Tag Archives: mare

Being In Love

I must be fickle, because I always fall for whichever horse I happen to be working with – I loved Klondike because he was fun and responsive.  Rosie because she was simply magic, Afton because he was so confident to fences, Archie because of his sweet nature and how amazing he was to ride once I figured him out, and Mikey because… well who couldn’t resist Mikey?

So I shouldn’t be surprised when a new horse comes along and I find myself her number one fan.  I adore everything about Candace (or as I’ve taken to calling her, Miss Moneypenny – don’t ask why, my brain is just wired strangely).  Over the first week of riding her my primary goal was just to get her moving forward.  She was slow and quiet, and keeping her going was a real struggle. 

I am pleased to report, though, that we now have a “go” button.  Now that she is going more forward, it’s much easier to ride her – I can use my legs to get a better quality walk or trot, or move her over laterally, rather than constantly just trying to keep her going.  I think front shoes have helped and she is more comfortable stepping out, but she’s also gotten more confident and as a real tryer, she is happy to oblige as soon as she “gets it.” 

As she is weak behind still, I’ve been focusing mostly on really making her use herself behind, and travel straight.  She tends to carry her hind end to the left, regardless of which direction you’re going, which is a little hard for me to figure out.  I’ve learned that attempting to push her rear end over with my left leg sort of works, for a few steps, but then she just moves over more with her shoulders, so I’m having to learn to balance where my leg is and stay really consistent with the outside rein (basically asking for a right bend) to just keep her straight.

As she gets stronger that has improved a lot – thankfully our indoor here has mirrors at every end so I am able to visually keep tabs on things (and because I often feel straight/correct when I’m not, the mirrors are my #1 tool right now to make sure I’m not screwing her up).

Taking my cues from Jess, I’m also riding much more on contact and forward than I usually would at this stage.  And I’m using my neck strap. 🙂  This week she seems to be learning a little bit about stretching forward and down – though I don’t get a lot of it from her we’ve had some really great moments where I can feel her back come up as she starts to stretch, and it feels really lovely.  For a horse as petite as she is (she is not short, but she is definitely built like a baby and is quite svelte and petite bodied at the moment), she has a really big stride when she starts to engage, and it feels great.

I have cantered her a few times but because she really needs to strengthen her hind end I’m focusing a lot more on good forward trotting.  I will say, though, that her canter is to die for.  I have no idea what it looks like, but I LOVE to ride it.  She’s very fluid and smooth in her canter, with a nice natural rhythm (especially now that she is more responsive to leg) – it just feels easy and effortless.

Today was supposed to be her first trail ride, but all the rain the last few days made it quite muddy and I’d rather go out without slippery footing as an added variable.  Just from leading her through the field I’ve noted she doesn’t like mud (little princess!) though she will happily go right through puddles in the ring when you’re riding her.

She’s also picked up some weight, which makes me happy.  Some of the horses we’ve had here have been difficult to get weight on (Archie took a while, for example).  She is already broadening and filling out over the back and butt, and I think will be looking much better in another week or so.  We’ve been giving her extra feedings with added rice bran pellets and soaked alfalfa pellets, and I think that’s all she’ll need to continue rounding out.  Since the only picture I’ve posted of her so far was taken while she was still racing, I have to post one to show what she actually looked like on arrival.  They look a little different after they lose all that muscle and racehorse glow, haha!

She has the greatest attitude – nothing seems to phase her at all.  Walking up the driveway today all the boys came galloping across the field, tails and heels in the air, and she didn’t bat an eye.  All the mares are in heat (including her), but her big “acting out” is to whinny under saddle.  She’s learning to respect my space more (she can get a little gung ho about going through doorways and in/out of the barn, so I had to get after her to not get ahead of me or run me over, but she learned that pretty quick!).  She’s been ridden in all three rings here, and is easy in all of them (outside she is more distractable but quite good!).  She has earned many compliments from people on her attitude, they just cannot believe she’s three!  OK, so she’s 4 now by jockey club rules, but her birthday isn’t till March, so she’s still 3 to me!

This one is going to be a superstar – I love riding her, and she has the attitude to go far!  The stronger she gets, the prettier she moves, too. I can’t wait to post an “after” video in a few weeks because I know it will be amazing to see the difference from the earlier video!

And if all that wasn’t enough for me to love her, she sort of has a head like Rosey’s, with a “brain bump” 🙂  I love that.

Herd Bound Mares

Last night was a funny farm night 🙂  It’s about time too – work has been kicking my butt lately – thanks to a lawsuit we have very limited time to get a LOT of work done, basically major overhauls of our whole system.  Then management decided to be proactive by having us get our stuff in extra early – effectively cutting out three weeks of development and testing time.  I managed yesterday to get pretty much 90% of my stuff completed, and so left work feeling pretty good (of course today is not much better, though thankfully it’s production problems, which at least are more interesting to work on!).  Either way, I was tense and stressed when I left yesterday, so an afternoon out in Adamstown was pretty much exactly what I needed.

First up was Miss Sister.  Some people came out to look at her, and I’m pretty sure it’s not quite the right fit for what they need, but it’s always fun to see her anyway.  I pestered her a little bit about mane pulling, and sat there tugging on hair and not letting up until she stood still.  I figure if she starts to learn that standing still gets discomfort over with sooner, it will be a good lesson for her.  I hopped on her but she was quite fresh (it’s been what, months? Since the last ride) and my gut was saying it was not a good day to ride her too long.  She gets forward, and wants to tear around when she’s fresh, and if you hold her back she gets a little cranky.  It would be fine if I wanted to spend a half hour at a hand gallop, but with all the rain the ring really wasn’t up for it.  All that said, she really is kind of fun and interesting.  But herdbound, and quite unhappy to be pulled in by herself.  I think some more visits and work with her are in order (at least the weather is finally nice!)

Since they were looking for a hunter type horse, I thought I would pull Minnie in out of the field too.  Minnie, for those who don’t know, is Katerina’s daughter, a lovely dark bay mare with no white, just like mamma.  I’ve been salivating over her for a long time, because I’ve thought she was beautiful and my type of horse (but aren’t they all?).  When she first came to CANTER she was ridden a few times (and very good) but then managed to get a pasture injury that landed her in the horsey ICU and cost a fair amount of money to fix up.  Then she sat in fields, which has been all she’s done for a while.  I don’t think this horse has been ridden in a year.

Of course by the time I got halfway across the field, the whole group had migrated not only to the far end of the field, but to the other side of the gigantic hill, too.  I kind of wanted to turn back, but at that point, it’s almost like you can’t.  The whole “I’ve come THIS far!” thing was coming into play.  I tried to run, but Ariats are NOT made for running (truth be told, my old Tredsteps were much better, but when life gifts you ariats, you wear them). My toes were throbbing by the time I got up to Minnie. 

Then came the walk down the hill and across the field, which just seems impossibly long and tedious.  As soon as we got away from the main group of horses, Minnie started acting… well… obnoxious.  She wanted to go back, and wanted no part of being separated.  I’ve noticed this a lot with the mares, and it made me miss the geldings (really, I’ve never had one of the geldings do this to me!).  At this point I really wanted to throw in the towel, but as always, if you give in, it just makes it worse next time, so we kept going in fits and starts, a few times she tried to pivot away from me and run back, and a few times she tried to pivot INTO me and run back.  I was getting pretty testy by the time we got to the gate, but once we were out of the field she began acting like a lady again.

I turned her out to let her trot around a bit, and as always had to smile.  She’s a pretty mover even being very out of shape.  Of course, she was also working herself into a good sweat, going back and forth all anxious about where her buddies were. 

So of course, that means it’s a PERFECT time to ride, right?  Why not.

I listen to my gut a lot, and it hardly ever makes sense.  I’ve been on pretty easygoing horses and just had that feeling that maybe getting off now would be a good idea.  I can also look at a mare running frantically around a pen neighing her fool head off and think, “this is a GREAT idea!!!” 

My visitors had to go, but I’m pretty sure they might think I’m a little crazy.  It’s OK.  It’s totally true. 

So I grabbed the tack and wandered back to the ring.  Minnie immediately came to me at a trot, hoping I would save her (from what? from me?) and I had her tacked up in about ten seconds.

Over to the mounting block, where for sure there would be some shenanigans… except… not so much.

Ho Hum

She shifted her weight but then stood there till I asked her to move off.  I swear that as soon as my butt hit the saddle she stopped worrying about everything else and being upset, and just focused on what I wanted (well, except for wanting to stare out at the field a lot). 

Up into the trot, and she was WONDERFUL.  Magical, even.  She has a nice forward going feel, but her stride is long enough that it’s very comfortable for me.  Horses like, say, Rosey, are always a little hard for me to adjust to.  They don’t go fast, but their strides feel quick to me and it’s a huge adjustment.  Minnie made me feel right at home.  We did some figure eights and circles, and I found her remarkably easy to steer.  A lot like my own horse, actually.  You just kind of think about where you want to go, tighten your hand on the outside rein, and voila! you are turning.

Judge, Here's Your Winner!

Disclaimer:  My independently minded left arm is at it again, I see.  *sigh*

I found Minnie to be really remarkable in her acceptance of contact.  She went pretty much the same whether I had a feel or not, and when I dropped the reins a bit she just stretched out a little.  She started out the ride jawing the bit a lot, kind of like a green horse who hasn’t had a bridle on in a while (huh, imagine that!) but as soon as we started working she stopped and was very nice and quiet with her mouth.  Really, within minutes I felt totally confident riding her on a very loose rein and even adding leg.

Hey! It's a Monkey on Horseback!

The canter was actually much better than it looks there.  She has (again) a nice slow feeling stride, and is very directable.  She picks up both leads and I suspect will do lead changes very easily.  I felt comfortable both in a little half seat and sitting – she didn’t seem to mind either way.  It was just so comfortable that I couldn’t stop grinning. 

When I got off I was exploding with enthusiasm.  Here’s a mare who hasn’t been ridden in… I don’t even know. Seriously.  A lot of them I can say with confidence “four months!” or “six months!” or “yesterday!”  Not so much here.  It’s been at least a year as far as I know, and probably longer.

If she’s that good straight out of the field, while all worked up and anxious, with little fitness and not a lot of flexibility, all I can think is that she will be show-ready in no time.  Put some butt and back muscle on her and she’ll be a star.  I texted Allie immediately: “hey my saddle fits Minnie.  That means she’s mine right?”  Yep. I was THAT happy.  I seriously want this horse for myself, in a really big way.

Of course, I wonder if maybe I’m really fickle, because each time I get on a new one I’m really excited about it… but with Minnie I felt like I could take her to a show next WEEK and it would go well.  She’s beautiful, will clean up very nicely, and was just so freaking easy to ride!  She got every good thing possible from Kat, but with a better hind end and balance (seriously, cantering Kat was possible, but it wasn’t nearly such a delightful feeling!)

It was one of those rides where I totally forgot how crappy my day had been up until then.  The sun was setting, the clouds all pink and purple, she was magic, and there is actual green grass coming up everywhere.  Exactly what I needed this week, and exactly what I needed to motivate me to get my butt over there more often.

This isn't a good picture, but the dorky grin on my face makes me laugh.