Sunday, February 27, 2011

An Indian what??!?

Ok, so I learned about a new device, well the device itself is NOT new, but I had never heard of it:

An Indian Bosal.

It's a type of noseband that allows you to control your horse without a bit, and is still gentle enough on their face. Some people think they're the best thing in the world, while others think it's horrible torture. I wanted to see how he'd behave, and being so inexpensive (you only buy the noseband, not the whole halter, and attach it to your bridle.), I figured, hey, why not? He hates being bitted- He was in a plain snaffle and seemed to not give in to the bit and rein cues enough, so I switched to a twisted snaffle, and he improved a great deal.

The only problem is at anything faster than a walk he tends to just go straight - the faster the speed, the more likely he is to ignore directional cues. It's like his brain shuts off at higher speeds and he just falls into the gait you ask for, and goes straight.
But because he hates being bitted, I thought for the rainy (or lazy) days when we're just going to poke around in the arena, why not see if he can go bitless?

His signature color I decided, is burgundy. I LOVE purple, but it seems too girly of a color. I asked Altivo what color he preferred, and it went like this:

Me: Hey, fat pony, what color do you like best?
Altivo: I like oranges.
Me: Well there's red-orange, bright orange.... Any specific shades?
Altivo: Shades? No shades. Oranges. And apples, and pears, and candy canes. Do you have any snacks on you?
Me: You really are of no help.
Altivo: Do I get any food for answering your question?
Me: No.

Since he had no useful opinion on the subject, I bought a burgundy and black one. Burgundy is a regal color that doesn't show too much dirt. My reins were a gift, and I've been happy with them, but they're red, so eventually I'll replace them with some plain black ones. Until then, forgive the un-matchiness of this photo-

After fitting it onto his bridle, then on to him, I got on in the arena and did the "flexion" exercises. This is where you encourage the horse to learn to respond to the rein tug with a soft mouth, and turn his head without resistance. He responded better than I thought he would, and since he's picked up on leg cues more, I found that at a walk I really only needed to press with my leg and lightly gesture with the reins.
I asked for a trot, and about half the time, I got a freight train, powering straight forward, and half the time I had a flexible horse who was paying attention.....hmm... It seems to me he needs some professional training.
(Ok, so Pro training was recommended to me a while ago, so it's not like I just realized this, but now that I'm asking and expecting more of him, the idea is making more sense to me.)
And even though snow, yes, SNOW was predicted, he has started to shed out like crazy!!! It's kind of a gross picture, but I had to snap it, just for shock value-
Yep. That's his pile o' shed. And while it doesn't look too scary here, it was the size of a barn cat. In fact, all raked up like that, it looked like a sleeping barn cat. Yikes. Even yesterday, it's still just coming off him like crazy!!

He's way dirty right now too, since his idea of a good time is rolling in any mud, dirt, or sand he can find. But during one of my trips to the farm store, I found some white horse shampoo on as soon as it warms up, I'm bathing him, just so I can have a clean horse for a couple hours.
I find that almost a year later, I still like going to the feed stores around here and just staring at the horse aisle...still in awe that I might, just might, have a need for any product on the shelf....not that I do have a need for any product on the shelves, but that I have a horse- a reason to be in the horse aisle of a feed store.
I remember when I was younger, I would stare at the horse products- the halters, the bottles of various things, and the saddle soap, and I'd be jealous and sad that I didn't have a need for it.

Just goes to show you- keep dreaming and you can make it happen!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We're famous!! Well, maybe just a little...

Big, huge, massive thanks to the Copper Gazette online-

I was asked to write up a small piece for their online news site. Copperopolis (yes, that's a real town!), is one of the many towns in the Sierra foothills of California- and their news site has lots of local community info, with fun little stories thrown in.
And I'm in it today!! Wooooooo!!!!

I wrote a completely stand alone piece for them, since I felt like I'd be cheating if I used a blog post. So I figured I'd sum up the past 8 months of horse ownership in an open letter to Altivo. Not that he cares, but if you do, here's the link to my article.. 

Also, last weekend, I went on another trail ride on the OtherHorse. We had a trail ride scheduled for a big group, but the ick is going around, and our rig driver came down sick the morning we were supposed to go. So no ride on the dirty marshmallow horse...which was sad for me, since the trails are really calling to me, and there really is a difference in being on your horse as opposed to someone else's. He knows my signals, I know his body language, and there's just a little more communication there that you and an occasional loaner horse just don't have.

Now, don't take this the wrong way, since Tanna is a great horse- she's very forgiving of a green rider, has a big heart, is very personable, and has a smooth trot and canter...we'll come back to that in a bit.

It's very different grooming and tacking up an OtherHorse, especially this one- she's a Quarter Horse, and I'm used to a Percheron, and that's just one tiny (ok, BIG) difference. Well, their butts are probably the same size.
Oh! So the canter....well, there we were, Tanna and I following HorseFriend and her horse, Freeman. (Kudos to anyone who can guess what breed he is!)
HF says she wants to trot up a hill, and knowing Tanna will follow her, she made sure I was comfortable with it. Trotting isn't scary, so I agreed, and off we went. In her effort to keep up, Tanna switched to a canter, and whoosh, we were flying!! For about 2 seconds, then I slowed her down, scared out of my wits!! Ok, maybe not that bad, but wow, that was a shocker!
HF heard hoofbeats behind her, slowed her horse to turn and look at us, and off flew her sunglasses, inches from the horse's hoof! She hopped off to grab them, and we realized that we were standing in an open field, no rocks or high points in sight...and we ride her horses with nothing but bareback pads. Silly, silly trail riders.
But wait! We put our two horses together, I flexed my foot, and she stepped up, using it as a mounting block. Ta Da!!! One rider up, thank you very much!

So, all in all, it was a good time, and hopefully in a few weeks, I'll be able to take Altivo up and we can go trail crazy!

Until next time!