Sunday, 24 February 2013

All By Myself...

When you have the indoor arena by yourself, why not do something different and set up a jump chute and loose lunge though it?!  Today was a great day at the arena with Koda, and our trip there and back.  It was our first trip with the new configuration of bigger truck with my trailer, and it was a good first experience.  The new truck is a little higher than the old one (rest in peace Barry our old Dodge Ram), but it hauls like a dream.  I know now that I will NEVER have an issue getting up any hill, or being stuck with less power than I need.  To get to the indoor arena, you have to go through some fairly slick hills right now (yay dirt roads with slicked snow and ice on top of them...).  Whenever I hauled with the dodge, I would always hold my breath going up one particular hill.  With this new truck?  Not a problem, it ate that hill right up!

Once at the arena, Koda did his "I"M ALL ALONEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!" whinnying/neighing/screaming act while I unloaded all my tack.  Once I had all my stuff unpacked, I decided I was going to loose lunge and set up the chute.  Back goes all the tack, out come all the standards and poles.  Koda was an absolute gem.  I loose lunged Dillon quite often back home, and I hadn't done it yet really with Koda so wasn't sure what I was going to get.  Quite surprisingly, he was lovely.  Listened to most cues and directions, would halt, walk, trot, and canter with minimal fuss and seemed very happy to oblige me.

The first time he went through the chute, I just had placing poles down; two trot poles, 9' to a vertical placing pole, 17' to another vertical placing pole.  He was an absolute gentleman.  Went through, no issues, spacing was almost perfect (yay!) and he had good forward action through it.  I've noticed from the Kathy Playdon clinic in this past fall and again today, that Koda is a bit lazy when it comes to lower fences and poles unless encouraged through by either a rider or person on the ground.  When the jumps go up, he's careful and clever, but right now has that slow amble to his movement while we're building back his fitness.

He had one refusal when I started to push him a bit through once he was getting tired.  I reprimanded him and got him through a couple more times were he was picture perfect.  The very cool thing was, every time I asked him to go through the chute, he did.  There was no swerving, no ducking out, and only one stop.  Am very happy with my boy!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mr. Attitude

This past Monday was family day up here so I had the day off from work, so of course... Pony time!  I went out in the afternoon to take advantage of the max amount of sunlight/heat possible.  Sadly, this was not the case since by the time I got out there, it was only -6 but with the windchill, it was more like -20.  Ah well, this is why I have the winter riding gear, so bundled up we went down the road and back on a nice hack.  I debated grabbing the quarter sheet, but since he's never had it on before and it was rather windy, I figured I didn't want to get tangled in it this ride.

I'm starting to notice a pattern with Koda when we hack out alone.  He will jig and be a bit of a goose for the first few minutes, then will be an idiot until you get either his brain or feet (or preferably both) working.  This hack, we went down the ploughed road, so no worries about deep snow, so off we went for a relatively long trot down the road.  Once that first trot finished, Koda calmed down and walked like a relatively relaxed pony.  We did a second trot set to the end of the road and then turned for home.

And that's where the fun began.

Koda has started being this turkey who thinks that he can get away with prancing and having baby temper tantrums on the way home if he is made to walk.  For a good half kilometer, he pranced and danced.  The more I got into his face, the worse it was, so I resorted to my seat.  I am SO thankful I was reading "Training the Three Day Event Horse" by Wofford before I went out.  In the dressage section, it talks about the seat and how it should be balanced between the two seat bones and the pelvis.  The book continues and states that once balanced between these three bones, the rider can stay with any motion of the horse.  I put this to practise and engaged those seat bones, keeping my weight balanced between those three bones, and sat deep and asked/demanded Koda match his walk with my seat.  It really did help with his jigging.  After that first 1/2 kilometer home, he settled down and walked relatively nicely.

I'm not quite sure what this dancing, jigging thing was with Koda since last year even by myself we could walk home on the buckle.  Maybe it's him wanting to get back home to the herd, perhaps it's him testing my leadership position since I haven't been his alpha from the saddle in a while, but who knows.  We'll see how it develops with more hacks.  When we got home, we did some very nice work in the yard with some turns on the haunches, and some very fun (and silly) ground work.  Koda's attitude is starting to show and I'm secretly loving it!

Sorry for the tl:dr post, but it was a very cool ride and day with my boy :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Last season, Koda showed his extreme green-ness at each event or clinic we went to.  Everything new was terrifying, needed to be looked at hard, or spooked at.  Even while hacking around the cross country course or through the warm-up ring, fairly ordinary things (logs, jump standards, a coop, etc.) all "deserved" being stared at and spooked at.  Luckily, Koda isn't a dirty stop and spin kind of spooker, but is more of the bug-eyed and back up variety.  This winter and spring, the plan is to work on this and get him over going bug-eyed over every little thing.

On Pony Club day last Monday, we had a ton of stuff out in the arena to play around with, kind of like a mini trail obstacle class.  We had cones, barrels, the L, a box made of poles, swim noodles, a lariat, tarp to walk over, etc.  Koda handled everything with flying colours!  The only thing he had a small issue with was the tarp.  He did the bug-eyed bit with it, then walked right on it.  I think it may of had to do with the noise of the sand hitting the tarp threw him off, BUT he went across it, halted on it, walked, and trotted over it.  

I need to expose Koda to more different situations and weird things to help him overcome his spookiness.  Situations up here, like a show atmosphere can be hard to find, but I'm tempted to trailer to a rodeo or something for the atmosphere, and to get Koda used to all the other horses, smells, and sounds that come with.  Does anyone have any ideas about how to help Koda with his spookiness?  Any other things I should be exposing him to in an arena and elsewhere?  

And just because, here's a shot of the sunset while driving home from the barn :)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Pony Weekend and New Tack

So this weekend was an incredible weekend full of riding and trying on a new bridle and cooler!  The weather actually warmed up to -10 and higher, on Monday it actually hit +5.  I couldn't believe it, but took complete advantage of the warm weather!  Koda and I went for an evening hack on Friday evening and it felt SO great to be back in the saddle.  The BO and I actually figured it out, and we hadn't ridden since November 12th, making it almost exactly 3 months since I had ridden.  When I swung up into the saddle, it felt like coming home.  I also discovered that Koda is the type of horse I can pull out of the pasture and have a relatively nice/safe/calm hack down the point road.  Of course it doesn't hurt that the snow was up to his knees and kept him working.  It just got a bit hairy when we were heading home and I thought he was trying to run home (most likely) since he was dying to trot through and almost piaffe in place.  Once I hit the plowed area, he just walked as normal.  I realized he was trying to make it easier on himself through the big snow!  Luckily he slow trotted and we got back to the barn with big smiles all around.  Also found a 5-point antler too!  Tis the season for antler shedding.

Next day we just did a simple walk/trot ride at the arena, doing some simple lateral work (walking leg yields and shoulder in) and big circles at walk and trot.  Only rode for 30 minutes, trying to bring him back out slowly but surely.  Sunday we had set up for trail day the following Monday with the pony club.  Essentially we pulled some stuff out, set it up, and played.  It was a good time :).  After that ride I finally took some photos of Koda in his new Five Star Bridle that we won back in December and his new fleece cooler!  He did some good work for me this ride, but discovered we're very stiff to the right.  Hello serpentines and spiralling in and out.

I think Koda likes the camera...

Fancy stitch, raised, monocrown Five Star bridle
I think it will suit his colouring once he sheds out in the spring

Such a handsome man!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Things are looking up...

A saddled Koda...

Now bridled Koda...

Plus looking through the best view-finder of the world

All smiles :)

Friday, 1 February 2013

White Noise

January and February are historically the coldest months of the year here.  Lately it's either been so cold that your tires are rectangles and you can feel them as you drive to work after letting your car whine and warm up for 10 minutes in the driveway.  As you drive through town it is as foggy as ever because it is too cold for the moisture in the air to actually rise through the atmosphere.  In the afternoon, it's warm enough to warrant not to have your car plugged in 24/7 so you venture off for lunch.  By the end of the day, it's back to the bone chilling temperatures of -40 (don't forget to add on the wind chill) and you don't want to spend any time outside.

Right now that's what we're dealing with.  Constant temperatures of -30 to -40 below, or if it warms up to -20, snow squalls and wind that could freeze your eyelashes together.  Along with that, the truck (only real reliable transport to the barn when the roads are frozen/snow-packed) has bitten the dust.  It was having some issues, sent it in, ended up having to have the engine replaced.  Because of the age of the truck and the mileage on it, we're looking to do a trade-in and replace instead of spending the ~5k it would cost to get a new engine in it.  All in all, I'm happy January is over and that February is here.

Sorry for the gloomy post, guys.  January was not a good month, I'm just hoping February brings some better days :)  Plus the days are only getting longer and we're getting closer to spring/summer!