Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Side Reins to Saddle

The day before Roscoe's grand escape, he was kicked by Comrade. When I put him in the side reins that day he was slightly lame on the right hind. That cut the session short. I worried this would be like when Comrade got kicked by Addie and was lame for two weeks. Especially when he was worse after his run around with Rosemary.

Thankfully youth has its benefits. Before Mom left for Florida, we took him out to show her his side rein work. He was definitely feeling better. More than actually, since he was trotting fully with the side reins. Roscoe seems to figure out challenges quickly. We needed to raise the bar, by starting to connect the front end with the back end. I will put him in the balancing system soon, but for the moment we used the lunge line to create two lines. The outside line was run around his butt to encourage him to step under. This was new for him. The long lining we do for driving goes across his back. I loved being able to see some suspension come into his movement.

Stepping up to the challenge

Mom took some video of him trying the new work. I was itching to get in the saddle to see how it would translate.

He stretched down when released from the side reins. His neck had that relaxed flop that is something I am for. We may not be doing dressage tests yet, but I am happy with the pace he is developing. I really did think about doing a show, but the weather hindered too much ride time.

The weather delayed my chance to see how the side rein work translated to saddle work. Then Peggy got whacked in the head by her dog. She had a black eye forming and she was nauseous. I could not go riding in case she needed me. Eventually after a few hours, I checked on her and was reassured she was okay. That means it is time to ride Roscoe.

Right from the beginning I could tell he was accepting the contact better. He consistently reached into the bit at the walk. Plus he maintained his forward with little encouragement from me. My baby is growing up!!! I knew trot would be a challenge, so I tried to ask him when he had a nice feel at the walk. Then I kept my outside hand near the saddle horn to be consistent for him. He actually did better than I could have expected. I really wish someone could have videoed it for me so I could see if he looked as good as he did in side reins.
When he came above the bit, I only had to add inside leg and stay quiet with my hands. Then it was up to Roscoe to figure it out. He normally did within a few strides. What an amazing process to watch. The more he figured it out, the more I asked. We did transitions, where I set him up to maintain the contact through out. The success rate was more than half. I was so happy.

Roscoe is my first horse I started from the beginning. With the other horses we have had to slog through past issues or body problems. Is his freshness the reason he is learning so well? Whatever it is, I am one proud owner of a super smart pony.

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Is There A Reason Roscoe is Out With..."

I walked into the barn one morning and saw a blanket on the floor. Knowing that was not a good sign, I looked to see whose blanket had a problem. From a past repair, this blanket showed to be Rosemary's. And it had a new tear needing repair
Then I saw Rosemary in the stall behind me wearing a cooler and covered in dried sweat. She looked exhausted. I snuggled with her, looking her over, but still confused. She gave me no indication that anything bad had happened. She just seemed tired. After seeing the damaged blanket and her so sweaty, I was having visions of her stuck somewhere.
What the heck had happened? I had seen Larry walking around and waited to ask him. I never would have guessed what he explained.

It seems early that morning Peggy and Larry were awakened by their dog barking. Peggy ignored him, but Larry being less tolerant checked the situation. A glance outside had him asking Peggy "Is there a reason Roscoe is out with the girls?"

My jaw dropped. What the hell?

Roscoe had pushed the gate that has a notoriously loose pin and got it off allowing him to go through. Peggy said Rosemary ran Roscoe off whenever he went near Dottie.
Fierce Rosemary with her summer do

By time she got outside, Rosemary and Roscoe were racing around. She could appreciate watching the two cobs run, while trying to figure out how to separate them. She ended up widening the same gate he came through and waiting for them to run back into the other side. Once back with Comrade, Roscoe calmed down. Unfortunately for tired Rosemary, Comrade started charging her. Peggy checked over Roscoe before rescuing Rosemary. Poor pony girl took a nap later.

Sleepy Girl

Now we have to hope nothing happened before Peggy was watching. Plus we need to get the hot wire up very soon. Then I want a front row seat when his butt gets zapped.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Side Rein Assist

Now that Roscoe has been working under saddle for a while, he tries to resist the bit at times. Using the figure 8 has helped keep the bit in place, but he will flip his head when I take up contact. I decided it was time to bring in assistance: Side Reins.
Testing the limits

The rain had stopped when I got to the barn and the Red boys were naked, which made them irresistible. I put the surcingle and bridle on Roscoe with the side reins ready to use. I warmed him up by lunging him. He burned some energy while getting into work mode. Once he showed he was done being a tourist, I hooked the side reins on a loosely with just enough resistance if he raised his head high. This allowed him to begin to figure out the exercise.
When did he not show any negative reactions, I tightened the side reins a hole. This was enough contact to get him thinking. His trot slowed down as he tested the limits. Up, down, left, right, Roscoe was very thorough. When he reached down and forward, I clicked to reinforce the movement I supported. As I saw him working with it, I decided to increase the contact.

Working, Thinking, Trying
Of course this required me to wrap the side rein a couple times. I really need pony side reins. Anyway, Peggy came about this time with my phone. I tried to get some pictures, but Roscoe was not too cooperative. Once the camera was put away and he figured out Peggy was not saving him, he actually settled down even more. The increased contact seemed to be what he needed to put the puzzle together. He began to consistently reach down and forward. His trot opened up again as he got more comfortable. I knew that is was time to end the lesson.

I know fuzzy, but he is opening up his trot again

I unhooked the side reins and asked him to trot on. I wanted to let him stretch out, relax. What I got was confirmation the previous work was on the right track ( a constant worry for me with him). Roscoe trotted around long and low. That was absolutely the best looking stretchy circle I had ever seen. I wish I had the camera out so I could have a picture.
This side rein assist worked better than I expected. At some points in training, a horse has to figure things out for themselves. Side reins provide an unchanging, consistent contact, that Roscoe had to work through all by himself. All I had to do was keep him moving and watch the show. I can't wait to see how this will translate to his under saddle work.

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Don't Forget Me"

Wet Pony Girl
Recently between the melting snow and the rain, we have been covered in mud. Even the arena is a sloppy mess. This means riding is on the low end. Rosemary and I did go out and ride in the rain because frankly I was desperate. A willing pony, bareback pad and a bosal made the rain less of an issue. The ride was short and wet, but satisfied me and burned some pony energy.
Rosemary had just gotten into a kicking match with Comrade and the fence paid the price. Obviously some ponies need work. That fact was reinforced later when Roscoe and Comrade set to playing roughly. Plus they were snipping at each other near the gate. Mom told me to work the Red Boys  when I went to the barn one night.
Double Trouble

So my plan was to ride Roscoe, feed him and then ride Comrade while he was eating. You know what they say about plans. Well when I went to shut a stall for Roscoe I saw that the Red Boys water was tipped over. Thank you very much Comrade. This meant I had to fill water before riding. The time just ticked away. I did ride Roscoe and had a super ride. We even visited the canter again. Unfortunately, it was too late to ride Comrade. I finished barn chores while Roscoe ate and then turned him out. While walking back to the gate a weird shadow caught my eye. I looked over and smacked my head. I yelled to Peggy "Can I kill your horse?" Comrade had knocked over the 16gallon bucket yet again. I wished I could work him, but an early work day meant that was not possible. Later I told Mom I worked the wrong Red Boy.

After that fiasco I knew I had to ride Comrade. On Saturday, I called him in while Roscoe was eating. I tossed on the bareback pad and his bridle and headed out for a ride. He was totally full of it, but not in a stupid way. Even after all the time off he felt great. At one point I had to just let him cruise and burn some energy. Then I could ask him to focus. That pony gave me everything I asked for or at least did his best effort. We did some lateral work where he gave me a great haunches in. I breathed in and out asking for canter. Comrade stepped into to it smoothly to the left. A downward transition, change of direction before I asked for the true test, right lead. My jaw dropped as he gave me a transition just as nice as his left. Who was this pony?
We did more work than I expected because he seemed to want to please me. As great as he was, I was sorely wishing for a saddle. The lack of riding recently was showing in my thighs. We ended out on trail and I promised him I would make more time to ride him in the future.
Since the move to Peggy's, I have not ridden him as consistently. Partly because Roscoe is now working and partly because Peggy rides him. Some days Comrade looks at me as if saying "Don't forget me." Even as much of a mama's boy that he is, he misses the challenge of my rides. It is nice to know that he enjoys the work. I do too. We both need the time together regardless of other issues.
"Don't Forget Me, Cause I will remind you some way, some how"
I did ask him to stop dumping the water now that I worked him. The next day the water was intact but the rain barrel was tipped over. I just laughed as Comrade walked over and put his foot on it, so proud. "What you said to leave the water, not the rain barrel."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Just Call Me Betsy Ross

This winter has brought a number of blanket rips. At points I thought the carnage was beyond my skills. Sonny was one of the worst, but Winston decided he could cause more damage. With two of our 100grm blankets he was not satisfied going  through the outer later. Nope, he had to go through all three: liner, fill and outer. He certainly surpassed Sonny's biggest rip. All of these made me look for my inner Betsy Ross.

Winston's blankets were not safe though. Sonny made one more statement by ripping his sheet. Plus Winston keeps tearing off his surcingles on his 100grm blanket. For some reason they are really dry and just tear away below where I stitch. I think I need to order new surcingles.
So here are the pictures of the repair jobs and damage explanation.

Victim: DaVinci's Midweight
Inflicted By: Sonny


This was my first time fixing a tear this big. Sonny had grabbed on and held causing a huge tear. Over 45min of working, the blanket was back together again. With as many horses as we have, there are no blankets to spare.

Victim: DaVinci's 100grm blanket
Inflicted By: Winston

Not as long, but required stitching two layers

Winston had to show Sonny he could do better and tore through all three layers. It is never a good time to see fur where there should be blanket. I put this aside thinking it was beyond my limited skills. When we could not find this type of blanket for sale, we ordered liners. The Yankee in me could not let this blanket go without trying to fix it. As you can tell by the wet blanket, he is wearing it again. Poor thing looks like a patchwork blanket with more repairs on the other side.

Victim: Rosemary's 100grm blanket
Inflicted By: Winston

Winston exploring different angles...

Rosemary was not quite fast enough to escape Winston's jaws. Peggy watched as he latched on creating this lovely corner tear. And yes again he managed to go through all three layers. This was slightly easier to stitch then the above one.

Victim: Winston's 100grm blanket
Inflicted by: Winston

Fingers Crossed

Winston tore off one surcingle and tore one half way. I worked hard to sew them back on. That material is really hard to get a needle through. That fix lasted awhile, but he tore them both off over time. When I repaired, the other two, I put one surcingle back on this one. I made sure to burn the edge thinking he had just pulled it through the sewn edge. Unfortunately he had a surcingle dangling the other day. When I looked it had torn about an inch below where I sewed. So I took a surcingle off a dead sheet and put both on. Now lets hope at least one stays on.

Victim: Winston's Sheet
Inflicted By: Sonny

Just a new dart on his butt :)

Sonny had to let Winston know he still had some blanket ripping skills. He left this little love rip on his butt. Luckily only through the top layer. It was a little rough and made a fun time to stitch.

Now all the stitching in the world would not help these blankets be usable with out a great seam sealer. That is something we have. It has worked great for all these repairs. It is specifically made to fill in holes made by the needle.

Best Stuff

We got this seam sealer from Schneiders years ago and it is still good. This combined with Kiwi waterproofer gives new life to a turnout blanket. My Yankee heart is satisfied and my ten year old blankets live on.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Operation "Get Fat"


I wish I could see the questioning looks as you guys read this title. It certainly is one I never thought to write.

Okay not this fat...

Now for the story behind the title. Lisa, Roscoe's breeder, contacted me about a few other mares that may be added to his harem. She said he could be a busy boy during his stay. With all the "work" in his future and just the fact that stallion's burn so many calories during breeding season, we have to increase Roscoe's weight. He has never been one to carry much weight and he always looks light when going through a growth phase. This means we have our work cut out for us.
So Operation "Get Fat" begins with giving Roscoe a second meal and adding Senior Glow to both meals. The Senior Glow is what we feed the older horses and seems to satisfy hunger. It is a close equivalent to the Performance type of food offered by ADM. This process will also help us determine how much food he will need while he is gone. He is enjoying the special treatment and today he looked like he put on some weight.

Roscoe 3-12-15: Slighty Chunky

The next step will be putting him out in a neighbor's pasture. We will see what Dr. Green will do for him. That will prep him for the turn out he will have in Indiana. He will still wear a muzzle for this time out so that he does not over indulge.

In addition to adding weight, we are trying to build muscle too with riding. If he is fit, the work will not be as hard when he breeds. So the countdown begins. Just under two months until we bring him to Indiana.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Scary Roll Result

"No Worries,Mom"

Thursday brought hopefully the last of our snow and a scary moment. Mom and I made our way to the barn in the rain/sleet. Peggy called us en route to say the horses had hay. They all went into the stalls if they could. The Red boys made sad faces and got their bags hung near the barn, but out in the weather. They were pretty wet by time we got there.
As we started feeding and filling hay bags the snow started. We decided to kick the grey boys and the girls out and let the Red boys spend some time in the stalls. They needed the chance to dry and roll in the sawdust. So, once everyone had eaten and had a blanket change, we closed two stalls and brought the boys in.
Since the day he was born, Roscoe has hated being wet. He will rub on you, another horse, the wall or any other surface available. Getting dry is his only focus and he won't listen well during those periods. He is only slightly better now. When he came in we just shut the door and let him do his thing. A bit later I saw him covered in sawdust and thought it was a good time to change his blanket. I went into the stall, undid his surcingles and one leg strap. Then I had to get  him to stop rubbing on the stall guard especially since he has gone through them more than once. Well he backed off, but decided it was time to roll. I yelled at him and smacked his butt trying to keep him up. Nothing worked. The pain in the butt rolled with his blanket all but loose. I could only stand there and watch, hoping he would be okay. As soon as he gained his feet I straightened the blanket. Mom had gotten his halter on and I looked at him.
My heart just about stopped when I saw him holding his right hind up. That was the side with the leg strap still on. I was just thinking "Oh no, he broke himself and in the middle of a snow storm." I got his blanket off, but he was still favoring that leg. Neither of us could see any injury and worried about his tendons. Off and on he would put his foot down, so we had him walk to the aisle to get a clearer view. He did put weight on it to walk, a small relief. As he moved he did not show any lameness. When Mom palpated his leg he would pick up his foot. It was hard to tell whether he was picking it up because it hurt or because that is what he thought we wanted.
As we put his heavier blanket, he rested his left hind putting his weight on his right. We felt better after seeing that. Back in the stall he went right to eating hay. With the weather getting worse, we had to leave. So we told Peggy to keep an eye out for him and we made the 2hr drive home.
The next day, Peggy told us she left the Red boys in for the night, but she did not see any lameness when she put Roscoe out in the morning. Whew! Talk about a big relief. I checked his legs to make sure. No swelling, but he did pick his foot up. To see whether it was obedience or pain, I stood on the opposite side and felt the leg. This time he did not  react. Chalk it up to obedience. After this scary roll result, I am putting his halter on the next time he is wet and needs a blanket change.
Horses always have to keep life interesting...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snow Day = Snow Ride

We have had enough snow to keep things interesting without being overwhelming. What it has done is make driving difficult resulting in closures. One of those days was my day off, so no benefit to me. Then the other day Mom and I left to go to the barn before work, which was on a delay at the time. As we left our neighborhood, the radio announced that our work had gone Code Red. Snow DAY!!!

Super cute pony head against awesome scenery
Well we still needed to continue to the barn, but at least there was no rush. As we arrived the snow stopped and the sun came out. The day was actually quite nice. I told Peggy that we needed to go for a ride. First we did most of the chores, then we had lunch while watching the horses enjoy the sun. Finally we decided to ride before finishing the last chores.
The Cobs were chosen since they basically volunteered. I took Roscoe's blanket off and saw a sign of Spring...lots of loose hair. I could pull hand fulls off just rubbing him. Roscoe enjoyed the resulting massage. Then once his saddle on he rushed me to put his bridle on. He is always so ready to work. This ride was his first in the snow. He did not even care about the snow in the arena. Once I got his focus off of Rosemary and what Sonny was doing, he went right to work. Rosemary also was really happy to work. Her Cob was showing as she trotted around. The snow made them work almost as if they were doing poles. After we played around in the ring, we made Peggy happy by going for a trail ride. Walking to the trail head, Roscoe looked closely at the snow banks wondering where they came from. On the trail he was nosy too at the beginning. Then I felt him develop his huge flat footed walk and we were off. We stayed on the flatter portions of the trail to be safe, but still had a fulfilling ride. Comrade acted like he was the 3 yr old, jigging around behind Roscoe. It got to the point Roscoe started wondering if he was suppose to be doing something. He listened to me when I told him to just ignore Comrade. They all were so good on the snow ride.

3 Cobs after a Snow Ride

Considering how horrible the morning weather was, this ride was the exact opposite. As much fun as riding in the snow is, I could do without anymore. Unfortunately, there is more in the forecast for tomorrow.

Night Snow Ride with Rosemary a few days earlier