Lesson Wrap-Up: More of the Same

Last night in my lesson with my regular trainer, we continued what we started on last week, which was turn on the forehand > change bend, walk pirouette > trot or canter out of it.

The idea is that we are taking the ToF NK has me do, focusing on position and not pulling, and adding more to it.

Not perfect, but effective.

The canter felt really good to me coming out of the walk exercise, but my trainer accurately diagnosed that his hind legs weren't "punchy" enough in it.  Pretty easy to see in the video.

Oops, posted the wrong video earlier!  This is the correct one.

To work on that, I focused on half halting on the upbeat, giving a gentle bump, and keeping my hands in that "tray carrying" position NK put me in.

You can tell we're both starting to get tired here, and we lost the bend coming out of the corner.  Also I was UNSPEAKABLY sore for this lesson thanks to Bulgarian split squats and bodyweight sled pushes (MY NEMESIS!) the day before in CrossFit.

Overall, he felt fantastic.  My vet happened to be out at the barn during my lesson, and she asked me afterward if we were showing right now.  I told her we'd taken the season off to get the basics down at Second and she said it looked like we were schooling Third.  We are nowhere near Third, but after feeling down about riding for so long, I will totally take that compliment!

I think NK would say my torso is moving with him here...I think.  She would also tell me "needed a couple of half halts across the diagonal."

Of course, the season's not over yet, and now that I'm feeling so much better about how he's going right now, I'm seriously toying around with hitting a show or two before the end of the year.  We'll see!


Venice and the Betadine Jug

When I got to the barn this morning, I thought Connor's under neck area looked a tad lumpy - hives.

No idea what caused them, could be anything this time of year.  He's going to be 100% fine, but it reminded me that I never shared one of me and Mary's most hilarious horse escapades in college on this blog.

The only time in my life I've ever had a horse with hives occurred after Mary and I were scrubbing a wound on the pony we co-owned sophomore year using the college's gallon jug of Betadine.  We weren't supposed to be using that Betadine because Venice was a privately owned horse and not a school horse, but we did it anyway because it was late at night and we thought we wouldn't get caught.

Mary jumping Venice in class

We had replaced the lid so the jug was closed tightly, and we left the jug on the ground next to Venice.  Well...Venice knocked over and then stepped on the closed jug...which caused yellow Betadine to positively EXPLODE all over our white-grey pony, us, the light blue walls of the college's boarder barn, the floor, EVERYTHING.  Like, picture a bomb filled with a gallon of Betadine going off, because that was a brand new bottle, still full.  That's what it looked like.

Picture this horse...covered in yellow leopard spots...

It only got worse when we tried to clean it up, because we used a hose, so of course all that Betadine turned into so much suds, it looked like a fraternity foam party in the barn aisle.

The security guard that found us frantically scrubbing walls and floors while standing in a mountain of bubbles at 10pm that night stopped to laugh his ass off before continuing on with his rounds.  To be honest, I probably would have done the same thing, and I wish there were pictures. 

Why no, we never did questionable things with our horse late at night, why do you ask?

In all the chaos, we hosed Venice down, but apparently not thoroughly enough, because when we got to the barn the next morning he was peppered with hives anywhere the Betadine hit him.  We had to wash our horse, and confess to destroying an entire gallon of the college's Betadine in the barn manager's office.  She thought it was hilarious and we didn't get in trouble.

And that's the only other time in my life I've had a horse that had hives.


Gratuitous Hank Photos

My phone has been overrun with Hank pictures lately, so that's what we're doing today (promise this isn't becoming a dog blog, but he's just so cute I can't help myself.)

I have a lot of pictures of him sleeping because this dog is 100% whatever he does - he's either 100% awake and running laps around my house with his stuffed sloth, or he's 100% asleep and you could set a bomb off under him and he wouldn't wake up.

The first time they shared a bed and laid against each other

Sorry for the gratuitous boob shot, but I was doing mobility on my lunch break and Hank decided to...join me...

Morning walks with weight in his backpack

More mobility



Ride and Lesson Wrap-Up: It's Working

On Monday, Connor and I had a fantastic ride on our own where I did nothing but 20m circles and ride along the rail, focusing on my position.  I really focused on the effectiveness of my seat and legs in the new position we've been working on, and thought about my shoulders moving back, my hands moving forward, and my butt being "in the pocket" of the saddle.

I am woefully low on media from this week, but how bout dat symmetry score!

Our lesson on Tuesday ended up being fantastic.  It's amazing how quickly I can get him to work when I start in a good position.  My trainer immediately commented on how it looked like I was genuinely sitting around him. 

She had us do a quarter turn on the forehand at the walk at each "corner of the square" before trotting off down that leg of the rectangle, which really helped him rock back and lift his front end.

Poor guy gave me a great effort on Monday for a whole hour even though he definitely had to pee

I'm oversimplifying the work right now in order to not lose my position, but my trainer had a good point that I need to make a point to do smaller than 20m circles with him right now, especially in the canter.  We still have problems engaging the inside hind, especially to the left, which I'm sure is partially due to me always sitting to the left and partially because he likes to escape out the right side.

Nobody will complain about more Hank photos!
At the end, we did turn on the forehand to walk pirouette, and I could feel my position start to break down even though it was a great exercise for Connor.  I have to strike a balance between what's necessary for him and what I can do without losing this position that I still very much have to focus on in order to maintain.


Meet Hank

Everyone is different about getting a new dog after you lose one.  My husband and I knew pretty quickly after we lost Tucker that we are not a one dog family. 

Bitsy, the best coworker, glued to my side during work
My husband wanted something around a year old, and he wanted something more loyal than Tucker was.  We didn't mind getting another Husky, but we had to keep in mind that with our travel schedules, it couldn't be something completely wild.  He also wanted something trainable that he could take hiking and maybe do some agility with.

We spent a month scouring PetFinder and visiting rescues with no luck.  Then one night I was browsing Craigslist and saw an ad from a city two hours away that literally had three phrases: German Shepherd Husky mix, awesome dog, housetrained, $100. 

And that's how we got Hank:


Hank is a 1 year old GSD/Husky mix, although the more I get to know him the more I think he leans waaaaaaaaay more to the GSD side of that mix.  His behavior and attitude are like 80% GSD, 20% Husky.

We know from fostering many Huskies that the first couple weeks are always rocky as they adjust to a new house and routine, and Hank is no exception.  He's had very little structure in his life so far, the gerbils in his brain tend to go a million miles an hour without direction, keeping pace with his feet, which run everywhere he goes.

But he's proven to be wicked smart and easily trainable, which is awesome.  He came with "sit" and "paw", and in the 48 hours we've had him he's added "down", "wait", "get in your crate", "get in your bed", the "'no' noise", and has a reasonably reliable loose-leash "heel" like 50% of the time (he's a terrible puller). 

Like any high-energy, young working breed, wearing him out is going to be key to our success with him.  We've been doing walks with water bottles in the backpack before work, clicker in hand, working on "heel", "sit", and "pay attention to the human because I will change direction at any moment and you have to deal with that".  That's been working out pretty well so far:

Tired doggo = good doggo

We have a place in town that trains GSDs for police departments in addition to having a doggy daycare and obedience/trick training/etc program, so he's going to start going there a couple days a week for part day playcare, part day obedience. 

Learning about waiting patiently in the checkout line

More than anything, I want another dog to put him in his damn place and teach him some doggy body language, since while he respects Bitsy as queen of the house, he doesn't understand that she has ZERO interest in playing with him.  And also, he does need someone to play with him and we can't provide that.

Bitsy guarding her pig ear, and Hank respecting her even though he REALLY wants it

He was supposedly housebroken (nope), and supposedly crate trained (only if you count knowing exactly how to open crate latches and escape within minutes of being put in one), so we're having to stay one step ahead of this super smart guy.  A couple of carabiners and zip ties on the crate fixed his little red wagon last night, and we got to listen to him cry himself to sleep when he realized he couldn't escape from the crate.

Privacy fence = worth every penny with this dog

Even with all that, he's already an awesome addition to the family.  Can't wait to see what kind of guy he grows up to be!


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