Welcome to Rabbit's world - 2014 edition!

Follow my journey through the twists and turns of 2014 - training my horses, training my dog, attempting new things, attempting to improve on some old things, and attempting to have bucketloads of FUN!

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

After being gone for 4 days chaperoning the senior class to NYC, I got home at 7am, took a nap, and then headed out to the barn. Time to get to work! I am extremely pleased with Tango's trot, but I am not at all happy with his canter. I'd like to blame the small arena he's been ridden in all winter, but I am just not sure. Possibly he needs a chiro appointment again? Or maybe he is just out of shape? Or maybe all of the above - I know the small arena encourages him to get climby and drop his inside shoulder, I am sure with all the riding and silliness he does when loose he probably needs his back worked on, and I KNOW he is out of shape. I worked on rollbacks, and getting him to relax his frame, but he wanted to stay pretty balled up and quick. I will ride again tomorrow and Saturday, and hope we can get things worked out for the show on Sunday. More importantly, I hope the weather is good this weekend so there will actually be a show!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Another not-so-good ride on Tango, he was kind of a jerk tonight. He just did not want to listen or give. I am having second thoughts about the show this weekend. Quite possibly we are not ready, we might just haul down there and ride around the break and not actually show. I guess we shall see...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Of course, today Tango rode GREAT! It was one of those rides where I just wanted to keep riding all day (but of course I didn't!). After my ride, I washed him, took a break to go watch the Kentucky Derby (where I made completely WRONG picks as usual!), then came back and braided. Since it was a cool night, I put two sleazy hoods on him to hold those braids tight. He is terrible with his braids overnight, he always rubs them to a mess.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

We left bright and early for the show. I longed him for a while in the arena before the halter classes started. he was pretty darn quiet! When other horses started whinnying, however, he whinnied back and then reared and bucked. The other horses' voices really set him off for some reason.

The show was really small, so there was a nice long break before the hunter under saddle classes started. I got in a very very good ride on Tango - he was great! traffic did not bother him, things on the outside of the arena went unnoticed. Times like this reminds me of how much I love this horse. I needed one like him after the "crazy years" with the mares the past 15 years. I gave him a break, let him eat some hay, and got ready for our first class.

The first HUS class went nice and smooth. Canter to the left was still a little sticky, but not nearly as bad as it had been. The straight lines of the large arena REALLY helped Tango - he is much better at keeping his shoulder up and staying correct in the hind end when we have these long straightaways to travel on. The second class went even better, smoother and more relaxed. I was THRILLED with how he acted! It was irrelevant how we placed, we won both, but reallly just having those two good rides was a high in itself. You see, it doesn't matter where you get your great rides - be it Congress or a small open show. It's the ride,/red> that really matters!!!

We decided to do the $100 open walk-trot class for practice. Tango went around like he was a machine, won the class, and got me a little cash to buy lunch with. What a good boy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ok, I've been a slacker! Nothing posted on my training diary for almost 3 weeks? For shame!. To be quite honest, real life has interfered greatly with all my fun stuff. I will try to give you a recap of what has been happening for the past 3 weeks...so put your seatbelt on!

May 5th - I practiced agility in my backyard with Pretzel, and then he and I went to the barn to ride. Within a half hour of us being out there, the neighbor's tree (eaten up by disease and bugs, apparently) came crashing down on our fence. Amazingly, it fell in between agility obstacles so NOTHING was damaged other than the fence!

Yes, we have kittens! Constance (the barn kitty who has now moved in with Pretzel) had 5 kittens, 2 found homes, and 3 are left with me so far. May 15th - they are about 6 weeks old in this picture. One of them is a calico....reminds me of my cat Skamper who made it through college and my 20-something years with me. I loved that cat!

I spent 24 straight hours on May 16-17 braiding horses at the All-American Youth Show. This is a HARD way to make money, and it was especially hard this year because so many people chopped their horses' manes SHORT and did not thin them. I am seriously reconsidering doing this again...it's been a week and I can still barely move the fingers on my left hand.

Pretzel's mom "Sizzle" received her BROM - Breed Registry of Merit for the champion dogs she has produced (and Pretzel is one of them!). That's pretty cool to see his mother's name listed in the Weimaraner Club of America magazine.

*Sigh*, on my way to agility practice on May 21st my truck Ralph died in the parking lot of Texas Roadhouse while I was delivering artwork to someone. Because it was blocking two prime empty parking spaces, I got accosted by lots and lots of extremely rude restaurant-goers. People are nasty. After 2 1/2 hours, I got Ralph towed to my mechanic. Amazingly, it was a $50 fix - battery cables - the cheapest car repair I have ever had. Unfortunately it meant we missed our agility practice, so we are going to our trial this weekend COLD without much practice since our last disastrious trial in April. Oh well...fun....remember?

So...an update on Tango. I have been riding him somewhat regularly, did get one ride outside and it was really really nice (and he was good!. His canter comes and goes, some days it is good and some days it is really strung out and it takes a lot of hard riding to make it better. I am having the chiropractor come out on June 3rd to check him and Corky, so that will hopefully help that problem again. He is working extremely well off of my seat and leg pressure. I can do all sorts of patterns without reins, and I noticed that he is getting super-sensitive to my seat pressure. This is great, but it also will make him hard to ride for a novice or beginner rider because he is so sensitive to your shifting weight. I know this - he is making me into a better rider, so that's cool!

Next on the agenda - a 2 day open show on June 7-8. Pretzel heads to a 2-day agility trial this weekend and one day next weekend. Then we are off to Florida on the 9th for an undetermined length of time...woo-hoo! I have some great agility plans this summer, all culminating with the weimaraner Club of America hosted trial in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at the end of August. This is going to be another fun, crazy, busy, did I say crazy? summer!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

This weekend, Pretzel and I entered an agility trial in Sharonville, Ohio (near Cincinnati). We haven't been to a trial on a month...and had very little practice this week. Yep, a recipe for disaster!. Today was especially disastrous. We first did Time 2 Beat, which I have yet to ever be able to finish a course because we always end up getting whistled off for being over time. Today was no different as Pretzel took a few tours of different obstacles not in the correct order. Next was Standard, and he was especially bad - blew every single contact and FLEW off the teeter - he ran up the teeter so fast that it didn't even have time to tip down before he launched himself off the top. Bad bad puppy! That was surprising, as we have a teeter at home and we practice it a lot and he has a really good stop at the bottom at home.

Last was Jumpers, and we blew it right away by crashing the very first jump (Thank you Pretzel for your complete LACK of a start-line stay!). He knocked a few more jumps mainly because he was so exuberant he jumped really sloppy. I left the trial pretty frustrated, but hopeful for tomorrow because usually he improves the second day. Fingers and paws crossed....

Sunday, May 25, 2014

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and in the 80's. Like yesterday, my runs weren't until the very end of the day, so I spent some time in the morning sitting in the sun and relaxing. My first sunburn of the season...hooray!

Our first class was Standard. I was determined to get his contacts this time. I think part of my mistake was trying to run alongside to get ahead of him - and this encouraged him to speed up even more. Today I walked quickly and stayed a little behind him, and right before the bottom I first called his name, and then said Whooooa! This worked - he nailed ALL of his contacts! Unfortunately although he actually jumped CLEAN, we had 3 runouts, and you are only allowed two in novice, so no q for us. I was feeling a little more hopeful.

Last was Jumpers. Unfortunately he crashed the second jump, which made the rest of the run just for practice. He was all over the place, running and taking jumps and bypassing jumps and generally not listening to me at all. He had a grand old time, though! I left the trial feeling very frustrated, and very very discouraged. It seems things are getting worse, not better - every time we solve one issue, another pops up. His complete wild enthusiasm is something I just cannot control. I am really wondering if maybe Pretzel just doesn't have the right temperament for this sport. I watch everyone else with their Weimaraners doing agility, and everyone else's Weims and much slower and steadier and focus on the handler...Pretzel is NONE of these things. All the wild talent in the world is useless if you can't channel it into running clean. Not sure what to do...

Monday, May 26, 2014

What does one do on a beautiful sunny dry day off from work? Why, ride outside, of course! Tango was marvelous...outstanding! Those long straight lines in the big outdoor arena are great for cantering. I was able to really keep him upright and balanced, and we got a LOT accomplished (including working up enough sweat to require hosing off!). Maybe I should stick to horse training instead of dog training?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another beautiful day, I rode Tango outside after work. He was a little jumpier today, having slight reactions to the sounds off in the distance. I also (oops!) forgot to fly spray him, and the bugs drove him mad. Oh that thin, sensitive thoroughbred skin...I should buy stock in Pyrhanna fly spray. It was overall a very good ride even with the occasional jump and buck. The bucks just remind me that I NEED to put some money aside for a new helmet that fits. Priority!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pretzel and I went to agility class (outdoors) tonight. We got in about 20 minutes before the downpour. It was enough time to have Pretzel blow three different sequences by running around and not paying attention. He was especially bad tonight...not sure of the rain (which started sprinkling right away when we got there) was bothering him or if he was just being a butthead.

I, of course, was thoroughly discouraged yet again after class. I am at a loss as to what to do about the focus problem. But you know how I am...I went from the depths of despair to brimming with hope. Generally what I need in order to get out of the funk is a plan, any plan! I decided that I needed to spend some serious time with Pretzel doing focus games like I used to...not worry so much about practicing sequences or obstacles in my back yard but work more on getting him to constantly focus his attention on me. I also contacted a trainer near Columbus about setting up a private lesson when we get back from Florida. We set one up for June 19th. I also signed up for classes in Columbus to take on the days I will be working down there this summer (doing more of the Dog Show App stuff that has become my part-time job). I am not ready to give up...besides I already sent in my entry forms to the Weimaraner Club of America agility trial in Tennessee in August...my BIG summer goal! If we become complete failures at agility this summer, at least I can do it knowing I did EVERYTHING in my ability to try and train Pretzel. If it doesn't happen, well, it sure won't be my first failure (just probably my biggest disappointment). Either way, Pretzel is an awesome dog and I wouldn't trade him for the world!!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Try try again...at another agility trial. This one is at Springfield, OH and is outdoors in the covered horse arena. It was pretty warm today, and immediately I saw that the temperature had a major effect on Pretzel - it slowed him waaaaay down! Slowed him down enough to Q in Novice FAST and Novice Standard, and we even came close in jumpers. Suddenly I have hope again. Funny how my perspective changes so quickly! These are our first Novice B Q's. First step in the long long long long road to a MACH (Master agility championship) someday. Yep, I said it. that's my goal!

But, next on the agenda is taking Tango to another horse show, and then a Weimaraner vacation to Florida again...yay!

ON TO JUNE, 2014...