5/26/15: RIDE #6 on the beach a demonstration of my 6 mistakes.
Nala has some time off for the long weekend. I has planned just to work in the round pen on join-up today. A couple ladies were going to the beach and we were invited so I took the chance for a nice easy ride (LOL).
Nala was fine being saddled. MISTAKE #1: I forgot my gloves!
She walked nicely to the beach. Went down the dune trail. She stayed with the other horses on the way out. She started/spooked at a few items; sandcastles, changes in the ground color, holes, seaweed but she moved out nicely and we walked, trotted and cantered.
On our ride back there was a large log in the ocean. MISTAKE #2 move away from the scary object and turn to face it!
Nala is still not sure of the waves but will go in the shallow water of a retreating wave. The log rolled toward the horses, while Nala was sideways to the log, and both Nala and our little Arab friend Amore spooked, running sideways. I did not stay on her. I rolled off and landed up right on my feet. I think she over reacted but the group spook and the log was a new and scary experience.
I got back on and we rode back. Nala was being strong and wanted to go up hill but we were a block or two from our trail. I circled and encouraged her to relax. MISTAKE #3 cantering a “UP” energy horse.
We cantered a bit and she got a bit humpy. So we then walked calmly to our up hill trail.
MISTAKE #4/#5 Walk up hill! Go up the hill first with a high energy horse.
Nala was the second horse up and I tried to hold her to a trot up hill. She broke into the canter and made HUGE leaps up the dune. The sand was a bit deep since it had dried out a bit from our last trip. I did not even try to stay on. I jumped off and still holding the reins jerked her head up. I asked her to back. I was upset but I tried to school her rather than punish her. Leaping up hill leads to an uncomfortable situation (for us both). Anyway, I hopped back on and she walked calmly to the barn.
So, what could I have done differently? It was dinner time ( Mistake # 6) but I do not think a horse should be allowed to have a fit for missing dinner and she was doing ok in the round pen, not as joined up as usual, but not calling or pacing in a upset manner.
I could have just walked the beach to keep her energy low. I do want her to learn to behave well in a group and she moved fine with the other horses trotting and cantering on the way out. She did want to break into the canter rather than extend the trot.
I should have let her go up the hill first so she did not feel left behind. But that does not guarantee another result.
Anyway, it felt to me like she was having a tantrum or was expressing her exuberance, rather than she needed to bound her way up the hill. I will make her walk the hill next time. So ride #6 to the beach was a lesson for us both!
5/27/15 Beach Ride: Lucky # 7!
Nala was great today!
She called for the other horses when tacking up (she was the only one down by the barn), but I took her from the turn out field, and I did not pull her from dinner.
I worked her in the round pen with side reins, using the french link with lozenge, since I am too lazy to swap out the side reins. Then we did some join-up before I rode.
For our ride, I put in a jointed eggbutt bit with a copper roller and she seemed to use the roller to pacify herself. If you are counting this is another new to her bit #5. (She came with 1) a french link dee, 2) we went to a french link eggbutt (which worked fine), 3) we tried a french link lozenge, and 4) Dr. Cooks and 5) now this one an eggbutt with copper roller . Dover has a blog on mouth pieces of bits. http://blog.doversaddlery.com/types-of-horse-bits-part-1-mouthpieces/
We were asked to accompany Halla (Valhalla) on a beach training ride. I remembered my gloves. Nala made a small fuss leaving the arena area but once on trail she walked out like a champ and did not spook at all? We walked mostly and a bit of trot. Nala was calm, walking out on a loose rein. She did not try to go first on the beach, did not bolt or buck. She acted like a different horse from the day before.
She is so funny, with calm horses she acts up, with hyper horses she acts calm. I think she just needs more trail time/miles. I also fitted a western trail saddle on her but it was too low in the withers so my dressage will have to do. I think I could upgrade to full seat breeches or Fits for better traction in my slippery saddle.
5/28/15: Barn day off.
Planning for strength exercise as follows:
“1) If you have hills: Walk or trot SLOW and ROUND up the hill.
You don’t necessarily have to canter up the hills in order to build fitness, a walk or a slow trot will require your horse to really engage his back and hind end and will build a great amount of strength and fitness. Horses that are doing upper level eventing will eventually require cantering hills just to make sure they can gallop a 8+ minute track. But, I keep it at the slower gaits for my lower level horses.
2) If you don’t have hills (or alternate with hill work): Raised pole work.
Set up the poles at approximately 4.5 feet apart, first with alternating raised poles (the raised pole should be only a few inches off the ground). Then, once the horse is comfortable with this you can raise each one. Keep it to 3-5 poles total to start. There are lots of ways to play around with this, you can put the poles closer together (around 3ft) and walk them, you could put them to canter poles (around 10 ft) etc.
Again, do this work nice and round so the horse is truly engaged with the back and hind end, he’ll have to push and lift to get through the poles correctly.”
5/29/15 THREE MONTH UPDATE! Today vs. Day one (March 1st)
Week 11 vs. Day two
Today, I worked with Nala in the round pen. Lunging, free lunging, stepping over poles.
She has some high energy since two Arabs were moved to the across from the pen and ran around the whole time, also a tractor was moving about and a painter with a clear plastic tarp was working near by. She called out a bit but then adjusted pretty well.
After she calmed and joined up I took her out and we tacked up and rode in my crosby A/P saddle. The first time for her in this one.
She just looks amazing! She will have a few days off then back to riding next week. I accidentally bought WET senior grain with added molasses and that might be contributing to her high energy!
My farriers said to switch her to Purina Strategy Healthy Edge, our other option is Purina senior (my old horse was on this too) so once I am out of Senior grain, I will see how she does on a Purina product.