Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 74--Jessica has been a bad, bad blogger!

Where did the last month go? All the sudden, a whole month has gone by and I haven't updated my blog. I know, I know--shame on me. Well, we have a little less than one month to go before the competition in June, so I'll try to keep you updated better between now and then. If you guys want to know more about the competition schedule and buying tickets for the exciting events, please visit www.extrememustangmakeover.com

Well, Cash and I have done a lot in the past month, that's for sure! We've done an all day cow working clinic, where we learned a bit about stopping and turning a cow. We've visited CSU during their Spring Fling horse show, on the english day--we were a bit out of place in a western saddle, but it was great to be in the CSU arena (where the comp. will be in June) with a bunch of other horses. We've been hitting the trails (alone so far) around the ranch here. And we've been on our first official "away" trail ride to Mount Margaret. We even have done a bit of english riding and have started playing over jumps.

Cash is really starting to mature in his riding. His right lead canter (previously a pain to get) now comes very easily. We "mostly" have a walk to canter transition, as long as he's awake and ready for it. We've got pretty smooth simple lead changes. And we've started doing our bridleless work. In fact, when I rode him on Sunday, I had the bridle on but completely dropped the reins and hardly touched them for the last half hour of our ride, which included canter circles, simple lead changes, stops from the canter, and backing up with no hands. It was pretty cool. I was so happy and proud at the and of that ride. He's really coming along.

We've found a bit that works great for him and fits well in his little mouth with his big tongue. Finding a bit that works certainly has been a challenge, but the PeeWee bit has won the prize. Theresa at Happy Horse suggested it, and Cash really likes it. It's gentle and comfortable for his mouth and really minimizes lip pressure. I'm sure you can google it to find out about it if you're interested.

He has been an absolute star out on the trails! We go out alone from the house here in Bonner Peak and he has no hesitation about leaving home alone. He's yet to spook at anything, although one bright shiny red car that passed us on the road did cause him to do a double-take. Maybe he saw his handsome reflection. He was amazing amazing amazing on our Mount Margaret trail ride. We rode for about 4 1/2 hours, wore saddlebags, crossed a river and lots of smaller water, opened and closed gates, and rode up a short section of steep rocky stuff. It was such a pleasant ride because he was nonplussed by everything. In fact, a little too nonplussed. Even going home back towards the trailer, he "had his mosey on." He was happy to be out trail riding, but not in a hurry to get anywhere. We had to do lots of trot to catch up with the other horses walking--and they were walking at a normal speed, certainly not power-walking.

I've liked Cash from the beginning, but I am really starting to fall for him now. It was that ride without reins and the big trail ride that really sealed the deal. He was like some 20yo deadbroke horse that had been trail riding his whole life. Hard to find that in a 4yo--especially one that was "wild" only two and a half months ago. So if anyone knows of someone who wants to adopt a mustang and donate him back to his trainer so that the trainer can use him to promote the American mustang, feel free to pass my info along! At one of the EMM events this year, that exact thing happened when the mom of some country singer star won a mustang for $25k and is having the trainer keep him so he can travel and promote the breed. But alas, I know no country singers nor their mothers...

Day 74 pictures

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Where's Cash?

On Sunday, Bob and I were working on the telephone pole wall in the arena (we're 4 poles away from being completely finished!) when we heard the hay shed door in Cash's paddock close. We looked up to the paddock, and Cash was missing. His paddock gate was closed, so the only possibility was that he was in the hay shed. Sure enough, there he was, happy as a clam, eating away in this dark, narrow little hay storage area, completely closed in. The hay storage part of the shed is barely big enough for a horse to get in there, but he's a pretty small horse, so somehow he manages to get in there and turn around. I figure I must've left the latch undone, the wind blew the door open, Cash seized his opportunity, and then the wind blew the door shut again. He sure is a nut! A cute nut, but a nut nonetheless.

Day 45--a 6hour clinic and bareback beginnings

Cash and I spent the bulk of last week working on getting our basics better and better--stopping soft and straight, leg yielding at the walk and trot, more energetic upward transitions, etc. And, of course, getting rid of his gate magnetism. Each ride he improves with that, but we really had to work on him not pushing his shoulder out towards the gate in the arena, and therefore drifting towards the gate whenever we do a circle or such. I think the equine motivational device (aka dressage whip) may come into play soon if he doesn't give up the gate drift. Seems like even if I make him work-work-work at the gate and then go rest elsewhere he still gets drawn towards it, so I think the E.M.D. may provide some extra incentive to not even give the gate drift thing a try.

We did an all day (6 hours with a lunch break in the middle) clinic on Saturday with Amy Lesatz, our cowhorse trainer. This wasn't a cow clinic, but we worked on stuff that will help us be better on the cattle. The clinic was in Longmont, so Cash got to see a new place--the outdoor arena in the morning and then the indoor arena when the drizzle turned to real rain in the afternoon. Cash was excellent until he got tired of cantering, especially to the right. He started out great to the left and then decided he was done and really, really wanted to come into the group of horses standing in the middle of the arena. So I let him go to the middle, but made him work-work-work in the middle until he made the decision on his own to leave the middle, then he got to rest. Near the horses in the middle = hard work, choosing to leave the horses in the middle that once seemed so appealing = rest. He eventually "got it" each time we worked on it, but boy did he ever make me work hard that day. But that made two things really clear to me--we need to get our right lead better, and I super-duper really need to make those areas of "draw" less appealing to Cash. After 6 hours of work that day, I think both Cash and I slept well that night.

Since we worked so hard Saturday, and since he had a chiropractic adjustment afterwards, we took it easy Sunday and Monday and started playing around bareback. I've never had an issue with a horse when they're being ridden bareback for the first time, and Cash was no exception. He definitely had to get used to the different feel, but he took it all in stride. By the end of our second bareback ride, he was steering completely off of my leg at the walk--even over our obstacles. You can see in the pictures that I'm riding around with my hands on my hips. The last few pictures are of us backing up and doing a turn on the haunches off of his neckrope only. We both still need to get comfortable trotting bareback together before I start steering him off of my leg bareback in the trot, but we're getting there...bareback and bridleless, here we come!

His back, however, is not exactly a wide and comfortable back to ride on. All I have to say is I may be investing in some padded bicycling shorts or something soon!

And we also played around with some more groundwork stuff--I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Day 45--almost halfway there on our 100 day journey!

Day 45 pictures

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 37--Cash's first show experience

Saturday, Cash went to his very first horse show to hang out and soak in the atmosphere. We went to the Rocky Mountain Saddle Club show in Wellington, which was nice since it's so close to us. Cash did great when we first got there and settled at the trailer right away with his hay bag to munch from. He stood there nicely while we groomed and tacked and stayed quiet even though there were anxious horses all around whinnying and calling. He got to lose the socks and show off his locks again--I'm sure he was appreciative that he didn't have to be seen in pubic with those silly things on.

We got to meet another fellow Mustang Makeover mustang at the show, being trained by Levi. If you look at the pictures, he's the bay horse being ridden by the cowboy in the light tan chaps. His mustang ("Remington", I think?) seemed to do great in the busy show environment. It was interesting to see our two mustangs interact a bit--it almost seemed like they knew each other.

When I first got on Cash in the warm-up area, he did well while we walked around a bit. Then another horse came into the warm-up area and was cantering around us, and Cash felt like this little ball of yahoo! that wanted to get out, so I got off and we did some ground work to get his mind back in the right place. He didn't do anything naughty under saddle, but he was letting me know that he felt like it. After our groundwork, he was much more settled, and we were able to ride in the big arena while people were warming up for the gymkhana events.

When we first got into the big arena, Cash's gate magnet was working in overdrive--that's the built-in device that automatically draws him towards the gate in any arena. So we went to the gate and did countless itty-bitty trot circles at the gate. Trot trot trot at the gate, then to somewhere else in the arena to rest. Pretty soon, he realized that the gate meant work and away from the gate was a better place to be.

Once we got over that, we rode around and trotted and cantered in the group of about 25 horses that were in the arena with us. It was a crazy arena! Having horses gallop past us and such took a little getting used to, but by the end of our time, Cash felt VERY settled and calm and relaxed. He really felt great.

On Sunday, we were going to go to the team penning event at Spicer Arena in Eaton, but it was cancelled. So instead, we stayed home and learned to lay down. Yep, Cash is now laying down. Not exactly on command, but I did get him to lay down three times with only a little bit of fuss. We'll keep working on that till it becomes easier and more automatic for him. I'll get pictures of that soon!

By the way, in case you don't already know, you can click on the pictures posted on this blog to view a larger, more detailed picture--that might help you find us in some of the busy arena pictures from the show.

Day 37 Pictures

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 32

Well, we have a few exciting updates for this past week. Cash got his teeth floated on Monday, and that went really well. I was unsure how Cash was going to be with needles/shots and with tools being shoved down his mouth and such, but he did great. He was sedated of course, but he did better than some ol' broke horses with the whole deal.

Since his teeth were floated, I've started riding him with a bit. The bit isn't exactly his favorite thing yet, but he's quickly getting used to it. Lots of chewing and getting his tongue under the bit and then back over, and lots of funny faces. I think he looks quite handsome in his bridle--makes him look all grown up.

We've been continuing with our desensitizing, as you can see from the pictures below. I've been trying to think of silly things to do, and a towel seemed like something fun to play with. You can see that he was more interested in chewing on his bit than he was about the big white thing covering his face.

We've started with our cowhorse lessons with Amy LeSatz in Eaton. We haven't worked a cow yet, but she's been teaching me the correct way to drive, stop, turn, and fade away from a cow. It's a lot of fun, and I think we'll get to work some cows next week. Cash did see a few cows through the fence, and he's VERY interested in them. Ears perked forward, all eyes on the cow.

Stay tuned for our next adventures--we'll be going to the RMSC show in Wellington on Saturday and then to the team penning event at Spicer Arena in Eaton on Sunday. Should be fun!

Day 32 Pictures