Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Where we stand

Slow day up here--several blog entries in a day!  I need to get back on the wagon, here.  I'm hoping connecting with you horseblog folk will give me some motivation to get going again.

Current state of affairs:

Chevelle: My baby is now a strapping almost 10-year-old--how the heck did that happen?  She hasn't been ridden more than two dozen times in the last 3 years.  We moved back from Wyo...she was still having hoof issues after some previous bad farrier work (I was still transitioning her to barefoot), then we moved barns to a place that wasn't well set up for riding at all (tiny arena, whole barn was on 2 acres, crazy crazy BO, NEVER AGAIN), and Chev HATED it.  She lost a ton of weight, I freaked out, and moved them again into full care at a wonderful barn.  She picked up the weight, was happy and looked awesome, but again, there was only a tiny indoor arena to ride in...and it just didn't happen.

Fast forward to 8 months ago...We moved again, this time up to the lovely Columbia Gorge!  And for the first time ever, I have the girls on the property--5 acres, a old two stall barn with paddocks, and an acre and a half pasture.  It's been awesome having them home...but AGAIN, the riding isn't really happening.

She also had a disastrous two trims with a "barefoot trimmer" who nearly crippled her right after we moved up here, 6 weeks apart.  That's another story for another time...but I took over their hoof care 4 months ago.  So far...mostly good.  There was a lot of damage to undo.  But I think she'll be good to ride this summer.

Tiny: My little blonde punkin, how the time has FLOWN!  The itty bitty practically unhandled 18-month-old is now a sweet, anyone-can-handle 4-year-old.  She loves people, she loves grooming, and is just a pleasure to be around.  She's the opposite of Chev in so many ways (Chev the cat vs Teeny the golden retriever).  She's one of those "born broke" horses who just wants to please you.

She was late to develop physically, and only has about 4 rides on her at this point.  I have done all of her handling and riding up until now.  I last got on her in October for a ride around the yard.  She is fast to pick up on things and has good information retention.  She's got power steering built in--I really didn't need to teach that.  She stops, she backs, she goes, she turns.  She'll be "seriously" started this summer, and I'm really, really looking forward to it.

 Me & Bitty Boo, ride #4


I've only ridden Chevy a couple of times since moving up here, and I have some observations:

1.  I am absolutely getting more chickenshit the longer I go without riding consistently.

2.  My horse is A LOT more broke than I give her credit for.

So, that's good and bad.  Chev is a huge, powerful, bigmotor kinda gal.  When I get up on her I can just feel it rippling under me.  It would only take the slightest whisper and she would be off like a shot.  So she is ridden with a whisper.  I taught her this.

I remember back in her 3 year old year, and her 4 year old year--the year I actually got serious about riding her--she was so LAZY.  I remember feeling like I was going to pass out at her first show after 2 minutes of the extended trot.  I tired of that real fast.  I liked riding whisper horses.  Her pluginess frustrated me.  I didn't want a sticky slow horse that dumped on the forehand.  This was MY horse to get going, and I was going to make her into the best of all the parts of the lesson horses I'd ridden over the years.  I was determined.

It worked, maybe a little too well.  That's not to say she doesn't have things she struggles with, both conformationally and trainer-wise (mostly the second one--she's been stuck with ME for years, after all!), but...for the most part, I have a very willing, very forward when asked, very solid riding partner.  Even though she's still green in a lot of ways (and yes, I still ride her in the same plain loose ring snaffle I started her in), all the basics are there and SHE REMEMBERS THEM.  Even after only being ridden a handful of times in the last 2 years, she stopped on a dime, backed hard and on cue and planted her feet as soon as I put my rein hand down to her neck, and spun as well as she could in a pasture.  She also still has the Western Pleasure trot built in and will happily travel that way, head down, for as long as I ask.  I hadn't asked her for any of these maneuvers in at least half a year.  She's got it.

And now I learn there's a big ol' riding arena with a roundpen and a large turnaround for horse trailers just across town--and for a $50/year membership you can go and ride as you please.

So maybe I'll finally get back into it again after all!  YIP!

A rare sight around here!

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