Monday, May 12, 2008

First Ride in a LONG Time! (and trying out the new bit)

My pretty girl and the MIL...

So I've been having fun reading blogs by FHOTD and her friend, and decided I wanted one too! So here I'll be recording my rides on Daisy, my 18 year old AQH, and my training sessions with her son, Tuff, a yearling gelding. (of course not riding until he's 2 or so)

So I hadn't (is that a word??) rode Daisy since Jan or Feb of this year, and decided it was high time! (and it had been nearly a year before that because of her being pregnant then having a foal at her side, ect)

I had picked her up a new headstall and bit at the flea market that morning so wanted to try them out. I've been trying to find a bit she is really happy with for awhile now. I bet I've gone through at least 6 or 7 different bits with her. The consensus seems to be she doesn't like anything that moves, because she goes pretty well in a grazing curb bit, so I got a mullen mouth snaffle at the flea market, only 5$ so I figured it was worth a try. Previuosly Ive tried many snaffles, and even a billy allen curb, which she did like the best of all. But there is the leverage issue, as with the grazing bit.

For those who don't know much about horses, you generally don't ride two handed, as in, one rein in each hand and pulling the horses nose in the direction you want to go, with a leverage bit. A leverage bit is anything with shanks on it. A snaffle has just rings of some sort on the side and has no leverage, so is better to ride two handed with.

Now if you neck rein, pressing the rein into the side of the neck in the direction you want to go (i.e. press the right rein in the horses neck to 'push' it to the left) it is perfectly fine, and actually preferable to some, to use a leverage, or curb, bit.

SO! All that to say Daisy doesn't neck rein very well yet so I need her to have some sort of snaffle bit. Just can't seem to find one she really enjoys.

So back to Saturdays ride. I recruited the mother in law to come out and watch, for one its not safe to ride by yourself, and another I get so lonely! Its much more fun with an audience, and someone to help, lol.

So Daisy is pastured with a QH gelding of my brother in laws. He's a bit of a rouge, they bought him as an unbroke 2 year old, who had been gelded not long before, and broke him out at the place they bought him from, and brought him home. Well at home they find out he was never taught to tie and is a SERIOUS and CHRONIC puller. Also his demeanor changed quite a bit and he is very spooky/looky, ect. All very bad things for my BIL (bro in law) because he is just getting into horses, doesn't know a whole lot about them, especially the riding part.

Here's Rusty, not a very flattering picture, he's actually put together very well, just wish his brain was put together just as well, lol. He does have a longish back it looks like though...
Anyway, I had the MIL (mom in law) help get Daisy out of the pasture and we saddled her up. What I love most about this mare is her temperament. She is normally so ladee da and very quiet. So relaxing! The biggest indicator of this was I think when I took her to an arena she had never been to before at night! And there were trains and she was alone etc, she was fantastic. I don't know that she has even been ridden in an arena. Her previous owners mostly trail rode her, and before that who knows what. I think they even hunted off her, lol.
I do know shes had at least 2 foals, 3 now with Tuff. I got a hold of I think her 2nd owner, who is the last on her AQHA papers, and he said she had had 2 with him. Both colts ;)

So anyway threw a blanket and saddle on her and adjusted her new headstall, which was a bit of a pain. The leather on one cheekpiece did NOT want to go into its buckle. Finally got that going, let her settle with it a bit. And it didn't take her long. I flexed her both ways (pulling on one rein until she gave and then the other) and didn't have any chewing, YES. So I was happy about that, told the MIL that maybe we had found a winner!

So checked the cinch one more time and got up! So nice to be back in the saddle, it felt really good. I flexed her again a bit, and she wanted to move a little when I did that from the saddle, not sure I've ever done it from the saddle with her, just with a halter and lead on the ground. She thought I wanted her to move off. But quickly stopped and got the message. She was very light off the leg cues, not usual with her, if I'm wanting her to really work I need spurs. And towards the end she was getting a bit 'sticky'. So walked off down the fence line (its on my right in the first picture) and Rusty followed us ever step lol. He is VERY attatched. Halted her and she did NOT do well with that. She'd slow, maybe stop, but would walk off right after. Took me quite a few times of woahing her before she actually stood there. Then I turned her back around and walked a few steps, halted. That was was MUCH better. And as I went on she figured out what the feel in her mouth meant and did some very nice halts.

But her mouth was going very time I told her to turn, or in other words, got in her mouth. Although I don't believe she did it when I told her to woah. So seems like its only when I pulled on one side or the other...she may have wolf teeth still that may be bothering her. Either way, she was not annoyed or upset with it, I could tell, just every time I asked her to turn something caused her to react by chewing. I don't believe it was pain, or I would have seen that in her face. (my SIL [sis in law] came by and she rode a bit, so I was able to watch her facial expressions.

So anyway, I think I will try it for a few more rides, maybe lower it a notch this next time, I had it up where there were two wrinkles in her lip, might be too high. Might get a better response with it lower in her mouth. We'll see! Hmm...just searched around to see what the internet says about bit wrinkles, and apparently the conensus is 2 wrinkles, but I also found a site that had Julie Goodnight on it saying this:

You'll also need to check where the bit lays in your horse's mouth to see if your bridle is adjusted correctly. If the bit is too high (causing wrinkles in the corners of his mouth), he'll feel constant pressure and will have difficulty responding to light aids. If the bit hangs too low, it may hit his teeth and flop around in his mouth. I like the bit to touch the corners of my horse's lips, but without showing any wrinkles. This way, he'll hold the bit the way he wants in his mouth and respond to the lightest movement of the reins.

Makes perfect I think I'll lower it a hole def next time. Maybe I'll go ride this afternoon, gonna be hot as heck though. Might grab the BIL he likes to ride.

Anway, after I got her going pretty good in that area I went out along the road a little bit. Of course the first thing she wanted to do was grab at the tall grass on the side of the road. I my work cut out for me trying to keep her going down the middle of the road, or at least away from the grass enough that she couldn't snatch her a bite. The bit is very mild. I could pull on it a good bit trying to get her head up and she was unconcerned.
She is quite ouchy on gravel so I tried to stay in the bare spots as much as I could. After we got to the end of the road where it meets the blacktop, I rode her up a hill that runs along the side of the road, and she didn't want to go back down onto the gravel! I think I'm going to have to shoe her all the way around if I plan on riding her much this summer.

A truck with a rattely trailer full of four wheelers went by and she started at it and then as soon as it was gone settled right down. The next time one went by she just raised her head, good girl! Her pasture buddy was going crazy racing around his pasture, even though we were in plain sight. Dummy. She seemed to be a little concerned that he was being so rowdy but not to where I ever got worried.
We didn't stay up there long, I didn't want Rusty hurting himself, so we went back down the drive to the pasture. The whole time her head was down and she was so good. I decided to trot her the last few feet and that was fun, she wasn't as bouncy as I remember lol. Could have been 'cause she was tip toeing on the gravel ;). After that I just rode her around that area working on her neck reining and woahs, did some backing. Was a little rusty to begin with but she did well after a few tries. The SIL even got her to back very easily after she got on, which made her exclaim, "HOW COOL!"
A lot of the time we just stood and chilled while I chatted with the SIL and MIL, I love that I can drop the reins and stirrups and trust shes not going anywhere and she just cocks a foot and takes a nap, lol.
Perfect example in this picture. So it took a bit but I convinced the SIL that she should get up and I would lead her around a bit. She doesn't know much about horses and hasn't really rode since she was a little girl. She has a yearling gelding a week older then Tuff that she is wanting to ride when he is old enough, so I told her she needs to practice! :)

Daisy packed her around like a pro. She is such a good baby sitter. It took a bit of work to get the SIL on, and she stood so still for it all and didn't blink. And I really enjoyed the chance to watch how she does with someone else on board. You miss a lot by not being able to see the horses eyes, I read a lot from a horses eyes. They tell you so much. Speaking of, I ws just going through my pictures again to resize some of the ones with my SIL aboard, and I really do think I had that bit cranked up in her mouth, dummy, I thought about it briefly, thinking hm, maybe I should try it down one...but didn't do it. Oh well I will next ride.
So here's a few photos of Daisy packing the SIL around. She did very well. Can't think of the last time she rode a horse. I led her around awhile, until she got comfortable, then I briefly explained how the reins work and off she went. She did good, her mom told her to put her heels down and they didn't come up the hwole time after that, lol. Daisy took good care of her.
So that is about it. Finally! This got a lot longer then I had anticipated. Hopefully I'll have something new to add soon!
Thanks for reading!

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