Archive for May, 2016

PostHeaderIcon Enter the Horse of No Again

Because I have such and wonderful horse of Yes in Cisco, it is difficult to work up much incentive to ride the Horse of No, Lucky Star.  Lucky might be near full recovery from his accidental leap over the fence and ripping up his foot in September 2015.

I had incentive today. It was feet trimming day with Tony Vaught.   I took him to the arena in which I ride.  He and Cisco trailered over together.  Cisco was first out of the trailer.  I tied him up.  Lucky Star got to wear the saddle, so I tied him up next to the tack room door.  I opened the tack room door and Lucky Star’s head dove into the tack room and picked up the horse feed bag.  He picked it up and swung it out of the trailer in one swoop.  I got it away from him and moved it to the side.  Then Lucky Star’s head dove into the trailer and ripped  the alfalfa pellets bag. He tried to pick it up, but failed and ripped a chunk out of the sack.  I then managed to tie Lucky’s head closer to the trailer so he couldn’t reach inside the trailer.  I whipped the saddle blanket and saddle on the big mouth horse, moved the feed sack back into the trailer and took off with Cisco and Lucky to the arena.  Whew.  It was a humid day and sweat was running down my nose.

We proceeded to the arena.  I took Lucky into the round pen.  Suddenly, he noticed the guy in the tree line sawing a downed tree.  He snorted, blew out the big alarm noise and body was fully alert to danger of being eaten. The tree guy had filled up his truck and left the tree line. I let Lucky loose and asked him to run around the pen.   Lucky ran around the round pen in his imitation bronc posture where he puts his head way down and crow hops.  This causes the saddle to move forward to his neck. I loosened the saddle and moved it back to the correct position.  He ran around again with an even worse bronc imitation.  The saddle slipped forward.   I took off the saddle and asked him to resume our warm up.  I thought he was fine to ride, so I resaddled him.  We left the round pen without our halter.  We were walking to our bridle (at liberty) when a horse loose in the pasture decided to run at full speed.  Lucky Star decided to take off too.  Whoowe!  By the time he was done with his bronc act and appearing ferocious to the running horse, the saddle had slipped up to his neck.  OMG.  He let me catch him before the saddle swung under his neck.  We did another resaddle.  It takes a lot of human energy to whip that saddle off and on a horse.  My nose wasn’t the only thing to have sweat dripping and running.

Finally, Lucky Star was ready to ride.  He trotted around a circle without doing the bronc imitation.  I got him and told him to move.  Oh, a fly must be bothering his hind leg.  I asked him to move and he stomped his back leg.  Dratted flies.  Oh wait, stomping his back leg is an argument against moving forward.  We did our argument removing hindquarter turns and were able to move forward.  The rest of the ride was wonderful.  His gait is the smoothest flat foot walk and fox trot in the universe.  I decided against cantering today.  His feet really needed the trim that Tony Vaught was going to do today.  We played some point to point games which he loves.  He loves to stop and point to point is a stop game.

It was time to get off Lucky Star and saddle up Cisco.  Cisco warmed up with running a circle around me…at liberty.  I came upon the idea to give him the verbal canter signal with me on the ground.  What a stroke of intelligence I have.

Warmed up and mounted.  I decided to play the cow game with Lucky.  I had my stick and string.  Cisco and I drove that Horse of No around the arena, in a circle.  We changed directions.  We crossed the pole, went around the barrels.  Of it was fun to drive Lucky Star around.  Cisco was darn excited that he could drive the leader of the pack around too.  What a big day for both these horses.

PostHeaderIcon Flying Lead Change on Cisco? Miracles Happen

Here is a horse never cantered under saddle until I got him at nine years of age. Never cantered under saddle with a human weight from zero to nine. There is a lot of balancing that a horse needs to canter while carrying a human. I remember when Nichole first cantered him during his thirty day “customize him for Susan training”. She was happy to discover a canter! And the canter was comfortable!

I remember cantering on him during a group lesson at Mary Brown’s arena. I was shocked by how comfortable his canter was. Wow!

Dear Reader.  Do you know how obsessed I am with flying lead changes?  Did you read my first book?  Flying lead changes are the ultimate in my mind.  They are usually difficult for all horses and riders, but gaited horse flying changes are even more difficult.  If the horse gaits smoothly, flying changes are going to be difficult because suspension is involved.  The front and back legs have to lift off the ground in order for the legs to switch.  Smooth gaited horses usually keep their feet close to the ground.  Suspension is not in their physical way of going.  Everything has to be perfect.  The rider’s balance has to be perfect.  The horse’s balance has to be perfect.

Hence, my obsession.  I’m right at the end of finishing up my book number two about the Just Right Horse.  I bought this horse because of flying lead changes.  That is how obsessed I am.

Cisco and I have been cantering all winter.  Our winter arena is too small for a decent chance at flying changes so we practiced cantering and drop to trot lead changes.  We practiced my signal to Cisco about which lead I wanted.  Cisco mostly went right brain through the signaling and the canter departs.  It was not a pretty sight.  I still don’t have my signal perfected yet.

However we went to a clinic this month and had an afternoon and morning free time in the arena.  We tried for flying changes.  In the afternoon, I asked Cisco for a flying lead change over a pole.  I set him up to do an arena large figure eight with a pole in the middle. Andi was watching my unsuccessful tries.   I asked for the lead change as we were cantering over the pole.  Andi called me over.  She told me that I was looking down at the pole instead of focusing on where we were going.  My head was bent down, looking at the pole instead of up looking at the top of the fence line.  Of course!  Focus!  Ciso and I went back to our figure eight and I focused on where we were going.  I looked at the pole so Cisco would know our path.  When we got to the pole, I was looking up.  I looked out over the fence and we soared.  Good Lordy!  Cisco did a flying lead change!  I had two witnesses.  I immediately got off Cisco, rubbed him, took off the bridle and loosened his girth.  A few moments later, he laid down, wanting to role.  I screamed and ran toward him.  He got up.  I took off the saddle and let him loose again.  Cisco had no idea why our session was finished.  He might put that together in the future.

I asked Andi.  How can I describe what this is like to someone who has no idea about horses.  Andi pondered.  She described flying changes as riding a unicycle.  I tried to ride a unicycle once.  I was hanging on to a fence when I got on the unicyle.  I couldn’t balance on the unicycle, even with the help of a fence.  The balance required of horse and rider is like riding a unicycle!

The next morning, Cisco and I were out in the arena again.  I tried to do the same thing while riding him without a bridle.  We are not quite there yet.

I got off Cisco and let him rest for a while.  He got to eat grass that had gown into the sandy arena.  After he was completely rested, I put the bridle on and we tried again for flying changes.  I got one!  I have it on film.  I have proof of a flying change!  WHOOPEE!!!

PostHeaderIcon The Mind of a Horse

You will be surprised to learn about Cisco’s mind. Cisco is a left brain introvert. That means he thinks through things and isn’t a big fan moving. He likes to move. He likes to stop. But what Cisco really is…is a worrier. He worries about things. It can take him a long time to get comfortable in a new place. His worry is very low key as he is thinking while he is worrying. During his worrying phase, he likes to move. That keeps him relaxed. When he moves, I’m usually talking about a walk, a nice comfortable walk. Depending on how much he is worrying, his stopping and standing still can go from fidgeting to hopping up and down with his front legs. Little rears, I call them.

A lot of people probably wouldn’t even realize that he is worrying when he fidgets and hops. People might yell at him and in a large commanding emotional voice, might tell him to WHOA…WHOA while pulling back on the reins. What would that do to you if you were worried and then someone tried to force you to stand still and yell at you..with a bit of nervous energy. Usually, that doesn’t work so well and when it does work, the human is lucky, very lucky that the horse didn’t engage in something called “whoops, my human just fell off and I’m out of here!”

At the April 2015 Spring Show, we went into the arena really well and moved fine. Except for the rope gate held up in the middle of the arena. We couldn’t go near the rope gate.

At he 2015 June Spring show in Ava, Cisco got a coughing problem which I now think was caused by a moldy stall. He had several shots from the vet to treat any infection that might be lurking in his lungs. And when we walked around the show grounds, he was fine…until I had him stop and stand still. That just didn’t work. He started prancing and dancing. I told him to walk on and he seemed calm and relaxed. We rode in the arena and tried to practice our opening and closing the gate. Oh that did not work at all. He hopped and pranced all over the place when I tried to stop at the panel gate.

At he 2015 September Celebration, we were just a little worried about everything, but we lived through it. The panel gate was a problem. He was nervous and prancy at the gate. It was a left handed gate, but he did finally let me open it up with my right arm and back through the gate. I don’t think I even let go of the gate, but he was nervous about it.

Now we come to the April 2016 show. I’m the show manager and have to wait until the show starts before I can go to my horse. Cisco and I can only do a brief session of ground play. Again we were on the obstacle course, ready to open the gate. Once again, he became nervous and prancy. Again I was forced to open the left handed rope gate with my right arm. You would think we had never practiced the gate opening. I’ve had a year to practice gate opening. Yes, he does appear just a little nervous at the gate, even when he is used to his environment. But another session of hopping and prancing around the gate during a horse show…nope. I never expected that.
We were in the fox trot obstacle course and then the open obstacle course. He was worse about the gate the second time.

I’m back in our home arena now and there is a round pen gate Cisco and I can go through. He is not exactly relaxed as we go through our gate entry. He doesn’t like to stand still during our gate opening and closing. So that is what we will work on. We will be opening and shutting a gate with a lot of stopping during our gate activity.

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