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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Monday, September 1, 2014

Well, I've done a lot of thinking about my training of Tango this summer and I have come to the conclusion that I am the creator of his issues (big surprise there LOL!). When I was first breaking him, it was so nice to discover how light he was in the mouth, and I wanted to keep that lightness so I rode with a very light hand. This just gradually snowballed until I was riding with virtually no contact at all. Then when the training got tougher this year and I was asking for more of a frame and more drive underneath to his canter, I had to use more contact, and Tango resisted. Why? Because he wasn't used to it, I hadn't ridden with much contact, and he didn't understand it. Yep, I am definitely the creator of 90% of my training issues.

I started this weekend by going back to the basics. Before each ride I longed him with side reins. They weren't really tight, but they did ask for him to go somewhat in frame. The best lesson was when he would sometimes hit the bit, he would slam on his breaks and try to invert his neck (just like he does to me under saddle when i take a hold of him), fight the side reins himself, and then give in (because the side reins are much stronger and more consistent than my arms!). Today's ride started the same on the longe line, but under saddle I was able to ride with light, consistent contact and have ZERO issues!

It's such an obvious concept, but when riding alone and training alone I tend to just fall into habits and not think outside my box. You'd think after riding for 25+ years this would all be pretty clear cut to me, but it never is. Constant learning...that's me!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I decided to not enter Pretzel in any agility trials for 2 months while I work on focus and re-training. Unfortunately since school has started, I am unable to take my private lessons that have been amazingly helpful. I am doing a lot of reading and studying, and all sorts of training games at home with Pretzel that will hopefully transfer to the trial ring when we start up again. In fact, we are heading back to the conformation ring for a couple of shows in the next 2 months. That will be fun!

Today in class, he was unusually unfocused. Usually he does really well in class. Today he avoided my direction and ran to the dogwalk 3 times in a row. He has discovered a new love for climbing, so the dog walk and A-frame are his favorites. It's always something!

Monday, September 8, 2014

What a gorgeous September evening. the horse flies have finally died down enough to ride outside again after work. I am excited and thrilled to report that my "re-training" has been going awesomely. Now he doesn't fight the side reins when I longe him at all. I haven't had an issue under saddle in a week and a half, and the best thing is that suddenly his transitions and his canters have improved tremendously since I am able to take up firm contact when needed.

Now the big test is to see if he will continue this away from home, in a show setting. I am hoping to get him to a show in 2 weeks, so we shall see!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Well, I made the big decision to breed Corky this spring! It is time. I am not sure if I am brave enough...I am sure this will give me ulcers and make my hair fall out but in the end hope springs eternal and I am hoping for an easy go of it with a wonderful healthy foal as the result. Now the big question: Who to breed to? I wish I knew. I would be thrilled with a carbon copy of Corky, but I would like one with a better work ethic. How the heck do you know what a stallion's work ethic is based on promotional videos and information? Good question...I am not sure. I suspect I will be doing a lot of shopping around and talking at Congress this year. Longe line 2017 here we come!!!

Step one is done - I sent a hair sample from Corky in to UC Davis to have her color genetics tested to see if she carries the red gene., I suspect she does (from my experience the really "reddish" bays are rarely homozygous for black), but I wanted the test to tell me for sure. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Well that was quick! As I suspected, Corky is E/e, which means she does carry both the black and red factors. That means if I really want a bay or brown, I am going to have to find a stallion that is homozygous for black. That isn't a top priority, but it is just something else to consider.

Friday, September 12, 2014

I got a dog door installed! I got a door from www.gundoghousedoor.com. It's a pretty heavy door, which Pretzel is not used to. I coaxed him through the door both directions, but he seemed a little wary of it and wouldn't go through on his own. This will take some time. He is a brave dog, and he will be flying through it soon, I predict! Now I don't have to listen to him ring the bell on the door every single time he wants to go out (which is whenever he needs to potty, or is just bored...in other words every 5 minutes!).

September 13-14, 2014

Lancaster, Ohio AKC Conformation Show

It was a FUN weekend at the dog show! I love hanging out with my conformation pals. The show was kind of small, but Pretzel did end up as Select dog both days, which is better than nothing! He showed pretty well...but when I watched the video from Saturday I saw that he actually paced coming back on his down and back. What??!? He hasn't done that in forever...and bad me - I just assumed and didn't even glance down to check. Oops! We are a little rusty, since it's been 3 months since we've shown.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Well, I had planned to go to one last horse show today, but a really bad week got the best of me. Lots of work stress, a really bad flu, and a ton of work kept me from getting enough horse training in this week to make showing possible. I guess I could have gone, but it wouldn't be very fair to Tango. Instead, I opted to stay home and take advantage of the beautiful day to ride outside. I am pretty happy with his re-training with contact, what do you think?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

When I was done riding, I headed to my friend's place to practice some agility with Pretzel. I have been working hard on getting his two on-two off contacts and getting some speed in his weaves. It was a great practice session - we got a lot accomplished! I think we are getting ready to go back to trialing very soon.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Two of my former students started a photography business, so I decided to throw some biz their way and have them come out and do a photo shoot with me, Tango, Corky, and Pretzel. Yes, insanity - trying to get photos with 3 animals all behaving...next to impossible! I think my photographers learned to charge DOUBLE next time someone requests a photo shoot involving multiple animals! It went pretty well - I got pictures taken with just Tango and I, and then all 4 of us. Photos are being edited as we speak...I will post them when I get them (probably in the October diary).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Quite possibly this could be the very last nice evening to ride outside. I sense that fall and winter are going to be rough ones for me, weather-wise. It was beautiful outside, really warm and sunny. I had a pretty good ride on Tango. I took advantage of the long outdoor arena to do a lot of long straight lines working on his balance at the canter and keeping his shoulder up and even. I can get such a nice canter out of him when we do this sort of work consistently. Transitions were pretty decent tonight also, which is a plus. They can be so inconsistent with him.

On to OCTOBER, 2014