Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Cross Country at Moqui Meadows

Moqui Meadows had an open day where we could pay for a round through their cross country course.  I love this place, and am so grateful we have something of this caliber so close to home.  I took Highboy and ran the novice level course twice with him, and Ferriana did the intro level course twice.

Highboy was really strong the first round, but his second round was much better.  It's funny to me that it takes warmup plus galloping and 20 fences before his brain really kicks into gear and I'm able to rate his speed.  Here is his GoPro video from his second round.

This was Ferriana's first time doing a full course of cross country fences.  She's been schooling a couple times, and put together up to four jumps in a row.  However she'd never actually left from the start box, cantered around in the field, and jumped so many fences.  The first time through the course with her I fully intended to walk and maybe trot, letting her look at all the jumps and get her bearings.  However, she had been watching the other horses from her vantage point at the horse trailer and in the warmup arena, and had realized what we were going to be doing.  She told me she wanted to canter and jump, so we did! 

There were a few things that she'd never seen before, like a brick wall, a blue coop, water, and the bank, so I skipped those in the interest of keeping her confident and feeling like she could tackle anything.  We'll get to that stuff before long, but for her first time out at an actual "mock event" I wanted her to think she was a superhero and that everything was really easy to boost her confidence.

Her second time through she was even better, with less looking and a very easily controlled ride.  Here is her GoPro video.

I'm so pleased with this mare!  She can still be strong to handle on the ground in-hand, but once we're riding she's an absolute rockstar.  Going slowly like this and advancing her when she wants to increase the difficulty (which is actually pretty fast), has made her really confident and accurate in her riding.  What a fun horse.

Thank you to Linda, Carol, Tim, and Sara for all your help - it's a lot of work getting two horses prepared, around a cross country course, and cooled out!  Not to mention getting photos for me.  I sure love my village!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Cross Country School at Sunrise

After enjoying the mini horse trials that Sunrise Equine hosted over the last two months we asked if we could come school their very beginner friendly course.  I took Ferriana, Joan rode Rain, and Gillian rode Silver.  We had a great time!  Silver remembered running the course when he was competing, and was a little hot to start.  Gillian did a wonderful job of sending him forward at the trot, getting him to bend, change directions, and land quietly then come back to a civilized gait.

Rain thoroughly enjoyed herself as always.  She adores jumping and going places, so was really happy to participate.  I had tossed her stuff in the trailer since we were running a little late, and when we arrived Joan realized I hadn't packed a saddle pad for her.  I have spares of most everything in the trailer, but no extra jumping pad.  As a result, Joan and Rain got to break in my sparkly new white dressage pad on the cross country field.  They did a remarkable job of keeping it clean!

Ferriana's progress is stunningly fast, and I can feel her thinking and reasoning things out in her mind.  When we first started out we rode around the jumps first, then walked over the small logs near the front.  Because Silver was excited to run and jump, and to avoid traveling the same path Silver had gone a few weeks ago, we then went to the ditch in the middle of the field.  Ferriana looked hard at it as we walked around, and when I offered to let her go over she said "Absolutely not".  I didn't push the issue, since it makes more sense with this horse to let her watch, learn, and decide to do it on her own.  We stood aside and she observed Silver and Rain going over the ditch from both directions.  They walked through, treating it like a trail riding obstacle, and they also trotted and cantered over so they could actually jump it.  Ferriana stared.

We then schooled the other small fences on the course to give Ferriana the idea of what was going on, to help Silver settle down and realize he can just mosey around without worry, and Rain of course just hopped over everything with her fuzzy ears forwards.  We went over a bunch of different logs, ground poles, and let the horses look at the much larger fences to give them that exposure.

Joan was able to get some video of Ferriana jumping, which was fun to see. Here she is trotting towards the log, eagerly looking for the obstacle, and then going over.

After we were done with schooling the rest of the course, we returned to the ditch.  By then Ferriana had the idea that we go over the logs in a thoughtful manner, and was willing to follow Silver when he went over the ditch.  She was brave and went over it on her own next, though jumped it slightly larger than she needed to.

Subsequent tries were more organized, but she still didn't want to hit the log so she tucked her legs up tight each time.

I still need to edit the videos to skip the parts where the camera wildly swings around trying to keep Ferriana in view, but soon I'll have videos of all three horses uploaded and shared here.  It was a fun jump school and I'm incredibly pleased with Ferriana's progress!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Lucky's First Training Session

I now have Lucky, or MG Hollywood Jury, here for training to be sold.  He's a three year old registered AQHA gelding in a gorgeous grulla color.  Today was his first training session now that he's been here a little while and has seen the other horses go to the arena to work.

I haltered him and led him out of his paddock, then to the arena.  We're still getting to know each other and I was a little short on time this morning, so we didn't do the entire grooming routine before we headed down.  Once in the arena I had him follow me around on the lead rope while I picked up manure from the previous day's riding lessons and tossed it out of the arena with the pitchfork.  The dogs wandered around with us too, occasionally pausing to wrestle and play.

Then I began leading Lucky over ground poles, and over the bridge.  Some of the ground poles were set up between jump standards that had tipping decorative trees, and after some brief side-eye Lucky walked between and over everything. 

Rizzo the dog was kind enough to demonstrate proper bridge technique when Lucky got stuck with just his front feet on it.  He sure gave her an odd look , but then did exactly as she had done.

The other toy I introduced today was the hula hoops.  They're fairly large, sparkly, and make a rattling sound when you move them.  I tossed them on the ground to start with, and led Lucky in circles around them until he was bored with it.  He began walking over them on his own, carefully placing his hooves inside the circles and then walking out.  Lucky gave these odd things the side-eye as well.  You can tell what he's super focused on by where the opening of his ears are pointing.  In this case, straight down at the weird human paraphernalia.

Lucky walked over them several times each direction, and then got a little lazy.  He placed a hoof directly on one of the hula hoops, instead of inside it.  The hoop just sunk in the sand, which gave him pause, but wasn't overly alarming.  However, when he shifted his weight the hoop then MOVED beneath his foot.  I snapped this photo just before he showed me what kind of an athlete he really is!

When he realized the hoop had lifted up off the ground and attempted to take a bite out of his chest, he launched into the air.  No exaggeration - I suspect his feet were at the height of my shoulders at the peak of his acrobatic maneuver.  I suspected this might happen, so fortunately I was prepared with a long lead rope, wearing a helmet and gloves, and I was able to quickly redirect his attention back to me.  You can tell this horse was bred to think (as opposed to my retired racehorses who were bred to run) because Lucky's response to something new or scary is to stop and think about it.  A racehorse suffering from similar startling circumstances likely would have bolted. 

Once Lucky had settled a bit and had begun following me around again, we continued to walk in circles around the hoops.  Pascal decided the situation merited some border collie assistance.  While Lucky and I stood by watching, Pascal my 10 week old puppy hopped into the middle of a hoop.  From this location he then picked up the giant hoop in his tiny mouth, and began trotting away from us carrying the rattling hoop in his mouth with most of it dragging behind him!  He was aiming to take it back to the barn to save for later, but when he got to the narrow, human-sized exit of the arena, he attempted to prance through with his prize and got stuck.  The hoop was much too wide to fit through the small space!  He bumped his hoop in the doorway a couple more times before giving it up and going to find a stick to carry around instead.  Lucky just stared at Pascal, then occasionally looked at me as if to say, "this is the strangest place I've ever been." 

Lucky has no idea what's in store for him next!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

GEMS Pair Pace

This past weekend I took Highboy and Raven camping and to school the cross country course at GEMS, the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary in Deer Trail, CO.  Rizzo and Pascal came with me and we camped in the trailer while the horses stayed in good sized paddocks. 

The weather for Sunday was mighty sketchy, and the facility is at the end of a very long gravel, then sand road.  The organizers were kind enough to move the event to Saturday, so I drove down on Friday and spent the night.  Saturday morning after we cleaned paddocks and fed the horses I walked the course with the dogs.

There were cute carrots in the trees to direct us.

I then schooled both horses individually on the course.  It was a blast.  Both horses enjoyed it and it was a great confidence booster! 

Because of the costume contests for the poker ride in the morning I decided to bedeck myself in my favorite helmet cover.  I found it in Snowbird, UT on a family vacation and it's actually a cover for a snowboarding helmet.  I love it though, and it's the Bit of Honey colors.  It's situated in such a way that I can't also attach the gopro to my helmet, so I don't have videos from the rides.  But it was worth it for all the laughs and "what kind of reception do you get with that?" comments I received.  

I'm super eager to go back to this location with a group of riders and their horses, because this is an IDEAL course to introduce both humans and horses to cross country jumping.  They have a plethora of small fences, and a winding course that goes in and out of the woods and through shade as well as water and sunny fields.  There are a couple beginner novice fences too, so it kept my horses interested and trying.  They have cabins we can rent, and we can make a full weekend clinic of it!

Since this weekend was their Halloween Hootenanny they had decorated things in all kinds of ways.  There were giant spider webs in the trees,

wooden plaques shaped like tombstones with humorous inscriptions

and a log in the water with a fake alligator crawling on it!  I didn't actually get a photo of that because I was wrangling the dogs through the water while walking the course.  When riding it, my horses didn't notice that there was something on the log, they seemed to assume that it was merely an oddly shaped log.

One of my favorite moments was watching Pascal try to scale what to him was an extremely large log.  He'd watched Rizzo hop over all the other fences prior, because she's essentially a pogo stick in dog form.  Pascal really wants to do whatever Rizzo does, and so he put forth his best effort.  I try to keep this kind of thing to a minimum because he's so young, and just like with young horses I don't want to push my young dog too hard too fast either.  However, as long as he's doing it himself and not getting upset I feel like it's ok for him to do this stuff at his own pace.  I would never push him to run farther than he can go, and he definitely gets plenty of nap time in between adventures.  However, having a border collie puppy again is great fun, especially watching him enjoy learning his job.

He first inspected the obstacle:

Then he asked if this was really surmountable:

He believed me and Rizzo when we said he could do it - so he gave it the true border collie try!

And did clear it

 Successfully dismounting on the other side.

Now I'm tired!  Didn't I do that well, Kim?

It was so fun to have a camping weekend with my dogs and horses and we can't wait to go back!