Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beautiful Views at a Blur

I finally remembered to take a camera with me when I rode in my neighbor's back paddock today. I'll have to take pictures again in the spring, because this is the first week of open burning season and a lot of people were out burning their weeds and making the sky hazy. Plus the grass is much greener in the springtime.

Here is picture of Lostine noticing the llamas at the bottom of the hill.

And this is the llama farm. Not many llamas were out today, and none came up the hill to volunteer for a photo shoot. Maybe next time...

This picture gives you an idea of how big of a space I have to ride in when I am in the back paddock. This is only about 1/3rd of the riding arena with the Eastern Sierra in the background. Years ago it was all grass, but now it is used for riding and the ground covering is kept thick and soft with a roto-tiller.

We had a (ahem) fast ride. It was one of those days when my horse was snorty and full of energy. I think I rode her at a gallop for about 15-minutes, all the while trying to get her down to a slow lope. I felt like my hands were gripping the reins just inches from her bit, I tugged one side and then the other, and still she refused to slow down. It's a good thing that speed doesn't scare me... a little control would have been nice, though. There was no need for a one-rein stop, because her downward transitions and halts were very responsive. I just simply needed her to slow down within the gait without breaking out of it. In the end, Lostine worked up a good sweat and seemed generally pleased with herself.

20-years-old, my foot! This horse could race in the Kentucky Derby.


Jenn said...

ROFL! I've had many, many of those fast rides. It's a good thing I love the wind in my face, or I'd have quit riding long ago. Is she just very energetic, or is she perhaps a bit unbalanced in the ring? In my experience the more unbalanced a horse feels under a rider, the faster they go, the faster they go, the more unbalanced they feel and the faster they go. It's a cycle and it can get ugly!

If you want to work to slow her down, work on transitions...lots and lots of transitions. Trot to canter (or lope in western vernacular!) and the SECOND she increases her canter pace, move back down into trot. Once a good trot is established, canter again and do the same thing. Over and over. She will get it. A transition forces them to rebalance and a good transition rocks 'em back on their butts, so they are automatically set up to lift into the canter again and be balanced. It takes a lot of repetition, but it's well worth it! Also, 20-foot circles are your friend. Use them to help her rebalance and slow down. Rinse. Repeat.

Good luck! I've ridden my fair share of speed demons...not one of them was mean or naughty or a nitwit...they just needed a little help from me to figure out the whole balance thing.

She does look quite pleased with herself!

Jenn said...

Well, call me Mrs. Forgetful today. I wanted to add that I LOVE the riding area you have...the view is spectacular!

It looks quite warm...but I'll bet that's deceiving, isn't it?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Jenn - It was actually a warm day in the 70s, which is rare. It seems like it is either in the triple digits or below freezing around here most days. We have winter and construction for our seasons.

Anyway, my instructor was having me do what you described. He had me take six steps at the lope, come down, move back up for six steps... I'm always worried that if I bring her down too soon, she will think I am correcting her because she did something wrong. She actually transitions up into the lope really well, but then I lose her. Anyway, I'll practice that and see how it goes. Thanks.

Callie said...

LOL, Nice photos! Sounds like fun!

Mrs Mom said...

NM- sorry I have not been here in a bit- things have been... well.. you know- you have been to my blog.

Lostine looks fantastic!

What incredible scenery you have to ride by. The mountains in the distance are wonderful. When you get stressed, do you ever just take a moment to look up at the peak and breathe? Lately, I think I would be doing that a LOT.

Jenn has some good suggestions for helping to slow down to a lope there. Hope it works!

Ride on Cowgirl! ;)

Rising Rainbow said...

You are correcting her because she is doing something wrong, she is going too fast. Sooner or later she'll get that figured out and slow up if you keep working the transitions.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I'm in agreement with the transitions. If she is transitioning up nicely but starts to get strung out and fast it is probably because she gets a little unsure of herself and has a hard time just maintaining a steady gait. I like to to roll-backs on the fence too. If I think a horse is just feeling pretty good but don't want to let them run themselves into the dirt-I'll just start loping and when they start to feel like they are loosing the cadence-I'll lope along the fence(about a horse length away), sit, pick up the rein closest to the fence(keep that shoulder up), say whoa and pull them into the fence and bump them with the outside foot(this gets them to bring their shoulder around and if the front feet are moving, the hind feet are planted), I'll hold the inside rein until they roll all the way through(at first they will flop around a bit, because they are usually traveling on their frontends)and when they are facing the other direction, I'll release the rein and ask them to lope off again. I don't get excited-I just ask them to lope again and when they loose their cadence again, I just roll them into the fence the other way and ask them to lope off in that direction.
The reason I I like this exercise, is because the goal is to get your horse to keep his weight shifted toward his hindquarter in preparation for that turnaround and helps built muscle back there. The stronger a horse's hindquarters, back and stifles are-the easier it is for them to maintain a cadenced gait and it doesn't matter what breed. You can practice it at a walk, a trot, a canter or a dead run(like the working cowhorse people).
A horse that is out of condition will tire more quickly with this exercise, so they get quiet quicker and you don't spend your whole riding time trying to lope the "fresh" off of them.

I noticed on your post about saddle specifics someone commented about their knees aching after riding in their western saddle. I have always struggled with my knees getting so sore, I would have a hard time getting off my horse. My mom got me a pair of "crooked" stirrups for X-Mas a couple years ago and I can't even begin to tell you how much I love them. No more aching knees and hips. Expensive-but one of those things you will only ever have to spend your money on once!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Lostine is lovely! And I loved that picture of her with her neck and head curved looking at the llama farm.
That's a really nice llama farm, too, by the way. I'd love seeing all those llamas munching grass all day. You know how much I love my llamas :)

Like my neighbor friend says, Arabians seem to have a built-in extended life over other horse breeds. And they seem to get a second wind in that next part of their lives.
Must be part of their endurance heritage, eh?

Her 26 year old Arabian mare still loves to run with the wind in her mane, too. It's esy for me to forget that she's nearing 30 yrs old. lol!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Nuzzling Muzzles!

You've been tagged!!

Come on over to play :)


photogchic said...

Gorgeous place with some nice sandy footing....lucky lady. Does Lostine have a winter coat? Do they get winter coats where you live? (May be a silly question) I am gearing up to do a trace clip on my mare...her coat is coming in and even with a little work, she is pretty sweaty.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Photogchic - Lostine sort of has a winter coat. We went from hot temps to freezing temps overnight, so I had to abruptly start blanketing the horses instead of allowing them a little time to grow some thicker fur in. The blankets keep them from getting too fuzzy. I did clip her bridle path the day of these pictures, because she was growing a mohawk. However, the little extra fur she has did contribute to all that sweat. I have never attempted to body clip beyond the muzzle. I've never had the time, but I don't ride my horses in the winter either. There's usually too much ice on the ground and I don't want to risk a broken leg.

Andrea said...

LOL!! Sometimes age just doesn't matter does it. Plus Arabians never look their age. I bet she was a really spunky 2 year old!! LOL!!

I am with everyone on downward transtions. I like doing roll backs on the fence too.

You are a braver woman than me. I hate hate hate to go fast. I have gotten so scared lateyly. I can't wait to be able to ride my old trusty mare again. She is bred and in four months will have her baby. Few, not much longer now.

Good luck!!

Esther Garvi said...

Hi there! Found your blog through Equine Mine: love the place! So peaceful! Lostine reminds me of our mare Sahara, who, when inspired, will work up a good sweat and feel really, really good about herself. Arwen on the other hand doesn't ever want to stop - ever - but as long as she gets to be first up the hill she'll stop, once we've reached the hill top. Don't ask her to slow down before the "race" is over though - it's just not happening, especially not if she has the all energy she wants. Which is about every day except for when she's due to foal in a month or so... :-) Anyway, it was nice to find your blog, will definitively pop in again!

Greetings from West Africa,

Becky said...

Love horses & also their riding gears at Back in the Saddle.