Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dolly Gets Backed and Trailer Trained; Tica goes to another Dressage Show.

                    Dolly July 20, 2011                             Ainslie Sheridan  copyright 2011


     Dolly Is Backed !

     Dolly's training has been going along very well.  Here is a YouTube of Juliane and I backing her utilizing Australian trainer Kel Jeffries's method:


       Will Dolly Ever Get Back in a Trailer?

        For those of you who have been with us from the beginning, you will remember that Dolly had never been handled before she was thrown on a trailer in Tennessee with other members of her starving herd and shipped to an equine wholesaler in New Jersey.  When friends offered to pick her up for me they found a terrified filly who'd never even been haltered. It took them three hours to load her.    She fought long and hard but to our little lady's credit, not once did she kick out.  But she did flip over backwards and cut the side of her head.  So that trauma, coupled with her claustrophobic ride from Tennessee, most likely comprised the totality of her trailer experience.  Who could blame her if she out up a fuss when she next encountered one?

       But she didn't.  Thankfully, we'd done a lot of natural horsemanship between the time she arrived in February and early July.  She now was leading, yielding to pressure, yielding her hindquarters and forequarters, backing up, and ponying several miles on the trail crossing all sorts of natural obstacles.  And,  of course, she's by nature a sweet horse.

       I decided to use a combination of Craig Cameron, Pat Parelli and Clinton Anderson's trailer loading methods.  I opened up the round pen and backed the trailer so its rear doors were just inside the round pen.  I then pulled the opened round pen panels against the side of the trailer.  In other words, the open doors became part of the round pen.

     The first step was round-penning so she could get used to trotting by the trailer.  At first, she veered away from but in less than five minutes--she trotted by as if that gaping black hole simply didn't exist.  Next, I decreased my pressure--lowering the whip and softening my posture--to encourage her to take a break near the trailer.   After a several additional changes of direction she happily stood at the trailer, even stretching her heard down to sniff the rubber mats inside.  We did this a number of times.   With each rest by the trailer Dolly's comfort level increased.  Because of the degree of ground work and leading I had done with her I thought I'd see if she would simply follow me in.  Here's the result:

                                                   Martha Rounds copyright 2011

           And then, just for fun, Tim, a student, and I decided to invent our own version of the "West Texas Dismount."  Usually, the rider grabs the top of the trailer and lets the horse continue loading himself.  Once the horse in fully on board, the rider drops to the ground so he can close the trailer doors.  Next time.  But I just couldn't resist showing you how brave Dolly has become with both people and trailers.  See for yourself: 

     Tim and Dolly in trailer                                                                                     Martha Rounds copyright 2011

P.S. Please do not try this at home.

       Dolly spending time with Sonia who is visiting us from California:

                        Dolly and Sonia                                                             Ainslie Sheridan copyright July 2011

Surgery For Dolly

      On August 3  Dolly will being going down to Mass Equine in Uxbridge for surgery.  It seems her tear requires a more extensive operation than originally thought.  Dr. Jay Merriam guessed that she may have had a foal when she was just two years old.  During the birthing process the lower half of her rectum was severely ripped.  Jay and his associate will attempt to reconstruct the damaged part by utilizing a piece of the interior of her lower colon.  She will need to arrive the day before and stay down there for a couple of days following surgery.  The trip away from home will also provide additional training for her.  She hasn't been away from Windflower since she arrived on that cold February day.  I'm  sure she will do well, and it's something that has to be done.

King Oak Dressage Show

         Tica and I just returned from King Oak in Southampton, Mass, where we qualified to ride in the First Level Championships at the Region Eight championships in Saugerties, New York in September.  Aren't equestrian sports wonderful?  When you get good at something you get to spend even more money.  Joking aside, I am, of course, thrilled.  Our scores ranged from 60 to 63 without the able assistance of our coach, Linda Parmenter.  Had Linda been available to warm us up, I'm sure we would have scored a few points higher.  I found the judging fair, well-considered and, most importantly, helpful.  That's why I love dressage shows:  I not only get tested but evaluated as well.  Then I get sent back to my farm to try to get better.  But the best part is that the 7's and occasional 8's confirm what's going well in our training.  Even though I did garner a couple of 8s this time, my favorite score was a '7' I received in the collective marks for harmony because it came with the judge's (Jane Ayers) comment, "happy together."  That meant the world to me:  I could not imagine doing dressage if my horse didn't enjoy being in the arena.

      Tica spend two nights in the tent stabling where we had great aisle company.  Everyone was mutually supportive,  lending equipment or a free hand/ and inquiring how tests went.  The black flies were horrid, as usual--but it wasn't as brutally hot as last summer nor as humid.  Fly bonnets were allowed and jackets waved which made things a lot more comfortable.   And, even though by the second day Tica was tired, she tried her heart out during her tests.  She was just terrific.

       There was just one "wrinkle" in an otherwise wonderful weekend.  When it came time for one of my tests, and I was about to go in, the ring steward said, "You're up--time for the old farts."  Taken by surprise I quickly wondered if the previous rider was also in her in sixties.  I glanced over at  a young woman exiting the ring.  Nope, at sixty-two I was the only "old fart."  The ring steward herself was hovering somewhere in her fifties.  I honestly think she was simply trying to connect and be humorous.  But she didn't and she wasn't--not at all.   I was attempting to hold an entire test in my head.  In the past I've frequently forgotten parts of my tests. ( Nerves not Alzheimers!)  In addition to the actual sequence of requirements, I needed to focus on how I would ride each one.  I did my best to shake the comment off but, I must admit, it did get to me.  I wondered if I had heard correctly: Did she, in fact, mean me?   Was she intending to distract me?  Why did she say that?  All those questions circled in and around the the letters and moves that lay just seconds ahead of me.

    But then I just did my best to focus on the task at hand as I trotted around the outside of the arena.  And I was happy with my score of 60.

         These folks who work these show are all volunteers and wonderfully nice.  They work long hot hours getting us in an out of the ring.  I make a point of thanking them at the end of my test.  But please, please no comments on my way in. 

       Though I am in my sixties and have been riding for decades, I count myself as a young rider.  When Thomas Jefferson in his seventies said, "I am an old man but a young gardener," he implied he had many years ahead of him to cultivate and create the magnificent gardens of Monticello.  And he did.  I have many  years ahead of me to ride and compete.  And I will. 

       But that comment did get me thinking--again-- about the society we live in and attitudes toward the not-so-young.  First of all, we live in a culture--unlike some others--that esteems youth, not age.  In fact, there is outright prejudice against the elderly.  Right off the top of my head I came up with the following expressions which bare this out.  Here they are:

Men            --  old geezer
                   --  old fogey   
                   --  old goat   
 Women      --  old crone  
                   --  old bag      
                   --  old bat      
                   --  old biddie

       And, last but not least, that equal opportunity expression that resonates most with me at the moment:  "old fart."  And I'm sure there are more.

      Well, in a couple of weeks it's off to the University of New Hampshire dressage show where I hope Tica and I can bump up our scores a bit.  But as you see in the next photo--taken just minutes after she got off the trailer-- Tica is glad to be home for some rest and relaxation:

    Tica just off the trailer from King Oak                                 Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

      Turkey Update

  Remember those three cute week old turkey poults I carried around in an apron pocket at a dressage show last June?    Here they are again so you don't need to scroll back.


   Turkeys at Mystic Valley Dressage                                                                  Lois Yukin copyright 2011


    Louisa and Clark July 20, 2011                                        Ainslie Sheridan copyright 20/07/11

       And did you know turkeys like to swim?  Neither did I until:
      Louisa takes dip!                                                                                        Ainslie Sheridan  copyright 2011

       Everyone around the pool was totally shocked.  At first, I thought Louisa had fallen in trying to catch a bug.  But I watched her closely:  The next two entries were thoughtful and deliberate.  She simply seemed to enjoy the H20.   Fortunately, this aquatic proclivity has apparently vanished.   (As you can tell from the photo, Louisa was but 4 weeks old at the time. ) At their current  size Louisa, Clark, and Sacagawwea would constitute a significant disruption to the ph balance of the water.  It wouldn't look too pretty either.

      I'm sorry this blog was so late.  This summer seems to be flying by.   But I will try harder to be on time.   Next blog look for updates on my next dressage show, Dolly, of course, and a four-day horsemanship, swim and craft session we had with some great kids.

Until then, and thank you for reading The Windflower Weekly!


      PS:  A pin I couldn't resist buying at a tack shop while at            King Oak: