Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Friday, August 5, 2022

Big Wildlife

 The wildlife here is BIG.  Several weeks ago I saw a very tall and stocky coyote, and discovered that the coyotes here can get to 80lbs.  By comparison the biggest coyotes we saw in CO were around 40 lbs, or the size of Pascal. 

Tonight Owen and I were outside with the horses and Dewey and Miss Pea were very alarmed.  They were honking and snorting and prancing along the fence line while staring towards the pond.  When I looked over from my stance at the barn to see what they were going on about I saw the largest black bear I’ve ever seen in person!  

It was easily half the height of one of my big horses, and very thick built.  The black bears I’ve seen in the west were always just a bit larger than my 70lb dog, but this one made those look minuscule.  After finishing its drink from the pond it casually lumbered off into the nearby woods.  Now that Dewey and Miss Pea have pointed it out I guess I can no longer scoff at Highboy and exclaim “they’re just deer!” when he says there are large predators in the woods.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Daisy Riding with Raven

I have this leftover opening in my arena fence from where the sand trucks came in and out during deliveries.  Recently Raven was so worked up about me and Daisy riding without her that she ran to the far end of the arena, entered, and proceeded to do our entire arena ride with us by our side!  

I was initially a little irritated because that wasn’t what I’d planned for my ride, but I decided to go with it and see just how close Raven would stay.  Turns out she was RIGHT there for walk, trot, canter, circles, and changes of direction.  It wouldn’t take much to put together a liberty act with both mares like that.  Now I’m thinking about music and how to incorporate the dogs, too!


Later on my ride with Daisy we walked under this tall post with a vulture who was posed with his wings spread.  Not moving or flapping, just spread out. Was he signaling something to other birds? Airing out his underarms? I have questions!  He just stood like that for several minutes. An internet search revealed that he was probably doing it to cool off. Just felt a little ominous to have him staying right at us the whole time…!


 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Miss Pea Trailrides

 







Miss Pea is enjoying some light hacking out around the property with me and the dogs.  We ride around the trails and fields and ponds, and the dogs love being out and about! 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Miss Pea's First Ride in VA

Miss Pea and I did a little saddle fitting this morning and then went for a brief ride in the arena. 

 

 Such fun to have this redhead back in the barn!

Friday, July 15, 2022

Miss Pea Made It Home!


I had a pleasant greeting when I got home this week after the clinic- Miss Pea has returned! She arrived with the shipping company while I was gone.  Because Sweetpea actually is a sweetheart (unusual because ironically horses named things like Sweetpea, sweetie pie, sugar are often jerks) Owen was able to get her unloaded and settled in himself while I was away with Raven.  I’m happy to report Miss Pea is at a good weight, she’s barefoot, and has happily reintegrated into the Bit of Honey herd.  

She is currently living with Dewey as she transitions to pasture, but had a happy reunion with Raven last night. They were best friends when Sweetpea lived at Bit of Honey a few years ago and had attended many horseshows together. 

I had taken Miss Pea over to the far side of the barn to be hosed and cooled off.  There she and Raven eagerly nickered at each other in greeting over the fence. I did warn Pea that the wire was hot, but in her eagerness to talk with Raven she accidentally touched it and got zapped. She was absolutely disgusted at the electricity and gave me a hearty stink-eye.  I tried to tell her!


Thursday, July 14, 2022

Centered Riding Clinic in NC

 

This past week I was in Taylorsville, NC at Foothills Equestrian Center with Raven for the Centered Riding Instructor Update clinic.  I also got my new camera for my birthday JUST prior to leaving for the clinic, so I tested it out and took thousands of photos over the course of the four days!  I love these clinics because I always learn so much for both my own riding and my teaching, and I truly enjoy the photos documenting the progress everyone makes.


Our fearless leader for this clinic was Deb Moynihan, a Centered Riding level IV instructor and clinician.  Raven loved her!  We did three dressage lessons and one jumping lesson with Deb, and I'm waiting on another photographer's shots of me and Raven in those.  But in the meantime, here's the scoop for the rest of the riders!

This photo is a great illustration of how the human seatbones are shaped like the base of a rocking chair.  Often we think of them as spikes, which makes it very hard to balance.  When we can see the actual shape of the seat bones and notice that they have quite a bit of contact with the saddle it's much easier to sit deep and let your pelvis rock with the motion of the saddle as your seatbones would rock like a rocking chair.

 

We also did some mock transitions with saddles placed on yoga balls.  To get the feeling of trotting or cantering, in a saddle but off the horse this is a fabulous technique.  The instructor can even stand behind the rider and create the movement in the saddle and ball, bouncing for trotting and kind of sliding diagonally for cantering.  This is helpful to give the rider the sensation of each gait without having the horse itself in the equation.



 

These inflated pod-type mats are very challenging for the vestibular system!  To stand on them and balance is much trickier than it looks, and even sitting on one on a chair creates a dramatic change in how a person perceives their seat bones.

Some of our other unmounted work included trampolines for loosening hips as show below.  Gently tapping each hip with the opposite hand creates some swing and loosens up both hips and pelvis.  Adding in the spring from the trampoline challenges the brain to keep all the joints mobile and soft even when the body is in motion.
 

On the last day we attempted some lateral work, both unmounted and on horseback.  Having a "rider" and a "horse" travel around the classroom on foot gave each of us a chance to feel the communication from the rider as transmitted between their hands on the "horse's" ribs.  Switching roles allowed us to fine tune our own cues, and almost  more importantly make sure that our Centered Riding basics were in play.  Having soft eyes looking in the right direction, balanced building blocks, using our centers, and breathing made a tremendous difference in how our "horses" were able to understand our cues and respond!



Amy was one of the updating instructors.  Her gelding, Tino, was an absolute doll and loved to canter.  When he found his balance he looked fabulous.










Cory and her palomino gelding were great fun to watch.  There was an exercise Deb had them do which involved wrapping a theraband behind Cory's hamstrings and holding each end in her hands.  This mentally helped her connect her center to her hands, and resulted in her horse lifting his back and moving in a much more through manner.








No one could resist this darling face!

This corgi mix, Chloe, was a great entertainer each day as well. 

We instructors got daily lessons with Deb, and the folks who had come from farther away and couldn't use their personal horses used stable owned ones.  I was really impressed with these school horses.  They were so incredibly responsive to small changes in their riders, so kind, and seemed very happy with their jobs.  Content animals are a rare find in a large school horse herd, it is a testament to the care they receive and how they are ridden.

 






Elizabeth was another updating instructor.  She was a very centered person with lovely balance and clear communication with her mount.  I really enjoyed watching her rides.


Fergus was the dark bay who helped quite a few people over the course of the clinic.  Here is is working on lateral maneuvers with Donna, another updating instructor.


 

The arena was divided into two, so that we could have two lessons going simultaneously with one on each side of the ring.  It worked out pretty well, and that way Deb was able to keep track of both sides for her evaluations.



Some of the student riders made amazing progress over the course of the clinic.  Lyn was teaching a woman also named Kim (there were three of us Kims!) on her paint gelding.





 



Getting into the canter was a rollicking victory for the three of them, achieved on the final day to a tumultuous round of applause from everyone spectating!



For her own lessons Lyn rode one of the school horses, an total gem of a gelding.  He was so steady and trustworthy, and very cute.

 



Another student rider, Kalen, had a stunning gelding who looked like a draft cross.  They were very dialed in to each other and I was impressed with his responsiveness to all her cues.  They were an incredible pair to watch.








Yet another Kim rode a cute little grey gelding.  They were fun to watch because Kim was able to change very subtle things with her own balance and equitation, which made dramatic changes in the horse's way of going.








If you look closely in these next two shots you can see that Kim is sitting with a green franklin ball beneath each seat bone.  This was to increase sensation for her around her center and help her sit deeper in the saddle.  It definitely worked, check out the lovely trot the horse had shortly after with the assistance of the theraband as well.




Maggie was another student rider who got to try an exercise with the crop.  She had to balance it on her hands, without holding it with her thumbs.  It definitely made her hands more level, and got her to make some entertaining faces!  I think I was most impressed when she was actually able to catch it when it started to roll off!







On their final day, Maggie and her horse did some lateral work.  I managed to stand directly behind them (and not get run over by either side's riding lesson!) and captured some shots of the fine tuned control she had of moving her horse's haunches, and then shoulders.



Rachel, her instructor, got some video of it and they were able to assess the movement visually that way as well.

 Maliha, another student rider, had two very nice geldings she rode.  She had some remarkable changes in her chestnut horse's posture over the course of her rides. 







 Oyuki and Amy, her instructor, experimented with stirrups.  They started out with large wedge pads in the stirrups, then changed to flat pads.  This definitely seemed to help Oyuki to open her knees away from the saddle and helped to dissipate some tension in her legs.




I had the privilege of working with a horse named Smoky, and his rider Tony.  They were a fun pair to teach because Tony was so good at identifying what Smoky was doing, which in turn made it simpler to identify what he was doing with his own body.  We made some minor tweaks to his leg position which helped him get much smoother movement, turns, and gait changes from Smoky.





One day Robin and I switched students, and I did a jumping lesson with Maliha while she coached Tony.  That was fun to watch as well, I loved how she drew his attention to what the footing felt like beneath the hores, wet or dry, which helped Tony to be more aware of his own feet and grounding them.


Robin rode her own mare, Ikea, for the instructor lessons.  I really enjoyed photographing these two - the harmony and communication between them was a pleasure to capture.

 














Another instructor was Rachel, visiting from out of town as well.  She did a great job with the horses she rode for her own lessons, even sitting a good sized spook that I happened to get on camera!



Another reason riding centered helps you to stay aboard even when things literally go sideways!

Cory worked with Rosie on their flatwork through the clinic.  It was fun to watch their progress and see Rosie's horse get lighter!





This entire clinic was a pleasure, from meeting new people and horses to photographing cute dogs.  I was able to stay in my trailer for the duration, which is always good for me to be in a familiar setting.  We had some very impressive thunderstorms, one of which had a lightning strike knock out the power to the stable's water pump house.  I felt very lucky that evening, as I'd been given the option to part next to the pump house or between the dressage and jumping arenas and I'd chosen the latter.  When the lightning hit that pump house I felt very grateful I hadn't been parked right there!  I did discover some leaks in the trailer which oddly caused the floors to be wet, not the ceiling. I'm not entirely sure where the water is coming in, but it must be running down the walls to make the bottom of the trailer soggy but not the top.

The arena was covered and airy, which made the hot temperatures much more bearable.  They told me the ceiling was insulated, which helped with keeping the sun off as well as preventing condensation so it didn't "rain" inside the arena.  Things we didn't worry too much about in CO because we never had enough humidity to create such a situation!

The drive home went smoothly.  We did each drive early in the morning to try and arrive at our destinations before the heat became too unbearable in the back of the trailer for Raven. 

Here is the link to the google drive containing all the photos from the clinic :

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-egRyP25_c4cDT6aQSfoNikCOGi6OqVl?usp=sharing