Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pony's first snow!

And it was a doozy!

We've been watching the weather forecast, as we were supposed to have a friend come up for Thanksgiving. She was going to drive up yesterday, but the forecast called for a couple inches of snow. In and of itself, a couple of inches of snow isn't bad, but she'd have to pass over Mount Shasta, go through Weed, and then a long, desolate drive from Weed to Klamath Falls, where there's probably no cell coverage, and probably not a whole lot of plowing or help if you need it. So she decided to postpone her trip. Originally we thought she could come today. But after the snow we got yesterday, that's a no-go, as well.

It started snowing at 8 a.m. and didn't stop until about 10 p.m. We got over an inch an hour. I left work early and it took me an hour to get home and I went in 4WD and about 10 mph the whole way. I don't think anyone was really ready for how much snow we actually got vs. how much was predicted. At our house, at least, we got 16 inches or so (give or take depending if you measure under a tree or in a snow drift).

I'm so glad to have a barn full of hay, a heater in the tack room, and hot water in the barn! A covered arena is nice, in theory....

When we went out to tuck in the horses last night, I was able to top off everyone's buckets with hot water, and in addition to the extra hay in their hay nets, I gave everyone an extra loose flake - I know they needed it because all of Mac's hay was gone this morning, and he's the one who only eats what he needs and will leave extra if he doesn't need it.

Looking at Princess Fancy Pants this morning, I had to wonder exactly what she did to get her face to look like this....

Mac was spooking at a leaf blowing on top of the snow this morning, it was pretty cute. This is him mid-day yesterday - we have so much more snow than that!

I hoofed it up the driveway to see if the street had been plowed, and it had (but our driveway has not - we're supposed to be on the guy's list, but....?).

The horses are all enjoying their breakfast, with full buckets of warm water. Thank goodness there's a gate from the barn aisle to the arena that is big enough for the tractor, because I don't know that I could get the tractor out the double doors to the driveway. I could, though, drive the tractor into the arena and then dump the manure on the other side of the wall. We're now wondering how much a snow plow attachment to the tractor would cost!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pony video - ride #8

Brrrrr, it was chilly this morning! I could only stand to ride in my flannel-lined jeans, so I look a bit sloppy, but oh well.

I've done my math and I think this is ride #8 on the pony, and just our third time trotting. Because it was so cold I couldn't stand to put a bit in her mouth, so we're in the side pull.

What you can't see on the video is that to the left of the visible area on the screen is a tarp that I hung over her gate. For some reason she has A Thing with tarps and so I hung it over the gate (it was laying in her paddock) to just hang out there. We did a little ground work ahead of time with a piece of tarp attached to my flag, but that's not so interesting to watch.

I know this isn't the most exciting video ever, but I certainly had fun riding her! Steering to the right is not so great - steering to the left is better. She goes forward and comes back well. Mostly I just want her to get used to my weight and balance with me on her back, and teach her about going forward and back, and straight between my hands and legs. At the end she was a bit wiggly in opening the gate, but we got it done just fine. We went for a little trail ride on the property and came back in one piece with no spooking or anything.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

We trotted!

I've trotted on the pony (on purpose) twice now!

The first time, I started out with her on the long lines and did some walk exercises with halt transitions, turning in circles, changes of direction, and walking over cavaletti. She was very calm so I took the lines off, did some more in-hand work to prepare for the under-saddle work, then I got on.

She's very polite for mounting and just stands there until I'm ready to go. We started off at a walk with steering, halting, flexions, and a gentle one-rein stop. Good.

I tried to give her some little kicks to get up into trot, but she didn't appreciate that so I went for more leg pressure, instead, and that worked better. I combined leg pressure with clucks and my voice command to trot, and up she went! The first time I tried posting, she was like "whoa, what the heck is going on!" so I sat for a few steps and walked again. Clucked her back up to trot, sat for a few steps and then walked again. We changed directions, I clucked and squeezed her up into trot and posted the trot and she was fine. Steering was moderately not-bad! We did two more changes of direction, on the last trot we did a whole lap around the arena in a moderately-balanced fashion, so I asked her to walk, jumped off and gave her lots and lots of praise and took her back to her stall.

She was so good! And the even better news is that she has a nice trot that is very comfortable to ride. And the best news is that she didn't even think about any misbehavior, not even once! She's such a superstar pony!!!

Today we did it again. This time I started by lunging first, as I want to work on her canter and voice commands in preparation for cantering under saddle when the time is right. After a brief warm up, we did our other in-hand work (turn on the forehand today, along with me walking next to her and using the reins) and then I got on.

We pretty much did the same thing as last time, but for more laps. Again in the beginning she seemed a bit worried about the posting and she kept wanting to stop, but I kept clucking and squeezing with my legs (while at the same time trying to be light in the saddle) and so she would get going again. By the end we were able to do two laps in each direction and I was pleased with her responsiveness.

I thought I'd give a little cool-down trail ride a try today so I brought her up to the gate to open it from her back. She didn't get it and so walked off. I got her turned around, better positioned, and she was so good - I just reached over and grabbed the gate, put the reins in one hand and my right leg on and she just swung her butt over as I opened the gate, and out we went! We did one lap around the back trail and came back. The ninja neighbor dog came running up to the fence (but not barking) and that startled her so she jumped forward a bit but came right back to a halt. The rest of the walk was uneventful and there was no barn-sourness; in fact, she didn't want to go back in the arena when we were done!

Such a good girl...I think she's having the last heat cycle of the year right now (as evidenced by her squirting and sticking her butt in Mac's face any chance she gets), but was perfectly well-behaved.