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!