This was a wonderful week. For the first time in three months I got to ride 3 times in one week!
I got to ride Mia twice at Debbie's, which was nice. Even though it was still hot on Friday I gave up ignoring Mia's hooves and hoping that what the farrier did would be enough to see her through. So I got out my rasp and hoof knife and started on her front feet, trimming the sole a little and evening out her hoof wall. Her back feet may have to wait a few weeks as I get stronger and better able to do a quick trim. As it was, even trying to be REAL careful I still cut myself with the hoof knife--not badly, just a little slice. The farrier had not trimmed the frog enough, there were BIG flaps, so I even tried trimming with her leg between my knees so I could work on it two handed. This did not help, my wrists and hands just don't seem to be strong enough to deal with the frog and I am unsteady which makes her nervous.

At Shannon's I finally got to ride Cider again since her hoof has grown out enough that Shannon was able to stabilize the crack in it. I promised to stay at the walk. Cider was pretty cooperative about not breaking into the trot, probably because of the very sticky heat. This mare had come to Shannon's with the idea that the proper way to be ridden was at top speed, very reluctant to walk and constantly trying to accelerate, so it was VERY nice that she only broke into the trot once and immediately obeyed my aids to go back into a walk. A great improvement in her former approach to being ridden in the ring.

The more I ride at a walk the more I appreciate why dressage riders do most of their schooling at the trot. It is so much easier to get the horse into contact, it is so much easier to straighten the horse, and the horse seems to take the work more seriously. At a walk Cider seems to think that she can meander wherever she wants, mostly to the center of the ring where Shannon is or to the fence where her pasture mates callously view her working while they rest. Most of the time at a walk I am constantly telling the horses to stretch their bodies out, to stride forth confidently and with IMPULSE. When I get impulse at the walk I can at least begin the gymnastic work that all horses need so they can carry us more easily. Meandering around the ring at 1 to 2 1/2 miles an hour does not develop the horse very much. However most horses seem to prefer meandering at a walk, reserving their strong efforts for the trot. This is a great pity. I am of the very small school that thinks that horses should be active at the walk, full of forward impulse all the time while on contact or on loose reins. I also think that it is important that the horse should practice shifting their weight back and forward at the walk (3 speeds of the walk), and I think that the horse is not fully trained if they cannot or will not do everything at a walk that they do at a trot. Yeah, it is a lot harder to get good performance at a walk, but if you do not work on the walk you can have enormous gaps in the horse's physical development and training. FORWARD IMPULSE IS IMPORTANT AT ALL GAITS, and if the horse knows it has to work at the walk I find that they come up with fewer evasions at the faster gaits.

Of course I occasionally do the relaxing loose rein walk to rest the horse. For around a minute or so I do let the horse meander some (not to the center of the ring or to its buddies) as a reward for doing WORK. But I use this as a REWARD, and I do not allow it all the time at the walk. I expect the horse to immediately respond to my leg and extend out when I decide that the horse has rested enough. I want to feel the horse working its body, reaching forward with each leg with a relaxed movement and with no unnecessary tension. I aim for a swinging walk where the horse is using all its legs and its back to move forward boldly. When I feel the back moving freely and the legs moving like pendulums I KNOW that the horse is ready to really work effectively at the faster gaits.

And, after riding Cider for around 25 minutes, she politely asked me for more rein. When I gave it to her she asked for the rein to be loose, and then that sweet, sweet mare gave me a decent walk, straight, full of impulsion, and not taking advantage of the loosened rein. What a difference! So I ended the lesson, quite happy with this sweet little mare, who, when I ride her using my aids correctly, then rewards me with exactly what I want. What more can you ask for, especially since she has not been worked for 2 months?

I am looking forward to around a month or a month and a half more of walking. Shannon and I decided that if we waited until it gets cool in the morning (middle to lower 50's) then Cider's hoof will have enough time to grow the crack out completely, and then I can get to work on the trot. And because of all this work at the walk she will be so much easier to work at the faster gaits, moving forward confidently, reaching for the bit, understanding my aids and fit enough so she can do the work easily.

Have a wonderful time with your horses.

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Comment by Over Fences on August 25, 2009 at 2:13pm

The Chestnut is bobby I'm not sure this is a good picture, I saw a very little version
Comment by Over Fences on August 25, 2009 at 2:06pm
So It was succesful? at first there were just a bunch of letters & symbols on the screen, then blank, then I could see it but I was'nt so sure you would.

Next I want to try to scan, and I'm going to see If I can get my neighbor to e-mail me some pictures he took of my foals.

Yeah, until you lose a horse or a dog (or in this one case donkey) you dont remember how much it hurt at the time. My worst times have been when Like Willow they were young or otherwise not ready to die. I lost my first buckskin mare "Sonora" 3 years ago to Thoracic cancer, she was only 15.

When Bobby my 31 year old goes I think it will be much easier because I know he's lived a full life and I did everything I could to enhance and prolong his golden years.
Comment by Jackie Cochran on August 25, 2009 at 1:41pm
I have trimmed hooves over 35 years, not constantly, and just on my horses or the horses I get to ride. I am very weak, so I have to do the trim one handed (one hand hoof-one hand tool). It is exhausting, which is why I have to do it every week to keep up with the growth--if I wait 2 weeks I cannot catch up too easily.
Thanks for showing me your pictures.
I have read that a sick donkey will just go off, hide and die, and that it is very hard to tell if something is seriously wrong. Just one of the many ways that donkeys PROVE that they are not horses, but donkeys. Sort of like treating a chimp as if it was identical to a human, close but often that just doesn't really mean a thing. Anyway, I am sorry you lost her.
Comment by Over Fences on August 25, 2009 at 1:29pm
This one Is probably on the same day, It's Ferdinand as a yearling and our yearling BLM donkey "Willow" she was captive born, but out of a wild caught mother. So she was basically wild, I had her for a couple of months, but when I brought her in out of the pasture, and was starting the groundwork she got depressed and went off her feed. I tried turning her loose but she would just go find a quiet place to hide and lay down. After four days I had to have her euthanized. It was very a short lived pleasure to have known her and I will always hurt over her untimely death.
Comment by Over Fences on August 25, 2009 at 1:17pm

Comment by Over Fences on August 25, 2009 at 1:12pm
Ooh! It's just now appearing, This is from 2006 This is a picture of My 5 Year old mare Lacy (far left)she's the one that threw the dun filly "Loba". She's the blaze face Bay and thats her winter coat 3 years ago. She's not as red anymore. she carries the "smutty" or "Sooty" factor so she has alot af black shadowing.

The Little "dun" is my stallion as a yearling. He's shed out that baby sheep color, he's Grullo and is now 4 years old. The other two bays were " jumper projects" that summer that I later sold.
Comment by Over Fences on August 25, 2009 at 12:59pm
Well apparently I dont know how to send it. I just tried and nothing happenned
Comment by Over Fences on August 25, 2009 at 12:59pm

Comment by Over Fences on August 25, 2009 at 12:53pm
Trimming hooves is an exhausting activity, how can you even attempt it? I've had to rasp little flares here and there, or worse! pull a shoe if the guy cant come out right away, I found it horribly tiring. Years ago I had a mare that no farrier could trim (kicker). So I had to make due and trim her myself since strangely she only liked to kick unfamiliar people. I would do as lttle nipping or paring as possible, mainly I was lucky that at the time I rode every day so her feet really did'nt need that much attention due to natural wear.

Congratulations on getting in 3 rides this week. I've been riding out every evening at dusk ponying Lacy off of Cassidy to get them fit for this fall when the weather gets nice. They're both happy to be back to work & good news, I got a camera. I havent tried it out yet I need to put batteries in it and also figure out how to hook it in to the computer. Meanwhile I found and old little Kodak disk that had some old pictures in it and was able to save them to my picture file. The pictures are between 2 and 4 years old though. As soon as I get the girld and the babies all dressed up I'll show you new pictures.

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