Posts Tagged ‘Nova’

PostHeaderIcon BFO DOG WALK!

BFO = Blinding Flash of the Obvious.  We horse people have them every now and then. That’s why our foreheads often get dented. Check out  my forehead the next time you see me.  Does it have a dent?

Warning:  Non horse people and horse people with non-gaited horses are going to find this exceedingly dull. Gaited horse people are going to hang on every word and probably not breathe until I run out of words.

I have an IQ over 100.  I’ve been understanding why the dog walk is so good for gaited horses.  Let me tell you:  It builds up the muscles that the gaited horse needs to gait. It increases their stride. An increased stride at the faster gaits makes us humans smile bigger and smoother!

I understand what it looks like:  The human’s stomach area is rocked forward and backward.  It looks like it hurts.  And it’s not what I would describe as comfortable.

About 100 years ago, Jenny told me that she developed her champion Tennessee Walking Horse’s stride over the winter by having him do a dog walk.  Doing that for a long winter wore out a pair of Jenny’s pants and increased his stride by a whopping long amount.  I’ve always remembered that.

When I had JR, I could never get him to dog walk.  I gave up in about 5 minutes or anytime Jenny’s back was turned. We sped up into the wonderful smooth flat foot walk.

With Nova, every now and then I can accidentally get a dog walk.  I try and fool Jenny all the other times and then try to speed up into the flat foot walk any time I can get away with it in a lesson.

After all, the dog walk is slow, it’s uncomfortable and I couldn’t get it. What better reasons do you want?  I want to go fast with that wonderful gaited horse’s rhythmic gaits.  I love speeds up to a gallop!

At the recent gaited horse clinic with Jenny and Tony Vaught, again I got to hear about why the dog walk was so important.  I tried to care and I did for a while.

I went for a trail ride on Velvet last Saturday. Velvet has spent two years with the Vaughts.  Her stride is a lot longer than it was the last time I was riding her.  On the trail, we went on a fast dogwalk for about the entire distance.  It was fast and her stride was long.  Amazing, I thought!  This is why her fox trot stride has increased.

Tonight I rode Nova.  I learned how to get her to dog walk! This is incredible.  She has to put her head down, relax and walk faster than a real walk and not as fast as a flat foot walk.


So, tonight Nova and I practiced patterns at the dog walk. She was pretty surprised to have the evening end without her doing her faster gaits.

It’s all about feel. Tonight I felt it and understood it.  I am “one with the dog walk”!

PostHeaderIcon Nova is a Blessing

Snow in Missouri.  Stacks and stacks of it.  My truck and trailer have been buried.  I forgot how to ride a horse in six weeks.

This was a big day.  I got the truck and trailer out of the snow drifts.  Now to get the horse out of the barn.  There’s still a foot of snow out there and it’s hard to walk thru.

I tried to open the barn door. Drat, the cord that hangs on the door was buried in 3″ of ice.  I hacked and hacked with a shovel to get that cord loose.  I raised up the barn door only to find another door piece stuck under the ice.

I gave that up.

I led Nova into the tack room and out the human door.  Dripping water was making noises, but she was OK in tack room.  We found a bag of horse treats and had a good time with those.

Next out the door where my tractor is stuck. Well a hose broke and that hose is very important to forwards and backwards on the tractor.  Nova just took the tractor in stride.

I have a narrow path where I walk and we have to pass by the tractor with the round bale spike on the back.  Nova walked in the snow and I walked in the path.  Usually she gets somewhat excited to leave the other horses, but she was calm today.  That was good because my footing was tricky slick.   She was very interested in staying with me.  It might have been because we stopped every now and then and she got a treat!

We made it to a wider gravel path where I could walk freely.  We made it to the trailer.  It had some frozen spots of ice on the floor by the door, but that didn’t bother Nova at all.

She loaded and we left home.  I got to ride today in a lesson with Tony Vaught!  We learned a lot.  Nova and I have lots of homework. We have seven days of forecast without snow.  I’m going to be riding now!

The big arena at Pine Dell Farm has mirrors in the back now. When Nova and I were leaving, I decided she should “see herself” for the first time!

She was mighty interested too.  She fogged up the mirror trying to smell herself! Her conclusion was, “I am a beautiful horse!”

It was a wonderful day!

PostHeaderIcon Four Outdoor Horse Hours

Thank you Jennifer Vaught for the great lesson and the fun time riding with great friends. Great friends, a great teacher and great horses.  The greats pile up!

We rode slow with occasional times of speed and many rest periods.  We didn’t want sweat.

OK, most of the four hours wasn’t outdoors.  Most of it was in an indoor arena. Someone did forget to turn on the furnace.  I left home at 11:30 and came back at 4:00.  The lesson was from 1:00-3:00, but it always runs longer. We did toast up in the indoor lounge after the group lesson, but most of the time I was without heat.

I discovered, once again, that I can ride in the winter.  I remember discovering this fact every year.  It gets to be winter and I always assume, I can only survive in my lounge chair.

But then magically, I’m forced to ride and discover…I can survive!

On the flip side, the other half of the partnership was convinced that she would die.  In the last part of the lesson, we had to canter. We cantered quite a bit and had an ongoing argument. 

NOVA  “I can’t breathe!  I must stop and I must stop NOW! Are you kidding me?  You haven’t exercised me for 3 weeks and now you want to run me into the ground?  NO!  I am going to balk! Why don’t you ride Velvet, not me?”

Susan “Only for a little while longer.  You can do it. Don’t die on me.  Keep cantering. Stop arguing with me.  If you would just canter nicely, we could stop!  Velvet lived thru this, it’s your turn now.”

Nova was so tired at the end of the lesson, that she couldn’t walk to the exit gate.  Her saddle was loose.  Her bridle was off. She balked twice while I was leading her to the gate.

Nova is a dominant-argumentative- only-child mare.

We’ll be riding a lot more winter nights now.  No more recliner chair!  Well, let’s say, “less recliner chair nights”.

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Trail Riding is on Trails

Wowsa Missouri Fox Trotters!

My friend Ken loves to rode.  He is a rider. That’s the highest compliment I can bestow on a person.

Hope on Velvet and I on Nova decided to double grace Ken’s life and let him ride with us at Lake Perry again.  My last post was a statement of the rules. 

Let me repeat my rules:

Two hours
Flat places for going fast

This ride Ken followed the rules.  He found long stretches of flat land for us to go fast.  Ah…sigh…

Then he lead us into the forest where we had to go up and down those steep steep trails strewn with loose rocks.  I don’t mind going up.  I don’t feel like I’m going to die when we are climbing steep rock-strewn trails.  But going down those trails leads me to think about death…my death…dashed on the rocks.

So we went down one horrid long steep declince and I yelled at Ken…”That’s my last steep hill!”  I meant it too.

Luckily we were soon to come out right by the beautiful lake and Ken promised us a picnic table not far.  A picnic table might be a vision you have for those affairs with food.  Not me.  A picnic table is a mounting block.  I can get on and off my horse from a picnic table.

As promised we came to the picnic table area of heaven.  I got off and disappeared into the woods.  We chatted for a while and then got back on.  It was the best half way point I could have ever asked for.  I could have even rode more than 2 hours, but I didn’t tell Ken that.  Velvet and Nova were pretty tired.

The picnic table was next to a road with wide grassy shoulders.  We rode back following the road.  We found our field and road thru several fields and then we were back at the trailers.  I got to go as fast as I wanted for as far as I wanted.  Oh a lovely ride.

Fox Trotters are Wonderful Trail Horses!

Hope and Velvet were much better acquainted on their second ride.  Hope got some nice stretches of gaited heaven in. She really enjoys riding Velvet. (Hope is a rider!)

When we got back, and I mentioned again how I hate steep rock strewn downhill stretches, Ken complained just a little.  He told me that when people go trail riding, they follow a trail. 


I’ve been pondering this philosophy for a couple days now.  It sounds like a solid reasonable rule. 

But I still love flat land where you can go as fast as you want when you want to.

What is a trail anyway?

PostHeaderIcon Trail Rules – Everyone has rules!

Ken, Hope and I rode a small portion of Lake Perry. Kansas, trails today.  I gave Ken my rules about trail riding. 

  • It’s gotta be 2 hours,
  • It’s got to be in the high 40′s and
  • There’s gotta be flat land on which to go fast.

He had great success with rules one and two.  We didn’t have much flat land upon which to go fast.
Oh well.  Other than the last part where we couldn’t find a trail back to our trailers and we were lost for seemingly, hours – It was a great day.

We found the trail head and it had been exactly two hours! 

Riding at Lake Perry, November 2010

Ken’s rule is that you have to ride for at least as long as the pickup/trailer drive to and from the trail. We met his rule too!

Nova’s rule is that she gets to mess with the other horses on the ride.

Velvet’s rule is that she must eat and boss everyone around.  She was forced to bring up the rear on this trail ride and there wasn’t very much green stuff in the forest.

Hope has a wish-rule about flush toilets.  The park didn’t meet her rule and even lacked pit toilets at the trailhead. But Hope had a great time too.

PostHeaderIcon Friday thru Monday Happiness

Just singing my happiness living my life with horses.

Friday was wonderful.  Powder came home from her 30 days of training with Tony and Jennifer Vaught.  It was good to have her back in the pasture again.  Powder and Velvet had never met.  Powder didn’t move fast enough to suit Velvet, so Powder lost some hair. She’s very aware of Velvet now.

Friday was lesson night.  I have my winter goals for  with Nova. 

  • We are to trail walk with head down until she is really relaxed.  You remember that picture of the Indian sitting on his paint horse. The horse has his head down and it’s titled The End of the Trail.  That’s the general idea except we are to do it at a slow walk.
  • We are to always work on flying lead changes and just regular lead changes
  • We are to work on our reining horse spins
  • We are to do a real trot where I have to post.  Nova’s fox trot is now so developed that I have a difficult time getting her to do a square two beat trot
  • We are to do collected canter departs which is the opposite of strung out canter departs.

I was going to talk about riding both Velvet and Nova out on the trail on Sunday.  That was heaven!

I was going to talk about taking Powder to Pine Dell this Monday night and playing with her.  I was blown away by her liberty trotting task and how she maintains the gait. There was no squirty speeding up, no tails up snorting. She just trotted around the round pen.  We went places in the dark, thru a narrow barn door, crossing a bridge while looking for the round pen light.  We started out in the big arena with two horses cantering around us.

Powder was as calm as could be.  I love this horse!

I love them all!!

I was going to go on and on, but Pawn Shop Stars is ready to start.  I must watch that show!

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Trailride with Velvet and Nathan

P1010155.jpg picture by susanfxtrt

It’s not often that I get to go trail riding with my son.  For a long long time early in my beginning adult riderhood, I realized that I didn’t have a safe horse for a beginner to ride.  I now think I underestimated Nathan’s riding ability, but you just never know.

So, I have been-there-done -that horses now and safe for my son to ride!Nathan came out to James A Reed and rode with Hope and I. Velvet and Nathan led the way around the park.  Occasionally Velvet and Nathan would decide life was boring unless you were cantering and off they went.

On our trail ride, we came around a corner and ahead was a pile of sticks tipi style about 2 feet in height with a plastic bag on top blowing in the wind. We think that’s how the deer hunter marked where to go into the woods to their deer stand. It took the mighty been-there-done-that horse, Velvet, to determine it was safe to go around. Scary object for an obstacle course!!!!
Nathan spotted someone’s cell phone on the trail.  He got off to get it and here it is an iPhone!  A horse had stepped on the back of it, whew! Later we heard from the park ranger that the grateful owner gave Nathan lots of THANKS!

Nova has been trained by Velvet to know that she is not the #1 horse. Velvet is the #1 horse in the herd.  For a long time, I could get Nova’s head to get even with Velvet rear, but she would never ride along beside Velvet.

Finally on the home stretch, Nova and I did something tricky and passed Velvet.  We started cantering.  Velvet harumphed in disdain and started cantering too. My son and I, Nova and Velvet cantered side by side on the trail for a goodly stretch.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Gaiting Out on the Trail


Hope and I got to ride on the first crisp days of the Fall Weekend.  Hope’s husband wondered if 50 degrees was going to be too cold for us to ride. ha! We are cowgirl trail riders (for a while yet..until it gets too cold for us)

Here’s Hope on Chip, a beautiful silver chocolate Rocky Mountain horse. Today, even the green alge was beautiful on one of the many lakes and ponds we ride by at James A. Reed park.

We had a great time in the windy crispy weather. Sadly, I’m riding one of my older Circle Y Flex Lite saddles and the difference was enough to make my unmentionable parts a little sore.

(below, Nova wonders whether  blackened dead suflowers are good to eat!)

Then we rode again on Sunday.  My unmentionable parts were sorely distressed at this assult and protested.  Hope persuaded me to go on some longer parts of the trail which made the ride…longer and more painful.

Poor Hope.  I started whining and grouching.

The only time it didn’t hurt to ride is when Nova was doing her flat foot walk and fox trot. ah…sigh… I love it. Gaited horses are the best… those gaits melt saddle sores!

During the much anticipated stretch back to the trailer…the running stretch…  ha, Nova opened up her fox trot and gave me the fastest and smoothest fox trot ever.  GPS said our fastest speed was 12 mph.  WOWSA

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Lesson time with Jenny

Pat Parelli has done various studies of their students and why they enter the program.  Some of them have specific problems and when these problems are overcome, the students move out of the program. Many stay a long long time. Others drop out for various reasons.

The category I’m in is “Want to Always Learn More – Can’t Ever Get Enough”

Lessons are my favorite horse back riding activity.  Lessons with the right people.  My right people are Jennifer and Tony Vaught.

Tonight was the first time I’ve rode Nova since the week long  Missouri Fox Trotter World Celebration ended.  Nova has had nearly a week off.  I started recoving from the week of the Celebration about two days ago. 

This year Nova and I are going to trot.  It will help build up her muscles for the fox trot.  We started tonight. I posted to the trot.  Jenny mentioned the word diagonals..bringing back the diagonals.  I thought she was talking about leg yeilding diagonally across the arena. whoops! No!  One has to rise when a specific front leg goes up at the trot.  I remember now. So, I had my body rise with the inside leg.  Every now and then Jenny would tell me to change my diagonal.  huh.  After that round of trotting was done and we were resting in the middle, Jenny asked me which leg I was supposed to rise with.  Me, “Inside!”  Jenny, “Rise with the leg on the Wall”  OH YES!  I haven’t posted seriously since I passed my original Level 3 Parelli test.  I must have thought I was cantering with the lead on the inside leg!

Another round and we posted correctly!

Then we fox trotted and seriously, Nova was awesome!

What fun it is to be back in lessonville with a great instructor and great friends at Pine Dell Farm.

Even Nova sez it's time to get back into lessons

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – 1st Demonstration!

About two weeks before the big Vaught Family Natural Horsemanship, Jenny asked if I was going to ride in the demonstration. Whoops!  I didn’t know that Nova and I were going to be in the demonstration.  We had an assumption and non verbal communication.

Now, it’s something to be practicing all along for “being in the Spotlight” someday as opposed to actually having a date for a demonstration.

Nova and I started to practice and the holes we had were just a bit glaring.  I had not practiced enough in riding bridleless.  Our first practice session for riding bridleless in a real demonstration was dismal.  I wasn’t really confident.  But over the next two weeks, I managed to practice just a bit more and felt good about Nova stopping and slowing when I wanted.  Nova is not a “see the long rail and accelerate” kind of a horse.  That is what saves me from fear.  She’ll canter down the long rail at the same rate of speed.  She will stop. Stopping is a good feeling when riding bridleless.  You know what you get when you ride bridleless or play at liberty with your horse?  The truth!

We have a few glaring holes in running away from me when playing at liberty on the ground.  This hole showed up in the real demonstration.  I let her loose and she immediately took off.  She looked really pretty as she galloped around the arena a couple of times.  Nova is good at this. She doesn’t get close to other horses.  Finally Nova ran to me. There’s nothing like that…to have your horse run to you during a demonstration in a strange arena! 

Let’s see….we didn’t practice jumping over a barrel, but I got my nerve up during the demonstration and we jumped a few times over barrels.

Nova and I are good at sidepassing over barrels.  We can sidepass over stuff in our sleep. We are sidepass experts!

So, after I got on Nova during the demonstration, we went straight to the barrels, got into sidepass position but whoa howdy, I felt a big concrete wall.  Nova’s body told me front and center that she wasn’t going to sidepass over barrels.  We tried to sidepass the other direction and the concrete block was still there.

Ok, I thought!  We’ll go do something else and come back to sidepass over something.  A little later I asked her to sidepass over a small jump.  The concrete block was still there.  I thought I would fool her.  I asked her to step over the jump with her front legs and then asked her to sidepass.  HA!  I didn’t trick her. Instead she backed up and demolished the jump.  I’m certain we were the center of attention then!

I’ve tried to analyze this later.  During a demonstration, there’s an excitement level from the crowd.  It was a strange arena.  We didn’t set foot in that arena until our demonstration started.  So I bet Nova was telling me that she didn’t want her feet compromised.  Nova wanted her feet unemcumbered by barrels if she decided to take off.  Yep, that is it.

We did some cool stuff while I was riding and finally she did sidepass over the barrels. 

Now, I felt it was time…

I took off the bridle and we rode around the arena looking pretty cool.  There was this tarp on the ground.  Nova and I ride over tarps every now and then.  We think tarps are very harmless.  However, I don’t ever remember picking up a tarp while riding Nova.  Some demon show-off button inside me told me to pick up the tarp.  I picked it up with my carrot stick.  Nova was calm, so I gathered up the tarp and placed it over her withers. Then we sidepassed over a row of cones. That was way cool!  Walking around with that tarp cracking and rustling was the result of prior and proper preparation.

We had a great time.  Our maiden demonstration was a success!!!