Thursday, September 12, 2013

Zephyr and the Barrels

I had a really fantastic lesson on Zephyr today. I will never stop smiling.

I mean, he ran out on the barrels every time. Ran riiiiiiiiiiiight out. Lost his power steering, showed absolutely no "let's go cross country" bravery. But that's okay, because everything else was great. Let's back up.

We started out with the usual walk and trot warm up, and then Chris set up one ground pole up the center line, and then two, and then the second one became a crossrail and then a tiny vertical. Zeph trotted right down the middle every time. I stayed defensive and a little behind every time, but C and I agree that this is the safest place to be on a green horse like him.

Then we cantered the tiny vertical like a million times and he was really, really good. I was so pleased that we were able to canter well enough to jump out of it. When Chris put the barrels behind the vertical Zephyr said "fuck you all." We eventually got him to jump the vertical without the barrels, but the barrels themselves will have to wait for another day. I did my best, was as tenacious as possible, but sometimes that isn't enough. I don't feel discouraged. We'll get him there. I just think he hasn't realized jumping is fun yet, so he doesn't want to be brave. And maybe he never will be? We will see. In the meantime, he's learning and I'm getting good practice in for Lex, whose natural instincts are better than Zephyr's.

Here's the good news, though: Chris, who is not effusive with his praise, could not shut up about how Zephyr looks like a different horse than he did a month ago. He said Zephyr has more natural balance and is much more forward and responsive. I was grinning from ear to ear for like two hours.

Best. Day. Ever.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Overnight Turnout is Magic

You guys! Lex is doing SO GREAT! I can hardly contain my excitement. She's back on overnight turnout with her buddies, we're scaling back the Reserpine to the point that she's barely on any at all, and we're doing tacked up in-hand work. Mostly just walking over courses of ground poles in the ring, but my friend Dale is going to come teach us some cool stuff to keep things fresh and interesting. I think, however, that it will be only a few days or maybe a week before RIDING TIME. It'll just be at the walk for short periods, but I am so excited.

And to be honest, I'm relieved that I'm excited. I've seen her explode a few times now, and my arm knows what can happen when she lets those back legs fly. But I really don't think I'm in for any histrionics under saddle. She seems happy to be getting back to work. Today she even seemed to want to stay in the ring and play.

Zephyr is also doing wonderfully. We're taking a lesson with C tomorrow, so I'll try to be a good kid and recap it. We've mostly been doing flatwork, focusing on having him moving forward off my leg and doing some light leg yielding. I throw in a crossrail here and there and he always does as I ask, although I'm not sure he's got an enthusiasm for jumping yet. I'm really thrilled to say that his canter is coming along great. We can get both leads first try and canter circles in both directions. Until about a week ago, the right lead rarely happened. I have been working hard on gaining more control over his shoulders and hind quarters. Sometimes that means he has to be counter bent in the neck so that he doesn't pop his outside shoulder in. He's such a big horse, he's a lot to keep together, but he is doing so well with stretching into the contact and relaxing. He's starting to build some neck muscles, too. I love this guy. I hope he doesn't get sold soon.

Jethro, I'm sorry to say, is lame, and has to go back where we found him. Ugh. I'll miss him, he's as cute and sweet as they come. I hope he finds a nice home as a trail horse or a companion.

Overall, things are pretty good with the horses. I can't wait to have my horse back in work, but I'm definitely keeping busy. Have any of you done in-hand training and what did you do?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two, Four and a Half, Ten

It's been an exciting couple of days around here.

Today has been exactly two months since Lex's surgery. This was supposed to be the day I got back on her, and that clearly wasn't happening. But it was a great day for us nonetheless, because I finally turned her out. She had been doing pretty well in the round pen, although she had another I'M FREE bucking spree, at which point, I decided enough was enough. I called my vet and we decided to turn her out today with a nice old quarter horse gentleman named JR. I made sure they had a brand new round bale. Lex was SO. FREAKING. HAPPY. to be outside. She nosed with JR, she rolled in the mud (and rolled, and rolled, and rolled). She ate huge mouthfuls of hay, she walked around, rolled some more, and then was like, "heyyyyy... I could... buck?" And JR pinned his ears at her: "You're embarrassing yourself." She stopped, hung her head, and went back to the hay. Consider me the present of the JR fan club. Things were going so well that I got permission from the vet to leave her out for the day and to just put her on an AM turnout routine. In a week or two, she can go back out overnight. When that's been going well for... who knows? A few days? A week? We'll see if we can get back to riding. I hope she thinks it's fun, like she did when I started her under saddle and she was so good all the time. I think she just needs time to be outside and be happy and we'll be okay.

Yesterday marked roughly four and a half months since Rocket was born, and was a big day for her. She was weaned! It went about as well as weaning can go. Mom has decided to sell Rocket's dam, Somara, which is the right decision. So the trainer she is sending Somara to for the sale came and picked her up. He also worked with Rocket a little before he went, and he really liked her. Who wouldn't? She's fabulous. Rocket was upset, of course, but this is how horses work. She'll be fine, if she isn't already, and I'm guessing she is. We're getting closer to her being a real grown-up horse!

It has been ten days since my kick to the arm. It's getting better, but not at the speed at which I'd hoped. The bruises are pretty and the swelling is going down, and I can tack up and ride horses now. But it's painful enough that I wonder if there is a hairline fracture in there. I suppose we'll just have to see where it goes from here.

I'm going to try to get pictures of all these horses soon. Zephyr, Jethro, Mira, and Veronica are all doing well, and I hope to have updates about them in just a couple days.