A Blog About My Journey Riding and Training Sora, My Soulmate

Monday, February 22, 2010


For the first time since Christmas I gave Sora a good work out yesterday. I knew there would be fireworks since it's cool and she's been itching to have an excuse to bounce around =) There were quite the fireworks but it was my fault because I was overthinking things. Over the winter I've been thinking alot about Sora's progress over the summer and trying to figure out what I can improve on. I decided that I should push her a little harder not roughly just in clearly getting my point across and making sure that I didn't let her get away with anything.

The problem is that I was actually doing a great job with her in the summer and had figured out exactly how hard I could push and when. I started yesterday by pulling her into the barn and putting her saddle and boots on. She was a little jumpy but that was to be expected with the long break. Everything went well until she decided to freak out going to the left on the longe. This is normally her better side and I still can't figure out what was going on. She was scared enough that she basically jumped sideways all the way around the circle. Because of my plan I gently pushed her with vocal encouragement and by slapping the end of the longe against my leg. However she just got worse and worse. I couldn't tell whether she was being naughty at this point or scared so I kept trying different techniques but just kept pushing. By this point I was using everything I had to try to get her moving in the right direction. Finally I gave up my plan and let her stop because I could tell she was now getting scared. I made her stand at the end of the line quietly and calm down. I waited until she lowered her head and let out her breath. Then I took her back to the beginning as if I was teaching her to longe all over again and we ended with her walking around me quietly a few times.

Lets just say I learned my lesson all over again. I should have remembered that this horse tries her heart out for me and is very rarely actually naughty. Today I remembered and we had a great session. I took her out to a different pen which should have been scary. She was bouncy hyper, fast, and feeling playful but despite that she didn't put a foot wrong. She didn't buck on the longe (even though she wanted to). She didn't step into my space. She slowed back to a trot or walk when I asked. All of this brought out how well she was behaving especially because she did want to bounce around and go fast. She did well today because I waited for her in little ways. For example, when I first asked her to go to the left she just stood there and looked at me and I just waited for a minute. When I asked gently again she sighed and went perfectly as if saying "See, just be gentle and respect me and I'll do what ever you want and be happy to work for you". Needless to say she got tons of vocal praise, petting and some treats when we were done.

I LOVE this horse!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Affordable Tack

I'm sick and have been unable to do much at all outside. Tonight however it was warm and so I brought Sora in the barn, worked on her hooves and worked on getting her to softly lower her poll. She did really well which is encouraging since this has been a problem since I got her.

In other news, I finally found a saddle I can afford.Too bad it's for a model horse cause it looks comfy =) This one's pretty nice too if hunt seat is more your thing =D
The above saddle pictures are from the very talented model saddle maker Jennifer Buxton.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Things, They Be A Changing

After more than a year looking for a job I finally have two good (really possible that I'll actually get a job offer) interviews next week. One is near where I'm currently living with my family but is the less desirable (to me) of the two. The other is far enough away that it would mean a move but I'd be making enough to make that possible. If I get that job, knock on wood-crossed fingers-no walking under ladders, it will mean not only a move for me but a move for Sora.

I am so completely ready to move her that I can't even express it =) It's been WONDERFUL being able to keep her at my parents. It means that I have only to pay for hay and grain and I get to see her everyday and care for her myself. Those are things that I will really miss once I am eventually boarding her (whether or not it happens now). However, it also means that I'll actually be able to start working her again because I'll have access to an arena or round pen of some kind. It may seem silly that it's impossible to work her in our current set up but it truly is impossible.

If you were to cut out a sample of our snow you would find that it varies by where you get it from 1" to about 2.5'. There is glare ice underneath most of it and at least three different layers of hard, sharp crust at various depths. Add to that the fact that you can't even get into our arena and, even if you got in, can't close the gate because it's stuck. The only place that my family can even walk is on our driveway and road and guess what, that's slippery glare ice and it's also just rock hard. Not a good combination to work a hot, green, four year old on even for ground stuff.

The dry lots, winter pens, that the horses are in would be the best place but they are on a slant and fairly slippery which completely rules out lunging or anything faster than a walk/halt. I've done some work with her yielding etc but there's only so much we can do on that topic.

Because of the above I dream of an arena, or something, to work in. I really don't care much about the cold (although I wouldn't work Sora with the recent temps of 10) and would be happy even if it was outdoors as long as the footing was reasonable. So, although I've got the cost of keeping a horse at an amazing low, the absolute impossibility of being able to work with her is soooooooooo hard.

While I'm excited about a move for her I'm also nervous =3 In my 12 years of horse keeping I've never kept a horse at a boarding stable. Yeah, the math means that I've been keeping them since I was 12 years old and that includes fixing and setting up fences, first aid, training, and feeding each morning and night even when it's 40 below and in blizzards. Although it will be a nice break to leave some of this to someone else I'm really going to miss the control. I'm hoping to keep Sora somewhere with stall board, mostly because of dietary reasons, but where the horses are out all day. This makes me nervous because I've never kept horses in stalls, ever =S. Sora has however spent a fair amount of time in one when she was younger and I would suspect she will be a "stall baby" and love it just from what I know of her behavior around here.

There are certain things I just can't imagine, like having someone else worm her, or even lead her to and from her stall. I'm just sooo used to being the one who does everything with her and will really miss that. In my mind though the opportunity to work with her, spend time with other horse people, have access to trails and an arena outweigh the worries I do have.

These are some of the facilities I'd like to look into/visit.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


It would seem that I have started a new trend =D

I started this Winter putting Sora's hay in (what I will call) the "Hay Spot". As shown in the following carefully drawn diagram (where the yellow squiggles are sun and the Grey squiggles are wind), this is the best spot in her pen for hay when it's windy.
To put it lightly, this has caught on in a BIG way. When I feed I always go to the barn, prepare Sora's grain (tiny handful of sweet feed and some supplement) and then put it out the door at the end first thing. While she's eating that I toss out hay over the dividing fence for the two other horses since it's not fair for Sora to be eating and not them =)

At first while I was doing that Sora would eat hay out of the barn with her head through the door which distracted her. What's happening now though is that Sora has stopped trusting me to get her hay in the correct place. She eats quickly and by the time I get back to the barn to grab her portion of hay she's standing impatiently by the barn watching me. I go in the barn, under her disapproving stare and grab her hay.

It's at this point that I become a hostage. As soon as I leave the barn I have an escort who politely but firmly guides me to the proper place for the hay. She doesn't try to eat it, or pin her ears. She simply walks right next to me with her neck all arched watching me with a critical eye to ensure the proper delivery of her food. This is sort of the look
Once I've been properly escorted I'm expected to place her hay just so. It needs to be in the right place so that she can eat it either in the shed or out and it can't be too close to the line. If it is she exasperatedly moves it with her nose as if saying "here, you stupid person. Why do you never get this right?"

At this point I'm free to leave, although she does watch to make sure I haven't rethought that second helping of grain.