Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Note the Mountain Trail Horse

This past weekend Owen and I took Rizzo and Note to Jack's Gulch up in Poudre Canyon for a long weekend of trail riding.  As usual Owen ran on foot, and I rode.  Rizzo stuck right with us for all 26 miles over the weekend!  

Thursday we arrived and got settled in, and Note had a wild temper tantrum in his stall/paddock because he thought this was the strangest horse race to which he'd ever been hauled.  He eventually gave it up and decided to eat his hay bag instead.  The next morning we got up early and I tacked Note for the day's ride.  He began the ride doing airs above ground, excited and cantankerous and ready to argue with me over every shadow and small puddle he needed to pass.  This included rearing up, spinning around, and double-barrel kicking at nothing in particular.

Due to a small error on my part where we went right instead of left at one of the intersections after the trailhead, our first day trip ended up being much longer than we had planned.  It consisted of extremely rocky terrain with steep hills, drop-offs, water crossings, bridges, and excessive mud (I dismounted to get Note through it and sunk up to my knee!).  However, by the end of the nearly three hour ride over thirteen miles Note was truly mentally and physically tired.  He would casually glance at a shadow and walk past.  He'd notice a puddle and avoid it.  He actually stood, tired, and ate his mash and hay quietly once we returned to camp!



Saturday we did a shorter, six mile, ride to the three main water crossings through the river which was quite low.  I practiced going in and out of the water with Note, as well as walking around in the water.  The first dozen or so attempts at water I ended up backing him in because he had decided that he would refuse to go in the normal way.  This meant I backed him down banks, over rocks, down stairs made of tree roots, over all kinds of odd entries.  The hikers watching gave me odd looks, and Owen explained to them that he didn't want to go in forwards, so I took him in backwards.  Backwards wasn't as scary for him since his "guns" went into the water first.  After repeatedly entering and exiting the river from all angles and directions Note finally just gave it up and walked in and out like a civilized creature. 


Luckily we had Rizzo to show us how it was done.


On Sunday we did one last ride in the morning before we had to leave the campsite.  This one was the trail I'd originally intended to do as our first go.  It had a long stretch of good footing, where we could trot and canter with logs down all over the trail.  It essentially looked like one of the complicated gymnastics I set up in the arena at home, with logs shaped like ground poles and small jumps at all angles.  Note had some really nice footwork, trotting through some and bouncing through at the canter at others.  He seemed relieved to have something familiar to do!  There was one other spot with a larger fallen tree across the trail, which required Note to actually canter and jump it.  He seemed so pleased and confident going over something he'd seen before at home.  As a bonus, this last ride also went through all the same water crossings we'd done the previous days, so he had another chance to do it forwards. 

This trip was a blast.  Note really needed the long trail with extreme technicality to realize that he should ration his energy and skip the temper tantrums.  I wouldn't usually ride a horse this hard when they are new to trail riding, but Note has never been a usual horse.  This worked out really well and now I can officially say Note is another Mountain Thoroughbred!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Barefoot Mountain Thoroughbred

Today Owen and I went early in the morning while it was still cool to Red Mountain Open Space with Raven.  We did a twelve mile loop along Cheyenne Rim trail, which has significant elevation change as you go up to the rim and then back down again.  Raven was amazing, never put a foot wrong, and we trotted, cantered, and galloped a significant portion of the ride.  It works out well, since Owen is a trail runner he has a pretty consistent pace, and with the horses I do a little of each gait for conditioning.  We end up leap-frogging for most of the trip, but we usually start and finish together.

I didn't remember to bring my gopro on this ride.  However, because Raven is so surefooted and confident on the trails even at speed I got several videos on my phone.  I held it in my hand while I neck-reined her through switchbacks and turns, even on trails with a drop off at one side.  Raven is a rockstar at this kind of thing, and I said several times to myself that I ride an amazing Barefoot Mountain Thoroughbred. 

That said, some of the videos are very high-motion, especially the last one where we gallop through the wash.  Enjoy what you can see of the view!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Highboy Training Level at Sunrise

At the last minute I was able to add Highboy to the training level mini horse trial at Sunrise in Fort Collins this weekend.  Highboy was a dork, but Kimberly Hale Photography was able to get some beautiful shots in between Highboy's antics.

Everyone laughed when we saw the expressions on our faces in this warmup shot.  Highboy is clearly making a scene, and I have this expression like, "Really?  This AGAIN?"  It went like this.....

The dressage judge was very kind and even put this comment on our test, "athletic horse, tactful rider".  Our whole fiasco of a test can be seen here:

After the test I made Highboy canter around in the warmup some more on each lead.  I'm very glad this was an inexpensive show that was very close to home, because I would be furious if I'd taken him somewhere that mattered to me and he behaved like this.  It's especially frustrating because he IS so athletic, and rides wonderfully at home, but he just cannot seem to use his athleticism for good instead of evil at shows.  He's eleven years old now, and I'm STILL getting these nonsensical rides from him.  Highboy is awfully lucky I like him.  I'm very nearly at the decision to use him for schooling, training (which I enjoy), and riding cross country when I'm teaching, and quit showing him for a few years.  I have Raven to compete with and I'm getting really frustrated with him performing fabulously at home in all three phases, then acting like an orangutan at the show.  He's had seven years of traveling and competing extensively - I have been extremely patient with him.  There's still part of me that knows what he CAN do and wants to show that off, but it's getting embarrassing to go to show after show after show and have him behave like he's three.  Perhaps it's time to let him be my trail and training horse and quit trying to force the athletic square peg into a round hole.

Showjumping (complete with audience gasps and exclamations) can be seen here:

Show jumping was our warmup for cross country, and by the time we got into the field Highboy was feeling barn sour.  He really wanted to just run back to the trailer.  Despite the show organizers doing a wonderful job adding a more difficult level, Highboy openly scoffed at the training level fences he felt weren't challenging enough.  The one refusal we had at the white picket fence/brush jump was simply because he wanted to run back to the start.  Thankfully Kimberly still was able to get some good photos.

Here is the video Sara captured for us.

Overall we had a pretty good time, despite my frustrations with Highboy's mentality.  Mostly I'm super grateful for the folks at Sunrise Equine and Redefined Equestrian for hosting and organizing this event.  I truly am grateful to have such a great facility that's so friendly to use so close to home.