Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Real winter

The Puget Sound area's idea of winter is generally in the 40's to 50's with grey skies, often with drizzle. Dismal, depressing and oh so muddy. While I will happily ride in most weather, riding in the rain or even just in the wet (assuming it isn't raining at that moment) takes a lot of ambition and sometimes I really have to force myself to do it.

This week however, snow lovers like myself got an early present. Snow! And lots of it (for around here anyhow). My backyard has nearly a foot in places and we've had snow for nearly 6 days straight. Sadly, today we're getting freezing rain instead but I'll ignore that for now. So this weekend I had to get out and enjoy the snow with Ketah!

Friday afternoon Ketah and I went out for a fairly quick jaunt and took Sati along. We didn't go far, but everything is covered in snow so it was a new experience for the young'un and she was fine. Saturday I talked a friend from the desert into coming along too and we got far enough up the skid roads to enjoy snow on the trees, and we were riding while it was snowing! I haven't done that in years. Ketah was feeling energetic and Sati was great. She'd skitter at things occasionally, but with Ketah just moving on Sati didn't want to be left behind and her scares didn't amount to much.

At one point on the way home we decided to let them trot. Ketah's trot, especially her extended trot, tends to leave all other horses behind. My friend on her little Quarter Horse had to canter to keep up with Ketah's energetic (but not yet extended trot). Sati kept on trotting. Finally we let them stretch a bit, I didn't want Ketah galloping with the youngster so I just asked her to extend her trot (little QH had to gallop though, and still got left behind). I fully expected Sati to start cantering to keep up. She's a bit taller than Gali (sorry mom, I never spell it right) and all leg, but most horses would rather canter then stretch. Not Sati though. She stretched right out into an extended trot, never even tripped herself (amazing for a youngster) and I had the distinct impression she could've stretched it even further before breaking into a canter.

This one is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of work to ride! I better work a lot harder at the gym to be ready for her.

The pictures are from Sunday (when ponying a young horse there is no way I can take pictures too). I decided Sati had worked her young brain enough and Ketah and I went out again to just enjoy ourselves. It was colder and snowing but it's the same trail so you can see how lovely it looks right now! I'll pretend that it won't all be mud in a week...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weather strikes again

In case any of you are checking this regularly I'm not doing much horse work right now. It's been at or below freezing for about a week now and we lack a truly indoor arena. I have been out to check on them and I reminded Sati about her manners and what I expect her to do. She's doing it great. However, I haven't been able to try anything new lately. Maybe this weekend (though if this weather keeps up we'll all be iced - not snowed - in).

I'm not complaining. We've had a few days of clear skies and cold temps that actually feel like winter! I'll take it, I know it won't last. Interestingly her "scratches" have cleared up completely with this weather. I was medicating of course, but the last time I saw her she still had them. Curious!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Learning together

This weekend saw another step in the training process with Sati and a small realization for me. Saturday was nice and sunny so I went to spend a few hours with my girls. I decided I'd work Sati first then maybe Ketah and I would go for a ride. Since it was nice I took Sati out into the arena (well the area that will be an arena but isn't yet) and lunged her on the long lead. She's getting better every time. She stops on a dime, when she's paying attention to me. I can mostly get her to move out in both directions without a fight, though she still dislikes doing circles to the right and she'll generally stand still, again with the caveat that she can see me at the end of the rope. For some reason that isn't translating in her head to the tie rail.

However, she had done great through the week. Including workin on her feet (still trying to get rid of the "scratches"). My farrier came on Friday and trimmed both girls and Sati was great for him, picked up all four feet without a protest at all. Anyhow, we were doing pretty good on Saturday. So I put my dressage saddle on her. She's had it on several times now and doesn't much care. Though I can't tighten it down as much as it would need to be to actually ride her. The girth is Ketah-sized. Even with it slightly loose she is a little unsure of herself and instead of making her nuts, it slows her down. Not a bad thing in my opinion. I put her, with the saddle, back out in the arena at the end of the line. We lunged a bit more and she did pretty well. She gets a bit grumpy when she's tired or bored so I didn't push it too far. Next week we'll try a bit in her mouth.

Well, I let her loose in the round pen so she could watch me ride Ketah as we did arena work. Ketah has slowed down a lot lately but we did manage some good trot and canter work and she was bucking a little on the lunge line. Sati was having fits, pawing at the gate and yelling at Ketah. She did listen when I yelled back at her for pawing though.

I finished up and decided now was a good time for tieing up and reminding Sati that I can groom her, including her feet. First foot was no problem. And came running and screaming and making all kinds of noise. Someone else tied up a horse at the other end of the rail. It was too much for Sati's brain. She started dancing and jumping. Despite that I did eventually get all four feet without any kicking.

I've determined what I need for training her now is a lot of distractions. Since most of our work lately is in the evenings alone I need to come up with a way to make up those distractions. The radio doesn't bother her much and the kids are in the house. So plastic bags, loud noisy wheelbarrows, maybe a bicycle...

I would make one final note. I can't help but compare Sati to Ketah at that age. Poor Ketah had been abused and mishandled (by other people) for some time and was a basket case. She wasn't trying to hurt anyone but she didn't trust people either. Sati is just acting young most of the time. And she does trust me, so I can generally "talk her down" without broken halters or tie rails. If I think about it too much I'm sad that I didn't know more when I started working with Ketah and that she had to grow up so painfully. She never really showed the curiosity about me that Sati has until much later in her life. I know we've made up for it, 20 years and all, but it did leave scars that took a long time to heal for her. I'm glad I'll be able to do better with Sati.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I suppose since my last post about Sati was describing how bad she'd been I should make another one about how good she was this weekend. Thanks to the DVD mom sent me I've been working on lead line stuff. Sati now moves out in both directions and changes direction pretty well. She still has trouble on the right side but she's getting better and challenging me less often.

I've also been medicating her ankles for "scratches" and she's getting better about me messing with her hind feet. I can now usually pick up all four feet (albeit, I'm very slow about her hinds so she can think about it) without a fight. The "scratches" are getting better slowly. She doesn't seem to be sore anymore. The test is on Friday when my shoer comes to trim her feet. He did ok with her last time, but she danced around and was generally difficult. This time I'm hoping all our work on standing pays off.

Planning for the next generation...

I have a rule about my horses. It's pretty simple, a kindergarten rule really. Share them, especially with anyone I know who has children. Most young girls are at some point enamored with horses so I like to encourage that. Their parents don't always realize what I'm getting them into, it's better that way. However, this time they knew and fully approved. My best friend Dan and his wife Kelley brought their 4 month old baby down to visit for Thanksgiving.

Dan expressed a specific desire to start Aylee early on her potential obsession with horses. Expose her to the sight, smell and sound of a barn. Plus he and Kelley wanted to meet Sati. Now, before you get worried I was very safe about it and Kelley knows horses well enough to be safe too. I didn't let Sati near Aylee and I watched Ketah very carefully. Ketah, being older, fairly lazy these days and in a very calm mood was perfect for us. Aylee got to sit on Ketah, while Ketah went to sleep and when Kelley was moving away Aylee was reaching out to Ketah. While I am fully aware that at 4 months old she's just reaching out for everything, I figure we got it in her head. Mission accomplished. Thank you Ketah.