Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

GEMS Pair Pace

This past weekend I took Highboy and Raven camping and to school the cross country course at GEMS, the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary in Deer Trail, CO.  Rizzo and Pascal came with me and we camped in the trailer while the horses stayed in good sized paddocks. 

The weather for Sunday was mighty sketchy, and the facility is at the end of a very long gravel, then sand road.  The organizers were kind enough to move the event to Saturday, so I drove down on Friday and spent the night.  Saturday morning after we cleaned paddocks and fed the horses I walked the course with the dogs.

There were cute carrots in the trees to direct us.

I then schooled both horses individually on the course.  It was a blast.  Both horses enjoyed it and it was a great confidence booster! 

Because of the costume contests for the poker ride in the morning I decided to bedeck myself in my favorite helmet cover.  I found it in Snowbird, UT on a family vacation and it's actually a cover for a snowboarding helmet.  I love it though, and it's the Bit of Honey colors.  It's situated in such a way that I can't also attach the gopro to my helmet, so I don't have videos from the rides.  But it was worth it for all the laughs and "what kind of reception do you get with that?" comments I received.  

I'm super eager to go back to this location with a group of riders and their horses, because this is an IDEAL course to introduce both humans and horses to cross country jumping.  They have a plethora of small fences, and a winding course that goes in and out of the woods and through shade as well as water and sunny fields.  There are a couple beginner novice fences too, so it kept my horses interested and trying.  They have cabins we can rent, and we can make a full weekend clinic of it!

Since this weekend was their Halloween Hootenanny they had decorated things in all kinds of ways.  There were giant spider webs in the trees,

wooden plaques shaped like tombstones with humorous inscriptions

and a log in the water with a fake alligator crawling on it!  I didn't actually get a photo of that because I was wrangling the dogs through the water while walking the course.  When riding it, my horses didn't notice that there was something on the log, they seemed to assume that it was merely an oddly shaped log.

One of my favorite moments was watching Pascal try to scale what to him was an extremely large log.  He'd watched Rizzo hop over all the other fences prior, because she's essentially a pogo stick in dog form.  Pascal really wants to do whatever Rizzo does, and so he put forth his best effort.  I try to keep this kind of thing to a minimum because he's so young, and just like with young horses I don't want to push my young dog too hard too fast either.  However, as long as he's doing it himself and not getting upset I feel like it's ok for him to do this stuff at his own pace.  I would never push him to run farther than he can go, and he definitely gets plenty of nap time in between adventures.  However, having a border collie puppy again is great fun, especially watching him enjoy learning his job.

He first inspected the obstacle:

Then he asked if this was really surmountable:

He believed me and Rizzo when we said he could do it - so he gave it the true border collie try!

And did clear it

 Successfully dismounting on the other side.

Now I'm tired!  Didn't I do that well, Kim?

It was so fun to have a camping weekend with my dogs and horses and we can't wait to go back!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Introducing Pascal

Ever since I found out that I was going to lose Miles back in July, I'd been on the hunt for another border collie puppy.  Miles was the only dog out of all the many creatures I've had here who I'd raised from puppy-hood, and he was just incredible.  I was hoping lightning would strike twice, and I could find another border collie puppy to raise to be a horse training dog. 

Despite looking online, at breeders' pages, at rescues with supposed border collie pups, and considering year-old border collies, I couldn't find anything that was exactly what I wanted close to Denver or Cheyenne.  There were some possibilities in the mid-west, but I really didn't want to drive that far.  I eventually found Rizzo at the Good Dog Rescue in Westminster, but despite being high energy and intelligent, she's still not "border collie smart" or "border collie intense".  I adore her, and she's working out really well here, but she definitely has terrier independence, and she tends to only really be obedient to me.  She'll humor other people if it suits her.  I did have quite a moment with her last week, though.  Miles somehow did teach her everything she needed to know to be my right hand before he passed. 

I often need to move a big round bale with the tractor into the large gelding paddock.  Historically these geldings like to squeeze out the open gate and go for a romp in the pasture before I can get the tractor through with the hay.  Miles would always keep them from escaping while I latched the gate open, went back to the tractor, pushed the bale through, and then returned to close the gate behind myself.  Rizzo had never helped with this before, though she'd watched Miles do it several times. 

Friday afternoon I needed to quickly move two bales into that paddock as I was trying to get out of town for a show.  I could scarcely believe it when I opened the gate, looked Dewey in the eye and told him to get out of the way, and Rizzo took over from there.  She expertly moved all the geldings out of my way, kept them away from the gate as I pushed the bale through with the tractor, and made sure no one doubled back to leave while I closed the gate.  I nearly cried when I realized she was doing the exact complex job to help me that Miles used to do so regularly.  I'm so lucky to have such great dogs.

Finally, just over a week ago, I came across a border collie/aussie online who was the last of his litter.  The breeder had the mom who was a regular black and white border collie, and dad was a blue merle australian shepherd.  They had already found homes for all his siblings (there were eight puppies in the litter), and I thought this last male was a regular black border collie with the white stripe on his face and chest.

When Sara and I got to their place, we discovered that not only was the puppy a tricolor, he looked almost exactly like Miles had at that age.  Miles had a little more white on his front paws and face, but otherwise he could be a doppelganger.

Here is Miles as a puppy:

and here is the new kid:

There was no way I could not take him after looking at that face and giving him a snuggle.  Rizzo went with me and Sara to meet him and she was more interested in playing with the other adult dogs who would wrestle and roughhouse with her.  I'll settle for polite indifference with dogs first meeting each other, and Rizzo was at least nice to him even if she somewhat ignored him because he wasn't big enough to really tussle. 

The ride home in the truck with an eight week old pup was cause for many "awwww"s and "oh my goodness"s from me and Sara.

When I got him home, we began discussing names.  To honor Miles, we decided to keep with a unit of measurement for this little guy.  Owen, my husband, came up with Pascal.  It's a unit of fluid pressure measurement, and it suits the little guy.

He's already helping in the arena with working horses.  He tries to keep up but gets a little frustrated with his short legs by the end of the second ride.  He's very content to snuggle with me or my clients, and loves to curl up on people's feet and cuddle.  I feel like this is a sign he's part Australian Shepherd, because especially as a puppy Miles never slowed down until the day was over.

Pascal idolizes Rizzo.  She is his hero, and he tries to do whatever she does.  Even if I'm teaching a lesson and Rizzo knows I don't need her to demonstrate anything, Pascal will curl up in an identical ball and take a nap just like she does.

So far the cutest video I've gotten was of him playing with his new rope squeaky toy, which I picked up at the feed store when we went to town to get grain and shavings this morning.  If you turn up the volume you can hear him talking to the toy, and at one point in the video he starts pawing and yipping at the part of the toy that will squeak if you squeeze it, though he doesn't have the jaw strength yet to make it happen.

Stay tuned for many puppy updates.  Rizzo is coaching him in the ways of being a good barn dog, and I'm so pleased to have another border collie again.

Silver and Ferriana's Jumping

Ferriana and I have found a saddle that both of us like to jump in, and have started breaking it in.  It's currently being altered slightly since I need it just right (as does Ferriana), but I have some video and photos of our adventures in it before I sent it out for adjusting.

In this first video you can see Ferriana weaving a little on her first time through the three stride line.  She cantered around the arena considering how to do it better, and the next time through was nearly flawless.  I just stay out of her way and praise her when she gets it right (which seldom takes more than two tries).  This is the best way to work with a super sensitive intelligent horse like her, because if I were to over-ride her and try to correct her mistakes she'd get frustrated with me interfering.  With this method she learns incredibly quickly because she's not trying to interpret my interference or get into power struggles with me.

Ferriana's latest new experience was going cross country jump schooling at Lory last week.  I took her and Gillian rode Silver.  It was perfect to go with just the two horses, because I knew Silver would go over just about everything and Ferriana could follow him over anything that looked intimidating.  We did need to follow him over a couple fences that she initially jumped just fine on her own, but then lost her confidence and needed to follow him a few times.

This is one super fun eventing horse in the making!

We did some cantering in the fields and popping over logs, and Gillian was kind enough to take this video of us.  The other videos were from my GoPro which was fastened to my helmet, and unfortunately it was angled up just a hair too high so you can't really see what's going on with Ferriana from those.  I did, however, get some fun video of Silver with the GoPro!  Gillian and Silver approach and jump a fence with such great form!

These friendly logs are wonderful for warming up with nervous horses (or riders!) and they are a great confidence booster for both.  Silver and Gillian handled them with no problem, then moved on to more impressive things with big smiles.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

October Mini-Trial at Sunrise

Last weekend we managed to round up a few horses that weren't injured and headed into Fort Collins for the October mini-trial at Sunrise Equine.  Jasi showed Beauty, Carol showed Ladd, and I showed Silver and Highboy.

Beauty and Jasi rode in the starter division, which was just right for their first time doing all three phases at a show.  Because dressage is first they were a little tense in their test, but got it done.  As every eventer says as their motto, "there's something to be said for getting it done."

Next they had cross country, and wow did they rock that phase!  Beauty looked like she'd been doing it her whole life, and no one would have been able to tell Jasi had never done all three phases at a show before. 

Just after cross country they headed down to the show jumping arena and did that course.  People watching made comments about how steady and maneuverable Beauty was, which led me to brag about this little cutting bred quarter horse who loves eventing, and who was amazing for her first time showing in this discipline.

Carol rode Ladd in the cross rails division, and it was also their first time doing all three phases.  I got to do some bragging about him and how he didn't start jumping until he was fourteen years old, and look how much he loves this job!  Because of how the ride time schedule worked out with so many rides from our barn we weren't able to get dressage photos of them, but they looked awfully happy when they finished their test!

Cross country went really well.  It was their first time doing an entire course on their own, since previous outings have been pair paces with a team or schooling with other horses from Bit of Honey.


They seemed to have fun, I bet I'll be able to talk them into doing it again next season.

Silver did really well, too.  He was a little tense for dressage because I just barely finished with Highboy in time to jog over to the other arena and hop on Silver, so we didn't get as much warmup as I'd have liked.  All things considered though, Silver really did well especially compared to the last mini trial we did.

Cross country went well, too.  He was excited and we spent quite a bit of time trotting and cantering in the warmup, but I expect that to become much less as he gets more experience at shows.  I was really pleased with his jump form over fences when I got to take a look at the photos.  Considering he really hadn't done any jumping before he got here in May, for him to rock around a beginner novice course happy and using his body well makes me awfully proud.

I included this photo because it perfectly illustrates why I put boots, especially bell boots, on all my horses when they go cross country.  Even though Silver is barefoot (like most of my horses),  you can see how much overreach he has with his hind feet as he's landing off of a galloped jump.  It would be so easy for him to accidentally clip his front feet or heel bulbs with his hind feet, so the bell boots are a necessity to try and prevent injury from galloping and jumping.  And this horse does like to gallop!

Show jumping went well for Silver, despite a few knocked poles.  At this point in his training I care more about him getting the course done feeling confident, and that he is maneuverable and easy to rate his speed.  He checked all those boxes, so the down rails weren't a big deal to me.

I rode Highboy first thing in the morning as he was the very first ride for dressage.  This was absolutely ideal for us, since going first meant there was no one else warming up for Highboy to play with.  His test went reasonably well, too, with minimal shenanigans causing my main complaint to be that he was stiff in his down transitions and not as loose through his back as he can be at home.  His stretchy trot wasn't half bad, though.

Cross country was a bit comical.  When the vet was out the following Monday we discovered he was acting strangely because he'd pulled muscles in his neck and back while messing around with his friends before we ever got to the show.  Considering that, it was good he even did the course at all, but he sure objected after leaving the start box.  We spent a good bit of time just standing and arguing about whether he was going to start the course.  He wasn't refusing a fence, he just refused to go at all.  Eventually he did decided to participate, and we got it done albeit slowly.

Show jumping was stressful as Highboy jumped the first fence, went three strides, and then one of his hind legs slid and he nearly sat down.  He somehow managed to catch himself with the other hind leg and we didn't fall entirely to the ground thank goodness.  We still were able to finish the course, though, and Kimberly Hale Photography was still able to capture some amazing moments.

Some other fun shots that were captured throughout the day

So many thanks!  To Sunrise Equine for hosting this fun event so close to home.
Thanks to Redefined Equestrian for organizing the event.
Thanks to Gillian, Sara, Kathy, Alice, and Linda for grooming and cheering.
Thanks to Kimberly Hale Photography for the amazing photos.
Thanks to the horses who were able to go for being sound and making our day possible.