Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's March

You want to know how I know? One word: WIND! In years past I would have never even considered riding a horse in strong winds, but now I just think of it as a part of teaching them to trust me in scary situations. Leave it up to Mother Nature to create them.

Northern California is getting hit with a lot of rain while Nevada is getting the high winds. I'm hoping some of that rain will move over the Sierra, so that our hay crops can get a good watering.

Some of the gusts that came up while I was tacking Lostine were horrendous. She had the hay tarp flapping violently just a few feet away, and when I put the saddle blanket on her back, I had to hurry to get the saddle on so that the pad wouldn't blow away. One gust of wind blew a bunch of loose hay off the haystack and plastered it onto Lostine's side, so I had to groom her a second time. Her mane actually lays to the opposite side of what you see in this picture.

I was really pleased that there was no spooking during our session. I'm working on side-passing with both Bombay and Lostine. Right now they want to either step forward or step back, and even if I put them headfirst into a railing and ask them to step sideways, they would rather ram their heads into the railing than go sideways. I'm going to have to continue researching this move to make sure I am asking accurately. I try placing my foot in slightly different locations behind the girth to look for the sweet spot and occasionally hit it. I'm also keeping the leg off her side that is in the direction I want her to move in, and opening up that rein. When she moves just one step sideways, I release the pressure and rub her neck.

I am also revisiting neck-reining in the snaffle bit. Lostine remembers everything I've already taught her, but Bombay needs to start from scratch. It would be nice to get to the point where both horses are on a loose rein and only need an outside rein laid against their neck to turn. Right now I have to give the outside rein cue, then the leg cues, and if they still don't turn, I have to pull the inside rein.

After our ride, I walked Lostine out onto my front lawn to graze. She appreciated that immensely since I gave both Gabbrielle and Bombay some grazing time the previous day. She was so furious about not being included in the grazing reward that she galloped around bucking and whinnying in frustration. However, today it was the opposite. She grazed happily beside me while the other two threw fits.

I'm being very safety conscious since I'm taking more risks like riding on windy days. I make sure I'm always wearing my boots and helmet, even when I'm simply standing next to my horse while she grazes. You never know. A big wind might blow a piece of trash across her path and cause her to jump into me, knocking me down, and my head might just land on a rock. She might step back onto my foot while I'm busy waving hello to a neighbor driving by. Why take chances? Actually, there were tumbleweeds blowing across the yard while Lostine was grazing, and she totally ignored them.

Yesterday I walked Bombay over to the dogs' yard to graze. Out of all my horses, he is the most comfortable with dogs, because he has had no bad experiences with them. However, my Corgi barked so suddenly and loudly that both Bombay and I leaped into the air simultaneously. Fortunately, we both spooked in place and didn't come down on top of each other.


Shirley said...

Safety first! Glad to see you take it seriously. As far as sidepassing goes, here is an excercise that works well for me in teaching the sidepass. First your horse should be able to do the two-track and the half-pass, both have forward momentum and cover ground. They establish the lateral control you need for the sidepass. Once your horse two-tracks well, shut down the forward momentum with your outside rein, until she takes one step totally sideways, then release and go back to the two-track, instead of stopping forward momentum. The sidepass is actually a movement of forward impulsion channeled sideways, so parking them at a wall and asking for forward motion can be confusing to them. Hope this helps!

Leah Fry said...

I'll ride in the round pen if it's windy, but riding down the road is another thing. There are places along that road where you don't want to end up with a horse — steep drops. People let their dogs roam. And of course yayhoos that think it's OK to blow past you at 30-40 mph. What can you say in their defense except they obviously don't realize or don't care about safety. Well, you get the picture. I don't do THAT in the wind.

The D-Meister said...

That's so funny. I was just trying to explain to people how bad the wind is in March at home, and people just didn't understand.

Katharine Swan said...

I agree with Leah. I'll ride when it's windy (though I don't like to -- sucks for me too!), but I'm more careful. I won't ride bareback, for instance, or out in the open. At least until he gets a little older and more predictable!

photogchic said...

That looks like a comfy saddle. Is it a Tucker?

Sydney said...

Horses spook at the most obvious things on windy days. I am sure being a prey animal on a windy day is edgy when they can't hear well or see as clear because of the wind in their eyes.

Mmm those are migty nice pigging strings on your saddle. Reminds me I need to replace two on my saddle. Got ripped off along with some stuff tied to them last summer.

Rising Rainbow said...

I've always thought of wind as just another schooling opportunity. The more of them I get the more well trained my horse will be. Sounds like you've found the value in them too.

Alice said...


I have a website about horses and horse art and would like to swap links with you.

When you have added my website to yours please send a quick email and I will add you a.s.a.p

Here is my link/site:

Keep up the good job, you have a really nice site!
Thanks in advance, AliceHi!

I have a website about horses and horse art and would like to swap links with you.

When you have added my website to yours please send a quick email and I will add you a.s.a.p

Here is my link/site:

Keep up the good job, you have a really nice site!
Thanks in advance, Alice

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I get lots of wind year round but I always find that April is windier than March and May is rainier than April where I live. Go figure!

Glad to see you getting out and working those ponies. Sometimes it takes real effort on my part to saddle up. And then I wonder why I didn't want to in the first place.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Oh, and on neck reining, I often ride two handed, laying one rein (indirect rein) over the neck as I pull straight on with the other (direct rein). This teaches them neck reining, as you begin to lay it across the neck more and direct pull less, over time. Plenty of serpentines, cirles, reversals, and turns reinforce it. This works well with my horses. I was riding Scout the other day, one handed, and was pleasantly surprised at how well he neck reined, and even moved by leg only, through circles!

Andrea said...

It's super windy here too!! But that brings super cold northen winds and we don't ride when it's like that. I am spoiled, it's been in the 70's here, so when it's 40 and windy, I will just round pen! hee hee.

You are so good to get out there and ride in the wind, and I totally agree that it helps the horse to trust you. I don't blame you for wearing your helmet while grazing them, you really never know what the wind will blow your way.

I hate that feeling of sudden fear and jumping like that. That jolt of excitement. I am glad you and Bombay landed in seperate places!! :)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Shirley and Fantastyk - Thanks for the tips.

photogchic - Yes, it's a Tucker.

Lulu said...

My mom has always refused to ride in the wind....which makes for very little riding in Nebraska!!!

It doesn't bother me, and in turn my horses learn to deal with it too.