Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A session with the boys

Sonny wearing his new tarp-friend
As per usual, we whipped through our 7 games before continuing on to the patterns. Yesterday Sonny became pretty adept at handling that horse-eating tarp, so today I used a smaller tarp and desensitized him to having it rubbed all over him, thrown up over his body, and swished around loudly on all sides. He did so well!! At first he was quite skeptical, but within minutes he was back to being cool and collected! We also video taped our Weave (at the trot, so Level 2!) and Figure-8 (Level 1), which he did awesome at. We also did a bit of Circles #6 (change direction and w/t transitions), as well as Circles #7 (walking a straight line from one end of the arena to the other while he continuously circles), the latter on both the 12' and the 22' leads. I also spiraled him in and out of a circle at the trot on the 12' before throwing him on the 22' and doing the same at the canter. He's not quite "light" enough to really excel at the task, but this was his first time, so obviously it will come (along with the balance that will aid in becoming soft) with time! This horse is used to leaning into pressure (particularly on the reins under a rider), so it will take a bit of time to develop that soft and supple feel. At the end I asked him to pop over some barrels laid out (both on the 12' and the 22') and he popped over them nicely while remaining left-brained and with little direction on my part!!

Link getting up from a roll

Same as Sonny, we breezed through the 7 games with me focusing on being excessively light. He did very well; the rest will come as the patterns are developed and everything starts falling into place. Link of course did not have any concern about the tarps so we did not really focus a whole lot in that area. His Figure-8 was quite rough at first, with him stopping on the far side of each barrel each time, then tearing past me like a madman going around the barrel on the left (which is the side he kicked me from the other day). I was a little nervous, but found that if I just stood back further he would still follow my directives around the barrel and I would be at a safer distance. As I focused on remaining extremely calm, he relaxed as well (I actually stopped him at one point and took a DEEP breath with him lol - seemed to work though!!) and started working through the pattern calmly and perfectly!! When I asked him to Weave at the trot he became pretty uptight, so I instantly stopped him and quietly re-asked for the pattern but at the walk. Trot will have to come later! We did a bit of circle work: #6 (transitions) and spiraling in and out, but not too much as he was not quite focused enough to ask too much more of him. Afterwards I popped up onto his back so we could do a little cloverleaf pattern. He did well but was inclined to tense up and move up into the trot, so we did not attempt any liberty work and instead ended the session on a good note! Our video-taped session of two of the patterns is viewable here.

Next to come is (finally!) news and photos of my time at the Trainer's Quest Oct 24-26, 2008, a competition between 3 horse trainers, including myself.

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