No matter how hungry he may be, the cowman takes care of his horse before looking after his own comfort.
— Ramon Adams, The Cowman’s Code of Ethics
Have a great day, Friends!
Good morning, friends!
Winter is a great time to tune up with groundwork! It is a staple for me when I can no longer haul, due to cold, ice, or snowy conditions! There was a lack of snow on the ground this day, and plenty of sunshine! I had to take advantage!
I’m advancing with being friendly with the stick to include all zones of the horse’s body. This day, I played with the stick and string all around Whiskey’s hind end, known as zone 5. He was very non-reactive and relaxed, the horse I was looking for!
From that exercise, I used the 22 foot lead to set up for the next session. Without using the stick, I ask for the “follow-the-feel for stepping forward. Whiskey did well. For this exercise, Whiskey stays behind me, stopping when I stop, maintaining his distance. I back up, and he backs up. We will progress this exercise at a trot.
I ended up with an exercise using the carrot stick to turn Whiskey on the forehand. He stands at my shoulder. I have the stick straight out from my bellybutton. I look and turn into Whiskey, the stick, as an extension of my arm, follows the bellybutton! It presents a wall for Whiskey to turn away from.
This is an exaggeration for Whiskey to follow my body language! This will translate into the saddle when we follow our focus with our eyes, shoulder, and bellybutton! Makes sense, eh?
Let me know what you think!
Groundwork is a way to problem solve and clarify leadership without and before getting into the saddle. I have found with ground “play”, the riding to follow goes smoothly, and I’m grateful for the positive experiences. For some years, I have purchased broke horses, and do my tune up and relationship building starting from the ground. I know this has helped immensely in my transition to the saddle, and I’m grateful to have this tool! I don’t take anything for granted with a new-to-me horse, and I maintain this consistency.
For this session, we played what we called the “catch up to me” game, essentially a leading game. I start out being friendly with the stick. I pick up the lead, and give a porcupine feel on the halter. Whiskey moves softly forward, so I lower the lead and take the pressure off. My hand is open so the lead can slide through, relieving the pressure and staying soft while asking.
With my “inside” hand, I hold the stick on his back. When he falls back, I tap him on the croup to catch up to me, so he is at my shoulder. We do this both ways, both sides, until he consistently stays at my shoulder with the stick staying quiet and the lead rope down with my hand open, pressure off.
I found this to make a big difference with Whiskey self loading! With pressure off, I take Whiskey over to the trailer and send him in, he goes right in, without hesitation or resentment! He’s been hauled regularly in this trailer, but hasn’t had the happiest attitude about loading. This leading “ask” made a huge difference!
Back and forth, to and from the barn, we continue to have success with Whiskey’s self loading. I can leave him loose, or come around and tie him after closing the door. Whiskey transitioned to backing out with a soft pull of a few tail hairs, coming out slowly, with care and awareness of his feet!
How has your ground work affected your purpose with your buddy?
I’d love to know!
I decided to ease up on myself and get a lighter weight saddle. I saved ten pounds with the Parelli Cruiser saddle. It weighs in at 18 pounds. It comes with english stirrup leathers, and endurance type cushioned stirrups. It gives the feel of a secure seat. It has the same tree as the Natural Performer western saddle for distribution of weight, for long hours in the saddle!
I decided to use the Parelli Smart Pad. There is a velcroed pocket in the top and on the front for shim insertion and adjustment.
I had the help of a Parelli professional to adjust the shimming. Make sure the saddle is set back behind the shoulder allowing the scapula to move back without interference, and shim to give the saddle a slight edge up in front to give the rider that center point while riding. Check shoulder clearance for tightness.
I’ve been using the Parelli shimming system with their saddles since 2008. Never a problem for the horses! I stick with what I know works for horse and rider!
What saddle fitting decisions have you had lately?
Hope this helps!
Good morning, friends!
Here I am a little hot and sweaty acting as line judge at a local Western Games gathering. Events like these are always looking for volunteer help. Have you considered setting aside some time to help out? The perspective from the inside is fun, interesting, and educational! There is also the opportunity to make new friends and contacts!
In the past, I’ve helped with announcing, record keeping, computer input on participants, signing up participants, really anything that needs to be done. It takes many hands to put these events on! There is an annual awards gathering that also appreciates helpers.
Good morning, friends!
I find that I can get caught up in the expectations I put on myself to always be “productive” with my horse goals, but hanging out with your horse is what your horse likes best! It gives me inner peace and tranquility to witness theirs!
How do you hang out with your horses? I’d love to know!
Good morning, friends!
It might be the start of the season, or the end of the season, or perhaps you give a good cleaning both times of the year! We should also keep work and trail dirt and dust cleaned off on a regular basis. The Wash is great for that!
I found that a couple pieces of tack I purchased used came with mold spores. They appear as white or green stuff on your tack. This western saddle I had at the barn in my tack closet locker, and it grew a bunch of mold in the moist climate while there.
I remove excess surface dust and dirt first. If you have mold, use a damp rag or paper towels getting off as much as you can, then throw away, so you are not spreading the mold to other items. Then I use the Wash, spraying it on, using a leather cleaning sponge if you have it, something similar if not. It will give a little lather, as you work it into the tooling and the leather.
I’ll let it sit in the sun for a bit, soaking up the heat and killing those mold spores! Barney is helping to supervise and keeping me company!
The wash is easy to spray into all the nooks and crannies of your saddle. Make sure you give it a direct hit with the sunshine. There is no buildup, just wipe off. You can use the Wash daily if needed.
Follow with the Restorer/Conditioner product. Besides being good for the leather, this product inhibits mold and mildew. Here is a link to a good article on caring for your leather, also your saddle pads and blankets!
Hope this helps! I love these products! Quick and easy to use!
Friends, Good Morning!
This day we hauled up North a ways to Fan Lake. I believe some folks call this Rustler’s Gulch. It’s become more popular just in a short amount of time, word spreads!
We started out on a single track through woods with lots of logs to step over, eventually coming out in the clear, and then meandering through some wetland, the trail being on solid footing. From this point we decided to access the two track road, giving us opportunities to trot out, eventually climbing up, an old barn on the left hand side, around the road gate, and back to the trailer.
We spent a couple of hours riding low, the opportunity to ride up to Fan Lake and give your horse some water crossing practice will be for next time!
How are you doing on your trail practice?
Good morning, Friends!
One day at the barn for lesson, we warmed up a bit in the arena and then headed out. Mid-afternoon, no traffic yet on the country road, we headed over, crossing to the South, and up a dirt road, where farms and gentlemen farmers had places, large and small! It’s always nice to see how your horse handles the chance encounter of a dog greeting, or traffic, in a quiet environment.
We jumped off the road and down an incline, stepping over logs, and just ambling along. I like to know if the horse will watch where he is going, how he negotiates down hill, and Whiskey was happy to just go along and take everything in stride! He was happy to walk along for a couple hour ride!
On the way back, we encountered a little traffic on the short piece of paved road back to the barn, Whiskey handled all that with calmness, just how we like! All of this is a set up for getting to know your horse in a variety of settings!
We had opportunity to ride out today with a friend. We rode from her place, fun and interesting! Handsome was right there this morning, ready to catch me up, and loaded up. This is always a great opportunity to ride unique areas that you may not have access to otherwise! Take advantage, but return the favor if you can!
We did a little warm-up through the pasture looking for discarded fly masks. We found both, crossing a little pasture creek along the way. Handsome has no issues with riding out on the trails, but it was our first time out in a while! He was enthusiastic! So down the road to our trail ride, two-tracks through a canopy of trees making for a nice, cool ride on an early hot summer day!
We crossed two bridges twice, (the ride was an out and back), offered to have him wade in the creek, but he declined today, he does cross water, but we didn’t have to do everything today. . . . .there was some pretty good up and down hill work, some good pulls, and on the way back, my friend’s horses following us on the fence line.
’til the next trail ride. . . . .