Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I am a bad blogger

The title says it all. I haven't posted in a long time. So heres the gist of whats been happening with Mr Jack and I.

Jacks ground manners were well and truly sorted out by S who came to help me with him. Basically she showed him that she was more dominant (which apparently was hard and tiring since he is a very, very dominant horse) and then re-taught him to lead. She then got me to come over and she talked me through getting him to see me as the more dominant one and at the end of the session he was standing relaxed next to me, licking his lips. He now walks beside me watching for my every move which means I have to be on my toes so I give the correct cues. Hes much more relaxed now and is a pleasure to know. I'm really starting to love him.

Hes a bit naughty under saddle. He's reared a couple of times but after a few good telling offs he hasn't done it again. He also jig-jogs a bit but will stop if I ask him to. I suspect hes just testing the boundaries. I took him into the water jump the other day and all was well until instead of stepping into the jump he decided to leap. I was totally unprepared and although I tried with all my will-power and strength to stay on his back, I fell in. The water in the jump is quite gross as horses poop and pee in there so I knew I didn't want to go fully in. I managed to grab onto another jump as I fell and I landed on my feet. I staggered a bit but managed to stay mostly upright. My thigh ended up hitting the jump really hard as did my arm and I have some nice big bruises to prove it. The water splashed up from below wetting my legs and butt. Jack stopped dead still so I grabbed him and jumped back on. We did the jump again and I held on really tight It was a really hot day so the fall into the water managed to cool me off a lot. Once my friends realised I wasn't hurt they laughed and laughed and then proceeded to tell everyone they came into contact with. I'm just thankfull I didn't fall in during the summer. The water gets barely any movement so theres this gross film that lays on the top of it and its quite stagnant. At least with all the rain we've been having it was a bit nicer.

Anyway I'm just working on Jacks fitness at the moment. I'm hoping to be able to compete him in December.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Good and The Bad

Jack has been here for 5 days so far and we've already been through a bit of this and that. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were great. Jack seemed to be settling in well and I was looking forward to getting to ride him. Unfortunately my saddle fell through (again) so I had to put off riding for a couple of days. I decided we would just hang out a bit, get to know each other some more and generally just have a relaxing few days but Jack had other ideas.

On Wednesday night I got him out of his paddock. Well actually it was another paddock from what I had put him in the night before because he decided he liked the ponies better and jumped the tape. As soon as I took him out of the paddock the whinnying started... and it didn't stop until I put him back. That itself wasn't too bad. I'd figure he was allowed to have some separation issues since his two paddock mates at his previous owners had been put down on the same day rendering him companion-less. Then the barging, pulling and general bad manners started. His had no regard for me what so ever. He pulled me along on the lead while I struggled uselessly to stop him walking. He basically ran over me a couple of times and when I put him in one of the pens and went in to groom him he swung his butt on me continuously. Basically it was like I didn't exist. I couldn't get his attention on me at all. It was everywhere and anywhere else. It started getting dangerous so I quickly fed him and put him back.

I knew something had to be done. The behaviour was dangerous and totally unacceptable. So the next day when I went to buy his feed I also picked up a rope halter, a lead rope with a tough clip and a crop. I went to Pony Club and went to catch Jack bringing the crop with me. He was in the pony paddock again. I haltered him and starting leading him towards the club rooms. He tried his moves on me pretty quickly but a well timed whack on the shoulder made him think twice. Soon he tried it again and another whack followed. He lead pretty well after that. I put him into one of the pens and fed him. He still whinnied and didn't end up finishing his feed because he was too interested in what else was happening around him. He got pushy on the way back to his paddock but soon stopped when I corrected him again. When I let him go in the hacks paddock he trotted off immediately along the fence line. He then circled out and came at a canter towards the tape. I brandished the whip and yelled at him and he swung at the last minute away from the tape. He tried a couple more times but I yelled and waved the crop at him again and he soon settled down to graze. When I went to get him today he was in the hack paddock so I guess that worked yay!

So today I took him down the club rooms again. He was quiet most of the way and led pretty well. When we got to the club rooms his whinnying started again but again theres not much that can be done about that. He acted up a bit when I tied him up to be groomed etc but settled down when another horse was tied up close by. I groomed him and saddled him up quite easily. He wouldn't let me bridle him and in the end an instructor came over and showed me how to do it another way which he seemed to like more. I took him over to the arena and got on for the first time. Since his ground manners had been worse since coming to Pony Club I was wondering if he would be as bad under saddle. Thankfully he wasn't and we had a pleasant ride around the arena for 20 minutes or so. He whinnied a couple of times but I got his attention back on me and we kept going. I trotted him a tiny bit to show the same instructor how terrible his trot was. He made me a liar by doing a reasonable trot. She laughed because I had just given her a big description of what his trot was like and how horrible it was. I finished the ride, unsaddled him and had an awesome grooming session with Rita who owned Rose, the horse Jack liked. He actually seemed like a normal, calm horse instead of the hyper demon horse he had become for the few days before hand.

One of the instructors at Pony Club, who have dealt with horses with bad ground manners before, is coming to give Jack and I a lesson on ground manners on Sunday which should help me sort him out completely. I actually was scared of him on Wednesday only because he just wouldn't give me his attention at all. He could have run over me and he probably wouldn't have known. So although his manners have been very, very bad at least his riding was good. Also, I put his deterioration in his ground manners down to his excitement and separation issues he's experiencing since the move. He's only been here a few days and I'm sure once he settles in more and calms down he'll be more willing to give me his attention but because he was getting dangerous I couldn't wait for that to happen.

I got contacts today which hopefully should help my riding improve just a tiny bit. I'm short sighted and up until I've worn glasses for driving and watching movies etc but as you might imagine it can be difficult to ride with glasses. Up until now I've just made do but I suspect it hasn't be helping me judge distances correctly when I'm jumping. So contacts is the answer. I wore them when I was 15 but lost them pretty soon after I got them so I will be taking super care of these. I wonder if it will help at all.

Anyway sorry for the very long post! The pictures in this post were taken the second time I rode Jack. I really need to get some more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Murphy's Law and Horses

Murphy's Law. Everyone knows of it. That phenomenon that if something can go wrong, it will. Well its true with horses too. Here are some of good Mr Murphy's Law that relate to horses and their slaves aka you and I. Enjoy!

1. There is no such thing as a sterile barn cat.

2. The least useful horse in you barn will eat the most, require shoes every four weeks and need the vet at least once a month.

3. A horse's misbehavior will be in direct proportion to the number of people who are watching.

4. Clipper blades will become dull when your horse is half clipped.

5. If you fall off, you will land on the site of your most recent injury.

6. If you need to take your horse somewhere in a hurry, he will not load.

7. If you are trying to impress someone you will fall off.

8. The very week you start your horse on a conditioning program for the show season, the biggest flood of 30 years will occur and you won't be able to get out to the barn for at least a week.

9. You will make a stupid mistake saddling in front of a guy you want to impress.

10. You will get bucked off a new colt in front of the same guy.

11. If you're wondering if you latched the pasture gate, you didn't

12. Wind velocity increases in direct proportion to how well your hat fits

13. Horses that hate each other at home become inseparable when you try to take a 'potty break' out on the trail.

First Rally of the Season

It was the first Pony Club rally of the season last night. Our Pony Club had a huge influx of new members this year and to accommodate all the new members the committee made the decision to divide the one rally into two which means the two top rides will be riding on Wednesday and the rest of the rides will be on Tuesday. I happen to be in the third ride which means I will be riding on Tuesday. Unfortunately all my friends are in the top two rides which is pretty annoying so it’s my goal to get into one of the top rides ASAP. The top two rides are also getting some really awesome instructors in so I really want to get up there with them. I think I should be able to do it soon. Here’s hoping.

Because it was pouring we had an un-mounted rally. Our instructor came prepared to give us a very informative theory lesson, she also gave us homework! I haven’t homework since I left school a year and a half ago. I’ve already lost it! I know! I can’t believe it. I put it in my back pocket and when I went to get it out last night it had gone! I think I’m going to have to get one of my fellow riders to let me borrow theirs so I can photocopy it. I’m going to get my C+ certificate this season so I need to know all my theory. She also introduced us to the double bridle which I have never really bothered looking at before because I haven’t needed to. She showed us how to hold and reins and explained everything about it. I’m glad I won’t need one for awhile because I don’t think I would be able to get my head around all the reins.

Jack was moving into the herd last night. Up until now he has been with three other newbies. I went to move him after the rally. It was pouring with rain and the wind was wild and freezing. Two of the other horses had already been moved out and the third one was just leaving when I arrived to move Jack. He came running up to me as soon as he saw me. I think he was more worried about being left behind rather then being excited to see me. He was impatient to go and I had to work to make him stand still so I could buckle his halter. Finally we were off. He was pretty well behaved the rest of the time. Standing when I asked and not dragging me (too much). I gave him his feed and then put him with the hacks. He was more interested in the grass then the other horses in the paddock so hopefully I won’t find any big cuts on his legs when I go to see him today. I had my big Kathmandu goose down jacket on during the whole thing which kept my upper half warm and dry, unfortunately it has no hood so my head got cold and freezing as did my legs.

Fingers crossed the weather will hold out the rest of the day as I would like to get to know Jack in better weather. I’m getting a saddle either tomorrow or Friday so hopefully I’ll be able to ride him soon. I’m impatient to be back in the saddle.

Also, this Saturday we are having a Waitakere Push Play day where we provide quiet ponies and hacks that kids from the local community can come and have a ride on (actually its just a lead). They also have an opportunity to groom and pet them. It’s basically a way show our community spirit and encourage kids to get into sports. I volunteered to help and I’ve been given the role of talking to parents and children about our club and what we do using my “people-person” skills. I’m actually quite excited as I love our club and I really want to help give back to our club since they have done so much for me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jack has arrived

Jack arrived safe and sound yesterday at about 1pm. He came off the float no worse for the wear which was predictable considering he is a good traveller and it was only a 20 minute journey. We put him in one of the newly built pens while we tied up the loose ends and I signed the purchase agreement. Once he was signed over and his previous owners left I took him for a walk around the grounds. He was pretty well behaved; he grazed a bit but spent most of the time looking around at his surroundings. After our walk I put him back into a pen and went to get my grooming gear. When I opened my grooming box I found that my first aid spray had opened and spilled through everything so I had to rinse it all out! At least any bugs on the brushes would have been killed. After I groomed him my friend Melissa and I took him for another walk around. Everyone who saw him asked all about him and commented on how gorgeous he was.

He went back in the pen for another little bit while I rode Summer, one of Sue’s (my old instructor) horses. I just took her around the arena a couple of times for fun. Soon it was time for worming. Jack resisted a bit but not for too long. He really has no ground manners though. This showed more and more as the day went on. I did know about it when I bought him. I will have to work on them quite a bit. He spent a lot of his hand grazing time trying to drag me along. I backed him up every time he tried. At one point when I was taking him to his paddock he got pissed off at me when I wouldn’t let him get in front of me so he did a few nice bucks on the end of the lead. I quickly got him to stop and backed him up some more and he settled down. I don’t accept behaviour like that so I will be working hard on his ground manners.

When I put him into a paddock with one of the other newbies he gave her a few sniffs and they soon trotted off together to the hay at the end of the paddock. When I left him he was eating happily.

So I’m off to see him again this afternoon. Tomorrow is the first rally of the season but I want to give him a couple of days to settle in so I won’t be riding him until Wednesday. I didn’t get any photos of him yesterday because I was too busy trying to do other things and since the weather is appalling today I don’t think I’ll try but hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday.