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Spring. It is coming!!!

Posted on 2 March, 2013 at 9:55 Comments comments (42)
Good morning everyone! 

Well, I am currently looking outside at snow.... MELTING!!! Hip-Hip-Hooray!!!

This means a lot of things. Soon our horses can have true baths, we can start walking outside and checking out the trails, start planning trail rides, start planning shows, and begin the polishing training for our horses anticipating the show season coming. My green horse will be going in the Baby Green Hunter division this year, and I even found a rider for him to go into a few amateur classes! He tells me he is stoked. I may even take him in a training level dressage test to get him more acclimated to being off the property. 

With all of the coming excitement, I can't hardly STOP talking about horses. In the oddest points of a conversation I will bring up something that happened at the barn, or something funny my horse did, or even just something I need to remember to do at the barn next time I go! I usually get strange looks for a few seconds until the other person remembers who they are talking to: a horse lover!!

Off to the barn! Have a good ride!

More lessons from school horses! :)

Posted on 5 December, 2012 at 11:31 Comments comments (24)
When thinking back on all the wonderful horses I have worked with, I realize there are TONS of lesson horses who have earned a cushy retirement! All the horses who stop when they feel their student losing balance, the ones who will jump anything you point them at no matter what, the ones who spook in place to not unseat their student, the ones who stand quietly while we play "Around-the-world" or make a million and one stirrup adjustments. If I wrote about every single one, we would be here a very long time. For now, here is a few more gems from my vault.
Jackpot - Jackpot was a wise, middle-aged gelding (I believe another Appendix Quarter Horse) that I had the pleasure of riding when I was still an advanced beginner. The first thing you had to know about Jackpot was that he was hard to catch. I knew even then that he wanted to have insurance that he would be rewarded for his effort, as he would always allow you to catch him if you had grain. He never ran away from anyone in the paddock, he would just stroll away as soon as he learned you were aiming for him. Jackpot was a great lesson horse, I can remember his smooth careful canter depart, making sure his rider was ready before bumping up his speed. Jackpot was the first horse that I rode over a jump on trails. He didn't care much for jumping, but was very safe about it.
Dyna - Dyna was the first mare that I rode in lessons. She was willing to teach me that mares can sometimes be a little more difficult to persuade. She was a small light colored Palomino girl who was very gentle. I interpreted her gentleness as kind of a peace offering. I figured she was trying to show an example to her students. Dyna was the first horse that I used a crop on to reinforce my aids. One day, Dyna was being slow and gentle, except this time she added a bit of stubbornness, and did not have much forward drive at all. My trainer advised that I use the crop behind my leg. The first time, she didn't listen. So again, my trainer said "Use the stick. You have already asked for forward, she did not listen. Now you have to tell her!" so I used a bit more force. But with added force, I lost accuracy, and gave a swift smack... right to her flank. She exploded straight up in the air. It was not an evil buck, just a little hop letting me know that was not ok. I regained composure, and understood what I just learned, and Dyna was a little more cooperative for the rest of the lesson.
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What lesson horses have to offer us

Posted on 28 November, 2012 at 15:26 Comments comments (23)
In my experience with horses, I have had the opportunity to ride many different types of lesson horses. They all have something to teach us, some lessons are obvious others more subtle... Here are some of my personal favorites:
Topper was the first horse that I bonded with during riding lessons. He was an Appaloosa, probably around 15.2 hh, and sweet as a cherry. He was not a young horse, but with his age came wisdom and compassion for young, inexperienced riders like me. Looking back on my lessons and pictures, he was the most forgiving horse I have ever known. He taught me patience. When I was first learning how to put a bridle on, he would lower his head and open his mouth while I figured out where all the leather an metal was supposed to go (that is a lot for little hands to manage!). He always concentrated during riding sessions, and was certain to take care of his rider. One of the last times I rode him, he tripped on a patch of mud and fell to his knees. He knew that I was unbalanced, and made sure to stay underneath me, and waited to get up until I was ready.
Fast forward a few months, several horses, and I met Stormy. He was at the same academy as Topper, but was a level up in difficulty. I had learned the basics from Topper, walk, trot, canter, leg yielding, and riding alone. It was time for him to teach a new little girl. Stormy was an Appendix Quarter horse (if memory serves), and several years younger than Topper. Stormy was a beautiful dark bay, with a tiny star and one white fetlock. I remember my instructor explaining how to be more graceful when putting on the bridle "Think about it from his point of view. If you went to see a dentist and he was fumbling around with the tools, acting nervous and making a big to-do about it, would you be willing to open your mouth?" Stormy was much more ... opinionated than Topper, but he was still a great teacher. He allowed a certain number of mistakes per student, and one specific day, I reached his limit. I had a terrible time getting the bit in his mouth that day, and since I had taken so long with that, I tried to make up time lost by tightening the girth too fast. He was not happy, an promptly turned his head to bite me. It hurt, but it was a lesson quickly learned.
Part 2 coming soon...