Thursday, March 27, 2014

Arena Exercises

Every once in a while, it pays off to ride with someone who rides a different discipline.  The majority of the people at my barn ride Western (90%), but there are about 4 of us who ride English.  My friend has a young dun quarter horse that she is running barrels on.  We happened to be riding at the same time last weekend, and she had been researching simple exercises for her barrel horse.  She does a really good idea of researching for ideas online.

Since I am working on similar objectives with Scottie (bending, suppleness, driving from behind), I asked her if I could work through her exercises with her.  It was actually a fun, simple, yet challenging ride.  I will definately use this exercise again.

The concept is simple: 4 ground poles in the arena.  While some of these exercises are meant to be done at a canter/lope, I did them all at a trot (obviously no flying lead changes).  My friend and I also made our circle bigger to make them a little easier.  For being basically a track-broke TB, Scottie did surprisingly well.   My friend did all exercises at a lope.

Although these exercises seem very rudimentary/simple (which they area...), they really did make both the horses and riders think about execution and correctness.  It was an easy way to pass a 35-45 minute ride.  I run out of ideas quickly with a green horse (you can only do so many trot poles and walk-trot transitions), so I am always looking for patterns to work on.   Plus this is an exercise that can be modified/expanded upon as Scottie and I progress.

Follow the link below for 7 exercises to do with only 4 ground poles in the arena.

Seven Exercises with 4 Ground Poles

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Scottie Update: March 2013

I've had Scottie about a month and a half.  She has gained weight, personality, and can now walk (and mostly trot!) a straight line :)  She still needs some weight, but she is getting there.

First some comparison pictures: 
Scottie second weekend: Feb 1st (ish), 2013
March 7, 2013
(white on backlegs is fungus ointment :( )

Scottie continues to be one of the most mellow horses I've encountered.  She has yet to be majorly fazed by anything.  She comes when called, and has excellent ground manners. 

Work over the past 1.5 months have included riding 3-4 times a week, with occasional lunging.  She is in much better shape and continues to be sound and barefoot.  I am hoping to work her more now that the time has changed.  Accomplishments include:

- sensitive and responds well to leg pressure (both directions, turning)
- good walk-trot and trot-walk transitions
- can walk and trot circles, including relatively small circles, without major bulging, as long as I remember to hold my outside leg
- easily and willingly trotting poles and itty bitty crossrails (really cavaletti- sized)
- backs easily
- stands well when tied, learning to stand quietly when mounted
- remains bombproof around normal barnyard choas
- I have ridden her solo down the neighborhood roads (still very close to barn).  She is not afraid of mailboxes, kids with basketballs, or big blue trash cans, and isn't overly herd bound

- willingly rides through ditches, water, different terrains (rock to asphalt to grass, etc)

I have ordered a surcingle and side reins, and will fit them this weekend.  I am not a HUGE fan of over lunging, but she doesn't yield to the bit at all, and I think side reins will get her started on getting used to contact.  I will try those this weekend for a short workout.

In other news her knee is healing well.  The first couple of weeks it looked like this:

and now it looks like this:

So it is getting there!  Taking its time, but no heat, and no soundness issues, but I am also not working her very hard.

The latest battle is the MUD.  Both Scottie and FM have scratches and the general south Louisiana spring leg funk that I am treating with a combination of salves that may or may not be working.  They have been getting turned out in the dirt sacrifice paddock/play pen because the back pasture is just too muddy.  Here are some pics of the TBs playing in the play pen