Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 14 session

March 14

Today when we went out to catch Chickadee she walked up towards us, then past us and to the! Once at the gate however, she allowed me to toss a halter on no problem! Obviously we still have some work to do, but I think she is starting to enjoy her sessions in the arena enough to start to work more like a partner, including wanting to be with me and thus to be caught...gettin' there!

Our friendly game today was done in between games. Our porcupine was pretty good, though Chicka tried to ignore my request and run right through my carrot stick at the driving game! Since my stick doesn't move and so acts as a "barrier", she ran into it - afterwards she did some great 180 circles, really respecting my request. She hides her hindquarters pretty well, but not so well at the trot and canter - I usually have to bump the rope to get her attention and focused enough to respond. I've been trying to not use the lead though and so instead have been working on increasing the phases faster when asking her to disengage and turn and face, which seems to be working...we'll keep at it! Her yo-yo, as usual was great, her sideways was pretty good (no wall), and her circling on the 22' had a lot of impulsion! She was actually trying to canter quite a bit - now she's gone slightly to the opposite extreme of before (where there was very little respect and impulsion), but I think we can bring her back to being balanced respect and impulsion-wise pretty easily within a session or two. Having that higher level of respect though is fabulous! We did all our normal circling game extensions and one lap of canter each direction; we also did w/t/c under-saddle (very easily!), including flying lead changes - completely on her part and as per her own decision, to correct herself and her balance.

We had a bit of difficulty doing the patterns at the full length of the 22', particularly at the trot: Chicka would start to ignore me since I was so much further away and then would get RB when I would react to try and get her back on track. I definitely need to be clearer in the first place though so as to set us up better for success! I figured out that if I yo-yo her in to me (draw - ie. crouch a little with a "soft" look, combing the rope) when she's coming towards me around the barrels, then I can point (drive) as she comes around, not directly looking at her, and direct her around to the backside of the next barrel. Once I started communicating to her clearer she did a lot better. This is definitely something I can, and need to, carry over to Link as well, with being ultra-clear with my language! It was pretty neat to change my way of communication and see such an instant and positive response!

Under-saddle we started out with the cloverleaf, at which she was pretty responsive. She had a little more go than woah today, so we did the point-to-point on short lines so as to balance out better our level of impulsion; it worked very well actually - after a few lines she was much quieter and even more LB. We did some small circles on the rail; my challenge here is to keep my hands very very soft, because I tend to brace in return when she tries to brace against me. I find I do the same during our three-part maneuver; if I keep my hand soft and giving though, then she actually responds by being softer and giving too rather than trying to fight me and brace against me. This is why I say soft hands make a soft mouth and hard hands make a hard mouth! It has nothing to do with the horse itself, that horse, and therefore its mouth, is a reflection of its rider. Honestly, if that horse is bracing in his mouth, he is going to have tension throughout his body too, which obviously means a lack of suppleness and thus a lack of natural collection too. Her back-up was great (10 steps with only light light pressure) and she was extremely responsive throughout walk/trot transitions. She was slightly RB and thus a little fast during the trot, but I think a bit due to the howling wind outside (extremely loud against the arena today!). No worries, the relaxation and suppleness comes with time as her comfort level and our level of partnership increases. We finished off our session (before a cool-out) with some canter down the long sides of the arena. Going counter-clockwise (on the left rein) she picked up the canter with little hesitation and with great ease, however on the right rein (clockwise), she had quite a bit of difficulty, so we tried (after some rest breaks as a reward between each try) twice more in that direction, by which time we achieved a relatively snappy and respectful transition (the first time in that direction she actually pinned her ears and resisted a bit) that felt comfortable and pleasurable on her part. She wasn't quite balanced enough for a full lap of the arena, but I think she can be by the next session or two. The little mare did fabulous today though and we ended on a great note with quite the partnership (following me about, nuzzling me, and generally quiet in my presence and a pleasure to be around).

Definitely a Left Brain Introvert as I learn more and more about her, but she is very unlike Koolaid, my own LBI, in many respects! She really does seem to want to please, she's keen on having a partnership, and she really wants to be light in her responses; she's constantly looking for a way to get me to be even quieter each time we do something. On the other hand, she has, or had (for the most part), some extreme Right Brain tendencies. She is definitely highly motivated by rest though, which is fabulous (lol), because it makes her (and other LBI's) so easy to work with - they'll do anything when they realise that they get to rest afterwards! Haha. She's actually very pleasurable to work with, I am fully enjoying our sessions :)

His knees looked great today and have amazing flexibility and range of motion still. The owners of the boarding facility have removed the cattle roundbale feeder and are just feeding loose round bales right now too, which should prevent Link, and other horses in his pasture by the sounds of it, from banging up their knees any further. His sessions have been going fabulous!

His bandages were removed Monday and so far so good. He has not been allowing a friend of mine to do his physio though (and buddy has been doing very well with him and trying all sorts of angles and such to get Koolaid to allow him to do the physio!), so buddy has had to resort to simply trotting him out, having him do lots of directional changes, etc. I have a feeling the bute wore off and the bandages being removed reduced the pressure in the leg and thus the leg is slightly inflamed (MUCH improved though!) and so a little sore. Also it's been a bit chilly out too, so that could be another factor playing into why Koolaid refuses to do any physio lol. We'll see how things go and maybe if he'll allow me to do any physio on him. We'll see!!

Thought I'd mention the tin-coloured man so that he didn't feel left out, but he's doing great! He's holding a great weight and looks happy. No real news to report otherwise though.

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