Saturday, May 24, 2014

What A Week!

We had SUCH good and productive workouts this week! I'm really, really pleased with how things are going, and I hope they continue on in this thread.

O's not-shine coat is shedding out rather dramatically. Underneath the not-shine is a SUPAH SHINE, which makes me feel a lot better. Her fecal came back negative, so honestly I think it comes down to the fact that her system got shell-shocked a few times with freezing weather. She is still shedding quite a lot.... many attacks with my curry are helping to expedite this process. She's been shedding since March! I have to be careful this time of year as well - this is prime sweaty season, which makes for sunbleachy season as well. O lives outside and spends almost all of her day out in the blazing sun (she has a shed and shade trees, but she doesn't use them often). If I don't rinse her after every good sweat, I'm in big trouble. 

After a day off on Sunday, we got back to work on Monday. O was back in her 'snaffamore' combo - her Happy Mouth mullen mouth with her long shank hackamore overtop of it - and she was VERY good to start. She gave me some pretty decent walk-trot-canter work in both directions, which was great - the fact that we can trot AND canter in a circle now AND stop is super exciting. I had to abandon my snaffle and get tough with her for a minute, but it seems to be paying off. She knows full well that she can gallop off out of control in the mullen mouth, but I still want something in her mouth that is gentle and inviting. She still needs to learn to stretch out to the contact and take it, so I don't want a harsh mouthpiece. I do, however, need *something* to give me some brakes for when she tunes out my half-halt and takes off - the hackamore is very effective for this. I can ride her along with the snaffle most of the time, and if she decides to get strong or take off, I have an e-brake. Having this backup is super liberating - now I can circle, move off the rail, move sideways, and generally ride wherever I please while doing flatwork. In a snaffle, as soon as we turn onto a circle or go off the rail, she speeds up and bolts, and there is nothing I can do aside from crank her around in a one-rein stop. I tried to make it work for a long time, hoping she'd just settle and relax, but we were truthfully getting nowhere, and I had to make a decision to add something much stronger. I'm so glad I decided to do that, and now that I have some brakes, we'll be able to get so much more done.

After our ride, we went for a nice hack through the cow pasture...

... aaaaand then her mare friend trotted off away from her, and she absolutely wigged. We had to reschool everything we had already gone through earlier and then some. We did eventually get a very nice quiet canter, towards and past her friend, and then were able to trot quietly back. All in all, it was a full two hours of riding and hacking, and she was pretty tired by the end (thankfully).

Zzzz... sooo sleeeeeepy.
You can see how the hackamore sits just in front of the bit - the hackamore rein is generally held very loose, but it there in case of backup. This has a LOT of whoa, but even when she was being back she still was able to sull up against it and brace when she really decided to.

On Tuesday, I had a very busy day, so I decided to lunge her first thing in the morning before I had to head off to work. I didn't have a ton of time to work with, and I think I won't try to do that again in the future. Working while rushed, or working when I don't have much time (in case she needs more time than I have to give), is just a stupid idea.

On the lunge, especially to the left, O likes to travel crooked. She is more than happy to turn her head and neck to the outside, let her shoulder bulge in, and motorbike around every turn at high speed. Once you straighten her out and achieve proper bend, it completely slows her down and engages her.... but it isn't always easy to achieve. I fiddled with the lines a few times, but it wasn't enough. Eventually I ran my lunge line up through her bit to the surcingle, and tried to straighten her out that way.

Mostly it irritated her. She engaged, definitely, but she also came in VERY close on the circle, and refused to go back out again (avoiding the contact). 
After a few minutes of her avoiding and avoiding, I took the line back off and instead let the right side line all the way out to the very end, and pulled the left side line all the way as tight as it would go. The nicest thing about the Faux-ssoa is that it is a very fluid system, and once she moved back out on the circle, it settled into a perfect setting for her (not too loose on the right, not too tight on the left). She loved that configuration, and stretched out nicely into it. Thank god too, I had to get a move on and head off to work!

On Wednesday, I had the day completely off, so S and I decided to finally get off the property and go for a good long hack. We needed one! 
We didn't travel too terribly far, just down the road to Benbrook Lake, but there are miles and miles of trails, and we even found a new one that we hadn't noticed before. It was super nice, very grassy and flat (versus most of the rest of the park, which is very rocky and hilly), and we had an awesome time.

Yes, we *did* pack the saddlebags full of the essentials... beer, and beer, and more beer. It was an extremely mellow ride.

We went 12.66 miles. Mostly we just power walked (the horses picked that speed), with some trotting near the end of it. We were gone for nearly 4 hours! She had a well-deserved day off on Thursday after all of that.

Friday was another super hectic day for me, so I decided I better just opt for a short lunge instead of a ride. I did the same thing I did before, on both sides (one line all the way loose, one line all the way tight), and she loved it. She has quite a lot of freedom to stretch out, but has to bend in the proper direction, so everybody wins with this configuration.

Check that out... she's actually bending in the proper direction! Nice!

We had a great ride today too, but I'll write more about that shortly... I'm pooped and I need to get to bed. So much work and play, so little time to write!


  1. Yeessss. Breakthroughs for the win.

  2. I've missed your updates :) Glad to hear things are progressing.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but what about using a double bridle on her? The curb could give you the brakes you needed??

    1. I thought about a double bridle but I think two bits would be just a little too much for her head right now. She does like the pelham, and the happy mouth with hackamore over top - both have the same happy mouth mullen mouthpiece. I also tried a crazy combination bit yesterday that had a simple snaffle mouthpiece, and she did pretty well with that too. I've never put anything with a port in her mouth, I could give that a try, but two bits might fry her brain lol.

    2. This is true! LOL. Go with what works for now :)


  4. I like that the Faux-ssoa can be adjusted shorter on one side than the other kind of like some people do with side reins. Congrats on getting correct bend! :D

    And yes if you're short on time it almost always guarantees the horse will not cooperate LOL!!