We don’t get to do much trail riding lately, but this morning, Sara and I both had time to do it.
I was really happy with how well Apache and I did. First, I mounted from the fence after getting out of our pasture walking. The cows made it a little challenging by their curiosity. They kept bopping Apache on the butt until I showed them away.
Sara is always challenging herself, and today was no exception. She ponied Sully along with Aragorn. They both did pretty darn well. Aragorn is just doing great these days.
We rode over to the bottom pasture and when we got to the gate, I realized that one of the clever twin calves had snuck into the wrong pasture and was NOT happy where she was. So, Sara gave me Sully, and went with Aragorn to escort the calf home. They were on foot, crashing through trees, but they did it! And Apache stood like a rock while Sully kept poking him (gently; she’s sweet).
After that we just had fun going across mud, up and down hills, over logs, and beside the newly dug tanks. At one point both Apache and Aragorn indicated that they would prefer to be heading to the gate. But we got them to meander back.
I did great when Apache tried his sideways stuff. Ha! And once we headed back, he didn’t speed up after I told him not to. We calmly walked back, then, in a fit (feat?) of skill, we managed to open the inner gate then the gate out of the pasture! I had to come back to shut it after dismounting, but that was progress!
We ended the ride happy and calm. He was in no hurry to go in his pen, and seemed pleased to walk to his halter and listen to me telling him he’s good.
There! We are doing everything we want to do and are learning more skills. It’s a lot of fun to ride with friends, so it will be great to be able to have folks join us once Drew is back.
Admittedly, the gray things with horsepower are quite different. But they’re both pretty.
One Horse with Power
Today was Drew’s turn to shine. He was scheduled to get filmed doing the dressage part of this quarter’s Working Horse Central virtual show. We walked over to Sara’s lovely arena that she made all by herself. I had to bring a bag with my show boots, show shirt, number and a drink, along with Drew’s show lead and little crop. The only problem was the heat. i was already dripping from grooming Drew and cleaning the former concrete out of his feet. Thankfully, it was dewy this morning, so each foot was packed with mud, not concrete!
I wrote up every detail of our dressage pattern in my horse journal, so I’ll just summarize here. He did a GREAT job this time, not perfect, but with much improvement. I also did better with my posture and not going so fast.
I didn’t go too fast trotting, and Drew even got through the right circle at a reasonable pace and only one attempt to bite my hat. No doubt my circles weren’t even, but we did better! Yay us!
After our two minutes of glory, it was time for Sara’s horses. It’s been a lot of fun watching Sully get better and better. I’m so proud of how hard Sara has worked with her.
Of course, Aragorn did great. Well, it wasn’t like it was a walk in the park getting ready for it! His feet are doing so much better, and he didn’t cough once during the pattern. It is so fun to watch the two of them (Saragorn) work together. They have also come a long way in their partnership.
Sara has also come a long way in her show outfits. These guys are so coordinated now, with navy and tan, along with her Wild Type Ranch logo. They’re sharp! I, on the other hand, could not find my belt anywhere. So, I am wearing a yellow bungee cord that accentuates my “full figure” oh so well. Where was my belt? Right next to the boots I DID find.
I enjoyed watching the horses interact with each other when it wasn’t their turn, or when we were getting ready. There’s a lot of gray horsepower among these three! Horse heaven!
Before you get the idea that all this horse stuff is positive progress and great behavior, I must share that when we set out to leave, Drew was having nothing of walking quietly beside me. He was, I guess, jumpy, or jittery. So, I had to stop and get him to trot in circles for a while, to try to focus him. He was having none of THAT, either, and began trotting weirdly, coming in way too close to me, and not going the direction he was asked to go in. I channeled my inner #TarrinMadeMeDoIt and kept stopping and starting him over and over. There were kicks and bucks followed by severe words coming from me. I did great, never lost my temper, and got him a little calmer.
Still, walking down the narrow alley of trees didn’t go great. He was rushing and crowding me. So. Much. Discipline. My arm was killing me by the time we got to the barn. He was not feeling inner peace. BUT. After a bit of a rest in the shade, we headed home. Who was this horse? We had a perfectly pleasant calm, slow, walk where I barely had to hold on to the lead rope. I do wonder what was going on in that boy’s head!
355 Horsepower Grayness
So, Lee’s Tahoe has been giving him some trouble. It is now living at the dealership getting its troubles dealt with. He decided to replace it and get a mobile office. That’s more easily said than done, but I will summarize by saying that something of a reasonable size and the power to tow the horse trainer will be ordered as soon as the dealer gets an “allotment” and customized in some number of months. That way he can drive me to horse lessons and then stay and work. This is all great, but doesn’t replace the Tahoe right now. Lee didn’t have to ask twice when he wanted me to go look at cars. I love car shopping.
So, he looked for a comfortable vehicle that would tow the trailer if needed and be nice for our travels. That was getting frustrating until someone returned a rental vehicle to the dealership that was not too big, not too small…just right.
Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever sat in such a comfortable seat in a car, and the back seat has enough leg room for very large people. And there’s a huge trunk for carrying bags of horse feed. Oh wait, it’s for Lee. It doesn’t have adaptive cruise control, but otherwise is crammed with safety features. I hope it works out. I, of course, like the ambient lighting that changes colors and the pretty covers on the speakers.
I am glad I don’t have to drive back and forth to College Station every day now that the Lee’s Gleemobile is here (it’s a GLE 350). I’ll also feel a lot safer in a vehicle that doesn’t randomly die as you’re driving along. And, I got to enjoy lots of time in my car, which I am not giving up yet, plus got crocheting done.
That’s my story. Fancy used car deal complete. And before you think I’m being snooty by getting a Mercedes, it was less than the Tahoe or other American cars that fit our needs.
And hey, I didn’t get this one, though I tried to convince Anita that’s what Lee picked. Red seats. Convertible. Giant engine. MMM. Do well on ranch roads? Nope.
Today, Sara and I headed back to the lovely Watts Way arena for our fourth Working Horse Central show. I’d hoped Drew and I had improved enough to get some significantly better scores, but, I’ll have to be satisfied with knowing we’ve improved regardless of our scores. I’ll just keep trying.
The big highlight for me was watching Saragorn and their blossoming partnership. Now that Aragorn is feeling better in his feet, he’s just amazing to watch.
They were beautiful during the dressage patterns, and would have been even better over the obstacles if it weren’t for “user error.” Many of the competitors had some lapses, so she wasn’t alone. It was still great to watch.
As for me, I remembered most of the patterns for dressage, but honestly, I’m just not good at running beside a horse, and have no idea how to do some of the requirements I was unaware of. So, bleh. I tried. And he turned right much better!
I did way, way better on the obstacle portion, getting lots of 8 out of 10. Drew trotted, too, though apparently broke gate (started walking) but I had a hard time noticing. I dropped my whip, but still did 3 barrels the harder way. I was proud. I even nicely changed from leading him on the left to the right.
Unfortunately, I totally didn’t do one of the easiest obstacles. I even prepared for it! But people were asking Sara questions as she called the numbers, and skipped it. I got a 0. No one even told me!
I’m not upset about that, though, because stuff like this happens! I just know I’d have gotten a very good score if I’d done that right. As it was, I got a good one. Sigh.
We got to meet some new people at the show, which was fun. We also got to see great improvements in some familiar faces. At least one horse was so calm and compliant and her rider so composed…it was hard to tell they are the same pair!
Every single horse had such kind and caring human partners! Even when mistakes happened, the riders were patient and encouraging to the horses. I was very impressed.
Now for the highlight of the show. The final part is where riders see how quickly they can go through a set of obstacles. There are many ways for this to go horribly wrong. But damn, Saragorn put on a real show. Sara didn’t play it safe, and Aragorn was up for the challenge. They NAILED it both in execution and speed.
There are no photos of this, because I was calling the order of obstacles, but when Sara finished, she urged Aragorn into a canter and took a victory lap, waving gleefully. It was great. Sara said it was a lifelong dream come true. I was so happy for her!
I guess it’s time to dust off my self esteem, which is low for reasons not having to do with my poor horse and his need to learn more. It’s more than the return to the Dark Ages. I’m needing some encouragement and had hoped for some today. Eh. Humanity is hard. Look at these horse pictures.
We are so grateful to Tarrin and her family, the lovely scribe, and everyone else who helped with the small but mighty Summer Sizzler Show. It was hit, but the show started early and got through it!
I’ll treasure my happy moment when I thought Drew and I had done well!
Drew and Aragorn attended a Working Horse Central clinic today with Tarrin. Clinics are always fun because you learn so much from the other students. I’m now glad Apache couldn’t come, because Drew and I learned so much and he was just amazing.
Everything worked out so well! Aragorn was able to canter and do all the new things he was asked to do, even though he’d thrown his therapeutic shoe. I was very proud of him and Sara.
We lucked out and the weather was cool-ish and cloudy for the first two groups in the clinic. We missed most of the first group due to not wanting to leave that early, but we did get to chat with people we’d met before, plus got to meet interesting new folks.
I really enjoyed the second group, because they were doing things I’d never done before, and I could watch and learn from them. They did backing up zig zags, which I now think I could do, walking over a tire, which some horses did NOT like. Both gave me a good insight into how to gently teach new skills. Every single horse made it over the scary tire! Here are some photos of the cool people and their horses in the second group.
Our group was me, Sara, and the woman with the gray Arabian mare we’d met before. By that time, the sun was out, so I was glad for my fancy sun shirt. I was worried that there wouldn’t be much Drew could do in hand. Was I ever wrong!
First we practiced our dressage stuff, and I learned a better way to back him straight, plus we did our circles great. Ha! He got annoyed at me for keeping him out of my space and tried to nip back. That got shut down. I think our next show will me much better.
Then we did obstacles, most of which we’d never tried. That was so much fun. The zig zag backing up was cool because I was supposed to do it from outside the obstacle. We figured it out!
There was a jump, which I had to do from outside the jump, then at a canter. He did so well. We both were confident. I smiled and smiled. And I got Drew to do a zig zag side pass without using a dressage whip to guide him. He turned on the forehand! He turned the other way. He got applause. It wasn’t great but he DID it.
The best one, though, was the dreaded tractor tire filled with sand, which they had to approach straight and then go through. I was surprised that it was so hard for the horse and rider pairs but learned so much watching them work through it. Patience worked! Even horses who were spooked by it got through.
As for Drew, I’d already walked him over it twice when we were warming up, so Tarrin said I had to do it on the long rope. To my surprise, he went over it repeatedly at a trot in both directions with me just directing him a bit. Everyone praised my rope handling and how I followed him. Holy cow! I’ve really gotten better with all that practice. I used to be so bad at this! I was so proud of both him and me. We are becoming a real team. Drew really seemed to have fun. What a guy.
After the clinic I got to watch Tarrin make a new hoof treatment device for Aragorn. It is very complicated and involves flames, mixing glue compound, molding, and hotness. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but Aragorn seemed happy. He really liked a cushion thing he was putting his feet on. It looked very comfy.
We were tired people and horses when we got home, but so happy. I had two wonderful horse days in a row. Wooo.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
Woo I’m tired, but I know who’s more tired. This guy:
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.
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.
Sara and Aragorn did a great job on all the obstacles and learned how to fix any missteps.
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.
Here’s a cool horse. He was so shiny and was so sweet, and had been abused, but you’d never know it.
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.
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.