Training TANGO and CORKY ~ Training PRETZEL

Monday, April 1, 2013

40 degrees in April, what a ripoff! I was hoping to retire my underarmour by today, but I ended up wearing it when I went out to ride. Tango got spooked by a low-flying aircraft that flew over the barn and rattled the roof, and he never really relaxed. Our canters were very arched and up-and-down. I did get the dressage whip and get after him about cantering off, and that helped, but unfortunately it made him more tense. Oh well, chalk it up as a mediocre-to-bad ride and try again tomorrow.

I did a little work on leg yielding at the walk, and he is getting the hang of it. I tried some sidepassing the other day and Tango was clueless. I took a step back and am working on leg-yielding across the diagonal, I will try this for a while and gradually make our leg yield more and more "flat" until we are actually sidepassing.

Thank goodness, I am going to haul Tango to Darla's on Saturday after my farrier appointment and get some feedback. I can't wait to hear what she thinks. I pray we make some breakthroughs or I gain some new insight that will help us. I am tired of spinning my wheels.

Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired. - Martha Graham

Friday, April 5, 2013

My plan tonight was to just do a quick ride in preparation for our lesson with Darla tomorrow, I don't want to wear him out. Oh, you know Tango...the best laid plans....

We started off pretty good, but then he decided to be bullheaded about his canter transitions, and it escalated into a little battle. At one point he was so busy flipping his head around and trying to avoid me, he tripped over his own feet about about fell to the ground. Frustrating? Yes, but in the end things worked out and he got over it, I got over it, and we ended happy (albeit more tired than I had planned).

I went into my horse trailer to get a sheet since Tango's winter blanket is filthy...and found a complete disaster. At some point in time over the winter my trailer roof developed a major leak, and the entire bed and everything around it was SOAKED. The worst thing is that the walls and ceiling around the nose/bed area are completely covered in black mold. You have no idea how devastated I am. I am going to have to throw the bed out, and tear out all the paneling and ceilings. I have no idea what else in my trailer 9i.e. show clothes or equipment) are also ruined...the moisture made the wood swell so none of the drawers would open. If all of my show clothing is ruined, I guess my show career is over, because I can't even afford to have the LQ fixed let alone replace boots and everything else stored in there. I cannot believe is always one step forward, 4 steps back when it comes to my horse showing career.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

It was a beautiful sunny day for our lesson with Darla, a bit chilly (in the 50's) but we rode outside to enjoy the sun. Tango was a bit on edge right at first but settled quickly. Darla was very impressed with how Tango looked going to the right - she said he was almost ready to show in that direction. To the left...not so much! She could see immediately that he was not strong in that direction at the canter. She got on him to see what he feels like, and was able to tell right away that he was really stiff in that shoulder going to the left, which hurt his way of going. She showed me some counterbending exercises, and he could counterbend at the walk and trot easily to the right (bending to the left), but not at all to the left (bending to the right). I tried to shoot a little bit of video of Darla in the saddle with some explanations:

This was one of the most productive lessons ever. i wish i could type up everything I learned, but it's hard to put it all into words. Here is a brief synopsis of some of the key points today:

  • When Tango wants to look at something or startle at something (which he did when one of the horses in the pasture took off running), kick him on and make him actually move out faster instead of trying to calm him. His personality is quieter and more confident than Corky, so push him harder and make him be brave.
  • Counterbending is only effective with plenty of forward motion. If you lose forward motion, get it back first before attempting the bend.
  • When doing the counterbending exercise, pull his chin to the one side and circle that direction, and then keep him in the same bend and ask him to circle the opposite way he is bent.
  • Canter his good way (to the right), then stop and immediately turn around and canter off his bad way (to the left). Getting him established in the good rhythm to the right helps develop muscle memory, and that will eventually transfer over to the other direction.
  • Work on pushing him through the bridle more (especially at the trot).<

I am so grateful to have someone like Darla willing to help me. If we have a shred of success this year, it's because of her!

After I dropped Tango off at home, I took my trailer to the repair shop...*sigh*.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I was eager to try what I had learned yesterday. I did some bending and counterbending with Tango, and by the end I was actually getting a bit of a counterbend to the left, for at least a half circle. that's progress! Tango gets this next week off as I have to leave town for work until Saturday night. Bummer, right when I start making progress! Even Corky got rode today by a friend of mine. After my ride, I gave Tango a bath and scrubbed his meager little tail. Then both horses got turned out in the side paddock for the first time all year. Yes, they were WILD!!! Even Tango was spooking at the leaves rustling and the neighborhood noises. I noticed this winter he has been getting especially sensitive to sounds. He might be a candidate for ear plugs when we show...we will have to see. Luckily, they are now legal in the show ring.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tango got a full week off since I was gone for work, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I saddled him up today. He was great! Plenty of forward motion, decent forward motion with the counterbending, and transitions were ok. I felt really good after that ride. It is getting close to crunch time. Time to get ready to show...REALLY hoping to find a show to go to in May that fits in my schedule.

They released the Congress schedule today. The non-pro 3yo HUS fits in my schedule - neither the first go nor the finals conflict with a football game. Now the big question is do I make this a goal of mine? I have time to consider it since entries wont be due until August. It's a lot to think about...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I rode Tango the past few days, working counterbending and also getting more firm with his canter transitions. A couple times yesterday I had to really get after him to canter off, and he popped some rather large bucks. I guess he is finally strong enough to really buck under saddle, and sadly he knows it! Time to cowboy up!

Today's ride was pretty good, after an initial battle with some head-flinging. My legs were getting really tired, and I cued him to canter but used a really light spur, and he actually cantered off better than he had earlier! I experimented again - tried another canter transition with a really light cue, and once again he did better. It's time to lighten up my cues and expect more from him. I think if I can cue him with a lighter touch, he won't be so agitated about the transition, and he will relax more...and when he relaxes he is so much prettier on his transitions. It was a dumb "lightbulb" moment that I probably should have had earlier, but I am sometimes a slow learner.

Friday, April 19, 2013

I had a fun agility class this past Wednesday with Pretzel. On our first try, he nailed the weave poles! Granted, it was pretty slow and methodical, but he got every pole just right. I was pumped! We leave tonight for a dog show in Columbus, we'll see how this goes. I don't have much hope for success in the conformation ring anymore, but it's still fun.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

AKC Show - Columbus, Ohio

Pretzel spent the night with his BWF (Best Weimaraner Friend). This was a bonus, because after playing all night he was tired enough to be VERY well-behaved when it was time to show.

Today's show was an outstanding success! We won our 12=18 month dog class, went in for Winners Dog and won, and then went in Best of Breed and won Best of Winners!!! This equaled two points towards our championship...woo-hoo! I came out of the ring with a huge smile on my face. After many months of nothing, it was awesome to finally have a bit of success.

Of course I wanted to take a win picture, but the judge was uncooperative so I wasn't able to get it taken. What a disappointment! I guess I wasn't important enough for the judge to take the time for a picture (*eyes rolling*) I went outside (in the wind) with my friend and she took a picture of me in my new (from Ebay) purple suit for our own imitation win picture.

I made several improvements on my showing today. I was able to keep Pretzel's head up rather nicely for the gait, his stack was nice and straight (got his front legs really straight by turning his head the opposite way as I set each front foot), and he looked very happy and free as he gaited. Things I need to improve on are slowing down my gait on the down and back so that he can track in a narrower track. I also need to get our free-stack better...he was alert but his legs were all over the place.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

AKC Show - Columbus, Ohio

What an awesome, fantastical day! We duplicated our wins from yesterday with the same results, and an additional 2 points. I made some improvements on my handling, and I really felt confident.

The judge, though really abrupt and quick in the show ring, was extremely friendly outside of the ring. He gave Pretzel several compliments, said he was a very nice dog. He was also nice enough to take a win picture with us right after the class, and he even asked me if I would send him a copy of the photo! Pretty exciting stuff for me - my most successful weekend ever!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I rode Tango yesterday and today. Yesterday a friend of mine hauled her horse over to ride in the arena, so we rode together. It was interesting - riding Tango around in the indoor with a horse he has never seen before. He was a little worried about cantering past the horse, or having the other horse canter past him. Several times he braked sharply when the horse passed us. This all goes back to Tango's lack of being ridden consistently with other horses, and this will have to be dealt with when we get ready to show. It surprises me, because he has always been so incredibly fearless. I do notice him being a little more cautious about things this year - odd sounds, etc.

Our rides yesterday and today were pretty good. Both days we had an incident (at the canter) where he tried to invert his head and slam on the brakes. I dealt with it immediately, and the incident passed and we went on and did well...but I don't want this to become a habit. His canter transitions are still looking a bit ugly, for some reason this week they were really elevated and animated. I wonder if he will ever have a smooth, level transition? We worked more on our counterbending, and I feel it is getting better. He hates it, but he is doing it willingly, so that's all I can ask for now.

It looks like I am aiming for Saturday, May 25 for our first show. I am not sure where we will be showing, but it will be somewhere! I hope to find a smaller, low-key show to start off in.

Finally both Tango and Corky have started to shed. This is the latest I can remember them ever holding on to their winter hair. It's almost May!

Friday, April 26, 2013


How appropriate, today is Pretzel Day, and tomorrow is Tango's 3rd birthday. Too bad I am crazy-busy all weekend and can't throw a party.

On to the month of May!