Wednesday, December 15, 2010

She's backkk!

My Sissy and my Mare!

Since we have had monsoons in the weather department...  we really could not ride together this trip in town for my sister. We decided to go to my stable and do groundwork and my sissy would ride the mare, and tell me what she thought on her soundness.

 I had allowed her to get too "Goaty" with  long hair everywhere, so her other mother, trimmed her up for me.

For being in  (open stalls to 150 ft runs) for almost 2 weeks and having my ride last -5 days prior, and only arena turnouts. We have had record rains of 1-2 inches a day...and a TORNADO, yesterday, in Oregon!It just missed Oregon City, yet another town, less than 100 miles away, did NOT get missed. fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.

This day, mare was totally docile. Her whole herd was in the barn with her too, which made for a relaxed time.
She yields very well to my sister needing to look at her work on the bridle path.

I did ride *the arena last time out, which makes it the second time for me since we moved in.
***For those of you that may be wondering why I mention it and have moved to an mare dislikes the arena, and it is pain mostly she remembers and associates with it from a previous trainer(s). This trainer tied her into frame, used a very harsh bit, beat her when she misbehaved and used a saddle the left open wounds on her, and he'd then put plastic over them, and saddle up!
Almost 30 days in a row.

 So... When I ride the *arena, I must be sure nothing is painful.
 I have no saddle to comply with that(right now) so a bareback (and padded) saddle pad is used. I usually ride bitless, though I have her dental work done yearly and also checked from time to time , in between, by my Equine therapist. She loves the footing, it is soft and even. She has had massage, stretching and warm ups...

Today, my sister decided to try her I do get nervous sometimes...though the last ride -5 days ago- was excellent. We did in hand, and then lunge, both directions for 6-7 minutes, Cavallettis...lots of obstacles to look at and manage around.

My sister is a traditional trainer, she likes the use of bits for the horse to accept light contact and partner with her. So  I used the rubber mouth, unjointed snaffle. Just a straight piece of rubber with the rings on the ends.
Part , if not all of my mare's  problem now is-"MENTAL PAIN".
This  is what we decided it really is with her and the arena, is her great fear of being trapped.
So having a soft bit and also a non-reactive rider is tantamount. Me, having all sorts of trainers in the various stables I've been in,  has given me all sorts of  actions/advise for dealing with my mare's eruptive behaviour.
 It all had failed...and I have tended to ride the vast outdoors instead. Though- an outdoor arena suits us fine too.

Today, the goal is soft and relaxed. Hoping to have the mare bend a little and stay supple and longer while doing walking/halt/walk transitions. She also wanted her to accept the outside rein.
(please accept my apologies for the terrible photography..low light and high action has me stumped!)

We lunged for a short time...just to warm the mare up, she tends to be very cold backed and stiff. Then my sis walked long reined into short and back again...over and over.

The mare remained calm

This is my mare's impression of a race horse...looking through the starting gate.

The mare was fairly receptive for the first rounds of walking, my sis  letting her head out and then gathering up the reins.

Good mare, you be nice to my sister, and not kill her!
Then, as she instituted the outside rein as the guiding rein...the mare got agitated...that familiar "look of- don't hem me in" came across her face into body. My sis was leaving the inside rein open and sometimes leading her with it...but still...

She was about to do her thing that she does to me...and  I think my sis had the thought it was me, and her responding to me...till...

And UP they went!
 The mare surprised herself, I think. My sister sat back...till she had to reach around her neck, to remain on her. There was never any danger of my mare going over...though I think my sis thought so.

She came down again, my sister collected the reins and asked for a walk, as if nothing happened...and it was as if nothing happened!
Though as they continued on, my sis talked to me about this event, she said her heart was racing and knows now what I go through, in the arena!
My sis was being totally fair, following her mouth, sometimes resting her hands upon her withers and not asking for much. The mare reacts violently to connection to the bit and feeling trapped.

Even the hint sometimes, of connection to one side only. And sadly, bitless too.

She was good for the rest of the ride mostly. Here, she takes offence with my sister asking for a little bend and release

                       There you go Wa mare...just chill out!

A little horsey hug, a little more rubbing of the reins to supple and accustom the mare to a contact without pain. It looks like my sis is pulling, though she is massaging her hand, up and down the inside rein.

She "recovered quickly"..and that is what we are looking for!

You are such a sensitive girl Wa mare! And We love you so much- REALLY!

My sister then decided to attach ONE side rein only, and lunge her a short time. It is the OUTSIDE contact she wants the mare to accept.
This is where she really strutted her stuff, enough for my sister to say're mare is sound and moving up nicely/evenly.
 I agreed!

                  She volunteered a nice canter several times

Though she did not watch where she was going, on occasion and  tripped once-that turned out to be hilarious ~ Out takes at end.

She fussed a little, but relaxed into her short small trot, and here her "trot up" trot. My sister did many transitions, requiring the mare to remain in contact and lower or she had to move on again...till finally...the session ended on a very good note!

You did so well Wa!

Out takes...that  made us laugh...she tripped once, then spooked herself another time as she rounded  to the middle and saw a barrel in her way.."oou where's that come from!"

Funny thing was, as my sis asked her to calm down, in  quiet tones, the mare did, very quickly and never jerked the lunge line..she remained in light and steady contact while she jumped around!

Though the mare was reactive, my sis did not give resistance and it lent to her recovering quickly.
My next ride, will be in the bitless and I will take all the same measures to engage her mind in groundwork before hand and also to remain calm, as my sis did.
 We shall see....I have all the time in the world and there can be as many "Details" as the day calls for...and someone will come and feed what I tell well as MUCH praise for any effort she offers!


  1. That's interesting to read about her fear of the arena from past experience.
    I've been having my own thoughts about Cassy and not liking to be in the arena with horses being worked. I am beginning to think that being an arena with other horses brings back bad and painful (literally, due to her teeth) memories for her as well.
    Glad to see your sister was able to work with her:)

  2. I'm wondering if there could be a dental issue involved as well - particularly as I think you say it seems to be more on one side than another, when you take contact, that this happens. Take a very close look at her front teeth, particularly their alignment and how they move sideways against one another - are there any projections that are preventing the incisors from meeting correctly or from sliding freely against one another from side to side - these types of projections are often found on the last incisors - the ones closest to the bars. If contact is asked for, and the horse's jaw can't respond - it's like hitting a barrier.

    Your sis seems like a sensitive and experienced horse person - nice to have here there to work with mare.

  3. Horses have long memories, don't they. What an interesting post. Loved it. She's beautiful!

  4. That's a beautiful arena, and a nice extended trot!

  5. So glad that Wa is sound and your sister was able to work with her That weather must be pretty rotten.
    Quite a collection of photos!

  6. How lucky you are to have a sister with the same interest in horses! I think she handled her very well.

  7. Wa mare looks Be.A.Utiful! If she carries herself in such a nice frame without much contact, once she learns that contact won't hurt her, then she will have absolutely the lightest mouth!

  8. Your lucky you have your sister. I wonder, have you ever taught Wa to flex laterally (AKA side to side)? The first thing I do when I get on a horse is make sure they know this. I had a gelding this summer I finished that had a real issue with contact of any form (bitted or bitless as I finished him he was bitless when I handed him back to his owners)he would rear up, or take off. Once he learned to flex vertically and laterally this problem literally melted away because the first thing I would do when I got on was make him flex and touch my boot/stirrup several times in each direction. This exercise works amazing if your horse is worried or won't accept contact of any kind. Indigo is so responsive and incredibly light she literally flexes herself when I first get on. She knows it's a routine and because of it I never have any steering or stopping problems with her because she can flex and follow her nose, knowing what I want when I ask for contact.

  9. Ooo, I love a horse with nice hind quarters. Or a big bum as I normally say. The extended trot looks good. Nice arena. It must be great to have a sister who knows what she's doing with and around horses. Ah well, I have Jans.
    Good luck with working Wa. And remember; always keep a leg on each side of the horse, with the soles of your feet on the underside. That is one of the tips Jans always gives, and I must say, up til now I have managed to do that. Knock on wood! ;-)

  10. No one in my family likes horses except me! I must have a stray gene or something. Great post !!

  11. What an excellent, informative post! I felt like I was standing right there watching the whole session as it progressed. She is just lovely.

  12. I love the photos. I've never even met her and I'm proud of your lovely mare! Great job. :)

  13. Great post :)

    Your mare is so lovely - and you are super lucky to have a horsewoman sister to share your passion (and horse) with!!

  14. Great pictures..I love the out takes :) Wa's trot looks so lovely!
    How nice to have a horse loving sister and one with her knowledge and patience too. I think the more you do with Wa in the arena, the better she will be. Replace all bad old memories with great ones. Easier said than done, I know..but you are on the right track!

  15. Love your header picture! Very Merry Christmas to you and Wa mare.

    Your sister did some wonderful work with her in the arena. I'll bet if she did that on a regular basis Wa might get over her fear of the arena. I'm pretty impressed she stayed on bareback, silly mare. Have fun working with her and getting her calm in the arena.

  16. I think Wa is so beautiful!!! I am glad she started to supple for your sister after the upward movement! That is scary. Do check her teeth, like Kate suggested and I like Sydney's idea too. She does so well in the bitless - I like the thought of you in her scary space with all the scary objects removed (in the arena without the bit and without the saddle). Dangerous for you, but maybe safe for the Wa? I also like that you figured out to solve this perennial problem by taking her outside on the trail. What a good horse mom(s) you (and your sister) are!

  17. Your sis is a fabulous rider! Great post, thanks :)

  18. Lovely post and Wa Mare is DROP.DEAD.GORGEOUS!!!! Your sister gave her such a nice positive ride even if Wa did have some "moments." I wonder if the rubber bit is too thick for her? I tried a rubber mullen Pelham with Panache but it was just too thick for her mouth so I switched to a metal mullen and wrapped a layer of sealtex on it. She goes quite nicely in that (it's her winter bit) and her WH Ultra loose ring snaffle in the Summer. Single jointed bits are met with the "I'm going to rear" feeling as it hits her palate awfully.

  19. I think it is a good thing that you have your sister to help you out, it's always good to see someone else work through our issues with our horses. Just curious, if your mare does the same thing with a bit or without it, dental issues are likely not a problem, but perhaps her axis is out- and I get it about remembered pain; it becomes a conditioned behavior, but time and good training can replace it with trust. And good for you for helping this wonderful mare.

  20. Wa's looking well, glad sis is back to play!

  21. Oh Kacey what a wonderful photo essay of you, your sis and beautiful Wa mare. Its been a while since I blogged and I so look forward to looking at your latest news ......I hope the rain clears for you and the scary weather goes away.Enjoy the days leading up to Xmas and I hope you and your sister get some lovely winter rides in.

  22. You are so lucky to have lovely horses to ride.
    I saw your cat pic.
    I lost my beautiful cat this year too.
    What a whopping big whole it has left in my heart.
    She was always there for our family. She was about the same age as your cat.
    Kitty gave so much to us & asked for so little.
    this Christmas is not the same without her.
    love Cassie from Sydney.


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