Monday, September 22, 2008

Quarter Horses Don't Do Dressage!

Some days it seems that Halo begs to differ. The angle of this photograph doesn't do her justice, but she has a big, floaty trot. I don't know if it will diminish as she gets older and bulks up in typical quarter horse fashion. Or will she even do that? I think part of what drew me to her is that she looks a little bit like a thoroughbred, albeit a minuscule one.

Halo's walk is also nice. I think I'm going to have to put bell boots on her when I start working her in earnest, because she tracks up quite far, especially at the walk. I've always heard that it's a good thing for dressage for a horse to track up well, since it means that the horse's hind end can be more easily engaged. For non-horsey people, basically that means she's rear wheel drive.

I should add here that as a photographer, I seem to have a real knack for getting animals' butts in focus better than their heads. Case in point:

Seeing this canter picture makes me look forward to riding her in a couple of years. I know it won't be the same as my old TB's gigantic canter, but I think she'll be comfortable and agile. She's already pretty good at flying lead changes out in the field. Of course not everything she does makes me excited about riding her...

But I'm sure we'll have lots of silly fun, regardless.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

1 1/2 Years Old - It's Longe Line Time!

Longing yearlings is a controversial thing. I don't want to get into a battle with the 1.5 people who read my blog, so let me clarify up front what I'm doing with Halo. Working on the longe is stressful on a horse's legs, even an older horse, and I know that. Right now I work with Halo only 15 minutes per session, once or twice per week. Usually only once. My goals for her are very simple, and we do walk-trot work only. Mostly walking.

My goals for Halo during her longe lessons right now are that she a) moves away from the whip when cued, and b) has a good whoa. Honestly she can walk or trot around me; as long as she's going the right direction and not blasting off at mach 10 while ripping my arm out, I could care less. I don't want to overload her brain.

This filly is VERY responsive! I have done some work with voice commands while leading her on the ground, and she seems to have instantly translated it to the longe line work. For the most part her whoas have been quick and solid, and she immediately turns into the circle to look at me and receive her pat for being a good girl.

She does have her moments of confusion and wanting to switch directions at random. Basically I've approached this by vigorously insisting that she go the other way by cueing her with the whip near her outside shoulder while putting pressure on the line. As soon as she turns around and travels the way I want, I put the tip of the whip back on the ground and relax. One of the best things about Halo is that while she's quite reactive at times, she's also very quick to calm down and give you her attention.

I wish we had a round pen to work in, as I'd probably just do this at liberty instead. However, using the line will have to do! And so far, it is going remarkably well. We've taken two steps forward...hopefully we can avoid going one step back!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Stormy Weather

Last week Casi and I had the pleasure of being in Louisiana over Labor Day weekend, aka when Hurricane Gustav was hitting. Fortunately we were far enough to the northeast that all we got was a ton of rain. Nevertheless, traveling did stall out blog posting for a time.

Miss Halo apparently did quite well without her moms around to keep an eye on her. Upon our return we were regaled with stories of her extensive mud rolling and general punk behavior. For the most part though, she looked good! And in other good news, the ticks in her ears mostly seem to have dropped off, and or be dead. She even lets me touch her ears again if I am gentle, and she loves a good scratch along her mane.

halo sep 7

It is probably just delusional horse-mom vision, but every time I look at her she seems to be bigger. I don't feel like she's taller, but looking at her over this past weekend she seems to be getting more substance and width. We measured her yesterday and she is weighing in close to 700lbs. She's approximately 14h at the butt, and 13.3 at the withers. She squirms a lot though, so I'm sure the accuracy of those measurements is questionable.

Halo pulled her first extremely naughty move on Saturday, much to my surprise. She's always been quite good in hand, and not even too terrible when dealing with unfamiliar situations. On Saturday one of the barn owners let her horse go running down into the pasture while I was haltering Halo down in the field. The horses all went on alert, but Halo still stood quietly for me to get the halter on. But we got halfway up the hill and she decided to make a break for it. Fortunately I managed to hang on, so that she didn't learn she could get away by being a turkey. We made it to the top of the hill with continued fussing and whinnying, but no more escape attempts. I didn't give her any food while she was tied, but by the time she was up there, she was back to her usual placid self. She didn't give me any more trouble that day, and was excellent yesterday. But damn my shoulder hurts!

Here's the princess with her shiny polished feet (hoof conditioner).

halo sep 8b