Thursday, October 15, 2009

School - Oct 15th

From Bob:
We did our 3+ mile ride with a saddle tonight. We did some gentle hills, finishing at dark. We trotted most of the flat and uphill and walked all of the downhill. Diego led most of the way. He reluctantly led past a giant puddle that took up most of the road. LaLa led over some big dirt mounds that someone built to discourage motorcycles. Diego started out looking around a lot, but he was fairly relaxed the whole ride. He stopped in his tracks a few times to look at monsters (including a bicycle in the dark) but never really spooked. I rode on a loose rein with only occasional contact the whole ride. He was a really good boy! =)

See you Saturday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

School - Oct 14th

From Bob:

Diego got a 12-minute ride in the back yard. He started out good and just got better. I was walking and trotting all kinds of patterns. Every time he anticipated what I was going to ask, I would do something else to keep him listening. The only thing he did wrong was jerking his head from side to side at the trot early in the ride. He was relaxed the whole time.

I'm going to try to take him out for 3+ miles on Thursday. I'll use a saddle and take Dovie and LaLa. Friday should be a ride like the one I did today.

Monday, October 12, 2009

School - Oct 12th, Me Riding

I went out and rode Diego today after work. I almost didn't go, since I'm just not feeling right, like I'm trying to get sick (Note: I ended up getting REALLY sick and was pretty miserable the rest of the week). Plus it was windy and kind of cold today. But I really want to take Dig on the 10-mile 4H Trail Ride this Saturday (10/17) and I honestly need to get out and get on him if that's to be my goal. The weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse tomorrow (Tues.), so I sucked it up and went out this evening after work.

Actually, our ride tonight was much better than Sunday the 4th. Diego had to stop and watch the neighbor kids jumping on the trampoline in their backyard for a while, but after a bit it wasn't nearly so interesting. We did a lot of walking and trotting around the round pen and he did great. Only a couple of little scoots and MUCH better on the trotting this time. He felt more steady and secure, less worried about what I might be doing up top.

After a bit, I opened up the gate and rode him out and around the yard. When he would get tense, I would ride back toward the round pen and do a loop or two around the outside, or go into to the pen, around, and then back out. He eventually stayed more relaxed outside of the pen. For me, I don't want him to be tense at all when I'm riding, and when he gets tense, that's a sign to me that I need to change something to make him more comfortable. Either get him back into a more familiar environment, or go back to doing something more simple for a bit until he can relax again. When he's tense and worried, he's not learning very much and is very unfocused. Getting his focus back and getting him relaxed becomes my #1 priority.

Bob ended up getting on Surprise and riding around with us for a while as well. I rode Diego back into the round pen (with the gate open) and Bob rode around the outside. We both went the same direction, in opposite directions, at different speeds, etc. Bob would ride next to me and then I'd have Dig turn off and change direction, and come back along the rail going the opposite way. Or slow to a walk and have Surprise trot off and leave us. Diego didn't seem to care at all and was very relaxed and even seemed to be having fun playing the little game.

I'm looking forward to the trail ride this weekend. It will be a big milestone for us.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

School - Oct 10th, a bit of excitement

From Bob:
Today, Anjolina and Dovie took Carmel and LaLa to a 4-H show two blocks away. I headed to the park on Diego to expose him to more excitement. He really didn't want to go by himself, but he grudgingly did what I asked.

Just after making the left turn one block down, he stopped and then seemed to be willing to walk nicely. Suddenly, he spooked out from under me. It was a classic Arab sideways spook, not a deliberate bucking frenzy, or anything like that. I landed on my back, and he pulled away, slipped, and fell on his butt. He got up and trotted towards home as if nothing had happened. Judy, who lives next door, was riding her horse and helped me grab him. He has a few minor scrapes, and my back will probably be sore for a few days. No big deal for either of us.

I led him back to the park, found a mounting block, and got on. He was a little spooky until I found Carmel and LaLa. After that, he practically fell asleep watching the competition. Carmel didn't want to do anything without LaLa, so we rode LaLa and Diego into the arena for the "lineup" after one of the classes. Diego actually did better than LaLa, though that isn't saying much. I eventually rode him home without incident. When we got to the round pen, he wanted to stop and go in on his own. I made him do an extra lap and stop on my terms, not his.

When he stops, a light tap or two from the crop is working nicely. He moves forward without acting like he's thinking about exploding.

I should have told you, but we're giving him a little grain every night so he won't feel left out when everyone else gets theirs. (Awww)

Friday, October 9, 2009

School - Oct 9th

From Bob:
We had another great ride today! Anjolina and I repeated Diego's longest trail ride, about 1.5 miles. I skipped the saddle today. The skittishness only lasted about 45 seconds. He opened and closed the gate as well as Penny does it. He didn't seem to care when we left the road to make room for an ATV. Diego led, followed, and went next to Carmel. He does best when he leads. We trotted about 40%. We had a couple of minor butt tucks, but no spooks. He was very relaxed the whole ride. Diego is a good boy!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

School - Oct 8th

Some earlier communication between Bob and I:

I think he'll be ready for the 4-H 10-mile ride next weekend (17th or 18th). It's up to you which one of us rides him.

I definitely want Dig to do the 4-H ride. Have you ridden him with your saddle yet? I’m interested to see if he’s sticky/weird with you about that like he was with me on Sunday. Would one day be preferable over the other to come and ride?

Note: On Sunday, when I would go to move around, trot, or lean forward - Diego would throw on the brakes and totally stop. He was pretty tense and I spent a lot of time just walking him around in circles while I flopped around and moved all over as much as I felt comfortable doing.

I believe horses care more about your body language than what you put on their backs. The first time Surprise ever saw a saddle, I walked into her stall, let her examine it, and then put it on (no halter). I put on a bridle, led her out of the stall, and took her for a five-mile ride. To this day, she has never reacted to the saddle.

I'll probably try my saddle on him this weekend. I'm also planning a solo trail ride and a little cantering soon.

With Diego, when we were in Idaho and I was meeting him for the first time, I took him over to the trailer and tacked him up. He was fine, it was just him and I and, as far as I knew, he’d had a saddle on the week before (turned out this wasn’t true). We walked about 300 yards over to their round pen, again no issues, I turned him loose and all hell broke loose and he bucked around for a few minutes before I could get him to stop. That was NOT his first time wearing a saddle, and I had no prior expectations and had treated him like a broke horse. I didn't expect the saddle would have been an issue at all. Once he finally stopped, we had no further saddle or bucking issues.

Took him home, no trouble, no issues with the saddle or being tacked up. Never seemed to react again. Fast forward to June, I pull him out and go to throw the saddle up on him (it's been since early April since he was tacked up), and again he totally freaked out. My mom had a hold of him and they ended up going all over the yard, Diego was just a royal pain. He was also a little odd about it this past weekend, but it didn’t take much to get him to stand there and behave. I think he has a very sensitive back (or is sensitive ABOUT his back – two different issues in my mind). I’m hoping you’ll ride him a bit more in a saddle just because that’s what he needs to be used to for ME. ;) I’m also curious to see how he reacts to you leaning forward and moving around, like I was this weekend.

Sounds like I should put my saddle on him today or tomorrow, just to see what he does.

Update from later that day:

I put my saddle on, rode around the back yard with Anjolina, and then took him out on the trail by himself. As you suspected, he is more reluctant to go forward with the saddle. He sometimes backed when I wanted to walk or trot. He definitely didn't want to leave his mares behind.

We worked through everything without getting either of us upset. When I realized he wasn't going to do the entire trail ride that I had in mind, I made him walk forward and then turned him around on my terms, not his. He walked and trotted back nicely. We opened and closed the gate with a minimum of fuss both ways. I think he will be OK for the 4-H ride if he has a buddy or two. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

School - Oct 7th

From Bob:

Diego was extra good today!

I got back from Yosemite just after 6:00, and Anjolina was riding Carmel. Tammy showed up and I convinced everybody to go for a short trail ride. It took a while to get Penny and Diego ready. We didn't have much daylight, so we did our shortest trail ride.

The people across the street were roping cows, and I asked them not to do anything too exciting while Diego went by. They stopped as we rode past them. The first few minutes were a little tentative, but Diego settled down and led almost the entire way. On the way back, we had a car coming straight at us just as one of the riders across the street took after a cow. Diego just looked. He seemed half curious and half wary. No spook!

We opened and closed the gate on the way back into the yard. This was his best ride yet.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And then it was my turn

The Sunday after the Comstock Ride, I took Diego back over to Bob and Dovie's house and I had the chance to ride him around for a while. Dig's right front leg was pretty puffy and a little warm to the touch. He had wacked it pretty good during his shenanigans on Friday and being tied to the trailer for the large part of the weekend probably didn't help with it stocking up. I also was pretty tired and not feeling quite right (too busy the past few days) so chose to just ride him around in the round pen for a short time.
We both had a good time.

Dig Goes Camping

Diego got to experience overnight camping at a ride site this past weekend while I managed the Comstock Endurance Ride out in Lemmon Valley. This should end up being a really value-added experience for him and his future career as an endurance horse (crossing fingers). It also worked out REALLY well logistically, since Diego has been staying just two blocks from ride camp, so I was able to bring my camper and trailer over empty, and then just walk around the corner more or less to go pick him up. I went and fetched him on Friday and he spent Friday and Saturday nights camped out with us. My mom came up from California and stayed in my camper with me, she brought her Tennessee Walker - Joe to ride as well, so Dig had a neighbor to keep him company when they weren't riding.

Overall, Diego did really well camping out. He only shook the trailer/camper once the first night, but by the time I got up to see what he was doing, he was standing there looking sleepy and innocent. There were a few things that needed to be worked out though:
1. Diego is not allowed to have a water bucket. These equal a play thing in his mind. I tried, but he just wouldn't leave it alone. I took it away when he picked it up and was holding it in his mouth, daring me, and then dropped it when I walked over to him - totally splashing me with the wave upon impact with the ground! =) From then on I had to walk him over to the community tank, a 200+ gallon affair that he still tried to pick up with his teeth and play with.
2. Diego's hay bag is prone to attacking him by attaching itself to the snap on his halter temporarily. This will occur when you are having the ride meeting and 30+ people are standing around not 10 feet from where Mr. Dramatic is tied. He will freak out, pull back, and fall over onto the ground, at which point - he realizes 30+ people are staring at him and he'll get up and look embarrassed.

On Saturday, the day of the ride, Bob came over and rode Diego around camp bareback for a while. It was pretty windy, but didn't seem to cause any additional issues. He did very well, taking most everything in stride. He even went in between the arena fence and the metal bleachers for watching the horse shows. Diego got to follow us as we moved a table and drug around some chairs, and served as the "test dummy" in the morning while we were trying to see if the heart rate monitors were working.

Overall I was very proud of my boy. He did great for his first "camping" trip and really took the whole environment of the ride in stride. Check that step off the list to becoming a future endurance mount!
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