Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, May 06, 2005

The lessons must go on

The snow started the middle of last week, and continued through to about Tuesday this week! It has been miserable. All of the horses have shed out their winter coats, so they were brought into the barn every night, and yet it still never really go cold enough to freeze the ground so we were still mucking around in inches-deep mud.

We decided to go ahead with lessons, as our policy is the first bad weather day we'll meet and figure out soemthing to do, the second we'll reschedule. So Saturday morning we had our 4 kids show up - with about 8 adults in tow! Parents, grandparents, even a little sister - you get the picture. So on top of trying to stay inside to be comfortable we had this crowd milling around too. And to start out they all had to park up at the house because all of the area around the barn was just too mucky to drive. So - they got to walk down through all the muck.
The kids doubled up to get the horses ready, which was great for getting them to know each other. The horses, however, hadn't really done that before so there was plenty of handling we had to do to keep them quiet. On top of that Harley started doing weird things when we put the saddle on him - as if he has a sore, but we couldn't find any sore.

Eventually we did go out to ride. The arena was in reasonable condition - still some puddles, but since it's sand it's still manageable. But the breeze became a real factor. 2 of the kids didn't bring gloves, so we rounded up a couple of pair of those. Then the horses were all frisky. We know cold weather tends to do that to them, but then we started getting the hint that Shoshoni must have started her heat. Wonderful - Jordan was dancing around with an erection trying to get next to her. Harley was still acting like he was going to collapse with this slip of a 7-year old girl on his back, and everyone was freezing. Didn't take long for the kids to vote to return to the barn. We ended up putting all but Romeo back in their stalls while Ginger demonstrated longing and let each of them try both longing, and then also riding while on the longe line. It was during this time that one grandfather approached me: "I know there are things to learn about handling horses on the ground, but are these kids going to RIDE in their riding lessons?". Thanks buddy - we may not have been as organized as we could have been (or will be the next time), but we were trying to make it still a valuable and interesting experience.

The lesson went late as it was trying to let all the kids have a turn, and then some of them had brought some carrots as treats. Oddly enough, 3 of our original 4 horses don't like carrots - or apples! So we said we'd try the new horses and see what they did. Rio and Shadow were all over them, but Chaco, the mustang really didn't know what to do with them. Ginger threw the carrot pieces in his feed bin, and he eventually picked one up, but he just played with it in his mouth! I don't know if he ever eventually ate it or not. So by the time we broke up we were a full 45 minutes after class was supposed to end. And what a relief that was!

Sunday went quite a bit better. Still cloudy and cold, but the wind didn't blow and we'd had yet another day of drying out. In order to get the new horses acclimatized to the lesson situation, I rode Chaco in the Adult's lesson. He needs a lot more acclimatizing. Dave rode Romeo in the kids lesson, but as Shoshoni kept stopping and threatening to roll while her student was riding, Ginger had him swich and ride her. They speculated that she may have been having cramps because she would relax, then suddenly tense up and start pawing. Strange - do horses get cramps when they cycle? I haven't yet called the vet to ask.

After the kids left we got Shadow and Rio out. Both of them are super riding horses, but both of them are so incredibly ultra sensitive to leg aids that they are quite likely to run out from underneath you! I've never had this experience before, ever. So we're going to have to work them to deaden them to leg aids. If they don't calm down we've started discussing that we may need to replace them. Not quite there, but it's in consideration. It's a shame, because both have perfect ground manners - they just can't be ridden by beginners. Wonder how long it will take us to cultivate some more experienced students.

OH! and yesterday one of our adult students called and said they were interested in getting a second lesson every week, so he's going to be doing a private lesson during the week and the group lesson on the weekend. Woo Hoo.



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