Tuesday, March 10, 2009

-28C for Chicka's first official under-saddle session...yay...

March 9

-28C tonight...yay!! Or not. Haha. Here I was, bundled up to the nines in jeans, ski pants, scarf, t-shirt, sweatshirt, winter coat, tuque....and I was still freezing my butt off!! But back to Chickadee...definitely recognising the LBI as the RB tendencies wear off!

First thing I wanted to focus on earning her respect, so after a minute or two of friendly with the carrot stick, I had her doing quick, clean switchbacks back and forth in front of me as I walked from one end of the arena to the other. Her porcupine and driving games were great, save for the few "tests" she threw in my direction here and there (ie. she'd ignore my aids and start walking off) lol but overall she did well with all her games. We played a little touch-it with all the "scary" areas in the arena that involved patches of snow along the walls/fences/etc as well as the squeeze game in said areas - she did very well, being curious and mostly left-brained. For our circling game we did, for the first time in awhile, all our expansions - spiraling in and out at the trot, the traveling circle (I walk from one end of the arena to the other as she continues circling at the trot), and changes in direction, all on the 12' lead. Our sideways game was fantastic today with multiple steps in either direction (twice each side). After earning Chickadee's focus, we also played around with some ropes!! I tossed the 45' over her rump; first time she shot off and cantered small circles around me (she actually did not even pull on the say 8' of the 12' line I had given her throughout) but after a few moments she returned to LB to the point where, a few minutes later, I was tossing that rope and tightening it all over her rump, even tossing it back and forth from behind (the rope tightened around her hindquarters) like a skipping rope. To play the friendly with the other side actually was a lot faster and went a lot easier for us. Our figure-8 and weave patterns were great, so I threw Chicka on the 22' lead; while we didn't go to the full extent of the line, I did give her quite a bit extra lead and she did well on the pattern (at the walk). She isn't up to doing it at the trot yet, I think I need to earn a higher level of respect from her yet so that she has the impulsion to trot when I ask - right now she basically just ignores my cue for the trot. We did a little circling at the trot and canter as well and she did very well, hiding her hindquarters and thus disengaging nicely when I focused in on the hind and tossed the savvy string in the direction of her rump.

I felt she was pretty focused in on me at the time so we did some under-saddle work. She was great to saddle, standing quietly as I saddled her with the rope looped loosely over my arm. She also let me up by standing quietly and we did, twice each side, our three-part maneuver of bend-to-a-stop, disengage the hind, and turn on the hind (ie. move the forehand around). She was fairly light and responsive. Same as on the ground, Chicky's impulsion is not so great yet, but we did walk several laps in either direction and we also did a total of a good lap in either direction at the trot. It took a bit of work though! Probably Wednesday or Thursday we'll play some more impulsion exercises under-saddle (such as going from one point in the arena to another and obtaining snappy transitions), but today was just allowing her to learn how to move with the added weight and to learn what being under-saddle was all about! Overall though she did very well, no spooks or anything and her focus was pretty good. We also did some back-up (pretty light) and a number of changes in direction and full small circles (as if we were to change direction but instead finished the circle, so very small circles at the walk). We did the weave and figure-8 patterns (with cones and barrels)...she was great going to the left (ie. on the right-hand side of the barrel headed left) but was quite resistant to going right around the barrels and cones (ie. barrels and cones on the inside, to the right). By the end she was lighter but we still have some work to do, particularly in the area of respect.

A great session though and a fabulous start to our week...hopefully tomorrow's session goes just as well! Though apparently, as I write this (actually March 11...), it is -24 or something outside. Oh yay. Sense the enthusiasm...or lack thereof...lol.

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