Friday, September 16, 2011

Chilly Temps and First Rides

The other night I told Ranch Boy I wanted him to take some photos of Loretta and I.

Well, there was something in the air that happens this time of year. I was going to ride her, but there was a cold wind picking up and it was getting late (and close to feeding time) so I bagged that idea.

I got out Loretta. She was wired. My Boy galloped and bucked around the corral as I led her to the hitching area. Loretta was a little spooky and not listening to me and walking all over me. Thank goodness I had decided not to ride. The weather completely changed that night, super cold and overcast. I think horses are great barometers for telling you when a storm is coming!

I groomed her and took her into the arena to do some work on the 14 ft. line. Right off the bat she leaped up into the air and started loping in a small circle. Luckily I was able to hold her, my new Buck Brannaman rope halter is awesome and just has great control on her head. We worked on circles both directions, whoa, and facing up.  Finally she got some of her sails down and I took her out to the big field for the photos.

We were losing daylight fast. I love the late afternoon sunlight before sunset for photography.

I have ridden Loretta two times since I've had her. She is doing so well. I am really thinking about things while I ride her (but trying not to overthink!)

This is what she is good at:

1. Whoa. She has a great stop. I am working on sitting down and asking with my seat before I even use my voice or reins. After we whoa, we usually back a few steps. She is back slowly but softly and is not raising her head when backing.

I think it is important that when you ask your horse to whoa, that you sit on them and wait a bit after they've stopped. Too many people say "whoa" then walk right off. I want a horse to relax, think, rest. Whoa means whoa, not pause. Try timing it. It feels like forever to even who and wait for 30 seconds. I usually stroke her neck or rub her hind at this point.

2. Move off leg. She is super sensitive to leg. Her previous ower rode with spurs. I have not been since she has been mine. I may start doing so at the walk and trot but won't at the lope because I don't trust that I am holding my legs still enough with spurs!  I am working on "opening" the leg of the direction I want her to move. For example, if we are moving to the right, I want to apply my left leg and slight lift my right with a slight shift in my body, opening that direction for her to move.

3. Reining. She is learning to rein and "steers" fairly well. I am practicing a lesson from Ken McNabb on collection. I am trying to ride with loose reins whenever possible. I want her to stay soft in the mouth.

4. Groundwork. She is learning to back at slight pressure on the leadline. She will drop her head when I press on her poll/nose. From the ground, I am getting her to pivot away from me to the right by holding up my leadline and stick (this is practice for moving her shoulder.) Going to the left was a different story~ very sticky feet!

Goals:  What I want to do with Loretta~

1. When on the line, she will whoa, but often won't turn all the way in towards me, or turns in and starts walking in to me.
2. Trotting straight lines. We are a little all over the arena at times. I am not worried about this now, I just want her to trot out comfortably, on a loose rein!
3. Speed. Right now she has multiple speeds. Fast trot, slow trot, surging, breaking into a walk. I am not expecting consistency. The most important thing to me is that she trots off when I ask. If we trot long enough she'll start to slow down.
4. Hooves. She lifts them well for cleaning (back ones are harder.) She has only had farrier work twice.
5. Spraying with hose. I sprayed her hooves the other day and she danced a little. Needs more practice.
6. She is getting much better with being sprayed with fly spray!
7. Loading. She has been trailered a handful of times but this will need work, she does not hop right in and usually needs some encouragement or another horse to go in first.

It is funny how you take for granted how good your ole 17 year-old been-there-done-that Appaloosa is! A youngster is in such a different place, especially a horse that came into her previous owner's hands with little exposure to things. I think this little mare is a quick learner. She has had a great foundation from her previous owner. I am not riding her for long periods of time in the arena. We are doing some groundwork, then about 20-25 minutes of riding. I do not want to sour her or bore her. I praise her when she does well (she soaks up a gentle voice and rubbing.) We end on a good note then we go for a nice walk after she's untacked and groomed, maybe graze on some grass.

Winter is around the corner and I do not have a covered arena to work her in so we will go backwards a bit until next spring. I am hoping to at least continue good groundwork this winter and saddle her so she doesn't forget the feel of a saddle on her back! I am not in a rush.

I am trying to slow down. Everything I do with her is slowwww. We groom slow and relaxed. I bridle and unbridle her as gently as i can. I think it is easy to create anxiety in young horses but being rushed and bumping teeth with the bit or jerking the bridle over their ears. It is good for me to slow down. I can get anxious or in a hurry. I have to make a conscious effort to think about what I am doing.

When I hop on My Boy, I know what I am getting. I have been riding him for 4 years. I know he isn't going to suddenly bolt or decide "I am done with this saddle and rider thing" and buck me off. With Loretta, she has only been ridden for about two months in her life!  In the scheme of miles and time, she is very green. We will have to learn to trust each other! We will be doing a little growing together. It has been a long time since I have had a green horse and I am not a trainer. I have resources should I need help. I am excited about the journey we are embarking on!

Ranch Girl


dusty devoe said...

She is sire a beaty. Ranch boy is pretty darn good with the camera!!!

Cousin B said...

You two look good together...I didn't realize she was so green! Only ridden for two months? But, I know you'll have that bond you want soon. BTW, I'm loving my necklace!

Sares said...

Sounds like the teacher has a new job! I am sure you will have some frustrations and lots of fun along the way!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Those are some beautiful photos of you and your girl. Loretta is gorgeous....and so are you.

Sounds like you are teaching Loretta well, and she is teaching you, too. :)


cowgirljlynn said...

I have alot of faith in you and sounds like you and her will become a perfect partnership.

Reddunappy said...

Great pics! Working with green ones can be a little nerve wracking!! It is fun though. My last one is now 11! sheesh time flies!!!LOL

Paint Girl said...

I love the pictures. She is such a beautiful girl! I think you will do great things with her. Just don't forget that after a few steps forward, there are always steps that go backwards. (Not being negative! Just sayin'!) I can't wait to come over there next summer and ride with you guys! I miss my riding partner!!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

That last photo is awesome! Ranch Boy has real photography talent.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Sounds like Loretta is going to be a super learning experience. Both of you are beautiful. Ranch Boy is a good photographer. Did you teach him or was he already 'trained'? ;-)

Laura said...

I have a post in draft form that is so similar to this! New horse, learning what buttons to push, very different from the old steady horse...etc... :-)

I love the pics - especially the last one!

I'm sure you'll make some good progress with this new horse!

C-ingspots said...

Sounds like you're on the right path and are doing everything right. It can be easy for me to get in a rush also, and I have to consciously remember to relax, breathe and slow down. But it sure makes a difference when I do. I'm glad you're using techniques from different teachers too. There's a wealth of wonderful people to learn from out there. I bet you'd like Mark Raschid (spelling ?) as well. And...if you get the chance sometime to go to a Joe Wolter clinic, please do so!! I cannot recommend this guy highly enough! He's amazing, but so is Buck. Remember to have fun. Your Loretta's a pretty little thing...I've always loved roans. Beautiful shots of the two of you!! You look happy.

Tracey said...

I just can't help but notice the LACK of a BRAND on that mare. Well, grudgingly I will admit she may be just a little bit pretty, even without it :-)