Shedding!

We have shedding! Quite a decent amount. Not enough though in my opinion. Scarlet and I are getting to ride longer during the week now that it is staying lighter. Longer rides means more sweating. Since he still has most of his long hair, he gets pretty wet during our rides. I’d prefer for him to have less hair to keep the sweat. The past few days, I’ve been giving him a really vigorous currying before we ride. I tried to use a shedding comb but it didn’t seem to catch much. It would just be another step in grooming. Currying seemed to remove enough hair.

Scarlet is less worried about the corner now and more concerned about the whole fence line. It’s no longer the battle it used to be to get him to go anywhere along the fence but it is still annoying to have to work through it. Mostly I feel annoyed that even when we ride by it, he is testing my leg and pushing through it. I feel like this is one area where I am not experienced enough in knowing how to use my aids. Theoretically, I know that I need to block him with my (in this case) inside leg and rein in order to keep him going straight. But I do not really understand how to block him more than I currently am. We work through these issues as we ride but it takes up a large chunk of our time and energy. Sometimes it even throws us off enough that I cannot follow through with my planned ride for the day.

Thursday and Friday we focused on transitions. I want our transitions to be better. We really did improve. The first few are always fairly sloppy which is unfortunate. But Scarlet seemed to be listening much better as we went along. He improved a lot. I’m now worried that I am not able to sit correctly for downward transitions. They almost always feel bumpy to me. I think that I tense too much when I ask for it so I don’t move with Scarlet while we are doing the transition.

So I keep going through and working hard on the things I know I can do. I’ll save up my money and then have a laundry list of things that I want to go over when I can finally afford a lesson or two.

On the light side of things, Saturday was just an easy ride. I set up a tiny little cross rail before I got Scarlet out for the ride. We did just the basic warm up necessary and then I popped him over the fence a dozen or so times. We trotted a rough figure eight over it. Scarlet didn’t even need to try when trotting. He just picked his feet up a bit higher. The canter jumps were a bit messier. We didn’t have any real chips or long jumps like the last time I set up a jump. He was a little too excited with the canter jumps. We had a bunch of counter bend issues when I was cantering after the jump. We also had an issue with him not cantering after we get over the jump. I had considered us done at that point but when he didn’t continue cantering after the jump, I decided that we needed to do a few more to make sure that he was listening. The last few were fine except the counter bending so I called it good.

I let him roll in the round pen while I put the jump away. He made sure to get himself well covered, getting down on both sides and rolling. I then groomed him and got on him bareback with his halter on. I meant to grab my kindle so I could let him sit for a bit longer while he ate but he wasn’t responsive to moving close to the fence and was getting upset. So I gave up on that this time and sat on him for 10-15 minutes while he ate grass. It was a nice end to a good fun ride.

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Missed Post

Apologies for not posting on Sunday. Many reasons for that that mostly boil down to I was having a bad week and only made it out to see Scarlet once.

I went out on Saturday. Scarlet was super muddy and has finally started to shed more than a couple of hairs. It isn’t quite enough to need a shedding comb, though. Annoyingly so. I can get an okay amount of hair up when I’m currying. But it gets all over my hands! Shedding hair is so sticky too. Hopefully, his shedding speeds up soon so we can get past the hair loss phase.

The arena was a little sloppy since it rained a day before. Not bad, though. I was able to go around the outside of the arena with no issues. I was surprised at how easy it was to get Scarlet to go past the corner again. We went through our basic warm-up of walk/trot/canter. While we were warming up, another person came into the arena. Scarlet started to try and chase after the other horse, which was annoying. I worked on walk-trot transitions with him, which was quite hard while he was not focusing on me. I wish more people rode during the times that we did so that I could work on Scarlet’s tendency to chase other horses. Sunday I didn’t go out since I was really not feeling it. I did go Monday after work which was good. It was a surprisingly good ride, considering I’d only been out one other time in a week. Scarlet was very well behaved. We didn’t have any issue with the corner either. I’m cautiously optimistic that this is a trend and the days which Scarlet does have an issue with that corner will become the oddity, not the other way around.

Sunday I didn’t go out since I was really not feeling it. I did go Monday after work which was good. It was a surprisingly good ride, considering I’d only been out one other time in a week. Scarlet was very well behaved. We didn’t have any issue with the corner either. I’m cautiously optimistic that this is a trend and the days which Scarlet does have an issue with that corner will become the oddity, not the other way around.

I didn’t work on much since I wasn’t mentally able to do that. I did work on walk/trot transitions. We got a few good responses toward the end of the ride. I’m pleased with that. I know that half or more of the issue is actually me. I’ve never been good at downward transitions. I know this. Since I’m aware of it, I probably tense up more than necessary during the transition. I need to get a lesson’s help on a few things like that. There isn’t room in the budget for that at the moment though I’ve been looking into ways to get some extra income that is devoted just to horse things and not household expenses. Maybe lessons will become a possibility sometime in the nearer future.

One thing I really would like to make a goal of and actually follow through with is riding bareback. I have never been able to do that well. I whole-heartedly agree that bareback improves your seat immensely. And I want to have a very secure and balanced seat since that is one of the most important things to have as a rider, in my opinion. I need to try and add in a bareback ride once a week, even if it is just cooling down. I need to get better at it. I’m making a goal! I will force myself to do it! Do not get lazy! No excuses!

Now if I just follow through. =P

Mighty Foe

Oh ye mightiest of foes! You have tried to best us yet have failed again!

Scarlet and I encountered yet another issue with the corner yesterday. We had mostly positive experiences since my friend helped us get over the fear of the corner. When I got on Scarlet on Tuesday, we headed into the corner and he stopped, planting his forelegs. His head was high as he stared at the new menace sitting about 30 feet away on the other side of the fence. It was… a garbage can. When I urged him to go forward, he spun away. I wouldn’t let him turn away completely from that side of the arena so he side passed away as fast as he possibly could. He bounced a few times like he was trying to rear. It was all so ridiculous that I was giggling the whole time. I managed to wrestle him back over to that side about fifteen feet from the rail. I then worked him with rollbacks keeping the garbage can in sight until I could get him to walk along the rail.

I find it highly amusing that one tiny change was so scary to him. It’s typical but it’s still funny. It’s more the magnitude of his reaction. This was much more energetic than his responses have been in a long time. We have a tool now for dealing with his reactions that seems to work well. It’s a relief to have something because it allows me to be amused rather than frustrated.

I worked on walk-halt-walk transitions a bit. The downward ones aren’t amazing but I had a couple of good ones. I’m a bit unsure of the upward ones. I feel like they were good because there was no hesitation on moving out. I’ve read that an engaged horse steps out with his hind legs first. Scarlet stepped out with a hind and front leg really close together. I believe he stepped with his front slightly earlier than his hind but it felt engaged rather than him dragging himself forward. I think it’s better than we had before.

I managed to mostly fix my boot. I got a new zipper back on the teeth and got the boot zipped up. I think I may have pinched the pull a little tight. It’s really hard to get the zipper completely pulled up. I need to get some type of wax or something so that I can get it easier to pull. Otherwise I’m going to repeat the exact thing that got us into this mess. I still need to sew up the bottom of the zipper so the pull doesn’t slip off the bottom.

On Tuesday I just went out to play with Scarlet. I wanted to ride but my boot was still out of commission and I didn’t really want to try riding in my beat up western boots. Plus, I didn’t end up playing around with him on Sunday with jumps and grazing like I meant to. He needs a break just doing silly stuff sometimes.

I got him out of his pen and took him into the arena. I took the lead line off and expected him to go running off and kick up his heels. But he didn’t. He decided to just stay stuck by my shoulder. I thought maybe if I ran he’d run and then realize he wasn’t tethered. But he didn’t do that either. He just decided to trot along side me. It was really cool. I’ve never noticed him tethering like that to me before. So I played around with it for a bit. We walked a few laps and trotted a bit. Halted. Backed up. He stayed by my shoulder for a while. Then he realized there was a bit of grass available and went off to graze. Which was what I was planning on letting him do in the first place.

After I let him wander around the arena for a while, I gathered him up and took him over to the grass to graze. I let him graze for a while. He doesn’t have any grass in his pen. I’d really prefer that he be in a pasture since I think its more natural and comfortable for horses but I haven’t been moved into one yet. I’ve let the barn owner know so I may be moved at some time. I may not. Someday I’d like to get to a place where Scarlet is on pasture or has turn out time so he can just be doing horsey things.

It was a fun relaxing time, watching him graze while sitting on the ground next to him. I need to remember to just goof around with my horse occasionally. Maybe we will even figure out how to trail ride without freaking out someday. 🙂

Continued Progress

I got to ride quite a bit this week. I rode Monday and Tuesday with Katie and Thursday, Friday and Saturday on my own, Its freaking amazing. I love love love being able to get out to the barn every day that I plan on doing so.

We are still dry right now so the arena is still in great shape and Scarlet’s pen is even drying out. I do hope that we get a bunch more rain, you know drought and all that, but its nice while it lasts.

For all of these days, I focused on keeping Scarlet moving forward. It was quite enjoyable to ride him like that but its definitely a work out. Scarlet seemed to enjoy it a lot. He got pretty dang sweaty each day. I floofed up his hair to help him dry off but I cannot wait for his winter coat to shed. I’ve been keeping an eye on his hair to see if there is any shedding. It doesn’t seem like there is any more loose hairs than you will normally get when grooming.

The corner seems to still be okay. I will occasionally get a spin spook when chickens or a dog moves on the other side of the fence. Honestly, its quite frustrating that I’ve been working on this corner for so long with him and Katie comes in and tells me to do one thing and its fixed. Its frustrating because it feels like someone knows my horse better than myself. I know that sometimes you can be too close to the issue and a fresh point of view helps. But everyone really wants to be the one that fixes their own problems, me especially. Not that I am not grateful for the help. It allows me to focus on other things now. It still stinks though that I wasn’t the one to figure out the answer.

Earlier this week, my boot zipper completely fell apart. I haven’t gotten a new zipper pull to try and stick on and finding replacement boots really isn’t that easy. Its super annoying because I had just gotten this boot zipper repaired. Since the only other pair of boots I have are western boots, I’ve been using vet wrap to tape up my boot in order to keep riding. It looks silly but it works! I’m hoping to get some time to go searching for boots at the local tack store soon. I may go with slightly higher end boots. I don’t want to spend too much but I also do not want to have the boots fall apart. Mostly I need to look at comfort and fit. Hopefully there is a decent selection.

Since we’ve worked so hard this week, I’m planning on having Sunday be a for fun day. We don’t do trail rides as I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing those on my own and there really isn’t anywhere safe to do them around our barn. I thought I’d set up some jumps before we get on and do a brief warm up then hop over them. Scarlet really enjoys jumping so popping around a low jump would probably be really fun for him. Then I’m planning on getting on him bareback with the halter and letting him eat for a while. He doesn’t have grass in his pen so he will probably love it. I’m thinking about bringing my kindle as well so I can stay on for a while and not be bored. I think it will be fun!

Sharing with Friends

I gave Scarlet Sunday off since I had ridden him more this last week than I had in the last month.

On Monday, my friend Katie who had come to town went out to ride with me. She was one of the only reasons that I was able to ride at all in college. She let me ride her horse quite often and take care of him when she was out of town.

We rode for just over an hour. It was great to have someone on the ground for a change. She was able to give me a pointer for getting Scarlet to go by the corner. We rode around and rolled back to go the other direction before he got so far that his eye was no longer on the corner. We did that a couple of times and then let him walk on when he walked through the corner. It seemed to work pretty well. Hopefully, this will keep working and we can get over that corner.

She also helped me identify when Scarlet was engaging his hind legs properly. He probably could have engaged more but we can work up to that. Scarlet always moves fast and with energy so its difficult to tell if he is engaged. I’m really happy that we got someone to work on that with me. It takes a lot of effort to really get him to work though. I’m definitely going to have to work as hard as he is working. I feel lazy typing that. Sometimes it really is nice to just be lazy and have a relaxed ride. I can still do that. I just need to not be lazy 90% of the time and lazy 10%.

Katie got on Scarlet as well. She said she really liked him. Obviously this made me happy since Scarlet is my boy. She said his strides are much larger than he is. It definitely is a big stride and he is a work out to ride due to that.

Poor Scarlet was all sweaty when we were done with him. He was even lathered up in between his hind legs. We cooled him off well and fluffed up the hair so he could dry well. He got some grass and some grain when we put him away. It’s a ridiculously hot spell right now. Upper 70’s for the whole day and Scarlet hasn’t even started shedding yet. He probably wont for another month or so. The hot spell is only supposed to last for a week but it’s still a long time to be in his winter coat in spring weather.

We also rode on Tuesday. There was an immediate improvement on the corner. He kinda looked at it as we walked past but I asked him to move over so he did. We power walked around and used our backs well. I worked on my position a bit. So sore now. Scarlet ended up being super sweaty again. But that’s okay. It’s mostly due to his coat and we made sure that he was cool and dry before we put him away. Katie definitely gave us some great tips that we can use to improve even when she isn’t able to ride with me. I love having friends that love to ride.

3 In a Row

I got to ride three days in a row! Its so exciting to be able to be riding consistently again. Scarlet’s sore is healing up really well. Its just bare skin now. There is even some hair coming back in the spot as well. All pluses in my book. It also hasn’t been raining so the arena is back to normal conditions. In fact, its not supposed to rain for at least two weeks here. Its both good and bad in my mind. Good because Scarlet’s pen will get a chance to dry up and bad because, hey, we are in California. We need the rain super badly.

I got to ride Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning. On Thursday, I went out after work. There happened to be a lot of people there. Unusual for a Thursday. Wednesdays seem to be a popular day but not normally Thursdays. Scarlet and his buddy next to him were a little worked up. They were dashing around their pens and nipping at each other over the fence. I think they were worked up due to people practicing barrel patterns in the arena. Scarlet seemed fine when I brought him out though.

I tied him to a hitching post that we don’t normally use since its closer to the fence he doesn’t like. I did that because someone else was using the one in front of the tack room and there was a halter hanging from the one I normally use. I didn’t want to be tacking Scarlet up and then have that person come out in the middle of the process and need the hitching post. So I used the free one that I don’t normally use.

It turned out to not be such a great idea. I was cleaning out Scarlet’s last hoof when he spooked at something. I let him pull it out of my hand and backed off a bit. He didn’t spook too badly. He had stopped when the rope pulled on his face and was staring at the fence. I stepped up to him to try to help calm him down. Then he spooked again. And stepped his whole foot onto my right foot.

If you’ve had a horse step on you before, you know the pain. If you haven’t, just think about the fact that horses are – on average- 1000 lbs and they wear steel shoes. Suffice to say, it really, really hurts.

It felt like he was on my foot for forever but it was probably only 3-5 seconds. I let out a few choice cuss words when he was off and had to sit down for a bit until the pain passed. After it did, I moved him to our normal hitching post and quickly tacked him up. My foot hurt but it didn’t hurt badly enough to make me think that it was broken. I rode him around for a while, walking and trotting.

It swelled a bit that night and some the next day but it didn’t seem to be bad. I rode on Friday and it actually hurt less than in my tennis shoes since boots supported my foot better. We cantered a bit but I wasn’t trying to do too much since I want to steadily get him back into shape.

Saturday we just walked and trotted but we had so many issues with the corner and side in general. We had several spin and spooks and he refused to get closer to the fence than 10 feet. I had things to do later in the day so I decided that it would be better to just cut off that side of the arena and not fight with him. Scarlet settled down after I did that and we had a decent ride.

I’m planning on giving him Sunday off so that he can rest. This is a lot more work than he has had to do recently. And my friend is in town so we are going to ride together during the week and I want him to be ready for that.

Yay riding!

Sloppy Arena

I got to ride Scarlet on Tuesday. The rain really came down here. We even got flash flood warnings on Sunday. So everything was really wet Sunday. I don’t have an indoor to ride in and I don’t relish getting soaked while riding. Monday I had a chiro appointment so I couldn’t make it out to Scarlet before it got dark. So Tuesday it is.

The arena definitely was showing the effects of the rain. It wasn’t super bad but it definitely was soft and sloppy. Since the footing wasn’t great, I really didn’t do anything with Scarlet. We just walked in circles for a while. It isn’t the great, stamina building ride I was hoping for but it was surprisingly relaxing. Riding my horse is so good for my mental health.

I let him graze for a while after I got off today. Its so funny to watch him eat grass. No matter how well fed he is, Scarlet stuffs it into his mouth like he has never eaten before. Even when he was on grass pasture all the time, he would always bit and keep adding to the mouthful he already had. Horses are silly creatures sometimes.

My horse friend may be in from out of town this coming weekend. I’m excited to have her meet Scarlet since she hasn’t been back in town since I got him back. I’m also hoping to use her truck to haul in a few more poles. I think I asked my barn owner early on if she minded me bringing in more poles and she was okay with it but I’m not entirely sure. I’ll have to ask her again before the weekend. If so, I’m excited to get paints and start making some more poles. I definitely am looking forward to setting up some trot poles on the weekends.

I actually thought I’d try to use trot poles to cheat in the scary corner with Scarlet. My trainer and I used to use that when I first got him and he just would not focus during a lesson. Instead of working him till he expended enough energy to finally focus, we would stick out a trot pole or two and he would focus right in on that. It was magic. I’m hoping to either put a few poles in a spoke patter in the corner or put a pole at the entrance and a pole at the exit to get him to focus on that and not the scary. I just need him to start associating that corner with something other than scary noises and shadows.