Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Another Note About Bits

While briefly surfing the tack room for bits, I found this one
The exact same one I posted in the comments yesterday as one I may be interested in. So Im planning on leaving a note to the owner asking if I can borrow it for a few rides when Milo is ready, to get an idea of its a bit I would like to buy.

I had asked my BO who owned the bit, and than she also offered me usage of her bit too. I cant find a picture to do justice, but its about a five inch shank with an almost square low port, and very mobile, if that makes sense. I think however, that a more fixed mouthpiece will work better for Milo, although Im not positive about that, I just need to try a few out.

Thanks to everyone for all the opinions and comments about bitting Milo. I will shut up about bits now for a while. :)

Self Confessions

I had one of those rides yesterday. The type that embarrasses me as a rider. I was nitpicky and unfair.

Things started out well, working on flexing and bending, warming him up. It seemed that I just could not get my mind to shut up about everything going on in life and let me just ride. I was tense and unrelaxed, than demanded my horse to be relaxed. Obviously it was not working.

Milo really was a good boy and tried very hard for me. It was the type of ride where I kept thinking I need to just find a good place to end and get off, I can not helping anyone by riding like this. But I continued to ride. Even stopped and took a long breath. Tried to focus myself. Than continued to ride.

I for some reason decided that today was the day to work on everything that wasnt 100% and demand perfection. Why? I dont know, because Im a controlling human I guess.

I wasnt thrashing on his mouth or anything by any means, just expecting too much and not giving anything back. Milo really was trying hard for me.

I hope I can make it up to him.

But the great things about horses are that they live in the moment. I got off Milo yesterday and just stroked his face for a while. He shut his eyes and licked his lips. They are amazingly forgiving. I hope I can do better by Milo today. I have to.

Monday, August 30, 2010

More on Bits

While surfing and researching more on a good bit to transition Milo with, a lightbulb suddenly hit me on the physical mechaniques of a snaffle shank.

While in theory, a snaffle shank sounds like a good idea; snaffle to feel the same in the mouth, shank to introduce leverage. Thanks to a comment by Kate, I began thinking about what kind of pressure the bit actually applies to the mouth. A broken mouthpiece means that when pressure from the shank is applied (say, picking up the bit as a rein would), the mouthpice falls downward in the inside, physically breaking the snaffle. This means that pressure would be applied to the tongue from the snaffle. This is a very different feel than what Milo now has in the traditional snaffle; in no way is the snaffle going to give that type of pressure. Wow. So the theory of the snaffle shank really does not play out the way you may think and can actually be more severe than a port or solid mouthpice.

So what would be a good bit than? Maybe I really should try the Myler Level 2 I currently have. It has a curviture to the mouthpiece which is good. But what I see hindering is that the shanks swivel up and down, meaning it would deliver the leverage that a solid shank would. This doesnt seem right either.

Maybe I need a mouthpiece like the Myler, with the shank of something more like the snaffle shank...so I need a combination? Maybe something like this:
While I dont actually like the looks of this bit, the mechanics seems to be a better option for us.

I know Im sounding wishy-washy, but for my thought processes to work I need to think things thoroughly through....

Maybe moving into a bosal is the next option even? That seems that it is the tradition road to a finished bridle horse...and I have ridden in bosals before and quite like it.
More thoughts and opinions welcomed!!
Edit: Alright Ladies, I think I found the bit that should functionally work the best, as well as make me happy about the way it looks (I know riding isnt about fashion, but a girl can want, right?)
Its called the Myler Black Steel Seven Shank MB 02, Size 5". Singing to the tune of $99. Wow. But maybe I could sell the other...or a few other things to get it? Or maybe just maybe Ill get lucky on ebay or craigslist....one can hope. What I can do though, is when Milo is ready put him into the Myler that I have and asses what he thinks again.

A little Bit about Bits

So as Im getting closer to putting Milo (back) into a shank bit, Im researching what exactly may be the best option for him.

About a year and a half ago, I thought Milo was ready to move up into the shank. Unfortunetly, he was not, and we had to go backwards and retrace our steps, making sure each piece in the snaffle was 100% before I wanted to move onto the shank again.

This is the bit I had put him in, the Myler Level 2
What I liked about it was that it has total freedom where the shank meets the mouthpiece, so it can rotate there. Unfortunetly, I think this may have been a problem for Milo. Being as it moves, I think it was confusing him because it wasnt applying leverage like an indirect pressured bit should, it was acting like a wannabe snaffle. He was more hollowed out in it and began to evade it by flipping his head up (back then though, I also didnt understand being round and soft as I do now). It also doesnt have the jointed mouthpiece that Milo is used to. The one think that I still like about it is the length of the shank. But, all in all, I dont think I want to put him back into this bit.

So my bit searching has begun, as I want to find something I think may work before that perfect opportunity to put him into one. Ive been thinking that a shank snaffle will be the best option, keeping the mouthpiece the same but just incorporating leverage now.

I found this little s shanked snaffle from sstack.com and like the design of it.
Its a shorter shanked S than most, which should be good for transitioning him into a leverage bit, and it also has a jointed mouthpiece with copper inlay (which Milo likes). However, the jointed piece doesnt quite look the same as the snaffle that we are working in now. It is designed to be pinch free (or though they advertise). This bit is a good price at $23.95 too.

What kind of leverage/short shanked bit do you use, or which have you found to be most beneficial for that important swich from snaffle to shank? All opinions welcomed.

Next, naturally would be reins. I currently have a set of eight foot split reins that are 5/8" thick. I was using them with the snaffle previously until I got my mecate reins. Since the slobber straps are both not intended for a shank bit and therefore will not fit on one, split reins are necessary. However, I would like to get a set that is 3/4" thick to add a little more weight than the 5/8" that I currently have.

The worst thing about rein shopping online, is that you cant feel the quality of the reins. I like a supple rein that isnt stiff in my hands. Of course, some of that will change after use. What are your favorite set of reins? Who makes them? Why are they your favorite?

And if you have any tips or know any articles for transitioning into the leverage bit, send them my way!

An edit: I had posted on Horse and Rider's Facebook page (my go-to for training advice and articles) about how I was hoping for an article on transitioning from snaffle to shank. Here is their reply:  We have a good tip from Bob Avila on this: Don't even think about making this transition until you can reliably guide and control your horse while riding one-handed in the snaffle, with the reins bridged in that one hand. If the horse doesn't know how to neck rein in the snaffle, and isn't guidable off your leg at the same time, he's not ready for ANY shanked bit.

Really good point. I can probably reliably ride loosley one handed about 90%, where the 10% he forgets about my seat a bit, however I have mostly only ridden one handed during rodeo/drill team practice or at the actual rodeo, where he gets a little hot and excited. I need to evaluate where he actually is at ... while not being at a rodeo. Updates on this later....

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Another Set of Eyes

Yesterday I had the privilege of my boyfriend, Wes, coming out to watch me ride (he was actually going to help me clean the pastures, but got there after I finished, so I put him to work doing something else...). So I asked if he would be able to film me a little bit on schooling Milo, so I could get a better idea of what we look like and what I might be doing to hinder his potential.

This first one is just me working Milo. I noticed right off the bat that I need to scoot forward a hair in the saddle, and sit a lot more upright, Im not doing hunter rounds! I think this will help allow Milo to pick up his shoulders more and will probably aid in even more self carriage. Yes, there are other things I could pick on about my equitation, but Im not going to do any eq classes in the future, so Im only concerned about how I can be more effective in my riding.

I also noticed that Milo looks a lot better than he feels sometimes. For instance, if he pops his head up he feels like hes really high headed and hollowed out, where in reality, he really only looks like he raised his head a bit and maybe only hollowed a little bit. So good boy Milo, Mom is just being really critical! He also is carrying himself a lot more and not relying on me to hold him up (not 100%, but better). You might also notice (or not because I rarely get video posted) that his transitions are doing a lot better (I told you!). He feels great and is engaging his hind end better.

You can also see in this video how I had my trot poles set up and the low cross rail (set up on the barrels). I usually will warm him up on the longe line over these, than also a bit under saddle to remind him to round and pick up his back. I didnt longe him over them yesterday, but did school over them briefly before beginning our work. 

In the next video, Im working on his flying change using the method that Bob Avila had described. I have those two "poles" set up whereby I lope straight up to one, than leg yeild over, and ask for the change. Milo again wasnt getting it initially, he still just doesnt know what the cue means, which is ok because its only the second time working on it. But you can see there at the end that he finally gets it and does it correctly. Mind you, I am working just on that one direction to not confuse him while we go through it, after the video I did go and work it on the other side (he didnt get the lead though, but I did get a simple one out of him). 

The big thing I noticed about this one was how much I was hindering him.Yes, the too far forward in the saddle, but I was also forgetting the very import words from Bob Avila; staying balanced and centered over the horse while asking for the change. I was leaning into the change and was perched forward, probably entirely hindering his physical capability of getting himself balanced to make the change. 

What Im going to take out of these videos is that I need to shape up a bit (lol). I need to remind myself to stay more balanced in the saddle, meaning more upright and centered in the saddle, and no leaning!! I can continue doing what Im doing with Milo because he is doing a great job, I just need to fix myself. 

Now for a little fun. I had been dying to get a couple of conformation shots of Milo this summer before his winter hair grows in and he turns into a yak. So after the ride, I did just that. 
Theres Milo looking very enthused. C'mon Milo, lets get a good one!

OK, better...

Milo is 6 years, 5 months, and three days old in this photo. What a difference from when I got him at 3 years, 3 months, 7 days:

I know he's a bit downhill still, and probably always will be. But I loves him nonetheless, and he can still use that huge butty and thats all I care about! :)

On with more fun...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Something that Makes a Rider/Reader's Day

I had submitted my blog post about Milo's lead change success on Horse and Rider's Facebook page, in hopes to someone knowing how happy I was about the articles and how well they helped me. Turns out, the editor, Julie Thorson, you can view her blog here, sent my blog post to the two trainers I had credited, Bob Avila and Al Dunning, and has also posted a great post on her blog about how my success made her day. I want to save that link forever, so here it is.

Glad to know that opinions, and success story's really are taken to heart by those "big guys" running the show (or magazine in this case). I dont feel so disconnected anymore!

I encourage everyone to check out the Horse and Rider magazine's website; there is a wealth of information there for almost every need.

A Light Bulb Moment...or?

Milo was absolutely fabulous yesterday. We worked in the indoor arena just to change things up a little, and while there was only one lesson going it it still provided enough room to work in the arena. I took some time just warming him up at a walk and jog, and a loose extended trot and he was feeling really good, if maybe just a bit lazy, but he did get a good mental and physical workout the day before.

I worked more on our transitions yesterday, or actually didnt need to work much on them. Milo was so responsive and softly moving into the transition using his hind end to propel forward or down, maintaining a balanced gait and really coming up under the saddle. In using Al Dunning's lead departure technique as described in yesterday's post I got some fantastic lope departures too, and Milo stayed very round and supple through the upward and downward transitions. It was fantastic to ride, and Milo seemed quite content in his work, and pleased to be making Mom so happy.

So what Im wondering is what actually triggered these great transitions? Did Milo just finally have a light bulb moment? Was I asking any differently? I have been trying to show him how to figure out how to position his body on his own to get a good transition and not by me putting his body where it is supposed to be. I think that has probably helped a lot, he is actually using self-carriage. And thirdly, I think that the arena footing may have been a factor. The indoor arena is much more level and less deep than the outdoor, so Milo could have been able to pick up good transitions because he isnt laboring so much in the footing. Either way, Im just happy he seems to have figured out what Mom is asking :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lead Changes

History: about a year or so ago I decided it was about time for Milo to learn his lead changes. Took some time to teach the simple change which he nailed, than thought I would work on his flying lead change. I hadnt trained a horse to do it before, but was always on a horse that already knew. So I knew what it was and basically how to cue for it. To help with it, I put a pole on the ground and would ask for a change over the pole. Worked on it for a little while, but either Milo would miss the change, get confused, or buck into the change. That didnt feel like how I remembered.

Than I went back to lead departures and thought I needed to spend some more time solidifying that cue.

Now its been about a year later and all this time I have skated around working on the flying change mostly because I wasnt sure how to approach it again. But thank goodness for the wealth of information there is on the web and in print. I subscribe to Horse and Rider Magazine and in one edition about two months ago Bob Avila demostrated the importance of straightness in a proper lead change. Check out the article and photos here. Basically, you get up two poles down the center of the arena top to end style about twenty feet apart. The idea is to give you and your horse a visual of being straight before and after the change. Between the two poles, you ask for a leg yeild over than the change. I hadnt thought much more about the article until I saw a more recent article by Al Dunning on getting a proper lead departure here, whereby you lope or trot say a circle, stop, leg yeild away from the direction of your desired lead direction, than once the horse feels balanced and on his "propeling" hind leg, ask for the lead departure. This got me thinking more about how to go about getting Milo ready for a flying lead change again.

So yesterday I went to the barn with these practices in mind, but figured I would only work on the lead change if Milo was really working well and paying attention (no use in trying something new if the horse isnt mentally there anyways). But I also worked on pole work again for warm up to get him thinking about picking up his back and using his hind end, something he would need to be thinking about for a good lead departure and change. I had four poles set up at four feet apart, and I also set up a low cross rail to further help him pick his back up and round. Did great over both on the ground, than I hopped on.

Worked a little on transitions and Milo was great!! Worked over the poles and encouranged more roundness and suppling, than finally loped over the cross rail twice, the second time feeling wonderfully round. I than did a tune up on his lead departures using the technique from Al Dunning, which worked great. It really encouraged Milo to pick up the departure from his hind end, rather than just falling into it, which simultaniously helped him in a better transition too.

Once I felt he was working really well for me, and using his body properly I thought I would take a stab at the flying change, using two poles set up as Bob Avila had described. The first lope through, Milo leg yeilded over well, but didnt get the lead change. Thats ok, lets regroup and try it again. Again, he missed it and again. I finally realized he simply didnt know what my cue was asking. So after the third try and a missed change, I thought I need him to know what Im asking, so I broke him down and asked for a simple change. Did this twice to reinfornce changing the lead. When I went through the poles again, I blanced myself over him, leg yeilded him over slightly, than asked for the change and Voila!! He changed beautifully and correctly, staying balanced and straight all the way through, and lifting himself just long enough to swing his hind end underneath himself and change onto the new lead. I brought him right down to a walk and said "Good Boy!!" so many times I couldnt even count them, patting his neck and praising him over and over. I got off and let him graze a little grass. What a good horse!!

It makes me feel better that I went back and covered my bases on the basics again instead of rushing into a flying change again when he just wasnt prepared enough for it. Now he is at a point where he understands leg aids better and more importantly, what it is to lift his back and really engage his hind end. My little Milo is growing up!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My First Time Administering Shots

Yesterday Milo got his yearly immunizations, and for the first time they were given by me!

My barn owner bought the shots in bulk so all I had to do was pay for them from her, and she showed me how to give the shot. Milo was great, better in fact than he is for Dr Hills-what a momma's boy.

The first one I gave was the three-way, and I got the needle in fine, but when I thought I attached the suringe to it and pushed to get the stuff in, it splattered all out and into my face. So obviously I didnt secure it correctly. I had to buy a second one from the BO. At least I learned!

I got the second one in on the other side fine, and Milo was a real champ. I think part of it was he wasnt expecting Mommy to do something like that to him! I went to try my second attempt at the three-way on the same side as the first, and this time his neck was tense lol. But I got it in fine and so squirting everywhere else.

Than Shannon the BO gave him his strangles up the nose, which I was surprised by just how well Milo took that. I didnt think he would much like it up the nose.

I was rather proud of myself for administering them myself, and saving a good bit of money from not having the vet out. And of course, Im proud of Mr Milo for being such a good sport, even if he endured one more needle from Mom's goof.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So Nice to be on Cows Again

Yesterday evening Chimicum Tack and Saddlery held another one of its cow sorting events (they try and hold these every other week). This time Wes' and my shedules finally matched up-no fishing or anything else to block being able to do this event. While it was basically for schooling, no jackpot, it was still absolutely fun and great for both Milo and I get get back on cows.

The first two rounds Milo was a little rusty, which I wasnt surprised about because he hasnt been on cows in January. But after a little warm up, he got back into the swing of it. We helped a friend Ashley learn the ropes a few rounds, so it was a good opportunity to school Milo on the cows as well, he gets a little too excited sometimes and forgets how to listen.

But because Milo is so great, he got his game back on and we got a few nice rounds of schooling in.

It was interesting to work these cows. As you may be able to see there are rather large ones than smaller ones. Milo and I had only worked smaller steer before, but the size didnt really make a difference....these cows could be really stubborn. #4 for instance just would not cooperate, and #5 liked to sneak in behind me. But it was really good actually because it allows us to improve our skills and Milo had to get a little more aggressive with our tactics. 

"But MOOOOM, I wanna keep chasing it!!!"
"Milo, FOCUS."
"Oh, alright. Like this?"

"Yes Milo, like that. Goooood Boy!"

"See Mom, did you see that? I got TWO in at once! #4 and #5"

A friend I met at the January clinic, Donna and her horse Cash did the final two runs with us. Getting down and serious made for a fantastic finishing ride at 43 seconds I believe. 

All in all, it was a great night. And definitely one I will attend again before their season ends in October. And while Chimicum isnt as close as I would like, its only about a thirty minute ride, and at only $25 for neary unlimited gos, definitely a good deal. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Exercise is Good, Right?

I did my Friday pasture cleaning today, but did more than just the usual. I cleaned ever inch of the pastures, catching up on areas that I had been skipping due to the heat. But I felt really good about thoroughly getting all caught up.

There is a new mare out in the pasture too, and she may be going up to a closer pasture/stall with Milo first of September when he moves up. So to see how they would get along, I put Milo out with her while I cleaned. Oh man, she does NOT like Milo in the slightest. Double barrel kicking at him, squealing, chasing him thoroughly throughout the pasture, exiling him to the corner. My goodness. Milo was a bit confused as to why she doesnt like him so much. I blame it on her hormones. Crazy pregnant mare lol.

While he was still out in the pasture with her, Wendy came down to feed everyone. Naturally, Milo tried to go into one of the two stalls and wait for grain (although he wasnt going to get any because it isnt his pasture and he was only going to be moved back to the other one with Jake), oh boy, Miss Prego Mare was not having any of that and exiled him to the far corner of the pasture again. I had about 2 wheelbarrows left of manure to pick up before I was going to move him back to his pasture, and ultimately his grain, and he stood at the fenceline next to me just begging to get out of the pasture.

When I finished, I figured he would probably meet me at the gate like he usually does, and Ill just easily put him away and leave for the evening. Well, surprisingly, Milo had other ideas. So I had to work him in the pasture, aka chase him until he was respectful and listening to me again. Which got Miss Prego riled up too (naturally). I did after about 5 minutes get Milo to quietly follow me all the way back over to the gate where I haltered him than longed him briefly to show him whose who again, than led him back to his pasture.

I expect Milo (or any horse really) to stand patiently next to me while I fiddle and mess with taking the halter off, or say putting a fly mask back on. Typically, Milo is great about this. Today, Milo was just offended by the fact that he didnt get his grain when everyone else did. I took the halter off, and while getting the velcro undone and ready to put on him, he nonchalantly started to walk away to the stall. Hell no dude! So a chase around that pasture was in order as well. He finally gave up and walked to me and stood patiently for me to put the mask on. I than told him he was done.

I figured, well what the heck. I need to work on him more on feeding manners and while Im already in here....so I grabbed his grain bucket and a lead rope and went to feed. Typical Milo, trying to barge his way into the stall. But after only a few threats with the lead rope swinging at him, he stood quietly after I dumped the grain in his bucket and stood at the entry to the stall. And to clarify that he does NOT point his butt at me (as he did a few times during chasing) I asked him to disengage his hind away from me a few steps and continue standing quietly a few feet away from me and the stall. He did so very well. So he got a nice pat on his face and neck and a "good boy" and as I walked away, he very calmly entered his stall and enjoyed his grub.

I may not have ridden today, but it was very successful in a few different ways.

Tomorrow: COW SORTING!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Continueing on transitions

As mentioned (but as a refresher here it is again) this is the current sequence for transitioning with Milo:

Supple and round, ask for a transition (up or down), Milo hollows out, transition (up or down), put Milo back into frame.

The goal:

Supple and round, ask for transition (up or down), engage hindquarters to change continueing roundness, continue at new gait.

Doesnt seem to complicated, huh? Milo is getting confused.

To be supple, engaging the hindquarters and lifting his back, I ask Milo with a squeaze from my calves, when he come up into frame, I hold him with my hands (here is a problem tied to another issue-Milo balancing on my hands), than say, ask for a transtion to a trot whereby I "scoot" with my seat, squeaze with leg and cluck if necessay. Here is Milo's confusion, differenciating between a squeaze for collection or a squeaze for forward motion.

But how do I change what we know? My thoughts, are maybe, establish collection with my hands than when moving forward and soft, ask lightly with a spur bump to raise him belly and drive from the hind end, and save the "squeazing" aid for forward motion. And, maybe, this will help him to balance himself instead of me holding him up.

Another thought: for transitions ask for the transition over a pole, thereby raising his back into the new change.

I had a friend advise to use a german martingale to aid as a type of "barrier" whereby he physically cannot raise his head up in a transition. My concern is not having ever ridden in one, I dont want to "mess anything up" by not being knowldgeable with one.

Sorry for the scatterbrained post, kudos to you if you followed! I just feel like we are so close to being near solid in the snaffle, he moves great with it and is really coming along. I want to get the transitions fully solid before moving on.

Friday, August 13, 2010

.45 Single Action Revolvers

As Ive mentioned, I want to get more involved in Cowboy Mounted Shooting [Association] (CMSA). Im planning on really getting on the bandwagon next summer when our local events start back up. Which means practicing this winter, and even before that, gearing up.

A little histroy...
Of course you can read up all you want about the CMSA at their official website herebut heres a brief synopsis. CMS combines the thrills and precision of barrel racing while shooting two .45 single action revolvers at specific targets on different patterns. Basically, you get a specific pattern (from about 50 available) of balloons on cones and you weave through them all at the set pattern and shoot blanks at the balloons (at high speed of course - this is a timed event). At one point in the pattern, you must holster you first gun, and retrieve your second.

Might I add the single action aspect to the gun. Single action means you need to pull the hammer (or spur) back each time before you fire. So you can imagine, some good handwork is involved amungst all of the running, aiming, and holstering.

So Milo and I attended a CMSA clinic last summer, and Milo did very well with shooting off of his back. I am unable to attend this years clinic (held tomorrow) but am very excited about getting involved again at the soonest I can.

So, the goal is to get all my gear squared away in the coming months, and have the winter to practice before any competitions next summer. Ive already gotten my chink order squared away, and am waiting for a quote and specific information from the guy making them for me (same guy who made my custom Thunderbird Chaps). Now, Im looking into a larger purchase: the firearms.

The guns are .45 single action revolvers. Colts are a popular choice. Ruger I have heard is a big favorite right now, as they are the first to come out with a model designed specifically for CMS. Now, the search for the guns begins. And the saving up for the set starts...They average about a grand per gun. However, Im thinking I can find a decent starter set for about 300. That will most likely be the route I take.

So, updates to come as things are happening. Thought I would inform everyone though of the plans. :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Transition Work

So like mentioned in the last post, some attention to transition work has been needed. So I worked on exactly that yesterday with Milo. Like mentioned, his issue has been hollowing out and tensing into the transition up or down, and what my goal is is to have him using his rear and reaching underneath for a balanced and relaced transition. And I got (almost) exactly that after after 15 minutes of concentrated transition work yesterday. And (suprise suprise) his lope was entirely much more relaxed and cadenced when he departed into it balanced and reaching. It was a great feeling.

Downward transitions are a little more of an issue. Milo tends to recognize a weight shift downward in the saddle as requiring a hard stop (aka beginning of a slide), in which he does give a nice balanced stop. However this isnt the case in a downward transition not requiring a solid stop, where he istead throws his head up and questions what exactly he needs to do. Again, should just come in time.

After more solidity in our transition work, I will incorporate the pole work again. I can work on it a bit still, but I think that transitoning through poles will be a great exercise. Im thinking of a few exercises in particular that I will incorporate including the "spiral"

Along with some of the more common "straight" patterns

which will work great for the transitioning aspect.

Milo will have a break today, and should get worked again on Friday. My mind keeps running with new ideas and training goals!

If you have time, check out this article on imporving Core Strength and Felxibility, more things Im trying to acheive with Milo.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Relaxation starts with the Rider

Rode Milo yesterday but ditched the reverse wedge cashel and just used my wool blanket, just to get an idea of what the wedge was effecting/causing. Well, Milo still got a dry spot, but I know it isnt a poor fitting saddle because it fits him great everywhere on his back when we put it on him and it fits and feels great. He is a little holow right behind his withers still, which Im working on, and that is there the dry spots are. So I think that the saddle just isnt sitting closely enough on his back there. So the pad I am thinking about buying than is this one here:

Its the Professionals Choice SMx OrthoSport Pad, where there is a bit more padding right where Milo will need it. Its $179.95 and through my selling of old english items I never used, and a little bit of bithday money, Im only about $30 away right now (not including shipping). So hopefully I can get it pretty soon.

In riding news, Milo was great yesterday, particularly at the lope. He was very fluid and relaxed his good direction of course, really rounding himself and reaching from behind. He started out stiff to his bad side (left track) but eventually relaxed for brief moments on the straight, and would tense on the corners again. So I brought him into the center and loped a few circles until he was balanced and round again, than went back onto the larger track and he was relaxed and round through both the straight and corner. It was a great feeling.

I did notice he is still holding tension in his left jaw. Ive been working on it more through flexing exercises under saddle at a stand still, walk, jog, and minimally at the lope. Hes also still heavier to my left leg. Today I think I will ride him bareback because the issue could be me throwing undue weight to the left again, which last time I only noticed myself doing when bareback. So I think part of his tension on the left is due to me.

Another thing I have been telling myself to be working on and then just kind of skimming over is transitions. We need more work on transitions. He hollows and tenses into almost every transition up or down (unless its a hard whoa). So I worked on that a bit with him yesterday too. Its just going to take more and more focused work on it. The goal is to get him to be balanced and round engaging his hind end before I ask for the transistion, and than for him to utilize his rear to step right into the forward transition (or downward). Not for him to be round, me ask for the change, him tense, picks up the new pace, still tense, me put him back into frame. He needs to go from frame at one pace right into consistent frame into the next. Hope that makes sense. If not, at least I know what Im looking for :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Its Official: Im in the Market

For a new saddle pad. Ive tried working with the one(s) that I have and they keep leaving dry spots on Milo behind his shoulders. And I know its not the saddle because when I have tried other pads (like my friend's Professional's Choice) the sweat marks are as they should be. The Cashel pad(s) that I have arent working, the one that I mainly use is the Reverse Wedge, so it tapers to 1.5" on the front and 1" to the back. Its solid neoprene which I liked the idea of, but it traps the heat so bad it just wasnt working. I also have a straight Cashel pad (no taper) that isnt working well on him either. So, in the meantime, I think I will just use the about 1" wool pad I have (I was using it over the Cashel pad) until I can find/afford a Professional's Choice. Anyone selling or in the market? :)

In other news, I got to ride Milo for the first time in about two weeks today. It was great. Milo was frisky and it was raining, and we rode in the indoor arena. He was really good considering he was a bundle of energy. And strangely, he was very relaxed and fluid loping to the left, which is usually his bad side. He was even snorting with each stride.

I did think that he was a little stiff/sore on his hind end. He didnt feel to be favoring one leg over another, but he did feel just off. I think it could be the dramatic change in weather he just had in the last day and a half. It dropped from sunny skies in the 80s to rain in the 60s. So that could have effected something.

Lastly, Im not sure I will be able to go to the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Clinic next weekend on the 14th. Wes is going fishing since its the last week that King Salmon are open, therefore he will be taking the towing truck with him, leaving me high and dry to try and find a ride. I dont know of anyone that was planning on going however. So that really bums be out considering there wont be another clinic held until next summer, and I was hoping by next summer we could attend a few local competitions. But maybe I can just spend the rest of the summer going to cow sortings and hopefully the cattle shows at the Tacoma Unit this winter. Cross my fingers.

Friday, August 6, 2010

It Blew!

We got back from our fishing trip on Wednesday evening, but I wasnt able to see Milo until last night. And, surprise, Milo wasnt lame!! Upon examination, it looks like the Apple Cider Vinegar did the trick after 5 soakings from a wonderful friend, Heather, and the abscess blew out his heel bulb, the same location that before I left I had noticed was the only tenderness I could find.

So thank God it really was only an abscess, and fortunetly, it blew out nicely. I packed it and wrapped yesterday, and when I took the EZ Boot off today everything looked great and Milo sure seemed to be feeling good.

Tomorrow I think I may hop on him for a brief ride. I havent ridden since we took him to the beach almost two weeks ago, cant wait to get in the saddle again. :)