dancing horses

dancing horses

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Steele and the Surcingle

Finally the weather has cleared and after a long day I decided to do some work with Steele.

I hemmed and hawed and then decided that the only way to get him used to it was to actually put it on. He danced a bit in the cross ties when I made it snug but otherwise didn't seem to care.

I brought him up to the ring and we went to work. He was fine at the walk. At the trot he gave a couple wee hops and then trotted off with no issues. After a few minutes I decided to try a canter. On the first ask his ears came up and I could see him thinking
"oh I know this one. It's fun!"

He steps into canter and did two strides. He then gave a buck and fell back to trot.

"I can't canter with this thing around my middle!"

I let him settle and then asked again. He gave a series of very balanced hops and then dropped back to trot.

"nope. cant-buck-do-buck-this.

He looked at me. "sorry chief but it's just impossible when I'm trussed like a chicken" 

"I'm sure a horse as smart and talented as you can do this, let's try again" 

 I asked again and he picked up the canter. I looked, it was perfectly balanced but something was wrong. I then realized- he was cross-firing. (that's when a horse canters one lead with the front legs and the opposite lead in the hind legs). Usually a horse will be all discombobulated when crossfiring but not Steele. I brought him back to the trot.

Lets try one more time.

and he was perfect.

"look at me! I got it!"

"oh you are such a genius" 

I brought him back to the trot and we were done. I brought him back to the barn and he positively savoured his grooming.

Total work time- 20 minutes.

Having fun - priceless.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Training Update

Steele and I have been working away but the weather has not been horribly cooperative. Now that the ring is complete we've been doing some liberty work as well. He now stays right by me in the ring unless I send him away.

His behaviour seems to indicate that he enjoys his 'work'. Last night I decided to take advantage of a break in the rain to do a session. In the cross ties he now stands as still as you might wish. He also often picks up his legs as I try put on his protective boots - it started as a confusion- him thinking that I wanted to pick out his feet. I ignored that but everytime he put his foot down I would say 'good boy'. Yesterday all four feet stayed planted while the boots went on. Then on goes the cavesson and then the bridle. He opens his mouth for the bit as nice as you please.

We walked up to the ring and then when we entered I closed the gate and undid his lead line. He stayed beside me while I got the lunge line and whip ready. Our circles are looking much more round these days and he's got the 'walk', 'trot' and 'whoa' firgured out. He still wonders why he doesn't get to choose the gait or when the transition occurs but seems to believe me when I tell him that it's all fine. I've introduced canter on the lunge as well. After a few exciting moments he has that down as well. Yesterday he picked up the wrog lead- that doesn't seem to bother him he's balanced either way but I always ask him to go back to trot and then try again. This time when when I asked for trot he did a flying change and carried on. Clever monkey.

I think that the surcingle will be next. He's ready for it.

At the end I decided to take advantage of our awful weather and practice going through puddles. He was quite cooperative, bored even. Apparently he doesn't believe them to be the death traps that Irish did at his age.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Morning at the farm!

The horses are addicted to the grass. They are not cleaning up their hay at night and Irish is even rejecting his morning grain in his anxiousness to get outside. I have decided to not worry about it and hope that it sorts itself out.

Every morning I let Irish out and then Steele, who goes into Irish's stall to clean up.
Here's what happens next:

Ed says that Steele thinks he's a race horse.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Irish

I found this poem on line and really like it:

The Horse 

Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,friendship without envy, or beauty without vanity?
Here where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined.

He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent;
there is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.

England’s past has been borne on his back.
All our history is in his industry.
We are his heirs;
He is our inheritance.

Ronald Duncan
© (Copyright of) the Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation
Isn't it wonderful?

Irish is 13 years old today. It's also been 10 years since I paid money and he took ownership of me.

He's doing well- some days are better then others. I ride him lightly and it's been interesting returning to 'simple' work. I am using it to work on my feel and to keep him between seat and leg. It's working well. I find that he gets really heavy on the right rein and I try to keep my shoulders soft and following. I know he needs the support but it's not good for him to lean so heavily on his forehand. Some days are wonderful and he's light. But if I push it too much he will trip behind. He, however, does not complain and tries hard.

Looking at him grazing out in the field and he seems pretty happy to me.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dear Steele,
Where is the fly mask I put on you this morning?

your servant
Dear Servant,
What is a fly mask? Can you please describe it for me?


Dear Steele,

Don't play games with me. It's the thing I put on you this morning so that the flies wouldn't bother you!


Your Servant,

Dear Servant,

Hmmm, it's not ringing any bells. Are you sure it was me?


Dear Steele,

Seriously? You know I paid good money for that right?


Your frustrated Servant

Dear Frustrated Servant,

I lead a very busy life you know with lots to do all day. I cannot be expected to keep track of your belongings as well.

Affectionately yours

Dear BRAT Steele,

don't you 'affectionately me!'. And busy? doing what? Rolling in the grass? eating the grass? Napping?
I want to know where you hid the fly mask!


your becoming-peeved-Servant

Dear Servant (I'm ignoring the 'peeved' part because I am the bigger horse!)

If you recall I did walk around with you in the field helping you look. I even stopped eating to do so! I am sure that you are wanting to speak to Irish.


Dear Steele
OH COME ON! I know the difference between you and Irish.
For one thing he leaves his mask on!

your ...oh never mind!

Dear Servant
if you cannot remember your name why should I believe you recall the fly mask incident correctly? Despite what you think Irish is NOT perfect. He picks on me all the time

the-very-innocent-Steele (just look at my face)

Dear Steele and Servant

Please leave me out of this.

Mr. Perfect  Irish

Dear Steele

I am not losing my mind. I clearly remember putitng the mask on you this morning!

Dear Servant

Oh that thing? I think I remember now- I was minding my own business, eating grass when  it suddenly flew off. It must have been defective. I'm pretty sure that the red tailed hawk carried it away.

I don't need it. Besides it's not studly and it ruins my image.

Sincerely Studly Steele

Dear Steele,

Studly? you do know that you are not a stud, don't you? We took care of that last year. Besides Irish wears one, so how can it not be studly.


your poor servant

Dear Poor Servant

Irish does wear one- I rest my case on the studly comment.


Dear Servant

See what I put up with? I'm sure that this calls for a bigger ration of carrots.

Sincerely Irish

Oh, I could get behind that idea.


Dear- oh never mind. I give up.

Dear Servant\
We are pretty sure it's time for supper. Can you take your head out of your hands and take care of that?

Irish & Steele (studly Steele that is).

yes dears. I'll get right on that.

why would you want to cover up such a handsome face anyway? 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Child Rearing is hard work

Just ask Irish.

I really think that he's missed his calling. He'd be a perfect Nanny Gelding raising a herd of rambunctious yearlings.

Case in point:
The other day while looking out the window I saw Irish herding a very relunctanct Steele down to the small paddock. Steele tried all his tricks but Irish was having none of it.

When Steele balked Irish nipped him on the behind.

When Steele dried to dodge away Irish cut him off and flattened his ears.

I watched, fascinated. what on earth is going on?  I wondered.

Irish was relentless. Finally with a sulky swish of his tail Steele gave up and came down to the small paddock.  But that was not enough. Irish drove him into one of the stalls. At which point Irish stood outside the door blocking the exit. He then cocked his hind leg and went to sleep.

Turns out it was nap time.

What I want to know is why I didn't have Irish when I was trying to get my little darlings to have a nap?

"But I'm NOT TIRED!'
''Listen young man, it's time for your nap!"

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday.

I am 49. Yes really.

The funny thing is that I had a bit of a 'bobble' at the thought that next year I will be 50.

It's not so much the aging thing but that I've loved my 40s. It seems that my life is continuing to get richer and there is far more happiness and contentment then in my earlier decades. Not that the were misrable. They were good too.

So I decided that I would spend this year really enjoying my last 365 days of being in my 40's.

How can I not when I have these critters that work on ensuring that I am never ever bored.

Like yesterday when Steele ran under the gate board of the my new riding ring. Sigh. He didn't quite fit so it shattered. I need a second board to discourage such behavior.

However, on returning him up there things went a little better.

How can I not enjoy my life:

But tonight Ed and I are going to a dinner and a dance so I'd better get ready. :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Morning Photo Shoot

Spring has finally decided to grace us with her presence and she is making up for her lateness by being beautiful. This morning was particularly lovely so on my way out to the barn I grabbed the camera. Here are some shots. 

nom, nom, nom
hey what are you guys doing?
hey, wait for me!

Steele is graying out in an interesting way. In the meantime I think he looks fabulous-
not fat anymore. What do you think? 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ah Sweet Grass

All this week I've been letting the horses out for a couple hours on the good field in preparation for them moving out there full time. Every morning all week Irish would come out of his stall and stand by the gate that opens onto the grassy field. When it didn't magically open he woud make faces at it and even tried to go through it once. When he got a shock he was not impressed.

He would look at me:
"open the gate"
"not yet. the grass needs more time"
"It looks fine to me"
"Look Irish, the grass needs a bit more time and I need to be careful moving you over. You've eaten down most of the grass as it came in and you wouldn't want to colic would you? You'll get some time this afternoon."
"All I hear is 'blah, blah, blah'. OPEN THE GATE" 
"No! Go eat your hay"
"what? that stuff? I wouldn't feed that to the dog"
"You liked it before" 
"that was then. This is now. OPEN THE GATE"

We had this conversation every morning. Steele stayed out of it. They learned quickly though that the gate opened late afternoon. They started hanging out there. Irish even has his afternoon nap there so he wouldn't miss it opening.

Saturday dawned clear and sunny. Before I opened the stall doors I took down the gate to grassy field.

Irish came out and started to head to the old field, looking resisgned.
Then he stopped.
He looked at the gate.
He looked at me.
I could see him thinking: "The gate is open. I wonder if she knows?"

With that he started to slink towards the gate. Keeping on eye on me and trying to make himself as small as possible (which is not easy when you weigh over a 1000 pounds and are 16 hands high) he snuck out the gate.

At the other side he dropped his head and began to eat grass like it was his last meal. All the while keeping an eye on me and ready to scoot.

Meanwhile, Steele was doing what he does every morning- going in Irish's stall to see if he left anything behind.

When he came out he saw Irish in the field "oh score. We can go this way now!"

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I found the bridle!

Remember how I was looking for a flat bridle for Steele? Well I was visiting a friend who had just taken over Bits n'Bridles tack store (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bits-N-Bridles-Tack-and-Feed-Store/557275177631188?fref=ts) and I found an extra pair of reins in a sales bin. They are the ones with the different colour rubber:

I like to have extra reins just in case and because these were on sale and would be useful I purchased them. The friend I was with was teasing me about them and as we chatted I started to explain about the bridle I was tryng to find. Well the owner/manager of the tack store dragged out her catalogues and we started looking. And we found it! So I ordered it and ta dah:
How cute is this? 

As you can see he takes his role of model very seriously! 

Don't you just love good customer service? 

And the winner for most tolerant horse goes to Irish:

During our modelling session Steele went over and stuck his head in Irish's feed bin to see if he left anything behind.