Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Season, New Plans

On this wet, windy, autumn morning, it’s a good time to plan some next steps for the ponies and me.

First, a moment of assessment: Starlight has come a long, long way this summer.  She has proven herself to be steady and cooperative in any situation I have put her in so far.  Next weekend, she and I will travel to a Halloween-and-obstacle-course party (with horse costumes, of course!), and then I’ll be fairly ready to let her rest for a while.  
Dee photo-bombing Starlight and Stormkite.

 I have to let someone drop off the riding list, because I have others that need starting, and as much as I love riding her, Starlight will get time off.  So, likely, will Hudson, who can barely be considered to have done much work this summer, as is.

Unfortunately, with five of the critters and one of me, someone always gets time off.  DeCato is on kind of a permanent time-off situation, but I’m hoping that will change.  My plan is to decrease to three horses.  AND STAY THERE.

Stormkite feeling Starlight's pressure.  She's subtle.  He's not.
To do that, I want all of them going well under saddle, so each has a chance at finding a job in a good home.  More on the scary concept of finding homes for horses another day.  For now, back to the planning.

My focus this season will turn to Dee and Stormkite.  Dee has had some training under saddle and was going well until she abruptly bucked me off last spring and I landed hard on my shoulder.  I decided to wait until I could get the Point2 Hybrid, an inflatable air vest, before getting back on her.   I have that now, and it’s time to get to work.  In addition to the vest, I’m planning on not letting myself get tricked into thinking she won’t buck, and I’ll be more prepared to ride through the next one (with a crop in hand to get her moving forward).

Look!  A built in diaper.  Could come in handy...
I have, of course, mulled the bucking incident extensively.  She had been going well with no indication of bucking for several rides, then one day I got on, she took a few steps and starting bronco bucking.  What was it?  The combination of hormones and her being herd-bound is my first guess.  She’s one whose personality changes when she’s in heat (in defense of mares, she’s the only one who shows a personality change at that time).  And she is also the most concerned about the herd being split up, as far as I can tell.  When I took Starlight on a trail ride last weekend, she whinnied us off, whinnied us back and, my husband said, whinnied in between.  

When I pulled Stormkite out for some work recently, she whinnied the whole time she couldn’t see him.  When I ride Hudson, I can hear that darn skewbald mare whinnying almost the whole time we’re out.  The only time I can’t hear her is when we’re too far away for the sound to get to us.

The other possibility is saddle fit.  The saddle I was using was too tight.  But, as you can see by how much time I’m devoting to one possibility or the other, I’m thinking the former is to blame.

Stormkite is pretty much a blank slate.  He’s three and ready to start.  He is still growing (though his hindquarters have already reached fairly mammoth proportions.  Vroom, vroom!), so I won’t do anything too strenuous with him, just get him going a bit in preparation for more work come next year.  

Overhead photo by magic, flying husband. That's Dee.
Stormkite is both curious and fearful.   I’ll work on exposure with him in a way that his curiosity is rewarded and his fear is quelled.  He is a bit tightly strung and has the disadvantage of being Dee’s full brother, so I’m a little skeptical in how much I can trust him.  But so far, he has not had the opportunity to deserve my distrust, so I’ll try to be more open-minded with the little booger.

So, lots to do this winter.  Normally, I think of winter as a dead-end when it comes to riding, but this winter, with our good gravel road nearby and a blessed flexibility in my work schedule, I’m thinking of it as the start of a new training period.   

Bring on the snow and tally-ho!
Yeah, they look alike, but do they ACT alike?


  1. "Built-in diaper"-- that is hysterical.
    You get those little ponies kid-safe, and I'll get you some little pony-safe kids. Maybe we can make a deal to get you down to three, and us up to a few more paying stalls!

  2. Now you're thinking. Every one of these ponies is just the perfect size for kids, because the kids can get on them when they are small and not outgrow them for a long time.

    In fact, I'm 48 and I'll never outgrow them!