Adventures with Ginger

Skye'sDucks

Songster
May 13, 2018
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The 'too much sunshine' sunshine state
You know she's a TB, and possibly did some racing - maybe just in "underground racing " (yuck) but goes she have a lip tattoo from racing in the USA?
No, she doesn't have a lip tattoo, so we always assumed she was possibly meant for (actual? I guess) racing but 'didn't make the cut' lol. We know nothing of her past except a few stories that came along with her...she was next door at the other farm that is our neighbors but I can't remember/don't know where she was before that. I believe the girl who owned her for the short time got Ginger from her uncle? But now I can't quite remember if that's true.
She was definitely "trained" for racing...Didn't really know how to do anything except go in a straight line, and she was a lot better on her left side than her right. Of course, it didn't help she barely had any muscle and was still gaining weight a few months ago, but still.

I'd like to eventually do a DNA test to figure out who her parents/lineage is and maybe see if that can help us do any detective work on more of her past, but maybe it'll just run into dead ends. I keep talking about doing it but I haven't done it yet. :rolleyes: I feel like I've spent too much money this month so I may do it next month at the earliest.
 

Skye'sDucks

Songster
May 13, 2018
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The 'too much sunshine' sunshine state
I haven't done a big update post in a while, lol! I've been trying to do it once or twice a month but got off track.

Ginger has been doing great and I think it's safe to say she's been out of her bad 'camp' habits for a bit now! We're building lots of muscle, she's put on a bit more chunk, and looking and feeling good overall. Her feet have been managed and are looking quite nice but it's still a battle against thrush in this constantly wet weather. :hmm

We've been doing lots of pole work to build up strength and muscle, and I also have been setting up some close-set poles or kinda random poles to work on footing, too. This is not only a precursor to doing trail in the future but most importantly for the betterment of Ginger.

I don't know if I brought it up in a general post, but Ginger got a new bit and it has helped us greatly! Now that she's out of her snaffle 'training' bit I don't have to tug and tug the reins and I can use them with a much lighter touch, which both of us prefer. It's helped a lot with her stops and going slower. This also helps me be able to teach her other cues so I can keep that light touch and won't have to rely on the bit for everything. So this is a big help and step forward for us!

Again, I might not have brought it up in a big update post but I've been teaching Ginger neck reining and she's picked up on it fairly fast. She's still learning and we're a ways from going one handed yet, but we're getting there!
She used to have these cloth, light reins which were nice but did nothing for neck reining, so I swapped them out for heavier leather ones and she responds well to those. I actually found this idea online, but I started Ginger neck reining with a halter and lead rope. The lead rope is nice and heavy and I would put it against her neck and then reinforce with my leg if she wouldn't turn. She picked it up very fast and I do the same neck reining 'exercises' with her bridle and reins as well as using general neck reining every ride to get her used to it.

One of our biggest issues now is that she still needs to learn how to turn her front and hind end under saddle. With groundwork she turns her hind fairly well and is getting her front down too, but it still doesn't click for Ginger when I ride her.
Currently with groundwork I have only been practicing standing still, backing up, and turning her hind end. I don't want to confuse her by trying to do both front and hind at the same time--I tried it at first but I believe it's a little too much for her and these should be taken one at a time. She's doing well, doesn't always get it perfect, but I also haven't been consistent with our groundwork schedule so we haven't always practiced it every day I'm out at the barn.

The other thing I'm trying is using the end of a crop to put pressure on her side where I'd put my leg/foot to teach her to move her hind off that pressure as it would be if I were riding her...I did this a little before, stopped, but now that I want to start putting more focus on this I'm going to try it again.
If I'm kinda frustrated/at a loss anywhere in her training, it's this area. I know it just takes time, and Ginger is still getting in shape and building both strength and muscle, but several things I'd like to practice with her are kind of impossible right now since I want her to have a foundation of being able to isolate and move/pivot off her front and hind before trying trickier things like opening gates.

Overall, though, she's been doing pretty good and her leaser is also going to try out doing a virtual dressage show (where you video tape yourself and send it in) with Ginger so hopefully that will go well!

(To explain the one picture of her 'pouting' lol, we have to shut her stall door at times because there are cross ties right beside/in front of it and she sometimes tries to nip horses that stand there. In that instance, she was pinning her ears at the horse I had out on the cross ties and I couldn't trust her since I had to set something up in the ring lol)
 

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littledog

Free Ranging
10 Years
Aug 7, 2011
603
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Puget Sound area, WA
We've been doing lots of pole work to build up strength and muscle, and I also have been setting up some close-set poles or kinda random poles to work on footing, too. This is not only a precursor to doing trail in the future but most importantly

One of our biggest issues now is that she still needs to learn how to turn her front and hind end under saddle. With groundwork she turns her hind fairly well and is getting her front down too, but it still doesn't click for Ginger when I ride her.
Currently with groundwork I have only been practicing standing still, backing up, and turning her hind end.
Have you ever tried to build her a "maze" out of poles on the ground? Not a super complicated one, just a couple 90-degree turns in both directions, where she has to move her haunches over, walk a few steps, then move her forehand over, to walk in between and avoid stepping on the poles. After she can do it while you lead her, you could try riding her through it. She's smart, so I bet she would find it fun, and pick up haunch turns and forehand turns faster than in a bare arena. I used to do this with youngsters who were halter-trained but too young to ride, and they seemed to find it fun, plus this exercise helped them to trust me more. And surprisingly, it never wrecked their willingness to actually WTC over poles later, once they were old enough to ride.
Obviously Ginger is much more advanced than babies, but new exercises might be interesting for her, and help her develop even more trust in you, along with learning haunch and forehand turns in the meantime.
 

Skye'sDucks

Songster
May 13, 2018
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The 'too much sunshine' sunshine state
Have you ever tried to build her a "maze" out of poles on the ground?
I never have--It went past my mind to even use poles lol. For some reason, however, I can't wrap my mind around how to position the poles in 90 degree turns for her to use... can you explain how? :oops: 😅
But thank you for suggesting that--it's a great idea that I think will help her. I agree Ginger would probably find it fun and it certainly doesn't hurt to try!
 

littledog

Free Ranging
10 Years
Aug 7, 2011
603
2,980
537
Puget Sound area, WA
Here are some examples: sorry for such a rough picture, just pretend each line is a 8-foot pole or landscape timber or 2x4, and the top part is where you and Ginger enter. We'll call the directions North, South, East and West just for describing the diagram.

In 1, you make it fairly wide, and the diagonal poles at the corners give more room for her to turn. You're leading her, so you enter from the north, go south, make her forehand turn away from you to go west, then make her forehand turn towards you, to go south. In 2. you start going east, the diagonal poles leave a lot of room for her to turn her haunches around until she's going west, then another haunch turn towards you to go east again.
3. is a harder version of 1, where she has to be really exact in her turns, and 4. is a harder version of 2.
mazes1.jpg

Start with leading her through 1, once she can do it confidently without stepping on poles go to 2, then do 3, then 4. Once she understands them all while you lead her, turning her forehand or haunches when you ask without stepping on poles, you can start riding her through in the same order.

This is just a starting point, you can also make up your own mazes that mix up forehand turns with haunch turns, just make sure you do the same number of left turns as right turns. And if you don't have this many poles, you can use the arena fence as one of the poles. You can also start out more simply just to give Ginger the idea, like 2 poles along the areas wall, then one turn.

Have fun! Every horse I've done this with has found it fun and understood it fairly quickly - and then went on to understand better, and not get upset about, lateral movements later under saddle.
 

Skye'sDucks

Songster
May 13, 2018
852
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The 'too much sunshine' sunshine state
Here are some examples: sorry for such a rough picture, just pretend each line is a 8-foot pole or landscape timber or 2x4, and the top part is where you and Ginger enter. We'll call the directions North, South, East and West just for describing the diagram.

In 1, you make it fairly wide, and the diagonal poles at the corners give more room for her to turn. You're leading her, so you enter from the north, go south, make her forehand turn away from you to go west, then make her forehand turn towards you, to go south. In 2. you start going east, the diagonal poles leave a lot of room for her to turn her haunches around until she's going west, then another haunch turn towards you to go east again.
3. is a harder version of 1, where she has to be really exact in her turns, and 4. is a harder version of 2.
View attachment 2846821
Start with leading her through 1, once she can do it confidently without stepping on poles go to 2, then do 3, then 4. Once she understands them all while you lead her, turning her forehand or haunches when you ask without stepping on poles, you can start riding her through in the same order.

This is just a starting point, you can also make up your own mazes that mix up forehand turns with haunch turns, just make sure you do the same number of left turns as right turns. And if you don't have this many poles, you can use the arena fence as one of the poles. You can also start out more simply just to give Ginger the idea, like 2 poles along the areas wall, then one turn.

Have fun! Every horse I've done this with has found it fun and understood it fairly quickly - and then went on to understand better, and not get upset about, lateral movements later under saddle.
Thanks for the pictures and directions! It's really helpful. I believe we should have enough enough poles--some might be different sizes but I don't see why I can't make it work lol. I haven't tired it out quite yet, however, because I've been woefully neglecting our groundwork training lately.

Part of it has been due to the fact that Ginger hasn't been used much for lessons lately, so I've actually gotten a chance to ride her a couple of times a week, so I've been choosing that over doing ground work because it's been so long since I've gotten to put 3 rides a week on her.
The other reason is I have begun to work with another horse (I can always share his story later in a post) besides Ginger and so that eats up more of my time at the barn and I don't want to be out for super long and late so I've been forgoing our ground work time.

I really want to get back into it, though, and try out these mazes finally so if not today than next week I'll work on trying to fit in ground work, or do a mix of ground work and rides if Ginger still isn't used a lot. It's hard to stay consistent with a schedule when I have school and work another horse. :)

I've at least been working on other ground work things, like standing still and waiting on me while being moved around from her stall to cross ties to the wash rack etc. She's been doing great with that!
And today I'm going to work on some desensitizing, which is why I might not get to the mazes--her leaser has discovered Ginger is a little uncertain about baseball caps (I never wear one so I wasn't aware of this) and I know she's a little uncomfortable around crops or the lunge whip so I'll toss that into our session today as well. She doesn't need any kind of a whip for riding (I'm more concerned about a lunge whip should we ever lunge her) but even so.
 

Skye'sDucks

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May 13, 2018
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The 'too much sunshine' sunshine state
Another mini update since I just finished homework lol.

Ginger has been good both on the ground and in saddle. We did a little 'desensitizing' around baseball hats and a dressage whip last week and she seems pretty comfortable around them. A little uncertain, but I think for a horse like her with her background, that's kind of expected. She seemed to get used to the hat (which isn't surprising) more than the whip but I'm not very concerned about the whip (as I mentioned in a previous post) because she doesn't need one and shouldn't really be exposed to them much.

She's also been doing really great at stopping-- we're finally getting that down at a walk, trot, and canter! Ginger has been getting pretty responsive with cues other than the bit for this, which is good. Listening to seat for stopping is so-so lol but it's something I'm slowly working on.

On Monday we practiced lots of circles and bending and she was doing nicely in that too. Not perfect all the time but I can't expect perfection, especially from a horse that had to start from scratch basically with strength and muscle not even a year ago.

Our only 'hiccup' on Monday's ride was that Ginger was almost oddly misbehaving when cantering. She'll refuse a little bit with her right lead (which is a long on-going process :rolleyes:) from time to time but even with her left lead it was kinda weird. Like, she'll get lazy or not always respond perfectly but she's a lazy horse so that's expected lol, but even this was a tad weird for Ginger. She'd stop and back up and refuse at first with both leads (and I began with her left lead) at the canter, and since we were practicing circles I mostly kept her in circles at the right lead; we went once around the ring with a few circles tossed in as well, so we'd been going around for some time and kinda 'worked out' her tendency to try to switch or veer off to the left on her right lead canter.
So I went back down to the end of the ring where we'd been practicing bending/circling and we circled a couple times, and then the craziness began.

Ginger does this thing at the right lead when doing circles sometimes where she'll veer off to the left and become impossible to steer--sets her head against the bit and zooms off or stops when I try to put her back in the circle. Normally it's only at first until I make her do it a few times--and in this case, we'd already cantered for a few minutes to the right lead so it shouldn't have been a big issue. But this horse on Monday would refuse again and again--I got unseated a couple times even and almost fell once. Every time I got her cantering again (after refusal) and even giving her shoulder a good slap once or twice she just wasn't listening. I finally got her to do one smaller circle and then we stopped. She actually got me very winded which hasn't happened in a while, it was that bad.

I can't say she was tired; we might've done a lot of trotting and cantering but we barely rode for 30 minutes and she wasn't acting very tired. I usually can tell when she's tired--plus it wasn't super hot out. Ginger didn't seem very sore but she could have been feeling a little sore, I don't know.

Could have been an off day, I dunno, it's just not characteristic of Ginger so I thought it was kinda weird. She'll act up or not really pick up her right lead for me at times, but this was really bad for her. She hasn't acted this way in a long time--so it could have been she was feeling sore and grumpy but I can't say for certain.

She did get a nice hose-down and I sponged her with green alcohol to help with any soreness but hopefully the next time I ride her we don't have a repeat. I'm guessing I won't be able to ride her tonight, but I might be able to. One of our lesson horses is out with we think a pulled tendon so Ginger might have to get used more. I'll also have to talk to her leaser and see if she's been doing anything funny with her.
 

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Skye'sDucks

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The 'too much sunshine' sunshine state
It definitely sounds like she is sore. Maybe make the circle bigger when she resists.
I do try to make large circles; I use the entire end of the ring which is pretty large. I do think she probably is a little sore since she is still building up strength.

Honestly though, it looks like there's a host of reasons for Ginger acting up lately, or so I believe. She's been doing that refusing stuff a little lately, even with me, and one of the trainers there suggested that she was getting sour/bored of the same schedule because for a time she was kinda doing the exact same thing every day without a lot of turn out time. I thought the same so for that week we tried to switch things up; gave her more turn out time, I rode her around the property and didn't really do ring work, and the trainer used her in our second ring more often (it's smaller and I often don't work her in there).

She's still acting up from time to time, in general does very well though. I got to ride her in a lesson and my trainer (different one--we only have 2, the owner I'm mentioning here and then another lady, who had said Ginger was going sour) had said she was figuring out who can ride or not so she's testing me and others.

I was pretty focused on trying to enrich and change up Ginger's rides or time out of the stall so I hadn't really thought of this. But I can totally see it.

I personally think it's a mix of all three: Ginger is a very smart horse who gets bored easily, she's lazy, and she's also still building muscle and strength. Thus, she probably does get bored if her schedule isn't changed up, she's figured out a way to get out of work by refusing or acting up, and probably does get sore from harder workouts.

I see that pretty much all I can do is make Ginger do the work and not let her get away with acting up, but also being accommodating and not harsh with her at the same time, by not pushing her too hard or doing too difficult things for her or expecting too much. That, and mixing up our rides to keep her mind occupied and keep her interested. I may look into getting her some actual liniment too for after rides to help any soreness.

Right now, though, Ginger's injured herself again and is off for a couple days. The sand out here got really deep because we had no rain for a long time (It rained a lot in the past few days thankfully) and we think she just strained her right pastern in it. It doesn't seem very serious, which is good, so hopefully a little rest and it'll heal right up. We're going to start wrapping her legs now instead of sport boots to try to give her more support.

At least we've gone a long time without a bigger injury like this lol. :rolleyes: I swear at the beginning of this year it was something new every few weeks.
 

Skye'sDucks

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The 'too much sunshine' sunshine state
Dropping some photos of this pretty girl. :) had some left over parts of a Halloween costume (that no kids used sadly...lol) so I did a mini photo shoot with Ginger the other day.

She's still off on her front right...we really have no clue what it is and I'm worried it's something permanent. Might not be though. My trainer suspects it might be linked to an old injury and I think it's likely. She comes with all kinds of crazy stories and I'm certain there are more we don't know about so it isn't a stretch.

But there really is no tell tale signs that it is one certain thing/type of injury. All we know is the general area it's sore and that she's keeping weight off her heel.
I believe they're going to get her x rays and looked at soon if it doesn't get better this week.

I'm just hoping this poor girl will get better soon. A new lady is going to be leasing her and hasn't even had the chance to ride Ginger yet. (She mightve ridden her once or twice, I can't remember) the lease is on hold until she gets better or we get a prognosis.

I just want to see Ginger back to normal. It's been tough seeing her stay like this and I admit it's stressing me out a bit. But I usually get emotional when my animals are hurt :rolleyes: (Ginger isn't mine but still)
 

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