Sunday, November 14, 2010


Sundays are usually a day of cleaning the house, getting necessary chores done, and spending some quality time with the Boyfriend. Well, Boyfriend has been in Idaho hunting since last Saturday so needless to say its been a little lonely around here this past week. But I did get some of the regular Sunday rituals done today. I cleaned a badly needed house; mine - and now I feel so much better coming back home to a clean abode!

Since I dont think I will be using Milo for the drill team, a fellow Cowgirl offered hers to me - but she needs some work. After a few weeks of meaning-to-come-out-and-work-with-mare, today was a good day to do it. I had nothing better to do being that the house was clean by 10am and with Boyfriend gone left bored me at home. Not to mention it was a clear(ish) day (meaning not raining). The mare, Doll, is just down the road from where Milo is boarded (how convenient!) so I decided since I would be in the area some much needed Milo-time would be in order.

I got to Milo at about a quarter after 11 and being that it was a Sunday there were no lessons going on (score!) I had the whole place exclusively to myself (except for Edgar, the weekend cleaner). Taking full advantage of this rare opportunity, I set some poles up in the indoor and turned on the country station over the speakers. I started Milo on the poles and he worked very well. I than hopped on (with my pink bareback pad - while I feel like I could be working completely bare right now, I feel like the pad offers some more support for Milo than just my butt directly on his back, so I will continue to use the pad) and Milo worked very very well. I was a very proud Mom indeed. He just went right to work, holding himself (effortlessly on my part) correctly and driving under himself. We got to work on circles, large and small, use the rail when we pleased and even go over the poles I had set down the center. Milo was moving beautifully.

I pushed him into a lope and he lifted his shoulders like he never has before for the lope departure. He rocked right back onto his hocks, lifted his back and shoulders and very strongly (but smoothly) picked up his left lead lope. It was cool! And so correct and effortless! I got to lope a circle at either end, move onto the rail than back into a circle (can you tell I was ecstatic about being able to go where I wanted when I wanted?). I thought that today could have been  good day to work on our lead changes being that had total access to the arena, but he just didnt feel quite up to that. While he was moving great, I guess I just didnt feel like pushing something that could hinder our beautiful ride.

When I asked for a right lead departure from the walk, he pinned his ears flat back, picked up the lead fine but kept his ears flat back for a few circles. Hmmm. We was working well however bulging his shoulder to the outside. I brought him back to the trot and corrected the shoulder, than asked for the lope again. Again he flattened his ears but picked up the lope. This time they remained flat for only about half a circle than they went relaxed and bounced rhythmically. I than remembered that when I asked for the right lope on the longe line it took two attempts for him to pick up the right lead, he picked up the counter lead first twice. I wonder if something is going on again with his rib? He seems to be moving very effortlessly in all other aspects and is really using his body well. Maybe with the rib in place now we just have to get the muscles used to moving a little differently? I wont get too concerned now however, Ill give him a little more time to see if its something he just needs to be worked out of.

All in all it was a great ride. Not too long, but productive and fun. I felt so connected to him and we seemed to be working in sync together. Just one of those great rides that just stands out to you.

Than it was time to work with Doll. I brought my Crates saddle out and my headstall. Shes a cute mare. Still pretty green in that she doesnt know very many buttons. Her topline is weak and her throatlatch is thick - I later concluded shes developed a lot of muscle there from bracing against the bit. She also held a lot of tension right above her shoulders - a similar spot to where Milo holds his, although his buldged muscle there is reducing everyday. Fortunetly for me, Doll's owner has a similar mindset to how to ask and ride horses as well as aspects on the ground. This made things easier to work with her on the ground. I was concerned I would have to teach her everything I do on the ground via the longe. But I was pleasantly surprised. While everyone will ask a little differently I was able to work with her well.

When I got on I just worked on suppling her face. She is very heavy on her mouth. She also is very one-sided. She is stiff and braces on her right side. She will need a lot of suppling work. She also has next to no back. We worked on this - but I had also noticed she has nearly no back on the ground either. Just something else to stay consistent with. I had taken my spurs off my the guidance of her owner, that she has a lot of go. That she does, but just when she feels like it. I eventually put my spurs back on as she has no lateral aids. She responds fairly well to outside leg pressure, but gave me nothing for inside. Funny enough, she sure seemed to know what I was asking once my spurs were on. I think she was just messing with me. Shes very much the mindset that "I will do what I want when I feel like it". Not mean or sassy, just a bit stubborn. But very smart. Within a short amount of time I got her to move off my leg and hold a fairly decent circle. She also is the type of horse that easily gets "stuck". I discovered this first on the ground but it was very evident undersaddle - especially when I asked her to disengage her hind. If she doesnt know she doesnt try. She will just stand solid and ignore your aid. I can tell this mare will need a lot of control over her feet before I even consider riding on the drill team with her.

But we were making progress. Than we briefly introduced her to the flag, which is didnt care much about (sweet!) than went for a short trail ride. We got to work on a lot of backing on the trail. She doesnt rush, but she likes to set her own pace and take the front. Oh she also relys entirely on her face for direction. No seat and no leg. A stop is all on the reins, which not only is bad in the sense that you shouldnt ride off of their face, but she already has bracing and backing issues, stopping on her mouth only encourages her to raise her head and nose up and out and brace on the bit.

She will need time. But we have time. She has a good mind and I think could do well on the team. Doll's rider (owner's husband) wants to take some lessons on her with Max Salisbury - the same ole cowboy whose clinic I attended last January, and also took a lesson with. Max will help them get her buttons in place and supple up her face. That will help a lot too if there is a lot of consistency between all of the people who ride her (myself making three: owner, owner's husband, and me).

And on a final note, the offer of working off partial board with Diamond Hill Ranch has been withdrawn. So no-go on being able to move Milo out there, which is a huge bummer because the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go. But oh well. Its just too bad I got so excited for it to then not be able to be made into reality.

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