Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Rush Returns!

Whenever I sell a horse, whether it's one of my own or for a client, I put in the sale contract that the horse can always come back to Bit of Honey.  I'm particular about what kind of horse I'll take into training to be sold, because I do put my name on the horse for life to help protect them should circumstances throw the new owners a curve ball.  Maybe the new owner is in a car accident and can't take care of the horse any longer, the horse goes lame for some reason or no reason at all.  No matter what, the horse can always return to Bit of Honey if they are ever in need of a place to land.

Over the years I have occasionally had this happen, and I'm always grateful when the buyer returns the horse to me.  This is my way of ensuring that the horse will always be safe and never end up sold "down the road".  This weekend Rush came back to Bit of Honey after life got in the way, and we are so happy to have him back!


Rush is beginner safe, and has been content as a husband horse on several occasions.  He has lots of experience trail riding and is fun to ride in the arena as well.  He is sixteen years old and about 16.1 hands tall.  He is a retired racehorse, an appendix (thoroughbred/quarter horse) who is one of the kindest souls I've worked with.  He is easy to handle on the ground and while riding, and despite being out of work for at least six months, he was remarkably good for me when I got on him today.  He does have several large melanomas, but they have been thoroughly examined by the veterinarian and an ultrasound done on them.  Rush was given a clean bill of health and we were told there's no reason he wouldn't be happy and riding for another ten years.






My plan is to work him into the lesson program since he is quiet for beginners as well as gentle and sound.  If the right person shows up I would consider selling him, but otherwise I'm very pleased to have him back in the barn as a lesson horse.  Now for a warm day to get this grey horse sparkly white again!

Here is his video with me riding this morning after who knows how much time off.  He was well behaved, and despite being out of shape he felt good enough to try to play some with the dogs!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9AKURINJaE

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Midnight Misadventures

This morning I went out to feed and discovered Highboy had jumped the hay feeder to enter the neighboring paddock, probably so he could play with the mares, Rain and Dancer. That’s one of the hazards of training my horses to jump at liberty- they sometimes decide to do it without me.

Unfortunately it didn’t work out exactly as Highboy had planned. I found him standing in the corner politely asking if he could go eat some hay... It looked like the girls had schooled him pretty thoroughly in manners!

He very deferentially walked with me back to his own pen while Dancer gave him a crusty look. I suspect he won’t repeat this endeavor simply because playing with the mares was not as fun as he had anticipated when he conceived his grand plan.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Thoroughbred Selfies


This morning was chilly, but at least it was not the -5 deg we had last week!  I fed everyone hot mash for breakfast, but it was just each horse's regular feed with added hot water.  It's not good to change or add feed concentrate when horses are already stressed from extra cold weather.  Once they were finished with their hot slurpees my thoroughbreds all gathered around for selfies. 


 Highboy has mastered his selfie game.


Raven is getting good at posing, too.


Note took a few more tries than the others, but we got a good shot eventually.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Saddle Fitting Struggles

Note had been having some difficulty bending to the right and lifting his back while riding, and when the vet looked at him last week we discovered that it's likely due to saddle fitting issues.  Because of that I have embarked on a saddle search to see if I can make Note more comfortable.  I've tried five different saddles so far, but here is a glimpse into one of them.

These first two photos are of Note and me doing a saddle fit trial in an extra narrow County Innovation.  This saddle is one of my favorites, and one which looks pretty darn close to a good fit when he's standing still.



The bucking showed that Note wasn't entirely comfortable with the fit of this saddle as-is.  I've taken his measurements and compared them to Raven's, who is built very similarly to him.  They are close in age, both just under 16 hands tall, both have high withers, both have strong opinions on things with a temper to back it up.



They even have similar bucking styles - this is Raven expressing her opinion.



I got a great question this weekend while I was messing around with saddles for Note.  I was asked, "Since your horses tend to express themselves with shenanigans anyway, how do you know whether it's saddle pain or just being fresh?"  It's an excellent question, as I often ride my horses through nonsense unrelated to saddle fit.  The big giveaway is that "poor saddle fit" bucking causes back pain in my own body.  Usually I'll hurt in the same place the horse does once I take the saddle off and palpate his back.  Horses being silly and playing doesn't hurt (unless they get me off, then the ground can be sort of hard....)

There are other things I notice when it's saddle fit, too.  Note moves with  tension in his gaits, smaller steps that may be faster or slower than normal for him.  When cantering he will toss his head, but also weave left and right like a fish, often swapping leads and finally deciding to keep one lead in his front end and the other lead in his hind end.  When he is comfortable he will keep the same lead in front and back, his head is quiet, and he will canter in a straight line.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_4QHmxRU24&t=144s


This is video from the first ride, and the exciting bits start just after 2:20.  It's at that point the impression pad has compressed and Note is starting to feel the true fit - which he obviously doesn't like.  Cantering makes any discomfort more obvious, as the gait naturally lends itself to the horse lifting and rounding his back.  When the saddle is wrong, lifting your back into pain results in strong objections!


The impression pad is a clear plastic saddle pad filled with red dough.  I place this closest to the horse, then tack up as usual and ride for about a half hour.  Afterwards when I carefully untack, any displaced dough shows where pressure point were on the horse's back from the saddle or pads.


After this first ride I took a correction half pad and shimmed it in a way that I hoped would resolve Note's issues.  Then I rode the same saddle with the correction pad and the impression pad again.  The impression wasn't great either time, but Note seemed much more comfortable the second ride, showing that at least the shimmed saddle was better than without a correction pad.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8_zxW4A_8M


He was so much better behaved that I even popped him over a couple cross rails.  That was so I could see how the saddle fit over fences when he was lifting his back in a more pronounced way.


I rode Note in the same saddle again today, with the correction pad but no impression pad.  This was so I could try him without the first ride in a painful setup to compare.  Note still didn't seem entirely comfortable, although he wasn't a bronc.  I think I'll pass on this particular saddle and wait for just the right one.  This is a tricky case, as I can tell when the saddle doesn't fit, but in this situation I'm not entirely sure WHY it doesn't fit.  At least Note is telling me what he thinks, and since his opinion matters the most I can go with that.

Stay tuned for further saddle fit rides.  I'm planning to get Note going well enough to start competing him this year, so a properly fitted saddle is a necessity.  I'll get it sorted out eventually, this is just proving to be more complicated than my average tack adjustments.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Saxon is SOLD!


 Saxon has found his new forever home, and he got there safely yesterday!  Congratulations to Mark and all the folks at The Village Club in Denver, you will all get a tremendous amount of joy from this big guy!


Saturday morning I loaded Saxon into my extra large trailer to head south to Denver to his new home.  Thankfully the trailer is plenty large enough to accommodate the big guy!

When we arrived at Saxon's new barn we got there about five minutes before Mark, his new owner.  We took the time to capture some glamour shots.  




Once Mark arrived and we had finished the last of the paperwork I unloaded Saxon from the trailer. 


As they were getting Saxon's new stall ready with fresh shavings, water, and hay Mark led Saxon to the arena so he could get a good look at his new home.






Pointing out the barn to Saxon as he's given the tour.


Saxon will have a special place both at the barn and in his new family's heart.  About two months ago they unfortunately lost their previous horse at nearly thirty years old.  Saxon is the new equine member of the family, and is already touching the hearts of everyone who meets him!


Once the stall was prepared, we all headed to the beautiful stone building where Saxon's new stall was located.




Saxon happily went right into his stall, then through the door into his run on the back side of the barn.  To his delight, with his height he could easily reach over the fence into his neighbor's feed tub to have a mouthful of hay.  It was a simple matter to scoot the hay feeder over to the other side, and Saxon got his own pile of snacks inside his stall.


We left Saxon with his new fan club adoring him, feeling quite happy with how things turned out for this special horse. 

The following morning I got this text with a photo from Mark: "Very spoiled!  He is incredibly affectionate.  Yesterday we were talking and he had to be in the mix."


I'm so pleased we found such a great match for Saxon.  Congratulations to Mark and his family, as well as the other folks at The Village Club.  We wish you all the best and are so pleased you found your newest family member!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Turnout in the Arena

Today I packed as much as I could into our lovely 54 deg weather.  I did some saddle fitting and riding with Note, then rode Raven, taught two lessons, met a new client, and gave Atlantis, then Highboy and Dewey turnout in the arena.  It's funny how turnout there works.  Everyone lives in a paddock that is close to or the same size as the arena, but something about the jumps and the change of scenery brings out the silly in everyone when they have free time there.


Dewey actually put the greenery in his mouth, rolled it around and chewed it up, then spit it out while giving me a scolding look for only having fake flowers.


Atlantis posed with the flowers as well, though he at least realized they were plastic before he put them in his mouth.

Highboy and Dewey thoroughly enjoyed their lip wrestling, and took breaks to run around the arena.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR0z_Uzv_Pg


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Winter Art


I've sold a few pieces since I announced in Nov. that I was going to begin selling my art.  This portrait was purchased by my friend for her mother.  It's her horse Rawhide, who I had here in training last summer.


This one is a study of Miles' eye.  I feel like eyes are difficult to do, so I've been drawing many of them to try and get myself to see just the shades of grey, not cognitively recognize it as an "eye".


This one is Billy, one of my most favorite quarter horses.


An old friend of mine from WA has a cute tricolored corgi named Simon, and she commissioned a portrait of him which I mailed out this week.


This is a drawing of Highboy that I did in about an hour.  I'm finding that he is difficult to draw because I know him so well.  I find that I see "Highboy", instead of seeing light, dark, and shades in between.  As a result I end up drawing him often, trying to get it just right.


Today I worked on my first mule, and I thought to take some photos of the process:

First I draw a grid onto my reference photo, and a proportionately sized grid onto my paper, which in this case was 2' x 3'.  After the grids are there, I draw an outline of whatever the subject is.


Next I add some scribbles to designate dark areas.  I fill in the darkest parts first with a conte crayon since it's the blackest thing I've found.  If it's a horse I always do the eyes second to last, and tack (if it's there) very last because those parts are the most detailed.


Then I continue filling in the other parts of the drawing, making the dark parts as dark as I can.  The lightest parts I do with pencil, and the medium shades I do in charcoal since it covers large areas pretty easily.  I use graphite pencils for the really detailed parts, and a blending stick if I'm trying to get the drawing really close to photo accuracy and don't want pencil lines.


The results are pretty cool!  I still can't believe I can do this - I'm so grateful for this perk to brain damage.