Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dentist appointment

~Bodhi with a hangover and swat in his itchy ears~

Bodhi got his teeth done yesterday. It went well though at first it was a little scary. Bodhi is a cheep date so to speak and really became a little too drowsy with the medication. He fell to his knees at one point which made me grimace but quickly got right back up again. The tooth that was missing from a kick (so the previous owner reports) is probably not going to grow in at all. Evidently if horses lose a baby tooth in trauma the adult tooth fails to form. Poor Bodhi. Besides his MIA tooth he has now officially lost all of his baby teeth! The last one fell out a few weeks ago. Bodhi is now all grown up!

The Vet said Bodhi looked great. We taped him at 1015. She said she would rate him a 5+. This is good though I feel like he could use a little bit more muscle tone. Any advise out there for conditioning my rotund pony? I ride as it is 3 to 4 times a week for about 30 mins to and hour. We work on collection, transitions, and lateral work at all three gates. He does not have much stamina for the dressage work however and gets really tired after 30 mins or less. I don't blame him as it is a lot of work to learn to move his young body in the ways I am asking him to.

On a side note I am always worried about over working him, especially since he is a small horse and I am average sized woman. Now that we have an accurate guess on his weight I feel better...
120+10 pounds of saddle(?)/1015=12.8% or about 13%
I have always heard that horses should not carry more than 17% though I have heard from haflinger owners that they can carry 20%. Either way even if my saddle weighs more than that we are still good. hmmm I wonder...
120*.13= 15.6 So if I was to have a rider in the proportions of my self on Bodhi than I would be carrying a large cat or a small monkey. I think I could handle that!
No more complaining Bodhi! :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bodhi goes bitless!

The Picture is of Satin,my barn manager's horse sporting her new bridle. Kathy said she was a very good girl.

Tried Bodhi out in a Cook's Bitless Bridle yesterday. Overall I give it a thumbs up!

First on the quality-- My barn manager purchased the Beta full sized bridle in brown. It looks very nice and the quality seems to be very high. The bridle fit her 16 hh very drafty type Appy's head as well as Bodhi who is bordering between Arab and Full and measuring in at 14 something.

I did some in hand work and some lateral work on the ground first to gauge Bodhi's opinion on the "head hug" action. Bodhi was in a super lazy sluggish mood so he could care less and was practically asleep so I decided to try it under saddle.

I was very conservative with my contact at first and left him alone to warm up. He did his normal routine of stretching though he was very stiff and sluggish. We then moved on to transitions, some serpentines and then a bit of canter work. Bodhi's bad habit is to stiffen his neck and fall on the forehand making it difficult to turn him. He has a very short neck and he is a draft so pulling is an art form for him! Even at the canter though (which is when his vice is worst) He was very respectable of my leg and rein. I was impressed. The one time he got stiff and stubborn was when I wanted to turn him away from the people at the fence line (We had attracted a few curious on lookers to witness our experiment) I gave him a few good tugs and got him going. He did not seem at all offended by the bridle's pressure so that seems to work as well. The only part I did not like was he was very "up" and I could not get a steady contact or any feeling of give. It may be out of confusion since he had not bit to give to or it could have been an off day for him as far as stiffness in the neck and back. In a bit I would have asked him to take some contact and pay attention with louder aides until I got a desired result. With the bitless I did not know what the cause was so was not about to fight about it.
After our ride I walked him around the barn areas to see how he was in the bitless in his spooky areas. It could have been just the day and not the bridle but he seemed much more relaxed around the hay barn and the quarantine cat pen (which he is terrified of by the way-- maybe it is the smell of cats?). If this does in deed turn out to be the case I think his spookiness is related to my nerves translating through the bridle to him. That has always been my hunch. I do have some nerve issues I am working through so the bitless may be a way to spare Bodhi of some of my more subtle stiffness in my upper body in the meantime. A good thing for sure.

Synopsis: I found that our lateral work was pretty good! He turned well and gave laterally with little pressure. He did great in his downward transitions though he always stops well! I am a bit worried that I will not be able achieve the same amount of contact and lightness in order to practice in a more advanced frame needed for dressage. Another few rides are in order to really come to any conclusions though. This bridle may be a great thing for trail, pleasure days, and also to use when other people want to ride Bodhi.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Liberty work and making friends.

The New barn is a quiet one. I usually do not see the other boarders for weeks if ever. To my surprise when I arrived yesterday there was not one, but two other boarders already grooming and fussing over their charges. One was the boarder my husband has named "crabby Abby" here name is not Abby, though she is indeed a little uptight. The other I had not met before but she seemed sweet. She was the owner of the old TB cross "JW" that I had taken a special liking to.

Bodhi got his feet trimmed yesterday by a new farrier so instead of riding I gave him a bath and then took him into the riding ring for some liberty work. Our liberty work is really developing. Bodhi now stays close to me and will lunge at the walk and trot around me as if I had a lounge line attached. I have found I can turn him by turning my own shoulders into the circle or out to widen the circle or change directions. We worked on cantering down the long side of the ring and then circling at each end at the trot. I try and match my feet to his feet and that seems to really translate well for him. If I want him to trot out I lengthen my stride and if I want him to collect I collect. He has always had a hard time cantering on the lunge line but I have found instead of chasing him with the lunge whip around a circle if I just change my trot to a "lope" beside him he quickly matches it! He even got his bad lead once (with a snarky little buck to show me how much he protested) He stops on a dime when I stop moving my feet and say whoa. I probably look like a crazy person but it is an amazing to play with my horse in this fashion. It is a very proud moment for me. I never thought he would be the type to choose to stay connected and play when he could just go to the other side of the ring and avoid me. He is a clever boy who avoids work like the plague.

I was so engrossed with my Bodhi bonding experience I did not hear JW's owner walk up to the ring until I heard her voice. Bodhi and and I both stopped and looked over to her as she repeated "Don't you want a lunge line?"
I could not shake the feeling of being reprimanded for something-"Oh, no thanks! I'm fine"
"It's no trouble at all I can find you one"
"Thanks but I am doing some liberty work with Bodhi today so I don't need one"
"Liberty work?!"
At this point I had flipped my whip in Bodhi's direction and he began to circle around me at a slow jog. He was stretching his neck all the way to the ground. I asked for halt which he dutifully gave.
"That is pretty good. JW would just run away and eat grass." I guess that was a compliment but I still felt like she thought I was a little crazy. Maybe liberty work is taboo in some circles or disciplines? I am not sure. I always feel like I am the last one to figure these sorts of things out. I felt a self conscious twinge and ended the session anyways. I felt like I was finally breaking down the barriers of communication and on the verge of discovery and she made me feel like I had put my saddle on backwards. Oh well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why Horses? How I see it

Two blogs that I follow Tucker the Wunderkind and Eye on the Horsee posted some wonderful pictures that illustrate why they choose to have horses in their lives despite the cost in time, money and sometimes sanity!
Here are a few of mine. I hope anyone who sees this will share with me the pictures they feel capture that special feeling one get's with equines.
The Pictures are...

-Dancer, The nervous TB mare, coming up to me after liberty work

-Velour my first true equine partner getting a pre-ride stretch like he got everyday that I owned him (5 years) or rode him (10 years)

-Bodhi caught looking beautiful and wild during a lesson one day.

-Bodhi and I sharing some quality time in the barn isle after a ride

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bareback, bitless and carefree?

Bodhi and I are well. The rain has kept us from doing a lot of riding and the accompanied blues from all these gray days has kept me from posting. Bodhi and I are still struggling with the canter work. We do best bareback so I have ridden the last two times that way and had some nice canter departs. It is really hard for me to sit back and straight at the canter and my trainer thinks (and I think she is right) that it is causing Bodhi to go on the forehand. I think this issue with my posture is the last major cross road I am hitting from my change over from hunt seat to dressage. I have not found my groove yet at the canter so everything just feels wrong! Ech! I am a dressage rider now but it is so hard to let go of the old comfortable ways of riding. Practice is what it will take of course and I seem to find my balanced place better when I ride bareback so I will stick with that.

Since I have been riding a lot bareback I have been getting Bodhi very light with seat and leg aids and really trying to think "reins for headset only" as my trainer always reminds. That got me to thinking why do I need to stick metal in my horse's mouth to accomplish this and would he not be softer if I tried something like a bitless?
SO I am thinking about Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle

It seems well regarded....Has anyone personally used it?

Although it is expensive and I feel not essential (I already have two nice bit bridles for heaven's sake!) I feel compelled to try it. The website offers a one month trial period so if I do not like it I don't have to buy it. Can't lose right?