Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dressage, guns, trails, fishing, and MORE!

Yep, I had a super busy day. It's very springlike here right now - we'll probably get one more nasty cold snap before "winter" (as we know it) is over, but I'm perfectly happy wearing a tank top again!


Had a cool lesson today. Let's see - Michelle asked if I'd changed saddles, and no, I haven't. I've always ridden Dixie in this saddle. The change I recently made was to tie the fenders back a couple inches, so that my legs naturally hang in a more balanced position. Instead of fighting constantly to keep them back, they "want" to hang with my heels under my hips. And after watching her yesterday, I'm pretty sure she was just in heat. Why do the highstrung mares always have the worst heats? I may try Andrea's raspberry leaf stuff and see if it helps Dixie too.

Anyway, we trailered over and had a productive lesson. Dixie did ok at a slow walk and a flatwalk, but we kept really falling apart at a rack. She'd go hollow, with her nose up and out, whenever I asked her for more speed. I know that if I grab the curb reins and pull her nose in, she'll gait more smoothly, but that seems an awful lot like riding "front to back" and it's not what I want to explore with her.

She doesn't understand inside leg yet. Obviously this is my problem, and in my defense, I've spent almost a year desensitizing her to leg pressure. She used to think any leg at all in any position meant "go as fast as possible." I've finally convinced her that I don't wear spurs (right now) and I'm not going to beat her with a whip if she doesn't explode into motion when I move my leg. Now it's time to teach her what I want when I move a leg. Anyway, when I bend her into a circle, she sets the diameter of the circle because she doesn't move out away from my inside leg - I can't do spirals with her. We worked on that a bit, got a couple of slightly larger circles, and called it good progress.

And Dixie doesn't bend! Well, she bends ok sometimes on circles or spirals, and she's flexible as all get out at liberty, but she hasn't ever been asked to stretch her neck at a standstill. We did a bit of that too; it's something I should continue working on.

Finally, somewhat against my better judgment, we switched bits. Hardy wanted me to try her in a Tom Thumb. I generally hate tom thumbs, because of the whole broken mouth double twisted wire curb balance on the reins to get them to gait thing. And there's a whole lot of dressage-y sites that hate on the Tom Thumb - apparently it gives conflicting information to the horse cause of the combination of shanks and a broken mouthpiece.

But... if I was doing a perfect job training Dixie, I wouldn't be taking lessons. I didn't think a smooth mouth Tom Thumb was going to actually hurt my horse. Maybe confuse her? Maybe jab the roof of her mouth if I was too heavy handed? But not hurt her or make her scared, any worse than we've done to each other in the past. So I tried it.

She loved it. We'd gone up to the barn to look for one, then over to the round pen to try it out. She didn't fuss with it at all, not one bit, and she seemed to bend very well to it. I'm pretty sure I have a copper roller TT in my giant collection of bits at my parents' and tomorrow I'm gonna go pick it up and try again with her.

I was hoping to get some pictures of Dixie stretching out and down for DiJ's Long and Low post but my husband (aka the Official Funder Photographer) wasn't able to come out. He feels appropriately guilty though so hopefully I can get some pictures this week.


After Dixie and I got back to the field, K came running up. "Did you bring your gun? B's got his rifle and I've got my pistol and let's go shoot!" So I headed back home and picked up my gun and then we went and killed the hell out of some inanimate objects.

I love rifle shooting it's the best and yall need to try it!

B has a .22 target rifle with a scope and a bipod. (Little legs that fold out from the front of the rifle, so you can lay down and get it perfectly steady.) He's spent the last week getting it perfectly sighted in. We shot our "targets" from about 10 yards, which is not very far at all for a rifle but fun for us newbies. I laid down and shot the UPC code on a Mt. Dew bottle with no problem, then spent my next two turns with it trying to nail the cap to the bottle. Never quite managed it. It's some combination of my breathing and me jerking (instead of slowly squeezing) the trigger. I did a round shooting from the shoulder, which is surprisingly hard. And I tried propping the rifle in a convenient tree branch and shooting at a snag in the lake, about 50 yards out - never quite hit the snag, but I was maybe 6" off from it. Pretty cool.

Everybody liked my .40 again, and we all plinked away with the terrible .22 revolver. I don't mean to hate on the revolver, but... I don't particularly like the grip, the sights are a bit off, it's louder and harder to hit with than the rifle, and it makes teeny weeny holes in cans. My .40 is incredibly loud and not nearly as accurate as a long gun, but at least it makes satisfying holes!


After we'd shot up all the ammo, we headed back to the horse field. K immediately jumped me again and insisted that we needed to go trail riding! She and T had gone yesterday, on Poppy and Goblin, and had a great time. They wanted to go again! So we all caught our reluctant horses and headed out. I took them on the "easy" trail, the one that has a bunch of short steep ravines. (The hard trail, by comparison, has one VERY STEEP ravine that's twice as long.) They are kinda wussy and I took pity on them and we walked the horses up and down the ravines, but I did assure them that I do regularly ride Champ up and down those slopes. You've gotta believe that your horse can do it, and trust your horse, but you can in fact ride any hill back there.

Poppy did so well. K is not ready to take Poppy trail riding alone, but she knows it. If you and your horse are going out alone, at least one of you needs to be totally confident for it to work out. When I first got Champ, he had the confidence for both of us. Later on, I got more ballsy and now I can ride a green horse alone... but I don't think K can yet, and she doesn't think she can yet either. But she's got her daughter T and Goblin, so the four of them will be fine together. And in a couple months, when Poppy knows every inch of the trails, K and Poppy can go alone if they want.

She's really doing well with him. I'm so very happy. I do think they'll be perfect together - neither of them wants to go anywhere fast, and he's naturally unflappable, and she's neither googly-eyed or scared of him right now. I am pulling for them. :)


We got back to the field AGAIN about 4:30. But it's February and it was warm and I'd been itching to fish all day. I put a silly artificial minnow thing on my line and fished for about an hour. I hooked one decent-sized fish but it slipped off my hook a foot from the bank. Sigh. Then I hooked a willow tree and had to cut my line, double sigh. By that time it was getting dark and chilly, so I packed it up for the night.

I am bound and determined to catch at least one fish with a completely artificial lure. I've only ever caught fish with live bait. I will figure out this lure nonsense. Also I will figure out a really kickass fish recipe, other than "bread in cornmeal and fry."

Cersei accompanied me everywhere today. After dinner (neckbones, if you're curious) she collapsed on her bed by my chair and has not moved since. If she had a blog, she'd tell an entirely different story... but I bet she's just as content as I am.


  1. You had a superlative Sunday! I spent mine cleaning the garage, which had to be done. We found a fishing lure that was a frog. It was pretty big. I wonder what kind of fish it is used to lure, and how big they must be?

    somenth: something to the nth degree

  2. Hooray for your mare just being a mare. I'll stick with my geldings, tyvm. :)


  3. On Gaiman: yes, he does collect his rabid fanboys. I started reading Sandman on its 8th issue and loved it (along with his other graphic-based work), but I find his books too silly for the most part. I liked Coraline better than his adult books, and the movie really is good. He has a great imagination for children's stories, I think.

  4. i'm glad your dressage is coming along and you had such a good lesson :-) i know theoretically the jointed pelham/curb is a bad idea, but some horses do seem to get it, and the joint will create a port for the tongue and it actually rotates forward when you use the curb and doesn't necessarily go into the roof of the mouth, so i think some horses actually prefer that to a snaffle effect which can hit the roof - i have the same results with a gag bit and am working on a post about that now!

    as for teaching her to move away from your leg, i have always found combining a turning seat with an 'indirect rein of opposition behind the wither' helps the horse get what you want and position the horse to move out - otherwise you're just kicking a brick wall :-/ leg alone usually won't do it - you really need the right rein aid (i find, anyway...)

    sorry, my trainer brain took over there. feel free to ignore me :-)

  5. The Equus Ink blog has moved! I'd love to have you join us at our new location!

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  6. 'I know that if I grab the curb reins and pull her nose in, she'll gait more smoothly, but that seems an awful lot like riding "front to back" and it's not what I want to explore with her.'

    I love you. lol! <3

    You can't let them run around hollow (which you know), but you can't hold their head back... so where's the in-between? With Clyde, I try to relax his pole by squeezing one rein--when he relaxes at the poll, then I leave him alone. His nose doesn't have to be on the vertical, he just can't root it out like a pig.

    About the tom thumb--I'm not sure if it gives conflicting signals, BUT, like western bits, it was never meant to be used as a direct-rein bit. It's supposed to be used with no contact on the reins, like a finished WP horse. They do make them with a broken piece in the center (like a french link) so it doesn't hit the roof of the mouth, but I don't really like them at all for direct reining. They're a curb bit (like the curb part of a double bridle)--only meant for pulling straight back.


    Like you mentioned, it won't hurt her, but I'd see if you could find something meant for direct reining. Maybe a waterford? (Works well for some--bad for others, but it offers a lot of control and can still be really mild as long as you don't yank!) Hmm!

    'He feels appropriately guilty though so hopefully I can get some pictures this week.'

    Tell him he better feel guilty! Rawr.


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