Archive for September, 2014
I still remember the difficult stuff when first starting a horse on the trails. Lucky Star discovered that he hated muddy gullies , so he tried to walk on the sides of the steep gully, or climb the gulley and get stuck in the trees on the top. Then I remember the stopping at the water crossing and the eventual jumping of the water crossing. I remember Lucky casting back and forth on the trail trying to find the right grove. I remember running down the steep rocky hills, screeching to a stop at the water crossing…jumping and then trying to walk sideways up the other side. And let’s not forget the tree knee banging as the horse walks on the narrow winding tree filled trail. Lucky has become an excellent trail horse now, but taking a new trail horse out until they gain the experience, it’s the stuff of memories.
The above didn’t happen today with Cisco. So, I’m going to take this opportunity to pass my joy along.
We rode with Chas and Louie. Louie is a young horse with a lot of experience on the trail. I asked Chas to lead and off we went. Cisco relaxed and followed calmly. He didn’t try to ride on Louie’s tail. He kept a decent distance behind with me asking him to keep his distance with the lightest of pressure on the bit. We moved along with loose reins. No charging up, just going along at the speed I requested. Oh the joy #1.
A scary spot came up not too far along the trail. It was still fairly open meadow at this point, but the trail narrowed by some trees that had ventured into the meadow. Louie didn’t like the look of the narrow spot, so I asked Cisco to lead the way. Cisco walked around Louie and led the way through the narrow spot. This happened again a couple more times, once when Louie decided he wanted to stop and urinate, except we were headed on the down side of a short steep incline. Neither Chas nor I thought this was a suitable place to stretch out, so Cisco led the way again. Oh the Joy #2.
Now we are in the narrow trails of the forest. The trail winds around the trees. The trees want badly to bang the rider’s knees. Cisco passed the trees wide enough…without me asking…to spare my knees. He knew to go around the trees wide enough to keep my knees safe! Oh the Joy #3
There are other tree parts that want very badly to either decapitate you or scrap you off your horse. These are called low hanging branches. Occasionally, you need to stop your horse and ask to side pass or move over to avoid the deceptive killer branches. Cisco stopped and moved sideways as I asked. On particularly low hanging branch growled in frustration when Cisco neatly stepped sideways and let me drop my upper body down to the saddle horn at the same time! Oh the Joy #4
Louie and Chaz lead the way through most of the forest. I do have one complaint. There was this cobweb with the spider in the middle of it right in the middle of the trail. Chas screamed at the cobweb, but failed to take it down. Cisco and I went through the cobweb with the spider. I made a violent gesture to kill the cobweb and smack the spider away. I did a girl scream too! Cisco just plodded right along. Oh the Joy #4
Cisco walked steadily though a rock filled dry water crossing. We did come to a real water crossing. He walked through the water. He looked at the water and went right through it. Oh the Joy #5
Louie led the way through a mud sucking spot. Cisco saw the mud and heard the sucking noise of Louie’s feet. We then jumped the mud spot. It was a nice smooth jump that anyone would have been able to stay on. I’m not going to include the jumping the mud bog as part of the joy, but the jump was smooth and low. I made a note to be aware of mud bog spots in future trail rides. Oh the partial Joy #6
Chas’ dog. Sanford, came with us on the trail ride. Nothing Sanford did made any difference to Cisco. Sandord followed. He went to the side of us, He got in front of us. He passed the horses. Cisco was fine with everything Sanford did on the trail. Chas asked me before we started if Sanford would bother Cisco on the ride. Since this was my first trail ride with Cisco, I had to reply…”Don’t Know”! Now I know that dogs rustling about in the forest is fine with Cisco. I bet deer rustling about in the forrest will be equally a non-event. Oh the full Joy #7
Out of the forest into an area near houses. Nothing was going on with the houses, but Cisco didn’t need an adjustment to the scenery change. Oh the Joy #8
We left the houses area and went into the wide open 100 mile view. We crossed a long dam. A boater was in the water. Cisco and Louie now were gaiting along at a smooth very fast flat foot walk. Oh the Joy #9
We came to a small block toilet that looked a little strange in the wide open landscape. We did slow down to look at the outhouse. We needed a break too, from the effort. The horses were really sweating now. We had a good breather and proceeded along. Oh the Joy #10
We arrived at the trailers. Cisco was a little excited now, but he stood still while I got off. My legs and knees were in shock that I had gone for such a long ride and refused to hold my weight. I had to hang onto the saddle for more than a few moments before the shock wore off and my lower body decided to be self supporting. Oh the Joy #11 for standing still when I needed it.
Oh the Joy #12 when Cisco loaded right into the trailer. I wanted to end on an even number Joy…
I had twelve huge Cisco joys today. I also had much joy to be riding with Chas. I had much joy when watching Louie on the trail. Chas has told us in an earlier Facebook post that Louie was gaiting wonderfully on the trail. I looked over when Louie as doing a flat foot walk side by side with Cisco and almost had a heart stoppage…Louie has an amazing gait. He is a beautiful gold champagne with beautiful curly white mane and tail and the cutest head ever. I might have to take along a pacemaker the next time I ride with Chas and Louie!
Cisco is destined to be a versatility horse because that is what I love best in the show world. Cisco has the latent talent to be a performance horse. I also show in certain classes in the Ranch Horse Events. I can show at the Kansas City Pony Express shows in the “rail” classes. People have asked…what are versatility, performance and ranch horse show events? I’m here to tell you the great opportunities we have in the fox trotter horse shows. I’m not getting into a discussion of all the events there are in trail riding like the ACTHA and NATRAC events which feature trail riding, endurance and obstacle negotiation.
English Pleasure (not for me) I would have to be forced into an English saddle for many lessons. I would also have to buy an English saddle of some kind and then learn to love it. cry
Western Pleasure - all three gaits, smooth and comfortable
Reining -my favorite…canter fast, canter slow, slide stop, turns, spins…. oh feel my heart beat with love especially over the words, lead change! If I could do a flying lead change on Cisco, I would trade off my husband. That’s not unreasonable is it… a husband in exchange for a flying lead change?
Showmanship – part of the points toward Versatility World Grand Champion. I have to suffer in this class. In my mind, if you are not riding a horse in a class, it’s not fun. Showmanship is leading a horse in a pattern with flat foot walk and fox trot gaits, turning on the hindquarters and setting up a horse so the judge can see all four corners of the horse without the handler being in the way. The horse must shine and be faultlessly groomed. The handler should look pretty darn good too.
Western Horsemanship – pattern showing precision and finesse of riding in all three gaits
Trail – finesse and control of every part of the horse’s body, all four feet and all the gaits with many obstacles to negotiate
Pole Bending - my need is slow just for fun
Barrel Racing – my need is slow just for fun
Ranch Horse Events are
Ranch Horse Conformation – Is horse well balanced and muscalarly able to rope a steer (that last part is my own definition). You ride in and perform two gaits, get off, take off the saddle, be inspected by the judge, put the saddle on and get your ribbon if placed!
Ranch Horse Versatility – it’s a trail class and reining pattern combined
Ranch Horse Roping …nope
Ranch Horse Cutting…maybe
Horses show two or three gaits on the rail. The horse showing the best gaits in a consistent manner are the winners. Gaits are flat foot walk, fox trot and canter. All fox trotter classes have flat foot walk and fox trot requirements. Some classes also require the canter. Classes are group according to horse age, rider classification (novice, amateur, open), rider gender, horse gender and rider age (for the senior citizen class).
So the upshot is that the performance class horses have to be expert in the consistency of the correct gait going both ways on the rail. Easy to say, but gait correctness, precision and consistency are the key words.
The versatility horses have to be trained in moving all parts of the body (hindquarter turns, forequarter turns and side passing), moving each foot, immediate response to gait changes and immediate response to stopping. Versatility horses have to stop or change gaits in one or two steps. They have to navigate objects. They have to canter. They do lead changes and slide stops (reining and Western Horsemanship). Versatility horses must negotiate the patterns and obstacles with the correct signature gaits which nearly always include the canter. Versatility people have to train their mind to memorize complicated patterns. I always said if I can do the versatility patterns, it proves I’m not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Ranch horses have to be trained to understand their object is a cow. They must stop and turn, run fast etc…as they cut or herd or rope a cow. But we do have the Ranch Horse Versatility class which is a combination of reining and trail class. I do show in that!
I love the versatility, but occasionally I long for the peace of mind to ride the rail and concentrate on the precision and consistency of the signature gaits instead of the concentration needed for riding patterns.
I started this blog to tell you how my first lessons have been with Cisco, but this is what you got instead! Lessons with Cisco are focused on developing all the above.
Cisco’s birth mothers recorded his birth, recorded him being imprinted and recorded his first steps and nursing. When they found out I had gained possession of Cisco, they had the recording made into a DVD. I received the DVD a couple of days ago and have been watching it.
I feel like I was there when the cute little bundle of energy was born. I was there when he came out of the sack. I joined his imprinting. I rooted for his struggle to stand and remain standing. He was a strong colt. When he stood up the first time trying to balance all those four legs, he swayed front to back and side to side, but stayed on his feet.
I fell in love with his mother. What a great mom she was. She stayed laying down on the ground a long time while he struggled to move. Finally he got close enough to her mouth so that she could reach him and lick him. He was trying mightily to stand up, so she choose to stand up herself. During Cisco’s struggle to get his four legs to cooperate, he ended up directly underneath her. The mare knew not to move. She didn’t even move when his struggling to stand up got him moved to her side.
I was there when he took his first steps. I was cheering with the crowd while he tried to find the milk spigot. We all gave a silent standing ovation when he discovered the milk that would sustain his life and grow him. I was there the next day when he checked out everything, tried to help his mother eat hay and met his future mare babysitters.
His star was much bigger when he was born. Or maybe his head was smaller as a foal. His star shone forth in the middle of his forehead and announced to all of us present that he was going to have a special destiny. Now his destiny has been transferred into my hands.
I was present when Camelot Southern Celebration was born. I am in the present nine years later with this gorgeous, talented, smart hunk of a horse! Let his destiny ride on!
I rode Cisco a couple days ago and encountered the “hard trot”. We were doing a fast turn and run exercise and we spun into a hard trot. Us gaited horse people call the trot, a hard trot…maybe to distinguish it from the fox trot. But we also like to emphasize the hard part of it. When you are not used to “bounce”, bounce is a shock to our bones. It’s the suspension that we are not used to. I don’t believe Lucky Star has ever hard trotted. He paced once and I was bounced. I rode Nova before Lucky Star and never experienced bounce. JR used to pace, and then hard trotted on his way to refine the fox trot. I do remember Velvet hard trotting. When I rode Velvet, I didn’t understand how to turn her more “square diagonal” fox trot into a smoother less square diagonal fox trot. When Velvet was allowed to go fast in the trot gait, I bounced. Bouncing for a full figured woman is “upsetting for the user.
Cisco’s hard trot brought me back to the Velvet hard trot days. The difference is that Cisco’s trot seemed to be much longer. I had to relearn how to post and it seemed like I went up and down in the post every 5-10 minutes…that’s how long his reach is. I am impressed. He can stretch out those long legs!
Ever since I won Cisco in the raffle, I’ve been babbling, bragging, screaming, and in a mood of high excitement and joy. Cisco has been in “customized training for Susan” with Nichole Copple.
I have brought Cisco home. The real world starts. Cisco lives at my house. I have to ride him and start the journey. Reality has hit!
- “SCREAM! You won’t believe how wonderful he is! Oh, he is beautiful. He rides like a dream. I look fabulous on him. Everyone that sees him comments on how beautiful he is. Have I mentioned how cute I look when riding him? He is willing to go. He’s quiet. He’s loving. He will be developed into a wonderful versatility horse with flat foot walk, fox trot, obstacle winning, canter, stop, back, spin etc…”
I’ve had two rides on him now. We are starting to “get together”. We play on the ground on-line and at liberty. He is trying very to figure out what I’m asking him to do. When riding, I use my body to tell him where and how fast to move and he willingly obeys (when he figures out what I want)! It’s coming. It’s fun and by the way, Cisco and I look astounding!
See, I’m back in the real world now with the real journey.
Cisco had an emotional meeting today with the woman who imprinted him and helped raise him. Of course he remembered. Horses remember. Becky and Cisco had a very nice meeting today. Becky didn’t cry, only because she was too busy petting and loving on him. She cried last night at the thought of the meeting today. Cisco has been loved all his life and it shows. It doesn’t hurt that he’s is black with four white socks and a little white on his face. doesn’t hurt at all…. beautiful horse!