Monday, December 29, 2014

End of December Analysis; January Goals!

 Is it the end of December already? I'm pretty disappointed in this month - we barely got any of our goals accomplished, and I don't feel like we got much done. We had the bitting fiasco mid-month, then a lot of rain which turned everything to soup and make it un-driveable, and then we were away for Christmas. Bah! January is upon us, and we're not going anywhere for awhile, so we'll be knuckling down now that the holidays are about to be over and show season is about to begin.


O-Ren December Goals:
1) Keep a tight schedule and stick to it! (Needed days off for either of us and changes due to weather acceptable of course!)
I was less successful with this than I had hoped. With the bitting fiasco in the middle of everything - which took a solid week out of our schedule to sort out - things got jumbled. Then they came to a standstill when we had oodles of rain and thick, black mud everywhere. Then we went away for Christmas! Not in January though.... we'll be getting down to it in January, barring more winter weather problems. Not having an arena isn't usually a problem, but once in awhile it just plain sucks.
2) Whip training - teach her how to move off the whip
This one didn't get worked on, and I am not happy about that. It's largely my fault - I had chances to work on it, and didn't. The rest of the time, we were bogged down in mud and couldn't drive out in the pasture. January for sure.
3) Figure out ways to life-proof the new cart - to keep it nice while in use!
Success, sort of! I have more ideas for shaft preservation - wrapping them in ACE bandages, namely. That way they stay clean but aren't in the way of work. I have covered all areas of fabric on my seat, and clean the cart whenever it gets dirt or dust on it. It also lives in a carport under a horse blanket with pool noodles on the shafts when not in use, which is a decent system. Beyond that, I don't think there is too much I can do - in the words of my cart maker, the only way to life-proof a nice cart is to just not use it, which is not exactly an option!

4) Start working more on dressage tests and cones exercises
I started working with more cones exercises this month, but unfortunately our lack of a good schedule/useable field made for a failure here. 

5) Transitions transitions transitions - keeping a steady and quiet contact throughout upwards ones!
 We were having problems with this until I switched her bit back out to the Happy Mouth. She was great, but this past drive she was getting fussy and backing up in her halts (she wants to GO). I made the mistake of flapping a rein on top of her butt when she wouldn't listen to a verbal whoa, and I may as well have just shocked her with a cattle prod because that's how indignantly explosive she reacted to that. After that, every other halt was full of bubbling anxiety and a huge head-high lurch forward into a speedy trot instead of a nice walk. I got her to settle by the end of the drive and get some decent walk-halt-walks in, but it wasn't easy. She is VERY easy to offend, and god help you if you do. Even if she likes driving relatively well, it still doesn't change the fact that she has a violently sensitive side, and she's not afraid to show you what she thinks about anything you do that offends her.

Pangea December Goals:

1) Same as before - watch her comfort levels, especially as she gets bigger! 
Success! She went through a small period of discomfort with this last bogging down of mud - it was only a day and it was minor, picking out her feet solved the problem.
2) Fine-tune dietary needs, starting in January changes will begin!
Success! We just added in alfalfa this month, just 1/2 flake in the AM. In January, that will up to 1/2 flake AM/PM, then in February 1 flake AM and 1/2 PM, then March 1AM and 1PM and stay there - depending on her weight. In January, she also is having her vit/min supplement upped as per its feeding recommendations for pregnant mares. Beyond that, everything else will stay the same - she might be growing a baby but she is not wasting more calories than she has to on it, and is packing the rest of them away for herself!

3) Next rhino shot!
Success! And also, self explanatory.


Basically December didn't go as planned, for a lot of reasons. Barring really awful January weather - which is unfortunately more likely than not to happen - we'll be sticking to a much stricter schedule. Our first HDT is in April, after all! That's not very far away!


O-Ren January Goals:
1) Practice and memorize all Training level dressage tests (specifically ones needed for the two upcoming HDTs)
2) Cones work - practice cones in the new cart at show measurements
3) Whip work - teaching left-right cues
4) Steady transitions, always!
5) Start to plan out show season, show clothes/tack/equipment needed!

Pangea January Goals:
1) Change diet
2) Solidly make plans for vax/deworming dates up through due date


O has had nine days off for her winter vacation. She's not a horse that can be hammered on continually forever without experiencing some mental backslide - she really benefits from bits of time off here and there to refresh her brain. She always comes back from these breaks fresher and better... although admittedly there is a time limit to this, as she gets super spicy and feisty on the ground if she has *too* many days in a row off. I know she's had too many days off if she is doing random aerials for no reason in her paddock, and she is about at that level now!

As for me, I've spent the past few days working, doing general end-of-year chores and paperwork, setting up 2015 goals and calendars (and the show schedule!), and giving my harness an amazingly good cleaning. Tomorrow O lunges, then we will be back to driving, provided our forecasted ice storm doesn't come in too hard and shut us all down for a few days. (Not likely but when they do hit, everything on the planet shuts down here, so we all have to be prepared for it!)


  1. I'd be interesting to hear some of your whip-training sessions, when you start them!

  2. cant believe your baby is due in like 3 months!

  3. bummer that the weather was such an interference, but hopefully january bodes better! also - kinda impressed with how tidy those harness pieces look laid out for cleaning. pretty sure if i even so much as touched them, they'd turn into an indecipherable jigsaw puzzle lol

  4. Eh sometimes progress stalls out, especially in the winter. Not a big deal. You're still doing great. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the weather holds out.

  5. I am sure you have probably considered it, but I would highly recommend starting O's whip education on the ground considering how potentially reactive she can be.

    I like to start with moving the horse's four corners (left and right shoulders and hips) and ultimately being able to move them all both directions regardless of where I am standing. From there it's establishing the top of the croup as "go forward" followed by the "whip-yield" (i.e. leg-yield, but yielding to the whip pressure).

    I personally find the leg-yield as one of the most indispensable aids in driving. Being able to redirect the horse's attention and ask them to soften and focus at the same time is so important. I don't know how people manage driving without the use of the whipn it's like riding without ever using your legs!

    Good luck in your continued work with her!