Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Turkey Rescue

This morning the dogs were barking at some people walking around in our front pasture.  When I went outside to investigate I found my neighbors who live just north of us circling the loafing shed that doesn't have a horse living in it.  Shane and Cheryl pointed out the very large turkey who was hunkered down within the wooden structure.  They explained that it lived with it's buddy across the street, but had roamed to their yard early this morning.  Their dogs had chased it off, and while its friend ran home, this turkey sought refuge within my empty loafing shed.

Miles and Forrest made a couple attempts at chasing it, but I was able to call them off and send them back to the garage because the poor creature was super stressed.  All the humans did some brainstorming, and we decided to go with my idea of putting a dog crate in the loafing shed, then herding the turkey in with a large towel.  Owen and Shane carried the crate into the shed, then I tossed a towel over the turkey's head.  I gently grasped its neck just behind its head and guided it into the crate, where it crouched down and continued to hide in the crate under the towel.

Once I had shut the door, Owen and Shane picked up the crate and put it in the back of Shane's truck. He and Cheryl took the turkey home, and then returned my crate.

During all this kerfuffle Highboy watched intensely from across the driveway, insisting that he could come help! 

Beauty and June watched the action from their paddock, too.

One large feather came off the turkey while the dogs had been chasing it, and so we have a large striped souvenir of our morning turkey rescue!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Lacey's Conformation

Here are Lacey's conformation photos for her file.  She has a bright future as a broodmare with lovely conformation, athleticism, and bloodlines, so I am putting together her details. 

She also had a good ride today, and started to lighten up on her front end and quit hanging on me after we did many transitions and some pole work to get her thinking.  You can see in these photos how much overstride she has in the trot, as well as some impressive hang-time in her gait over poles!

Dewey in Training

This January Sara bought Dewey, and he's in training with me for March and April.  I am super pleased with how he is coming along, and how different he looks now that he's developing correct muscling with regular work.

I hopped on Dewey briefly today to show her how he's doing before Sara got on, and her photos came out wonderful!

I did like this photo as an explanation for false collection, though.

At first glance you might think that Dewey looks quiet and civilized, and you'd be right, but he's not moving correctly.  The give-away is that the front of his face is behind the vertical, and he's not stepping very far underneath himself with his hind leg.  Compare this one to the previous photos, where the front of his face is in front of the vertical, and his hind leg is stepping well underneath himself.  That longer step with his hind end is what enables him to lift his back and stretch up with his shoulder.  But if he's holding his head in such a way that he is flexing at the third cervical vertebrae rather than at the poll, it drastically inhibits the motion of his hind leg.

We're so proud of Dewey, I've taken to calling him Super Dew after really good rides, since he's tall enough that we can't really call him Little Dew anymore.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Free Jumping Chute

Today we set up a free jumping chute in the arena.  Normally I do the free jumping with the horses at liberty in the round pen.  Unfortunately, in the last snow storm we had 70+ mph winds, and a quarter of my round pen blew down in the storm.  I purchased supplies today for repairs, but I haven't actually put the walls back together again yet.  So jumping chute in the arena it is!

To set up the arena for this adventure, we organized three jumps.  The first one was to be a cross rail, then 24' to a small vertical, then 36' to a small oxer.  Next we set up the "wall" using the barrels and the rest of the standards and poles to keep the horses jumping straight down the long side of the arena.

Highboy and Raven have done enough jumping at liberty with me in the past that they had the idea already as to what they were supposed to do.  All the same, since they hadn't been in a chute, I introduced it as though they never had done it before.  I began by leading the horse down the chute over ground poles, giving a small cookie after each set of poles with a generous handful from the bucket at the end of the line.  Next time we walked through over small cross rails, with treats at the very end.  By the third time they were totally clear on what they were to do, and ready to do it without me.

This video is of me leading Highboy through the chute to give him the idea.

This video is of Highboy doing the chute on his own.

Raven  and Highboy are so acclimated to how we do things here, they were very easy to direct down the line.  They happily hopped over everything then came straight to either me or Jasi, whoever was set up to catch them and send them through again.

These next four photos are of Raven in the chute, and the video at the end is her jumping her way to me.  After the oxer she calmly stopped and politely asked for her cookie from me.

Lacey also had a chance to go through the chute.  She hasn't been here working with me for very long, and is still learning how the liberty game works.  She also isn't quite as confident in her own jumping abilities, which you can see from her video in how wiggly she is down the line.

She did thoroughly enjoy herself, though!  Lacey did some running and bucking and playing between trips through the chute, and by the end she had the idea.  I was careful to keep the jumps a very manageable size for her, and we quit while she was still having a great time.  This is so she leaves the exercise thinking it was super fun and she's eager to try it again next time.  Here are her photos and video.

The other horses all watched the fun from their paddocks, and the jumping horses all looked eager to try it next.  Should be a fun couple of days as Lacey thinks her way through the jumping and learns to trust herself and her athleticism.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Spring is Officially Here

Hear ye, hear ye, spring has officially commenced, as Dewey has enthusiastically begun his Spring Splash Party.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Note Progress

I seem to have found a saddle that Note likes to jump in!  I successfully found a dressage saddle for him a few weeks ago, and last week I was able to purchase a jumping saddle for him.  Now we can really get down to business training and conditioning him to start competing this spring.

This video is of Note jumping 2'6", this ride was his first time jumping this height.  He was being a little silly on the flat, swapping leads when he would lose his balance or get bored, but once we were jumping and he had his mind focused on a task he was much better.

This video is fairly long, from his warmup on the flat in the new saddle.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Lacey's Evaluation Videos

I have a new mare in for training, her name is Lacey and she arrived here from California almost a month ago.  She is an extremely well bred Hanoverian warmblood (but has the thoroughbred brain which we love) and is a stunning athlete.  She was purchased to be a broodmare because of her athleticism and bloodlines, but the buyer/current owner wants her broodmares to also be trained so that if for some reason they need to be sold they have a future as riding horses.  So Lacey is here in training for a while as preparation for breed inspections as well as to determine her training level.

When I did her evaluation ride I did notice that she can get heavy on the forehand, which is very typical for a warmblood.  Smaller circles and transitions help her to rebalance and get off her forehand.  It's also critical that I keep a very soft feel of the reins - if the rider braces she does as well and gets heavier and heavier as well as faster and faster.  As long as she knows I'm not going to pull on her or allow her to pull on me she is a lovely ride!  Because of this I'm also only riding her in a very gentle eggbutt snaffle bit so that she doesn't have any reason to be tense or brace on the metal in her mouth.

Here is the first video, "1 Flatting"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuSdPf8YmAg&t=217s
In this we do a little walk/trot/canter, and towards the end of the video I start warming her up over crossrails and she's pretty relaxed.  I stop her after each jump, this is to help her stay calm and quiet, as well as rebalance herself.  In the video you can hear me talking to her and sighing loudly.  The loud exhales are to teach her "breathing halts" so that she begins to cue better off of my weight shifts and breathing.  Once she knows these, the reins and bit become more fashion than function.  I want her to get the idea that she can slow down and relax while jumping so there are some long pauses for praise and cookies.

The second one is "2 Begin Xrails"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq5_H04xVoc
In this video of the same ride she gets a little bit rushy through the line of small jumps, but she comes around well and listens to me when I direct her to try again in a more civilized manner.  Throughout the ride I flat her first, then take her over small crossrails, then I go down to ground poles and just focus on getting her to relax and think through it.  

The last video is "3 Finish Ground Poles" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmLwdHiV8d8
As the ride goes on, Lacey is expecting the jumps to get bigger and faster.  To combat this, I'm totally changing it up from what she expects by making the tasks smaller and easier as the ride progresses.  This gets her to think through the questions rather than just expecting the ride to follow a pattern of "progressively bigger and faster". By the end she is really thinking and you can see that she visibly relaxes and slows down when I loosen the reins in the gymnastic.
These videos were taken a couple weeks ago, and Lacey has made some great progress since then.  Others watching her say that during her rides you can almost see her brain kick in, and then she starts to say, "OH!  You mean I just have to relax, slow down, and do these tiny jumps?  I don't have to work so hard?  I can do THAT!"
This coming week we'll be getting more current video of her riding, free jumping, and conformation photos.  She's a fun mare and a pleasure to have around!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Snow Day!

We've had some COLD weather!  Monday morning was -21 when I went out to take care of the horses at first light.  When the snow first started falling and we got up Saturday morning it wasn't yet bitterly cold, so we let Rush, Dancer, and Rain out into the front pasture to play in the fluffy white stuff.  I got some video on my phone, Kimberly Hale Photography got some fun shots, and Jasi took some great ones as well.