Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

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.

Working from Home

The jumping continues...  Silver worked on small oxers today and some tricky coursework to stay relaxed through ridiculous turns and changes of direction.



Dewey comes back to work after more than two months off due to a hoof abscess that ended up rupturing in four different places...  out both heel bulbs, between the heel bulbs in the central sulcus, and the lateral sole.  However, he FINALLY is sound and went back to work today.  I love how the horses remember things long-term when they have truly learned it.  He came back to work immediately remembering how to lift his back, getting correct leads through many simple lead changes, and behaving quite well other than playing with Rizzo a little when we were warming up. 

Of course, first we had to get him up from his two hour nap...



Recently I've had to retire Rain, my lesson horse of many years.  She's twenty one now and is starting to feel her age, particularly through her back as normal aging arthritic changes take effect.  Because of this I needed another lesson horse, and I knew that Daisy, the appaloosa pony mare I trained just over a year ago, was looking for a new home.  I was able to get Daisy back and now Jasi is working with her to get her ready to take on the lesson horse job.  The first ride back was humorous as Daisy tried to test Jasi's skills including steering and balance.  Once she realized Jasi wasn't going to react to her antics Daisy settled into a nice ride! 



Highboy also got a chance to come out and play.  It's been a while since I've jumped him so he wasn't as civilized as I'd like, but he sure had fun.  Interesting moments included when he kicked the orange standard and broke it as he was sailing over the minuscule warmup fence, scoffing at the low height.  He also chose to jump the yellow oxer approximately a foot higher than it needed, simply to illustrate that he could.  Oh, Highboy.



Sunday, March 22, 2020

Jumping Rides this Week

This week we were able to get some rides in amidst fluctuating weather, self isolating, disinfecting surfaces, and painting jumps.  I feel quite thankful that both I and my husband work from home and we are able to continue on with our mostly regular life despite the COVID-19 virus and the effects it's having all over the country.

Raven got to work on some tighter turns over the freshly painted fences, and she does love it.  If you watch closely in the video she is having some trouble with changing leads in her hind end so she does some little hops trying to correct that lead at the canter.  This is likely because she needs some more strength in her quadriceps muscle on her left hind.  She has upward fixation of the patella, which is relatively minor and tends to go away as she gets fitter and stronger.  However, during the process of gaining that fitness and strength she has her little hops which let me know with what she's struggling.

Her form over fences is still good, though!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybbRFD-2nnA


Jimmy got to come out and work next while I was teaching a lesson.  He is still in the long-and-low stretchy trot phase of his stamina building, and he does pretty well for a few laps and then when he gets tired he starts taking odd steps every once in a while.  We take it slow and do what he's able to, and make sure we have walk breaks for him to rest.  He still is an absolute gentleman, and he truly want to do the right thing and tries his very best.

Today I introduced some pole work, just walking and then trotting over a series of three poles on the ground.  He's so thoughtful and careful, and really did well once he figured out where to put his feet.



 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BomMswg4oN0


 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryeb37wikeY

Ferriana watched the other horses working from her paddock, insisting that she should be next to go ride.  When I took her out she was really pleased, and not too interested in the flat work to warm up.  When I realized that she mentally needed more than canter circles to get focused I started working her over the crossrails.  As soon as she had obstacles to think about she was all business.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxE1B-22l04

Next we raised them a little and I asked her for some tighter turns
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocjqTYpfPoc&t=67s

Lastly we gave her some oxers to jump, which she sailed over appearing to wish them higher.  I have to really pay attention to my own riding with her for several reasons.  She really hates to be over-ridden, meaning that she gets pretty mad if I cue her too strongly to do something.  She responds to very slight weight shifts and changes in my breathing, the equivalent of whispering to her.  She does NOT want to be shouted at.  So I need to ride her in a particularly finessed way.


Secondly, Ferriana has a powerhouse leap to her that can just about jump me out of the saddle.  She was bred specifically for this purpose, and has the natural scope and explosive ability to get over absolutely anything in great style.  The result is I need to be particularly attentive to my own riding when we're going over fences because it wouldn't take much for her to jump right out from under me!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yuLwPTUUxI

Big thanks to Sara for taking all the video today.  It helps immensely to be able to watch my horses and also critique my own riding so that I can better help these athletes perform to their best abilities.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Introducing Jimmy

This week we have a new off-track Thoroughbred who arrived here for rehab and training. His name is Jimmy, and he raced in Florida until he was eight.  He's a super cute chestnut (I can already hear people exclaiming "oh good, I'll be able to tell this one apart from all the bays!") with white stockings.  He's been with the same owner since he came off the track about a year ago, and he was super fortunate to land with her.  She has been very thorough in caring for him during his letdown, including gelding him, having correct dental work done, and assessing and treating his "racing jewelry" so that he is looking pretty good now that he's ready to begin sporthorse training.

Jimmy has a white blaze down his face, with a little crescent moon over his right eye.  While it can't be seen in these two headshots, he also has a "kiss here" spot on his upper lip.


Jimmy and I worked together a little bit today, as a first getting-to-know-you session.  He's been an absolute pleasure to have around the barn so far, and he continued in the same vein today.  I tied him at the horse trailer to groom him, and the first thing he did was take pause to admire himself in the side of the mirrored trailer.  Often horses argue with their reflections when they first see themselves, but Jimmy merely waggled his eyebrows at himself and then settled in to munch on his hay bag.  I gave him a thorough grooming and inspected him nose to tail, and found that he's in pretty good shape.  He needs some muscling, but that's why he came to Bit of Honey.

Once he was cleaned up I brought out the parade of tack to see what would fit him best for this first training session.  I tried a few different saddles on Jimmy, and ended up with a dressage saddle that I purchased for Note, but I don't like how it feels when I ride him in it.  However, it must sit balanced differently on Jimmy than on Note, because I really didn't like it when I rode Note in it but I totally forgot the saddle while riding Jimmy.  For me that's the mark of a great saddle fit, when I don't notice the saddle at all.

After checking his teeth, which looked good, I put the bridle on Jimmy that came with him.  It's a french link snaffle on a Micklem headstall.  He did toss his head some when I first put the bit in his mouth, but I explained that if he doesn't like it to just let me know and I'll change it, and he then got very quiet.  I fastened the straps on the bridle leaving two fingers width between the leather and his face so there was no pressure being applied, and we headed down to the arena with Pascal the border collie.

Jimmy was so quiet for tacking and so mannerly walking away from the other horses that I took him to the arena instead of the round pen.  We walked around in the indoor for a while so he could look at all the toys I've accumulated on the side of the wall, and while he found them interesting he was more far more motivated to lie down to roll in the nice soft sand footing.  He made it to his knees, but unfortunately for him this is not allowed if you're wearing a saddle.  When I shouted once and hustled to get him back up before doing any damage to the tack he immediately stood again, and looked at me with a slightly bashful expression as if to apologize and say that the other horses hadn't told him about that rule yet.

I did a little lunging each direction with Pascal loudly encouraging Jimmy (Jimmy totally ignored the puppy antics).  He was going to the right to start and when he picked up the trot he had some odd movement in his hind end.  I had him change directions and he looked fine going to the left.  I switched back and he looked fine to the right the second time.  This fits with the medical history I have on him, and currently we're hoping that it's just needing strength training behind.

Jimmy was polite, stood quietly for mounting, and didn't seem phased by me adjusting stirrup lengths once aboard.  We walked around some, and then picked up a trot.  He liked the saddle and moved well in it, even trying to lift his back and stretch out his topline some.  The rhythm was consistent and while I did occasionally feel a bobble in the hind end, particularly in down transitions (again fitting the medical history) mostly he felt stable.

I had a friend with me who was able to take some video, and it's interesting to see how his posture changes from the beginning to the end of the short video.  In this still taken from the video at the beginning you can see that while his legs are in the same position as in other photos, he is carrying his weight very much on his forehand and not reaching up underneath himself with his hind leg.  I've added lines to show how his withers are lower than his haunches, and that his hind leg is touching down behind the back of the saddle pad.


In this photo from the end of the video, you can see Jimmy is less heavy on his forehand, and the horizontal line is less dramatically tipped forward.  The line showing his hind foot landing is now just behind the saddle, which is a much bigger step with the hind than in the first photo.


It's a small difference, but a change in the correct direction with regards to posture and using his core muscles!  Jimmy is shaping up to be a super fun project with a willing personality, I forsee many long walks in the back forty cruising up and down hills in his future.  Butt muscles for everyone!

Here is the short video in full: