Thursday, 29 November 2012


I ended up having a bad sleep last night, so instead of getting up, working on my papers, and going to the barn, I decided to go to the barn first thing to help invigorate me for the tedious task ahead.  I was pretty cold when I left the house, but riding in the indoor arena warmed me up pretty fast.  Apparently they finally moved to the indoor arena last night since the outdoor arena is officially a frozen mess.  I don't know if it's going to stay like that since apparently the temperature is going back up again next week, but I wish we would just stay inside so that I can stop switching back and forth and start preparing myself for the long winter ahead.

Speaking of the long winter ahead, I feel pretty bad for Walker's feet.  His front feet are chipping pretty bad, but I checked with my trainer today and she said that it's not uncommon at this time of year since we don't have snow yet.  Once the snow comes, all should be well.

Today Walker and I mostly worked on some basics: walk/trot/canter in my English saddle, and I did a little bit of: trot a circle, canter a circle, switch directions, repeat.  I set up a pole in the arena and went over that a couple of times, and then I put up a crossrail to trot over.  He was feeling pretty lazy at first, and he was trying to slow down to a walk over it.  I made him pick up the pace, of course, but the whole ride pretty much exhausted me!  He's so lazy that it takes SO much effort to keep him going either at the trot (i.e. not a jog) or a canter/lope.  I usually end up puffing pretty bad after just a couple circles of the lope, and I feel like I've run a marathon.  It's times like these that I wish he was a little more forward.  Of course, a lot of that is his training and the fact that the indoor arena is so much smaller.  He actually picks up a nice pace for me considering his tendencies, but I feel like I'm going to pop a lung just getting him to lope more than one circle in a row.  Perhaps that's more a sign that I'm out of shape...  Of course, I've never been so in shape since riding Walker.  Horses really do that to you and lazy ones especially!

On a final note, I joined Instragam today and I decided to play around with some photos of the pony.  Still getting used to all the buttons, but hopefully it will encourage me to take more pictures at the barn!

Shadows, kisses and love :)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


So I generally don't fill these things out, but I'll do pretty much anything to avoid writing my papers right now (even though I had to skip my lesson to do school work).  Luckily, I get tomorrow off from school (and by "get school off", I mean that one of my classes was cancelled by the professor and I took the liberty of cancelling the other one for myself).  That means that I can work on my papers, see my boy, and go to a last class bash that we are having where all the funds raised go to a scholarship for a student who passed away in my first year.

I got these two fill-out thingies from Julie at The Little Bay Princess but I'm pretty sure they came from Viva Carlos since they've been popping up on  my blog feed for a week or so now.  Here goes:

  1. Equestrian Goal(s)? learn to jump and get to do cross-country
  2. How many horses do you own? one
  3. Do you watch horse races? sometimes, but not regularly
  4. Ever been to a horse race? I have and I would much rather watch them in person - it's the gambling thing!
  5. Dream horse? Hmmm.  I feel like it's wrong if I don't say Walker, and Walker is definitely my dream horse of the moment.  I don't think he will be able to do all the things I want to do in the future, but I also don't think that I will ever sell him, no matter how many other horses I own.
  6. Dream barn? not one in particular, but if I had to describe one, it would have: LOTS of turnout/paddocks, big box stalls, locker room, indoor/outdoor arenas (maybe even more than one, including a cross-country course), and I would love for Walker to have his own runout 
  7. Describe a barn friend. knowledgeable and helpful, and someone fun just to play with on horseback
  8. Describe a rider you're jealous of. can't think of anyone in particular, but pretty much anyone who has good control and talent.  I am inspired by Ian Millar though - he's such a talented rider and I hope that I'm still riding when I'm older!
  9. What do you wish to improve on? everything.  mostly: better hands, better seat, better control
  10. Best thing you're good at in riding? my heels are always down.  it's like I have lead in those things.
  11. How many hands is the horse you most often ride? 15.2 hands
  12. What breed of horses do you ride? Quarter Horse
  13. Favorite supply store? Northstream Tack, a little tack store not far from where I live - they know me by name, they know my job, and they even remember the times I have horse shows or activities.  they are the sweetest people ever and they look out for me (especially when I need things)!
  14. Do your parents approve of riding? they do, although I think my father is sick of hearing about Walker!
  15. How many people ride at your school? Only one other than I can think of and she started riding again because of me :)
  16. Any other sports  you participate in? haha.  no.
  17. Describe your perfect ride. Walker and I had one beautiful ride where he acted like the perfect Western Pleasure horse (in the summer, when that's the discipline I was focusing on).  He had this beautiful controlled lope, and I just felt so good about us
  18. Riding flaws? lots of them: leaning forward (hard nut to crack!), hands out of position, thumbs never on top (ever), hunched shoulders
  19. How many times do you ride a week? 6 times a week if I am able
  20. Describe horseback riding in one word. Escape

Splurge or Save:

  1. saddle: splurge (although both of mine have been kind of a save right now; next time I will splurge though)
  2. board: save, as long as it doesn't compromise Walker's well-being
  3. halter: save, even on his show halter (although I may start singing a different tune if I showed more)
  4. bit: save, although I don't know if it counts that I have bought a million different bits...
  5. bridle: splurge (two splurge bridles, two save: use the splurgey English one and the save Western one on a regular basis)
  6. saddle pad: save
  7. trailer: if I had a trailer, it would probably be a save, as long as it was safe
First thing that comes to mind:
  1. Haflinger: I've got nothing.  Never seen one in real life.
  2. Quarter Horse: Walker
  3. Thoroughbred: Izzy (horse at the barn)
  4. Warmblood: Lark
  5. Welsh Cob: Hi (yes, that is the name of the pony)
This or That:
  1. English or Western: even though I want to ride English so I can jump, I think Western will always be in my heart
  2. tall or short
  3. trail ride or beach ride
  4. long mane or short mane: I'm kind of undecided on this.  I'm letting Walker's mane go shaggy just so I can see what he looks like as a wild horse, but then I will probably cut it again
  5. hunters or jumpers
  6. XC or barrel racing
  7. outdoor arena or indoor arena
  8. trot or canter
  9. canter or gallop: Walker and I haven't done much galloping, but I think that if we did, and I could semi-control it, I would love it
  10. paddock boots, tall boots, or cowboy boots
  11. horse shoes or barefoot
  12. saddle or bareback
About you:
  1. How long have you been riding? I started riding when I was in middle school through the summers on and off for the next few years.  I have no idea when I stopped, but I started again in university in the summer (then got sick and had to stop), so I consider my "real" training starting in the summer of 2011 when I began riding regularly again in law school (we "re-riders" all seem to have that similar story)
  2. Do you own or lease a horse? own
  3. Breed? Age? Height? Name? Quarter Horse, 7 years old, 15.2 hands, Walking Hocus Pocus (Walker)
  4. Do you have any other pets? Chester (a cat)
  5. If you horse was a person, what kind of voice would they have (you can use a celebrity for an example)? Walker would be like Joey from Friends because I can definitely hear him in the field with all the mares saying, "How you doing?"
  6. Does your horse have a "color"? teal
  7. Does you horse do any tricks? he can get his bucket off the hook in his stall (and spill water everywhere)
  8. Have you ever dressed your horse up for Halloween? no, but oh did I consider it...
"How you doing?"
  1. Breed? Quarter Horse (for now)
  2. Discipline? Well... if I could answer that question, my life would be less all over the place.  Western Pleasure in the summer , but I want to jump on  my clumsy boy who is going to hate me for this ambition
  3. Coat color? Dark (although I used to be a palomino fan)
  4. Famous horse? Big Ben (mostly because I love Ian Millar)
  5. Horse race/competition? Anything at Spruce Meadows
  6. Brand of tack? don't really have one
  7. Thing to do with your horse?  just ride and be with him

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Whiny Baby

The title of my post, "Whiny Baby", refers to me, not Walker today.  I am so exhausted from writing my papers, and I had such a chill in my bones today that it took every ounce of energy I had to go out to the barn, even though I got out of class early and I was in no rush.  I didn't even bother to take my camera so I also have no pictures.  :S

I thought that Walker might be a little hyper today even though he was outside since it has been so crisp lately, so I threw him on the lunge line for a few minutes.  This pretty much set the tone of our ride to follow.  He was pretty lethargic, and I had to really get after him to get him to move.  Since all I wanted to do was lay in the arena and nap, the lunging ended pretty quickly.

I rode English today mainly to try out my new Winter riding boots.  I tried them out the other day in my Western saddle, and I'm having a hard time adjusting to them.  They are pretty warm, and I definitely like them.  But as with all warm things, they're pretty thick and I find it hard to maneuver.  When I rode in the Western saddle, I could barely tell if I was kicking him at times between the thickness of the stirrups and the thickness of my boots - luckily, Walker seemed to know what I wanted from him regardless.  Today was a little better.  They're definitely an English style boot and they work better in an English saddle, I think.  They're still bulky, but at least I could tell if I was kicking my horse or not!

Our ride pretty much lasted a maximum of 20 minutes.  Have you ever had one of those days where you're just too tired to bother doing anything too strenuous and so you quickly run out of things to do?  Instead of wasting my limited energy trying to get after Walker to canter for a more extended period of time as I often do to work on his laziness/fitness, I decided that I would just canter him for a circle, stop, do a turn on the haunches, repeat.  I did this at all the three gates for a while, but the little bugger is smart, and he quickly figured out the pattern.  I did some leg yields but I got bored of that as well, and Walker was clearly in a similar mood.  When my trainer arrived to feed the horses, I figured that I might as well call it quits, and Walker didn't seem to mind!  He was turned out today anyway so he got plenty of exercise with his buddies in the field.  Even though I did absolutely nothing, I feel like I wrestled a wild boar - just one of those days, I guess.

I was proud of my big puppy dog because he followed me down the barn aisle without me bothering to take a hold of the reins even though there was a giant stack of hay bales and my trainer was rolling the grain cart down the aisle.  He just lumbered on by beside me.  He only got a little greedy when we got to his stall, and I had to make him wait for me to take off his bridle before he practically bashed his head trying to get his supper.  Silly pony.

In other news, I guess my trainer got herself into a sticky situation the other day.  She was trying to bring in one of the horses, a 5 year old mare, and the horse was misbehaving big time.  She was rearing and dragging my instructor all over the place and wouldn't settle down.  This is another horse at the barn that I do not entirely trust, and what makes it all worse is that my trainer is pregnant and she has high-risk pregnancies.  Because my trainer was trying to get a handle on the mare, she couldn't latch the gate and a whole bunch of the horses in Walker's field escaped.  Walker didn't go anywhere of course.  He is smart enough to know that the humans feed him.  Needless to say, the mare is currently not being turned out anymore until they can manage to figure out what to do with her.  My trainer isn't allowed to ride, and from what I gather from the situation, she really shouldn't be doing strenuous/horse-related activities of any kind.  There's no one else who does chores who could put the mare out or bring her in, and we only have one trainer at our barn.  There's a girl that currently rides the beast mare regularly so they're hoping that she will be able to manage her with a little guidance.  Another horse who needs to be put into line.  :S

I realize that from my last two posts it sounds like my barn is a madhouse, but I swear that most of the horses are angels!  There are only three horses I do not trust - well, two horses and a pony.  The two horses are Lark and this mare, and the pony is this evil little jeezer that I hate with a passion and seem to be the only one who does.  He's a bigger pony, and he needs an attitude adjustment as well.  I'm not afraid of him; I just don't like him at all.  Something tells me that when the clinician comes next month, this mare is going to end up getting put in her place real fast.  The clinician often works with my trainer and barn owner with breeding and training some of our horses.  I know that my trainer looks up to him as kind of a mentor, so I imagine that the mare will be put through her paces soon enough!  As will Walker and I, I'm sure... but hopefully in a different way

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Keeping Bruce at Bay

I never made it out to the barn yesterday like I was planning because I decided to go Christmas shopping instead.  Even though it is a month before Christmas, it was crazy around town, so by the time I got back, I decided I better work on my law papers instead.  That, and it was raining like crazy.

Since I promised to exercise Lark for M, I did that first thing when I got to the barn today.  Lunging Walker when he's hyper is like lunging a wild mustang, but lunging Lark is like lunging a tiger.  She's super strong, very fast, and wildly unpredictable.  When Walker freaks out on the lunge line, he usually pulls away from me.  Oh, he will buck and flail around, but it's pretty predictable horse behaviour.  Lark is kind of terrifying.  She bucks and rears, but she cuts in a lot on the circle.  I always have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that at any minute she is going to strike, leap out at me or trample me when she spooks at something.  Granted, it was a pretty spooky day - cold weather, flurries flying, and the wind trying to take us to Oz - but still.  I don't entirely trust her, but I'm sure that comes with time.

Hide and go seek Walker-style
Lark is the only warmblood I have ever been around.  Most of the horses around here, if not ponies, are quarter horses, and I've seen the odd standardbred or OTTB.  I'm sure that not all warmbloods are the same (especially considering all the great bloggers I follow).  I'm also sure it doesn't help that she's a fairly dominant/aggressive mare, but she hasn't given me a very good first introduction to the world of warmbloods, that's for sure!  Some quarter horses can be "hot"-ish, but as a general rule, they're pretty easy going animals.  Maybe I just need to spend more time around them to get a better feel.  Or maybe I just need to spend more time around Lark.  :S

Anyway, I hopped on Walker shortly after without lunging him, and after about 2 minutes, I decided that was a very bad idea.  I could feel a little Bruce in him, and he was curling his head up under himself at the walk as though at any minute, he was going to explode and buck me off.  I wasn't in the mood to personally test out the softness of our new indoor arena footing, so I lunged him in the outdoor arena.  He cantered/galloped for 25 minutes straight like a wild thing, and then he was back to being a little angel.  I ended up only riding for about 20 minutes, but he was sweating bullets from his crazy run.  He definitely got his exercise!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

What if Money Didn't Matter

This isn't entirely horse related, but in a way it is.  Someone on Facebook posted this video and I just had to share it.  When I was in high school, I did very well in school, and the guidance counselors and teachers tried to push me to do things that I didn't want to do with my life.  I had one guidance counselor in particular who used to ask me what I wanted to be, and I always used to tell her one of either two things: I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to be a farmer.  It used to drive her crazy that I wanted to be a farmer (and a writer, although the farmer thing concerned her more), and she used to pull me out of class, thinking that I was just joking around, not taking her seriously.  Anyway, it became a big thing in my graduating class, because a lot of the students were very smart that year, very motivated, and they too felt like they were being funneled towards something they didn't want.  I used to have random people come up to me in the hall and tell me that they honestly hoped that I did become a farmer.

Somewhere along the way I ended up in law school.  This probably isn't the place to talk about that decision or whether or not I actually want to be a lawyer, but I think it's easier, as we get older, to get lost from the goals that we used to think were so promising.  It's easier to fall in with the crowd, and it's easier to see why those teachers pushed us - because they had fears that we now have, about money and debt, surviving even.

I don't know if I will ever own a farm, but getting Walker was a step back in the direction of those goals I once had, those dreams that I wasn't willing to sacrifice in high school.

We all get a little lost sometimes.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Beautiful Day!

Today was a gorgeous day for a ride: 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).  Unbelievable for the end of November!

Not thrilled to be cooped up inside on a nice day!
When I got to the barn, Walker and all the horses were inside, which was pretty disappointing considering.  But apparently my trainer was at the barn at 5 in the morning intending to leave for the States to do some Black Friday shopping right after she was done with the chores.  Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!  We have Thanksgiving in Canada in October.

Anyway, Walker seemed pretty good to go until we got to the arena and I realized he was full of energy he would have normally gotten out of his system in the field with his friends.  It was fine though because I don't mind getting into a few fights (which we did), but then two girls showed up to ride their horses with me and things started to fall apart.

First of all, there appeared to be something in the air (or more likely, something in the woods).  I was jogging Walker fine when all of sudden, he was four feet off the ground and then bolting like a maniac (like Bruce would do) straight past the other horses.  The other horses didn't freak out at that moment, but one of them was doing a bit of mini-rearing and being a brat.  When I came in and talked to all the girls who had ridden today, apparently every single one of the horses had been bad.

artsy eye shot
Second of all, I am CONVINCED that Walker hates those two horses.  I have thought this for awhile now, which is funny because Walker generally loves all horses.  He's a social butterfly.  But any of the times that Walker has been particularly weird (excluding lessons of course), these horses have been around.  One time they were riding in the arena when I walked him by, and he went crazy and it took me 15 minutes just to walk him past them again back to the barn.  Another time, they came into the arena, and he also had a meltdown.  So while I'm sure that there may very well have been something in the woods, I'm sure the fact that his companions were these two horses didn't help the situation very much.

sweaty pony - and yep, I forgot his cooler.  At least it's a nice day!
Because I was cooling him off anyway, I ended up hopping off shortly after he had his meltdown, so on the way back to the barn, I thought that maybe this was not the best way to end the ride.  After all, I didn't want him to think that he had managed to scare me off of him, so much to his chagrin, I took him in the indoor arena and cantered him for 5 minutes straight.  He was bucking and throwing a little bit of a fuss, trying to run in to corners and the like, but I just kept him going.  If he fought with me and tried to change directions, I just made him canter in the other direction.  By the end of it, he was covered in sweat, but I'm sure he got the message: bad ponies work!

The offending edible glove - not mine, by the way
Oh, and although Walker wasn't really Bruce bad (except for his one uncharacteristic bucking bronco moment in the outdoor arena), he did almost kill himself.  He likes to get into everything, and when I was tacking him up, he grabbed a hold of a pair of rubber gloves and tried to eat them.  And when I say he tried to eat them, I mean he tried to inhale them, and by the time that I noticed he was doing it, there was just one finger of the glove sticking out of his mouth!  It was part way down his throat before I pulled it out!  That would have been a nice call to the vet!

This weekend, I get to ride Lark again, although I may end up just lunging her.  M has to work all weekend and wanted to make sure that her horse got worked.  Unfortunately, Saturdays and Sundays are a bit busy at the barn, especially when you're on a high strung horse who has a hate-on for every mare that isn't her.  We will just have to play it by ear!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Return of Walker

Today my friend M brought his niece out to the barn to see Walker.  Walker was a pretty good boy and he let her lead him around like a big puppy dog and everything.  She is 7 years old, and like all 7 year-olds, she is fearless.  She hopped on him and kept wanting to go faster, which is really difficult when you're on the ground trying to make your lazy horse run beside you.

Then I convinced her uncle to get on.  He is 26 and one of my best friends in law school.  It was hilarious.  I got a picture of him, but I have refrained from posting it since there is a minor in it - and as a law student, those kind of privacy concerns make my spidey senses tingle.

I can't decide what part is my favorite in the photo though: my guy friend in my purple helmet, his awkwardly long legs shoved into my saddle, or the fact that his 7 year old niece is leading him around.

It turned out to be a lot of fun, and the little girl definitely enjoyed herself.  We have a donkey at our barn as well as a 5 month old foal, so she was enjoying running around looking in all the stalls and petting some of the horses.

I think her mother is in for an earful though because when she was leaving the barn, she had definitely decided that she not only wanted to take lessons, but that she wanted her own pony.  Another one bites the dust!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


The good news is that my pony did not trip in the concrete-like footing of the outdoor arena and break his leg.  The bad news is that he was a very bad pony like usual in Wednesday night lessons.

My friend H in the lessons with me is convinced that it is the Curse of the Wednesday Night Lesson that I am experiencing, since she has been riding with me before and has seen the sweet horse that is Walker.  I have a different theory:

My parents have a friend named John.  John is a very nice man, and he did a lot of things for me and the other kids that lived next door to us.  He built a bridge over a huge ditch so that we could come over into his yard, and he also let us play with all the animals that he kept there.  But when John drank, he became another type of man altogether.  Not violent or aggressive - just a completely different person.  And my parents and all their friends refer to this person as Bruce.

On Wednesdays nights, I don't ride a horse named Walker.  I ride a horse named Bruce.

Tonight was not a complete waste however because we did work on a couple techniques to improve Bruce's bad behaviour.  He does a lot of things on Wednesday nights that he never does at any other times, but he also does a lot of things that he does do at other times, except that he does them more severely and dangerously on Wednesday nights.  For instance, he likes to drop his head below the bit.  He does this frequently, but on Wednesday nights, he will put his head practically to his chest, and even if I try to wrench it up (as my instructor tells me to do), he just braces against it.  He sometimes throws his head around and does what I call "the hops" - which are a precursor to a rear, but I never let it get that far.  He bolts as well of course, and for those who say that a horse follows his nose have never met Bruce.  He is perfectly capable of cantering at full speed down the arena with his head ripped to one side.  I know.  Because I do it every Wednesday.

Tonight we worked on anticipating the bolts, which we do every week of course.  But today we had a mini breakthrough.  Every time I'm going down the long end of the arena and he prepares to misbehave in that way, my instructor tells me to "open the outside rein and drive my leg/spur into his ribs to push him around".  I was opening my outside rein, but applying my inside leg.  In Walker-land, if you want to turn left, you push him over with your right leg.  Apparently, in Bruce-land, if you want to do a tight circle, you pull him with the outside rein and shove his ribcage over with the outside leg as well.  Unfortunately, the part that got lost in translation was the "drive my leg into his ribs" part.  For those of you anatomy buffs out there, horses tend to have ribs on both sides of their body so not too descriptive! Perhaps it's just common sense, but clearly not to me.

Despite another practically wasted lesson, I did get to try out my new thermal socks which are fantastic and bound to be my best friend when Winter actually arrives. :)

Bring it on, Winter!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

*When We Learn How to Fly*

So I have no update today as I still didn't make it out to the barn, but my friend sent these two videos to me tonight which I thought I would share with everyone.  They're pretty sad. Be sure to watch them in order and read the description of what happened under the first one.

It's actually ironic because I told my mother last night on the phone (in one of those random conversations we have sometimes) that she should be prepared because if anything ever happened to Walker and I got saddled with a potentially unrideable horse, I wouldn't care and I would spend all the amount of money I had  to get him better.  Videos like these remind me why my horse's welfare is much more important than any discipline or sport I want to pursue with him.  I would much rather have a happy, healthy horse any day!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Busy Week and Legitimate Worries (for a change)

I've got a pretty busy week this week, which doesn't bode well for Walker.  :S  He's got today off like usual, and tomorrow off as well because I have an appointment for my back at the time that I usually go to the barn on Tuesdays.  This would be fine except that I'm concerned about the rest of the week.  Wednesday is my lesson (more on that to come), and Thursday, a friend of mine wants to bring his niece out to meet Walker.  This is fine with me of course except that my time at the barn on Thursdays is very brief (maybe 30-45 minute ride kind of brief) right before he gets fed his supper and I lose his attention indefinitely.  I know that it will be a wasted ride because she is only 7 years old.  We will spend the first while probably just grooming Walker until he shines, while I teach her some ground rules about horses (since I don't think she's been around them before).  By the time I get him tacked up and lead her around for a few minutes on his back (that will be the extent of it, if even that), I will probably only have 15 minutes to hop on him myself and get him exercised. :(

It's so hard sometimes when you bring your non-horsey friends to the barn.  They just don't understand how a 30 minute ride actually means a 2 hour process by the time you catch your horse at the back of the field, groom him, tack him, lunge him if needed, ride him, groom him, rinse and repeat.  Not to mention that they don't appreciate any of the elaborate things that you do.  To them, a trot is equal to a canter, and a 2 foot jump is a joke.  One time, I brought a friend to the barn, and Walker went berserk. I was riding him at the jog, and he took off into a canter, bucking down the rail.  My friend just thought that that's what he was supposed to be doing (bucking!) and that I was still trotting.  Oh well.  Gotta love 'em.

As for my Wednesday night lesson, I actually have a legitimate concern (not just an overall dread!).  We've been still riding outside these days, but the footing is starting to get questionable.  There's this one section of the arena that pretty much freezes to concrete, and while the rest of the arena is fine, this part of it is pretty dangerous for the horses.  My instructor, with all her good intentions, has set up a lovely pole to demarcate this section and "stop" horses from going down there.  I mean, has she not seen me and Walker?  The pole was set up on Sunday.  That was the day that Walker cantered over the bridge, leapt over the pole, and landed in the concrete-like footing.  So... needless to say, my new big concern is that he is going to bolt during the lesson and end up with a broken leg.  And I don't want to be the baby who arrives at the barn and asks to ride a different horse because I can't successfully manage my own.  Urgh.  It's one of the few times I actually wish it would just snow already and take away my misery.

Hopefully next weekend will be pony-filled and that Walker will at least get some exercise on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


I was pretty proud of Walker today.  I didn't make it out to the barn yesterday because I somehow managed to throw out my back the day before, my muscles were aching everywhere, and I had weird bruises on the inside of my knees where I can only assume I was gripping my Western saddle on Friday.  Anyway, it was a beautiful day and I knew that he would be outside, so I figured that he wouldn't mind getting the day off to run with his buddies.

Are cameras edible?
Normally on Sundays, I ride bareback, but because my back was still tender, I decided that maybe I should just ride Western (in a saddle) instead.  Not surprisingly, there were a lot of people at the barn, and we had the opportunity to share the outdoor arena with two other girls.  Normally I would not consider this an opportunity; I would consider it a disaster waiting to happen, but it's time to start working out some of his issues.  For instance, he is becoming super attached to other horses which will incite bolting if they are at one end of the arena and he isn't, and because of this, I often find that we get in other people's way, which bothers me the most.  But I was determined to work it all out.

scratching his face up against the fence -
he's the itchiest pony I've ever met
When I got up to the arena, both the girls were off their horses, and trying to find a way to hold their two mares and drag an extremely heavy bridge into the arena that we use for trail class.  The two mares are quite dominant in the herd and so they were getting too close to eachother and trying to attack eachother.  :S  I offered to come over and help, and I was so proud of Walker.  I threw his reins over his neck and just walked away from him.  The girls were worried and one of them, T, said, "Won't he walk away!?", and I said nope, and like the good boy he was, he just stood there and waited for me to help them get the bridge into the arena.

Later, when we were riding, I even did some loping with him (which I rarely do with other people in the ring depending on who it is - unless we're bolting, of course), and not only did he NOT bolt or throw a fuss, he actually loped in a fairly controlled manner better than he had the last couple of times I've ridden him alone.  T and D (the two girls who were riding with me) are really good riders, and T even came over and said that when Walker is good,  he is REALLY good - which made me beam with mother's pride!

After the girls left, I decided to work on Walker's other horse issue - being buddy sour.  He was never buddy sour when I first got him, but he has become an EXTREMELY sociable horse and he gets very cranky with me when other horses leave the ring and he has to stay behind and work.  Even though I was done with our ride, I made him walk/trot/canter around for a few extra minutes until he was done throwing his mini temper tantrum and decided to be a good boy again.

This is when we had our own interaction with the bridge.  When we finally got it drug into the arena, the girls spent a while trying to convince their horses that the bridge would not eat them and that they should follow them across.  They first led their horses over and then rode them over, but I knew that nothing scared Walker so I just rode him over to begin with.  They were laughing because he didn't even think twice about it (another reason to be proud of him today).  After they left and we were doing some canter work, one of the girls brought their horse up past the outdoor arena on their way to the paddock.  We were cantering down towards the bridge, and I had every intention of turning before we got to it.  Walker, on the hand, had a different idea, and he CANTERED over it.  Let's just say that it is not a very big bridge, and you're only supposed to walk over it.  :S  He half-cantered, half-leaped over it, and managed to land safely on the other side.  That's when I decided to call it a day!

"I think we're done now, mom - come on, keep up"
Other than that mild death-defying stunt, I was so proud of how he behaved today - standing still while the others fought, walking over the bridge without fear, and even loping nicely and out of people's way.  I'm a proud mama today!

Friday, 16 November 2012

In Shape

I often worry about whether or not Walker is in shape.  I want to make sure that he is getting balanced work, but I'll be the first to admit that we spend a lot of time just walk/trot/cantering, and not as much time as we should working on things like bending, etc.

His first love - the gate

For whatever reason, the horses were inside today which was a shame because it was absolutely beautiful out.  I even ditched the jacket after I started riding.  Walker was pretty hyper since he was cooped up inside, so he was anxious to run - and run he did... for about 40 minutes.  That's 40 minutes of pretty much straight canter, with just maybe 30 seconds of trotting between every couple of minutes of canter.  So needless to say, I think my horse is in shape, at least in terms of cardio!

Exhausted pony after our ride

Despite the feeling that my horse was going to break into a gallop at any minute, it was a lot of fun today, as oftentimes those crazy get-all-your-energy-out rides tend to be.  He was the one who wanted to canter, and I only forced him onward when I wanted him to listen to me.  For instance, he wanted to run to the gate a couple of times instead of turn (we were doing figure eights - he wanted to circle back to the gate instead of switch directions in the middle), so when he would fight against me and break into a canter towards the gate, I would make him canter the circle all the way back until the middle of the figure eight.  If he did it again, we'd canter the circle again.  He never got to stop at the gate.  When he was done with his foolishness, he could stop cantering, and we'd calmly switch directions in the middle.

covered in sand and mud from his run

Because I was doing a lot of cantering and a lot of figure eights, we did a few very nice flying lead changes.  A couple times, he chose to stay on the counter canter (I have no idea why he would choose to make his life more difficult!).  Compared to the rides I have been having inside, I would say that it wasn't as "controlled", but it was still a lot of fun.  You can't work on things all the time.  Every so often you just need to have fun.  The only thing I regret about the day is that I think I was the one who fell apart the most - hands all over the place, leaning forward, probably pulling on his mouth.  The faster he goes, the more uncontrollable he sometimes gets, which means the more frantic I get.  Even though I am perfectly capable of riding it out and staying in the saddle, I just look like a hot mess! :S

Then, because Fridays are usually our days alone at the barn, I took my time cleaning him off.  I threw his new cooler on him (the first time I've actually used it for its function instead of just its looks!) and watched him while he ate his alfalfa.  I'm a little disappointed in the quality of our hay this Winter.  Apparently this summer was really bad for getting good hay, and some of ours has even molded.  The barn owner obviously had to get rid of that stuff, but the hay that he was given today looked more like straw than hay.  I often flip flop between whether or not I think Walker is overweight or losing weight (it's so hard to tell when you see everything through a "worried mommy" lens!), but when I see hay left over in his stall that looks like that, I get concerned.  Walker LOVES to eat (don't they all), and it's pretty bad when even he won't eat all his hay.  I give him alfalfa more as a little snack than anything else, but today I gave him more than usual since he couldn't graze outside and clearly he didn't enjoy his breakfast.

Is there more snacks in this bucket too, mom?

Other than that, I read a very interesting blog post on SprinklerBandits about conformation, and I've become obsessed with looking through old pictures of my boy to see if I've done him some good in his fitness or not so good (hopefully it's the former!).  It's difficult for me to compare the horses though since Walker is a Quarter Horse, but the general ideas are still the same.  I think he looks pretty balanced, but someday I'll have to get a second (more educated) opinion.  Maybe I'll ask the Western Pleasure guy at the clinic - QHs are his specialty after all!

Eeyore - our resident stubborn donkey

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Two Horses; One Hour

Today I got to ride my friend M's horse Lark again.  Lark was the Canadian Warmblood that I rode on Sunday that I really enjoyed.  My friend M couldn't be at the barn for a few days so she asked me if I wouldn't mind exercising her for me.  She told me that I could simply lunge her if I didn't have time but that I was welcome to ride her.  Naturally, I chose the latter.

Well, Lark reminded me today of the difference between her (and presumably most Canadian Warmbloods) and Walker (and most Quarter horses) - mainly, the difference between a much hotter, spookier mare and an easy-going, dependable gelding.

First of all, M uses a dressage saddle on Lark.  Since almost all of the horses in our barn are Quarter Horses, none of the other saddles fit her. She is much broader in the shoulders than a Quarter Horse, and frankly she's one big chunk of horse!  Apparently, she is the same height as Walker, but when I'm on her, she feels HUGE.  Anyway, M has her own saddle for her for this purpose, this Wintec, which I'm officially in love with.  I have never ridden in a dressage saddle before Sunday, and I presume that they are all similar, but the deep seat is phenomenal.  Even when Lark is full out trotting, it is easy to sit the trot, and the seat combined with Lark's lovely rolling canter is so comfortable!

M claims that she simply bought this saddle because it was affordable, but I am easily persuaded by the power of suggestion

Anyway, when I finally figured out how to tack her up in this weird saddle (there's a reason I ride Walker Western...), I brought her into the arena and decided to hop on without lunging her.  After all, she had been ridden on Sunday like Walker and not turned out for two days like Walker, and I had no intentions of lunging Walker.  My mistake.  There were some dump trucks doing something at the top of the road, and they were crashing around very loudly.  That combined with my barn owner's husband popping out of nowhere with his truck and also banging around left me with a wildly spooky horse.  Her head was so high that I could reach out and touch her ears without leaning forward, and she was breathing furiously - like a dragon, as I often say.  She became irrationally terrified of what was on the other side of the gate to the outside world, and although I made every effort to walk her quietly near the gate, let her stand near the gate, look out over the gate, she was pretty much gone from my attention at that moment.  Her spookiness on top of her bottled up energy from being cooped up meant that I decided not to canter her.  I didn't have her attention on me and every so often she would crab step to the side or hop around like a lunatic.  Instead, I walked/trotted her around for 15 - 20 minutes (which is how long I intended to ride her anyway), hopped off, and decided to lunge the rest of the energy out of her.  When she was cantering around me, she was practically at a 45 degree angle to the ground and she kept spooking herself even then.  By the time I put her back in her stall, she was drenched in sweat although having only been out for about 30 minutes.  Needless to say, I think I fulfilled my duty of exercising her...

I forgot to get pictures of her tacked up - check out her beautiful long mane

Flash forward to Walker.  It is suppertime for him now and he is perturbed that I have him in crossties.  When my instructor walks by with the hay for his stall, he actually rips half of it out of her hands!  When I get his bridle on, he attempts to walk me into his stall where his supper is waiting for him, but I refuse to be deterred.  I take him into the arena, and the dump trucks are still pounding and banging away.  It is pouring rain and things are crashing up against the metal roof.  Walker barely pricks his ears.  After about 2 minutes, he realized that he had to listen to me in order to get his supper, and we had one of the best rides indoors that I've had in a long time.  He cantered fairly consistently, all on the correct leads, only one buck (admittedly probably rider induced - stupid spurs), and he even did one flying lead change (which is very difficult to do in the indoor arena - I just thought I'd test him since he seemed to be paying attention).  I cooled him off, brought him in, and he happily munched away at his supper.

All that being said, I really enjoyed riding Lark.  I think it's good for me to get used to a completely different kind of horse.  When I rode the other horse, Lucky, in my lesson, she was wildly similar to Walker (both trained Western Pleasure, both quarter horses, etc.), but Lark is nothing like him.  She's one of the aggressive mares at the barn who has to be turned out alone and who M won't even ride in an arena with another mare (hence why she loves riding with Walker and me).  She's clearly bred a little hotter and more forward than Walker, which can be both fun and mildly terrifying.  It's good practice to handle a horse like that because once you get her attention, like I did on Sunday, she goes so beautifully.  She's got some dressage tendencies and, well, Walker does not!  This way I get the best of both worlds.   I've already told M that I would be available whenever she needs someone to exercise her so hopefully I'll get the chance to do it all again.  Next time I think I may lunge her first...

Oh, and Walker, the lovely darling that he is, decided to roll in as much mud as he possibly could today.  In the 7 months that I've had him, he has never been this dirty.  He must have known that I was pressed for time today and decided to be a brat and make my life difficult.  Oh the joys of horse ownership.  I refused to put his new clean cooler on him after our ride - hey, I won that thing!  I'm not going to get it dirty on day two!

I'm sure it's difficult to see, but he's very dirty!

Also, note to self: take tail bag off of horse before riding.  Tail bag, when moved, makes the sound of a plastic bag.  Horse, when moved, whips tail around angrily.  Horse is afraid of plastic bags and will FREAK OUT that there is one chasing him.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lays Potato Chips

Today I cheated on Walker again.  And I have to say, I didn't mind!  I feel like horses are like Lays Chips - you can never have just one!

It was quite a busy weekend actually.  Although Walker was still a little ouchie on Thursday, he seemed to be back to normal on Friday.  I managed to successfully canter him in both directions a couple full circles.  I was talking to my barn owner and she said, "I heard that you had a good ride."  To which I replied, "Yeah.  He was pretty good for me.  He bucked a couple of times on the circles but that's alright."  "That is NOT alright," she said.  And I said: "You have higher standards than me."  In truth, I think that I may actually cause some of the bucking, so I expect it to go away with time.  I think that I might jab him every so often with the spurs, so I really can't blame him for that.  I'm so used to his bucks now that I just consider it part of the ride!  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Probably not a good thing.

Boots all lined up in a row - on a tray of their own, of course

On Saturday I didn't get out to the barn because my mother was over.  We went to the local Greenhawk, which is actually an hour away, and bought some new Winter boots, a new bit I'm going to try on Walker, a crop, and spurs for a friend.  My friend has started riding a new horse in her lessons and he's spur-broke so she's having a hard time getting him to move forward.  She wanted me to pick some out for her because she doesn't really know much about spurs and I, of course, have used every type of spurs available!  I ended up getting her really mild ones because although I use spurs regularly, I am a firm believer in not using spurs unless you have to.  She is able to get the horse moving forward so I think all she needs is a little extra help.

My new Winter riding boots - they're fleece lined :)

Then that evening my barn was having an awards banquet.  It turned out to be quite a fancy affair.  It was in a local hotel's ballroom, and everyone got all dressed up.  There was a really nice meal, and my mother got to come with me.  We sat with my instructor, and a friend of mine at the barn and her family.  And Walker and I even won an award - champion senior novice!  My friend got reserve champion, and we were laughing to ourselves because it was pretty much a draw between the two of us except that I did one more show than her!  Oh well, I'm still pretty proud.  AND, as part of his prize, Walker got a big trophy and a new blue cooler.  So now I no longer need to buy a cooler, and I think that my barn owner specifically picked this award out for us because she came up to me afterwards and said, "That's his colour, right?"

We tried to take this photo in front of my Christmas tree but it was too bright - we're not the best photographers...

Today my mother came out to the barn with me before she had to go home.  Since I always ride bareback on Sundays, we just played around.  My friend (the reserve champion) was at the barn with her daughter, and she let me ride her horse Lark, who is a big fancy palomino Canadian Warmblood.  Let's just say that she's a COMPLETELY different horse from Walker.  For one thing, when I asked her to canter, she threw a big buck.  This is because what I thought was a "gentle" squeeze of my leg was actually probably the roughest she'd ever been asked - and that was me without spurs!  I laughed at the time because a squeeze like that would NEVER get Walker to canter; it probably wouldn't even get him to jog.  She was very forward.  Her idea of a nice gentle trot was what I would call Walker's kamikaze trot, and of course, like the good English horse that she is, she keeps her head much higher than Walker's.  It was a great experience, and my friend has asked me to ride or lunge Lark on Tuesday for her since she can't make it to the barn for a few days.  As much as I want to ride Walker on Tuesday, I really think I want to ride Lark.  Hopefully there will be time for both of them!

Walker sporting his new cooler; looking sharp as always

Also, as a final note, I am constantly looking at English saddles online because I think I'm going to save up for a new one in the next year or so.  I thought that I wanted a jumping or close contact saddle, but today I rode Lark in a dressage saddle.  And all I have to say about that is "wow".  Soooo comfortable.  It has such a deep seat that it even made sitting Lark's forward trot easy.  Maybe it's time to broaden my horizons...

Who am I kidding?  I am pretty proud of him!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

English vs Western

I found this cute video online of a dressage rider and a reiner doing a performance at the Royal Winter Fair this past week.  I think it would have been great to see in person, but it's also pretty cute to watch.  Essentially it's a battle of the disciplines:

Ouchie Toesies but Correct Leads

Today I was still feeling a little sick but I went out to the barn anyway.  Walker was looking much better than yesterday but was still a little off.  After lunging him, I decided that he was ok to ride but that I would need to take it slow.  For whatever reason, he didn't seem lame or overly sore, but he definitely seemed like he was gingerly taking every step.  At first I was just going to walk/jog him, but I threw in a little lope as well.

Unfortunately we got snow the other day which meant that the outdoor arena was a mess.  It was also pretty solid yesterday when we were riding so I decided that I better ride the little prince in the indoor where it was soft and warm.  As nice as it was to have the farrier yesterday, I wasn't entirely ready for Walker to have his shoes pulled.  I still planned on going on a little subdivision trail ride (literally a trail ride through my barn owner's subdivision), but now I feel bad making him walk on the hard pavement without shoes (and obviously, the ground is starting to freeze and we have snow) - so that's that.

I've also sadly decided that we're officially stuck in the indoor.  The other instructor has already moved her lessons to the indoor, and the only reason that my instructor hasn't done so yet is that she's a firm believer in getting in every ounce of riding possible in the outdoor before we become useless in the indoor.  That means that I will probably still get one or two lessons outside (unless it snows again), but having looked at the weather for the next little while, I think my own personal riding days in the outdoor are finished.

This is unfortunate because earlier in the week, I decided that my goal for riding before we moved inside was that I wanted to successfully canter Walker on both leads without fuss in the same ride - as in, ride him successfully on one side and not have him throw a temper tantrum when I asked him to do the other lead.  Oh Walker.  Unfortunately, a series of events led to me not even being able to ride him this week since that revelation, and apparently things can change so fast that my goal became unrealized as quickly as snow fell from the sky.  :S

All that being said, Walker actually did canter on both leads correctly today in the indoor arena.  Mind you, because of his feet, I only got him to canter maybe two full circles on each lead, but he did them semi-successfully (if you ignore the few bucks he threw, which, of course, I always do).  The real tester will be tomorrow when he is 100% back to normal.  Wish me luck.

My other news is that I may have signed up for a clinic, which, if you've been following my irrational anxieties about lessons, was probably a very foolish thing to do!  The clinic is January 2nd and 3rd so luckily I have about two months before I can start freaking out about it.  The clinician is a man who excels at Western Pleasure and takes his horses to Congress each year (having actually won it a few times).  This is Walker's discipline so it should be useful for me, but he's also a really good rider/trainer/instructor.  I know that most of the girls who ride in his clinics ride English, and they get a lot out of the clinics with him simply because he's so knowledgeable.  I'm told that he will also hop on unruly horses (i.e. Walker) and straighten them out, and that the clinics are designed in pairs so that you are riding at the same time with another rider of similar capabilities (where my barn owner is going to find another fool with a horse like Walker, I don't know!).  My only goals before the clinic is to have a semi-successful canter going on by then, and the only major problem I have is that I won't be around to ride Walker for a few weeks before because I will be home for Christmas.  I hope to come back to the barn periodically over the holidays to get a couple rides in, but the majority of my time will be with my family (not a bad thing for me, just a bad thing for my riding).  For now, it all seems doable, but I'm sure I'll have a nervous breakdown by New Year's Eve. :S

Dear God, Walker, please just be good for those two days and I will give you whatever you want!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Cheating on a Loved One

Tonight I cheated.  On Walker.  And boy, did he give me a drop-dead-on-the-driveway look when I did so.

This morning Walker had his shoes pulled by the farrier.  I wasn't expecting him to be at the barn until next week, and although it's usually a good surprise to have the farrier arrive early/on time, I wasn't entirely ready for Walker to lose his shoes.  Most of the horses don't need shoes in the Winter where I am because of the snow and because we're mostly in the indoor arena where the footing is really soft.  My barn owner insists that it's also good for their feet to get a breather and get to act like hooves for awhile.  Since Walker was due mid-November, I decided it was the perfect time to get it done.

However, as expected, he was really tender today.  So much so that he could barely get to the cross ties without looking lame.  I felt really bad, and I didn't want to ride him under those conditions.  I wouldn't be surprised if he has never had his shoes pulled before, so I decided to ride another horse at the barn for my lesson instead.

The horse I chose was named Lucky, and I have to admit that I was pretty lost without Walker.  I haven't ridden another horse in 7 months since I got him.  I was entirely on edge, even though this horse is a lesson horse sometimes used for beginners and is Western Pleasure slow.  When we got out to the arena, my instructor suggested that I take my spurs off because she was sometimes "forward" in the evenings on a cold night, and one of the little kids in the lesson before said that when she rode her last week, she was going in circles a lot.  When her head flew up and she was breathing fire, I became instantly on alert.  It was kind of funny actually.  When we were cantering later (yes, that's right, I actually got to canter in a lesson for a change!), she would pick up the speed on the way to the gate and I would lose the canter.  My instructor was laughing because she said that she could see me tense up and pull her down unconsciously.  I was expecting her to bolt like Walker always did, and I was also expecting her not to turn as easily - so much so, that we almost ran into the fence because I wasn't giving her enough direction to turn.  I was just automatically assuming that she, like Walker, was going to fight me on the turns and I was preparing for the temper tantrum.

Lucky was actually a really nice horse, and once I calmed myself down, I was able to get her into a nice little Quarter Horse frame and moving pretty well.  It was a lot more work without spurs though - is that what you people go through? It was actually a pretty good experience because it taught me that I'm not actually that bad of a rider.  I asked my instructor if my hands were unquiet like she always says they are and she said no.  As suspected, my hands and arms flail so much with Walker because he makes it so difficult to do simple things like turning that I get frantic.  With a horse like Lucky who, surprise surprise, actually turns when you ask her to (such a novel idea), I didn't need to be frantic.

All that being said, I'd take my boy any day!  Even though I gave Lucky some treats for being a good replacement, I had to give Walker some too (I'm such a pushover).  My barn owner is going to give him some bute tomorrow to see if it helps him with the soreness, but she says I can ride him anyway.  I will have to play it by ear.  If I get out to the barn and he's still limping around, then I will just give him lots of love and call it a day, but I will for sure ride him Friday.  I was actually sick today so I'm sure I could use the break tomorrow.

Also, my trainer hopped on him the other day, and even though they got into a mini-argument at first, she eventually got him cantering just fine on both leads.  She says my legs are just not strong enough, but I imagine that it's a combination of that and something subtle that I'm doing - and the fact that Walker knows how to push my buttons, of course!

Even though Walker is so much trouble and really makes me work for everything, he is always worth it. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Lazy Weekend

I don't really have that much to report from this weekend.  I rode on Saturday in my Western saddle and Western spurs, and I was able to get Walker to pick up the correct lead on his good side - at least a couple times.  He was still giving me the run around, but my trainer is supposedly going to hop on him soon and give me a full report.  Since it looks like he's not hurt, she is pretty much just going to give him a little tune-up.  Other than that, I was pretty happy with him.  The barn was really busy and we were riding with some other horses.  He didn't bolt or become unmanageable, although he did try a few little tricks on me.  We even did a little bit of cantering with another horse in the ring (which is usually a disaster with him), but he wasn't that bad.  Nothing to be desired or anything, but at least he didn't have a complete meltdown.

Today, I just went out to the barn for a quick bareback ride.  It was a lot colder today, and one of the girls was riding in a quarter sheet.  I'm going to buy Walker a new cooler soon, and I'm trying to decide if I should buy him a quarter sheet as well.  I'm pretty undecided since I think that he will be ok (especially since we ride in an indoor arena all Winter long), but I'm also a sucker who would buy anything remotely useful for my horse.  I'm pretty much running my own tack shop out of my car, and I have things in there that I don't even use.

Other than that, Walker will get Monday off like normal and Tuesday as well since I have an appointment with my massage therapist.  Then we'll ride on Wednesday in the lesson.  Hopefully this week we'll also get for a little hack through the subdivision like some of the other girls did last week.  We could use a relaxing ride checking out the scenery.

Having an apple snack while I sit out in the sun on a picnic table

Friday, 2 November 2012

Hocus Pocus

Unfortunately, I never made it out to the barn today because I had a couple of appointments and decided to take the day to work on one of my two major papers I need to finish (and start) by the end of the term.  But I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone last night who just barely got a horse this past month, and we were discussing all the things we wanted to work on.  She made me laugh because she kept telling me about what bothered her with her horse, and of course they were quite simple things: her horse doesn't have a hard stop, she canters faster than she wants her to, etc.  I'm not downplaying any of these things, but the contrast in the conversation was pretty hilarious.

Walker is smart.  Like really smart.  And he has developed a hundred ways to get out of work.  Every day with him I have to try and out-think him since out-muscling him will rarely work.  Perhaps a more experienced rider could overcome him easier, but to be fair, he has even managed to rear my trainer off once or twice.  He is a challenge, but luckily, he is not malicious (except when he reared my trainer off, but knowing her, she probably pushed him to it).  When he bucks, it is usually to send a message not throw you to the ground, and the one time I actually did fall off him, it was abundantly clear that he felt bad - he even waited right beside me until I got up. So I decided to compile a couple lists to focus on the hilarity instead of the things that drive me crazy.  You can't always focus on the negative!

Ways my horse is too smart and too curious for his own good:

  • he likes to put obstacles in our path to make it extremely difficult for me to get my way (as in, he will veer towards things - stepping blocks, cavelettis, people - because he knows that I will not force him to break a leg or kill someone in order to canter)
  • when we do patterns, it takes him about twice through before he has the pattern under wraps (this means that in lessons, when he wants to behave, I can pretty much go through an entire pattern, no matter how complicated, on auto-pilot)
  • he has figured out that if he pretends like he is going to canter to the direction I want him to and bends in that direction, he can throw me off guard and switch leads at the last minute to canter in the direction he wants to (this usually results in a mild form of whiplash)
  • he has also figured out that if he canters on the wrong lead, he will stump me (if he wasn't cantering, I would just make him canter, but this way, I am forced to stop him and ask again - which means that for a few seconds, he doesn't have to canter)
  • he will also canter unbelievably small circles to avoid covering long distances (this way, he is doing what I want by cantering a circle, but he he can stay close to the gate - this also sometimes results in whiplash since I'm not asking for it)
  • he knows that if he's getting treats, it's at the end of our ride, and so he's pretty much bouncing in his stall waiting for me to give him something when we're done (even if I don't give him a treat in weeks - he still knows)
  • he knows how to take his bucket off the (closed) hook in his stall and throw it around so that the humans will have to refill it
  • he is mischievous because he knows where the humans like to put things (he will knock over EVERY SINGLE bucket in his path in case someone left some grain that he could have, and he also likes to look under coats, through my brushes, and in my boots - just in case)
  • he is playful and chews and grabs at everything (he once grabbed my barn owner's rider level instruction book and shook it around like a dog; he also likes to throw my brushes and boots around, and anything else that I might remotely need)
  • you cannot leave the stall unattended if it is not latched (he will try to escape every time, and although I don't think he would make a break for it; he just enjoys the challenge)

Checking to see if the coast is clear so that he can try to escape his stall

Things that are great about him:

  • he is a doll in the crossties (I can walk underneath his head instead of going around, and he always waits patiently for me even if I leave him all alone while I go to the bathroom or tack room)
  • he is great about getting his feet done either by the farrier or by me (when I go to pick his feet, he will pick them up for me if I tap on his leg, no matter what order I decide to do his feet and he will even let me rest his leg on my knee if I have to work really hard at getting pebbles out)
  • he LOVES other horses and so you can pretty much turn him out with anyone (and they love him too; he is a lady's man)
  • he is forgiving (I may not always be gentle or the best rider out there, but he gives me a chance to re-prove myself every time we ride)
  • he always takes the bit (we have an agreement: when I take his halter off, he gets to yawn, which he does like clockwork, and then he opens his mouth for the bit)
  • he doesn't bite or do anything overly malicious (I don't count ramming me into fences because I once knew a malicious horse, and there's a big difference between a horse trying to show you whose boss and a horse trying to kill you)
  • he likes to rest his head on my shoulders when I'm brushing him (he's cute like that)
  • he isn't spooky at all; he's more curious than anything else (he doesn't freak out at clippers or dogs or random equipment in the ring)
  • and he's cute of course!

I'm surprised that Walker hasn't figured this out yet

Because I was stuck inside for most of the day, I decided to organize some of the mess in my apartment.  I cleaned Walker's bits and changed the bit from his old bridle to his new bridle.  This picture may not look like its very organized, but believe me when I say it's much better than it was!  Now I just need a place for his old bridle, and perhaps hooks to hand my riding jackets/sweaters on...

this is in my bedroom by the way - I think my next apartment will need a storage room...

I forgot to mention that on Halloween night, I watched my favorite Halloween movie: Hocus Pocus.  It's kind of ironic that this is my favorite Halloween movie because Walker's registered name is actually Walking Hocus Pocus.  Now I guess the movie has an extra special meaning!

Thursday, 1 November 2012


So we jumped our first vertical today, but don't get too excited. It was only 1'3". When I set it up, it looked so tiny, but I'm glad that I picked that low because he kept nicking the pole every time over! I get the impression that he is just so lazy that he never lifts his legs higher than he needs to, but it is a good start.

We also did some crossrail work and I found it interesting to notice that he almost always canters out of the crossrail (even though I never make a point of asking for it specifically), but he trotted out of the vertical. I have to say that I'm much more partial to cantering out. It feels more smooth and less choppy.

I was going to canter him into the crossrail, but I was having issues with his lead (shocker). The angle that I had the crossrail set up required him to canter into it on his good lead because it was a tight turn coming out. However, every time he cantered out of the crossrail, even when I trotted in, he picked up the wrong lead. I didn't also want to canter into the jump on the wrong lead as well and risk hurting him. I tried to canter him into the jump in the other direction, but the turn was too tight and there wasn't enough space to do it properly so I failed each time. I didn't really put too much thought into stride length or anything when I was setting up the jump so ill keep that in mind for next time.

Interestingly enough, I decided to free lunge him when I was done riding and try to get him to join up with me. I only lunged him for about 5 minutes and I was happy that he joined up after a couple seconds. I will have to do that more often. The part that was particularly interesting though was that the little bugger loped on both leads with no problems, which reinforces my theory that he is just being a brat. The other thing I've changed in the past few weeks is that I've been riding English, and in particular, I've been riding him in my English spurs. Although I had better control of him in his old bit today, he still tried to ram me into the fence, which suggests disrespect of my leg as well. Half the reason I moved up to Western spurs when I got him was because the English spurs weren't strong enough. Maybe if I throw the western saddle back on this weekend and ride him in my Western spurs, I'll be able to get him loping on both sides again. We will see. I feel like having horses is simply a matter of experimenting with different ideas until you find what works. Even if the Western spurs are the answer, I'm still going to ride in the English ones. I want him to respect me no matter what I use. Plus, it'll simply make me stronger.

Other than that, it was a pretty good ride. I tend to stay pretty happy after I jump him, even when he won't canter on a lead or he misbehaves in other ways. He's a trooper over the jumps, considering his obviously limited capabilities, and I know that those days will be done in a couple weeks, other than the off little jump in the indoor arena.

On a final note, I was talking to a girl at the barn whose horse was also trained Western Pleasure and is related to Walker. They told her that her horse would never jump over 2 feet as well, but she has jumped her horse as high as 3'3"! Maybe there's hope for Walker yet!