Friday, September 23, 2016

Green and Vintage

Picture taking boring, Stained glass interesting
After riding Connor and having my revelations about my right shoulder, I rode Roscoe to work on that point. The first ride was more of an energy burning, "I will outlast you," "you will listen" and "we will finish on a good note if it kills me" five year old, green pony kind of ride. Thank you first cooler day of the summer. I made him canter since he had so much energy. For once I did not have to work really hard to get the transition. He did include a few bucking comments, but I just pushed him on. Lot's of lateral moving of the feet later... I finally had a thinking, working pony. But it was not a ride to work on me at all. So the next day I rode him again.
This time he went right to work. He seemed to sense that the ride was not about him directly and gave me his lazy trot. I let him within reason. Meanwhile, I used the whip to place across my thumbs after making sure my reins were even. This gave me a more visual cue if my shoulder drifted. As Roscoe and I awkwardly continued on I could begin to see a difference in him. He also slowed down because oh yeah he was working correctly, ie, harder. By restricting myself, I placed boundaries for him to work within. And by focusing on me, I left him to figure out himself how to handle those boundaries. Roscoe amazes me sometimes with his problem solving and situational awareness. The answers he found were the right ones. He relaxed his neck, reached into the contact and began to travel a straighter path. I purposely kept my reins slightly longer, but he found the contact.
I really need to get out of his way more often and maybe he will fix himself :)
By the end of that ride, I could drop the inside rein and ride with just the outside. Roscoe was starting to figure out how to carry himself and not counter bend. He is still far away from perfect carriage, but the blocks for a solid base are developing.
Someone is getting more solid too
"Let's Go"
Not many days after that ride, I had thought to ride Roscoe again but my oldest decided to act cranky. Last time DaVinci acted that way, Peggy rode him and we had a few days of happier pony. So I tacked him up and actually worked him in the arena. DaVinci would prefer to walk the trails, but he is still fun to play with in the arena. If you ask him for shoulder in, half pass, walk pirouettes and haunches in, you can gain his attention. His trot is super bouncy now that his back has dropped, convincing me to try a walk to canter transition. So I set him up with a shoulder in and then asked for the depart. At 28 years old, with no work in months, vintage DaVinci stepped smoothly into a wonderful canter. I love that I can play when I ride DaVinci. His right lead is his tougher side, but he still managed an above average depart. He had a happy swish to his tail as we left the arena after working about 20 minutes.
Stand about as well as Roscoe
While I won't work Dottie and DaVinci in the heat and crazy humidity, they do get worked to maintain some old pony muscle. I want them to be able to get up for a while longer. Plus they both still have so much to offer. When I need a break from riding my green boy, the vintage boy is always refreshing. As long as they are happy and able to work, they will be on the roster.
I always find it a sad fact of the horse world that vintage horses are under appreciated. I know everyone is not as lucky as we are to be able keep them, but I still feel bad for the horses. Having a mix of young and old keeps the herd active and the dynamics are fun to watch. I can't wait to see how Ember integrates.


Even vintage ponies prefer to eat grass



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cob Jockey Puts A Cherry OnTop

I have made more than a few trips to Indiana over the last two years visiting Roscoe and then his foals. During that time Jen and I have talked about getting together, but it never panned out. So this trip I made sure to check with her about the dates. It helped that this trip included an extra day.
Big Brother Comrade
Year younger Brother, Connor

After watching Connor over the years, I have long wondered how similar he would be to Comrade. He was so young when we saw him in PA. Cobs really seem to hit their mature build at about 8 yrs old. When we walked him and saw him in his stall at Jen's barn, you could just see points of Comrade. Their head shape and muzzles are nearly the same. Connor's blaze makes his head look different, but it is more an illusion since Comrade only has a shooting star. Not surprising to Peggy and I, Connor is a big mooch. These brothers know how to turn the cute on when treats are around.
Jen tacked up Connor and we admired his Micklem and rubber reins. Then the show began. Peggy used my phone for video and Lisa took pictures using my camera.





 Though I have seen Jen ride in videos, it is so much better live. Like the difference between TV and live theater. You see the nuance, the communication between horse and rider, the bobbles and the successes. Peggy only recorded the beginning of Jen's ride because she really wanted to watch. I can't blame her. Jen and Connor are at a point in their training that the work can be fun even if it is hard. The tools available to train are the ones I find enjoyable. Her ride reminded me of when I ride DaVinci and can play around with the fun lateral movements to improve his work. Plus who can't help but admire the partnership they have developed.
Jen wanted to make sure Connor was ready for me. I told her I would be happy just sitting on him. Not often do I get the chance to just ride for fun with no expectations. With my horses and Comrade, I am training. With Connor, he is trained enough that I won't mess him up and he is trained enough I don't have to ride every step. Bottom line, though every time I get on a horse I hope we both get something out of the ride, this was purely for enjoyment and discovery.
Connor and Jen, super partners
Connor and I, super host pony



A big bonus to riding after Jen was that her stirrups are close to my own length, no wrapping leathers needed here.









 So here is what I discovered riding Connor:

Connor has the same walk as Comrade. Which is plus and minus for me. I hoped Connor would be a much better walker since he did not have the chiropractic issues Comrade dealt with. But on the other hand it was a plus because Comrade's walk was the same as Connor's. Maybe Comrade is not as far off as I thought and has bounced back. Anyway he got the same "move on, I expect more" from me as Comrade gets because after riding Rosemary, Roscoe and even DaVinci you can't help but want more.

I was surprised at the contact weight in the reins. Connor had times were he was close to the point of saying "Hold up my head please." I just told him to move on instead. If he wanted to poke his nose out, I was okay with it. I was not going to carry his head. DaVinci taught me that lesson. Eventually he did figure out that was not going to happen and we had some nice moments. The consistent contact was great though. Comrade is getting more comfortable with reaching into the contact, but that has been a long process.

The smile says it all :) Pardon my wild hair.
Connor is so straight compared to the wiggly Cobs I ride. I have been having an issue with my right rein getting droopy when I ride the greener Cobs. So riding Connor who knows how to travel straight, showed me that the droopy rein issue is all me. It seems my right shoulder wants to travel forward. I have to get used to rolling my should back every other step or so to check myself. I really enjoyed riding a horse who did not need me directing them to stay straight. The little things...



Connor likes to canter. Around a bend I asked him to step under and move on at the trot.  He surprised me with a lovely canter depart. My Cobs need more canter work so right now it is work to canter them. The ease of Connor was refreshing. You will see in the video where I did not manage the downward transition and he showed it by diving. Whoops!

Connor and I, Best Shot
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed riding Connor. Jen laughed when I said it was nice to ride a more made horse. Perspective is a funny thing sometimes. Connor gives me hope at what Comrade could develop into.
Getting  love from the one that matters
Jen put a cherry onto top when she asked if I wanted to jump. Uh, YES!!! No way was I turning down a chance to jump Connor.
Connor cantered over one pole and then to the little X she had set. Of course I worried about my rusty skills, but the jump was great even if we landed on the wrong lead. I took the jump one more time and we had a longer distance, but landed on the correct lead. Pure joy filled me. I seriously could have continued to jump him and even gone higher. I restrained myself though. Better to leave wanting more than to regret pushing too far.

Cob Jockey's cherry on top




Thanking the patient pony




After the ride, I got to spoil Connor while Jen gave him a shower. I love how he turns the cute on high when treats are around.

Now we need to get Jen to come out here and ride the Cobs. Maybe Comrade will be further along by that point. I called my Mom as we drove away to talk about my ride. I had to reassure her that I did in fact wear breeches and paddocks. My normal riding attire is just long pants and sneakers, so she was worried. Nothing like your Mom to ground you with one question.



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Riding High

I know I said my visit with Jen and Connor would be next, but it is getting bumped for a pony brag. It will be the next one though.
My mom took today off with the thought of bringing Rosemary and Comrade to a breakfast drive. We decided not to go since it is a long drive and Peggy just did the drive to/from Indiana last weekend. So instead we drove them both in the neighborhood. I orginally planned to stay at the barn and get night chores while they took them out, but Peggy was feeling on the edge of overheated and I went as a back up driver. The drive was fun and the horses were great about a few adjustments we made along the way.
"I am the best pony ever"
After the drive it was later than I expected and I almost finished up to head home. But my Mom mentioned working with Roscoe and Me over jumps. I ride alone so often that the chance to jump does not happen. Roscoe had already done a session dragging the pvc drag on the road earlier, but he was ready to work.  Any time we put his fly boots on he stomps his feet and is generally uncooperative. I laughed when I put his splint boots on because he stood still.
The final line
He focused on the poles Mom was setting up and walked over to check it out. She set up a raised pole to two trot poles to a single pole in a straight line. The distances were set close until we could see how he would travel. Roscoe went right through figuring out the pattern. He had a strong left drift, but other than keeping him straight I stayed out of his way. Mom ended up stretching the distances when he relaxed, opening his stride. Then Mom raised the single pole creating a raised to two trot poles to raised pattern. Again Roscoe strolled right through it. At one point he was so smooth, I felt like he was moving on the flat ground rather than over poles.
Posing next to his accomplisment
Mom raised one end to the middle height and rolled in one of the trot poles to create a ground line. By this point Roscoe was in total work mode and working the best I have ever felt him. So going through I asked for more and let him give the answer. His answer was to jump just the right amount. Mom raised the other end and Roscoe decided to trot in over the first and jump over the last. Then something happened I never expected. Traveling to the right, his easier direction, Roscoe jumped in and cantered over the pole and then jump over the second jump. I was so happy.
We ended with Mom raising the last jump to an X. Roscoe noticed the change, jumped in and then put on the brakes. I was able to block his right swerve and redirect him to walk over the X. On our last pass he jumped in, cantered two strides, trotted to the X and did an absolutely wonderful bascule over the jump. I halted him two strides after and just hugged him. I gave him sugar and hopped off. I love this pony. We have watched him from the day he was born and yet he still surprises us. This jump progression exercise showed how mature he has grown. I was riding high today and can't wait to see my baby continue to spread his wings.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Babies, Bloggers, Brothers and Big Trucks

The trip to Indiana was a blast. We had great weather the whole time we were there which was a bonus. Peggy and I headed out early Friday with hopes of making it in time to see the babies before dark. As we were in the mountains my phone signaled a text with something to download from Lisa. I knew they had to be a picture, most likely a baby picture so I pushed download. And was sorely disappointed by the fact that the mountains hindered the task. It took me an hour, but the effort was worth the fun picture of Ember looking like a cute ragamuffin. His foal coat is bleaching making him look like he has blond highlights.






At first we worried what traffic would be like as we neared Columbus, OH, but then we remembered that it was not Northern VA. Sure enough we could only laugh at the traffic we encountered. I guess that is one good thing about dealing with NOVA traffic on a regular basis, it makes most places feel like your speeding. Though we did experience our first near miss near Indianapolis when traffic came to a stop out of the blue. Oh yeah how a pile was avoided I am not sure but cars were swerving onto the shoulder. Fortunately the only one to suffer in our vehicle was my cross stitch pattern which received a needle poke. Better that than my finger.

Anyway we managed to arrive with enough light to see the babies. Who have certainly grown. Some have shed their foal coats, but some still have a bit to go. Peggy immediately thought Mini Me looked like Roscoe as a foal. She said she almost felt bad that we did not pick him because it felt like we were rejecting Roscoe. He is definitely a favorite. After meeting Baby Royal she understood why we did not pick her. She is a super filly and needs to go somewhere she can be the center of attention. With my herd that would not happen. Baby Royal does get to go to the American National Welsh Show at the end of the month. Can't wait to see her in the show ring.
The two colts going to Canada, have names but I will wait to share until the breeder does, leave the beginning of October. They both will get show experience at their new homes. Peggy loved on Baby D, Comrades full nephew, as much as he would let her. He has shed out to a lovely liver chestnut color that makes his white pop. And lucky him Baby Ff who loves to antagonize him will be coming with him. Baby Ff is the sweetest of all the foals. He is always coming up for loving. My Mom said that with his round belly right now his huge belly mark makes him look fat. We could not do too much with them all since they were in a 100 acre field, but the plan was to move them back to the house.



On Saturday, my "I don't want to jinx it" event finally happened. I will do a separate write up for it, but here are the basics. Jen of Cob Jockey has Connor stabled only 1.5 hour away from the breeders, so we made the trek to visit Comrade's full brother. We had a blogger meet up, Jen and I and a owner of full brothers meet up, Jen and Peggy. Actually we all met 6 years ago when we picked up Rosemary, but that was a fly by. Connor was actually in PA at a farm where we dropped off another Cob on the way home. We got to see Jen show off Connor's moves and I got to crawl on and see how he compared to Comrade. More on that in the next post including pictures and video.
Photo by Jen at the end of the ride

Rocketman
Reveille
Next up we stopped to visit Comrade's nephews from last year who were joined by my favorite half Welsh, Rocketman. He is on lay up from an injury. Looking at him I wish I had a warmblood to breed to Roscoe. Reveille is like a little Comrade so it is always fun to scratch on him. Echo is in that gangly yearling phase, but is still so cute. His sneech of a blaze has had a diet and is not as overpowering on his face. I am sure Ember will have that awkward phase too.


Echo

Then it was back to the babies for more scratches and getting them used to being touched. Each visit Ember is easier to approach. My boy is a serious thinker. He had to think hard about Peggy since she dared to kiss at him during the first meeting. Silly baby. The tough part is the mares who just want treats tend to push the babies away. I learned to ignore them and only give them treats when I felt like it. It is fun to be in a herd that big though.












Sunday morning we lazed around until Lisa was free to move the babies. I worked on my cross stitch when the cat allowed. Even the cat is special with her five toes on each foot. Oh and Peggy did some shopping inspired by our visit to Jen. Now Comrade has a Micklem bridle and super nice rubber reins on the way and I have a hair net coming. All from Riding Warehouse who had a Labor Day sale. We horse people know how to use our time wisely.
Then came time to bring the babies over. That was interesting since we had to get them into a smaller area in order to catch the oldest mares. With a big warmblood filly in the mix, that was fun. We managed it and got Ember and baby Ff  plus moms taken home. Poor Ember misjudged the step down and slipped. He ended up with a bloody scrape on both his left fetlocks. I told him not to worry we have a trailer with a ramp.
The next load was more interesting. We had the babies on the gravel road which decided to have more traffic than I have seen any time before and a little ditch that bothered the babies. So method A was to load Rosina and the filly. We managed to load Rosina, but the filly decided not to follow. And she did not want any pressure put on her. She is slightly opinionated. So we loaded Dyma Hi who the filly treats like an aunt. Nope no luck. So we loaded Rosalee and still no luck.
Onto method B, unload and retry. This time Rosalee and Mini Me went on first, followed by Dyma Hi and Baby D. This left Rosina visible at the back of the trailer. The filly said "NOT HAPPENING." She saw no reason too when her mom was right there. So onto method C, we walked Rosina and the filly home while Peggy drove the trailer. Ah well it got done.
The light was going and they were all more interested in the rich grass when we let them loose to do any moving. So I got a few more pictures and just enjoyed being around them.
Monday came with beautiful weather and I actually got some pictures of the babies before we left. The best part was Ember approached me for attention a few times. Finally he is getting comfortable with me. Just about six more weeks before he comes home.

The drive home went smoothly except for two points both involving big trucks in the mountains. The first was when a semi was merging onto the two lane road we were on and did not slow down so we could pass first. Peggy could not move over due to a SUV on the left. Fortunately Peggy's vehicle has good get up and go and we wiggled by the semi. I really did not want to be smooshed only four hours from home. Then about an hour or so later on 68 in MD we saw thick black smoke and flames coming from a semi on the side of the road. Again we had to pass next to it because the left lane was occupied. As we passed a man went behind us to try and stop the traffic. The steep grades are sometimes too much for a semi's brakes causing them to catch fire. It is always fun to see the runaway truck ramps along these roads. I told Peggy we were lucky to get by the truck since it would probably hold up traffic. Sure enough when I researched it later, the semi carrying pork products stopped eastbound traffic from 6pm to midnight. No one was hurt, but what a waste of bacon. Peggy and I were glad to make it home.

Here is a link to more pictures on Facebook: Album Indiana Visit