Lunging the Possum: Balance Work

April 27, 2019

Possum has crap balance, particularly to the right. And successful games ponies need to have outstanding balance.

I have been working on some light hill work and getting him to better carry himself. He has learned quickly and he has progressed considerably. He is learning to use his neck, back, and butt better and his top line is developing from it.

Friday I decided to step up the lunging. I put on a surcingle, bridle, and relaxed side reins. I could not find my regular length lunge line so I was working with a ground driving line I picked up at auction for tying Daisy in camp at competitions. Not the longest but long enough.

I have lunged Possum a few times, so we have the logistics worked out between us and he went right to work.

I started off to the right, on the flat. Well, relatively flat. I have what I call “the riding field” which is just a field with a semi level section. So slightly angled with some rolls in it which is where I started. I switched direction after a while and eventually walked the circle over to the side of the hill in the other section of the riding field. This part of the hill has a mild grade, and also a minor dip coming into and out of the hill portion of the circle.

Adding in the hill on a lunge line was a suggestion of Jenny’s. She initially mentioned the technique when I was telling her how Possum was throwing his head into a mini leap to go up hills. I did utilize it at the start of his hill work. Unfortunately the footing was so terrible at the time that lunging with even some speed on a hill was a bit too slidie. Now is a good time to add this back in since there is better footing and with Possum having developed somewhat improved balance.

We eased into the hill, adding a bit more with each circle. Possum did a great job and moved decently. Eventually we eased back off the hill and then reversed direction.

Possum is particularly stiff and unbalanced to the right so I wanted to give that side a bit of extra focus. After a few nice circles to the right we worked back onto the hill for a while before coming back to the flat and calling it a good session.

I’ll continue throwing some lunge session into Possum’s training and will shorten the side reins a little. I may also move over to the steeper part of the hill too.

Brief video:

The above was on Friday. Today (Saturday) I linger again. This time I did bring in the side reins one loop and moved to the steeper part of the hill.

Again he did excellent.

He listened better to my cues and worked even harder.

*it is extremely hard to lunge and take a photo and or video.

a clip of today’s work.

My Hay Barrels

April 7, 2019

I have been using hay barrelS for quite a few years now and every so often someone will ask me about them, like today. Which was ironic because I made a new one today and took photos while doing so. Rather than linking to my old post about making them, here is a fresh new one.

But first, some info on my hay barrels.

It keeps the hay up off the ground (no hay pee piles here) and dry. Win and win.

It fits about a bale, depending on the size of the bale and the net and how low the net is attached to the barrel.

This is an easy project that does not need to be exact. I do not measure anything and just ball park and eyeball my way along.

Some of the steps can be done in different orders. So don’t over think it. Just do it.

Ingredients:

1 barrel – I usually manage to get barrels for free randomly. But even paid for they are cheap. Check Craig’s list and the recycling center near you.

1 large hay net – I prefer a slow feed type of hay net. Small nets will not work properly because the hay will not fall into them efficiently. I also use ones that have been busted up a bit and I no longer use in my trailer. I zip tie up any minor holes.

20+ zip ties – I prefer smaller ones for the barrel/net part and thicker ones for the lid. But I have used different sizes in different sizes.

Rope – a couple yards depending on how far it needs to hang.

A snap of whatever type.

A saw

A drill

Instructions:

The first step is to cut the bottom off the barrel. Throw away the end.

Next is to mark the lid. See the photo two below for the basic design.

I have found it is way easier to drill the holes into this section before cutting it out. You will need to drill 4-6 holes along the lid side and matching holes along the barrel part.

Now cut out the lid.

Drill 16+/- holes around the barrel. You will want these about a foot from the bottom of the barrel. It does not need to be exact.

You will then drill a matching set of holes about 1-2 inches above or below the other set of holes.

The final drilling is to attach the rope. I have done this a few different ways. I’ve put in screw eyes to hook the rope to. But the easier design, which is also my preferred design is to drill one large hole on one side about 1/2 foot from the top. And then two holes on the opposite side about a half foot from the top.

Next I like to attach the net. This is done with zip ties at the bottom of the barrel. Attach one end. It helps to make it even to then attach the opposite side of the hay net opening to the opposite side of the barrel bottom. Then the two other sides. So four corners. Then fill in the others as evenly as possible. Again this is not rocket science, it doesn’t need to be perfect, just get it done.

Next attach the lid. This is done with zip ties and essentially is putting the lid part of the barrel back into its original place.

Continue by attaching the long rope to the single large hole towards the top. I pop it through and tie a knot on the inside.

On the opposite side of the barrel at the top you will attach one end of a rope the same way as above. Then, making the rope short, attach the other end the same way so you have a small loop on the outside.

Snip off the ends of the zip ties.

Drag the barrel to its destined hanging location and throw the long rope over the branch, pole, beam, rail, etc that it will be hanging from. Hoist the barrel up so that the net is a foot or so off the ground. Attach the snap to the loop and then tie the long rope to the snap, fixing it so the barrel hangs easily at the height you want it.

*You want to try and have the net off the ground when full. But also low enough that you can load hay in the lid. For me this is a close science.

*I suggest leaving a good yard or two or even three of the long rope after the snap. Although the barrel doesn’t need to come down often, on the rare occasion it does I have found I am a bit vertically challenged with getting the rope back over the branch (beam, pole, rail, etc). Just trust me.

*I recommend cleaning the barrel well, and selecting food grade barrels if possible. I also recommend hosing the barrel out after cutting it so you remove any plastic particles and dust before putting hay into it.

*When I am filling my barrels I usually push the lip up and through the hanging ropes and that holds it open for me.

Here is a photo of one of my older hay barrels already holding hay

Thank you to my awesome husband Rich for helping me.

Friday Night Lights

December 29, 2018

It’s Friday night, what do you do? Trailer your pony to an indoor for some dry lighted ride time. That’s what you do!

I took Possum to the welcoming Sunset Willow Stables. This was my first time here and I am so happy to have found it. Anne, the person in charge, is super kind and friendly and made me feel right at home.

I was in the indoor and riding in no time. It was larger than I expected and just what I needed.

I did trot sets with mounting block work in between and added in a few sprints for good measure. We worked on boring stuff like moving off the leg and nice round circles. We also worked on hard “whoas” and tight turns.

I am so glad I made this connection. I wish it were a bit closer so I could get there frequently. But I’ll see what I can manage and enjoy that!

Cleaning up Possum

December 23, 2018

Today I found a little time to clean Possum up.

I started by clipping him. He didn’t seem to know what clippers are all about and was shaking when I turned them on. But after a few clips on his chest he relaxed and pretty soon I had the front half of him done. I started with his chest and then moved that into my usual modified Irish hunt clip. He was still hanging tough when I got him clipped that far so I went ahead and did the rest of his body, leaving his legs and face.

Not my best clip job but he should be much more comfortable when we ride and a lot easier to keep clean in all this mud.

He was so good I was able to fly through the task and I ended up having a little daylight left so I moved onto his mane. He was pretty sensitive about this but I shortened it up and evened it out some. He has a very short spot in the middle, about half way up his neck, and I wasn’t going that short with the rest of it.

I finished off my brushing out his tail and banging the end to help keep it out of the mud. Ta-dah, a whole new pony. And just in time for our holiday trip.

The Dry Lot Flooding

May 23, 2018

The Dry Lot Flooding just keeps getting worse. I checked on it yesterday and it is a legit pond.

These photos were Tuesday night (while it was raining)

It just keeps amazing me.

It was actually not raining today so I got to ride. And of course I rode around the pond and I noticed it’s deeper. It’s over the fence in quiet a few places and actually lapping at the top of the hay shelter (pier) in spots.

I also find it note worthy, look at the ground in the photo above. It’s mostly dry. Not only do we not have mud, the field is actually dry where it’s not completely flooded. Crazy.

This is from the back gate to the field. The hay shelter is to the left. The spring feeding it is ahead to the right.

This is from where the spring is, the hay shelter is straight ahead. This is one of the higher spots in the field. Where Daisy is standing.

Last night the landlord was telling me the middle is probably 7 or 8 feet deep.

So I rode Poe for a while and then I decided to take him for a swim. So I untacked him, put on my Crocks, and in we went.

He is such a brave pony. He did not hesitate at all. He marched on in and right on down. His head did go under, I am not sure if he stepped deeper than he expected, and that threw him off a little. He swam a few strokes and then came out. But we turned around and he marched right back in.

He was so proud of himself. I decided to grab Simon and take him in. Simon really wanted to stand around and splash and “soak”. He swam for a second and seemed to scare himself a bit, and unseated me a little. I was laughing so hard it took me a minute to drag myself straight again.

Poe is certainly braver. Simon would have preferred to have a buddy along.

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