Spending Time with Horses Is Educational

I guess it’s obvious that you learn things spending time with animals, but the weekend really taught me a lot more than I thought it would. Plus I had fun, mostly.

Aragorn had fun, too, until he was ready to LEAVE. I like this over-exposure photo

Saturday, before daylight, Sara and I hauled Aragorn to Sandhaven, the place I took a lot of flower pictures and shared earlier. She had a Working Equitation show and I went as moral support and for my own edification.

Sara does great at the dressage part, and has learned a lot. Aragorn has more experience, but has learned better form.

There was a wonderful variety of horses at the show, ranging from a very talented horse of Drew’s size and coloring to a gigantic Trakehner with an equally tall rider. Of course, the pro woman with all the Gypsy Vanners was there. Yes they’re pretty. No I don’t have time for the mane and tail maintenance.

I tried to only take pictures of Sara, but there they are.

I enjoyed the part with the obstacles the best. Wow, some of those horse and rider pairs are great. It was fun watching the youth and the older folks all riding together. One young woman faced challenges really well. And as for the older folks. There is a lot of grit needed when you have to get off and back on and your body no longer does that easily.

Aragorn was not phased by the menacing sheep.

Some of the obstacles are like watching the horses dance. There is one where you go around three barrels that’s so pretty when they go fast.

Aragorn barreling

Only one obstacle got to Aragorn. The bridge, which he is usually great at, was covered with giant fake flowers. This was just too strange for him! But, on the third try, he got across. I was full of sympathy. Those were overkill. (The woman who owns the facility did work very hard on the obstacles, and they were beautiful and quite fancy.)

Sara did well, and she and the other woman who is close to her skill level traded firsts and seconds. They’re both fun to watch, as advanced beginners.

Triumphantly replacing the cup, with the correct hand.

The more advanced people were where the education came in. I’m getting better at discerning the difference between good and bad form, and where finesse comes in. Some of those horses did amazing transitions between gaits and could open gates with their riders most gracefully. I have a lot to work on!

Bowing to the judge. Tarrin pointed out Aragorn’s beautiful chest muscles.

I sure appreciate that Sara invited me along.

As for Me

My turn to horse around came yesterday, when I had two lessons, one with each horse. Again, I learned a lot. Poor Drew always gets upset in the trailer, and he poops runny stuff. Poor Apache slid in it trying to back out. Not a great start.

But Drew had a really good lesson. I got better at lunging him nicely, and he got better at lining up to be saddled. We both worked on side passing. I’m proud of how he remembered what to do, and how hard he worked. We had a great time. I love him so.

Tarrin is showing me how to tap the opposite side of his butt.

I also got a new halter for Drew that fits his face better than his others. He has a small head, that’s for sure. It’s his theme color of turquoise, too. I’m grateful.

As for Apache, that boy worked hard in his lesson. We had lots of fun working on jumping, which he had gotten down darned well by the end. Then we worked on that walking sideways thing, the name of which eludes me. I looked it up. Half pass. I shall endeavor to remember. We are both getting better at it. It’s good to have something to work on.

Next we got to work on trail rides. That was so much fun! Tarrin came along with me, bareback. It was to practice trail rides with another horse. Apache did pretty well, and I did fine when he had an issue. It was great.

My happy place.

At the end, my buddy fell apart. He did okay walking down the “scary” corridor, but the idea of riding up to the trailer freaked him out. This is sort of weird, since he will ride up to it at home.

It ended up taking about 20 minutes to get there. It involved a LOT of backing up, twirling, throwing of heads, and drama. I kept at it, though my leg got tired from banging on him. Then, once I did it, Tarrin got on him and made him do it again. I was sorta relieved it took her a bit of time to do it, too. But I think he will do better next time. He was a mess of sweat and hair by the time we were done.

I was hoping to get a few photos Lee’s friend, Matt took of us. As it is, I love the ones Tarrin shared with me above.

And Apache is all brushed and shiny again now. He loved being brushed while eating. On the other hand, Drew got all peeved so I had to stop. To be honest, it’s nice to see him show some spirit.

Enough horse stuff!

Trail Ride For Us

We had a fun morning today, as Sara and I took our new and improved horses on a trail ride, along with Dusty, who’s not been out for a while, but was ready for fun. Sara’s his-daughter, Rachel, who is visiting this weekend, came with us.

Out trailing. Dusty is looking good after all the grooming and supplements!

They brought Aragorn and saddles over here to get ready. I’d already done all Apache’s schooling and had him ready to go. I’d groomed Dusty, but he is shedding mightily, so more grooming was good. He likes it.

Sara and I rode around and practiced things while Rachel got used to Dusty in the round pen. Aragorn would not go over my low OVC pipe jumps. All the pipe and fencing on the other side made him concerned. I don’t blame him.

I’m smart.

Apache had an episode when I first got back on him. I guess he thought he was done for the day. So I let him back up for a while and eventually got him doing circles and going around barrels. Yay me.

Practicing. Dusty looks fancy.

The ride went well, with Aragorn having lots of gate-opening practice and Dusty challenging Rachel by wanting to go back. She handled it, though! Since I’d been having my own fun with Apache, I just admired everyone else dealing with whatever horse they got.

I’ll get that gate. And yes, Vlassic tagged along for a long time.

We got to the entrance to the bottom pasture only to find there was an electric fence in front of the gate. So we trudged back. I’m sure the horses were thrilled. As we got out, the tenants showed up and said they’d take the fence down. That was nice! Back we went.

Apache flung himself at grass less than he used to, but still did it some.

We did pretty well with the challenges of the big pasture. Apache crossed a muddy spot just great and might have crossed the stream, but the other horses said no. I’m really proud of how I handled Apache wanting to go back and acting nervous. We did all the things I wanted him to do after a bit of leg action. Yes, I did it!

I’m happy. I kept hearing Tarrin in my head, so it was like a lesson.

When we got back, we had the obligatory Fiona photo opportunity. I have missed having guests and doing that! I sure was impressed with how Rachel dealt with Dusty, who did some rearing and scooting.

Yay for Fifi. She wanted to come, but no. She’s a bad influence.

I had planned to wash horses after riding, but my new horse washer won’t attach to the hose. I’ll ask someone for help later. It was challenging to wash Apache since the only hose I can use is next to the shipping container that has been emptied out, but I did it.

I left him out to dry for a while, since I had to move Remington back to the right pasture (he had escaped earlier when I didn’t latch a gate well enough and he wanted to be with Dusty. So how long do you think it took after taking off his halter for Apache to roll?

Filler image.

Four seconds. At least he didn’t roll in mud.

Horse Show Live! Drew Lives!

Today we went to our first live horse show. All of us lived. We each have things to work on, but hey, that’s the idea! I enjoyed putting on my fancy, if unflattering, outfit and showing off Drew’s cuteness.

Cowgirl and friend.

Sara and I enjoyed taking out Tillie the Trailer out for her first spin. It went great. The facility was gorgeous. There was a beautiful covered arena and actual bathrooms.

Drew and I did two tests, functionality and trail. He did well on the first, though I messed up some. On the second one, he would not trot. That messed up our score, but it was good to not keep pressuring him.

Here we are not trotting to pick up the jug.

He was sweet, though, and was not phased by all the new sights, sounds, and people. He seemed to be having fun. How about that? He liked the fancy stall I rented for him lot, too. Mostly he liked all the food.

Mmmm.

Sara and Aragorn did really well, too, and won their group. There were some ups and downs, but I was impressed with their performance. And Sara looked really good!

Looking good!

I learned a lot from the other competitors, too. Some of the folks from last week were also there today. I found them smart and brave, especially the ones who put their horses’ needs first.

Saragorn in the beautiful arena.

I’m fine with how we did, though I know we could have done better. But now we have an idea of what we need to work on. I sort of feel silly having a bunch of ribbons even though I’m the only one in my category at the moment.

Oh, geez.

But, hey, I did well. I could have chickened out and not gone, because it was cold. Or I could have messed up so much I’d have disqualified! So, I won. And so did Drew.

We are lucky to have had the opportunity. Tarrin and her family sure worked hard on the show. And the host was very kind.

They got banners. But they were ready to go home and not cooperating!

I have to say my favorite part of the whole day was spending time with Drew, watching the others, and bonding. It feels so good to be with his sweet spirit. I think I’ll do another show at some point.

It does feel like we have a clue when we are in such a nice spot.

By the way, I never won a ribbon for anything before. Probably that’s because of never entering contests. You gotta enter to win. Ha.

Drew Gives a Belated Birthday Gift

Drew is a young horse, so he has his moments. He can be pushy and disinclined to pay attention. And he’s had a couple of challenges with his health and scary trucks. But, this morning he had his turn to give me a birthday present.

Show time!

We went over to Sara’s new dressage arena area again today. The first two times we went to practice at her location were not too great. I did a few things to help out this time.

First, we walked through the pasture rather than over by the cabin. That way, even if a loud truck went right by him it would be further away. I also made sure to warm him up in the round pen with a lot of cantering before we headed over.

He still doesn’t like the tree corridor but did better today. Apache also always disliked that area, even before the trees. I think the electric poles bother them.

After the scary trees came green grass!

It was time to do the second part of our Working Horse Central Spring Virtual Show. It was really windy as usual, but my hat blowing off in our practice pattern didn’t phase him. We did our Functionality test in one try. It had its flaws, but he didn’t run me off the course or refuse to walk like he did last time, and he trotted most of the time he was supposed to trot. He backed up crooked, though. Still, we did it!

Sara and Aragorn did great, too. It sure is nice having her Peavo to video us.

When we got done and I was getting out of my fancy boots, Sara tried an experiment of ponying Drew behind Aragorn. It went pretty well! Once I clicked to tell Drew to move, he followed. They even went through some obstacles.

The idea is that Sara could ride over here and then I could ride Apache and she could pony Drew so we could all three practice. I think we would need a hitching post or something for the inactive horse, but it could work

I did a video!

She is going to do stuff with Sully, the beautiful mare she’s borrowing to have her colt. So that would be another horse friend to hang out with.

Now I plan to rest a bit and have a belated birthday meal this evening with my patient husband. A fine weekend!

Sort of a Equitation Vacation

I’m tired but happy after a weekend where the only job I had was to drive to a place full of horses. And this morning’s drive had so many hawks and herons to enjoy that the hour flew by.

Waiting for their turn

Today we were back at the Highlander Ranch in Waco for a Working Equitation dressage clinic with Doreen, who is a great clinician. Watching people work on refining their riding skills was really helpful for me. The stuff I’m learning in my lessons was reinforced very well. I guess it makes sense, because Doreen and Tarrin used to do clinics together.

Sara got to touch him. Ooh. What form.

I’m glad I got there in time to see more advanced people in their sessions. That shiny horse from yesterday did leg yields and side passes at a canter like a dream. but he had things to work on, too. It was nice to see Doreen as patient with absolute beginners as with the experienced riders.

Sara learning.

I learned all about dressage patterns, which are exercises designed to showcase a horse and rider’s skill and finesse at whatever level they are at. They look for precise turns, straight lines, perfect stops, and smooth transitions.

Practicing half halts.

Each rider and horse had different challenges, so it was fun to see how they worked in them. Everyone improved! It was especially cool that there was only one experienced dressage person in Sara’s group, so they were all thrilled at their progress. They’re all planning to come back!

Watching and learning.

The most interesting skills they worked on were transitioning between walk and trot and doing “half halts” to signal that something is coming up and keep the horse’s attention. They did an exercise showing how it helped stops be better. Here’s Sara doing it.

I was the only person dedicated enough to just watch this stuff, but my own horses aren’t ready for it, so I may as well learn and support my friend. By the way, Sara got a nice prize for being one of the most improved students. That had to feel GOOD!

A good Boy

I was very impressed with Aragorn. He was solid as a rock. He was great when they practiced the obstacles all by themselves and just super in the clinic. He paid attention and did everything he was asked. Now Sara knows he was worth his cost, and she sees the wisdom of waiting until they were good partners before doing stuff like this. Yes!

Now I can look forward to working with my guys as much as possible this week, even if it’s cold. I want to keep doing better!

Aragorn Has a Good Day

Woo I’m tired, but I know who’s more tired. This guy:

Aragorn!

I followed Aragorn and Sara up to the same facility near Waco where we first discovered working equitation, Highlander Ranch. There, he had his first clinic, and first experience off ranch since she got him. He was a trooper.

Here we come!

I learned a lot from the clinicians, Doreen and Kiki. I can take the ideas straight to Apache. Great ways to stay straight and do transitions, etc.

Here’s Sara successfully spearing a ring with a lance with Kiki helping.

Sara and Aragorn did a great job on all the obstacles and learned how to fix any missteps.

The double slalom, the hardest one.

I also enjoyed all the other horses and their riders. They ranged from a woman who had never tried the discipline but had a very willing horse to Aragorn’s breeder, who cantered everywhere.

Cantering in a circle.

Here’s a cool horse. He was so shiny and was so sweet, and had been abused, but you’d never know it.

Shiny guy.

We also had Trixie join us, and now she’s ready to participate, too! It was such a laid-back event, but full o’ education.

Having fun, with the Abby dog.

I enjoyed the facility, too. Wow they have a HUGE barn, where Aragorn got to rest after he learned his stuff.

I am so tired, though of course Aragorn and Sara are more tired. But they can be proud of themselves. Here are a few more photos. There will be more tomorrow!

I’ll take lots of videos of Sara learning dressage techniques tomorrow. I took a lot today, so she can analyze her technique to improve. I’m glad I got to tag along.

Fine. All Fine.

Gosh, folks, I’m too tired to write. It was a busy and fun day, though, and since I’m trying to write every day in January, I need to say something.

I love to try things.

I had a fun lesson with Drew today, after he violently rejected a blanket and pooped all over it. I learned lots of new skills to practice, and we both had a blast.

This is complicated but I can do it.

I now know what we can do “in hand” in the Working Horse Central competitions. We did a bunch of things that were fun to try to work on perfecting.

Showing me how to do the “gate.”

I am pleased to get to progress. I came back off cloud 9 when I got home and spent an hour cleaning poop out of the trailer so we can use it to move my son. Mmm. Fun. Then I re-set the playground and made it look good.

I’ll mess that up

I rode Apache again today and dealt with him pretty well. We were able to do quite a few of the playground activities, but he knocked over my little jumps. He was not into stepping over the PVC pipe I set out.

Look. I had a baby.

Next I walked over to see my kids setting up their household and saw a cow who’d just given birth. Aww.

There’s an exclamation point above Aragorn.

I then wandered over to Sara’s to watch her filming herself and Aragorn. Wow. He has really progressed, as has she. Cantering is happening. Balanced, good cantering. I was as happy for her today as she was for me yesterday! Quite a good couple of days, horse wise.

Another lovely cabin sunset.

The things that needed doing at the cabin got done today, so we’re ready for tomorrow. I’ve doubled my usual exercise but I feel good.

There, I blogged.

I Find Ranch Citizens Fascinating

Another day of horse lessons has come and gone. And while my lesson with this innocent student was enlightening, I would have come away happy just having watched Sara.

I should have known friskiness was ahead when he galloped up to me this morning, mane and tail flying.

Apache was very frisky this morning, probably because a front came through.

I’m feeling kinda frisky here.

We started out sweaty at 9 am and ended up shivering by 1! I did round pen with him before we left, and ooh he was jumpy. And once we got to the training ranch, he was not interested in human agendas.

Ready for cheekiness.

He did ok until the trainer got on, at which point he decided he didn’t want to do anything. It was so fascinating to watch her work through his stubbornness. There was lots of backing and angry horse faces. I didn’t take pictures, because I was watching so hard. She did stuff I am not capable of yet. And eventually he did fine. I even rode him better than last time and dealt with his issues.

The dogs here would prefer you pay attention to them, please.

He’s not easy. He hurts and has been ridden poorly. By me. But we are progressing. I ended my essay with a smile on my face, happy with all my progress and the support I got.

This foal wants it to be their turn.

We were all glad for the lesson to end. But Apache was still antsy. I was glad to leave him to eat some hay and deal with calmer animals. That included Christmas the bull. Sure, he looks intimidating.

Yes, I AM immense.

I had no idea he was tame, but he came up to me and licked my hand clean, then requested that he get some pets on his forehead and between his horns. Then, his cow companion came up and wanted a turn. This love fest was just what I needed.

As always, I enjoyed Sara’s lesson as much as mine. She learned some really complicated bending stuff and I was proud of how well she did. And Aragorn, too.

I’ll ignore all the dogs.

Aragorn didn’t even notice the fake bull that had startled Apache earlier. He was concentrating and throwing in fancy dressage moves so he wouldn’t have to bend the opposite way from how he was turning.

Paying attention.

I was distracted by two things: a biting wind and cute animals. Between the dogs, the baby horses, and the donkey, I had a lot of entertainment! Who cares about the cold when you have ranch entertainment?

Everyone Was Right – It Got Better

Some of you may remember that I had a pretty dismal experience with my little horse, Drew, last week, and I’ve been feeling like a crappy horse person with my paint, Apache, as well. I mean, I used to be able to ride him on long trail rides and take him places. Now I am confined to the round pen.

No round pen here, my pretty horsie backing up in the afternoon sun.

But, it’s not so bad. Yesterday I talked about doing much better with Apache. Today was another lesson on Drew, so Sara and I drove out to the trainer’s place…only to find we were an hour early. Oops. As hard as we all try, we keep getting our times and days confused. None of us is to blame, because each of us has been confused in different ways. You just have to laugh, which is what we all did.

The horse part went really well, though. Aragorn has made huge progress, and it was interesting to watch him today. I am getting better at understanding when he’s doing well and when he’s messing up on his complicated work. It sure was fun seeing him try to deal with a new and more complex pattern that was intended to keep him from anticipating what he was going to do next. Plus, it’s enlightening to realize that some of his issues are much like what I deal with on my horses, just at a higher speed. I was so fascinated that I didn’t take pictures, but my brain learned a lot, which is important.

Nope, not Aragorn. It’s Drew going sideways down a pole.

Next, we went and got Drew. I got to groom him and do his feet. Three out of four feet went well; one was a challenge, but I got there. We then marched right out and did the longe work that I was so bad at last time. Thankfully, I was not in such a difficult mental place today, so I did just fine!

Drew looking out of control in his canter, but he’s okay.

I really think I was so upset from the various things that were going on that I couldn’t focus. Today, I had focus, and got that little guy going around in his circles going both ways just fine. And if there was an issue, I just coped. Hooray for me. After that, I backed him up and down his little “hill.”

He backed up for me! Cinder the dog is proud.

We moved on to jumping! Yes, I got him running in circles over jumps. Sara was so fascinated that she didn’t take pictures. One direction went better than the other, but I eventually got him jumping over the right thing. Wow, that little guy can jump (over the wrong things). I never got scared, which was key, I think. I had a much better attitude, which of course passed on to Drew.

Backing up.

Finally, we did some walking with his shoulders in and haunches in, and I did fine with that…then the trainer got on Drew and showed us what he has learned under saddle. He is cantering amazingly well, which impressed both me and Sara. He’s young, though, and isn’t having to unlearn old patterns like Aragorn is. But wait, there’s more!

That lump is me, on Drew!

I got on Drew and rode him solo. Well, mostly we stood still a lot. He was not interested in having a different person on him telling him what to do. I persevered, though, and things got better. I’ll try again next time I go see him, which is on Monday, when I bring him home! I look forward to that. We have a lot of “homework” to do for the next few months as he grows and matures, including all these things we have practiced today.

At least my posture is good. This is a still from a video Sara took of me flailing away trying to get him to move.

I look forward to hanging out with my little bundle of muscle and working on our partnership. And I now feel like I can learn and improve…which is really all I want.

I’ll dream of the day when Drew and I can do this.

By the way, I know a lot of us are dealing with illness these days. You’re in my thoughts. It seems like COVID and the flu (and bad allergies) are everywhere right now. I know it’s hard. I know I’m tired of feeling trapped at home (even with a pool!). I canceled my next trip, too. Flights seem scary right now.

Learning Fun for All

Today, Sara came with Aragorn in her trailer and picked up me and Apache. I was so grateful to be able to get in a much-needed lesson. We ended up having such a good and educational time, we decided to do it again next week.

Here we are, ready to roll.

We had no trouble at all getting Apache in or out of the trailer. I have memories of it being quite a struggle when he was younger. It helps me see that he HAS improved in many ways.

That’s why I love this quirky guy.

My lesson was first, and went really well. We did the round pen test, and he was judged much improved. He acted like his old self. His feet need to be trimmed, which might cause some odd behavior, so that gets fixed tomorrow.

Here we’re discussing turning.

Next we did really interesting work on walking straight next to the fence without pushing into me or curving his neck. The neck curving is the bad habit he’s developed when he tries to take control.

Here, he’s learning.
He got frustrated but stuck with it.

I’m learning so much! Eventually I got to try it and was beginning to figure out his cues and correct him before he tried to get in front of me. This is something I can easily practice that will improve riding.

Sara and Aragorn worked on straightness and bending necks too, just at a different level. Thus, our lessons were helpful for each other.

Working on bending.

She was also doing practice in transition to canter with correct positions. That was fascinating to watch. And sometimes Aragorn looked all fancy, even if he was trying to figure things out.

Fancy

I think Aragorn got tired. I know Sara did, but they made good progress. He looks much, much calmer, too. We are all getting better, even if I had to go backwards.

Sometimes the dogs wanted my attention so much that I got distracted, but that’s just fine. They remind me of our guys. The little corgi-like one, Maximus, reminds me of my corgi, Gwynneth, who ran fast and low like a heat-seeking missile.

So, it was a fine Sunday. I enjoyed football, cooked boudin dirty rice, and patted our animals. Harvey is much less swollen.

sara annon

seeking the middle path

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