Contact information:

Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

March 14, 2009

Henryville 15 miles

It didn't go well today. We had three horses, and she really acted up. I tried very hard to get her to just settle down and trot, when I did get her into a trot it was very uncollected, jarring, and had to be as hard on her joints as anything she could possibly do. It was throwing me all over and felt like trying to ride a giant pogo stick, impossible to post, and near impossible to two point. It was like jigging only BIGGER. By a mile or two out my heart was hammering in my chest from the exhaustion of fighting her. I've about decided that if Phebes doesn't have some handle on her by The Chicken Chase, I'm not going to keep her. She is a very forward horse, she is happy cantering along, but that is it. She does not like being in a pack of horses unless she is a quarter mile out in front. There are people in this world who like to go down a trail at speed, and they are the folks that generally WIN endurance races. That is what she would be happy doing. But I am not.

Nicole rode with Chris and I today, and the best part of the day was seeing how sensible her horse is. Arabee did really well. She worked up a sweat, but pulsed right down when we came in. She covered about ten miles with us.

After our lunch break Chris and I went out for another hour, so about fifteen miles total.

When Phebes was de-booted I noticed one of her Easyboot gloves had come apart. That was disappointing as I only have two rides on them. I'm going to see if I can take the screw out and fit the gaiter where it attaches to the back of the shell. It should be able to be fixed. Again, most of what we rode today was possible without boots, except for those gravel service roads.

On a happier note my favorite quotes of the day.

"Toby is an appetite on four legs"
"Phebes is an emotion waiting for a place to happen"

AND THE BEST was when Chris was talking to Nicole about tailing up hills and Nicoles says "but that's her job". It was pretty funny.



  1. I bet she's so jarring because she's young. It's also because she's race brained. But she's young as well. I would really, really, seriously have an equine dentist out then put her in a bit. I think you will have much more control. I could be wrong, but I think it would be really worth a try. I think of hackamores, (or bitless, bosals, etc.) with older been there done that horses or if they are on younger horses for trail riding they are usually for the slower breeds-not hot bloods.

    Sounds like right now Chicken Chase would not be fun for you. (Phebe would have fun though!!)Unless you rode it so far behind everone else that she never saw another horse.

    I got all the horses in and everyone rode just fine. Sasha seems to love her big pasture at the farm. Albert and I worked some more on the shelter for them. During that couple hours we worked the horses went from the back to the front 4 times! Eating along as they went, well sometimes running. They really like to roam. Sasha came up to us while we were working and even when the saw was going loud she still stayed close and not scared. I can tell she's going to be a brave one.

    Getting her in the trailer was harder than I thought. Soon as I lead her out to it and pointed her at it she reared up and fell over backwards. (not good, but she landed it pretty well) The other 2 horses were in the trailer saying hurry up. But she didn't believe them. Once Albert got behind her with the dressage whip she went right in. I thought for sure she'd try to come back out before I got her tied up or after. But instead she tried to squeeze in front of the horses and go all the way to the front. But I stopped her, got her hooked up and got out! Whew!!

    Michelle Detmer

  2. One thing I must say, is that you have way more guts than I ever thought of having. You're one tough cookie to handle the stuff Phebes was dishing out. I admire your stick-with-it-ness, cause it'd be tough for me to do so.

    Do you think single-rein-stops every time she broke gait from a trot would work to settle her into just trotting? I'm sure you've already tried it, but it was the only suggestion I could come up with. You may end up doing SRS every three strides, but a mile or two of that might really sink in with Phebes??

    I hope things shake out for you two.

  3. What I need to know "how" to do is to get her into a collected trot, and keep her there.

    I have tried the one rein thing, but as soon as I release her it is back into that bounding thing she does again.

    As soon as we were back to two horses yesterday she was fine. It just really doesn't make sense.

    If I just let her canter along she is fine, the ride is fine. But then the fear I'll ruin her joints and not have a horse in a year or two.

    In a way I cursed myself. She went for months and would not break out of a trot. At that time I didn't think she would ever canter. But once she learned the canter, she no longer wanted to trot.

    Chris thinks she is in heat, she was flipping her back end around for Toby yesterday before we left. Not an excuse for her behavior, but a factor in the whole I guess.

    I have so much history with this horse and have put so much into her in the do it myself process. All of me wants for it to work out, even if she settled in with a year of rides, if I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, it would be okay. A horse like her that ends up in the wrong hands ends up starving in a lot, or being shipped to a killer lot somewhere. Though all the crap she puts out I see so much potential but I just don't know how to get her there. ~E.G.

  4. Wow, musta been something in the stars yesterday! Mine was the same way!


  5. I can't tell for sure if you're asking about how to get a collected trot, or wishing she would just do it already. :-)

    Just in case you're asking...My first thought is to try to take a couple of dressage lessons on her. Try to find someone who someone else you know really already likes. If I knew someone to recommend, I would. That would really help because an instructor could listen to some of the things you're trying to accomplish and really work on those areas during the lessons, and you could practice at home for a week or two, then come back for more and with your questions. Really helpful - I used to take one lesson/month in the summertime, and would ask my instructor for exercises and specific things to work on. But again, the reason I"m not doing this now is $$$!

    In that case - magazines, books, training blogs - are my best friend when it comes to learning training. (which is why I'm so excited to borrow your endurance book!!) I saddle broke Arabee and have basically been the only one to ride her. That's not to brag, but that's to show the power of learning through reading - since that is mostly how I learned what to do!

    Do you ride using your seat and legs as much as possible? Just in case your question was really "how to get a collected trot" - you start it with driving with your seat and legs...pushing your horse forward, while providing some resistance with your hands to "channel" that energy. Squeezing her forward with your legs is probably the last thing you want to do when you just had a tug-of-war back to the trot from the canter, but she will just have to learn the difference between your canter cue and the request to trot out nicely. That choppy thing she was giving yesterday really didn't look comfortable as you said. But I think what I might try would be the SRS EVERY time she broke gait, and then asking for a bigger trot with your legs, but keeping your hands where they are, while slightly holding back. I actually might even go back a step further and work on getting a calm, flat-footed walk.

    I've worked HARD this fall and winter and spring with Arabee to enforce the idea that I am the one who chooses gaits and (usually) speed. We've spent a LOT of time walking, or SRS when she breaks into a trot without me asking, or stopping and backing when she breaks gait. And even with all that yesterday practice, even Arabee was giving me a prancy joggy trot at the beginning. But I know with Arabee, I have GOT to be the one who has the ideas, or else she thinks she is Queen and can choose to do as she wishes. I try to anticipate what she wants to do so I can cue her to doing that, so she thinks it was my idea. With Arabee, you give her an inch and before you know it she's taken a mile. It might not seem that way, but she is much more confident and happy knowing for sure who is in charge, and for her that includes gait changes. I'm much more confident and happy when she knows the person in charge is ME! :-)

    You do have to pick your battles though. A little cantering is probably not going to hurt her if she's been conditioned doing it. If cantering is what she loves, let her do it for a while after she's warmed up. Take the edge off, then try the calm walk and pretty trot. Give a canter break as a reward (but only if you asked her to canter!). Sometimes with Arabee I have to trot out for a while before she's ready to practice trot-walk transitions. Training would be easier if there were absolutes, but then I guess it wouldn't be as interesting, either. Hope this helps, don't want to sound "know it all" so tell me if this gets annoying!!

  6. I wonder if I'd have been better to have spent two years trail riding prior to attempting the endurance thing? It seems like I've thrown the cart before the horse, almost literally! A couple years of trail riding and arena lessons might make her mind work. I'll see how the Chicken Chase goes, but I'm afraid I ALREADY know.

    And Nicole, I could NEVER get mad at you. Wish you were closer I'd have you give me lessons. We don't have to be dressage perfect, just better than we are.

    Hugs! Have a good week, and keep Arabee moving...if you don't do Chicken Chase, there is always Top of the Rock! Your mare is coming along nicely. She would make an AWESOME CTR horse (not saying she can't do endurance, just CTR calls for a lot more "finesse" with your horse). Endurance takes....well, endurance! ~E.G.

  7. I agree with Nicole. But I would use a mild bit, instead of bitless, please, please, please. I use a mullen mouth.

    I've probably taken at least 50 paying dressage lessons and then watched about as many for free. (Not including the other lessons, I've had in hunters, western pleasure, etc.) With your horse, and with all horses that are just starting I think the BEST thing is a couple years of serious arena/dressage work before the trail riding/endurance riding. It all depends on the horse though. Everybody wants to do the fun stuff, and not the boring stuff. But that boring training stuff really needs to be done. If you said you've done that but now on the trail it isn't working, than you haven't done it enough. And if you've just done it by yourself, you really need someone on the ground who knows what they are doing helping you, in an arena.

    And some 4 and 5 year olds are just too nutty for the trail! Most people are not as brave as you and wouldn't even attempt it yet. I know your probably thinking Chris is doing it with her gaited horse, and so and so is doing trail with her young QH, etc. But an arab or TB is a special, sensitive, different creature for the most part. Different from other breeds. I love them because of that, but they aren't easy. The dressage trainer I knew over here only worked with Arabs and TB's and had a special way of working with them which was a much slower approach than what he'd use with other breeds. Sadly, he passed away before his time.

    Do you know the canter cue for a right lead, or left? Have you ever taken lessons? I know you can learn a lot from a book. But it is NOT better than person to person lessons on a live horse. Many, many, many endurance riders take dressage lessons. Or at least have taken them many times in the past.

    All I know is that day I seen her at Versailles I thought you were really brave or border line crazy! Because I would not have tolerated riding a horse like that. You weren't in control, she was and she knew it. There is no way I would have went down the trail riding her, not without a bit anyway and even then I don't know if I would have!

    All that said. I think you have done an absolutely amazing job with her so far. And it seems like she has tons of potential. You seem very knowledgeable as well, with horses and training and endurance. You have to be to have come as far as you have. She is slowly getting better isn't she? She wasn't as bad this time as she was at Versailles in January was she?

    I'd just be careful about Chicken Chase or any endurance rides at this point. Because all these practice rides that you haven't liked will be magnified about 10 times the start of her first endurance ride. At least that's always been my experience. My horses are always at their extreme worst the morning of the ride. (And they still weren't as bad as Phebe was that day at Versailles.)You really can't blame them to much though becuase we are nervous, the other horses are nervous, etc. But each time it should get a little easier, because they are getting more experience under their belt.

    I'm not saying you won't be able to do Chicken Chase this year if you wanted too. I'm just saying be prepared!! And maybe after those first few miles you'll be just fine. Who knows. But don't put yourself or other horses in danger because you can't stop your horse. (I don't know if this is the case or not for you right now. I've just seen others that I wished had more control of their horses, for my sake if not for their own.)

    Michelle Detmer

  8. Michelle,

    Actually it wasn't as bad as Versailles, but a different behavior. Since I wouldn't "let" her canter, she was doing this race horse pogo stick jigging thing which was just not rideable. What I don't if it is just Phebes and one other horse, she is fine! She will walk trot and canter, she will rate reasonably well, and she will stop. After Nicole left with her mare it was just Phebes and Toby. You would have thought she was an old plow horse, no hurry to get anywhere.

    I'm going to try and get a completion on her at The Chicken Chase, but my strategy is going to be to get away from the pack as quickly as possible. Even if that means standing still for five minutes, going the opposite direction, or waiting at the trailer, or whatever. How that transpires will dictate what we do next. Head for lessons or plan another ride. I feel she is just way too emotional (brain immature) to be safe at this right now. It is really disappointing, I actually have 1000 hours under saddle with her. A THOUSAND HOURS. I don't think many people would have stuck this horse out for five years come April.

  9. No, not as many people are as patient and brave as you have been with her. But you really have come a long way with her. And as long as she is improving then, you must be doing something right!!

    I do hope you can find your hole at chicken chase and do well!! Every endurance ride is always an adventure.....I think that's why we do it.


  10. Also, I know you have a lot of hours into her and that's good. But maybe it's just her age, and she needs to get a little older. She may just be a late bloomer, well her brain anyway, he he!! That's what people have told me anyway.

    Michelle Detmer