Archive for the ‘Country Frank’s Lucky Star’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Lucky Star’s AKA Name is Always Adventure

I let a beginning rider have a beginning rider lesson on Lucky Star.  We went through the required seven games and some required rules before mounting.  That went well.  Our rider mounted.  I did neglect to give the rider the mandatory mounting rule, but it went well.  Now the signal to walk forward was given and Lucky’s response was ears back in protest.  We tried the turning on the hindquarters and then walking forward.  That is when Lucky decided to move and place his front feet in front of the barrel and his back feet in back of the barrel.  He did not jump, he just sidled his feet to both sides of the barrel.  Can you imagine being a beginning rider and your horse straddles a barrel?  No, I can’t either.

I took over Lucky Star.  I put a halter on his neck and led him around.  We did some slow circles at a very slow walk while our rider was learning about reins, where his shoulders and belly button go.  I turned Lucky lose and he managed to move somewhat.  About this time, Cisco volunteered to come into the arena.  Cisco became the lead horse and Lucky was supposed to follow.  Whoops.  Lucky doesn’t like being the following horse.  So we had a duo horse team walking around the arena.  The big achievement was that Lucky moved as his rider was getting used to being on a such a horse.  I had given our rider a crop with the instructions to tap Lucky’s forequarter three times when he fails to move.  Lucky laughed and ignored taps that were more like the strength of a fly.  I coached on the art of tapping Lucky until the tapping actually irritated him enough to have him move.

Cisco ended his voluteer duty and Lucky Star went off on his own.  He tried to rub his beginning rider against the corral panel.  I pulled him off the fence and he and his beginning rider wandered around just a bit more, working on the tapping technique and steering.

I called the lesson to an end.  I got on Lucky Star and demonstrated how Lucky can move.  I demonstrated the tapping.  Lucky and I did a flat foot walk around the small arena with some dropping out of gait.  We ended the session.  Whew!  Next is what will happen when I ride Cisco while our beginning rider is on Lucky.  I think Lucky will do this well outside the arena.

PostHeaderIcon Trust Replaces Fear

It was quite a long time ago.  This might have been five or six years ago.  There was this horse, a fruit loop horse.  She is a sensitive horse and the wrong people bought her.  After six months, she was scared of anything human.  If anything human moved, she was scared of it. She is what Pat Parelli calls a “Hey Bob! Horse.  You are riding this horse.  You wave your arm to say hi to Bob and the horse bolts. Human arms to this horse are things that beat you.  Arms beat you.

I bought this horse after she was ruined.

The Hey Bob horse teaches you not to pick your nose, point at anything or wave at anyone.  Your horse bolts when people near you pick up their arm.  You learn to yell at your friends.  ”Do not pick up your arm when you are near me! Do not flick your reins at your horse! Do not wave at flies on your horse!  Good God, do you want me to die?”  The horse was also claustrophobic around other horses.  We can not get too near other horses.  Soon she taught me to be scared of other horses.  They might kick me.

I rode the Claustrophobic-Hey-Bob-Horse for quite a while until the fear of arms finally got to me.  The bolting was not bad.  The horse bolted and was easily stopped with the reins.  Only once did she bolt out on a gravel road with me.  Hey, it was just once.  When you ride with loose reins and the horse bolts, it takes about a year to pick up the reins and pull back.

Finally when I was good and trained to be afraid of arms, I paid Nichole Hack for her to be trained to not be afraid of arms.  i got her back and the world was good, except any movement on her part caused me to tighten up as a reflective action.  It was OK when I thought about it.  Self, you are not going to haul back on the reins when the horse flinches.  Just let her flinch.  Self, you can now raise your arm.  The horse will not bolt.  Self, if your horse does take a couple forward steps, just know that the stop is just milliseconds away, don’t grab the reins.The horse will stop on her own.  You do not have to haul back on the reins to stop.

Looking at the stories of this horse, her journey back to being a relaxed horse took about three years.  She was totally ruined in six months.  I couldn’t 100% fix her.  I fixed a lot of things, but not the bolting and in the end, I was just as scared of people’s arms as she was!

So when you have this bolting fear, the human body does something that is called cradle reflex.  Your upper body tries to fold into a ball.  Your body leans forward and your legs go back.  In the horse world, this is called “the fall off position”.  One sideways step from the horse and you are in the falling off position..on the way to the nasty ground.

The next horse to come into my life was the Horse of No, Lucky Star.  The Horse of No did not have very many bolting episodes.  But there were some short episodes and I went into my cradle position.  I got to ride a lot without the cradle position happening to me and that was a good thing.

Next in my life is Cisco.  I don’t remember that he did any bolting actions that caused me to go into the cradle position.  But for the first couple of years I had him, I was ready to fold into the cradle position when i saw something that I thought he might spook at.  And he never spooked.

I am quite upset with myself about tensing up and preparing to go into the cradle position.  Stop it!  Why can’t I get over being afraid?  Cisco is not going to spook.  I can trust him.

I came up with the idea that I am not trusting Cisco.  I am not trusting Cisco to take care of me.  Cisco is taking care of me quite wonderfully.  I believe it is time to let this fear go.  I am going to trust Cisco.  I’m not going to gather up my reins when I see something scary. I’m not going to tense my body.  I’m going to keep the reins slack and keep relaxed.  I am going to trust Cisco.

And that was the answer!  You need to realize that you can trust your horse.  You need to ride a horse that you can trust.  I believe that I am over the cradle-fear now.  Thank God.  It took a long long time and two horses to get me over it.

Here is an amazing article talking about the human instinct and the cradle position.  It is a great article and should help you further understand why your body betrays you when riding a horse.  From balanced rider.net

PostHeaderIcon Life in the Herd

Four Horse Herd is:

Sweetie-Paint mare with nearly no pigment on her face to block sunburn. Sweetie has become best friends with Delta……. Sweetie is low horse in the herd in domination in the herd. Number 4, Sweetie does not let on that she likes or trusts humans until you walk up and pet her. Then she may or may not trust you. I believe she has been a brood mare all her life and has not experienced any close bonds with a human. She did not have any friends in the large herd of horses that she had been pastured with prior to moving to my pasture.

Delta – Fox Trotter bay mare with two back white socks. Delta had been a professional trainer damaged horse in her first life. She came to be owned by a student of Tony and Jenny and over a period of years, brought back to a happy life with people involved. Her trust in humans has to be earned. Delta is #2 dominant horse in the herd

Since moving to my house, Delta and Sweetie have become best friends.

Lucky Star -#1 Lucky Star is the dominant horse in the herd. He runs everyone’s life. Lucky Star is a liver chestnut horse. He loves Delta since they are almost the same color. He usually can be found very near Delta.

Cisco is the #3 horse in the herd. It took him a while to be dominate over Sweetie, but now he wins that challenge every day. He is not allowed to be too near Delta. Lucky does not share his mare.

Now that summer is here, Sweetie has learned to avoid the horrible pain of sunburn by staying in the run-in stalls during the high sun part of the day. Flies are not as bad during the day plus Sweetie’s face remains pain free. She loves that. We have three stalls. Delta and Lucky share the same stall. Cisco and Sweetie stand in their own stall. Everything works. I give them all a little hay during the day so Sweetie will not starve and be forced out into the sun.

Cisco has been boarded elsewhere all winter and has just returned home to stay. Lately, I’ve noticed Cisco and Lucky out in the pasture during the day, eating grass and standing close together. They are swishing flies off each other when close together. Sweetie and Delta remain in the stalls. I believe Cisco and Lucky get tired of the stalls, want to eat more than the little hay I give them and have become a gelding grazing family. Sweetie doesn’t come out and her best friend Delta stays with her. Delta is a loyal friend.

Life is ever changing in the herd.

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 Lucky Star Recovery 10-23-15

It’s been nearly two weeks since I had to worry about Lucky Star and his ripped foot.  He went over a fence, but caught his back foot and tried to rip it apart.  There were weeks of constant worry from colic to him not getting up for two days.  I’ve now enjoyed two weeks of heaven not worrying about Lucky not making it.
I came home this afternoon to see him laying down in the far pasture.  hmmmm.  I got grain and rattled the stall bars to let all the horses know that grain was coming.  All horses came except Lucky.  I saw him raise up and then flop back down again.  It appeared that he was close to the fence.
OMG!  He’s got his feet caught in the fence.  A horse owner can always tell when something is not right.  I rushed into the garage to find the wire cutters.
Note to Self…store the wire cutters somewhere in plain sight.  Put them in a place where you know they are.  What do wire cutters look like, anyway.  I finally located three tools that appeared to be wire cutters.
Lucky was across the far pasture.
Oh wait.  I need a phone in my pocket.  I know I will need to call someone to help me.
Get the phone out of the car.
I’ll take the riding mower over.  It will be faster.
Finally, I get into the pasture and got over to Lucky Star.  He was no where near the fence.  He raised his head and looked at me.  I looked at him, his legs.  No blood…Nothing wrong.  My pulse calmed down from 1140 to 140 beats per minute.
I decided to mow some weedy spots while I was there and probably Lucky Star would get up.  Nope
I got closer to him with the mower.  He hopped right up.  He turned around.
Lucky Star cantered across the dam to the barn where the other horses had eaten all the grain by now.
HE CANTERED!  It wasn’t a pretty canter, but it was a canter!
Holy Moly!

PostHeaderIcon Round Pen #1 with Lucky Star

Long long ago, I discovered that a round pen was a must-have when you wanted to train a horse. I put that round pen up far away from anything that would give me shade. Being young (in my late 40′s),I was out there in 90 degree heat with Sage, Velvet and the wild hackney ponies. I don’t how I survived that heat in the summer time.

Then the round pen became a corral backing up my barn while I traveled to stables with all the facilities, plus a covered, shady round pen.

The home round pen aged, as I did, and finally was fraught with rust. It didn’t have Aleve as I do, to get rid of that rust.

The round pen was taken down and is currently in use as a cow barrier somewhere in the near world.

Two rainy days ago, I have a new 60′ round pen with trees on the west and east side. I will have shade! It’s big enough to ride horses at a canter and just do about everything I need. Yee Haw! A new world starts.

Lucky Star, the horse of no, just had his first session in our new at-home round pen. Lucky has never had the at-home round pen and always felt , well,”lucky” about that situation.

Today Lucky Star is asking for sympathy from his horse friends! Oh what fun I had today chatting with the “horse of yes”! I was chatting in the shade, sitting on my very own blue barrel in the middle. Lucky Star might be planning on a rescue attempt from close friends!

PostHeaderIcon Lucky Star Pre-Horse Show Operating Instructions

Pre Horse Show Advice for Lucky Star’s Operating Official

1. Minimal Warm-up. Let him walk around the two arenas and return to trailer for rest.  He needs his rest!
2. Trail Class- Remember the hard part is
a. Get him into arena and
b. Get his start button to operate. Once he gets going, he will keep going.
3. Rail class operating guide
Follow a gelding into the arena
Ride as far away from the gate as possible when traveling on the rail
Never look at the gate or anyone standing at the gate. Ignore them
Strong Focus on the path you want Lucky Star to travel when anywhere near a gate
When reverse is called, don’t stop and turn. Do a small 180. Stopping might activate his “stop button”.

5. Pray in Western Pleasure that the judge doesn’t call for a stop when Lucky is near the gate

PostHeaderIcon Nearly a Million Dollar Horse

Some people look for a horse that won’t go. A young horse that won’t go is worth an easy million. Lucky Star is nearly a million dollar horse. Here’s a story about a horse that wouldn’t go. Http://mofoxtrot.com/viewpoint/2001/12/a-christmas-miracle-story/
H bThat horse’s sire is Lucky Star’s grandfather! Lucky and Dasher are million dollar horses for the right person!

Lucky Star is being converted from show prospect to trail horse. This was our third 2015 trailride. This was the third time he has failed to keep up with his fellow trail horse companions. We are gaiting along at a wonderful flat foot walk watching our trail buddies pull further and further ahead.

This is against the trail horse rule. Trail horses want to keep up with their buddies. It’s a herd thing. Its a very solid horse rule. The horse that doesn’t keep up with the herd, gets eaten by the lion. All horses know this. It is a survival rule.

We are in first gear. We have several more gears to go, but Lucky Star remains in first gear and the other horses get further ahead. A turn comes up for the herd and as they make the turn, the trees hide them from our view. The herd is out of sight. I ask Lucky to go faster. Not only does he refuse to go faster, but he stops!

The other horses are out of sight. It’s a big horse rule to get somewhat anxious when your trail buddies go out of sight. Horses are supposed to get anxious, panic and think about bolting. Riders think about death.

Nope. The million dollar horse gets agitated in his stop. He paws the ground. It’s is hard to describe, but he sort of pranced around while at a dead stop, pawing the ground. I had to yell at the trail riders to come back and get us. As soon as they came into view, Lucky stopped pawing and was able to move forward and join them.(What is this about Lucky Star? Is his dominate bossy inner self is stronger than the horse rules of survival? )

Upon joining the herd, We led for a few moments, but Lucky slowed down to a gait called “the snail pace”. He was passed and the herd went back up to speed.

We managed to keep up with the herd after that, but Lucky was an angry arguing horse. He was forced to be a go horse. He wanted to eat another gelding riding with us. He threw little fits of snaking his head madness. An angry Lucky Star gaited horse goes through a list of all the possible gaits, even the most hated pace. I groaned outloud when he hit the pace gait at a good speed. Whah. Whah. Whah!

All in all, his arguing is much more fun out on the trail. At least he moved forward most of the time and quite nicely on the last half. This is a lot more fun than dealing with his arguing in the arena!

Finally at about the halfway point, we managed to smooth out into our flat foot walk and fox trot. We even cantered a bit. We had a nice smooth non argumentative ride back to the trailer.

PostHeaderIcon Lovable Lucky Star

Gone is the “Horse of No”.    The Horse of No really has left the building.  Lucky Star has become willing to go!  Last year he was coming along well except for bristling when I asked for the canter.  The canter  was bracy and stiff because Lucky was protesting having to go at such speed and effort.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience for the rider as there was a different canter going on with each side of Lucky Star.  He was leading the canter with one leg in the front and the other leg in the back, making the rider feel bounced.

By the end of summer, Lucky was ready to show in non-canter classes.  We did manage two classes at our Fox Trotter club show in August.  He only stopped and balked at the gate twice as we were going around the track.  We were ready for the big national show and I sent Lucky Star to training with Jenny for two weeks.  He had no chance.  He learned to canter willingly under Jenny’s training!  I had a new horse after two weeks!  However, He came down with a cold and was unable to show at the Celebration.

Spring came in March and my riding has started.  He canters!  There is no balk.  There is hesitation and the desire to stop next to the gate to escape to grazing on the grass, but it’s just a thought instead of a full fledged balk.

I rode him the second day and Lucky Star suffered big time.  He needs sympathy.  He had to canter all over the arena.  We did drop to trot lead changes on the rail.  We serpentined through the middle of the arena and did drop to trot lead changes as we hit the middle.  Our lead changes weren’t pretty, but we had impulsion.  Impulsion used to be a “no” word in the language of the Lucky Star.  Lucky has impulsion now.  He will go.  Sweat was present upon his body and he had a bath upon our return home.  Poor Lucky Star.

All Lucky Star’s lack of work ethic was expressed in the arena.  Out on the trail Lucky has always been ready to explore the trails.  At least with other horses as company.  He’s a great trail horse…brave, willing and smooth.

More later on Lovable Lucky Star as we continue our journey.

PostHeaderIcon Lucky Star Fun

Cisco is away for training with Tony and Jenny Vaught.  This makes Lucky Star the winner of nearly every day riding.  This is our second every day.  Away we went to the arena. I took off Lucky’s halter and we are “at liberty”.   Lucky and I drug the barrels out into the arena….one at a time.  I set up the barrel and secretly placed a treat on top.  Lucky and I went at least 20 feet away.  We stopped and I gave him the sign to “go touch the barrel”.  He touched the barrel and discovered the treat!  We did this three times.  Our last time we were about half the distance of the arena away from the barrel.  I told him to go touch the barrel and away he went.  Oh we thought that was fun.

I changed the game.  I put three barrels on their side lined up on the wall.  They are now “jumping barrels”.  Lucky and I got into a good place and I told him to go jump over the barrels.  Prepare to be amazed.  Lucky trotted off and jumped over the barrels.  Remember, he has nothing on his head.  He is loose.  Amazingly, he jumped the barrels at liberty.  He got a treat and we rested by the barrels.  This is called “training”.  I wondered if he would jump the barrels going the other direction.  Another amazing outcome.  He jumped the barrels again.  We got the treat and rested by the barrels.

I decided that we were done with the barrels so Lucky and I drug/pushed the barrels to the middle of the arena…away from the wall.  Hmmm, I thought.  Will Lucky jump the barrels when they are not shoved against the wall?  Why not try!  So from the middle of the arena, I told Lucky to go jump the barrels.  Clutch my heart, he jumped over the barrels.  Good Lordy!  Lucky Star got about five treats for that!  Amazing.

Finally, Lucky decided I should get on him and ride.  We had a good time working out his minor arguments about moving forward in a gait faster than a slow walk.  At the end of our session, Lucky and I cantered around half of the arena.  It doesn’t get too much better than this for fun with your horse!

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