Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the what ifs. . .

The good news: Yesterday I did yoga for the first real time ever (trying it on the Wii doesn't count). All I can say is WOW! It was nothing like I expected. It was calming and stretchy, yet I felt I really was working and concentrating on what I was doing. All outside thoughts were gone. I really enjoyed yoga and I am excited to continue with it. And, the temperature was 55 degrees today! Horses went outside and got all muddy! They loved it! Shy did not want to come inside, but stayed put when I showed her the peppermint I brought. Good girl. At least she is not running, as long as I have the peppermint. 
Not ready to come in!
The bad news: Yoga gave me a lot to think about afterwards. First, I wanted to do the yoga to help improve my balance and become a better rider. If I was a better rider, I probably could have stayed on Shyloh when she spooked and I fell off the back of her. But then I got to thinking, I am not a rider. I have barely ridden Shyloh and and mostly rode Mia, the Haflinger I leased, but not for that long. 
Me and Mia. Pretty in purple :)
Old barn had crappy lighting, but me on Mia.
With Mia, we would walk and trot, but the only canter I attempted was a few steps. This was mostly due to me, but partly due to Mia because just to get her into a trot was quite the process. She was a lazy pony!  I was always able to stay on Mia when she gave her little bucks and rears, when she spooked at birds in the outside arena, when I rode her bareback and she completely ignored what I was telling her and took me down the aisle to get to the grain stall (multiple times), when she would almost canter back to the barn after a ride down the road, and when she thought it would be fun to chase a van down the road. That horse sure had a mind of her own! But Shy and Mia are two totally different horses. Mia was mostly a lesson horse and pretty much nothing bothered her. She was also about 18 years old and had a lot of experience behind her.
Mia loved grass like no other, once she busted  the metal clip of  a line that was acting as a barrier  of a doorway as she escaped the barn to get to grass. 
This then led to the thought that since I am not a rider, what I am doing with Shyloh? What about our main goal of trail riding? Which in turn led to. . .

What if I can't ever ride/drive Shy?
What if she is too spooky for trail rides?
What if she can't ever get her "spook" under control?
What if I keep falling off of her?
What if I get seriously hurt?
What if I get a saddle and she spooks and I fall of the side but my foot gets stuck in the stirrup and she drags me around?
What if I don't ever take lessons? 
What if I do?
What if I can't find anyone to give me lessons? I do not want to compete or ride a discipline. I just want to have fun with her.
What if I am not good enough for Shy?
What if she is not the horse for me?
What if, what if, what if!!

It's a dangerous game to play. There were about a thousand more what ifs running through my mind, but I won't bore anyone. Then I got to feeling really blah. And that is where I am now. Blah. But once again, my million miles a minute mind starts to think, well, we DID get this far. We ARE making improvements, slowly but surely. Maybe we won't be able to ride this trail season. Maybe we will. I have no idea. Maybe I need some direction.
We can do it!
Things that I know to be true: I need a saddle. I need lessons. But these are entirely different subject matters to perhaps discuss at a later date.

Monday, January 30, 2012

monday musings by shyloh #22

See my sign? It is great! It lets all the horses and two leggers who pass by my stall (which is everyone since I am right across from the grooming stalls and right next to the dreaded arena) know who I am and how extraordinary I am! And also that I am a Haflinger, the greatest horse breed ever produced! True story.  And I guess that Allie loves me.
Now no one can forget how awesome I am, my sign will remind them all!
I was real scared of the sign at first. I didn't know what it was and Allie was coming at me with it all quick. I tried to run, but I was in my stall and I couldn't go very far, so I just kept backing in circles. Allie played the click and treat game with me and my sign wasn't scary any more. All I had to do was touch it and I got a treat! So easy! I realized it wasn't a mountain lion in disguise (those mountain lions have many, many disguises) and I could touch it with no problem. Hey, I was even bigger than my sign! So not scary. 
Treat please! The sign is not a magical morphing mountain lion. Touch!
I was promised that I would be getting out of the boring arena to do some work in the "real world," but that hasn't been happening. This does not make a mare happy, broken promises and stuck inside and all. But then when I went outside to hang with some new friends, I decided that it is not practical to be outside working. Outside is only for finding what is left of the grass. How can it be muddy and icy at the same time? So I guess as long as it is windy and rainy and snowy and icy and muddy, the arena it is. . .going round and round and round. Blah.

Like I said, I got to go outside with some new horse friends! We went out "at out own risk." This was because of the ice and snow. I am pretty hard-core and was not bothered by any of the winter elements.
Mocha in purple, Dante in blue. It was so blustery out!
This is Mocha and Dante. Mocha quickly realized that I was not going to run around with his off the track self and just ate grass with me. Dante wanted me all to himself, he was infatuated. We ate grass together, too. Sometimes, when the wind got blowing real hard, they went on each side of me to protect me. But I think that they fail to realize that I am a Haflinger and I don't need to be protected! 
Mighty Haffie am I!
And poor Ryleigh. . .I could hear him calling for me all the way from the barn! He was spying on us from his window and he was not happy that I was out with two other geldings. But thank Pegasus that Ryleigh wasn't out there, he would have tried to beat up Mocha and Dante. He never would have caught Mocha, but he probably would have hurt Dante. And I don't want my new friends hurt. And they are Ryleigh's friends too, he just can't stand for me to be around other geldings. 
Snow on my back! I couldn't feel it through my winter woolies. So thick!
Outside, the snow got a little intense for a while and I was covered! I didn't mind at all. In fact, I really did not want to go inside when it was time, but I did. I was a good girl. Fear not, I am just planning my next big thrill. Haha!
I'm a pretty cool gal!

Friday, January 27, 2012

something cool. . .

My something cool finally came in the mail! I was so excited! The something new was the harness and line driving down the road. The something interesting. . .well, it is still a work in progress and proving to be a little more difficult than I thought. But, for my something cool, I had walked to my front door with my arms full of stuff and saw a package on the porch. I dropped everything and jumped for joy! Even the dogs had to wait to go outside until I was done with my jumping.

But first. . .the reason I was walking into the front door was because I was coming home from the barn. It was a nice day, but so so muddy. I really wanted to take Shyloh on a walk outside, but we would have sunk in the mud for sure. Instead, we had a little spa day.
Shy was not impressed with spa day
I groomed her really well, took my time, and just talked to her. Shy is shedding already; her body is so confused by this weather. I put some hoof conditioner on her hooves because they seemed to be dry. This dryness was the cause of a minor meltdown the other day, on my part. I had no idea what was wrong with her hooves, but after settling down and becoming rational. . .I realized that they are just dry.  Kathy confirmed this for me, whew. Shy has been inside during the week days because the pastures are dangerously muddy. I have been letting her out on weekends when I was there to supervise. 

I played around with her mane and came up with an evening "do" for her. It is a side swept mane-style that exposes a little more skin than Shy is used to showing. 
Showing a little neck. . .ooh lala
It is much more sophisticated than her normal double mane. Kathy said she looks more like a horse and less like a pony with her mane on one side. I would have kept it for a while, but as soon as we got in the arena, Shy shook it out. Back to the double mane. 

We lunged for a while. This is something we have been doing every time I have been going out. It's boring, but useful. We have been working on whoa and transitions. I did make a discovery today, though. I already knew she would not canter on a lunge line, but I found out she has two different trots. I cluck gets a slow, bumpy-looking trot and a kiss gets a quicker, more elongated, and smoother looking trot. Very interesting.

Anyway. . .here is my something new!

It was made by Sand at Manitiba MoonSox and Me. She does wood-burned signs and has a website called Cantering Customs. She does gorgeous work! She came up with the design and it totally encompasses everything that Shy is. I love it! Thank you so much Sand!! I can't wait to put it on Shy's stall tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

the big scary

Stick. Look at it. It reeks evilness. It was clearly about to transform into a mountain lion, or worse, the minute a horse gets within feet of the stick. It was purely wicked. How any horse could let that stick come near them was beyond Shyloh, it was the scariest thing in the whole arena! 
Could be a magic wand? No. . .
I held this stick in my hand and said touch. I had my clicker and a cut up carrot at the ready. Shy had been great about touching anything. But this stick was the exception. I said touch again. Shy walked around the arena and touched everything we previously touched in previous days. It was cute and quite smart of her, but not what I was asking.

Shy would not touch the stick. I tossed it on the ground. Shy tentatively walked up to it and touched it. Click and treat. After a few touches with the stick on the ground, it became clear that this was the only way she would touch it.  I tried various ways to get her to touch the stick while I was holding it. 
Shy can shake her halter and lead rope, but not touch the stick.
I put it on the ground and said touch. She did, so I clicked. As I was treating I bent down to pick up the stick and Shy trotted away. I dropped the stick and tried again. Next time, she touched the stick, I clicked, and she didn't even wait for the carrot. She was off! I tried following her with the stick to give her the carrot. No luck. I tried for a while to get her to touch this stick. She would circle me. She would stand behind me. She went off and touched things that she has gotten treats for touching before. Shy refused to touch the stick if I had it in my hand, even if it was pointed to the ground.
Not coming any closer.
So I went to my last resort and put her halter back on and attached the lead. We worked on getting closer and closer to the stick. I picked it up. Shy tried to walk off, but couldn't. She didn't fight it, though. I could tell she was scared, but she was trusting me to not let her get hurt. I held the stick out. I said touch. Very very gently, Shy lengthened her neck and stretched her lips all the way out to the big scary stick. She barely grazed it, but I clicked and treated. We did this a few times until she was comfortable with the stick and even put it in her mouth. 

Whew. We overcame the stick! It was not evil after all. It was just a simple stick. Not magical in any way. Not about to shapeshift into a ferocious velociraptor. Not evil. Just a stick that a horse, who is much bigger than it, can over take with a little patience and some treats.

As a plus, Shy finished her Hanging Ball. I was able to get most of the sticky off her face with some warm water and paper towel. I think she was relieved that it was coming off because she let scrub her face. It might have been pulling on her beard hairs, but if not, it was still cemented in there pretty good. I think the next Hanging Ball will have to wait until summertime, when I can give her a bath!
Brown nose is gone!

Monday, January 23, 2012

monday musings by shyloh #21

I got to spend a lot of time outside in the fresh snow over the weekend! It was magical. I was the first horse to make tracks in the snow, too. When I used my nose to clear the snow to get grass, it cleaned it! So the end of my nose is sticky-free from my ball of goodness.  I love being outside! Except when there is snow on the ground and I go back inside, I have so much snow packed under my hooves that they don't even touch the ground! I have to walk so so so carefully until I get to my stall and Allie picks the snow out of my hooves. I slipped once and it was not fun!
It's all mine!
I met a new friend this weekend! Her name is Dulce. She has been at the barn for longer than me, but we never hung out. Until Sunday. Dulce came out into my pasture and we got  along great! It is so nice to have a mare friend. Now we can talk about all the goings on in the barn and gossip about the geldings and the size of of their. . .hooves. . .We went for a run together. I had to be quick to keep up with her, even though she is not a tall Quarter Horse. I was running so fast, I slipped right on my butt! I got up real quick though, kept running, and pretended it never happened. I'm glad Allie didn't see, I would have been embarrassed. 
Bodacious babes of the barn!
New friends!
I also got to hang out with Casi and Ryleigh.  And I met a new boy. His name is Zaylen and he is a 3 year old Paint. He is new to my barn, but I really like him. I just met him while he was in his stall, but he made me go YOWZAH (if you know what I mean, wink wink)!
Hey there good looking!
When I was not ogling the geldings or making new friends or trying to find grass under the snow, me and Allie have been playing this game together. It is fun! All I have to do is touch things and I get grain! Grain! How I love grain! I'd probably do a cartwheeel for some grain if Allie asked me too. . .only if she asked real nice. And if she stopped making me doing circles on the rope again. Boring. Even if it does keep me warmer, being forced to walk and trot and walk and stop and walk and trot, then switch directions and repeat is a real drag.
Not having a good hair day, it happens to the best of us
In other news. . .I overheard someone calling me short! Humph! So to prove them wrong, I have only been drinking out of my bucket that is higher. I used to only drink out of the lower bucket, but now I won't touch it, even when Allie put an apple in the water for me. Short. I'll show them.
I CAN reach!!
And in my efforts to forever befuddle Allie, I laid down to eat my hay. Ha! You should have seen her face when she saw me! I win againnnnn!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

wishes do come true!

It finally happened! I have wished and hoped that one day I would get to see this and tonight, Shyloh made my dream come true! I had been at the barn all day, well all weekend really. Shy spent the days outside in the snow and I spent the days working in the barn. 

But today, as I was taking grain out to the pasture boarded horses, I walked past Shy's stall. My first thought upon approach was, where is Shy? But then I saw her. . .

. . .laying down!!! This is not the best photo, but I was shocked. Stunned. I dropped the grain and stood frozen. I was afraid to move because I did not want her to get up. Finally I came to my senses and took my phone out of my pocket. I snapped this picture. 

Then I thought, how strange that she is laying down now. Her door is open. There are other people at the barn and a horse in the arena. Odd. Panic set in for a split second. Is she sick? Is she colicking? But upon closer inspection, she was eating her hay while laying down. True Haflinger.

I moved in to get a closer picture, but she got up. Oh well.I got what I wanted. Next wish. . .to be able to touch her while she is laying down. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

touch game

I read about a mentally stimulating game from Laz and his owner, Kristen at sweet horse's breath. This seemed to be just what Shyloh and I needed! After a couple of emails back and forth on how to play this game, I headed out to the barn. But first, I grabbed my clicker.

I decided to try clicker training with Shy. I thought she would do very well with it. She is smart and she is able to quickly make associations, as evidenced by her waving whenever she feels she needs a treat, even without being asked.
Trying out a wave to see if that gets her a treat.
When I got to the barn, I loaded up on treats and got Shy out of her stall. I worked on getting her accustomed to the clicker and what it means. I would click and treat, click and treat. My first thought was that I need to find some smaller treats that have less calories and sugar for clicker training.  

When I felt Shy may have started to make the association between clicking and the treat, I waited until she was not paying attention to me. Then I clicked. Shy immediately looked at me, expecting a treat. Smart pony! I did this a few times until I was satisfied, then I moved on to the next step.
Touch it!
I used a Jollyball for the object to touch. I held out the ball and said "touch." It took a minute for Shy to get interested in the ball enough to touch it with her lips, but eventually she did and I clicked.

Whoa! Shy was not expecting that and ran off! I approached her and gave her the treat. Then I repeated the same steps and got the same results. By the third time, Shy realized what was going on and was not startled by the click any more. We worked on touching the ball while I was holding it in the same place until I felt she understood.
Got it!
Next I asked her to "touch" when the ball was held out to my side. This was a whole new concept! Shy walked around me, but then approached and touched. Click and treat. I held the ball in a few different locations around me and each time Shy touched it. Click and treat!

Shy seemed to be enjoying herself. She was engaging with me, so I pushed on. I put the ball on the ground, asked her to touch and she did! Click and treat. Shy was really using her noggin! We ended on a positive note and before Shy got bored with the game.
Fun and easy!
We worked on touch again a few days later. She remembered what I was asking and touched the ball. Click and treat. Kristen provided a valuable suggestion of cutting a carrot into thin slices or using grain, a few pieces at a time instead of treats. I used grain. 

I discovered that Shy will touch the ball in any position, except up high (which really isn't high, it is just barely above her eye level). Not sure why, but we will work on it later. I can even roll the ball away, say touch ball, and Shy will go and touch it! Pretty cool! We worked on touching different objects in the arena; cones, a muck bucket, a hose, the walls of the arena, and poles. 
Shy can touch this, too!
Shy stayed engaged and interested the whole time, even though I pulled her from her stall while she still had hay left. She had free reign of the arena and only went to the doors twice, and that was when I was asking her to touch the ball when it was held high. When I lowered it, she came right to me and touched the ball.

On our third day of working on touch, Shy recalled it right away. I then tried a new word, "take." It took her a while to open her mouth and take the handle of the Jollyball, but eventually we got there. My next step will be to get her to keep the ball in her mouth for a longer time. The click and treat is very effective for Shy. We are building our bond and spending some time together having fun.
Shy is learning so much!
I am open to any other mentally stimulating games for me and Shy to try!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

liebster blog award

I am honored to have received the Liebster Blog Award from achieve1dream over at Living a Farmer's Life. I also read her other blog, One Friesian Sporthorse, One Percheron, & One Donkey. She has a donkey and he is the cutest! I am in love with donkeys right now.  Check them out, they are a great read!
Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. Here are the rules:

1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award
3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs
  1. Living a Dream - A Haflinger blog with silly Pippin and the more serious Doc. Plus a lot of other fun stuff to read about!
  2. Drafty Hafy Gurl - Another Haflinger blog about Camryn, a pretty mare, her dog, and her human and their life. 
  3. Bob the Equestrian - A fellow Michigan blogger who writes about how his daughter's grew up around horses and how he has decided to start lessons himself. He is a very witty writer.
  4. sweet horse's breath - Another Michigan blogger who has excellent ideas to share and discusses her handsome boy Laz, an OTTB. 
  5. Manitoba Moonsox and Me - A blog about Moon, a horse in training for dressage with his owner and the road she travels to achieve her dreams.
Thank you! And give these blogs a read!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

hanging balls

I bought Shyloh one of those Uncle Jimmy's Hanging Balls for her stall. (Upon further inspection of this website, they have sugar-free balls! Those would be much better for Shy.) I figured working on the ball will keep her busy.  The weather had turned warmer for a few days, then rained again, then turned cold and icy, then warmed up and rained. So, the pastures are a mess again and the horses must stay inside. Staying inside means more time for Shy to think of ways to get into trouble and cause me grief.

I grabbed my high-tech equipment which consisted of a moveable mounting block, some tools, and baling twine. Then I mapped out a trajectory from a triangular equation so the ball would not touch the sides of the stall. Okay, maybe not, but I tried to hang the ball so it would not touch the stall sides. When I took the ball out of the box, I was surprised at how heavy it was! I hoped my nail and twine rig would support the weight of this ball! And I wanted this ball to last. If Shy pinned the hanging ball against a stall wall, she could just chew it and eat it and it would be gone in no time. Plus, I think that much stuff of whatever makes up the ball (corn, sugar, oats, molasses) would make her sick if she ate it all in one day. It had to be a free hanging ball, free to swing back and forth.
mmmm. . .hanging ball of deliciousness
Oh my! I showed her the ball and she had an instant magnetic attraction to it. She gave the ball a cursory testing lick. It passed her inspection and she tried to chew on it. The ball swung away. So Shy resumed licking the ball. And licking the ball. And licking the ball. She was hooked! Shy did get irritated a few times because the ball would not stay put, but she worked through her frustrations. I was sure that she would not eat or sleep until the ball was gone.
Is she licking the ball in her sleep? Or just really enjoying herself?
When I went back to the barn two days later and the majority of the ball remained. I was happy that she had not demolished the ball or ripped it down from my home made hanging contraption. But one look at her face and I was on the floor laughing. Her whole face was covered with sticky stuff from the ball. Her white blaze is now brown at the bottom. Her ears, her chin, her cheeks, her muzzle, her forelock. . .all sticky and stiff! My poor pony looked homeless! She looked like she has not been groomed in a decade, but just on her head.
Can you see it on her ears, the side of her face, and muzzle?
I tried. . . I tried real hard to clean her up. I used a face brush. Nope. I used warm water. Nope. The sticky stuff is there to stay. After a while of trying to remove it, I gave up. There was still a lot of ball left, so I concluded that I would come back to the same messy face next time. And she will be sporting the same "hair helmet," but it will probably cover more area and be more cemented. At least she is enjoying herself, right? 
See the poofy forelock and brown at the bottom of the blaze?
We went ahead and continued with our plan for the day, which I'll share next time. Shy learned a new game! And, I am still waiting on that phone call for something exciting and the mail for something new! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

monday musings by shyloh #20

Hey. . .

Hey you. . . 

I wanted to tell you something. . . 

. . .I'm sorry.

But from now on can we do some more fun stuff?

I like to run!

And I like to do new things!


Also, can we get out if this arena? I find it incredibly boring.

I like to be outside. And my Haffie brain needs to be stimulated.

Furthermore. . .can you please get some proper tack? Like a well fitting saddle? 

I bet if you had a saddle you would not have fallen off the back of me. . .

That's it. Just don't be mad at me! I just got startled and I didn't mean for you to get hurt. I feel real bad.  

Oh, and more carrots please!

On a side note, somehow Adventures with Shyloh has been selected as a finalist for The Equestrian Social Media Awards!

Vote here! We are in Category 17.