Lunging for Learning

Good day, Friends!

The day for Elvis’ date with the vet nears for his gelding appointment!

In preparation for after care, which involves lunging twice a day, we had a session to refine skills for both myself and Elvis.

First we were given a visual with Erika Lafors explaining what we are doing:  addressing nose in, ribs out, shoulder over, maintain gait, maintain direction.

Check it out!

Then it was my turn to be coached.  Elvis learns quickly!

Then we did a little refining on the change of direction!

How do you prepare your partner?  I’d love to hear!

Terri

 

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Catching up With Elvis

Good morning, Friends! 

Elvis continues his progress!  During the last three months of  temperatures in the nineties, I’ve been meeting up with Elvis in the mornings while still cool, to have fun with all things feet!

We have had obstacle work in the indoor arena, some Ttouch work, learning how to give a bow down, preparation for ground tying, practice on proper in-hand leading skills, pedestal fun, some liberty, work on quiet feet, trailer loading and backing out, the game of “around the world” progressing to “sit stay”, and had a first outing to an obstacle course for a day!

Awesome fun!  Let me catch you up!

Here is his trailer loading, first time went in willingly, and then here we are refining, coached by Erika Lefors, part of the ALT Horsemanship team!

Here Elvis is getting good at the bow down.

Getting some Ttouch, built into grooming time. . . . .

Tuned into his handler. . . . . .

some in-hand practice. . . . . .

coached on the pedestal. . . . . .

Practicing technique. . . . .

Playing “around the world”, we achieved twice around this day!

and finally some “sit stay” as I back away, I got two good steps in!

Be sure and follow our progress on our Facebook page DD This Dudes Rad!  Here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/DD-This-Dudes-Rad-324724784544503/

Stay Tuned!

Terri

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Saddle Fit for Flicka

Good Evening, Friends!

There is lots to be said about saddle fit!  I’m very close to getting a saddle for Flicka.  She has been using the saddles at the barn, which are serving well.  I’ve been considering the weight issue, getting it up on her back, lol! and expenditure.  I’ve spent a little, and a lot.  While I like to keep things simple, Flicka’s comfort while doing the job I ask, is imperative.  Saddle pads can be high tech material, synthetic, or the classic wool for breathability and conforming to the horse’s back.  It appears that you can spend as much as you want!

I’m considering a barrel saddle, for the weight and purpose I desire.  I plan on using Flicka in working horse events, maybe some timed events and obstacle courses.  Cowboy Dressage is a thought.  I need a traditional set up with a horn.

I visited saddle shops with new and used inventory to see how this style measures for my seat, talked to friends who barrel race or use this style, looked on Facebook forums to see what people were selling, and checked out on-line shops and makers.

I recently had a session with Angela Tanner at the barn to compare saddles being used on Flicka, all of which have been doing the job.  I measured gullet width and skirt length, since Flicka is short backed and short coupled.

The first one we looked at was a Corriente.  Placed without a pad, we had good gullet clearance and nice shoulder flare.  A thin pad with neoprene, I believe, on the underside, worked well.

The second one was an American, which a local shop carries.  It also fit well.  These both had straight skirts, but were minimal with the barrel saddle styling.  It was the lightest of the three with a ralide tree.

The third one was a Saddlesmith of Texas, round skirted barrel saddle.  This is more of an upper end saddle, with prices of around $2,000.00.  The Corriente and American are similar, being around $650.00.  This was a full quarter bar and an eight inch gullet, needing a one inch felt pad to adjust gullet fit.

I’m leaning towards a round skirted semi-quarter with seven inch gullet.  I should be able to find something with a middle-of-the-road price tag for an entry level starter set up in case Flicka’s back and conformation changes.  I will likely stay with a wool pad, the rounded barrel design, and a contoured topline.

What is your process for changing gear and disciplines?  I’d love to know!

Terri

Flashback:  Here is my rig for being out on an all day ride, prepared to stay overnight if need be.  This was taken in the Diamond Peak Wilderness with my Morab, Charlie-horse.  Planning for your purpose is key!

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The new Little Missy

Folks!  The summer has been busy, and we are on the cusp of a change of season again!  School has even started in some of the neighborhoods!  The heat in Spokane has again been in the upper 80’s, 90’s and even triple digits.  By my definition and choice, this is too hot to ride out, and we have had smoke, some of the worst air quality in the nation at times, from Canadian fires to the North, Central Washington fires, and wildfires in Montana.  So I sit tight, but still need to satisfy my cravings for horse progress.  Having Elvis at the barn for training keeps the ball rolling forward.  I visit the barn in the mornings while it can still be called cooler, for sessions with Elvis.

Then along came Flicka!

Flicka is a three year old, that came into the barn early Summer for skill building and sale, or re-homing.  I took her on, and I’ve been having fun ever since!

I love my projects, Whiskey is hanging at home until the weather is cooler, and the juggle works.  Of course, I have great support from the training barn, with Angela Tanner, and her daughters Erika Lefors and Z, or else I would not be doing this!  Support is everything!

Flicka is having her first rides, and she is a nice in-between from the youngster Elvis, and older and more accomplished fourteen-year old Whiskey!

She came without any formal training, but had some reactionary responses instilled, which the Angela Tanner team had already made improvements on by the time she arrived on my radar.

She has progressed enough that I am starting to have some sessions with her, so enjoyable!

Groundwork has been started with bridlework techniques.  Here is a demonstration by Angela Tanner, Brandi Lyons Certified Trainer, of which this technique is a key element.

Hugs all around!

 

Terri

Follow our progress on Facebook page My Friend Flicka!

https://www.facebook.com/My-Friend-Flicka-1943833242529698/

 

 

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Fun With Elvis!

Good Morning, Friends!

Elvis has started  his education!  Z is sacking him out, having fun playing with him!

Elvis is started with giving him exposure to all kinds of things!  The round pen is used for some basics, followed with bitting up, using a pony bit to get him used to packing it, and and introduction to bridlework will follow.

Saddle pad, noodles, picking his feet up, and a start with “come to me”.

The sunshine is a wonderful change from the cold of early Spring!  I’m enjoying having the opportunity to have training time at the barn while I wait for temperatures to drop a bit!

Don’t forget some hang out time, what they really want!

Happy Trails!

Terri

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Day 2 of Clinic

Good morning, Friends!

Day 2 of the Brandi Lyons No Limits clinic came overcast and cold, with temperatures at freezing!  A great motivator to get moving!  Warming up with bridlework and mounting up!  The day before Whiskey gave me a great hip over at the mounting block, such a great focusing exercise and one to build precision with!

After warm up, Brandi requested a ride on Whiskey!  He was quite excited and gave it his high stepping best!  He wanted to shy at the noise of the speakers set up by the auditing benches.  Brandi worked him at the “long and low” as a warm-up exercise at the trot.  We revisited this on the last day.

Our focus for the day was groundwork with a lot of shoulder over, starting on the far arena wall and working towards the speakers and audit area, since this gave plenty of opportunity for spooking.

We also went to a separate area and worked on sacking him out to noisy plastic bags, and such, to help Whiskey settle and keep his focus.

The rest of the afternoon was focused in the saddle, starting again at the far arena wall and working towards the speakers and audit benches.  We used two cones and did figure eights with the shoulder over, increasing our precision with the feet.  Brandi calls this the barrel pattern.

For the last exercise of the day, we practiced the “lay down”.  This starts with the head down cue from the saddle, using a “milking the reins” techniques, a contact and release when the head lowers.

Angela Tanner had started Whiskey on this at the barn, so he picked up the finishing touches quickly!  After this is achieved, we are done, and Whiskey is put up for the evening relaxation and dinner!

It was a great day!

Terri

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Elvis Joins the Big World

Good Morning, Friends!

Our Winter was long and cold and the pasture took it’s time thawing!  Footing was poor, progress was delayed!  Of course, I believe everything happens in its proper order and time.  I’ve been involved with horses long enough, and seen the seasonal changes enough, that I have become philosophical!  I always seem to catch up and it is all good!

These are times that can be maximized in their own way.  I took the time to hang out, groom, give TTouch sessions, and just enjoy.  Whiskey was a great help being Big Brother! while taking charge.  When the shoer came, Whiskey was Mr. Solid while Elvis was curious about everything!  Gratefully, my shoer is very tolerant, Elvis got the elbow just once!

There were a few of us that got weanlings at the same time, a project with a built in support system of friends!  Laura Sanchez, one of the peeps, came to visit and we had fun playing!  I had familiarized him with the halter, so we were able to slip it on and get it adjusted.

We cooled him down a bit on this hot day, did some leading, and called it good.  He was scheduled to go into the training barn the next week, at Angela Tanner’s, to start building his skill base, get gelded, and after gelding care.

This is a fun project and  a great learning experience for me, however, I made sure I had the support of Angela and her team to make it a success!

Stay tuned!

Terri

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Finally Summer!

Good morning, Friends!

Wow, a long Winter’s nap we had!  While I was glad to have gotten an early start to the season tune-up in February, the long, overcast days had me setting aside my motivation for blogging, so here I am, catching up my progress!

With preparation started, Whiskey and I attended the Brandi Lyons Horsemanship clinic, a four day “vacation” to reconnect and push progress further.  I had not been on Whiskey for a year, and, while I live with him at home, our progress got sidelined with Smokey and her progress!

Settling in for clinicDuring tune-up preparation at Angela Tanner’s, a certified Brandi Lyons instructor, Whiskey was taught the hip over for mounting up.  I love this for focus!  He was also started on the lay down.  Horsemanship has evolved over the years to encompass these skills for a well rounded horse and partnership.  These skills are a combination of cues that are taught and then combined.  For example, the lay down starts with the head down cue given in the saddle.  This has taught both Smokey and Whiskey to ride with a loose rein.  Power steering comes from taking up one side or the other rein, using the outside leg with the inside rein for your directional aid.

Another “new” skill is the shoulder over.  Whiskey and I need to work on this for better trot-to-canter transitions on a circle.  He needs this for his Cowboy Dressage, but more importantly, for control of his front end and feet.

Shoulder over starts on the ground after basic bridle work is started, and progresses to the saddle.  Whiskey and I did a lot of this in clinic.

As mentioned, while Whiskey is a seasoned show horse, it seemed to be a trigger to be at a “new” arena!  He was quite ramped up at the start of the clinic!  And to be fair, I had not taken him anywhere for a year, except for Angela Tanner’s facility, where he had a chance to relax in the new environment!  My goal is to have him be relaxed no matter where we may find ourselves!

Because of his excitement, I remained on the ground doing bridlework for warm-up on Day One of the clinic.  Everyone else was mounted up, even though their horses were also displaying signs of being somewhere new!  However, I saw no need to be in the saddle until things calmed down and we could be better focused!

After observing everyone, Brandi had a few words for each of us.  She very graciously complemented me in staying on the ground under the “pressure” of everyone else being mounted.  I’m willing to do what my horse needs and seems appropriate at any given moment.  We all have to deal with the horse that presents right here, right now!  By the end of the day, I was in the saddle and we were on our way!

Terri

 

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Five Steps of Preparation for Your Backcountry Riding Vacation

Friends, all I can say is that I have seen some wonderful country from the back of a horse! 

It’s a little different with a horse, they are doing the work for you, while you have the advantage of this perch to look around on.  While hiking, you are likely looking down and don’t have the elevated view!

  I spent twenty years riding and camping with my horse.  These are processes that have worked for me. My most recent trip was in 2012, after which my daughter, about nine years old at the time, wanted my company for vacations (!), and many areas, routes and destinations, were burning with rampant forest fires.  So I set it aside for a while.  I’ve kept track of favorite riding areas, and new ideas put out by folks gaining experience!  Hopefully, this will springboard you into researching your own ideas and what might work for you!

Where to Go?

This should be determined by the level of condition and trail experience of your horse, and of your riding buddies going with you.  In the old days, it was the folks who would commit to keeping their rig tuned and ready in good repair, and a consistent conditioning and exposure program for their horses.  Having dabbled in endurance riding for five years, I’d condition as if for a twenty five mile ride, and then I could be quite confident that I could go on my trip and not worry about my horse.

Lake basins are great places to visit.  Great views and moderate terrain that everyone can enjoy.  Diamond Peak Wilderness in south central Oregon is a good one.  Traveling through Crater Lake National Park, is wonderful.  Mt Adams is a repeat favorite, both from Mt. Adams Horse Camp and Keenes Horse Camp.  Author Kim McCarrel writes trail books that encompass many areas of Oregon and Washington.  She covers many areas I have ridden and her information is reliable.  Her website is http://nwhorsetrails.com/

Facebook site Holly’s Horse Tales and Trails is also good information on areas of Central Oregon that I have camped and ridden.  Her blog brings back many happy memories!

The Open Trail Project is a great site with a Facebook site as well, for an archive of national horse trails, and handy record keeping tools.  Check it out here:

http://www.opentrail.us

We Are Trail Riders is another .com and Facebook resource for the rider with national riding sites.  Check it out here:

https://www.wearetrailriders.com/

These resources will help with map selection and other land management resources.  I always used Green Trail Maps and checked with the Forest Service on trail conditions and closures.  Map stores are also great resources, Bend Mapping and Blueprint in Bend, Oregon, is a great resource for trails outside the Diamond Peak Wilderness area, which are every bit as nice to ride as those within the wilderness boundaries!

We all started out with camping in our horse trailers!  Over the years, we all managed to upgrade to some form of camper ( I had a pop-up for seven years), and while it afforded lots of comfort, what it really did was organize us!  It’s really nice to not have to set up camp when we arrived!  And it was really nice to have a sense of organization so we could concentrate on riding!  Not to mention sleeping with a warm face if you want to use the heater!

I found that year after year, August was a good time to travel the backcountry.  Late snow melt was generally gone, and bugs are scarce!  No issues with wasps or bees, and the no-see-ems are most active in July in those high mountain meadows. You have a little less daylight, and depending on elevation, you can encounter occasional overnight temperatures near freezing.  Still, I have found it to be the most enjoyable time to ride!

Thinking of packing in?  I always bring what I need to stay overnight if need be.  But I wouldn’t qualify that as packing in, lol!  There are a couple of near-30 mile loops that I would like to break into two 15-milers and stay out the night.  Tons of material out there, my favorite being the guys from Montana at Trailhead Supply.  Catch up on their blog!  They regularly attend the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington (BCHW) Rondy in Ellensburg, Washington.  They have given a great mini-seminar on getting started in packing for women, always to a “sell-out” crowd!  Here is their website link:

https://www.trailheadsupply.com/

Here is a link to the rondy:

http://naturalhorsemanshipandyou.com/2983/backcountry-horsemen-of-washington-rondy-ellensburg

I like the idea of the over the saddle panniers to keep it easy!

What to Bring?

Food for a week!  The camper refrigerators, even the small ones, can hold a lot!  It’s fun to trade off meal duty with your buddies!  Fry pan burritos were easy after a ride, and quick!  And me, I can eat hot dogs the entire time!  Check around and you’ll find what suits you!  I’ve also done cheese fondue when it was my turn to cook!

A water resistant blanket for your horse and a lighter sheet.  When your horse has been working all day, they will appreciate a cover in the higher elevations, and whether it is your enclosure or a horse camp, not a lot of room to move around to keep warm.

Clothes to layer.  I used my cross country ski clothes!  I layer with tights and pants of choice for chafing, Sporthill sells a wind resistant ski pant that is tapered towards the ankle, which I found handy.  A stretchy vest, my Outback jacket, and  the Outback rain slicker that folds into a backpack, that is easy to tie on the back of the saddle.  Headgear of choice, which included helmet, or straw hat, or wool hat, or the Outback waxed hat for rainy days, all got their use!  Half chaps work well for bushwacking and for keeping the heat in your lower extremities.  I’ve used cowboy boots, rubber boots, riding tennis shoes, paddock boots with thinsulate, all had their place!  And remember, you are camping, so pack light, wear everything multiple times, its OK to get and be dirty!  I used conditioner for my hair so the dirt and sweat wouldn’t stick!  Maybe the suntanned face was part sun, part dirt!

How about water?

We mostly camped in designated horse camps, or primitive camped when there was an appropriate area, as in the Ochocos out of Prineville, Oregon.  It used to be that a trailer water tank only held about 25 gallons.  There are more options now, check out http://thedistancedepot.com.

I’ll take advantage of streams and nearby lakes to make my water last, and carry a camper hose that spirals into a convenient carry tray to take with me.  Those can be purchased most anywhere, I bought mine at the local Bi-mart discount store.

My horn bags are designed to carry a water bottle in each side.  I use a refillable stainless steel one, and the other is my Seychelle water filtration bottle.

Most campsites will have pens, either wood or metal, many in Washington State have highlines.  I carry my swivel attachment that will allow my horse to pull back and not panic.  I also carry my own highline kit.  You can purchase a highline attachment for your trailer, lightweight corral sections, or use an electric corral set-up.  Mainly it’s what you prefer and what you think is best and easiest for your horse.

Feed and Supplies

Equipment is quite sophisticated these days, but even with a simple rig set up, you can manage to have fun!  I take weed free grass hay and alfalfa, I find my horse appreciated a little extra after an all day trail ride!  I organized daily feed rations in baggies, and took loose salt to add.  Dynamite Specialty Products has an excellent loose salt, as even the vets rarely carry it anymore, our past go-to source.  https://dynamitespecialty.myvoffice.com/ShoppingCart/index.cfm?FuseAction=CategoryShop&CategoryID=91&ParentCategoryID=4

We would buddy up in twos, one hauling the horses, and one hauling the hay and supplies!  It worked great, and gave us the advantage of the extra rig in case we experienced any troubles!

Enjoying Mother Nature

We want to set up our trip in our favor.  Do our homework, plan our route, and also be flexible if conditions change.  Respect Mother Nature, and your limitations as humans, small pebbles on the beach.  Be thoughtful of choosing your horse buddy, and your riding buddies.  There should be a sense of responsibility and support towards each other when traveling the backcountry.

I do travel with a cell phone and battery pack. Will your battery pack last a week?  Likely not.  Will your cell phone work everywhere?  Likely not.  However, that is the part I like the best about horse camping, going far enough away to make you feel you are “away”, and not having to worry about anything except the needs of yourself and your horse.

Horses have a great sense of direction, they have never failed me.  They always prove the “no, it’s thatta way” person wrong.  Take some orange surveyors tape to mark intersections.  Everyone should pack a gun.  Three shots is the universal signal for help.  I figure if I had to wait it out while someone rode for help, I could stave off a few critters, or put my horse down if necessary.  Stay on the trail.  Avoid game trails that may look inviting.  Keep well hydrated and graze on saddlebag snacks.  Becoming dehydrated and having low blood sugar contributes to poor decision making.  Turn around if you encounter unexpected obstacles that will deplete your horse’s energy or put them at risk.  Use common sense.

Even though these methods and tools may be considered “old”, I would still be comfortable today traveling as such.

As a basic overview, I hope this inspires you to research for your own camping adventure with your horse!  There are lots of dude ranch offerings, but nothing to compare with your own fine animal taking you down the trail with cooperation and enthusiasm!

Happy Trails!

Terri

Photographs:  In order of appearance:  Blue Mountains, Oregon, Olive Lake in the background; Metolius-Windigo Trail from Sisters Cow Camp, Sisters, Oregon; Rim Trail, Newberry Caldera, La Pine, Oregon; Sister Mirror Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon; Croften Ridge Trail, Mt. Adams, Washington; The Ochocos, Oregon; Crater Lake National Park, Oregon; Muddy Meadows, Mt. Adams, Washington; Stag Lake, Diamond Peak Wilderness, Oregon

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