Year Wrap-up Raffona

Fonna remains a favored horse of those at my disposal to ride. Her grace and lightness of movement is an absolute delight to experience. All this is part of her inborn carriage and conformation and I have not really asked her for more than she gives naturally. This will change a bit in the year to come.

I have only touched on the methods of classical horse training with her and seen just how readily she takes to it. As an Arabian, she has a higher headset than many horses, but with what little balance and collection work I have done, she has responded better than I expected her to, lowering her head willingly into the proper frame when asked.

Like Bella, I have not worked with her as much as some of the other horses, but I hope to do more with her soon. I believe her potential for classical dressage to be very great, even if she never becomes an ideal warhorse, well suited to combat activities.

While in the past she has had issues on trail elements, she has never actually shown any of these on real trail rides. Riding her in a classical carriage, comforted by the close presence of the aids, she has become much steadier on the trail elements we have set up on the property, seeming to trust in her rider more, the more she feels her rider providing her security and calm authority.

This last year we introduced her to mounted archery and she took to it much more readily than she ever did most of the other gaming elements, so I expect her to make a very fine archery mount. However, like the trail elements, I expect she will get better at these elements as well as she learns that she can trust her rider to not put her at risk.

Whether or not she ever becomes the warhorse Orion is, she will always be a joy to ride. In the next year, we will get a better idea just how far Fonna can go.

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Fonna November Update

I don’t do many updates for Raffona as she is really is finished as far as her owner is concerned, already the riding horse she always wanted.

However, as long as I have access to this wonderful Arabian, I will continue work on making her a more capable horse for the medieval activities we take part in. She is already an excellent mounted archery mount, but my goal is to make her the amazing Palfrey I know she can be.

Of the horses we have on the property currently, she is the one I have worked with the longest. Her balance is exceptional and collection getting better all the time. She still carries herself like a Arabian, very upright, so achieving a very high degree of collection will take a bit of time focusing on it specifically, so this is what I will be doing this winter.

I really do love this mare.

Last day of August

Today I rode Zephyr, Raffona, Bellatrix and Orion. I will now post the status of each in regards to what I am currently working on with them.

Zephyr

Z has come a long way in a short time. His weight and physical conditioning are much improved. He is also much more flexible and collected.

He does appears to enjoy having something to do and was really into working today. He quietly took any gait I asked for, on the correct lead every time. We are still working getting him to get his butt under himself and lift his front end, but that will come.

He crossed all the trail obstacles we have laid out right now, with just a little bit of hesitation, due most likely to being alone in the arena. But after a bit he relaxed and took them all in stride.

To sum up, he is a very enjoyable ride, with soft, easy to sit gaits and I am sure he will just get better in time.

Raffona

Raffona has been and still is, one of my very favorite horses. She is so soft and light to the touch it seems sometimes you can guide her with your thoughts.

I have been working on slow canter and trot, bringing her down closer and closer to doing them in place.  She is making very nice lead changes now, looking for the new lead when I turn my head.

Oddly, it is getting her to extend that is proving to be the challenge. If she walked any slower she would be going backward and she opts to try to change gaits rather than extend her walk, trot or canter. I have to admit though, I have been enjoying her slow canter and trot so much I really haven’t worked on her extended movement as much as I should. 🙂

To sum up, if she continues to improve as she has recently, I am probably going to use her as my Palfrey in next year’s Hocktide Emprise.

Bellatrix

I hadn’t actually planned to ride Bella today, but while Raina was riding her, our little princess started acting the part and Raina did not want to correct her too forcefully for fear of doing something wrong. So we switched mares and up I climbed.

I instantly noticed how much bigger Bella felt from the saddle than she seems when you stand next to her. This did not feel like some little filly. She felt very much like Orion, but just a little closer to the ground.

For the next 40 minutes or so we walked, trotted and cantered. Her walk is forward and quick, with good flexing. Her trot, soft, with some good speed and extension when you ask for it. Good bend at the pole, but a little bit stiff in her lateral bend. Her canter was a different thing. She really didn’t want to bend or flex at first and would take any opportunity to try to head back to Fona. So we had some words and I put her in some tight circles at the walk and trot before I manage to get her to become a little more supple at the canter.  The great thing was, no matter how forcefully I insisted she behave, she never got upset. Her eye was always soft, ears quiet and she would stop and stand anytime I ask her to.

To sum up, Bella is a doll. She has her dad’s steady mind and willingness to try new things and her mom’s drive to compete. When we start her training for the games, I am positive this little tank will be a force to be reckoned with.

Orion

What can I say about Orion I haven’t said a hundred times?

In the case of today’s ride, it could be mentioned that he had not been ridden in days and he was not happy about it. Every time this week that I went to the pasture to get someone to work, he stared at me disapprovingly as I took someone else out.  So I expected him to demonstrate his displeasure by giving me a hard time. Did he? Nope, not for a second.

From the very beginning he was on his game, giving me exactly what I asked for. Stepping into his collected canter from the standstill, both leads, with his forehead exactly perpendicular to the ground. He went from this canter, to fast hand gallop, to a full charge and back down to a calm standstill with almost no prompting. Keep in mind getting his speed up without making him “Gamey” is what I have been working on lately.

He even cantered beside, behind and in front of Curly without issue, even doing close passes as he changed from one position to the next. Then just to remind both of us how it is done, I rode him with no hands for about 15 minutes, all over the arena, crossing the trail challenges, canter with Curly, turning, stopping and wheeling back into the charge. I eventually rode him to the arena gate, unlatched and opened it, then up to the gate to the barn, unchained and opened it, then herded the goat that had gotten out of the pasture back to where he belonged. Once all this was done, we trotted down to the tie off post. During all of this I never touched the reins once.

To sum up, I love this horse.

Raffona – Initial Posting

Roffona
10 Year Old Arabian Mare

Raffona is a 10 year old Grey Arabian mare.  Her sire was Khabernet, son of the world famous Khemosabi

She was born at the facility where we were boarding at the time so we got to see her in her first days and for a few months after. After we moved to a new facility, I did not see her again for a couple years, until a trainer I knew began her saddle training.  I was the able to watch some of this initial training and what I noticed most about the mare was her beautiful, soft movement. Her walk, trot and canter were all just so lovely.

When she was 4, the folks who bred her decided they were going to focus on quarter horses instead of Arabians and called on me to post an ad for Roffona in hopes of finding her a new home. During the process of putting the webpage together I got to spend a little more time with her and found her to be just a sweetheart. She has always been very loving and people oriented. I even spoke with my wife about buying her ourselves, but before we decided, she was purchased by someone else.  So we said “Ah well, I guess it was just not meant to be.”

A few days later who do you guess showed up at, the facility we were then using ? Yep, Fona and her new owner Lin Robbins.  I congratulated Lin on her wise purchase, told her if she needed any help  to let me know.

It turned out this was Lin’s first horse and though she was taking ridding lessons, she was still a green rider on a green horse, so issues were bound to come up and I began working with Lin and Fona from time to time.

When Lin and her husband bought horse property of their own, they invited Nancy and I to board our horses there and continue to work with the Robbins and Fona.

Raffona
With Raina Riding

Over the years Lin has become a very good horse owner and rider. Fona has wanted for nothing and has turned into one of my favorite horses ever. In return her affection for me borders on being just a little too much. ;>

We have carefully worked with her to keep her responsiveness and energy at the right level for Lin’s current riding ability and I am happy to say that today this level is actually quite high.

Raffona is a excellent general riding horse, soft, supple and gentle. I use her as an intermediate to advanced lesson horse because she is just a little too responsive for most beginners, but do sometime put new riders on her if I think they are naturally quiet.

We have just recently began her training as a Mounted Archery horse and she is taking to this as naturally as one would expect from a daughter of a several millenia of warhorse breeding.

I will post comments on her progress here from time to time.