Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Magic Moments

Just to get it out there for those who are curious:  Yes, I bought a trailer, yes it is awesome, and yes I will have photos once I'm out there when it's not dark out!  It is a two horse slant load with dressing room.  Looks like a stock trailer from the outside, is all horse trailer on the inside. 

Now back to our scheduled programming. 

On our first solo trip to the arena, I had the good fortune of being able to ride by myself.  Usually when I'm at the arena I'm riding with another friend (since I had to bum a ride off of them) or was evaluating Celtic to see if we clicked well or not.  Well tonight was something completely different and I am glad I decided to not ride.  With Dillon (May 2000-October 2011) I would loose lunge him.  It was a great way to see his movement, look for any stutter steps, stiffness, plus it was a LOT of fun.  To be able to communicate with this animal even when not touching it, it has the choice to ignore you completely, but chooses to listen and come into a relationship with you, it is... well, super cool. 

Celt isn't in any type of shape, so it was really just a chance to see if she knows how to loose lunge, how she'd react, and how she really moves.  I noticed that she still doesn't have "waaaaaaalk oooon" instilled in her, but overall her voice/body commands are fairly good!  She has some pretty significant stiffness in her right hip/stifle, but nothing that some massage and msg won't cure. 

Now onto the very super awesome cool moment.  After lunging her for about 15-20 minutes, I asked her to halt, and to come forward. She took a couple steps, then stopped, waiting.  So I went up to her (walking in slow arcs) and the moment I got to her, she dropped her head and followed like it was nothing.  Not a word was said, no click, no kiss, nothing.  That feeling when your horse follows you willingly through choice, no ropes, no words... it's pretty awesome.  I know to some it may seem small or simple, but for this horse and this horsewoman, it's special.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Let the games begin: Trailer shopping

Now that we have the truck, I've been combing online advertisements for used two-horse trailers.  Of course, with this purchase going on, I'm trying to find that balance between what I want, what I can pay for, and what is safe to use with Celtic.  Since Celt is fairly tall, and is going to grow even further, I'm looking for a warmblood-sized trailer, at least 7' ceiling.  For now, width isn't that big of an issue since she'll be the only one I'm hauling for the time being, plus I'd like to get a slant load anyways (which of course means scarcer and more expensive).  Would prefer a tack compartment/dressing room, but not a necessity. 

So, here's the criteria:
- Big enough for Celtic (7' tall)
- Slant load
- Two horse
- Tack storage area

Doesn't seem like that big of a list, does it?  Of course, I want something that is road worthy, not too much rust, etc.  The issue for me up here is that most trailers in my price range are straight loads, with a ceiling of 6'6" and are in pretty rough shape.  Now when I started this hunt, I found a trailer that was near to perfect!  Slant load, newer model, in my price range, dressing room, etc.  Of course, finding this made me think "hmm, some things are too good to be true...".  I contacted the seller, and things just seemed... fishy.  After a few questions and independent research, I discovered it was a scam.  The exact same add was found for every major city in Canada.  I reported the ad to the website hosting it, and left it at that. 

Today I'm going to check out a trailer that is just down the street.  It is EXACTLY what I want, but the seller is asking a price that is MUCH too high.  We shall see...

Keep busy and warm through these winter days!  Will hopefully have an update (with photos) come tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

We Interrupt Our Regular Broadcasting...

I was just told that my videos aren't working on the blog!  My apologies :)

Hopefully what I've done has fixed the problem. 


Monday, 16 January 2012

The Weatherman said WHAT?!?!?!

Since the SO and I have moved up north, we have been fairly fortunate in not experiencing the 'true north winter' temperatures we were dreading.  Sadly, our good luck has worn out and we are now in the middle of a week long cold snap going down to -40.


Yup, you read that right, -40. 

Doesn't matter if it's farenheit or celsius.  Now, I've gone out in some cold weather on the east coast, but there is nothing quite like taking your first breath of air outside and feeling all the hairs in your nose freeze and fuse together at the same time.  Along with that lovely sensation comes the tearing eyes because (of course!) it's windy.  This leads to frozen tears on your face.  So, after being outside for a total of, let's say, 100 seconds, you have:

a) Frozen nostrils which results in..
b) Trouble breathing
c) Teary eyes
d) Bleary vision
and the all important
e) Ice frozen to your face

Of course with these temperatures in mind, thoughts running through my mind are: "Does Celt have water, is she going to be warm enough, what if the other horses run her out of the shelter, what if..."

When I read these stories of -10, I am green with envy!  Luckily, this cold snap should be warming up come next week, so we should be back on track for riding then.

Oh!  In other news, we are now the official owners of a brand new (to us) Dodge Ram.  Now to find something to tow behind it...

I will hopefully have some more horse-related musings next time since we are hoping to get to the arena as long as it's warm enough (please?!).    I hope everyone is having an alright winter and sticking it out wherever you may be!  Spring is just around the corner (I keep telling myself) and then we're off to the races.

Happy Trails!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Another enlightening ride!

Took the girl to the indoor arena today.  Did a different warm-up with starting walk and trot on a nice loose rein, then getting down to business after about 5 minutes of loose contact.  She seemed to be happier and more relaxed, tracking up more and not "trotting in a teacup".  Did some great work over poles!  Every time we turned down center line heading towards the poles she zeroed in and understood "this is my job, go over the poles without hitting them".  It was great, made me smile to realize she has that knuckle down work attitude. 

After a little break after our trot work we went on to do some canter, and that was where the fun began.  I know as a fact that she hasn't had much canter work done so it's always a little hit or miss with our leads.  Her canter to the left is very pushing upwards, almost like a rabbit, jumping instead of cantering.  To the right she does settle down and canter rather nicely once you have her balanced.  Also, when we started to do the canter work, that is all she had going on in her mind, just one giant word "CANTER!!". 

Our next ride, I'm going to do an exercise that I did quite a bit on my old horse Dillon - transitions on the 20m circle.  A transition is made on every quarter of the circle, but not necessarily at the same point nor necessarily the same type of transition.  It can be a one step or two step transition, doesn't matter as long as it is done balanced and no anticipation from either horse or rider.  It'll be an interesting exercise for both of us!  I did a bit of it today, and it seemed to settle her down a bit. 

Another point that we need to work on that I think will help everything is to really get her relaxed and forward into contact.  I'm not quite sure how to achieve this relaxation, but am willing to hear some ideas!!

Does anyone have an idea how to help a horse relax and stretch down? 

Friday, 6 January 2012

Walking...?! in a Winter Wonderland!

Today I took my girl out for our first hack.  The weather was lovely, could have been warmer (of course... dratted winter...) but all in all the sun was shining, the footing was not icy, and there was no real breeze blowing at all.  I haven't seen her since before the holidays so I was most excited to get out and ride.  Sadly, in all the excitement, I didn't grab the camera out.  Maybe next time! 

I bring her out and thank goodness, she has grown a thicker winter coat.  Before she looked like a gal who just barely had any type of fuzz going on which had me rather worried since we get down to -40 for weeks at a time up here.  Barely there winter coat has now turned into woolly winter coat which is great!  Of course I'll have to take extra care cooling her out, but other wise I'm a happy camper. 

The ride was a good time, she was rather up and wasn't happy about having to walk, but after getting some nice trots in she settled down.  What I've found with Celtic is that she likes to cheat a bit when she trots, running on her forehand and getting into almost a daisy cutter trot.  What we're working on is steady trots, plenty of half halts and using my body from me, and tracking up and using the hindquarters from her.  We covered about 6 km today which I think was a bit much, but she just wanted to go, Go, GO!  On the coolout home she had a great free walk going with a great swing through her back, on the buckle, not raring to trot or go faster home which made the ride even sweeter :)

Our next ride we'll be going out with a friend of mine and her younger boy.  It'll mostly be walking which is great since we can work on walking at the BEGINNING of our ride and end of it. 

How're the winter rides going for you guys? 

My little trick for keeping warm - hand warmers in the toe of your boots and a good neck warmer.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

You Learn Something New Every Day!

Here's a post that ties in with my previous post about lunging Celtic.  This happened before the previous post, but here it is!

Truer words have hardly ever been said.  Today I went through my usual routine, went to work, did that jazz, went to the barn and worked with Celtic on the lunge line where I learned she has a wariness of lunge whips.  This was learning something new moment number one.  The idea that John Lyons, and I’m sure plenty of other trainers, use is that the horse must come out of a training session more relax than before the training session.  This was made crystal clear to me tonight while working with Celtic!  The moment I sent her out on a circle, she was doing a high-flying trot, tail flagged, head high, snorting, distracted, everything.  My first thought was “ok, she’s just getting the sillies out”.  When we reversed, she was even worse, and every time I raised my whip hand she skittered faster.  A-ha!  So, she is not so sure about the whip.  Ok, we can work on that, no problem.  Commence sacking out with lunge-whip.  After a few minutes of this on either side, she went back out onto the circle and her head was down, neck was relaxed, she eased through walk-trot-walk transitions easily. 

After that learning experience at the barn, I headed home to relax and unwind.  While unwinding, I watched a video of a clinic where the clinician asked why do we keep our thumbs on top of our reins?  Not simply because it would look funny to have your thumb sticking up in the air, but the actual function of it.  I had never really thought about this before, and the answer he gave was SO SIMPLE that I’m surprised I’ve never been taught this before!  It’s to keep the reins from sliding through your hands.  Yes, the grip on the reins helps, but that feel with your fingers changes, it is not a constant pressure whereas the pressure with your thumb on top of your fist can stay fairly consistent, making your contact consistent.

So!  With this in mind, who has had an a-ha moment about the simplest things?