Monday, 20 June 2011

Picture of Felix's first ride :)

Just now noticed my friend posted the pic for me the other day of Felix's very first ride.  Not exactly exciting, but documents the progress none the less!

He looks like he has a lot of gear on his face - it's a breaking bridle with a rope noseband overtop of his halter, plus his lead rope which I am holding out of the frame.  The rope noseband give that little extra insentive to give to pressue that some young horses have to learn, and he seems to like the basic jointed snaffle that is on the bridle.

He graduated to the "big boy bridle" after this ride, as he also loves the fat copper snaffle I stole from Heather.  My go-to bits are normally either French Link or the double-jointed Sprenger KK style, but in the end it is all about what the pony wants to wear, not what the rider THINKS the pony aught to wear!

*** Before I go - A quick note on Helmets***
Don't take this photo as a good example.  I wear my helmet EVERY ride, and even sometimes for ground work - but I find that die-hard helmetless riders are like smokers - they don't respond well to being nagged, and in the end it is their own health/life at risk, so I just let it be.  If you value what is IN your head, wear a helmet.  Yes - accidents can happen to even the best riders and horses.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Much as I hate being away from the barn....

I am glad I am there not to meddle!  I did get an update from Devon today, Felix trotted today!  Again, no drama at all.  At this rate we'll be trail riding and maybe doing schooling shows by the end of summer.

I got an email today from Felix's old family, and they sent me some pics of his baby son, Dexter.  He's 1/4 Fjord, 1/4 TB, and 1/2 Canadian.  Not a mix I would have bred, but darned cute!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Now, I become the treat machine

Now that Felix has been sat on, he's been handed over to Devon for further starting. It's not that I can't do this myself - it's a combination of self-preservation and the fact that I'm a little high-strung to be  good first rider.  My own nervousness rubs off on them unfortunately.

For the time being, I'm just going to to snuggle and give treats. It takes effort on my part not to interfere, but I'm doing OK so far.  It was super good timing to get him going under saddle this week, as I'll be away working so incapeable of meddling.

Here is some cute pics of him out grazing and begging for treats.

Friday, 10 June 2011

A word on being the entertainment for the whole barn

This is really to funny not to share, happened about 3 weeks ago, of course in front of a barn full of boarders, the vet, and all the staff.

Felix lives with the broodmares at the farm. Which means he's in the paddock for horses that don't get out much - except for him.  The gate is at the bottom of a hill, and we have had a super wet spring here in our part of Ontario. 

Untill he was turned out, I did not own a pair of rubber boots. I'd been lucky enough over the last 4 years or so to have the dryest paddock on the farm bestowed upon my old mare - so didn't really ever go anywhere that my paddock boots couldn't handle.  So, I find an older pair that has been floating around the house for a while.  They must be a size 9 or 10, and I normally wear a 7.

Anyways, so the paddock where Felix is turned out is pretty deep in mud right next to the gate. This must be walked through to go catch him.  It's spring shots day for the barn, and I go out to get him.  On the way out to get him, boots get stuck several times and threaten to come off, but I unstick them and carry on.  Felix gets caught, and fortunately is having a good day as far as being led goes.  Then, about 2 steps into the mud puddle I sink nearly to the knee, take one more step with my back foot and then the momentum of normal walking catches up with me, and I fall over into the mud puddle.  I try to unstick the boots with very little luck.

At this point I abandon the boots, put my socks in my already mud-filled pocket, and lead Felix up to the barn.  He gets handed over to one of the barn workers, as at this point I am covered to the hip in mud, and leading an unruly still-thinks-he's-a-stallion pony, so the safest thing to do was just to get someone else to take over.  Not that he was being bad, it was 100% my own clumsy fault in fact!

I probably explain what happened to half a dozen people before my boots are retrieved from the paddock, Felix is back out and the vet is paid.  Everyone gets a good laugh at my expence, including me!  I remove jeans before driving home barefoot in my underwear.  Fortunately do not get pulled over by the cops and have to explain to them why I am driving in no pants.

In conclusion - any time you're having a slightly embarassing day at the barn, at least this didn't happen to you.  Also, properly fitted muck boots are worth their weight in gold.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The baby is all grown up!

Felix had his very first ride today.  Devon just hopped on, Felix stood there like a total champ - didn't even flinch.  It was totally uneventful, just as it should be.  Pictures to come once Heather uploads them to facebook!

This is why we long line.  So that any battles can be fought from the safety of the ground, and some stop and steer is also installed ahead of time.  And it's not just for young horses. I've seen high level dressage done one long lines. In fact, here's a video of a very cute little mini doing dressage on long lines!
If you don't know how - I am willing to bet that there is someone at your farm that does.  If not, there are several books on the subject, and likely clinicans who would be pleased to teach you. It's a skill that I feel that every horse person should have in their bag of tricks, and I'm always surprised to learn that most people have no idea what it is or how to do it. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

For today's trick - bathing.

It was 90 degrees out today, and super humid.  This resulted in one sweaty pony when we were done working today.  So, I hand the lead over to Heather, and she procedes to hose him down.  After a lovely display of "airs above the ground" he finally realizes that the water is probably not going to kill him.  He's still a little concerned - but we have a hot summer ahead - so he needs to get used to it!

I also picked up all his feet today.  He still fusses with the backs, but there is no badness such as kicking or leaning - so I am hopeful I can get him to stand for his hoof trimming sometime this week.  His front feet need trimming again anyways, so we'll have to try for all 4 this time.

I was talking to Devon today - he is the guy who will be doing Felix's first 30 or so rides - and he told me he'd happily try to ride Felix right now, so I'm going to have him sceduled to be started under saddle starting July 1st.  I am tempted to try to do it myself, but I'm a very rusty rider so this is a bad idea.

On another note, I rode for the first time in around a year today. It was 5 minutes on Heather's new horse Orio, and it was great!  Orio is a fantastic horse, made all the more fantastic because she's only 4!

Monday, 6 June 2011

The progress continues

The long lining has continued all this time, with it only getting better and better.  The first few days Heather worked with him, he was doing a lot of fighting, and did manage to pull so much he scuffed the hair off his nose with the noseband.  She handed it over to me a couple of days before I went away for work - and he's been better and better every day.  Today Shauna even worked with him a little - and he was good for her too.

Last week I was working 12 hour days, so he only got work once every 2-3 days. The first day on the week I worked was at night, and he was not thrilled about being off-scedule, but by the 2nd 9:30pm work he was just fine.

I figured out why his back feet did not get done - he picks them up, but then yanks them away. We're going to have to work on this more. 

Today after our work was over Shauna was with us so we broke out  the clippers to try and give him a bridle path.  At first he was bouncing up and down, trying to get away, but Shauna held his head and I clipped. After the first pass he calmed right down, and happily had his head rubbed and ate treats while I hogged the WHOLE MANE!!  There was an impressive pile of hair when I was done.  He now looks like a potential show pony, except he needs to put on about 50 lbs now. He was in good weight when he came, but running the fence line and acting crazy has caused his weight to drop a bit.  For the moment, he's out on green pasture so I'm not all that worried - we might have to add some fat-n-fiber to his diet soon if the weight does not come back up though.

I realize I probably have not told you WHO Shauna is. She's my 19 year old sister, and half-owner of Felix.  She's an incredible calming influence on him, so I think I'll keep her!