Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Training

Finally. I can get some consistent days in for what I call Spring Training. We're looking at 3 days of warm, sunny Spring days in these parts!

My two boys are usually always off from December until April. They get to be lazy horses in the back field during the winter months. They get bored. When I start spending more time with them, they look forward to it every day. As a matter of fact, Bo gets grumpy when I haven't been with them for a while. His face shows it. He tends to boss Spirit around more.

I have researched many of the training techniques from various clinicians and trainers. I tried Clinton Anderson for a while, but in my mind, I now feel his techniques are too aggressive for my horses. My guys don't need that kind of training. I realize Anderson's training techniques, and those of other trainers like him, have their place. They just weren't comfortable for me with these two particular horses.

I have decided to follow a lesser known trainer's techniques. I don't like round penning although I have a round pen. I feel round penning is just another scare tactic, I understand "round pen reasoning", but I also believe, it depends on the horse. Ryan Gingerich does not believe in round penning. He has an excellent article on the subject on his website.

I had seen Gingerich at Equine Affaire, Ohio, last year and was impressed with his training techniques. Basic and patient. His training program consists of five elements: Basic control, lightness, rhythm, line and connection.

My boys do better with a one-on-one type training. They are responding positively to the techniques I've been learning, via DVD, from Ryan Gingerich. They are much more relaxed with these training techniques when I'm working with them. I am much more relaxed too so the time spent in the exercise is good for all of us.

If I were to give advice to new horse owners I would say, above all, find what works for YOU and your horses. Enjoying the journey is all a part of the experience.

Ryan Gingerich's website:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Need I say more?
Bo & Spirit

Mud, mud, EVERYWHERE! The back field is my sacrifice field where the boys stay December through April.

Don't get me wrong, on one hand I'm happy to have the April showers. The rain means my measely grass pasture will surely green up by May 1, when I allow my guys to get into into it for a few hours a day.

However, I had just gotten back into working with my guys again after the long winter break. We were doing pretty good too. Spirit is so eager this year makes me look forward to working with him! Bo, well, as usual, he just needs saddled and ridden.

I don't have an inside or covered arena. We're completely o'natu-ral, meaning barefoot horses, run-in stall/shed area, 24/7 outside horses, and we try to do the best we can with what we've built. When Hubby and I designed our little farm area, we thought we had things pretty well covered. Some things you just never see the time neither of us saw the disadvantage of putting the corral area at the base of a hill. Live and learn!

Green pasture grass ready for grazing by May 1.

At my next farm I'll remember to have a 60x120 barn with indoor riding arena, stalls AND acres upon acres of lush green pasture grass. Probably have to be in my next life, I deal with this muddy crap every cotton pickn' spring and fall.

Good news, we're looking at sunny skies and warm temps Thursday through Saturday! Just enough to probably get dried out enough to get muddied up again when the rain comes through next week. I need to quit watching the Weather Channel!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ohio Equine Affaire

I hadn't planned on attending Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, this year. I've attended the event for the past four years, ever since I found out about it. This year there were other things going on around me and it just didn't seem that important to attend. Lo and behold, a friend called me Saturday to say she was going up to EA on Sunday and asked if I wanted to ride along. Opportunity knocked, so I answered.

We went to the Extreme Cowboy Race final at 9:30am. I didn't really think I'd be impressed with the event but it ended up being an enjoyable couple of hours. Watching both pro and amateur riders compete through the course in Cooper Arena was really more thrilling than I expected it to be. I had expected to be bored to tears. I'm glad I was wrong.

The winner of the event was a 57 year old female, non-pro, rider on a grade horse. Now, how much more thrilling can you get! Sally and her horse, Ghost, were up against some pro horses and riders as well as other amatures like herself, though most of the females were 30 years younger than Sally.

I tend to observe the horse more than the riders in these events. I watch their faces, their responses to their riders. Sally and Ghost were definitely partners. Ghost listened and waited for direction and responded. They were tuned in to each other more so than any of the other horse and rider teams I observed.

Probably the most crowd pleasing competitor was 65 year old Larry on his Spotted Saddle Horse. Though definitely not the fastest, his persistence at completing the course got the crowd on it's feet by the end of his run.

Second place went to a gorgeous dark chestnut QH stallion who was all muscle and definitely well trained. I believe they said he was a working cow horse from Michigan.The only problem in the tie breaker actually came from his rider who forgot the pattern to one of the obstacles, otherwise, he probably would have won the tie breaker event.

After ECR we went to Julie Goodnight's clinic on lead changes. Now, I have to admit, I am lost when it comes to lead changes. I've never had training in that area of riding and didn't really understand it. Julie did a great job at explaining the why and how of lead changes, so much so, that someone like me actually understood what she was talking about. Now I wish I was attending Julie's clinic in North Jackson, Ohio, in May. My friend applied early and will be one of the 15 riders in the clinic.

After Julie's clinic we did the shopping thing around the two vendor buildings. As I expected, there seemed to be fewer vendors this year. Enjoyed looking but didn't by a single thing not even a t-shirt!

We then went to the last clinic of the day with Craig Cameron. I was very tired by now, it was 3:30pm we'd gotten there at 9am and left for the event at 7:15am that morning. Craig was tired too, his voice just about gone. His clinic dealt with establishing communication with a horse that is spooky and maybe not well trained. Craig can be entertaining and he does like to talk! Sometimes though, I feel I get lost during his explanations.

At any rate, I do appreciate the fact that for $19.99 ($5 parking fee and $14.99 entrance fee) you can take in horse breeds of all kinds and clinics on various topics for a whole day. It's a bargain and an enjoyable experience. We're fortunate to have an Equine Affaire located in the middle of our state each year. An opportunity not often seen in these parts!