Tuesday 30 March 2021

New Toy

 The clinic that had booked the arena continued on Sunday until mid-afternoon. Originally the day was looking beautiful and sunny and perfect to go for a ride out somewhere. That changed significantly by the time the day arrived. 

Both horses were lying down when I went out to get them. They were both using dirt pillows.

Instead, we had extremely high wind warnings, rain, snow, and a big drop in temperature. The good news was that it wasn't going to happen until late afternoon, so despite me parking my butt on the couch and starting a new farm on Stardew Valley I still made it out to the barn with time to do something sort of useful with the ponies. 

Storm clouds coming in,

A couple of weeks ago, I was being lazy and doing some internet surfing. Someone had reviewed Equibands, which I've been interested in trying. That led me down the rabbit hole of more videos and reviews, and when I read that it was supposed to be good for wiggly horses, my brain responded with "my horse is wiggly take my money please". 

And then somehow a set magically showed up in the mail a week later.

Don't you hate it when that happens?

It was honestly an impulse buy that I kind of immediately regretted. Even more so the next day when I got a response from the company about the difference in sizes and they said I should go with the regular size - I had ordered small. 

I ordered the small mostly because the regular is on backorder everywhere due to Covid. The small was immediately available. The size chart says that the regular is recommended for horses over 14.2hh - Cisco is just over 15 so it wasn't a huge difference, and he's relatively compact. The dimensions of the saddle pad are the same if not bigger than the saddle pads that I currently use so it would fit my saddle. 

However, the response from the company said that a saddle pad that is too small would not place the band in the appropriate location - it could slide forward. Thus I started having doubts about my choice, just as I got my shipping notice. D'oh! Too late to make any changes.

He doesn't have a head because the blanket on the wall had been there for 25 seconds and he is always determined to have it on the floor within 30.

Reality is, I think it's fine. Based on the pictures I've seen it's not a hard and set rule as to where the abdominal band has to sit - the general area will work just fine. I honestly would be more concerned with the larger size and think that the band would squish backward on Cisco as that is where his very round tummy starts to narrow and taper. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't appreciate that in his junk.

The recommendation is that you handwalk the horse the first time that they wear it to make sure there aren't any explosions. Sunday was the perfect day to finally do so.

Cisco didn't seem to care too much about the band around his stomach. I probably still need to tighten it more, but I was in a bit of a rush to make sure I could be done before the storm started. I have to figure out the whole 50% less tension in the rubber band thing.

Did I notice a difference on his first wearing of it? Maybe.

He walked slowly. Which is not really a Cisco thing. He usually tries to take me for a walk,

In fact, at one point, Phantom, who was also walking with us, and who is a confirmed slow walker, was well ahead of Cisco. That's almost unheard of. 

Was he slow because he was having to work a bit harder? Don't know yet.

I'm going to try to use it under saddle this week. I'm hoping for a horse that will become straighter, push more into the connection, and use his left hind a bit more. We'll see over the next couple of months!

Monday 29 March 2021

Don't Give Him an Inch

 I didn't really do much horse-wise this weekend. I rode Cisco on Friday night - let me correct that - I tried to ride Cisco on Friday night and gave up after 25 minutes.

The arena was booked for a clinic all weekend. On Friday and Saturday it wasn't available until late evening. On Friday I had enough energy to make it happen so I arrived at the barn at about 7:45pm and hopped on around 8:30.

This was Cisco's first time in the arena by himself for a while, so I wasn't anticipating having my best ride ever, despite putting on the magical soundproof ear bonnet. To add extra stress to my horse, the arena lights were turned off when I took him in and the arena was pretty well black. 

Last time this happened, Cisco stared into the dark and was convinced he saw death down in the depths of the arena. This time, he wasn't too concerned. I'll give the credit to the bonnet yet again. 

The warm-up walk was fine. He was a bit looky in the end, but went into the corners happily enough.

The trot though. Ugh.

I think he was just a wee bit too full of himself to be able to settle while by himself in the ring. It wasn't that he was spooky, he just kept dropping his shoulder towards the gate on every single turn we made, everywhere in the ring. He even did it on a 15 m circle right in front of the gate. Super annoying.

I schooled it for about 15 minutes - it got mostly better, but give an inch and he would take a foot every time. 

It was late, there was no one around, I was annoyed. I hopped off and stripped his tack and sent him out for a run.

There were some bucks and leaps, so maybe that was what he needed. I'm still believing in the magical properties of the bonnet, as in the past this would have been a much worse ride. He didn't actually have any scoot-spooks, and had some short-lived moments of reaching forward for contact instead of just giraffe-ing the whole time. 

I might have purchased something to make Cisco work a little harder. More info to come!

Friday 26 March 2021


 I've been starting to use a different nickname for Cisco when I go out to catch him - but I had to amend it from my first version.

Everybody has their little names they give to their horses that they use when they are by themselves. Farly was Farles, Phantom is Princess or P-Diddy. 

The name I found rolling off my lips when I went out to get Cisco one day recently was C-Man. 

It took me a couple of days before I realized that if someone overheard me using that name they would probably hear it slightly differently.

I'm going with C-Dog instead.

Thursday 25 March 2021

The Secret to Horse Training

 I have found the magical piece of equipment that has turned Cisco into a fancy prancing horse!!!

I wanted to try it for a long time and finally found a cheap one that made it worthwhile to see if it would work. I spent a whole $12 on this magikal, prancing unicorn-making device. 

What is this revolutionary product that must be made of fairy dust and the tears of middle-aged amateur horse-owning women? 

Are you ready for this? Can you contain your excitement??

Here is my secret:

Soundproof ear covers.

Cisco is so much better in this bonnet. He can concentrate so much more, and because he's not worried about something going on around him (like a pigeon that might potentially flap up unexpectedly somewhere in the ring) he's gotten steadier and more consistent. I think he's only spooked maybe three times since he started wearing it, and they weren't scoot spooks, more of a plant a leg quickly for a step kind of spooks. Huge difference.

I know, I know, it could all be a coincidence - he had a chiro adjustment last month (another one this week), most of our rides have been with other horses in the arena, and I've been working on some basics that he should have by now but he apparently picks and chooses as to when thinks he has to do them.

But the few times that we have been by ourselves in the arena or someone has left partway through our ride, or when the murder door opened up at the end of the arena and horses disappeared through it never to be seen again, he's mostly just glanced at it and gone back to work with nary a hissy fit. 

I managed to get the Pixio mostly working this past Sunday, which turned out to be a ride I was really happy with. 

Cisco noticed the mirror panels that have been placed behind the kickwall during some renovations and his vanity kicked in.

Right from the beginning of the ride he was really relaxed and waiting for me. One of the things I've been really reinforcing is going into the corners of the arena - he prefers to drop the shoulder, ignore my inside leg, and cut the corners early. So we've spent a lot of time riding straight into the corners and halting - even the scary ones. It's definitely gotten way better, and it's helped with the spookiness in the end - if he's not thinking gtfo as we approach the corner, his reaction when something spooks him isn't nearly as big (not that he's spooked since he started wearing the bonnet). This was the first ride that when we approached the first corner at a walk on a loose rein, he went straight into the corner and stopped like he knew that that was his job. It was even the scariest corner in the ring! We warmed up at the trot stopping in the corners, ideally with no hand, and he stayed straight and waited.

Ignore the western trainer and lesson that decided to work right in front of my camera. There should be no sound so that you don't have to hear him. And hopefully, you can see me behind the round pen (super annoying and it better only be up for another week as we were told). The gate in the second corner was wide open so I had to use some hand to stop him there or he would have happily trotted through it.

Another thing that I've been working on is a forward, relaxed pace. When Cisco is worried he can be a little overreactive and quite wiggly. When there are other horses with him and he's chill he's behind my leg. Lately, he's been chill most of the time so I've had to get him sharper off my leg. Turns out he's actually pretty sharp off my bodyweight for going forward, but I need him to be sharper to the leg if we want to jump. 

On this ride I really liked how he felt - just the right forward, relaxed, and, dare I say it, steady. He's never been a horse I would apply steady to. 

Canter was much the same - relaxed, trying hard to stay in a relaxed frame, and we had some lovely forward and backs within the canter, including on his harder left side where he usually gives up because it's hard.

This was a ride where he did what I asked so I kept it short. It wasn't perfect by any means (like our ugly, sticky canter transitions) by I'm trying really hard to reward the try, and on this day I thought he tried really hard.

The rest of the week hasn't worked out to ride - Cisco had a chiro appointment on Monday and was told to take Tuesday off. I booked a massage for myself later on Monday, which originally felt great, but after being up for 20 minutes the next morning I made the fatal error of looking down at my phone, which tweaked something in my neck and I couldn't turn my head to the left - 10 minutes before I had to drive to work. Shoulder checking was awkward. I decided it would be smart to not ride for a couple of days, it's much better today (Thursday), but there's a clinic booked in the arena this weekend and the arena won't be free until late evenings (which actually might work out ok for me). I have to work ridiculously early on Friday so I think if I go home and have a nap in the afternoon and then have supper before heading out to the barn I can make it work. I'll make sure I put on Cisco's magic hat!

(By the way - is anyone else having problems with Blogger not playing videos? I had to download them to Youtube to get them to work, they wouldn't work when downloaded to Blogger.)

Monday 22 March 2021

A Glorious Last Day of Winter

Friday was the last day of winter. I was off of work early in the afternoon and it was a beautiful 14 degrees celsius out - that meant more outdoor hacking!

This time, I kind of took my time getting ready to ride. There wasn't anyone around at the barn when I arrived mid-afternoon, so I took Phantom for a hand walk down the driveways and through the field we ride in during the summer (she'll get ridden on the weekend). The field looked mostly dry and I was hoping to be able to do a proper ride in it, but my wet shoes disagreed with me.

I timed things right and when I was getting Cisco ready a couple of people showed up with the same idea as me. We all tacked up and went for a ride down the road.

First though, Cisco was a rock star at the mounting block. I've been working on getting him to stand still, including the use of a cookie after I get on. Standing still is not something new to him, but sometimes he's a little fresh and wants to set off once he feels my weight in the stirrup, so I've been reinforcing it. 

Usually, when the gate and arena door are open he's a bit of a turd about wanting to leave right away (the block is right next to the gate). I was expecting him to be all "peace out" and have to be quick about getting my butt onto leather, but he stood rock still. Even while I took my time pulling a cookie out that was buried deep in a front pocket of my breeches.  I was super shocked, but obviously very pleased.

We don't really have a lot of options on where to go if you want to head out for a ride. We are surrounded by farmland. When the crops are pulled off in the fall we can go out there, and there is quite often one field left fallow in the area during the summer. But they are far too mucky in the spring with the snow melt to have a pleasant ride.

Thus, we are stuck using the gravel roads. Which isn't super fun for a horse with no shoes. And whose feet are too wide for hoof boots to be an option.

I still haven't brushed his mane.

At least the roads aren't super busy, and a large chunk of the vehicles coming down the road would be horse people so they actually slow down. Unless it harvesting time - then you get a selection of huge tractors that take up the road and freak me out a little bit, let alone the horses. 

Down the road we went. The horses were all well behaved, the sun was shining, and we got in a very short trot where the gravel wasn't as bad (Cisco started off strong but got a bit owie).

We rode down to the intersection and turned around to head home. One of the horses gets a little prancy on the way home, which she totally expected, so she ended up way ahead of us. Cisco is the odd duck who gets slower on the way home, so we ended up way behind, and he really wasn't into trotting to catch up when I asked him to.

On the way out I had noticed that the field opposite the barn looked dry along the side, so on the way back I wanted to try it. I took him in by himself, he happily trudged through ankle-high muck until we got to the edge, which indeed, was nice and dry.

Unfortunately, on the way out I hadn't looked at the field until we were mostly past it. Thus I didn't see the condition of the area where I would exit the field. Which, it turns out, was a lake. 

So I had to turn around and go back the way I entered the field to get out of it. The only other option would be the ditches, which had snow on top, but I'm pretty sure Cisco would crash through the snow and into whatever amount of water was underneath. Definitely not a smart option.

I was expecting him to be unhappy about being turned around and having to walk away from the other horses who had proceeded down the road, but again, he shocked me by just going. He had one moment of rethinking his options when he had to walk through the big puddle just before we got back to the road, but I gave him a second and he calmly walked through and back towards the other horses, no rush. For a horse who likes the company of other horses in the arena, he sure isn't worried about them when outside.

We'll be stuck back inside for this week due to the weather. It's cooling off again and there is some potential for rain so the fields definitely won't be drying out enough.

I'm also going to have to make plans to get Cisco out for a real trail ride this summer. We've got a couple of great options about an hour away, but that involves a trailer ride - still an issue for Cisco. Once the roads dry up a bit we're going to start working on that again. This is going to be the year he relaxes in the trailer, I feel it!

Thursday 18 March 2021

Bad Angles

 As my video showed from my last post, I managed to get Cisco out for the first outside ride of the year on Tuesday evening. I rushed straight out from work in the hopes that I could get out before we lost the light, tacked up super fast (for me - it's kinda a running joke as to how long it takes me to groom and tack up) and we were able to get in about 25-30 minutes of wandering around the yard and driveways.

My friend T and I are kind of like 12-year-old girls when we are putzing around outside, so once we determined that the horses weren't going to put us in hospital the cell phones came out to take pictures of each other. 

T is probably 8" taller than me. Her horse is probably 8" taller than Cisco. 

This does not create a great angle for a picture of someone who is shorter in stature. Even worse when that someone is standing slightly in a ditch.

Thus, I present to you, me riding a corgi horse.


One day I'll get a picture of me looking elegant on a horse. One day.

In the meantime, I'll laugh my head off at myself.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Wordless Wednesday

It's been a while since I've posted. I've been busy, tired, and just doing the same ole thing with the ponies,so just haven't had any motivation to write anything.

But yesterday we did this! First time this year! And I didn't die!

Spring is coming!