go out to see him in another week or so, and then I will be able to ride him after 30 days and evaluate if I think he needs more time.
John's dad (used to own horses) recently gave me some good words. He advised to just be patient with Boomer, he can only go as far as his comfort level allows. This is so very true. I am hoping that this training session will allow him to extend his comfort level as well as learn how to deal in situations that make him uncomfortable.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Going to Juvie

John and I have talked a lot about what to do with Boomer. He thinks I will regret it if I sell him. He may be right. I think that Boomer could be a great horse in the future. I'm just not the person to get him there right now. So, we decided that I need a little break from the guy and he still needs to be worked. So, he is getting sent to a trainer for 30-60 days (weather depending). The trainer's barn is on the edge of a state park and that is where he will be ridden, every day, over many obstacles. She knows his past, my past, how far he has come, and what I want from him. I think it is a good match.
I am confident this is the right decision for now. I feel good about putting every last effort in to him that we have. Over the dead of winter, I will probably only ride him a few times a week in the indoor and when spring comes and the trails open up, we will see how he does. We have already discussed that he will get more training in the spring at one of two places if he has not improved significantly.