Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 61-65: We keep pluggin' along!

Monday: I loaded up Eclipse and brought him to the Wills Park show grounds for a change. It is a great place and great opportunity to expose Eclipse to riding in a covered arena. Once we got there and took Eclipse around to explore the whole place. He was a little leery of the new place but settled in quickly. We walked the fence of the whole covered arena in both direction before we decided to warm up on the ground. During the warm up I rearranged a few of the remaining jump standards from the previous event into a line about twenty feet from each other. Once mounted we warmed up on the rail. Once we got to a canter I would take him down the center line where I had placed the standards. (For those of you who don't know what a standard is, it is the upright piece of a jump that holds the poles of the jumps.) The goal was to weave down the line of standards at a canter and have Eclipse change leads with every turn. The first time the pattern caught him be surprise and he was not expecting the rapid changes in direction. By the third pass he was with the program changing leads as he went from turn to turn. We ended it all by cooling down with some bridleless riding.

Tuesday was easy day. I worked some on Eclipse's ground tying while I taught lessons.

Wednesday I added some thing new to our ground work. Up to this point I have played with trotting in unison with Eclipse, today we worked on getting that in a canter. I taught him that when I skip he should canter. It did not take long for him to catch on. I would skip a few steps and he would then canter a few strides. We will continue to improve this as we go.

Thursday we continued are pursuit of perfecting flying lead changes by working the weave pattern in the arena. I could tell he was more prepared for the task at hand. He started offering the changes with subtle cues from me in the end.

Friday we went on a trail ride with another rider. This was the first trail ride in a month. Because the horse we rode with had not been out on the back property it was up to Eclipse to be the lead horse. I was anxious to see where his confidence was. Last trail we had been on he still depended on other horses to be the leader. It started out slow, he would take a few steps then stop and look around. I would allow this because if I forced him to go faster then he was ready for he would become more skeptical instead of more confident. I was very proud of him, he led the whole way, over water crossings, through ditches, and the under brush. We should be well prepared for the Poker ride at Garland Mountain on Sat Oct. 2.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 50-60: Mustang Madness Open House

As you have read in my last blog, I am now working with two mustangs to prepare them for mustang magic and Makeover competitions. I do have a new blog that is following the progress of my new guy Raven. I would love to have you follow it as well. He will be very different from Eclipse. He spent 5 years wild on the range as a stud! You can find his blog at

Thursday: Eclipse and I rode in the upper arena. Again we focused on yielding the shoulder. As Eclipse gets more comfortable and confident with our relationship he has started to get lax in his responsiveness. This is pretty normal at this stage, but gets frustrating as you are working with them.

Friday to help bring eclipse's focus back on me when I ride, i felt it time to start introducing a spur. This was a pretty easy process, and we spent most of this ride working on leg yields getting Eclipse to understand that if he does not move off of leg he would then feel the spur. It didn't take long for Eclipse to understand to respond when I applied my leg.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I spent working around the barn preparing for the open house the following weekend. Our boarders really pulled together to get the place looking great to showcase our mustangs, my teaching style and the diversity of our riders.

Tuesday I had to laugh at Eclipse. One of the improvements to our facility that we added before the open house was an outdoor wash bay. Essentially it is a bed of pea gravel that is over a drainage holding tank. I took Eclipse over to it to see what his reaction would be when asked to step on it. He dropped his head, stepped in the sinking gravel, walked a circle with his nose to the ground like a dog, dropped to he knees and rolled! Not once but twice.

Wednesday it was back to work. Eclipse tended to disagree. He seemed to like his four day break. As I worked him around the arena on the ground he would crow hop in protest... how dare I interrupt his vacation! Once felt he was with me, I got on and began his workout under saddle. I could still tell he was resistant to the idea, but with in a few moments I was able to get him to follow my lead as we worked on freestyle (loose rein riding).

Thursday I was able to put another ride on Eclipse in the upper arena getting things polished for the Open House Demo. It will be interesting to see how Eclipse works in the arena while Pandora is in there. They have been spending a lot of time together in the dry lot at night, and he definitely knows when she is around.

Friday was busy doing final preparations for the Open house the next day.

Saturday was the big day. We all got to the barn early to knock out chores and prepare our horses for demonstrations. When i came time for our demonstration I tacked up and warmed up. We showed the audience how we could work at liberty on the ground, put all four feet on the pedestal. Once in the saddle we showed some of our rollbacks and sliding stops. Kelsey and I ended it by having both horse lay down at the same time! The crowed was impressed!

After all the hoopla of Saturday, I needed a day off more then Eclipse did!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day: 45-49

Okay, so here is the last week with Eclipse in summary.

I taught a colt starting clinic Sat., Sun., and Mon. so my time was somewhat limited, but I managed to squeeze in a couple rides both Sat. and Sun. after the clinic. Saturday I warmed up in the Round pen and rode in the arena. Towards the end of the ride i caved and let one of my students Allison ride him a little. Until now I have been the only one that has ridden him. It was Eclipses turn to scratch his head. He was a little taken back by the feel of the new rider. The two of them finally got it working together.

Sunday at the end of the Clinic I did a riding demonstration with Eclipse. While I was winding the clinic down Cindy Appling and a friend of hers arrived for the riding demo. She took some candid photos of Eclipse. She also photographed our ride and liberty warm up session. I had to laugh as I worked Eclipse at liberty in the arena, I would draw him in and have the intentions of changing directions and all three times he would just come into me directly and not want to turn away. We had a lot of fun and all were impressed.

Monday he had the day off and Tuesday we were back at it. We focused on getting good shoulder movement at the trot. He struggles staying at the trot in one direction when I ask him to move the shoulder over. In many cases he willstop completly and do a turn on the haunches (hind legs). I slowed things down to help him understand that he can still give his shoulder and stay in the trot. We did have a first in the saddle for him, I was able to ride him up on the pedestal with all four feet! I held my breath as he teetered back and forth to get his balance on the small stool. Soon he will be solid enough to allow me to stand on him while he is up there. We wrappe dup our ride by riding through the woods.

Wednesday Eclipse had a special job. I was scheduled to receive a new mustang for training in the mustang majic competition in January in Fort Worth, Texas. I had such good luck with my happy accident with Eclipse when hauling him back from mississippi i decided to simulate it with my new mustng. That accident of course was getting both of the "stangs" in the front compartment where we were able to touch both of them before they came off the trailer. Once I got the new guy back to the barn in the trailer, voluteered Eclipse to go into the front compartment with the new Mustang to take up space and not allow the new horse to escape my touch. I had to laugh because once in the trailer with the other horse Eclipse was so confident that I had to restrain him from biting the new horse on the rump! He did his job successfully but did not make any friends in the process!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 41-44; Mystery limp is Back and the Pony Cart

After our good work out at Fox berry I decided to give Eclipse the day off Tuesday. Wednesday we were back at it again. I have been doing my ground work warm up at liberty in the arena and things have been going well. He has been doing ground poles, cone weaves, jumps and other obstacles, so taday i thought I would challenge the connection. We ventured out into the pasture play-yard at liberty to see what we could do. The some stuck like glue comes to mind as we made our way around all of the different obstacles. We crossed the teetering bridge, went over logs, stood on the pedestal and Eclipse never missed a beat! We even ventured into the woods to play the extreme obstacles that were there. I could see him mentally struggle to say with me as we entered the woods. The only thing that kept him with me was his turst in my judgement. had he been left to his own devices he would have been gone long before. With a little encouragement he successfully negotiated the bridge, curtain, and tarp. Satisfied with that we saddled and rode. To my disappointment our ride was cut short because our limp was back!

Thursday was a spa day for eclipse. It started with a massage from Tamera Woods, then an adjustment from Dr. Penny. He had some issues in his shoulder area as we had suspected. He also had his right stifle out. So the doc put him back together and ordered another day of rest. In lue of working with Eclipse I grabbed my favorite lesson pony Hercules a Shetland cross and hitched him up to his pony cart and decided to work a few pounds off of him. From Eclipse's stall he could see us make our rounds in the front yard. I was a good distance from him in the cart but I could see the mustang come out in him. Any time the cart would travel in his direction he would turn and try to climb the gait out of his stall! I stopped the cart to come to his rescue. Once I was able to bring to the cart and let him follow it and he realized it was his buddy Hercules all strapped in he decided it was not going to kill him!

Friday afternoon it was back to work. I went over to a neighboring barn where there footing was a little softer and deeper, I figured the extra cushion would help his recovery. Once I was in the saddle Eclipse felt good. Happy to move his feet at the trot. Once he was warm and loose I asked for the canter to the right and he got the wrong lead:( I didn't pay it much mind, I am sure he is having to adjust to Dr. Penny's changes. He bobbled his weaker lead a couple more times but more importantly he never limped and that was enough for me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 37-40: A couple more rides and Foxberry Farm

Friday I stayed at Whispering Hills and worked around our facility. In the Make-over competition the compulsories are a in hand portion as well as a ridden portion. The in hand portion usually consists of obstacles like ground poles, backing an "L", trailer loading, bridges, picking up feet among others things. We have been warming up on these types of things during our ground work sessions over the weeks. Today in our session we played with a stick to me at liberty over and around some of the obstacles. One thing Eclipse has learned well is the stick to me exercise. He followed at a trot over cavaletti poles, through cones, stopping when I stop, and trotting when I trot. The connection between us has come a long way in a short period of time. I checked my saddle and mounted to ride. We stayed in the arena mostly warming up in our usual way. Once Eclipse felt with me iI dropped the reins and started to ride our figure eight pattern using my leg and body cues to guide Eclipse. When leg and body were not enough I would pick up the reins to remind him of his direction. By the end of the session we were efficiently moving around the arena at a walk and trot and stopping simply when I quit riding.

Saturday was a busy day as usual but I was able to carve out some time at the end of my day for Eclipse. We touched on everything that we worked on Friday on the ground expanding and perfecting it. In the saddle we worked on more of the same then working on rein-less riding. This time we ventured up to a canter. Eclipse's canter has become balanced and feels more like a rocking horse. He goes as fast as you want him to but is just as ready to stop. He moved around the arena turning easily with just a shift of my weight and focus. Soon we were doing simple lead changes through the middle of the arena. It is amazing to me that a little over a month ago he struggled to get his right lead and now he can pick it up without reins. It is quiet the testament to the trainablitiy of the mustang.

Sunday Eclipse had the day off. Monday was a lesson in patients for Eclipse. I had some barn hopping to do so I loaded Eclipse up on the goose neck trailer and headed out. My first stop was Moonlight Stables where I had two horses that I needed to work on loading. I set Eclipse up with water and hay in the trailer and commenced with my training session. At first Eclipse was a little confused because he usually exits the trailer when we get on location. Stomping his foot with impatience Eclipse came to terms with his imprisonment. After a little while I never heard another sound from him. I finished my sessions with the other horses and Headed on to my next stop, Foxberry Farm where I would be picking up a new boarder. I figured I would have some time to kill before the new boarder could meet me, so I found the office at the Foxberry and asked Kim Abernathy if Eclipse an I could ride at their facility while I waited. I got an enthusiastic yes! It was early afternoon by now and the younger kids in their lesson program were arriving of afternoon lessons. The barn was a buzz about the mustang and How cute he was. I got Eclipse out and let him stretch his legs while pulled out the tack for our ride. Once I got him warmed up, it was requested that he go to the neighboring arena so the kids could see him up close and personal. Eclipse felt like a celebrity! The facility there was quiet nice and we had the privilege of our own arena. We had a good ride even with the distraction of Horses and people walking around the outside of our arena. Eclipse was ready to go home after a good workout and a long day.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 35-36: Mystery Stiffness and Cows!

When I got Eclipse out today (Tues) I hopeful that things would end better than they did last ride. We first went to the round pen where we played at liberty. He seemed to enjoy moving his feet and did not seem encumbered with any stiffness or limp. One thing that Eclipse does well is draw in to the inside of the round pen at a canter and change leads as he heads out in the new direction. We played with stick to me as well at a trot. Once we got warmed up, I climbed aboard in my Circle Y saddle. We moved off at a trot and there it was again... the limp! So I scratched my head and dismounted. I approached Tamera Woods a fellow boarder who also happens to be a certified Equine Masseuse and asked if she would look into Eclipse's mystery limp. After a good rubdown she had to report that his right front shoulder is to blame. One thing is for sure, when he gets warmed up and then stands for ten minutes or so he definitely walks off stiff. I gave Eclipse his evening food after his rubdown and decided to re-approach tomorrow.

Wednesday was a little busy with training and lessons and with Eclipse's soreness I felt it was best to do a little ground work rub him down again and let him rest today.

Thursday I loaded up Eclipse and headed to a neighbors property to introduce Eclipse to his first Cow!. My thought was even if he was still stiff in his shoulder I could still work with him on the ground and get him confident with cows. We got to the new barn and off loaded from the trailer and started to explore. It was a quiet cow farm with a cute renovated barn. It had a couple of stalls and a chicken coop with, you guessed it...chickens! Eclipse was not so sure of the chickens, but they were curious about him. Eventually Eclipse dropped his head and sniffed the fine feathered friends that were curiously pecking at him through the chicken wire. After the chicken encounter we went off to the cow pasture to warm up and find our bovine friends. The small pasture contained two, year-old calves, that of course wanted to hang out in the scary end of the pasture. The wooded end! We inched closer to the cows who were laying quietly by the fence. With Eclipse more concerned about the woods behind the cows, I was fearing that when the cows did get up to move I would see an instant replay of the deer on the trail ride, but this time I was on the ground. Bracing for that moment the first cow rose to his feet, to my surprise Eclipse just changed his focus from the woods to the cows. I urged him forward towards the cows as they moved off. We traipsed up the pasture after the calves building his confidence by letting him follow. At this point I was pretty certain that Eclipse was not going to bolt so I saddled up and got on. As I warmed him up I was sensitive to see if the limp will come back today. So far so good. Once i felt I had Eclipse's mind we ventured on to the cows. WE eased near the woods where they like to hang out. As we approached they once again got to their feet and started to move away. It didn't take long for eclipse to figure out this game... follow the smelly cows! I left my neighbors place feeling pretty confident that Eclipse will not be hanging from the rafters of the Murfreeboro Coliseum if cows are a required task!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 30-34: Next couple of rides.

Friday was a light work day. We had gotten a deluge Thursday evening and things were still a little wet and slick for any kind of hard work out. So we kept it to a trot and worked on some trail exercises like the teetering bridge, the pedestal, backing an "L" and other mind bending things. He still struggles to move his hind end around with out taking a step or two in the front first. As we start to refine a few things this will get better. He still has confidence issues with entering the woods. Something about going through that first opening into the woods is a little tense for him. Ironically enough he is not bothered by any of the obstacles in the woods but the woods themselves. Strolling through the woods is now our cool down ritual.

Busy Saturday led to little mustang time, but Sunday we were back at it in the arena. Footing being dryer we were able to work again on cantering. As with every ride picking up each lead is getting smoother and he is feeling more balanced underneath me. We did a lot of canter changing direction some time simple lead changes and sometime flying. I guess being a smaller horse and me not being petite when we are going to the right and I say go left he has two choices change his lead or fall over! Since we have already done the fall over thing and neither of us like that I guess he has decided that changing lead is the best option. Got to love a logical horse! We got several changes throughout the ride and called it good in the arena. We then went out to the pasture rode a little more then cooled out in the woods.

By Monday the pasture was dry enough to canter on again, or so I thought! We went out to the pasture area and started our warm up. When ever I start a ride in the pasture I spend the first 5 minutes or so getting Eclipse to focus in the big open area where usually there are other horses and riders. I continued on are agenda of playing with changes of direction at the canter. It was a good work out for both of us, then we branched our way up the pasture seeing if we could change leads on a serpentine yet. He was not quiet with me enough yet. We slowed things down, talked to a boarder for a few minutes then decided to go back to the arena to work a few more minutes so that I could impression him that we can stop for a few minutes but then it is back to work sometimes. It was then that I noticed it. As we got back up to a trot, Eclipse started to limp! At first I wondered if it was the change in the footing. I dismounted and checked all four feet, there was nothing unusual. I walked him around for a few more minutes to see if he was still gimpy. He continued to limp slightly on the left front. I dismounted and brought him into the barn for further inspection. After a good rubdown and a little anti-inflammatory added to his evening meal I put him up for the night and hoped that tomorrow he would be better.