Working on the lunge line and some recaps

     One of my favorite things about Jellybean is when she nickers at me when I drive up. She sees my little green car and calls at me. She also calls for me if I call out her name to bring her in from the pasture. Then she usually runs towards me. This is incredibly fulfilling.

Hey mom! Look over here!

    One a more focused note, Jellybean and I are sticking to the schedule. On Friday we completed a round pen session. Robert helped me lunge Jellybean and I rode her. We are still working very hard at understanding what it means when I kick/nudge her with my foot. She isn’t learning this one too quickly. I’m hoping that repeated rides will help make the cue clear.

     Saturday was the Halloween playday, which I have already written about. Sunday we had another serious ride through the rainy farm land. The round pen was very wet, so I moved a little bit of dirt to encourage draining and got Jellybean dressed for our workout. We practiced what we already knew in the arena, then Robert stood on the ground and helped move Jellybean when she started trying to bite my foot instead of moving forward. We only did a little bit of trotting, since she was trying to cut the arena up to avoid the standing water.

     Monday was another work day for Jellybean. I put on her lunging clothes and we sloshed out to the large arena with the line and got ready to do some more work with the side reins. I am a little worried about over adjusting them and Jellybean revolting, so I have moved slowly with my adjustments. Turns out I have been worrying for nothing. The side reins only adjust so tight, and Jellybean is too small to feel any pressure from the tightest adjustment. Looks like I will be punching holes.

     I am going to ride her on Thursday I hope, unless the Halloween festivities take too long. Otherwise we will ride on Friday. Next week I hope to do some lunging over the trot poles and a couple of cross rails.

     In other news, we have been plagued by several obnoxious events which may have stolen Jellybean’s breakfast a couple of days in a row. First we noticed that Jellybean’s breakfast was being turned over in the aisle. Then a morning or two later, her grain was completely eaten! The next day she had no grain and minimal hay! This was getting obnoxious… then we saw her feed bin. WHICH WAS CHEWED THROUGH!

     We decided that the evil raccoons were trying to steal Jellybean’s food, and then we found out some horses were not tucked in for the night and spent their evening eating everyone else’s breakfast. We almost bought a game camera to see what was up, but it turns out we are going to instead catch the culprits. More on this story as it develops.

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Happy Halloween!

     Many people take great pleasure in dressing up their animals for Halloween. Apparently I am one of those people. The barn decided to have a play day and costume contest, which turned out to be a great idea! Robert and I brainstormed cool costumes (well Robert did, I am sadly lacking in creativity). Finally after deciding Jellybean the sheep would be too hard to pull off, we decided to make dragons and be dragon slayers! (These costumes would also conveniently double as Ren Faire costumes)

     Now many people are worried about dressing up their broke, well trained horses. You can imagine we were a little bit apprehensive about dressing up Jellybean. We decided to pick up some “dragon” wings (aka fairy wings) at the store and then make Jelly some horns and spikes. We planned to secure these things with a surcingle and her halter.

     Jellybean was a champ through all this, she only put up minimal fuss as I tied on her spikes (connecting her mane to her tail) and then attached her wings. She didn’t even care that much about her styrofoam horns. I call this a win. Once Jellybean was dressed, we started the costume contest! Jellybean and I won second place!! We were beaten by a very well done Cowboy/Indian pair! All in all a winning situation! And now the pictures:

     All in all, this was a successful day and Jellybean was a champion 🙂

First serious lunging session… and some lack of direction

     Last time I talked about Jellybean, I described my plan (or at least desire to have one). So Monday I got Jellybean ready and moved into the arena to check out the side reins I have for her lunging set up.

Mom, I know that picture isn’t flattering…

     Once we had our boots and surcingle on, we moved over to the large arena and put on some side reins. They were adjusted to #3, which correlates to not at all. She only felt pressure when she dropped her head very low or very left/right. We practiced our normal w/t/c with voice commands. I think our weaknesses on the line are keeping a consistent distance (which I need to research how to perfect…) and downward transitions (which I also need to research and brainstorm). The other weakness I see is a lack of exercises floating around in my brain. So I visited one of my favorite online booksellers, and ordered my very own lunging exercises ringside flip book. It should be here next Monday, just in time for our next lunging session!

     In other news, Jellybean is getting ready for some Halloween fun. I won’t spoil the surprise, but she’s going to dress up as something ferocious. She will also be enjoying a clean stall when the new shavings get here. I think we’re going to strip it ALL the way down, dry it out, and re-bed the entire thing.

     Stay tuned for the next riding update.

It rained, then poured, then flooded…

Howdy readers!   It has been awhile since I have regaled you with Jellybean antics.  Well rest assured she has not been quiet while it has been less than ideal for riding.

As the title suggests, we got a bit of rain around the barn the last week and a half.  well, Jellybean has certainly opened up her personality to let us know her displeasure at being in a stall all day.

She has started into her rebellious teen years with full force.  Amanda likes to have a neatly trimmed bridle path on her pretty little princess horse but, like every child, Jelly has decided she wants the exact opposite.  I present to you Jellybean’s mohawk…   (much to Amanda’s chagrin!)

Rear view
Side view 

Now, as you can imagine, being locked up in a stall can cause all sorts of mental fractures.  Here are a few pics of poor Jellybean having her day in the hurrr duuurrrrr  zone of stall life.

HEY!  HAY?  HAY?!?!
I am sooo  Emo right now…
Rawr!!!  I am pony give me hay!

Derp derp derp….   that is all.

I hope you enjoy this installment of better barns and stalls.  Tune in next time as we tour the great stalls of other famous horses.

Goals and Dreams

     Lately I have been revamping my schedule and trying to understand how I can be more productive. Now some of you that know me might say, Amanda, when do you ever take a break? And while that may be true, I think I can optimize my schedule and have time for some of this elusive relaxation of which Robert is always dreaming. So while I have been trying to become more productive at work (which is about five more blog entries), I also want to apply this to my barn time.

     Now the first step of optimization is identifying weak areas. My biggest challenge with riding currently is having a goal. Especially when it comes to Jellybean. I need a time schedule and I need planned exercises to stay on track. Aka Step One. Now when riding other horses, I have a similar problem. This is usually negated by riding school horses, who more often then not, simply need a confident rider to make them do. My other challenge is fitness. I need to work on strengthening my back and legs. This has been especially obvious during the recent jumping sessions.

     With the major problem identified, I guess I need to get started. So onto the Jellybean plan! With last weeks setback in mind, I want to get a regular schedule in place, no excuses. Jellybean is going to be my horse for a long (!) time and I don’t want to skimp now. So, we will be riding twice weekly, and having a ground work lesson one more day. So three days a week to get going. Now for the short lesson plan!

Week Review Learn Push Other
One W/T/C round pen Going forward with kick No person Introduce Side Reins
Two Moving off leg W/T under saddle Back up Long lining W/T/C
Three W/T directions Introduce canter Canter! Lunge over xrails
Four W/T/C W/T cutting pen W/T/C cutting pen Lunge Transitions
Five W/T cutting pen W/T/C cutting pen Transitions Side reins
Six W/T/C cutting pen W/T/C directions Transitions/directions ???

     Now this is exceptionally optimistic, but I think its time to be optimistic. I have been moving very slowly with Jellybean, and she has oscillated between boredom and over reactive. She needs more consistency, and I cannot commit to working her everyday. By the way, I forgot to mention, she is still growing! She was 14.2 1/2 and 800 lbs last time I measured her. And it looks like her chest is starting to widen. 

     I titled this post, Goals and Dreams, and I want to address the latter of those. Jellybean is somewhat of a dream for me to have. I always wanted my own horse. And sometimes it was hard watching others have their own horses while I hoped to have a school horse to ride. But I think everything worked out for me in the end. Jellybean is a great horse and we are going to do some great things. So, what are those things? For your convenience I present: a list (which also works out to a horsey bucket list of sorts).

  1. Event. Maybe as high as novice.
  2. Learn reining. Maybe not show quality, but be able to execute the necessary movements.
  3. Tempi changes. Because why not?
  4. Long distance trail ride
     I guess those jump quickest to my mind. In any case, the goal is really to be an all around rider. And do a little bit of everything 🙂 
Byron, our newest addition

A couple of steps back

     Jellybean is my first baby. And naturally, there are going to be some hiccups. We coasted past a pretty substantial hiccup last week. One of the challenges with the baby horses seems to be knowing when to move on and when to back up. Jellybean has been progressing well under saddle, we rode in the cutting pen twice with minor incidents. I decided I wanted to ride her in the pen again the other day, and she said not yet.

     Jellybean has a reasonably short attention span on a good day. She was especially impatient the other day. She didn’t want to move in any direction, she just wanted to sniff the ground and try to eat. I tried to move her forward with the dressage whip, and she didn’t pay any attention to it. Then she decided she was really bored and wouldn’t move towards one corner of the arena. She jumped backwards/sideways and wouldn’t move forward. 

     I had a moment of clarity. 

     With all my supposedly careful planning, I had jumped a few steps. Jellybean was excelling in the round pen, and instead of building her skills there, I tried to switch tracks and move forward too fast. Lets be real, if your horse won’t move forward, you don’t need to move to another arena. The dressage whip (unfortunately!!!) is not a substitute for learning to move off leg pressure. 

     In order to salvage the day, I decided to move back to the round pen and practice something we were both comfortable with. We lunged in both directions and called it a day. I think I will spend some time outlining our next steps. I’ll keep you posted.

Bonus pictures from before the rain:

Jellybean being social… not

Hey!

Nom nom fresh grass!

 And after the rain…

What are you looking at!

I’m hungry and my stall is wet >|

Playing in the pasture

     Jellybean spent a few days in her stall lately, so Sunday I made sure she got outside to play in the cooler weather. Jellybean had fun playing all day long, and when I got back yesterday evening, some of the other instructors were jumping their horses through a gymnastics exercise. During a break from their practicing, I spent some time playing with Jellybean.

     We are trying to develop a “chase” game, where I run at Jellybean and she runs, then I turn around and run away from her and she chases me. I like to make it interesting, and try to convince her to jump over small crossrails, but Jellybean is much too smart for this. She even took it a step further and plopped her nose between the crossrail and starting eating some of the grass there… guess she didn’t want any of my stupid jumping.