Trotting around in the round pen!

     Tuesday seems to be a good day for training. Robert is able to help me since he’s not kicking butt at Aikido, and we have a little bit of time to play with (until daylight savings anyways). So Tuesday we tacked Jellybean up and decided to have a round pen session. 

     Jellybean was very attentive and interested in what I was asking, and we finished our “pay attention” session quickly. As Rob and I have been learning to work together with the riding portion, we have realized that its good for him to warm Jellybean up to his expectations before I hop on. (Its obvious reading/writing it here…) So Robert works her both directions, specifically focusing on slow, calm turns. This is important because I want Jellybean to be non-reactive when I am on board. So Robert has been refining his control over her movements, with great results. 

     Anyways, so I get on Jellybean (still mounting from the rail, I need more practice from the ground before I start torturing Jellybean) and we walk around. Robert works the supporting roles of “wave hands when needed” and we walk and turn. Jellybean was really on top of her job, so we decided to push the envelope. We trotted around the round pen! 

     Robert helped with the gas pedal portion, and I tried to post gently and stay out of Jellybean’s way. She was (as usual) a champ and didn’t even care that there was a bonus person on her back. I told Robert we were going to transition downward, and I stopped posting and relaxed my seat, BAM we were walking 🙂

     There is something very refreshing about a young horse that is completely tuned into your aids. No insolence or misunderstanding when the cues are clean and consistent. Makes me very excited to continue our journey!

   So we finished out our lesson working more on walk/trot/whoa and really being impressed with Jellybean’s understanding. She was very tired from this exercise though, she was pretty sweaty and earned a hose off. We will keep walking and work on more turning. Then we might move over to the cutting pen 🙂


Most horses are too smart for their own good

     Jellybean is incredibly smart. I sometimes like to forget and assume she’s a baby and doesn’t know much… But she does know what she is supposed to be doing. I lapse sometimes, and try to “be nice.” As all the horse people know (including myself), there is no kindness in letting things slide. So I guess its confession time. 

     I have had Jellybean trimmed several times since I owned her. The first two times, I had one guy come out and I didn’t like his handle. He wanted three people standing around her to keep her still and then also wanted to tie her mouth shut and yell at her. I wasn’t really digging the treatment, so when another boarder mentioned he did trims, I decided to check it out. 

     The next guy has been pretty good. He knows what he’s doing and he doesn’t care if Jellybean loves him or hates him. So I grab Jellybean and let him get to work, and she tests him. She pins her ears and tries to bite him and kick him. I though he would get fierce with her, and he thought I would get fierce with her. No one did anything, except patiently try to get her leg. This happened for three trims. Now, you might be wondering, why I would let this continue. I don’t know why I didn’t deal with it. I made a couple of excuses for her, and hoped next time would be better, and then it wasn’t. 

     Then the vet came out to do some work, and Jellybean was nasty. She wasn’t letting the vet techs take her temperature. (It didn’t help that the tech was nervous). They finally got her temperature and then sedated her for the procedures and all was well. Until the vet tech suggested I talk to “a trainer experienced with young horses.” Words don’t really do justice to the fury. I decided Jellybean was done being a jerk. 

     So to get to the point… Yesterday Jellybean had a trim scheduled. The same guy came out and I told him my plan. With the assistance of the handy dressage whip, there was going to be no ugliness. Jellybean had no issue with her front right, and when he moved to the back right, she tried to get fresh. I whacked her a couple of times, and he tried to get her foot again. SHE PICKED IT RIGHT UP. 

     And this friends, leads us to the moral of the story. While I definitely expect this behavior from older horses, it seems my two year old tricked me into thinking she was [insert spooky, nervous, defiant, hateful]. Its always good to have a learning experience, and you can bet I will be repeating this lesson with the vet next spring. 

Jellybean as a baby

A riding video!

     So a week (or two) ago we had a good session with the riding. My primary goal on these first few weeks has been to present a lack of trauma. I want Jellybean to be ok with me sitting on her back during her normal work session. So first, I tack Jellybean up. Then I work her in both directions of the arena with minimal whip and lots of voice cues. I want her to whoa/walk/trot/canter on command. She knows what she should do, but sometimes she is just lazy. That’s when we get a little bit crazy with the directional changes to get her attention. 

      Once I think she is more focused (usually about 5-10 minutes) I use Robert’s assistance to allow me to step over from the fence onto her back. She never really cares about me sitting on her, she just wants to socialize with the other horses. Once I have my feet in the stirrups, Robert goes to the center of the round pen and repeats the same walk/turn exercise we have already completed. I complement the turns with the reins and my legs. 

     So we have been working on turning and moving forward independently of Robert and the whip in the center. We have progressed far enough that he doesn’t need the whip, but his body language is still very important. Unfortunately she gets very bored with this exercise very quickly… Either way, we are making progress in the right direction. At some point (aka when I am brave enough) we will ask for trotting. 

     Here’s the video I promised from last time!

Adventures in Center, TX

     So Sunday I was asked to tag along on an adventure to pick up a horse with a friend. Since I was looking at a 5 hour minimum road trip, I decided this would be a great new torture for Jellybean. So I told her we were going to a trip, and walked her up to the trailer. She wasn’t especially eager to get in, but she didn’t offer any resistance at all. She sniffed the shavings then walked right in 🙂

There is so much room for activities!
My eye is sticky 😦

     About 3 hours later, we arrived at the location to pick up the other horse. I unloaded Jellybean and offered her some water while I waited for the other horse to be loaded. She wasn’t interested in the water, but she did enjoy the grass field where we were hanging out. We nibbled some hay while the rest of the team worked on the other horse. Jellybean was completely happy to just hang out. Eventually I needed to help with the other horse, and I tied Jellybean to the trailer to hang out. She was also a champ then, hanging out. I also appreciated how much she likes me, since she would perk up and call to me whenever I walked around the trailer. 

Bored here…

Look how cute I look!

     Eventually, we got the other horse loaded and then started to convince Jellybean to get on the trailer. We loaded the other horse on the right side of the trailer, and Jellybean had to walk up beside him to stand on the left side of the trailer. She wasn’t too sure about walking so close to another horse (she doesn’t always play well with others), but with a little encouragement from the team, she walked on after a few minutes. I tossed the lead rope out the window, and scooted out between the two horse butts before they decided to try and meet each other!

He smells funny

Are we home yet?

     When we made it home, Jellybean was ready to get off the trailer and have some dinner. We tried to let the other horse back off the trailer, but he wasn’t buying it and he just kind of stood there with the lead rope around his neck while Jellybean turned her butt into his face. And then kicked at him. Unfortunately for Jelly, the trailer was hard steel, and it probably hurt her foot more than the trailer. Then the other guy got the message and rolled out. Jellybean then showed how grown up she was (again!!) and backed right off the trailer in the dark. She definitely got bonus hay.

     I promise the riding video is coming 😉

Eye Goop

     So last night I went to visit with Jellybean and noticed she has an abundance of thick, yellow/white goup in her eyes 😦 Tonight, we will flush out her eye with some saline and patience and see if that clears it up. Otherwise, looks like another visit from the vet…

     I’ll keep you posted

Supervised Turnout

     Jellybean has been enjoying her weekly session of riding, but in the mean time… What has she been up to? Well each evening when I am doing other barn chores, she has been turned out into a small paddock beside the riding arena. Another girl at the barn has been turning her horse, Simon, out as well. Jellybean likes Simon and acts a little bit scandalous with him. They have been gallivanting around and chasing each other with a fair amount of high pitched squeals. But hes a gelding and there is nothing that can get out of hand.

I can almost taste some grass!!

A little bit of room to run around 🙂

     She did really enjoy meeting the cows. Some of the other boarders keep calves at the farm, and they were practicing their roping. Part of that involves moving the calves through the paddock in which Jellybean was located. She was very interested in the calves and bossed them around. She seemed to like chasing things. I was very excited to see her bossing calves instead of children… I also love how curious and unafraid she is 🙂

     Real training session tomorrow, I hope Jellybean is prepared!