Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Highboy Ready for Horse Trials!

Highboy and I are officially ready to get packing for his very first recognized horse trial! We will be headed to Laramie for the Windy Wyoming Horse Trials this weekend. I have set my goals for the weekend:

1 - to remain in the dressage court for the duration of our test (not jumping out despite those little white fences that should be jumps)

2 - stay mounted throughout all phases of competition (no falling off)

I've waited three years to be able to show Highboy at a recognized event. First he needed rehab, then he grew 4" taller and I had to wait for his muscles to catch up with his bones, then I had to wait for his brain to mature, then I had to figure out how he jumps best. We are finally at a place where we can give this a try!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Musical Feed Tubs

Recently I rearranged the herd a little bit.  Cole my Connemara has been brought in from the west pasture now that we are nearing the end of grass growing season, and is now in a paddock in the front.  Highboy is his roommate.  They are a comical pair.  Short, squatty, overweight, white marshmallow Cole standing next to stretched out, tall, thin, narrow, bay Highboy.  Cole always wants to be in charge of the herd, but if he is in a position of power he becomes a terrible tyrant.  Highboy fortunately is over Cole in the hierarchy.  This new living situation lends itself to some hilarity, especially the first couple days they were together.

Highboy arrived in the paddock, and immediately began to herd Cole around.  If Cole stopped, Highboy would shove him with a shoulder/head/hip, and if that didn't get Cole moving again Highboy would nip him in the armpit or behind his knee.  Poor overweight Cole eventually got to the point where he would just walk slow circles around the pen, and each time they passed the big round hay bale Cole would snatch a mouthful of hay to fortify himself for the next lap.

The next tricky part was feeding Highboy his mash.  Highboy gets a large amount of mash twice daily in order for his weight to keep up with his metabolism and busy nature.  He also is not particularly food motivated.  When I dumped Highboy's mash for the first feeding in the new living quarters, he emphatically chased Cole away from the tub two or three times.  However, Cole has not achieved his pot-bellied physique by taking no for an answer.  Cole repetitively asked, "Please?  How about now?  Or now?  Please?"  Highboy gave up relatively quickly and allowed Cole to share the mash.

Unfortunately sharing with Cole is a little like sharing with a vacuum cleaner.  He just sort of yawns and the food is gone.  I could see that Highboy wasn't going to get nearly enough of his own mash, and Cole was going to nab most of the meal, which he definitely did not need.

I took Cole out of the paddock and turned him out with Dewey (who eats his food with gusto and was done).  The two of them then proceeded to "neener-neener" Highboy over the fence.  They ran laps around the outside while Highboy leaped around inside, demanding that they come back here and finish what they started!  Highboy still wasn't eating because he was so involved with the game of Neener-neener.

Next I set up a tying area in the loafing shed inside the paddock with Cole and Highboy.  I have to tie Cole carefully, because he is absolutely brilliant about getting loose, especially when motivated by mash.  The clip on the lead rope must be a bull snap, a puzzling piece of metal that many humans can barely operate.  If I use a regular snap Cole can undo it by grasping it with his lips and flicking it open with his tongue.  I've watched him do it.  I also have to use a rope halter tied securely on his face, because he knows exactly how much pressure to apply to get a breakaway halter to tear, and he is able to finagle his way out of a regular leather halter by rubbing a taut lead rope over the crown piece, thus lifting the halter off over his ears without ever undoing a buckle.

Once Cole was securely fastened in the loafing shed, I fed Highboy his mash again.  It worked for a little while, until Highboy got bored with his mash and left it to go pester Tied Cole while he couldn't get away.  We'll see what I come up with tomorrow.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Telephone Call

I had a great phone call this evening. I found Fason this past spring through a Canter Ky trainer listing, and today Fason's old racing owner in Ohio contacted me about a similar horse who just isn't running fast anymore. He'd like to retire him to a show home and thought of me first. Apparently the horse is nearly as tall as Fason, sound, 16.3 or 17 hands, 7 years old, chestnut with a blaze, and has that sleek sporthorse look. He just raced last week and came back sound, just doesn't seem interested in running anymore. I told him I'd definitely keep the gelding in mind if I hear of anyone looking. We then chatted about Fason's progress. It was a wonderful phone call and I feel fortunate to have access to such good track people, which results in first dibs on the next fancy sporthorse prospect!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saddle Club Show

Saturday this week was happily spent at the Rockie Mountain Saddle Club show.  We took a big group of horses, three big OTTBs and little Cosmo the pony, plus Billy the QH and Khreed the Arabian.  Everyone performed really well, and Cosmo outdid himself jumping in the hunter hack class!

Look at his knees - he just tucks them up so tight - and this is totally his natural form!  The hardest thing to do on a horse is nothing at all.  Jasi does an amazing job staying out of Cosmo's way, especially when jumping so that he can use his body correctly.  This type of good riding results in a little horse who is truly athletic over fences.

This show is put on entirely by volunteers, and it's no small feat to organize and run it!  They were a little short handed this weekend so I ended up being the ring steward for the english division classes.  That means I stood in the middle of the arena with the judge and manned the walkie-talkie to keep communication going and the show moving along.  I also was in the middle of the warmup arena in my orange shirt hoping I didn't get run over!

Dewey did really well at the show, he is becoming quite the seasoned traveler.

 Joyce cleaned up in her division, she and Khreed are really getting good at their leads at the canter.

Friday Night with Highboy and Dewey

Friday night we took a little time to play with two of our favorites, Highboy and Dewey.  I jumped Highboy a bit in the arena and Dewey worked over some cross rails.  Jasi took awesome photos so we have documentation that it really happened. 

Dewey had a great time as well, though he seemed to be tired by just watching Highboy.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Lory State Park

Today I took a few clients to Lory State Park here by us in Fort Collins.  It has a beautiful cross country course that has been recently updated, so we perused the fences to get a feel for the lay of the land.  We also hopped over the very small ones, that were more trail-riding size which we could walk over.

The way I school cross country with new horses is pretty simple.  I usually ride someone who is very comfortable out on trails and over fences.  Today I took Tao the haflinger because he is my steadiest mount with his thinking draft horse brain.  To introduce him and the other horses to these new fences we first walk alongside them, at least once each direction, so the horse can get a good look at the fence out of each eyeball.  Once the horses are comfortable doing that, I'll take my horse over the smallest jump at the walk, so the other horses can see it's no big deal.  I find horses learn a great deal by watching each other.  Then I go back and I take Tao over the jump again at the walk, this time with the first student horse just behind me.  This gives the student's horse confidence by being able to do the obstacle with a little herd that includes my confident mount.  If there is any kind of terrain change we make sure to do it going uphill the first time.  I repeat the pair routine with each of the horses in the group, until each horse is confident enough to do that small jump at the walk by himself.

If there is a terrain change, the next step in this slow progression is to do the jump at the walk going downhill.  We sometimes had to repeat the pairs process, but mostly the horses (and riders) were starting to get the idea.

The four of us (well, eight if you count the horses) made our way through the entire cross country field in this manner.  By the time we reached the far end of the field, all the horses were pretty comfortable looking at, then going over weird looking small jumps.  We then made our way back to the parking lot while riding the trail on the other side of the road, with a quick stop at the lake, then back to the trailer.

We took some short videos of the horses and riders going over a log out on course, which can be seen here: