Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

Bernie Traurig Clinic

We really enjoyed ourselves at the Bernie Traurig clinic at the Peaceable Kingdom Farm in Fort Collins two weeks ago.  Beauty was such a solid citizen that Alice was asked if she'd lease Beauty for lessons!  When I heard Beauty had been propositioned I quickly called dibs on our super steady mare.  Alice has put so much into her to make her the amazing jumping horse she is today, we all felt incredibly proud.  Alice also got absolutely glowing reviews on her equitation from Bernie, she has a lovely half seat that allows her to stay super balanced no matter what the horse is doing.

Some videos of Beauty and Alice can be seen here:

Carol and Ladd also did well.  The cantering and jumping exercises pushed them a little, but they were able to accomplish them all by the end of the clinic.  Because Ladd's luscious arabian mane is so long I insisted that we braid it for the clinic.  After we started Bernie insisted the mane be unbraided so Carol would have something to hang on to during her crest releases, so I had to eat my hat.

Some video of Ladd and Carol can be seen here:

The first day of the clinic Raven was nuttty.  This was her first outing of the season, and she's always a little silly her first day anywhere.  However, the photos came out really nice and it became clear that she's had a lot of training in dressage as an eventing horse.  She's really starting to lift her front end and reach with her haunches, putting her in a lovely dressage frame but not so much a suitable hunter frame.  That's ok with me, since this clinic was to get her some exposure and mileage off the ranch and not to assess her suitability as a hunter.

The second day we ended up riding in the indoor arena because a quick thunder and lightning storm moved through ceasing all outdoor activities.  Raven was much better the second day because it was the second day, and she also had fewer things to worry about in an enclosed arena.

Some video of Raven can be seen here:

Many thanks to Catherine for hosting the clinic, we know it's no simple thing to organize and schedule such a great weekend.  Thanks too, to Bernie for coming and teaching!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Bit of Honey Circus

Come one, come all to the
Bit of Honey Circus!

Date:  Saturday May 11, 2019

Location:  Bit of Honey Training LLC, 16687 N County Rd 9, Wellington, CO 80549

Format:  Up to 3 people/horses per group session lasting 1.5 hours.
Kim will be coaching the groups to ensure safety and a positive experience
for all horses and humans.  Participation may be mounted or unmounted.

Obstacles:  Bridge, yellow brick road, hula hoops, jumps, ring of fire, umbrellas,
raincoats, tinsel curtain, balloons, and much more!

Fees:  $100 for the day includes your 1.5hr coached group session in the circus,
and you may audit all other sessions.  No additional haul-in fees.

Food:  Pack a lunch, you’ll want to stay and watch the other horses go through!

Paperwork:  Negative coggins within 1 year
liability release form signed
entry form completed

Stalling:  Overnight stabling is available, contact Kim for details

 For entry form email Kim at bitofhoneytraining@gmail.com

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Bernie Traurig Clinic

This weekend we're at the Bernie Traurig clinic at Peaceable Kingdom Farm in Fort Collins.  It's a hunter jumper clinic, and we're eventers, but there's always something to learn from different disciplines.

Alice and Carol are riding in the crossrails group first thing in the morning at 8, and even though it was overcast Kimberly Hale Photography got some great photos!

I rode Raven in the 2'3" group, but she was feeling her Feisty McSassyPants and so the clinician had us just doing small crossrails and cavalletti to try and settle her. 

This last one is from when I was in the arena watching Carol and Alice's rides.  Because the clinician teaches with more traditional techniques using regular aids such as reins and leg, I was pondering how best to translate the instruction into Centered Riding jargon for them.  Clearly I had some serious thoughts!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Huck in the Round Pen

Recently I've been getting this look from Huck quite a bit.  The skeptical one that says, "NOW what are you doing??"  The guy isn't sure what to make of me and my strange human ways.  He's settled down in his paddock some, not pacing the fenceline as much now as when he first arrived.  I often find that horses are nervous when they initially get here because they don't know what to expect. Eventually when they realize there is a dependable routine they settle in well and Huck had been one of these horses. 

He's had some new-to-him experiences over the last week, and I feel grateful that he trusts me enough to let me do all these things to him!  I've shortened his mane to show-pony length, trimmed his fetlocks and bridlepath, as well as trimming the ear do-dads which tend to stick out past the edges of ears.  He's mostly in his summer coat now, with just a little more shedding to do.  He's had a visit with the vet for sedation and a dental, and we've made several more trips to the round pen for training sessions.

Huck seems to like the attention and grooming, and naturally he enjoys the cookies, but the training sessions have given him pause.  I'm still in the process of determining what he knows, and it's been a little hit or miss.  He seems fine with the saddle pad, surcingle, and girth.  He seems to understand how to lunge and balance himself on a circle.  He appears to have steering when reins are attached to his halter. 

The things that he insists are new to him are leather saddles, anything flapping on his sides, ropes around or near his legs, and long-lining is definitely new.  In one of our sessions I took him to the round pen, tacked him up in the pad, surcingle and girth, and lunged him both ways.  He's adjusted to that routine just fine.  I wanted to see if he understood steering and rein pressure, so I set him up with long lines.  When I'm starting a horse under saddle I always do some ground driving before I get on so I know that I have brakes and steering before climbing aboard.  I understand that not everyone does this before riding, and it's definitely more uncommon in the western riding world Huck likely came from with his Quarter horse breeding and two brands.  Huck informed me that he DEFINITELY had not been ground-driven before, and he has no intentions of being a carriage horse in the future. 

Once I had set up the long lines, I discovered that he was anxious but not overly concerned with the rope touching his haunches and back legs if the rope was on his right side.  The line touching him on his left side, however, was cause for great alarm.  He very quickly went from thoughtful and interested to upset in fight/flight mode.  His go-to escape plan was to bolt, spin, kick, or perform some combination of these maneuvers. 

Once I determined that he was freaking out about the rope on one side of his body but not the other, I was able to chunk the process down into smaller pieces so that it made sense to him.  I arranged the long lines in a way that allowed him to feel like he was still lunging normally, the only new thing was a rope trailing behind him on his left side.  It took a few minutes for him to settle with that, but we had lots of breaks and took our time with pats and praise so it didn't seem so scary. 

Next I picked up the line on the far side, so he felt the rope along his hamstrings.  We repeated the gentle lunging in a large circle with lots of breaks and praise until he wasn't afraid of the line anymore.  Once he was calm about it he did show me that he has opinions by kicking at the line.  Eventually I was able to get him ground driving in a thoughtful manner.  He was walking, trottting, stopping, and turning without kicking, spinning, or bolting.  I stopped on a positive note and removed all his equipment, then gave him a minute to roll in the sand if he chose to.  He followed me around instead, then went to the gate to look at his horse friends in the nearby paddocks.  Then he began pacing that side of the round pen, which demonstrates that his pacing is a self-soothing mechanism he reverts to when stressed.

I took Huck back to the barn, groomed him again, and put him away in his paddock with his water and hay.  He seemed to have calmed down, he rested the rest of the day even lying down and taking a nap while I worked other horses. 

We have some more work to do with the ground driving, as well as saddling and getting used to having things bump him on his sides.  I want to make sure he's confident and calm with anything I might do before I introduce the weight of a rider.  He may have been ridden before, he may have even been a roping horse.  With how comfortable he was having the line on his right side, it's likely whoever may have roped off him was right handed.  Huck needs a little more time with me and some more confidence building training sessions before I climb on, but so far he's given me good information about what he is comfortable with and what he is not.  All I can ask is the the horse is honest with me and trying, both of which Huck is doing just fine.

Northern Colorado Dressage Association Schooling Show

This weekend we went to Greeley, just about 45 minutes from home, to a dressage schooling show.  Dewey has been in training with me for the past couple months and he was ready to strut his stuff in public, while Atlantis just needed another field trip and show miles. 

Dewey was amazing in the warmup,.  He was soft, swingy, round, and moving the best he ever has.  Once in the indoor show arena, however, he decided to be silly, and did some head tossing and other baby horse nonsense.  Because I know he has a tooth that grows crooked, we keep on top of his dental work and he has his teeth addressed every 4-5 months.  His last dental was about a month ago. I will reassess his dressage saddle's fit as he has definitely changed in topline muscle, but neither of those things can entirely account for his silliness in the tests when he was lovely in the warmup. 

However, we did get some wonderful photos of Dewey.  I'm so excited for his progress, and eager to see how he and Sara come along this season!

 He's definitely getting the idea of the stretchy trot!

And his canter has gotten quite nice, with a solid right lead now, too!

Dewey was very good about focusing and trying to learn his dressage test.

I also must include this obligatory photo of his loose lips.  He's had long lips since he was a youngster, and mostly he's grown into them, but we still often get silly photos of his tongue and lips flapping.

Atlantis did wonderfully.  He had a brief warmup since Dewey's second test was running a little behind, but Atlantis didn't need much.  Just enough time to loosen up his muscles and get his head in the game and he was ready to go.  

He rode really well in his test, and the things we've been focusing on the past few weeks really worked for us.  He got 7s (good scores!) on his trot and canter lengthenings, as well as his gaits.

Unfortunately by that time the wind had kicked on, and I was fatigued enough that the head injury was starting to cause problems for me.  This arena is always challenging for me because of the fluorescent lights.  The brain damage makes it look to me like strobe lights flashing overhead.  In addition to feeling like I'm at a rave, when my brain starts to struggle I have difficulty understanding speech.  So despite Sara calling the test to me I went off course several times.  I could hear her voice, but I couldn't understand her.  The best comparison I can make is to the adults' voices in the Peanut's cartoons: "Wa waaaa wa wa waaaa". 

I was really bummed that I needed to scratch Atlantis's second test, because I know he's capable of doing phenomenally well.  However it's safer to stop riding when my balance and cognition start to fade, and Atlantis had gotten what he needed out of the field trip.  He had a great warmup, he was quiet and obedient in his test, and got the experience of showing at another new place.  Most importantly we got great photos! Thank you to Kimberly Hale Photography.

Perhaps the best part of the day was that Atlantis's owner was able to come see him!  She lives in the mountains and doesn't often make it down to our section of the front range.  She's had him since he was a yearling, and it's been a hard decision for her to sell him.  It made all of our hearts feel good to see the two of them smooching and hanging out together, and she was pleased to see how he has progressed in his training, with his balance and impulsion having improved as well as his fitness level.

It was a good day overall, and I went home with two happy and tired bay horses.