Monday, 11 February 2013

Artemis Updates

Guess what I finally did!  Take pictures!  Guess what this is not!  One of those pictures.  No seriously, I took pictures but they all turned out horrible and blurry.  Luckily I had some older pictures on my camera and they were better.  She looks basically like this but a little taller. 

Okay, so onto what she's been doing lately.  She's been a busy pony.  She is completely used to the saddle now.  That wasn't hard to do, she gets it put on about once a month, sometimes a little more, to get her used to it.  Then we set her and Jimmy loose in the arena and let them run around and have fun.  She stayed calm since she wasn't alone but she got used to the stirrups banging around her sides and the feeling of the saddle through her different gaits.  The only problem we have now is she keeps trying to eat the saddle.

This is an old picture (you can tell by the halters, her current one is silver) from one of her pony lessons.  It's not her favourite thing, she's kind of lazy and would like to mosey along but that's the only problem she has with it.  She acts like a proper riding horse, just minus the rider of course.

We work at the mounting block at lot, getting her used to both standing next to it, and having someone stand on it.  I usually keep the lead rope over her neck and lean over and just stay there for as long as I want.  She's usually pretty good, although she does have her distracted days. 

She has even managed to carry me a few steps.  I haven't sat in the saddle, but I've leaned over her, both with the saddle on and when she's bareback (I'd like her to be used to both from the start).  I was leaning over her back and my mom led her a few steps.  She was much better than I could have hoped.  I could feel she was tense and she wasn't sure about it but she never went to buck or run, she just followed behind my mom.  Even when I'd jump off she'd just stop and stand.

We did get a reaction out of her one night.  I was working on getting her used to pressure in the stirrups.  The weight on one side throws her off, so she tends to sidestep away from it.  There was another girl riding in the arena and she was great.  She was very concerned about spooking Artemis but I told her not to worry about us.  I want Artemis to get used to having other horses in the arena and the best way to do that is for the riders to do what they would normally do.

The girl was behind us in the arena, and I had just put all my weight in the stirrup when she asked her horse to canter.  The combination freaked Artemis and she bolted forward and I jumped off.  The girl felt really bad but I couldn't have been happier.  Does that make me crazy?  It just meant we had to try again, and we did.  The girl cantered some more, I put my weight in the stirrup and Artemis didn't move.  It wasn't scary anymore.  I'd rather her have more of these moments when I'm on the ground then when I'm eventually in the saddle.

We've also worked a lot with the stool.  The first time I get on her will probably be in the round pen so I'll be using the stool to get on her.  It's great to get her used to the mounting block, but it's pointless if I don't get used to the stool as well.  The stool was...tough.  She wasn't really afraid of it, but she didn't like it.  She would not stand next to it for anything in the world.  She'd sidestep away if I brought her up to it, and if I brought it over to her she'd try to trot away. 

So I figured, if she's afraid of it on the ground, why not put it on her back?  Yeah, I'm weird, I know.  But my logic is if she can get over it being on her back, then it won't be so scary on the ground.  It worked.  She went into circles when I first put it on but she stopped quickly and just stood there.  After that she didn't move when I put her beside it on the ground.  With that problem solved, she then decided she didn't like me to stand on it.  That was easy enough to solve though.  All I did was grab a brush, stand on it and groom her.  She'll now stand beside it, no problem at all.

I also did the same thing with the chair.  They have these metal wire chairs at the stable that are pretty light.  I had dragged one into the arena the other day while my sister and her friend rode, and Artemis was obsessed with it.  She thought it was the greatest toy in the world and kept trying to lick and chew it.  So I decided since she loved it so much we could use it to be productive.  Since it's so light, I was able to pick it up and rub it all over her.  Over her shoulders, her back, her tail. 

She didn't like that at first but it made me realize something.  Like usually I just had the lead rope tossed over her neck and I had two hands on the chair, so she was technically free.  She was going in circles around me and it occurred to me that she wasn't trying to get away.  She could have easily ran off across the arena but even though she didn't like the chair, she had no inclination to run away.  At least ,that's what I hope it was.  Maybe she thought I was holding onto her so that's why she didn't try.  Anyway, it only took a few minutes and then she was fine with the chair.

I think that's everything she's been doing.  Besides the normal lessons anyway, such as leading and feet.  Keep in mind, all of this has been spread over months, since before Christmas.  Her work schedule is light.  She'll have to work for maybe ten, fifteen minutes and then she has the next week off.  She only gets "tougher work" (getting saddle, working with the mounting block) at most, twice a month.  Every other time she just comes in, gets groomed and cleaned up, maybe walks around the arena a bit.  She only ever comes in on Sundays, because it's too dark to find her in the pasture by the time we get there on weeknights.  Also, any serious work I do, or any work where I'm standing above her, I always wear my helmet.  She's very calm for her age...but I'm not that stupid.

Also, we've come to the conclusion that her snip looks like a stroller.

She could have gotten so many cool things...and she got a stroller...Oh well, I still think she's adorable.

And now to finally end this long post.  So thanks if you're still with me and read through the whole thing.  I don't know how much more horse things I'll have to report in another month.  I have a third surgery coming up at the beginning of March.  This surgery is just on my wrist and I'm not sure how long I'll be out of commission for.  The recovery time is six months but I'm hoping that I can return to riding before that.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Tis The Season to Be Falling

So once again, I did not take pictures.  I remembered this time, Saturday I dug out my camera and got it all ready.  All I had to do was charge it, and I've apparently lost the chord to do that. 

So the Sunday before last, we went out to help clean the stable, like usual, and then we brought Artemis in to work with her.  I'll have another post just about Artemis because I think this one might get long enough as it is.  Anyway, as we were working with her, a bunch of people showed up to ride.  We decided to ride outside because having eight riders trying to work around each other in the indoor arena isn't fun for anyone.

We decided to go into the little field behind T and E's house and right away the horses were a little crazy.  I won't lie, Socks' hyperness probably had a little to do with me.  It was my first time riding outside since I broke my arm and I was stressed out. 

Jimmy was even worse though.  He thought being in the snow was the coolest thing in the world.  All he wanted to do was prance and play in the snow, but he kept getting stupid about it so my mom wasn't letting him do what he wanted.  By this point, K had decided the arena was too full and came out to join us.  It was good for about ten minutes.

We were all riding in a group and Jimmy just took off bucking all of a sudden.  Socks and Tango bolted in the other direction so K and I were too busy trying to stop our horses to pay attention to what my mom and Jimmy were doing.  We managed to get our horses under control quickly, and then we turned around just in time to see my mom land in the snow.  Jimmy didn't even hesitated, he took off running across the field, back towards T's house.

We made sure my mom was okay and then went to attempt to get Jimmy.  I knew right away that wasn't going to happen.  The calm, level-headed guy he's turned into was gone and in his place was some crazy, full of himself mental-case.  His tail was up in the air like an Arabian (I've never seen him do that before) and he was staring at Socks and Tango like they were monsters coming to eat him.

K and I both got off to try and get him, which set Socks and Tango off again.  Jimmy took one look at them jumping around, and took off back towards the stable.  We calmed down our horses and then K jumped on Tango to go get him.  I tried to get on Socks, but with my arm I just can't pull myself up from the ground yet.  So instead I tried to walk over to my mom, who was going the opposite way as K, to cut Jimmy off from going onto the road.  Note to self, walking through knee-deep snow with a horse whose convinced she can just drag you through it, is a bad idea. 

I had to take a moment to get my breath back, and K managed to catch Jimmy.  She brought him back over to us and then the three of us decided to continue our ride in the outdoor arena.  We'd be closed in so if our horses kept acting stupid, we wouldn't have anymore runaways, but the horses would have to deal with their excitement over the snow.

Jimmy calmed down a little, and K and I had fun trotting our horse in the snow.  We didn't ride for much longer, but now we know what we have to work on with Jimmy next.

Okay, fast foward to just this past Sunday.  We were riding in the indoor arena and some girls had set up five jumps.  They set them up kind of goofy and they were difficult to get around.  There were four in a long row and they were too close to the wall so they were difficult to get by.  They had another one, a pretty tall one (to me at least) set up closer to the arena door.  They weren't in the arena yet so it was just my mom and I.

I was letting Socks run around as she pleased.  She was pretty full of energy so I figured I'd let her blow it off.  It was going well, but then as we were coming up to the arena door, L just happened to walk up right as we got to it, and it scared poor Socks.  She went straight up in the air, and then ducked to the right.  Then she saw the four jumps so she ducked to the left again.  Well this put us right in the path for the fifth jump and Socks was still running.  I could feel her thinking about going over it because we didn't really have enough time to go around it, and I was sure if she tried to jump that high, she could do it but I'd go off.  Just as her nose got to it, she slammed on the brakes, which was probably the best option for the both of us. 

I kind of suck at explaining things, so here, have a bad picture I drew quickly.  It looks so much less bad when it's drawn with a dotted line...but trust was a bad spook.  About ten times worse than the spook Thor had that caused me to break my arm.  And yes, I feel so stupid that I stayed on this time and fell of then.

I have no idea how I stayed on.  From the first moment she spooked to when she stopped, I don't think I was actually in the saddle at all.  All I can remember thinking is that I was going to break my other arm and then praying she didn't try to go over the jump.  I was so far over the saddle that my right knee was over the left side of the horn.  I think the only reason I managed to stay on sheer willpower. 

For the next ten minutes after that while we both tried to calm down (my heart was pounding just as loudly as her's was) all I could think of was how insane I was for getting back on a horse.  That was a new experience, I've never had thoughts like that before, but it made me realize how terrified I am of getting hurt again.  Luckily those thoughts didn't last long and just last night Socks and I were back to runnng around the arena.  She did keep spooking at people at the arena door, but nothing big and we'll just keep doing it until she stops.

Like I promised, I'll have an Artemis post soon, we've been doing a lot with her lately and she's been doing awesome.  For now I have to go catch up on other blogs.