Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Horses and Dogs Working Over the Weekend

First we have Dewey, who is due for his spring dental to address the balance of his teeth but he's riding pretty darn well considering!  It always impresses me how ground pole work improves the horses gaits.

Jasi rode Sam with me coaching them, and it was quite nice.  They're working on lengthening his stride without him getting behind the bit, which means without him tucking his chin.  Horses are much better balanced when their faces are at or in front of the vertical, which you can see in this first photo where the fence edge is just near his face.

We also needed a good shot of the gorgeous turquoise browband Sam wears.

Ferriana came out for a jumping school, and she was a bit wound up since I had two other mares turned out playing in the round pen that morning and Ferriana would have liked to be in on the action.

She also was insistent that she be able to smell the girth I was putting on her jumping saddle, because it smelled like the boy horse who wore it last and therefore it needed investigating.

Because Ferriana was full of beans, I worked her a little on the lungeline before I climbed aboard.  She showed off her amazing scope and cleared the four foot jump standards like they were toadstools.

Once I had mounted we did a thorough warm up to make sure that she was going to listen to me and behave.  It consisted of lots of circles and serpentines through the arena at the trot with some walk transitions thrown in to make sure she stayed focused on me.  Ferriana is hot, sensitive, and also stubborn, so it's best to get her cooperating by working her and giving her a task to focus on.  Trying to force her into anything would definitely backfire and cause her to use her athletic abilities in unacceptable ways.

Rizzo had a good time, too.

I can see the excitement in her face, also her eye expresses her realization that she's cut this particular jump a little close to the horse!

Jimmy has been doing some great work.  His strength improves a little each day, and we're working on cantering in the arena as well as walking in the fields and trot work in the sand.

I love this photo of Jimmy and Pascal chatting about how the ride is going to go.  Pascal is coming right along in his own coaching skills, and he does his best to demonstrate for the horses as well as stick with us during rides.

In these next photos you can see that I'm in a very light seat on Jimmy at the canter.  This is because it takes significant core and back strength for a horse to carry a deep seated rider, and Jimmy's not quite there yet.  Cantering is great for getting him to lift and stretch his back as well as really reach underneath himself with his hind legs, but I don't want to sit deep on him since he's not comfortable carrying my weight in that position yet.  When at the racetrack the horses almost never have riders sitting on them - the jockeys and exercise riders are always in a two point position poised on the balls of their feet on the stirrups.  Having a rider seated with longer stirrups is a new thing for a retired racehorse, and it take some getting used to when they need to balance with a rider in this position.

 (Pascal's work over the poles cantering next to us is a perfect example of extreme overreach!)

Eventually Jimmy should be able to carry a rider in a full seat position at all gaits, but it's better to develop his strength and balance gradually so that I don't make him sore asking for too much too soon.

When we're done in the arena, most of the time I can't be bothered to dismount to open the gate.  To justify my laziness I tell the horses that "every good dressage horse knows how to open gates".  Then I teach them to stand quietly while I lean over and grab the gate, and have them sidepass over as I open it.  Since they all see each other doing it several times each day, new horses figure it out super fast, and Jimmy is no exception.  Pascal looks on for moral support.

Once we're out of the arena I like to take the horses for a lap around the front pasture.  Usually whichever dog is working with me during that ride comes with us. 

I have a nice hill by the road that is great for encouraging the horses to use their core and is especially good for strengthening the hindquarters including quadriceps and gluteal muscles.  As we take our lap in the wide open I make a concentrated effort to include trips up and down the hill with correct biomechanics so the horse lengthens their topline and really pushes with their haunches.

All in all we've had some great rides this weekend!

Friday, April 3, 2020

New Ritzy Photos

Ritzyrags is hoping to find her new home this spring after her time here at Bit of Honey!  We got some new photos of her playing in the round pen and with me holding her in the pasture outside the round pen.  It was kind of a chilly and overcast day, but it made for striking contrast with her gorgeous bay color.  If you're in the market for a pretty bay mare as a companion horse please contact us!

Daisy's Cross Country School

Daisy is doing so well back at Bit of Honey!  She's been clipped to remove her billy-goats-gruff, had her mane shortened to look like an english pony, and Jasi has been riding her getting her more supple bending and working over fences.  Earlier this week she had her first cross country school in the back forty.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Rizzo's Job

And now for a delightful little montage of the little dog working....  Rizzo loves doing her job!

 Running and jumping while we ride running and jumping horses

Taking a shortcut through the cross rail

Cross country course walks

Testing out the water at the water jump last season

 Supervising with Miles last summer

Coaching Ferriana over her first jumps

Things have been going so well for Rizzo and Pascal.  They have been in individual training with me for the last several months regarding how to work with the horses appropriately.  One on one each dog is getting better every week being more obedient and staying on-task.  This is a big deal for two young dogs, especially as Pascal is hitting his "teenage phase" where he's deciding if he's going to be his own dog or if he's going to be obedient when I tell him to do something.  Today each dog worked with me for a few hours while the other waited in the kennel in the barn, and I'm really pleased with the progress the horse-training dogs are making, too.  When the morning dog goes to the kennel for the afternoon the time in confinement is usually spent napping.

However, the dog who works second usually spends the morning singing The Sad Dog Song, and I swear I've heard Rizzo shout "Kim!" when she's been left behind.  Since she figured out how to open lever door handles as well as round door knobs to break into the house to party with the house dogs, we suspect she may also have actually learned to say my name.  

I'm also amazed at Rizzo's speed.  A couple weeks ago when the footing was good in the back forty I took Raven out to gallop.  She's a thoroughbred and is mighty fast when she kicks it into high gear.  I let her open up and go as fast as she could for a little while, and I assumed Rizzo would catch up when we came back down to a slower gait.  My big border collie Miles couldn't even keep up with a galloping thoroughbred when he was young.  However, each time I looked down after bringing Raven back to a canter from the faster gallop, without fail Rizzo was there by my left leg, smiling up at me in utter glee to say that running as fast as possible with a racehorse is absolutely the best time she's ever had.