Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

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

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Cross Country Schooling at Lory State Park

Today we landed at Lory State Park for cross country schooling after being deterred by pelting rain and terrible wind up north.  The scenery was incredible, the horses behaved really well, and we had a wonderful time.  Gillian and Silver are really making some amazing progress together.








Raven had a good time, too.  I rode her while I was teaching and she casually cruised around at the walk until it was her turn to jump things.  Then she hopped over everything I asked regardless of any difficult distances.  She even did some pogo-stick maneuvers that she pulls out when she's having a really good time.

This photo of us approaching the rolltop gives a better idea of its size in comparison to 15.3h Raven.

She pops over it with no difficulties, though!

And then celebrates her accomplishments with a little party!  


The entertaining pogo-stick stuff Raven does when she's playing is at 0:30 in this video



Sidney and Linda came with us as well.  Sidney has been really worried about cross country jumping, getting herself worked up with sweating and jigging, so we've been trying to help her relax and realize it's just a quiet trail ride and we may hop over some friendly fences while we're out.  So far she's not buying it.  She wants to run and gets really concerned when we insist that she can walk over most of these entry level jumps.  

The other piece of the Sidney puzzle is the saddle.  It fits Sidney really well, but the flap and seat are designed for a much taller rider than petite Linda.  We do have a different saddle ordered, but it won't get here until October, so in the meantime we're doing the best we can with a less-than-optimal fit for the rider.  The unfortunate result in the interim is that Linda struggles to get her leg where it needs to be to have really good balance on landing.  Sidney worries about off balance landings quite a bit.  I have really high expectations for the new saddle coming this fall, and while we wait hopefully we can convince Sidney that she doesn't need to be so concerned when she gets dressed up for cross country.

All three horses finished the ride more confident than when they began, which is one of the most important factors in a successful cross country day.  I have lots of plans for all three horses as wildfires in Colorado hopefully die down and our air quality improves, and with any luck covid will pass and we can get to competing again.  

Thank you to Kimberly Hale Photography for the amazing shots, and to Sara for taking the video for us.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Rizzo's Genetic Testing Breed Results

After researching accuracy online for various breed genetic testing I decided to use Embark to determine Rizzo's actual breed.  I had a coupon code as well, so I purchased the test.  Shortly after that I received a packet in the mail containing a qtip type swab and a vial.  I swabbed the inside of Rizzo's cheek, inserted the swab into the vial, and sent in her dna sample.  It took several weeks for the results to come in, but the company was good about keeping me posted regarding the sample shipping, arriving, starting to be processed, and finally analyzed.  I purposefully did not include my personal breed suspicions or photos of her in the online profile, as I didn't want to skew the analysis with my preconceived notions.  
Last night I got the results in my email and while some surprised me, I can see all these breeds in her physically or mentally.

  • About the size of the Australian Cattle dog
  • Friendly with everyone but is only obedient to me and a bit bow-legged in the hind end like a pit bull terrier
  • Intelligent like the german shepherd
  • Energy of the australian shepherd
  • Vocalizes and yodels like a husky and malamute
  • May be on the small size from the Lhasa apso

I was surprised to see no border collie and no rat terrier, but I do see traits from all the listed breeds in her.
Here is a diagram of her family tree - showing which relatives were what type of mixes.  She originally  came as a puppy and a stray from the reservation in New Mexico.  All these breeds were probably hanging out there and hence - Rizzo!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Newborn Foal

Last night I got a text from Ferriana's owner saying that Elle, a pregnant mare at her place, was in the first stage of labor.  I didn't get too excited since stage one can last hours.  However, shortly after that I got another text that Elle was lying down and a foot was out.  For a maiden mare she got through stage one pretty quickly!

Jasi, Kim H., and I all hopped into the car to go see the new baby.  We got there just after the foal had emerged and was lying in the corner, still wet.  Jasi had brought her camera so we got plenty of fun photos.

The baby tried and tried to stand on her own, a determined little chestnut filly!  After about ninety minutes I stepped in to help the baby.  I wrapped my arms around her chest as well around her haunches under her tail.  I just steadied her on her feet until she got her land legs.  Once she was up and steady-ish she wanted to go get a drink, which is what she's supposed to do.  The first milk that a mare produces is called colostrum and has all kinds of antibodies to boost the foal's immune system so it's really important that she get that.  I gently helped her aim for Elle and her udder, and the filly got a few good swallows in.  



It was so refreshing to be there to welcome a youngster into the world, thinking about all the amazing things she might do.  I'm so grateful it was a smooth and quick delivery, and that Elle and the filly are doing so well.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Highboy in a Hackamore, New Jump Exercises

The outdoor arena has turned to concrete because we had some rain more than a week ago and then I went camping with Note.  While I was gone things dried out extremely fast, and without being able to work the arena footing it got really hard.  Upon my return I discovered my tractor had given up the ghost, and is now completely dead and in need of disposal.  So the outdoor continues to sit, hard as a rock, while I await a new-to-me tractor.

Thankfully we still have the indoor side of the arena with good footing.  This week I set up another exercise that makes the rider work on steering.  It is set up like this:

First you go over the jumps with all turns one direction (in this case L).

Then you go over each of the jumps turning the other direction (in this case, R).
Then I set up the jumps with a barrel in the middle, or a block of wood, or something else that raises the middle to the height I want. 



The last step, according to Highboy, is to play with the dogs.  I did have Highboy in a hackamore today to see what kind of difference, if any, that made.  Usually I ride him in a three piece snaffle and I either have excited Highboy flinging his head around like a camel, or he's in a well-behaved frame of mind and he's quiet and steady.  I haven't jumped him for about a week so I decided to try this and see what happened.  It felt like he was using his back better over the jumps, and while flatting he definitely was wondering where I was.  With a snaffle there's a baseline of contact between the horse's mouth and my hands, but with a leverage hackamore I ride with no contact unless I'm cuing something.  He definitely had to take more responsibility for his own balance especially through the turns, because he couldn't lean on my hands for support.  I'll try it a few more rides and see what happens before I make any conclusions.


Most of the horses worked on the exercise this week, including Ferriana, who did a slightly modified version in her warmup.



Before we began jumping the barrel I decided Ferriana should do a little canter work each direction.  She disagreed.  This athletic display of bucking was the result:


When I have bucking like this, my first thought is always, "what hurts?" so I go through a progression of checking saddle fit and tack and how the horse is moving.  I carefully assessed the saddle and its fit, bridle and bit, looked to see if Ferriana was sore anywhere in her body, and when all of these came up without answers, THEN I decided it was probably her being fresh.  She wanted to just work on the jump exercise, she didn't see the point in practicing cantering around.  After checking all of the likely suspects I asked her for the canter again, and this time I growled at her a little ("I SAID KNOCK IT OFF') when she started the bucking and kicking.  When she realized I was serious and the bucking was not allowed she gave it up and we got a nice canter.  After the nice canter she was allowed to go back to jumping.  

That's one of the tricky things about a really smart, really sensitive, and really athletic horse - determining the cause of misbehavior.  It wouldn't have been fair of me to growl at her in discipline if her saddle had been pinching her somewhere and she was bucking as her only way to tell me.  But since I had eliminated those types of causes I could get after her a bit and insist on good behavior.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Note the Mountain Trail Horse

This past weekend Owen and I took Rizzo and Note to Jack's Gulch up in Poudre Canyon for a long weekend of trail riding.  As usual Owen ran on foot, and I rode.  Rizzo stuck right with us for all 26 miles over the weekend!  

Thursday we arrived and got settled in, and Note had a wild temper tantrum in his stall/paddock because he thought this was the strangest horse race to which he'd ever been hauled.  He eventually gave it up and decided to eat his hay bag instead.  The next morning we got up early and I tacked Note for the day's ride.  He began the ride doing airs above ground, excited and cantankerous and ready to argue with me over every shadow and small puddle he needed to pass.  This included rearing up, spinning around, and double-barrel kicking at nothing in particular.

Due to a small error on my part where we went right instead of left at one of the intersections after the trailhead, our first day trip ended up being much longer than we had planned.  It consisted of extremely rocky terrain with steep hills, drop-offs, water crossings, bridges, and excessive mud (I dismounted to get Note through it and sunk up to my knee!).  However, by the end of the nearly three hour ride over thirteen miles Note was truly mentally and physically tired.  He would casually glance at a shadow and walk past.  He'd notice a puddle and avoid it.  He actually stood, tired, and ate his mash and hay quietly once we returned to camp!



Saturday we did a shorter, six mile, ride to the three main water crossings through the river which was quite low.  I practiced going in and out of the water with Note, as well as walking around in the water.  The first dozen or so attempts at water I ended up backing him in because he had decided that he would refuse to go in the normal way.  This meant I backed him down banks, over rocks, down stairs made of tree roots, over all kinds of odd entries.  The hikers watching gave me odd looks, and Owen explained to them that he didn't want to go in forwards, so I took him in backwards.  Backwards wasn't as scary for him since his "guns" went into the water first.  After repeatedly entering and exiting the river from all angles and directions Note finally just gave it up and walked in and out like a civilized creature. 


Luckily we had Rizzo to show us how it was done.


On Sunday we did one last ride in the morning before we had to leave the campsite.  This one was the trail I'd originally intended to do as our first go.  It had a long stretch of good footing, where we could trot and canter with logs down all over the trail.  It essentially looked like one of the complicated gymnastics I set up in the arena at home, with logs shaped like ground poles and small jumps at all angles.  Note had some really nice footwork, trotting through some and bouncing through at the canter at others.  He seemed relieved to have something familiar to do!  There was one other spot with a larger fallen tree across the trail, which required Note to actually canter and jump it.  He seemed so pleased and confident going over something he'd seen before at home.  As a bonus, this last ride also went through all the same water crossings we'd done the previous days, so he had another chance to do it forwards. 

This trip was a blast.  Note really needed the long trail with extreme technicality to realize that he should ration his energy and skip the temper tantrums.  I wouldn't usually ride a horse this hard when they are new to trail riding, but Note has never been a usual horse.  This worked out really well and now I can officially say Note is another Mountain Thoroughbred!