Monday, March 30, 2015

TOABH: Introspection

Another great blog hop from Beka at The Owls Approve:
 
Introspection
What would your horse change about you?
 
The simple answer is that he would prefer that I rarely ride and leave him out on pasture 24/7 with free access to grain and treats. 

I is good boy, now give me treats :)
 
Otherwise, I think he'd prefer I pay more attention to his moods and not pick fights when he clearly wants dinner, or is in spooky mode.  I think he would like to try some jumping, I just haven't had the chance or the guts to try him over a cross rail yet. Though, right now the ground is probably ideal...not too hard, not too soft.

He'd also want me to do more clicker training, because he would get more treats.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Riding this Week

It was beautiful again on Saturday My husband was out of town, so I had plenty of time to get stuff done.  I mostly finished putting up the new electric rope and started taking down the temporary fence. Max got some grazing time and a tail wash.  I also managed to upgrade a couple of my ground poles.

Now I can actually see them on the ground.


Since Max was pretty calm, I decided to ride in the pasture. Two different neighbors around us were having target practice, so I didn't want to go into the woods.  It was like riding in the wild west. Max handled it well and wasn't spooky at all, even when a closer neighbor started up with an obnoxious wood working tool (maybe a lathe, it was annoying).

Proof we rode. I was trying to get Max, the cones, and the poles in one shot, but couldn't see my screen. This is as good as it got.


We worked on  bending on a circle with my updated ground poles, leg yielding around cones, and consistency at the trot. That boy has a nice little western trot if he would be consistent. He tends to speed up significantly if we start heading towards the barn.  It's really nice to be riding in a pasture now where I don't need to worry about him flipping out and jumping the line. he can certainly still bolt and go nuts, but it will be contained.

Recycled from Monday. Because he's too cute.

This week has been a weather roller coaster. 60s on Saturday to upper 30s Monday with rain/sleet/snow, back up to 60s by Wednesday then down to the low 40s Thursday with rain scattered through out. 

I'm developing some sort of a game plan to work with Max after last weeks fiasco.  My first step is going to lunge him in a rope halter with a 14' lead in the smaller paddock when its not too muddy.  I want to reinforce vocal commands and remind him that he doesn't have to act like a complete idiot when I ask for a little more energy at the trot on the line.  With the 14' lead I'll be keeping it at a walk and reinforcing the whoa command.  He responds reasonably well to vocal commands under saddle, but not so much otherwise.

I tried this on Tuesday. For the most part he did really well, but he is so easily distracted by potentially spooky things.  In this case, it was my husband out on the road coming back from a bike ride.  It was difficult to keep Max's focus on me. That's something else we need to work on, I'm just not sure how to tackle it just yet. Also need to work on going to the right. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Heart to Horse Box - March 2015

I've been wanting to try a subscription box for a while now. They have always looked like a lot of fun.  I considered a fiber club for my spinning, but didn't think I could keep up and didn't want to keep adding to my already large fiber stash. The Pony Box or Horse Box looked interesting, then I kept reading bad reviews.  I was tempted to try the Heart to Horse box from horse.com when it first came out, but wanted to wait to see what they included and what others thought.  Then I went to purchase the February box, but they were sold out!  Boo.  So finally, I got the March box.

This month's box was very well thought out.  It focused on grooming and was perfect for this time of year.  I will use everything, and very soon.

The opened box.

For my price list, I listed the retail price with the 15% discount price in parentheses. I did this because I've never been to the horse.com website and not gotten at least that much off, if not more. 

Cost: $34.99 with free shipping. And 25% of the proceeds go to a horse rescue.

Everything that was in the box minus the coupons

Items:
 -Majesty's Omega Wafers: $24.99 ($20.82) - They sent a full package which is a one - two month supply (60 wafers).  Bonus: Made in America according to the package. These are not meant for treats and you are only supposed to give one to two wafers per day. They are full of various omega fatty acids.  Max is already getting a supplement with some added omegas, so he might only get 1 wafer a day. If he's good. I can't wait to try these.

- Wahl Pocket Pro Trimmer: $18.95 (12.99) - Mine came in blue. Used for any light duty precision trimming such as around the eyes, whiskers, or muzzles.  Bonus (maybe): Battery operated so no cords to get in the way and it came with a battery. I don't groom my horse to the degree where I would really need this item. But I will definitely keep it around in case I need it for checking an odd lump, shaving around cuts if needed, or maybe trimming a bridle path. Though, I'm not sure it could handle the thickness of Max's mane.

-Roma Gel Mane and Tail Brush: $11.99 ($7.64) - This came in purple. I really did need a new mane brush. This one looks pretty sturdy, but has the stiff yet flexible brushy bits (prongs?) that I like.

-Roma Heart Shaped Curry: $2.19 ($1.69) - Came in light blue with glitter.  I have several curry combs and I can't get enough. I might be becoming a curry comb-aholic, curry comb hoarder....perfect for my little collection of combs. :)  But it's more triangle shaped than heart shaped in my opinion. 

-Farnam Slick 'N Easy Grooming Block: $3.99 ($3.39) - I've never used one of these, but will definitely try it on Max.  He's shedding like crazy, but still has so much coat left. Maybe it will help.

Bonus Items: Items that aren't really worth money in the same sense the other items were

-Isle of Dogs treat samples (3 heart shaped cookies) - says it's 100% natural, made in America, Gluten free.
-Some discount codes for saddle pads, clippers, Kool Coat and WeatherBeeta, and the standard 15% off at horse.com
-There's also a card with a blurb about a horse at the rescue the proceeds are supporting this month. 

Total Value: $62.11 ($46.35 with 15% discount). Plus you'd have to pay shipping.

Om nom nom "I love those treats!"
 Overall, I am very pleased with the value and the items that were included. I'm not disappointed about anything.  It's a very well thought out box and perfect for spring. I might just sign up for a 3 month subscription. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

TOABH: Metamorphosis

This week blog hop from The Owls Approve

We've talked about what your horse doesn't like to do, and I don't want to confuse this with that.  I'm not talking about personality quirks or training foibles.  Tell me:  if you could change something (or things) about your horse, what would you?

This is an easy one. I would change how Max spooks.  Even the most bombproof horse will spook at something, be it a horse fly biting sensitive areas, a tree falling (been there, done that...twice), to anything else unexpected.  How the horse spooks matters.  Unfortunately, Max tends to bolt and this scares me. I would much rather he spook in place, or just do one of those jumps to the side and stand still rather than taking off.

"Gunfire didn't bother me Saturday. I was a good boy!"

I'd also change his size.  I love me some draft horse and his 13.1h height is a bit on the short size.  I'd like some more drafty bone on him.  Those drafty looking Haflingers are beautiful.

But in the end, I do love what I have. He definitely keeps me on my toes and is teaching me a lot.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Crazy Week

Most of the week has been spent either at work or at the therapeutic riding center.  We've been short of volunteers so I've been filling in as much as possible.  Needless to say, I haven't really worked with Max much, except for Thursday morning.

The farrier came out late morning. Before she comes, I try to clean the mud off his hooves and legs as much as possible.  So I stuck him out in the pasture and cleaned him off.  Then went back to the barn to clean out Cinderella's stall.  Go back out to the pasture, realize I forgot something, and start heading up to my car.  Right now, I just have a single strand of hot wire in those plastic step in posts.  Well, Max thought I had grain somewhere and tried to follow me out. I stupidly thought he'd stop at the pseudo-gate. Nope. I hear this crack then thundering hooves behind me. Turn around and there is the pony trotting into the barn. 

"Food please?"  Cute picture to break up the wall of text. Not taken yesterday.
 So then I decide to lunge him.  Take him out in a rope halter and lunge. We start out okay, but then things get interesting. He starts bucking a bit and I'm able to control him. Then he starts squealing and bucking and doesn't stop.  Needless to say, he gets away from me and goes galloping around the pasture with the 25' lunge line dragging behind.  Normally he doesn't care if it's dragging behind and he heads for the barn. Not this time.  He heads out of the pasture through the broken gate. Runs around the front yard, between our cars, heads to the back yard, then back towards the barn and paddock. He realizes that he can't get anywhere on the far side, runs around to the opposite side.

He does stop, but it's a very narrow spot where he's at and I can't see him around the corner. So I start talking to him, but staying as close to the barn as I can just in case he takes off again....and he does. He thought about jumping the tape but instead goes back through the broken gate into the pasture.  He finally slows down enough for me to get a hold of the line and we head back into the barn.  I throw him in his stall and clean his feet again.  He must have worn himself out because he was surprisingly good for the farrier.

Needless to say I was not pleased with his behavior. More groundwork is in his future.  

Funny thing was, I was lunging a Haflinger at the center in a round pen, and he insisted on squealing and bucking quite a bit too.  There must have been something in the air yesterday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Peaceful Weekend

This past weekend was so peaceful and relaxing, particularly Saturday. It rained all day Friday, and I stopped by Rural King to pick up some chicks.   Cute chicks always improves my mood.  My husband also went out of town for the night, so I was alone.

Cuteness!

Saturday was absolutely beautiful!  I put Max out in the pasture and started putting insulators on all the posts for the new electric fence. During one of my breaks, I groomed the pony a bit to help get out that winter coat.

Shaggy pony doubles as a table.
 During another break, I set up some cones on the driveway and rode the pony bareback to work on leg yielding. And he started doing it!  I only rode for about 20 minutes, but by the end, I had a relatively lose rein and he was moving over.  Not well yet, but it's a start. As a side note, the cones I acquired are too tall.  I almost knocked them over with my foot several times as we passed by.  The ground is so wet that I didn't want to tear up the pasture or yard by riding on it, so we stuck to the compact driveway. Also, farrier still hasn't been out and Max was a bit trippy.  Trippy pony + very soft ground = potential for accident. I'm also pleased because Max seemed very relaxed for the most part.  There was very little lip flapping and he stood still for a fair amount of time when I asked.

See! I did ride! Notice Cinderella to the left not grazing down the grass in the garden

After our short ride, I put him up and went in for some lunch. When I came back out, he and Cinderella were napping and I finished the insulator installation.  I'm hoping to finish up the electric fence this week and start in on the barbed wire removal.

Sorry! Didn't mean to wake you.


Monday, March 16, 2015

TOABH: Defining the Relationship

Defining the Relationship from The Owls Approve

Snookum-ukums, where do you see this going?  

Let's be realistic.  What's the plan with your pony?  Is it a five-year investment with a return, is it until you move up beyond the Kin's abilities, or is it forever?
 
My plan for Max is to turn him into a trail pony.  I might take him to some local show or competitions for fun, but it probably won't be often. 

Unless a horse is clearly not compatible with me or trail riding, they will have a forever home with me.  Or, I suppose, if something terrible happens and we are no longer able to afford them. Then I would do everything in my power to make sure they will have a good home.

Shaggy pony says. "Why'd you stop grooming? It felt good!"

Friday, March 13, 2015

I'm Spoiled

This post was inspired by Lauren over at She Moved to Texas. Specifically, this post.

I have read many posts about horse owners who have trouble catching their horses in the pasture.  Max does spoil me in this regard. The worst he will do is pretend to ignore you and keep grazing while you walk up to him.  I've never seen him walk or run away from me. Quite the opposite actually.   If I'm doing something in the paddock, he will come over to supervise.  Picking up poop?  Multiple checks of the wheel barrel to see if I put anything good in.  Installing something new (most recently the hay hoop)?  Watches closely to make sure it's hanging straight.  Installing a new fence board?  Checking to make sure you don't drop any screws.

Last fall I was hauling some dirt around the pasture to fill in fence posts while he was out grazing.  He wasn't fazed at all by me coming somewhat close to him at a good clip.  God forbid I should dare put his grain in his bucket while he's still grazing. That results in some calling, and plowing through my wimpy electric line that normally contains him.

Nope.  Getting a hold of my pony is not an issue.  And I'm grateful.

Max: "I love you! Now feed me!" Cindy: "I might let you pet me if you give me grain...but probably not"

However Cinderella, the llama, is another story.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hobby Farm Life

My husband and I knew when we bought our property, it needed a lot of work, especially to make it horse safe. Now that I can walk outside without the threat of freezing my ears off, I'm considering which projects I need to focus on this spring.  My main focus will be working on the pasture. So, let's have a look.

The back part of the pasture

 Right now I have a single strand of hot tape on step in posts.  The pony can and has jumped this line. Most of the time he doesn't care because he's all "OMG GRASS!!!"  There is also barbed wire on the property line along with some wire fencing.  The wire can stay, but I need to get the barbed wire out.  Then the trees.  There are a few cherry trees we had to cut down last fall that are in the pasture area.

The front area.
 Many years ago, someone leased the pasture area and had horses here.  They put up woven wire fence and a strand of barbed wire on top. Since then, that line of trees grew around all the fencing. Last spring I manged to get all that out but pieces still remain in the trees.  I just ordered some electric rope and insulators and will probably start there.  There's a pile of fence boards that need to go up. Also, some IBC totes that I want to use as rain barrels and some other experiments.
Pony in the mist.
 Along with warmer weather comes rain and mud. Max's paddock is a muddy swamp.  Last night he was slipping and spooking himself. He was huffing and puffing when he came to get his grain, but seemed okay. 



Monday, March 9, 2015

TOABH: Fail

 
Fail.
We know what makes Thunderhooves happy, but what does he hate to do?  Let's not ignore those times that you have whip out all the tricks or pharmaceuticals for grooming.
 
What does Max hate to do?  Work, be taken away from food, eat breakfast or dinner late, or just anything that doesn't involve food.  
Sometimes I seriously question whether the boy enjoys doing anything except eat.

Max doesn't like the hay hoop, but loves his hay.

Friday, March 6, 2015

February 2015 Review

Well, we didn't get all the rain we were supposed to get. That means that the snow didn't completely melt (and cause flooding), but it melted enough to make it icy and too dangerous to ride.  It's supposed to get up into the 40s this weekend and stay warm-ish next week, so hopefully it will melt. I can't even ride in the paddock because the stall doors are frozen open. I don't want him to try to run in and scrape me off.  

So how did I do in working towards my goals in February?  Not so good.

Goals for Max:
Leg Yields: I didn't really work on this at all
Turning/pivoting: We worked on this once but didn't really achieve anything. Small steps
Obstacles:  We worked with an umbrella from the ground. That's something.


Groundwork and an obstacle. It's a 2-for-1 deal.

Goals for Me:
Lessons: Still too cold
Cantering: Didn't even attempt because of poor ground/not riding/trippy pony
Trail obstacles: One step forward, one step back. My husband dismantled my L, but I did work with an umbrella
Ride once per week: Rode twice in February. The last one was just a quick pokey ride in the snow.
Groundwork once per week: I tried this twice. Once was dropping his head, but my fingers started to go numb pretty quickly. I would also consider the umbrella groundwork as well.

Other Goals: None achieved, but I wasn't planning on it. They're more summer activities

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bad Rides

Monday was sunny and "warm" (mid 20s (F)) when I got home from work, so I decided to go on a quick ride before the weather turned bad.We got out to the far end of the pasture and he would not stand still, so I circled.  Then a car went by and he took that opportunity to spook and bolt towards the barn.  I was riding bareback without a pad (extra sticky) and came off pretty quickly.  Falling into 10 inches of snow really helped to break my fall. I only tweaked my back a bit.


Naughty pony has to work.

I'm fairly certain his bad behavior was a combination of wanting to avoid the extra work stepping in the snow required, and being impatient for his dinner.  I decided to lunge him for a bit and he acted like a fool a couple of times.  Normally he goes really well when I lunge him in a bit, but he must have hit himself in the mouth a few times. When he was calmer and actually listening to me, I got back on and we walked some circles in the pasture, got him to stand still and was done. 

Naughty pony stands still long enough for me to take a picture.
 When stuff like this happens, my confidence really takes a hit. I'm not sure I did the right thing. I also worry that he just learned that spinning and bolting gets him back to the barn and will try it again.

Monday, March 2, 2015

TOABH: Ermahgerd

It's week 13 of Beka's blog hop series at The Owls Approve.

What is your pony's absolute favorite riding activity?  What makes those little ears perk and causes the knees to lift?  Let's just focus on the favorites - we'll save the bucks for next week.

Honestly, Max's favorite part of riding is probably the mounting block, for dismounting that is.  He's not really barn sour, but if you let him, he will take you back to the mounting block.  Subtlety is not his thing.


He goes to the mounting bucket on his own.

I still haven't figure out what he truly enjoys doing.  I do think he might enjoy jumping but I'm not really a jumper.  He's very willing to jump and has done it to avoid the tiny muddy "ditch" out back. He has also jumped a few things while on a lunge line. There was the mounting block when I wasn't paying attention, several ground poles that he should have trotted over, and a small cross rail just to see what he did.


He will also go to the stall doors at dinner time. Not a subtle pony.