Thursday, June 24, 2010


Ride #14
A lot of rain this morning led to another very hot and humid afternoon. The footing was soft and the bugs were biting, but Ricky, Laureen and I saddled up (with Laureen's western saddle) and Laureen rode Ricky for the first time since she's been home. A short ride, but productive.
Its been decided that Ricky and I will ride in the Richland Independence Day Parade and also at The Indiana State fair.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gone Visiting

Today was very hot and humid. Permission granted to vaccinate. A last minute call to the farm 1 mile away let me know the vet was in the neighborhood. In order to save on the cost of an individual farm visit, Ricky and I took a very brisk walk across the field to get vaccinations and a coggins test. All went well, with only a slight hesitation when we saw the cows. Started saying "Be Brave" to steady her along with "Easy". Very sweaty and tired when we got back, brushed her down, picked her hooves, gave her a drink of water and called it a day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Ride # 13 - 06/20/2010
A lesson with Tiffany. I being too heavy handed. Worked on communicating with a light rein. Worried about finding a comfortable amount of connection for both of us. Disappointed I was being heavy and didn't realize it. Canters were lose and free, both leads picked up immediately. Strong bolts toward the gate at both trot and canter and some cowboy riding to keep her turned in the right direction. Struggling to slow my seat when she trots like a maniac. Frustrated today. Things felt out of control with little or no communication. Tiffany did her best to encourage, David too. Ended the lesson learning how to put Ricky's front hoof up on my knees to rasp chips from the edges of her hooves. Sweaty backbreaking work.

Ride # 14 - 06/21/2010
A lesson with Ken Rheynard in the morning. Ricky is fresh today. Strong and powerful. Ken helped us find the connection, the magic place of compromise. Ken and I have worked together a lot in the past and he's excellent at correcting what I am doing while I am doing it..
Trotted countless circles, sponging the inside rein. Ricky was round a lot more than usual. Asking nicely. Good transitions. Strong bolt toward the gate at canter and Ken busts us and makes us work down by the gate. Hard work. Must work by the gate from now on. one step forward two steps back. Ended the day with some very nice round circles. Rode her down to the "Happy Place" in the pasture and dismounted.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A New Friend

Although I was a little nervous about letting someone else ride Ricky, I had a wonderful morning with our new friend Katie. Katie is a good rider with lots of experience and had a ball riding Ricky. Ricky behaved very well until then end, when Katie admitted her legs were losing their strength and Ricky started to test her on which direction they might go in. I got on and touched her up, we cantered and the ride was complete. Ricky is going to be a very good horse for lots of people to ride, eventually.

Here's a little clip of Katie and Ricky.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Morning Ride

Ricky and I's 12th ride together was a breeze. Literally. We worked in the morning to avoid the rain and enjoyed the brisk winds moving through the front pasture. Because the bugs were scarce, we practiced standing and flexing a lot. Bill was grading the driveway with the Bobcat, but it didn't bother Ricky one bit. She'd make a good construction zone horse. 25 meter circles with straight trots as a reward for a good circle with plenty of roundness (comparatively).
Plenty of rein feel today, hands were steady, organized and informed. Both canter leads achieved, but on a looser rein, with little connection. Will work on picking up more of a connection at the canter and asking for rounder circles as the week progresses. Canter did not feel out of control or "rollicking" today, just a nice even gait. There were no arguments about which way to turn today and not even a glance at the gate.
She's happy. I'm happy. 

Ricky is gaining weight instead of losing it.
Hooves are starting to chip at the edges.
There was a funny little hop motion occurring every now and then at the canter to the right. I wonder if her right hoof is starting to swing out a little because its getting longer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bath Day

A big ole bath for Ricky today. Mane and tail conditioning too. Her hooves need trimmed, and I noticed a few cracks that seem to be lengthening. Must consult a farrier about hoof dressing. We went for a walk along the fence line and ate a little bit of the yard.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Here we GO!

Ride # 8
Worked with trainer Tiffany Bongers as well as David Bongers today to reinforce Ricky's training exercises. Ricky got along well with the 5.75" French Snaffle I bought her. She likes to try to move out of a flex, so we had to keep flexing until she understood to stay still. We need to work on standing still and square.

Ride # 9
A very humid day, worked in the front pasture. Kerri Mulso was there, snapping video and pictures as well as advising. Worked on maintaining a steady connection. Hands low on withers, moderate rein tension. Ricky is trying to find the bit and the place to hold her head. A lot more connection today than ever before. Wrong lead to the left , with a simple change on the circle to correct was major goodness. Right lead was perfect. Ricky tends to kind of rush on when first asked, I will try to ask her more politely and see if it works. Only one big move to the gate today, had my whip on the wrong side when it happened. I'm going to set her up next time.  Electrical tape is not working, adhesive is melting and sliding. Rode in my new tall boots today. Stiff!

Ride # 10
Moderately humid day. Bill is mowing across the way from our lesson. Worked right up by the road. No spooking at any of the cars, buses, or motorcycles that passed. A lot of trotting, circles at both ends with straightaways. Lost track of my diagonal, but was so caught in the moment of achieving a good rhythm, I just let it slide. Ricky has a great trot when she can relax into it, which is quickly, so there's hope for smooth transitions with a minimum of work. A little battle on the canter circles, but we caught both leads. Ricky is very stiff on her left side. Many attempts to give to the bit by throwing nose in the air and to her right. Flexed her left when this occurred. A few nice circles and then straight aways for rest time. Too many flies for much standing work. Ricky backed nicely. Canter left and right, with lots of speed at onset, but settling quickly into a nice rhythm. No moves to the gate. I moved my whip a lot, but did not use it.

Ride # 11
Used Lance's pasture for our work today, a tighter space to move around in. Lots of figure eights and circles with BIG trots corner to corner in straight lines for rest. Ricky is very good at going where you look. She's trying so hard and is so patient. Its a pleasure to work with her. No cantering today, the ground was too soft. Backed 5 steps nicely and semi straight. 40 minutes in the pasture and then a dismount, walk through the barn, mount and ride down the back fence line to look at the pond. A short spook at the scarecrow in the garden, but quickly regained confidence. We both thought it was funny. Red Vetwrap on reins worked splendidly. Good steady hands and light cues today. Must also start to sit up more and relax my elbows. Its nice to have a little time to work on these things as well as ride the horse. No moves to the gate or arguments about which direction to turn. Today was a good ride.

Friday, June 11, 2010

in pursuit of consistentcy

Ride # 7 06/10/2010
I took a lot of time getting Ricky tacked up today. I want to stretch out our time together as much as possible. Hanging out with Ricky is time well spent. I touched up her mane, groomed her really well, gave her a drink, scratched her ears, brushed her face and under her chin until her eyelids drooped from relaxation and then pulled up a chair next to her to work on her bridle. I raised the bit 1/2" and placed tape markers every four inches on the reins. These markings will help me keep a consistent rein length while we work.  Ricky watched, I chatted, Phil gnawed on a tennis ball.

A warm, clear day, not much humidity.
I chose the front pasture to work today, yesterday Ricky was doing some fancy footwork to stay in the shade of the trees lining the back pasture, so into the full sun we go.  Bob and Kay were in attendance and helpful.
25-30 minutes of walking, figure eights and serpentines with intermittent flexing exercises. Ricky is predominately stiffer on her left side. Trotting started out rough, choppy, and fast. Tired to slow her with my seat and sponged reins. Achieved an even rhythmic trot within 10 minutes. Trotted a few figures eights. The new bit positioning seems to be working, allowing for a little more contact and a comfortable connection (for both of us). No canter was attempted.

Ricky likes to test me by moving toward the gate or quickening her pace as we approach it. We fought about it today. I won the first time by a narrow margin and the second time I enjoyed a small victory. However,  I am going to have to come down hard on her for this one when it happens again.

I must not hesitate to let Ricky know her behavior is unacceptable.
That means I must be able to consistently and quickly access all behavior and act accordingly.
She's a big horse with an active strong mind.
I have a lot of work to do. Focus is imperative.
Luckily Ricky is also forgiving and kind. Together we can get this done. Well.

The flyspray I bought does not work. I will research recipes for homemade flyspray.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ricky comes home.

Ride # 5  06/08/2010

After 30 plus days at the trainers, Ricky has finally made it home. Our first ride was in yesterday's rain. We walked from Ricky's barn across the fields to a friend's indoor arena. I learned that Ricky does not care for mud and it somewhat terrified of cows. The ride was long, and I tried to work on too much stuff at once. I must lower my expectations. But we flexed both left and right, walked, trotted and cantered. Had some issues maintaining balance in the corners at a canter and as usual her shoulders drop in on almost each turn.
I need to concentrate on maintaining a consistent rein length and rein feel. I need to keep my hands on her withers and not move them. I am struggling to find a comfortable level of connection because she's all over the place with her head and neck. When Ricky is moving her head and neck all around as we work, its because she's trying to find the perfect place to balance both of us. She's trying like hell, but its going to take some time. I am trying to helping her by maintaining a deep and steady seat.  Its very difficult to keep my hands steady. That bugs me. I was always proud of what good hands I had (20 some years ago).
We walked home in the rain through the fields, me at her side, as I was too tired to be a confident rider. Spooked at the cows again and whinnied to mother on the way past. A bluebird circled us two times, making the afternoon end with a touch of beauty and promise for better days.

Ride # 6  06/09/2010

Today, it was sunny, the ground was soft, but not too bad. Ricky and I tacked up and headed to the back pasture. A lot of walking today. 40 some minutes of figure eights and serpentines all off the leg. Very little rein contact and absolutely no connection. This bugs me to no end.
Trying to pick up the bit and leave it at a certain point in order to encourage her to give, but the reins slide from my fingers and when she stretches her neck and takes the bit, I am left with spaghetti. I'll use some tape to mark my reins so I can easily relocate where I'm trying to hold. Trotted until we could do a few nice circles without bowing all the way out.  Intermittent flexing and standing still too.

No canter was attempted.
A few blatant moves toward the gate. and resisting the bit.
Resistance to move from shade to sun.

 Ended our lesson with a short walk down the driveway and to whinny at mother and then back and inside for a rubdown and yummy oats. A good day.