Friday, June 27, 2008


Here are some videos of her lungeing today- after one month.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Learning to long line

After Drifter's initial reaction to the long lines, I decided to take a second look at the way I was approaching this with her. Upon suggestion, I long lined her from the ground driving position, with the lines lowered and clipped securely onto the rings on the top of the cavesson. Surprisingly, she didn't mind the lines along her back side or along her hind legs. She was really fine with it. She understood the steering much better with the lines securely attached and the cavesson very tight so it didn't slide. She was also able to "whoa" from the voice command several times, when she stopped in an unbalanced fashion the lines were on her haunches to balance her. I have been following the long lining up with lunging at the trot.

The third long lining session has been the best- but she has a short attention span. She is mentally like a two year old in training. She we long line for 15-20 minutes and lunge for the same. I had an excellent lunging session on Tuesday. She was able to stay out on a 20m circle at the walk in both directions and showed an improvement at the trot with less inversion. I have been asking her to transition to walk when she becomes unbalanced and letting her do more of a slow trot this week. Although she understands the concept of lunging, I learned that her body is not able to comply with the fitness and flexibility needed to progress quickly. So, this week was a taking it slow week.

She is doing well with "normal" horse activities like group turnout, taking halter/cavesson on and off, cross tying and fly spray. I can also pick up and hold her hind feet now. She has also gained some weight- just her neck looks puny and skinny now. I can't wait until she is muscled up. I have been doing the belly lifts with her and some stretches for treats to help her flexibility and topline. I am still searching for some more non-traditional activities to do with her. I was reading about equine intelligence testing this week and think it would be a fun activity to try with her. I feel that she is pretty bright and picks up things quickly. I heard several stories about "untamed" or "unhandled" horses this week and am ever thankful that Drifter is as sensible as she is. Again, I look forward to riding her.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Naughty Drifter

I guess things can't always go smoothly. Today was the first day that I long lined her. I attached the long lines to the lunging cavesson. However, they don't attach smoothly or easily. I brought her to the indoor and felt the need to shut the door behind myself.

I took her to the center of the ring and attempted to send her out on the circle, like lungeing. She was walking right on top of me and was a bit tense. I finally got her straightened out and going in a circle. I could see her thinking about being "steered" from two sides. Apparently it freaked her out a little. She picked up the trot and trotted a few circles and then picked up a faster trot. In this case, she then decided that going back to the gate at high speed was a good idea. She straightened her head to the outside and took off. I lost control of the reins and she gave a little buck as she ran to the arena gate. She stopped by the gate and walked into the small barn attached to the arena. She stopped in the stall and was willingly lead out and put back to work.

I thought it best to work at the walk after that incident. I worked more on steering around the arena wall and practicing some halting. She was clearly tense when being steered from the long lines, but held herself together pretty well. After steering around the ring in both directions at the walk I decided that she should work. So I hung up the long lines on the surcingle and attached the lunge line. I had her lunge in both directions at a forward trot. I asked her to work harder at the trot because of her earlier outburst. She was difficult again to the right today with no improvement throughout the session.

After lunging, it was time to walk nicely around the farm. She was good.

Tonight was a big night for Drifter. It was her first night out all night with another horse. She is turned out with another mare, who seemed less like she wanted to be friends and more like she wanted to chase her. Drifter is herd smart and got away from the fence, away from the corner of the pasture and away from her turnout buddy. However, within a few minutes they were both grazing on opposite sides of the field. I think all will be okay.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Another day on the lunge. Wearing a saddle and a lunging cavesson. We worked in the outdoor ring, she was more relaxed and less concerned about her barn mates. She however, was getting eaten by the greenhead flies. We did about 20 minutes of walk and trot. Her right side is improving and there is less difference between left and right at this point.

She stood totally still for fly spray today.

She got several doses of applesauce from the wormer syringe today. She wasn't so thrilled with me sticking the syringe in her mouth, but all four feet stayed on the ground. By the end of our time together she tolerated it pretty well.

She lifted all four feet nicely today.

I need to get more pictures of her. She is also going out on grass now. It is amazing that with as little as four hours of turnout daily she is as quiet as she is. She really is a mellow horse. I will start long lining her this week and also spending more time on the cross ties, because once she goes on pasture board, she will need to be reliable on the cross ties for grooming/tacking/etc.

I am also considering a fly sheet for her. She seems to draw the flies :-(

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bathing and first hoof trim

Tuesday: it was really hot here in NJ. Probably in the upper 90's to low 100's. Drifter was dripping sweat standing in her stall. What a good day to teach her that baths are a good thing! I set the wash stall up with a bucket of water and sponge for washing. I brought her up and she followed me right into the washstall. I cross tied her in the wash stall; as I figure that the best way to get her "reliable" in cross tying is to do it more in more places with caution so that she doesn't get herself into a bad situation. Then I started slowly with the wetted sponge on her shoulder under her long mane. She was cautious, but okay with the cool water. She got a treat for standing like a good girl. I sponged her whole body, legs, inside of her hind legs and tried to get some stains off of her. I found that she most disliked when the water began to soak her skin. She she isn't totally thrilled with bathing, but she is tolerating it. I hope to be able to really scrub her up someday soon. She also got some real fly spray and more SWAT on her to try and keep her happy in turnout- where the flies like to eat her!

I also CONQUERED the wormer! I took a used wormer syringe and put some apple flavored mushy water in there. I was able to go VERY slowly and touch her face with he syringe. I eventually slipped it into her mouth and dispensed! I repeated on the right side with a little more difficulty, but was able to do the same as well. During this process, I had my fingers in her mouth and noticed that on her left side her upper molars do not align with her lower molars. I was able to feel the chewing surface of her upper left molars and there is a large hook in the front and some sharp edges. Her gums are also very fleshy- they were not red or irritated looking, but there is a lot of flesh in there! I am interested to see in her mouth when she is HEAVILY sedated next month for her dental visit.

Friday the 13th- TODAY.

First, I had a root canal done at my new dentist and went to the barn after that - so I felt like crap. The farrier was just finishing with Fritz. So, I introduced Drifter and a little bit about her story. I was planning on having her front feet done as I have still been working on getting her reliable with lifting and holding her hind feet. Interestingly enough, she didn't want to come out of her stall. Once out, I walked her up and down the aisle so he could evaluate how she moves- she really didn't want to move out. He started with rubbing her body a little and then rubbing her legs. He did a short ask to lift and hold the front foot and then we rewarded her. He was able to get her front leg in between his and trim her foot. I distracted her and bribed her with some treats to help keep her head low and relaxed. Linda Tellington Jones talks about the connection between raising the head and the flight or fight reflex, this is also seen in many natural horsemanship techniques. Joe, the farrier, was willing to try to give the hind feet a try. The first attempt she picked up the foot willingly, but had difficulty with holding it up. She continued to shake/jerk her leg away. He went a got a long, soft rope, so that he was able to place it around her fetlock, ask her to weightshift and lift her leg. This time when she jerked her leg he was able to stay relaxed and out of harms way. As soon as she balanced herself and relaxed, her put down her foot and rewarded her. She relaxed and licked and chewed. He put her hind leg on the stand and quickly took it off. The second attempt her left her leg there and trimmed her hing hoof. We repeated on the other side with only minimal more difficulty. Wow- Drifter had her first hoof trimming without the stocks, without sedation and without stress. This mare is really smart and willing.

I also tried on a few horse blankets on her- for fall/winter. Unless I find a good fly sheet for her. THe 72 was too small. She is a 74-76 size. I found a great ice and baby blue blanket that makes her look like a yeti wearing it! The too small lilac blanket looked very pretty on her! She is getting very good with taking on/off her halter. I am hoping the staff can start doing that soon. She was quite interested in wearing blankets, sort of like "what is this" and was totally cool with me taking them off, buckling then and folding them back up in her stall. Hopefully tomorrow my mouth will be feeling better and we can do some more "work".

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Two days update

Tuesday, we cross-tied or half cross tied. She stood to have her rump curried! We continue to work on picking up feet, good on the front- still working on the back!

Worked on spray bottle for fly spray. Minimal upset just when the spray first hits her, but okay afterwards.

THE BIG MILESTONE. Drifter wore a saddle and real lunging cavesson. She was more concerned about the lunging cavesson on her nose then about the saddle. This was the first time she had something other then HER halter on her face. She was nervous, but willing. The cavesson gives me more control and should help her get used to more touching on her face.

Today- continued to work on all four feet. More fly spray- the real stuff this time. Working on keeping her comfortable when she goes outside.

More Ttouch- did some back lifts, inchworm touch on her neck and pelvic pushes. She is so funny because she turns over to look at me when I am doing these "things" to her. I am continuing to work on/in her mouth and ears, where she is most sensitive. I think I could worm her now. She is a good girl, but I would like to see her relax more.

AND- I went to the dentist- so now it's her turn. I think I will have to sell my first born child to pay for her and my dental appointments!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ground Work

Today the barn was busy- so we focused on ground work. When I came to the barn Drifter was in the turnout. She continues to walk the fence, but I think the flies are having a big impact on that. Later, I checked her udder and it looked like a blood bath under there. She has several dime sized bruises and bites on her inner thighs. She we did a quick udder wash and swab with pink bubble gum swat. I think I need to buy more Swat- but maybe the clear kind. I am also wondering if a fly sheet would be beneficial?

Our work today was to see if she ties- yep, she ties. I tied her in her stall with bailing twine and her leadrope. This was four feet away from her hay pile. She tested the tie, but stood quietly. good girl!

I am continuing to work on her feet. We are making good progress on the front- worked more on the left then the right, because she was standing along the wall on the right side. The hind legs also required more work! She continues to jerk her leg away when I hold onto it, but is better when I am just lifting and letting go! Her feet look pretty flat right now and it looks like her fronts could use some shaping, I don't think I will ask the farrier to touch the hinds for anther month.

We went for several walks around the farm on just the leadrope with no dressage whip for corrections. She is getting the whole- please don't walk on top of me! She is now walking on a loose lead and is stopping on voice command "whoa" for most transitions. She is also learning about the wonders of hand grazing. Yet, she remains polite when hand grazing and lifts her head when I cluck to walk on.

We also walked in the outdoor ring. She was very good and interested in what was in the ring. I figured that if I can step over a cross rail- so can she. So I walked her onlead over the first cross rail and she didn't lift her legs enough and crashed it. It crashed down behind her and towards her and she took a few fast steps away from it, but wasn't overly worried. We then walked over a red/black cross rail, then the yellow/black cross rail (which she needed to sniff, but followed right over). She was very good about this on lead hunter course, so I added the small panel gate and finished with the flower box. What a good pony! There's hope for her being a jumper someday.

I really love this mare and hope to be able to work out an arrangement to keep her despite my changing home status. I also can't wait to get on her.