Another Windy Day

chasing a life in the high desert

First Horse Show

November 3rd, 2012, the MBHA held a little local show at our ranch, so that seemed like the perfect opportunity for Zeke to be in his first show!

He’s been doing wonderfully in our riding, and the day before the show I gave him his first soap bath. He didn’t mind at all, though his winter coat is coming in so it took a while to get him dry! I polished up our tack, including the nice new bridle he got last month, and we were ready.

As usual, it was me that had all the issues. I worried that he’d get crazy when he heard the loudspeaker, or panic when he saw all the new horses and trailers on the property, or maybe that aliens would land that day and spook all the horses. Who knows. I can always worry about something. I even asked if I would be able to get my entry fees back if he freaked out in the first class and I decided not to ride in any more. Cindy gave me that look, the one that says, “You’re way over-thinking this again.” So I signed up for everything we could legally ride in, all the western classes that were for adults.

ImageAs we rode around the ranch, it was obvious that Zeke wasn’t worried in any way about all the things I worried about! We did have to pause to approach a woman with a stroller as it rolled along, but he got over it once he saw it wasn’t chasing him. The announcer, the new horses, trailers – he thought it was cool. We went in our two trail classes first, and I made a lot of mistakes by trying to rush through it. The second class went better than the first, but I was just glad to get those first ones over with! 

Image

 

Our first arena class was Western Equitation, Adult. We had to ride around the rail, then do a little pattern. I have to say, Zeke nailed it! It was like he suddenly realized everyone was watching him, and he did everything not only perfectly, but with a little bit of swagger that said, “I’m a show pony!” It was really fun, and funny. We took a blue ribbon in that very first class!

Image

 

Image

Image

 

The rest of the day went great. We had a great time, got tired, but finished all our classes. In the end we won three first place ribbons, for Western Eq Adult, Western Pleasure Adult, and Country Pleasure – a real coup since that was was open to both English and Western riders. We took third in Western Pleasure Open, Jack Benny, and Obedience  fourth in both our trail Classes, and fifth in Western Eq Open.

yeah, it was just a little show with not a ton of entries, but it was great fun. And it was great knowing my horse not only took everything in stride, but actually seemed to enjoy and play along with the day! Congratulations Ezekiel!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

See You In September…

Yes, I know it’s already September. In fact, September’s about half gone, and this is my first post since, what, July? Well, at least I can happily say that I have been too busy riding to take time out for sitting at the computer; which I guess is a decent enough excuse, considering!

So Zeke and I have definitely been busy! We’ve been working out the kinks and sharpening up our skills, and we’re planning to do our first little show on November 3rd. The Morongo Basin Horsemen’s Association is holding a schooling show right here at Yucca Valley Equestrian Center, so it’ll be perfect for us! We don’t need a trailer, and we get the experience of showing without the pressure, since MBHA shows tend to be really positive, fun, and encouraging rather than overly competitive.

So what have we been up to? Well, I knew if I didn’t keep up with the blogging I’d forget, but let’s give it a try. First off we have been riding mainly in the wood arena, although this past Wednesday we went into the big pasture for the first time. We’ve been out there before, obviously, but only after a full ride, to cool down and play with the toys there. We just walked, and a little trot. But Wednesday we went straight out there with Cindy and Mac and Helen and BB, and did our full walk-trot-canter like a big boy. And Zeke did very well, though I felt a little…exposed? It just seemed like such a big, free space to me after being in the arena. A few more rides out there should get us both comfortable!

We’ve also managed a couple small trail rides in the past month, a decent length one with 2 other horses, a bunch of small ‘cool out’ ones, and, last week, a full 20 minute ride on our own! Zeke and I stayed very relaxed through the whole ride, and it was quite enjoyable. Then last week someone claims to have seen a young mountain lion out the back gate – someone who knows the difference between a mountain lion and a bobcat – so, maybe we’ll hold off going out alone for a little bit! Seriously, though, it is fairly unusual for mountain lions to venture into this part of Yucca Valley, so chances are it was quite young, and has probably moved on into better, more hidden territory than in the middle of town!

I also told myself that with this blog I wasn’t going to sugar-coat or gloss over anything. I want to show what it’s really like for an average person to train a mustang, so I’m including the road bumps as well as the fun. And during August, we hit one of those road bumps – frustrating, but really not surprising.

I have been working with Zeke on collection, and of course working in a balanced, energetic, forward manner by rocking onto your hind end and bringing your back up is really tiring for a young horse. They need to build up the muscle to be able to maintain the positioning themselves, but once they do, they are so much more balanced, freer to move quickly in any direction, and have a powerful stride. But…it’s hard. And Zeke is not that into ‘hard‘. He likes easy. Lazy. Effortless.

So his little brain began to work when we really started getting nice collection at the canter. He gave me a day of “Fine, but I’m going to drop my inside shoulder on every corner so my circle gets smaller.” That was unsuccessful, since my inside leg just picked him up and sent him around correctly. So for the next couple days, he tried, “Well, I just won’t canter at all then!” Yeah – he’d walk and trot, and when I asked for canter, his normal light departure became a sullen, cranky, sticky spot. Sadly for him, I have the big girl spurs on now, so he got a polite request, then an insistent tap, then a poke. So that didn’t work our for him, either.

Then he figured it out. All he really wanted was to stop cantering, right? Because collected canter is hard. So as I glibly sat on his back, giving him the loose rein I thought he deserved for bringing his back up and rounding so nicely, he grabbed the right side of the bit in his teeth, ran straight for the fence, then pulled me right (we were going left) as I struggled vainly to stop him.

Oh he got me, good. I stopped him, turned him, and sent him right back on, but he’d already made his point – “You asked me to stop when I did that.” So he did it again. And again. And again. Swearing ensued. He, and his parents, were called bad names. I just couldn’t seem to catch him in time to prevent the pull and turn, and it showed that hole again – the willingness to totally blow off my right leg. The same leg he’d blow off other times he was putting on a show of disobedience.  Darn it – I thought we’d past that, but you see how those things come back to haunt you. 

Anyhow, Cindy showed up at ringside about then, and for the first time since I got Zeke, I was ready to let her hop on and ‘fix’ it for me. I knew I’d blown it by letting him win – several times in a row – and I really didn’t want to create a runaway. But Cindy gave me another chance (okay, maybe 2 or 3 more chances!). She had me shorten my reins to the point that my arms were out straight and up next to his ears (a severely uncomfortable way to ride, but certainly builds shoulder muscles!). When he tried it again – he had 2 corners that by now he’d established as his ‘duck out’ areas – I was supposed to raise my hands straight up to lift his shoulders, then nail him with that right leg to prevent the duck out. And at all costs, keep him going forward, not letting him stop.

It took me about three tries to get it coordinated, but I did it! Cindy said I was that close to her taking over, but I pulled it out. And the cool thing was, I was so determined I forgot to be afraid. And Zeke being Zeke, he never once offered to do anything dangerous, like buck. Like Cindy said, he may be lazy, but at least he’s completely honest. You can see it coming before it happens, there’s nothing sneaky about Zeke.

But anyhow, it took a bunch of rides like that to get things back to good, and each ride he made fewer and fewer attempts. I took to calling out, “We’re going left” before I asked for left lead, so everyone in the ring with me knew not to get between us and the corner – or if it looked like we might run into them, we probably would, so go!

I have no illusions that this behavior is gone forever. It’s going to crop up every now and again, when things get too tough. I just need to be prepared and not allow it to be his best alternative. And in the meantime, we have been cantering around on a slightly looser rein, all collected and pretty for as long as a 3 year old can manage before I have to pick him up again.

This week we really got into our sidepassing. And guess what? He just doesn’t want to go to the left, moving off that right leg. Ugh!!! Here we go again…

A couple weeks ago my mom and her husband Don came out and met Zeke for the first time. Don took a bunch of nice pictures for us, so here’s what we look like these days!

Image

with Cindy on BB and Helen on Mac (the paint)

Image

our back-up is getting nice and round and free

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

 

Imagewe’re getting TOTALLY good at the gate!

Image

on the new bridge

Imagein the dry waterbox. Water will be added when we get some slip-resistant paint

Image

 

with Mom and Don

Image

 

 

 

Stepping Out

Wow – has it really been that long since the last Ezekiel update? I guess it has!

Well, we’ve been working as often as we can, as usual my work time is interfering with our free time. It’s also been dang hot, but evening rides are nice. We’ve been working in the arena just on sharpening everything up and getting more responsive to aides. He is doing better, though he continues to have trouble getting off my right leg. Cues on that side asking him to turn to the left require more effort than the same cues to the right. But it’s coming.

Yesterday was our first time on ‘trail’ – we went out the front gate into the little section of land the ranch owns out there. It’s not the official trails we have out back, but it’s somewhere outside the fence and somewhere he’s never been before. We followed Cindy and Wyatt out, and Zeke was very relaxed through the whole ride. We worked on crossing a piece of wood that was out there (no problem), going through a small ‘crater’ depression in the ground (more of a problem, but we did manage to walk nicely around it), and finally a downhill slope.

I approached the slope with some trepidation; I think I even said to Cindy, “We’ll need to learn how to go downhill,” as we followed Wyatt. I needn’t have worried. Zeke crouched his butt and went down like a pro, prompting Cindy to say, “Welcome to the world of mustangs!” They do have great instincts for terrain!

Today was a fun day in the arena, starting some work on collection. For the first time I felt like we got a true canter going, instead of a slow lope gait. He moved forward without my constant urging, using the entire arena and going at a nice speed. Our only issue came when he decided he didn’t need to listen to my cue to turn left as we approached the end of the arena (not getting off that right leg, again!). He ran straight into the mounting block, and I had to conclude he did it on purpose, expecting me to stop and regroup. So…I didn’t, we just kept going. And the next time we passed the corner, I asked nicely for him to turn, and when I felt his resistance, I popped him with that right spur. He leaped forward in surprise, but magically didn’t try to run me into the corner again! The up side of having a horse smart enough to figure out his own “short cuts” is that he’s quick to learn what doesn’t work, too!

After the arena we walked out our back gate, onto the real trails. We didn’t go far, just stepped out and walked up and down a short hill, then back around the pens to finish our day. Someday I hope to have someone around to take a picture while we make our improvements. In the meantime, we’ll keep working on it!

Like a Roller Coaster

That’s the stage we’re in, Zeke and I. The roller coaster stage. We go up, we go down, and all of it is pretty thrilling.

We’re still just working on putting on the miles, riding as often as we can just to develop experience. Of course my schedule is not ideal, sometimes I have gaps of two days or more between riding days, but I try to avoid that. Highlights from this week include Saturday and Wednesday; low points, probably Tuesday.

Saturday was a nice workout in the wood arena, and our first time working through “changes”. By that I mean something was different – some big plastic barrels had been moved and were lying on their sides outside one end of the arena. So when Zeke went past, he could just glimpse these strange creatures between the rails of the arena, and he wanted no part of going anywhere near them. So our job that day was to continue working despite the distraction, and little by little, moving closer and closer to the dreaded barrels until they were no longer scary. That worked out just fine, we conquered that fear, then for fun we walked down to the dressage court to cool out.

Cristina was taking a dressage lesson that day, and we watched her working through Training Level Test 1 for a little while. During a break for her, Zeke and I decided to try it too! It was the first time we ever trotted and cantered outside of an arena, and we did very well except for a tendency to drift out on corners (no railing to guide him through the turns!). As far as the test went, we did okay – we had a few mistakes but of course the point of the exercise, for me, was to see how well we’d do with up and down transitions at specific points in the arena. We had to trot from one letter to another, then pick up canter before another letter, then make a circle of a specific size, then drop back to trot or walk by a certain point. It was really fun, and Zeke did a great job with those transitions. Cindy said he looked very light and his gaits were nice, which is great for our first time through.

So Saturday was a high point, then I couldn’t ride again until Tuesday night. And man what a mess that was! I’ve decided now that if I’m going to skip more than one day, I need to allow him to have some turn-out time before riding. What happened that day was I took him to the round pen for warm up, to get the fresh out of him. I should, by now, have realized that he’s too smart for that. He barely moved in that round pen, trudging along like he didn’t have a spark of excess energy, so I stopped and took him right up to the wood arena to ride.

Big mistake. He was obviously faking in the round pen, not showing any effort because he knows there’s nowhere to go! In the arena, he took off like a shot, first trotting away with me and then just running off. I had to grab the rein all the way down by his bit to get him turned into a circle to make him stop. So…back to the round pen we went, this time with a whip so I could make him run.

And he did, this time showing me he was so full of energy that it was a long time before he wanted to stop. When he was finally all sweaty and puffing, I got back on in the round pen and rode a little while. It wasn’t any fun.

Wednesday I turned him out for 20 minutes before I got on, and he played a bit, but  mainly I think it just gave him some mental free time, time to stretch and just not be in his stall. Then I got on, and we had a wonderful ride! We worked on spiraling circles, coming off my leg, turns on the hindquarters and forehand, and making different size circles even at the canter. When we got done, we walked out of the wood arena, and for the first time went into the big pasture arena. I rode at the walk all over the pasture, we went under the cowboy shower framework, and even over the bridge! We also opened and closed the mailbox, and walked through the back-through. His backing is getting pretty good, but not easy enough yet to add change of direction during the back-up.

So then today was another nice day, we rode in the wood arena and started to work a bit more on canter. Cindy said it’s time to start being tougher on leads – up until now I’ve just been happy that if I asked for canter he responded. He gets his leads correctly about 75% of the time, with the left lead more often being the problem one. So from now on I’ll be working on asking for a canter departure with a bit more of an exaggerated push of the hind end – pushing the hip to the inside while I ask with the outside leg. If he takes the wrong lead we’ll be stopping more quickly to fix it, rather than just ignoring as long as he’s cantering. 

And soon enough we need to get out on the trails – there just wasn’t time this week, bit it’ll be happening soon! I guess you could say we’re moving along at a nice pace. And it’s definitely fun!

Rides on Hooves and Wheels

Another busy week, but Zeke and I managed to get a few rides in. Right now it’s a lot of the same – we’re working on giving to pressure, both from legs and hands. We’re getting use to riding with others in the arena. And we’re pushing through those times when Zeke thinks he should be done, or he’s bored, or he just doesn’t wanna! He’s learning that he still has to behave and pay attention, even if there’s nothing exciting going on. I will say his canter is amazing – soft and smooth and steady. Love it!

The only extra thing we did this week was after our Tuesday night ride. Cindy had the trailer there because she had taken her horse Rick to the vet’s earlier, so after our ride I walked Zeke up on it, as I’m prone to do anytime I see a stray trailer. He loads perfectly – but this time I shut him in, and Cindy let me take him for a ride around the block! Fun for both of us because I don’t have much experience driving a rig, and Zeke has never ridden in a trailer other than being rounded up and run onto one!

We both did very well. I didn’t hit the curbs, and Zeke rode very quietly. When I went to get him off I could feel some tension – he was just about shaking, but that’s to be expected. He backed out like a gentleman and seemed no worse for wear. 

Looking forward to more saddle time this coming week!

A Nice Day

Today was a really nice day. Earlier in the week, since my last weekend, we had everything from high heat to strong winds, but the last 2 days have been perfect, and Zeke and I finally got to take advantage.

Due to some changes in my work schedule and feeding schedule, I wasn’t able to ride at all this week, until Friday. For the first time since we started riding, Zeke had 7 days in a row just hanging out in his stall doing nothing. I know he’s smart, but I wondered if he’d forget all the good we accomplished on our last ride.

I shouldn’t have worried. I gave him a short turnout, then we saddled up and did a short lunge, then off we went. Not only did Zeke not forget, he actually improved in his responses! It was almost as though we both forgot to be awkward with our riding and just went out and did it. And today, Saturday, was even better! Today I rode for a short time in the wood arena alone, then Vickie came in to ride Slim with us. Zeke alternated between working and just being a chair while I worked with Vickie, and we had a great ride.

After the arena, we all took a few laps around the pens. I think a short trail ride is in order very soon! All in all, I spent just under two hours on Zeke’s back today – the longest he’s ever been out at one time. He did great, and I’m extremely thrilled with my boy!

Back To The Future

Sometimes in order to move forward, you have to go backwards to the last thing you did really well, get solid again, and move on. Of course, that advice was for me this week, not for Zeke! Zeke kept on doing what he does, but because I I wasn’t effective at really applying my aids to correct him, we went back to the last place I felt really solid – the small roundpen.

So we worked in there for a day, with me remembering to use my legs and spurs when Zeke was just blowing me off. Allowing him to ignore my leg because I simply didn’t want to pop him one led to him doing it more and more – of course! So in the small roundpen, I popped him with the spur when he needed it. And because he responded without jumping out of his skin, it gave me confidence to move on.

So we made it through my weekend with some good progress – by today, Thursday, we were riding in the wood arena with confidence. Zeke is using the entire arena, from the rails to the center, and behaving nicely. Our canter has improved so that I don’t have to keep clucking and kicking to make it around – he needs a little reminder in the corner but otherwise he goes forward. We started a little leg yield work today, now that he’s moving off my leg without so much effort.

It’s funny how it didn’t take much to go either way. It only took a ride or two of me being whimpy for him to take advantage, and it only took two rides to convince him that there are consequences to not responding when I ask for something. Hopefully we are back on track now for next week!

After today’s work, Zeke got turned out with Frisk, and they were terribly boring. So we added Wyatt to the party, to kick up a little dust!

Image

Image

Image

There’s a full set of these fun photos on my Flickr page, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/deserttrailrider/sets/72157630130273652/with/7373308604/

The Things Fear Can Do

The point, for me, of doing this blog has been to show the ‘average’ person what it is like to adopt and train a mustang. Not everyone is a highly skilled and experienced horse trainer, though if you’re lucky you can have one nearby to help you during the sticky times! But many of us out here have some experience, lots of desire, limited time, jobs, families, what-have-you. I always wondered if it was possible for an ‘average’ busy horseperson to make this work. And I think it it is – but not everything is a fairy-tale. Sometimes we have to deal with our fear, so I decided not to leave that part out of this blog.

Ezekiel and I ended last week really ready to step up and move on to bigger and better things. Really – Zeke has become so bored in the roundpen that he barely puts forth any effort at all to move forward! After all, if there’s no where to go, why be in a hurry to get there? We still go there first for a short warm-up and so I can canter in the smaller space, but then we head up to the wood arena.

Up there, Zeke is engaged, he’s bright, he steps more quickly and looks around. He watches the other horses in the arena with us. He watches…well, so many things that he forgets I’m there! So when he sees someone standing on the ground and decides he should avoid them by bending his body away from them, turning his head to them to see what they might do, and totally blowing off his rider (me), something needs to be done. 

I am trying like crazy to remember to always use my leg, not the reins, to keep his body moving in the direction I’ve asked him to go. If he bulges and drifts to the right, I need to pop him with that right leg to send him back straight. But the truth is, even if I whack him hard, he’s starting to ignore me. So Cindy suggested it’s time to try a little spur or crop, to get him to be responsive to my cues. It’s like a kid who learns that his parent will tell him to go to bed six times before he really has to go – why listen the first time if you have five more chances? With a little stronger aid, he should get the point more quickly, and realize there are consequences. That’s how you teach him to respond correctly the first time.

So today we tried out a little spur, because in the past I have taken the end of my reins and given him a slap when he didn’t listen to my leg – and his response was to leap out of his skin! I thought a spur might work better than a crop to wake him up without ‘upsetting’ him. Yes, I’ve begun to worry about upsetting him. That’s a bad sign.

Zeke’s been so good, and we’re doing so well, that I’m falling back into that ‘don’t rock the boat’ attitude. If I don’t push him, we’ll never have a bad incident. Of course, we’ll never accomplish anything either! So I donned my tiny spurs, and down to the roundpen we went to gauge his reaction to them.

Image

It wasn’t pretty. We bopped along slowly as normal, and then I asked him to turn and move off my leg. He ignored me, so I popped him a little harder (let’s face it, I was afraid to get him with the spur, so I gave him another chance!). When he blew me off, I took that tiny spur and gave him a poke. Wee! He turned real fast then! He also jumped forward and kicked out with both hind legs, then proceeded to try to run off while I held him to a small circle until he relaxed. Then we continued on with our work, and wonder of wonders, he did well! He even cantered around the roundpen several times without my having to flap my legs and kiss at him over and over. So we moved up to the wood arena.

As soon as we got there, I realized Cindy was working a young horse in the small roundpen next to us. For the work she was doing, it was necessary for her to crack the lunge whip. Often. So we ended up in yet another tizzy.

I can’t blame Zeke for this, because up until I got on, I had asked him to MOVE every time he heard the whip. I also asked him to pay attention to the person standing in the center of the arena, which explains why he avoids people standing around. There’s no reason to think that once you’ve trained these behaviors, the horse will just know you don’t want him to respond to them anymore, because you’re on his back. It’s the rider’s job to convince him of that fact, and today I fell way short!

I have to admit I just wanted to leave that arena as soon as we got there. I knew I shouldn’t, so I tried to keep riding, but every crack of the whip sent Zeke to a bolt that I had to pull him around into a little circle to stop. My job was to let him see that he didn’t have to listen or fear anything that was happening outside of our little bubble, that any reaction he had would just be ended and our work resumed. Instead, I let that fear creep into my head. What if I can’t stop him? What if he keeps running, all the way back to his herd in Ridgecrest? What if he bucks all the way around the arena? Basically, what if I lose control and get hurt?

Well, that’s why we’re in an arena. He can only go so far. He’s never offered to buck, and if I stick to my guns and start working him and keeping his brain focused on what I ask, I should be able to keep control. But…

Yeah, it was a tough day for me. I had to keep going, because Cindy heard me say I wanted to leave and she brought up the point that he would never learn not to leave, and to listen to me and ignore the world if we didn’t start now. So I spent more time than I’d like to snatching at my reins, leaning forward and riding like a scared child, basically.

Luckily, these little mustangs are pretty forgiving. We worked through it, and I finally relaxed, and today we did our first canter in the wood arena. And I’m determined to go back tomorrow and do a better job of being the fearless leader, so he can become my fearless steed.

Coming Home, Meeting Friends, Getting Out

All sorts of fun this week! Zeke had his two days off, then Tuesday afternoon we did a short review ride, which went very well and let me know it’s time to get out of the small roundpen! We can’t do much in there, and since he’s behaving well, and has learned some about steering, it’s time for bigger places to ride.

That Tuesday night was also a “Welcome Home” night. I have been planning to adopt a desert tortoise for some time. His name derives from his rehab number when he came in to work, 2010-62. So he is “62”, and he has a large bladder stone that keeps him a bit compromised and prone to respiratory infections. I wanted to give him a nice home, instead of having him live in the dark, cement cage at the hospital, so have been trying to put it all together for the last few months. 62 finally came home Tuesday night, and he’ll stay here until his bladder surgery later this year. I think he’s enjoying his new home.

Image

Image

Wednesday found Ezekiel and I working out in the big rounpen – a fun ride with walk, trot, canter, and finally a chance to really do some steering. This pen is 60′, instead of the 40′ one we’d been in, so we could criss-cross around and make some progress. After our ride, we again walked around the outside, even stopping at the wood arena to let people walk up to us and talk and pat Zeke. In the afternoon, Zeke had a playdate – I turned him out in the big arena with Wyatt, Cindy’s mustang makeover horse from 2011. They had a great time together!

Image

Image

Image

A little game of chase ensued, followed by rough-housing!

Image

Image

Image

And so we arrive at today, Thursday. A really great day! We started in the large roundpen, working our turns and canter, and this time Helen was nice enough to snap some pictures for us!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Then for the first time, we went up to the wood arena to ride! Our first time in the arena riding, and also our first time riding with others. Cindy was in there on Sprout, giving a lesson to Joe, who rode Hannah, Cindy’s 2012 mustang makeover horse. Joe is the proud new owner of Hannah, and they are doing a great job learning together. Zeke took it all in stride, nothing at all seems to make him tense!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Our big thing today was to keep riding longer than we ever have – until now our normal workouts were about 20 minutes or so. Today we rode at least an hour! In the wood arena we walked and trotted only, canter will come when we’re sure of our steering. I tried to keep him off the rail – this was our chance to work on going where the rider asks, and staying straight until asked to go another way. Zeke did as well as could be expected for a first day!

Image

Image

Image

Image

At first in the large space I really had to kick hard with my legs to encourage him to turn and follow his nose when I asked for a bend or change of direction, but the longer we rode the better he got! I was able to use my hands a lot less, and just use pressure from a leg to turn him, instead of kicking!

Image

Image

Image

After our arena ride, we went out around the pens with Cindy and Joe – our first mini group ride! I really love the mustang attitude – if it’s not worth fussing over, we won’t waste the energy. He’s just willing and happy!

I Love A Parade

I’m sure there’s a whole history behind why Yucca Valley, California celebrates Memorial Day weekend by holding a yearly “Grubstakes Day”, but I don’t know what it is. I’m just glad they like to have a parade through town that day, and this year the Yucca Valley Equestrian Center rode in it once again.

Tempted as I was to take Zeke, he’s a few rides short of ready! No, today I rode my wonderful 8 year old horse, a “paint that ain’t”, GS Sundown Slim. Slim and I rode in the parade last year, it was our first one, and he did great. So this year I could completely relax and just enjoy the ride with a good solid mount.

Image

Image

Image

We had a great time riding through town with friends, and even stopped along the route so kids could come up and pet the horses. Slim was fabulous – he is the first horse I ever trained from the ground up (Zeke will be the second!), and I always say he’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden. I hope to get Zeke trained to share all of Slim’s good points, but avoid some of the beginner mistakes I made that first time. So Zeke should be a superstar when he’s finished!

Today was Zeke’s seventh ride in the roundpen. We did rides four and five on Thursday, and snuck ride six in yesterday before the big winds started. All the rides went well, although the fourth one was a little bit of an argument.

Usually on the third ride a horse thinks he has it all wired, and tries to do things his own way. For Zeke that was ride four instead. We got out there and he just said “no” to everything – didn’t want to turn, didn’t want to go, didn’t want to stand still for me to get on. But in the end it all went well, because I kept going past the point where he wanted to quit, and got him to understand that sometimes things aren’t under his control! And he still needs to behave, and he did.

Today I rode after the parade with Cindy watching, and we had two firsts. We loped, or cantered, for the first time today! He was great to the right, a little slow to get started on the left and had trouble with that lead, but at this stage, who cares? The idea was just “go”, and he did. And I can’t wait until we’re more practiced and can get out and really ride, because his canter is SMOOTH. He has really nice gaits, I got lucky on that one!

Our other big news is that when we were done, Cindy opened the roundpen and we rode out. We took a walk by ourselves around the pens, and Zeke did a great job. The next two days we will be off due to my work schedule, but I can’t wait to get back to it on Tuesday!

All in all, a really great day to end my vacation with.

Post Navigation