Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The First Step

I started Emi on the ex-stress pellets and they've passed test one....she'll eat it. Yah! Now to see if they help her be more settled. I spent a lot of time grooming her tonight and I'm loving her beautiful coat right now. She went from shaggy to sleek in just a couple of weeks. Check out those dapples! 

I can't believe how grown up she's looking!

My co-worker was talking about her saddle pads today and she has....2. As in 2 saddle pads. How is that possible!? This led me to doing inventory of my own saddle pad collection and I have 26 pads. How many do you have? 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Point Taken

I've been feeling slightly frustrated with Emi's nervousness in the barn the past few days. While driving out to the barn today I was thinking of all of the reasons why I should not be annoyed. She's just a kid, she hasn't been at the barn long, some day when she's 5 or 10 I'll look back and say "remember when." I know I need to not let it bother me and realize that she'll settle in at some point. I think it's almost worse that she's normally so good. It makes me expect her to be good about everything, which is obviously not realistic. All of this has me thinking that maybe her long term poop issues have had more to do with stress than actual digestive problems. When she was at home she didn't seem stressed but maybe she internalizes. She started ex-stress tonight so I'm really curious to see if I notice a difference. 

Back to today....when I arrived I pulled her out of the pasture and took her to her stall to start tacking her up. She pooped nervously but wasn't being too wiggly. Her pasture mate came into the barn while we were getting ready and after one whinny she settled in and was being good. Our lunging was uneventful (if you follow me on Instagram you'll see a couple of videos). We trotted over a pole, used the side reins and played at the mounting block.  She was also quite good being untacked, although that is pretty normal after she has been worked. 

I counted back to see how long she has been at NDF and it's been 6 weeks. Clearly I need to change my expectations and allow her to be a kid in a strange new world. This running app I'm using had this as the inspirational quote today "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." I think that message was meant for me today. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


As Emi progress in her training I see glimpses of what I expect her to be like when she's all grown up...and I'm loving it! Tonight we attached an outside side rein (loosely) and then added the inside sliding lunge line. She had moments were she was put together a little bit and she's so darn cute! She handled the new pressure quite well. There were no explosions just a few times where she came against the bit and thought about stopping. With a little encouragement from me she popped back into the trot and continued on her way. She was easier to lunge both directions with the help of a stabilizing outside rein, so that was cool. She's also getting pretty good with bridling and un-bridling...you can tell she understands what that's all about.

The one thing I'm not loving about her is that she is still a nervous in the barn. I really notice it when the other horses are being brought in from the pasture and she's tied in her stall but I also see it when I'm tacking her up. She's pretty still when I'm right with her but if I walk away, even to grab a new brush right outside her stall, she dances around and seems anxious. It's not out of control by any means and I do leave her to do things, grab my saddle etc. I'd just like to see her a bit more settled. Generally as soon as I take her out and put her to work she's great and when I bring her back to the barn after working her she's really good. I'm going to try her on the supplement ExStress for a while. I know she's a kid and she's been at the barn less than 2 months so it's not unreasonable that she is not completely settled but since it has come highly recommended to me and I feel like it "can't hurt my help" it's worth a shot. I'm curious to see if I notice any change.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

That Brain

In case you can't tell...I'm loving my time working with Emi. I continue to be so impressed with what a great brain she has. She's very sensible which has made training her so nice! Today we introduced the lunge line connected to the bit. She wasn't thrilled but she tolerated it and got better as we went. We first ran it up and over her head which worked fine for the left but since she pulls to the right it wasn't working well. We tried it attached straight to the bit and then moved to attaching it to the saddle with it sliding through the bit to me.

KB warned that if I got in trouble with this method it could cause her to spin around and get all tangled up. As usual, Emi was just fine. She has no idea what the contact is but that's okay as that is what we are teaching her about.  This worked out well as I was able to keep pushing her in to the "contact" and she learns about accepting it from the beginning which should make our lives easier later on.

We were quick to reward her when she did something right and I'd ask her to whoa before walking up to her and petting her for a bit while she took a break. One time when I asked for a whoa she practically slid to a stop. I'm happy we are getting that button installed well! KB commented on how quiet and submissive she was each time I stopped and rewarded her.

I'm beyond thrilled with her behavior up until this point. She seems to have a good work ethic, is fairly willing and tolerates some pressure. All things that should make our riding life much easier. Another gold star for Winterlake Emerald on lesson number 5.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Wild Child

I know you are probably beginning to wonder if Emi is perfect... she's not. Although she's generally super good she can have her wild child moments. Tonight was one of those nights. I brought her in from the pasture and she was wound up! Dancing around, bumping into the wall and whinnying for anyone who would listen. It was definitely not a good sign. I proceeded to groom her and tack her up and was debating whether or not I should skip her bridle since she was being a nut. I did decide to give bridling a try and it we didn't have a problem. 

We headed over to the arena to get to work. She was a little less attentive in her ground work than normal but was actually pretty good lunging. She really does well when she's given a job to do. When we finished with our 20 minutes of work we headed back over to the barn. I was curious to see if she would be more settled and she was completely back to normal. I spent some extra time grooming her, trimmed her tail and worked on her mane. I'm not sure what caused her to be so worked up. She got new pasture mates this week so she may be feeling herd bound. It was also dinner time, it had started raining this evening and she was all wet and she'd had two days off work. Any/all of those things could have contributed to her worked up self. I'm happy it didn't impact her work too much and that she regained her brain once we were done. 

Look at that face...does she look like she'd be naughty? 
Nice and calm after putting in some work
A trimmed up mane
The sweet girl before I left for the night

Monday, April 11, 2016

Video Check In

One of my goals is to take monthly video of Emi's progress. At this point our work is not super exciting to watch but I thought it would be fun to share where we are at.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Moving Right Along

We had lesson number four today and Miss Emi was super. I started out telling KB that I think the halter over her bridle is bumping on the bit and making her unhappy. I had grabbed a rope halter out of my tack locker and brought it out to see what KB thought. She felt like it was worth a shot so I quickly changed halter before we started lunging. I definitely noticed a difference and she seemed much happier.

We lunged both directions and Emi was very attentive. We started tracking left and she was quite good. When we moved to the right I commented that it's her harder direction. She tends to counter-bend and pulls more this direction. KB had me start lunging her almost as if she was on a square or hexagon. A few straight steps, turn, a few straight steps, turn. If you had been watching it most likely still looked like a circle but I could see her slowly find her balance.

As that improved we ended up doing a little bit of canter to the right. It wasn't great since she has hardly done it but she tried and didn't get crazy. KB asked me if I noticed that her gaits are getting better. I definitely have but I wasn't sure if it was my imagination or not. I thought I might be getting more used to her way of going versus that of Benny's. KB said it was definitely not my imagination and that she really is improving. I asked if she thought it was due to fitness and she agreed that it's fitness combined with better balance. (side note: she's not a bad mover but was moving more quickly and pony like) Another boarder was waiting for her lesson and commented that she has a really nice walk and uses her neck well. Ahh...a proud mom moment for sure. I'm so super pleased with how she's doing and commented that I really think I'm going to have a fancy pony on my hands, to which they both agreed.

KB feels like I'll be riding her soon and mentioned that she'd like to handle her more in my next couple of lessons so that Emi is comfortable with that. She feels like Emi may be more worried by having KB handle her from the ground than she is about me being on her back. I definitely think there's some truth to that...we are definitely tight. I appreciated the forethought and honestly it will be fun to be able to watch them work.

To finish out the lesson I stood on the mounting block and scratched Emi, patted the saddle, leaned on her and jumped up and down. She was fairly undisturbed by all of my antics. An unseasonal 80+ degree day combined with a longer work out than normal left her dripping with sweat so we finished out the evening with a nice hose down. Emi loves "beauty parlor" so I got no complaints from her as she stood cross tied in the wash rack.

Homework: continue lunging working on the "square" (especially to the right). Introduce cantering both directions. Continue to play at the mounting block.

Up Next: Introducing the side reins.
Oh so sweaty and already ready for a hair cut

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Bit by Bit

Excuse the pun...but each week we've been adding to the work we are doing with Emi. Thursday night I lunged Emi with a surcingle. She's worn one a couple of times before but never doing more than just walking around. I sent her out on the circle and once I asked her to trot she leapt into the canter bucking/kicking her way around the circle. She was kicking her belly with both hind legs in an attempt to get it off. I stopped her after one circle and opted to tighten the surcingle a hole (thinking it might be tickling her). Once I did that and sent her back out she was completed fine. 

In our lesson on Friday we introduced the bit. She was a little distracted when I was lunging her as she was busy chomping on the bit. After about 10 minutes she stopped chomping and started to carry it around like a broke horse. Today I took her for a "trail walk" in which she wore her bit and saddle. She was super good about the bit today and only mouthed it a few times before being quiet with her mouth. We went on a lovely 4 mile walk...I can't wait until we can go on a 4 mile ride!