Sunday, July 6, 2014

End of June Analysis; July Goals!

It's JULY already! When did THAT happen!
The most astounding thing of all is that we've reached the beginning of July with not a SINGLE triple digit day. The hottest we've seen so far is about 96. And it has been RAINING. A LOT. Admittedly, the humidity has made up for the lack of super hot weather, but what can you do.


June Goals:

1) Continue to play with bitting options - which bits for which things?
 Well, we came up with some things. I would really *like* to go back to our snaffle eventually, but for now she is working decently in the double (mostly off the double jointed snaffle, which she quite likes), and going in the combo bit for more complicated work (including any future jumping).

2) Keep doing more flatwork! Flatwork flatwork flatwork! 
We did LOTS of flatwork! Lots and lots of it. We're plodding along making slow progress, but it is progress. She's such a tricky critter.... every time I figure out how to troubleshoot one of her evasions, she throws another at me. If I troubleshoot that one, she goes back to the first evasion. She is truthfully hellbent on using all of her energy and intelligence to figure out how to *not* do what she is asked to do. I'm completely convinced at this point that this is entirely due to her mental hangups under saddle.... she's just SO GOOD about everything else. Everything else, she's happy to jump in and get to right away.

3) XC schoolings - there are a few to choose from!
I had a few to choose from, and I ended up picking none of them. Partly because I had to work (and it was Future Hubs' birthday on one of the dates), and partly because I was not particularly enthused about it. I didn't feel that she was ready, and I wasn't really as into it as I thought I might be.

4) If we have time, start trailering over to the local jump arena and use their facilities for gridwork!
Didn't do that either... same reason as above. She wasn't really ready for it.

5) Did I mention flatwork? Do more flatwork!
See above!


It's interesting..... in the past two weeks, my seriously burning passion for doing ALL THE DRESSAGE THINGS has fizzed out. Don't get me wrong, I love dressage and want to be doing it, and I'm glad we broke through some barriers.... but once again I'm feeling the curious call to give other things a try. Dressage, you sure are fine, and you sure are important... but there are SO many other things to do too!

And why not give everything a try if I can? I've never had a complete jack of all trades horse before, a horse that could literally do almost any sporty thing that I can think of, and having that kind of critter in my yard makes me want to keep trying MORE new things! As athletic as all of my excellent warmbloods have been, they were all specialists in one or two things. Gogo wiped the floor with most everyone she competed against in eventing, and did pretty well in dressage, but she was no speedy jumper (a tidy and talented one yes, but slow and easy), never saw a cow in her life, and couldn't make a turn tighter than a very, very slow 10 meters. She was the ultimate specialist - not quite fast enough to do jumpers, not quite fancy enough to do straight dressage, and I didn't DARE take her out on rough terrain because of her frail little legs, but she PERFECT for eventing. O, on the other hand, is not a specialist in anything, but can do a little of EVERYTHING... and that makes me want to try all sorts of things that I haven't done before!

To recap, so far we've tried: eventing, dressage, jumpers, endurance, roping, cattle work, barrels, and poles. She is good at all of these things on a lower level scale (and could be great at some of them on a higher level scale if we picked and worked on them). And there is one thing that we haven't done yet that I DEFINITELY want to give a try: Driving.

I LOVE to drive, and I've always loved it. I've always wanted to have a horse that drives, but I'm just never had the time to have one trained to do it (and when you're bouncing around from place to place, having a big huge cart to tote around isn't really very practical). I ground drove Metro a lot while he was in rehab, and Gogo as well... I even bought a harness for Gogo years ago, so that I could start lunging her in it. Alas, I never even got to try it on her, and it was sold long ago. Gogo also had an explosive spook in her, and once she was airborne she would do 180 degree spins. You can't exactly do that in harness and not kill yourself and everyone else around you. She also had a tendency to panic when she was constrained sometimes (she broke more halters that I can count), something else that you just can't have with a driving horse. An explosive personality is not one that is suitable for driving.... it's just not safe.

O, on the other hand, has the makings of a knockout driving horse. She'll whoa and stand forever, doesn't care if lines and things get tangled around her legs, doesn't care if things get dragged behind her, gives to pressure in every direction, isn't spooky (and if she does spook, she stops and lowers her head and looks at things instead of exploding or running or going sideways), and has zero kickiness in her. Under saddle, she can be very strong and zoomy, but she is borderline lazy when she is long lining. As far as I can tell, since she has no bad associations with it, she feels no reason to get her panties in a twist about it. In fact, I can't believe how quickly she has picked it up!

I've long lined her a grand total of four times now. I confirmed with R that she had never had it done before, so I started from scratch. The first time was just teaching her how to walk with me behind her (and I definitely don't recommend just starting out doing this without a helper, but I wasn't worried about O), which she was a little confused about but did well - she has all her verbal commands, so it wasn't hard for her to make the connection. The second time, we practiced walking, turning, and halting, and tried a few steps of trot - she was a little startled by this ("why are you chasing me!?") but she settled quickly. The third time, she was walking, trotting, turning at both speeds, halting, and backing up with a ho-hum kind of air about her, as if it was all old hat. The fourth time, she was happy to take a contact and work up a nice foamy mouth, something she rarely gets when under saddle (she has a tendency to clamp her mouth shut when she is tense), and do all of the aforementioned work with ease. She's a completely cool cucumber about the whole ordeal.

Yes, go ahead and laugh at that outfit. It's classy, I know. Super, super classy. At least my horse looks super shiny and beautiful.

Also, one of my lines is twisted around, something I didn't notice until now... that's not proper, don't do that.

Today, I introduced her to the drag tire. She got to look at it, sniff it, watch it bounce around as I rolled and dragged it, and then lunged next to it. It won't be long before she'll be ready to start dragging stuff behind her!

Here's where my knowledge of driving training ends. I have driving basics myself - meaning I can name parts of harness, can harness a horse, can put it to, and can drive it with reasonable decency (it's a lot like dressage, really!), but I am in no way qualified to teach a horse to pull a cart. I've put out some inquiries to local trainers, but there aren't exactly a ton of them around. We'll see what I can dig up locally!

Given all of these things, my goals for this month are going to look a little bit different!


July Goals:
1) Continue to solidify long lining basics - walk/trot, whoa, turns, backing, and walking down the road/on the trail
2) Find a good local driving trainer!
3) Possibly search for a decent training harness - nothing fancy, just comfortable and useful - and start to lunge/long line in it
4) Introduce dragging
5) Continue with bodywork!



If I do say so myself, my ladies are looking pretty nice. P has this lovely hi-gloss shine, and O has this really interesting metallic undertone shine to her... it's similar to that Akhal-Teke metallic sheen. It's almost underneath her coat... light doesn't reflect on her coat, it looks like it reflects through her coat. Whenever she turns and catches the light, it moves through her instead of across her, and underneath her coat she glows glittering red like she's on fire. She has super fine, super thin hair that lays flat on her almost as if it was painted on, so perhaps she has that same flat hollow hairshaft? If you go back and look at the long lining pictures, you'll see it a bit better there. It's crazy beautiful!


  1. you should contact the driving radio show. it's a great podcast and they'll help find you another drive in your area.
    good luck!

  2. You are on the right track. After the tire dragging, do tin can dragging or things that will clank. Next you just start desensitizing to a cart. banging it around , hooking it up , taking it on and off. Then once that's all old hat you start ground driving behind the cart. Cart all hooked up and walk behind. Then you're ready for your first ride in the cart.

  3. Fun! If you have any driving questions, ask me! I love driving. How exciting :)

  4. Amen to the 'no triple digits' yet. That should be one of your July goals too, keep it cool! :)


    This is a most excellent book. I also recommend picking up a singletree for your tire-and-stuff dragging ventures. My favorite place for harness needs is and you can find the singletrees under "harness and supplies" then "doubletrees and neck yokes."

    If you plan on doing most of it in an open bridle you can pick up a breastcollar and do most of the work in that until you're ready for the full harness and hooking to a cart.

    I would also recommend double lungeing her w-t-c. I've cantered my filly (she's 4) in harness dragging things, including a tire since I would like to do CDEs with her eventually and you don't always want to just trot along in hazards or cones and deciding to canter in harness the first time in cart can be unwise.

    With Z I did all the base work and then worked with my driving instructor to plug holes and do the first hooks (there weren't many, thankfully and we hooked her in five sessions). The more hands the better!

    I look forward to reading about your driving adventures!

    Also: check out and search your region. There are a half dozen or so driving societies in Texas and they'd be your best bet in finding someone I think.

    1. This is great information! Thank you!

    2. You're welcome! I hope you're able to find a trainer close by or at least an experienced hand willing to help.

  6. Fun goals! Good luck with the driving!

    My copper chestnut has the same metallic sheen to him. I wonder if it's genetic in that specific chestnut coat color?

  7. Yay so cool! Love driving - O is SuperMare!

  8. This is so awesome! Look at O go!! I'm kind of jealous because I'm dying to teach Chrome to drive, but I don't have the money for anything right now. I'll be following your progress on the edge of my seat. So exciting!