Archive for September, 2009

Sunday Drive

amywink September 20th, 2009

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Winter’s coming according to Will’s coat. Just this week, I noticed more hair on his withers and the little flaxen hairs running down the backs of his forelegs. In other years, he started to grow his winter coat in August but I suppose this year’s record breaking heat helped him hold off until almost October. Today, I could see the coat coming in on his neck, belly and back, especially after his post-drive bath, which he deserved today.

We did another 6K drive today–or 5.7K for Lisa. I’ve added some distance to our drive since we had to do some loops whenever Will began catching up to Windy. He enjoys driving with her but has no trouble leaving her or having her out of sight when we go on ahead. Today he did extremely well again and I found myself much lighter on the reins and getting a better response with less effort. He was very responsive and happy to turn left (YAY!) and drive straight–and my signals to do so are clearly getting much better. Both Lisa and I worked to be lighter this week since Jerry Hess mentioned that some horses can have TMG as a result of drivers holding their reins too strongly but, of course, we wouldn’t be doing that.

Oop! Noooooo.

And of course, we’re not doing that, especially because now we’re thinking about it all the time! Haha.

I’ve been reading my newest Driving Digest and I’m sure Andy Marcoux’s article, “Rein Directions Your Horse Can Follow” has helped. I also recently listened to Jeff Morse’s “Effective Communication with the Driving Horse” which I found extremely helpful. Now I think some of my reading is having an effect on my actual driving.

I also know that the consistent driving that Jerry O’Carroll kept harping on has paid off (you were right, Jerry!!!) and driving Will for several days in a row has helped me learn Will’s mouth as well as reinforce the hand movements I am making. Today, I could feel the lightest movement was all that was necessary for Will to respond and the results were delightful. He eased into a trot, turned left, turned right, slowed to a walk with nary an evasive move. We’re still working on the steady trot–he does a little head tossing when I ask– but we’re getting there and today his trot was more steady than not, with only a few hints of the turbo-charge that’s waiting there for whenever we need it.

We’ve been at Lisa’s about 6 weeks now and I think Will is very very happy in his new place. Today he did his “I’m a Morgan” pose before we drove and Lisa says he does it all the time. I think it’s because he knows it’s cute and might get him a nice cookie or two.

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And, of course, it usually does.

Head Study

amywink September 20th, 2009

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Family Drive

amywink September 19th, 2009

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Today, we all went for a drive. Mom finally got her first carriage ride and Dad enjoyed his second. Will thought it was a real workout after taking 2 weeks for rain delay.

But he was excellent. He stood for a long time, very very quietly, almost asleep, as we waited for Lisa and Windy to get ready, then he started off quietly, walked quietly, responded quietly. I could not have been more pleased with him. We had a nice walk about the pasture and down the road. He got used to the extra weight pretty fast and did very well, even trotting some down the side of the road–in the grass, not the stones. We had a nice trip around the yard and house as well and ended the drive standing nicely, waiting for his passengers to get slowly off the carriage. What a good boy he was today. I have worked hard to get us this point, to be able to share the driving experience with my parents and have them enjoy driving as much as I do. I think we accomplished quite a bit today.

And I think reading and understanding Andy Marcoux’s article made a big difference today as we drove. I felt more confident, had better communication with Will (no arguments!) and we turned well and managed to drive straight after turns. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, when I drive sans passengers!

But here he is looking gorgeous after the drive. I was very proud of him today.

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Using the Outside Rein

amywink September 18th, 2009

I’ve been working on understanding Andy Marcoux’s article “The Outside Rein Demystified” (Driving Digest July/August 2008) since, oh, about July/ August 2008. Actually, I’ve taken to reading it again and again to see how much my conceptual understanding of driving has developed.

Last summer, I could understand about a third of it and the rest just made my head hurt. At the point where my understanding ended, I always felt like I’d just jumped off into the deep end of the pool without my waterwings. So, I’d shut the magazine and try again further down the road. Jerry O’Carroll and I actually discussed this article a great deal during my lessons last spring and by midspring, he was encouraging me to think about my turns as Andy had written about them (pg 17). So I went back to the article and read more, getting a little bit further, until I thought “Deep End! Deep END!” somewhere in the section called “How I Use the Outside Rein (Most of the Time) right around “please turn to page 31″.

Flounder, Flounder….

But I keep carrying this article around, every time I have time to spend sitting–waiting for my students to complete their essays or exams, waiting in doctor’s offices. Last week, I’d read further and understood further but had to leave the pool at the end of “Come Fly Away”.

Today, I had some time to sit and wait for my mother’s MRI (she’s fine, btw), and I got to the last section “Resisting Weight in Balance” and I found out I could finally swim in the deep end of the pool. Maybe not perfectly, but it was swimming and I was afloat! I read and re-read the section today, finally understanding what was happening with the outside rein and the turn:

“As you drive your horse, your outside rein acts as sustaining pressure. The horse counters that pressure by pulling it forward. If, at the same time, there is intermittent pressure on the inside rein for the horse to yield to, the result is a turn, and a bend away from the steady outside rein. That smacks right in the face of our mechanical instincts which tell us ‘pull left, turn left,’ so it can be difficult to convince our body to follow those instructions. Our challenge is to overcome those instincts and begin to communicate with our horses in a way that augments their balance.” (page 31)

Tomorrow, I’ll see if I can apply what I understood today!!

After The Rains

amywink September 18th, 2009

As much as I loved the rain and the resulting mud, I am happy to be getting back to driving tomorrow. Life interrupted this Friday’s planned drive this week for both Mary and I.

But, not tomorrow. Tomorrow, it’s back in the driver’s seat.

I hope Will is looking forward to it as well. He’s been extra frisky this week since the temperatures have cooled down considerably. Next week, we are looking at highs in the low 80’s again after a cold front arrives on the first day of autumn.

Last week’s rains have triggered new growth all over Taipan Station and the horses left their round bale for the pleasures of new grass. Wednesday, I walked the pasture with the dogs and looked over the changes in the pasture.

In the yard, the rains soaked the ground enough to get the mushrooms popping up all over.

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Down by the stock tank, where water will eventually rise, I found what I think is Chinese Lantern.
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Swarms of happy bees were feasting on the pale pink blooms of this plant in full bloom now. Any ideas?
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And Wonder of Wonders, there’s water in the bottom. Here it is this week, after 4 inches of rain finally fell:
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In August, this was all you could see:
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I eventually found the horses at the far end of the back pasture, enjoying the sunshine and green grass.

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