Friday, January 30, 2015

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Yesterday Max and I did some ground work. I had intended to work mostly on turning, but ended up spending time working on standing still without grabbing for grass.  Max is constantly testing.  He's always trying to get the grass. When we're walking or standing still, he'll start to drop his head just a little, then a little more, and more, then suddenly it's straight down to the grass.  He's watching me every second he is doing this.  I think I need to be more consistent about when I correct him. I wouldn't mind if he dropped his head for relaxing, but he always goes for the grass. I think I need to start correcting every time he starts to drop his head.

Back through an L.

His turns were okay.  We need start focusing more on only moving one set of feet and not both. I only focused on turning on the forehand.  We did a little bit of work with backing and turning. I even set up another obstacle to work on. It's sitting on a sloped area and really isn't crooked. Max is really good at backing, but I'd like to get more energy out of him. It feels like he saying "do I really have to do this?".

Max was not amused by having to work and being denied grazing time.
 Through most of the groundwork, Max was flapping his lips a bit. I'll do a post soon on my thoughts on his flapping behavior. 

Sadly, those poles are going to get buried under a bunch of snow this weekend. We're supposed to get up to 8 inches by Monday morning. It's nothing like what the east coast got this week, but annoying and cold non-the-less.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Some Thoughts on Max Part 1.

Firstly, let me say that I am not that knowledgeable about horses. I believe that I have a pretty good instinct when it comes to picking out animals that will work for me, but in the past, it's always been cats and dogs.  I'm still learning a lot about horse behavior both under saddle and on the ground.  I want to write down my thoughts on Max's abilities (or not) mostly to keep track of them and get them organized in my head.

First, some background. I really don't know much about Max's background other than being a pasture-puff.  I have his papers, but can't find much information on his breeders, or the owners listed on the papers. I believe that his breeder was heavily involved in Haflingers, but have since aged and moved away from breeding. From there, it's murky. He did end up at a local lesson barn, but was told he wasn't used much.  I don't know how many owners he has passed through as his papers came with him, but wasn't transferred into the new owners name until me.  There are at least two owners that aren't listed. This barn is still offering lessons and there's a chance I will run into the instructor in the future, so I plan on asking her when I do.  Anyways, after the lesson barn, he went to a woman who had him for almost a year before selling him to me. I don't think she rode him more than once or twice in the paddock.

I'm watching you!

Pasture-puff Status:
As far as I can tell, Max had primarily been a pasture-puff for at least a year before I got him, probably longer.  The woman I got him from said he was hardly used at the lesson program, at least while she was there. She estimated around two or three years.  So, that's a possibility of  up to 4 years not doing much work.  Why?  I'm not sure. He doesn't have any obvious health concerns.  My guess is behavior. He tends to be spooky and bolt when he does spook.  He's also got that stubborn Haflinger attitude that can be difficult for kids to manage.With those strong neck and shoulder muscles, Haflingers can really drag someone around who is not strong, or not prepared.  I'm constantly fighting with Max over grass.  I don't allow him to eat while I'm riding unless I cue him, but he is constantly testing. So part of his pasture-puff status may also be intelligence along with stubbornness.

I'm almost certain Max has been trained to drive.  It's very common to find Haflingers that have not been trained to ride, but do drive.  From the little information I have, I believe his breeder took their Haflingers to shows that included driving.  The woman who runs the lesson barn he was at mentioned that Max had been trained to drive to his previous owner, but I wouldn't trust that type of information.  Last fall, I decided to see how he did being line driven (drove?) and he did very well. He actually responded better to vocal commands being line driven than while under saddle. It's clear that he would need a refresher, but I think he knows his stuff.

Part 2 coming soon. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

TOABH: Worth 1K Words

This is a fun blog hop from The Owls Approve.

Worth 1k Words.
Let's share our favorite photos of our stud muffins.  No limit.
Max with his ex-girlfriend, Fancy, trying so hard to get that bit of grass.  This was when I was boarding him.

Our one and only trail ride since having him.  We went through the covered bridge with very little fuss.

Princess Cinderella the Llama and Princess Prissyfeet, the Brat About Mud.
Give me my food woman!!

Someone pissed the llama off.

Plotting the farrier's demise.

Seriously, he was horrible for her for this trim.  Little brat.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Scavenger Hunt

 Lauren from She Moved To Texas came up with a fun equestrian themed scavenger hunt. Be sure to check out all the entries in the comments.

1. The most magical Friesian of all the Friesians
I love Friesians! And I'm a little disappointed for the image results when searching for "magical friesian". I was expecting more sparkly images in the magical unicorn/pegasus horse category.

Loot at that long, luscious mane and forelock!

2. A 10+ Jumper
I wasn't sure what 10+ meant, so I went with 10 feet.
I don't know if this is 10' or not, but either way it's huge!

3. A horse we can all call Shenanigans! on
I don't think a horse that fat would be able to canter.

4. The (best) worst clip job you’ve ever seen
I've never clipped a horse, but this isn't looking too good to me/

5. The cutest miniature horse on the planet
What's cuter than minis in sweaters?

6. Bitchiest. Mare. Ever.
The guy completely deserved it.

7. Funniest horse meme/cartoon
This is my favorite. Been there, done that, with that exact view.

8. The most matchy McMatcherson outfit
There's hardly any variation in the colors of the horses either. Can't match any more than that!

9. A most saintly creature
I cannot find a good picture for this and it is driving me crazy. A while back, I came across a photo of an old Haflinger stallion with about 5 kids lined up on his back.  But now I can't find it. I can't even remember his name, but do know that he produced a lot of offspring I believe in the M-line of Haflingers.   All my other searches for saintly horses aren't coming up with anything. 

Instead, you get a picture of Max since he puts up with my shenanigans...most of the time.
I kept moving the saddle around on his back trying to figure out exactly where it should go and how well it fit. He just wanted some food. If you're curious, I didn't buy this saddle.

10. The Black Stallion Returns… 2015 style
Black horse rearing. Isn't this the cover of every horse book every made?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Quick Ride

Sunday I finally got up the motivation to go ride Max. I only had a half hour to tack up and ride, so he got a quick curry and I threw on the bareback pad.  Parts of the property were still ice, despite the recent warm-up, so we had a lot of areas to avoid.  We mostly tooled around the pasture then went to walk through my "obstacle" of cut branches.  The front yard was mostly snow free and I wanted to do some trotting, but it also had a direct and very cold wind. We immediately turned back to the pasture. It has a nice windbreak. 

 The pasture was slick.

Max decided to "test" me while we were going through the branches obstacle. I was telling him to head slightly in the direction of the woods to go around some of the bigger stuff. He decided to turn to the left at the last minute towards the pasture and ended up getting tangled up in the branches enough that I hopped off to help him through.  He didn't freak out which I was very proud of. I also managed to get back on him using only a 4 inch branch to step up.   It wasn't pretty, but my goal is to be able to mount bareback from the ground.  This is just a precautionary measure in case I fall off on the trail and can't find a spot to get back on. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

TOABH: Sugar Momma

From The Owls Approve:

Let's continue pretending that horse poop magically transforms into money instead of the other way.  So money doesn't matter.  If you could buy anything for your horse, what would you buy? 

First and foremost, more land.  Right now we have roughly 1 acre set aside for grazing and paddock space and that just isn't enough. And I'm going to pay someone to keep it in tip-top shape. If a weed so much as thinks about growing, it's gone. Of course, I'd also want enough land to produce hay for the year for all animals, but would also have some one come bale and stack it. Then, more wooded land with trails to ride around in.

 So much lush pasture...

Max would also get an indoor arena for his benefit, of course. He might not appreciate it, but it would be for his health. To help keep him in shape all year long. No need to worry about it being too hot, too cold, too rainy, too whatever. 'Cause this thing's going to be cool in summer and warm in winter. 

I'd also have several custom saddles made for him.  At the very least, one western style, a close contact, a dressage, and probably a treeless just because I'd want to try it. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

January 10 Questions

I've seen these questions floating around Blog Land lately, but don't know who they originate with.

1.  What size horse do you prefer to ride?

I prefer to ride larger horses. in the 16h + height. But my horse is only about 13.1h and I've learned to appreciate that. I love big horses.

2.  Do you school in tall boots or half chaps and paddock boots?

Neither. I have a pair of Ariat's BabyFats that I wear when I take lessons or ride in a saddle at home. I have a pair of cheap half chaps, but they don't fit with my cheap paddock boots, so I tend not to wear either.

3.  What do you do with your ribbons after shows?

I don't really show so I don't have any ribbons. The only time I ever "showed" my job was to sit and look pretty next to my husband during a driving class my in-laws were showing in. If the pony had needed it, I would have had to hopped off and headed her, but it wasn't necessary. We won 2nd place in one class, but my in-laws kept the ribbon. Their horse, their ribbon.

4.  Do you ride/board at a large show barn or at a small private barn?

I have my horse at home, so it's as private as you can get. The place I take lessons at doesn't really show. It's a small private-ish place. They also run a therapeutic riding center out of it, so there are usually people around.

5.  Have you ever seen a horse give birth?

No, but I've seen newborn foals a few times at the school I studied at overseas. I've also seen llamas born. Does that count at all?

My husband and I showing in 2013. I got to wear a fancy dress.

6.  What is your favorite breed?

Haflingers.  They're smart with plenty of attitude to keep you on your toes, but have such power and ability for such a small horse. I really love the draft breeds too.

7.  Favorite tack brand?

I don't really have one. I'm not a tack snob. If it gets the job done with out wearing down easily and doesn't cost much money, I'm happy.

8.  Would you ever buy used tack?

Yes. One of my saddles is used. I'm always up for a good bargain.

9.  Ever been on a carriage ride?

Yes, my in-laws show in driving classes at a local fair every year.

10.  How often do you go to the tack store?
Kind of often. The place where I take lessons at and volunteer also runs a small tack shop to help support its programs. I purchase my feed from them and always browse the used tack to see if anything good came in. It's a dangerous place for my wallet.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Goals for 2015

I'm terrible at setting goals, but I'm going to try for this year.

Oh how I wish it were spring.

Goals for Max:
- Improve leg yields
- Get a decent turn on the forehand and haunches
- Work on some trail obstacles

Goals for Me:
- Continue lessons in some fashion
- Be able to sit the canter under saddle
- Build/set up some trail obstacles
- Ride the pony with the goal of working on something, at least once per week*
- Doing groundwork or lunging at least once per week**

Other Goals:***
- Have at least one lesson on Max
- Take Max off property at least once for a trail ride

* By this, I mean more than just absentmindedly riding around the property. I want to ride with focus and a clear idea of what I want to accomplish during the ride.

**Again, this is more than just the basic stuff we do every time I'm around him.

***These are completely dependent on whether we are able to purchase a trailer this year. Have truck, need trailer...

Monday, January 12, 2015

TOABH: Wish We Could

Another great blog hop from The Owls Approve

Let's pretend that financial restrictions don't exist and logistics isn't a nightmare.  If you could do anything with your Ponykins, what would you do?

In my dreams...

 Let's also pretend that I'd have a perfect, well behaved Haflinger.  Right now I want nothing more than to take Max to a warm ocean beach and run through the surf.

My reality....
Jan 12, 2015
Everything it sleeted/glazed/snowed all night, so everything was covered in ice this morning.  Apparently, Max spent some time out in the open because he was quite wet.

Otherwise, I'd love to go trail ride out west. Foxhunting is also on my list, though I'm not a jumper.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 in review

This is going to be a difficult post to write,  because I don't feel like Max and I accomplished much of anything.  I tend not to set concrete goals, and 2014 was no exception. There was a goal floating around in my head of getting the boy into shape. But most of them were goals made on the fly when a problem crept up.

Max came home right before Christmas in 2013. One of my goals was just to feel confident riding him out of the paddock and pasture. The pasture still isn't fenced, but the trees that grew along the old fence line provide a sense of security.  I'll have to write another post on the progress we are making on getting our property in shape.  I think I accomplished this goal pretty quickly given the crazy winter we had. 

After the big winter storm in early January 2014. Riding outside of the pasture to go see if the roads had been plowed.

Some other things we've been working on is mud. He hates it.  We have a tiny ditch that drains into our creek that gets muddy. I spent a half hour one day trying to get him to walk through this muddy ditch instead of jumping it.  We finally stopped when he took off cantering towards the pasture and I fell off. Thankfully he stopped when I managed to fall in front of him. I still don't know if he will walk through that ditch when it's muddy. Shortly after that it got pretty dry and he's walked through it without any problems. 

Then there's the creek.  I'm counting this as a true accomplishment. In the spring, we had to fight to get down into the creek.  He truly doesn't have a problem with water. Rather, I think it's the muddy bank.  He would refuse to get in under saddle, but would follow me right in when leading him.  Now he goes in without much of a fuss.  It probably doesn't hurt that there are tasty water grasses on the other side and I let him eat these. 

One other minor accomplishment that happened very recently is leg yielding.  I'm not good with working with him on specific tasks, but the last saddled ride we had, I realized he was beginning to move off my leg.  We even did some turns on the hind and fore on the fence line.  

We didn't have any lessons together, and didn't get off our property last year, but at least we accomplished something.

Friday, January 9, 2015


From The Owls Approve: 

What is your horse's absolute favorite thing?  Outside of riding!  Are there treats that instantly convert your pony into an addict or liniments that leave him yawning and chewing?  What does your horse just love to have?

Hands down, Max's favorite thing is food. More specifically his grain.  This shouldn't be a surprise given that he is a Haflinger. However, he is surprising picky about what he will eat.  He loves his daily grain. So mush so that he will give up pasture time to get it. Last weekend, I put Max out in the pasture for a few minutes while I gave Cindy her grain, put grain in his bucket and did a few small chores. As I was scrubbing buckets, I realized he was pacing the fence line trying to get my attention. He wanted go to back in and get his grain.  He almost charged through the electric fence before I had a chance to open the line for him to get through.

No treats and a goofy hat = no love from the pony

Max also loves apples and carrots, but seemed confused when I've offered him peppermints in the past. He enjoys them now, but not as much as his grain. Cookies (for people), chips, other random stuff I've offered, he has said no to.

Max also loves a good scratching, especially on his neck and withers. But will take food over scratching.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, New Blog

It's 2015 and I've decided to start a blog mostly about my horse related adventures, if you can call them that.  Most of my motivation from this blog comes from two areas. First, I read a lot of horse blogs and have been wanting to participate in some of the blog hops.  They're fun. They will probably be my primary inspiration for posts, especially during the frigid winter. Secondly, I'm hoping that by putting this out for everyone to see, it will make me more accountable. I'd like to keep track of what little progress I make with my horse.  There will be a post all about us shortly.  I think this year will be an interesting one.