Chickadee, 5yo QH mare
Today we came into the arena to find one of the Paso Finos (?) being worked today - a lot of jigging and thundering hoofbeats. The gaited horses sound so different, the sound they make when they run their gait is so distinct - when Link first heard them running about the arena in their particular pace his head went up, his eyes bugged out, and he got ready to run! These horses literally sound like a herd of horses on the run lol. This was Chicka's first time hearing and experiencing the Paso Finos (which also exude a bit of "unhealthy energy," I find - these ones in particular tend to be uptight and not particularly happy?) so I expected her to spook a bit, but she never batted an eye!
Since I wasn't sure how she was going to act, I only played the friendly game with the stick today. Her porcupine and driving games were good but a little rough going to her left (with me on her right) - she kept trying to avoid the pressure by walking off. We worked some of it out but worked out the rest during our patterns afterwards. I never really thought about it before, but I usually work our weave patterns from her left side; I have not done much at all (weave pattern-wise) from her right-hand side. So, today that is what we did! It's been our tougher side doing the figure-8 pattern as well and so today was a little about working some of those kinks out, some of our communication kinks out, using the weave pattern. It's also my tougher side, I just find it sort of awkward from those angles...so my job henceforth is to really make sure I pay attention to that as well and make sure my horses do not become "one-sided". So far none have (I am pretty careful) however this is one horse who's really drastically one-sided at times so it's something I have to work on with both of us for success at both ends. I found though we worked some of those communication kinks out today and look forward to working out the rest. At first she had more difficulty on her right-hand side at the figure-8 and weave as well and got a little RB at times, so much so that we had to back up a step and work on the weave on that side at the walk rather than the trot. We finished on a great note though with her following very little direction with the weave (at the walk) and doing well at the figure-8, even trotting it and following my direction while whipping around those barrels! I have to be careful what I "say" with my body language though as I sometimes find myself preparing to communicate the next thing to her and she reads that and tries to do what I am about to ask her. Haha. Horses are way too smart for their own good sometimes!
Chicka's yo-yo game was great, as was her sideways (we did it without a wall this time, as it was being used by the Paso Fino and its rider - Chicka did exceptionally well!!). By the time we got to the circling game, the other horse and rider were leaving the arena, which allowed us to do the traveling circle on the 22'. We also did the spiraling in and out (was okay today) and a circle of canter in either direction (correct leads included!). She was extremely responsive to the simple circling aspect in particular, continuing jogging responsibly even when the other horse and rider worked right next to her at times! Afterwards I saddled her (she stood calmly with the rope lying on the ground at her feet) and asked her to do some walk/trot/canter under-saddle on the circling game as well, which she also did very well.
Under-saddle we did the cloverleaf pattern (she seems to be picking up the leg aids a bit, even moving off my leg and body position in the saddle at times). We did not do any point-to-point this time, as she was extremely responsive to my requests for impulsion; I think we'll do it tomorrow though just to further add to our foundation of respect and thus impulsion...I don't know how to explain it really but I feel like today's good impulsion was a result of yesterday's work and that by tomorrow some of it will have worn off. Hopefully that makes sense! We did some small circles along the wall (not her favourite...gave me a little attitude there because she felt she should go where she wanted to haha), played stick-to-the-rail (also another of her not-so-favourites because it involves being responsible and listening to me rather than doing what she'd like...), did some back-up (extremely soft and responsive), did some direction changes, and a lot of transitions (which were pretty snappy!). This mare definitely is a LBI, though a very very sensitive one and one who does seem to want to please. I think mostly though she just wants to be "spoken to" quietly (ie. quiet aids). She definitely is one from whom you have to earn her partnership so that she wants to work with you and she also loves her breaks! Whenever she did particularly well I'd allow her to rest, which is probably her favourite reward! Now she asks, hey can I rest? hey can I rest? what about now? or now? Haha. She's pretty respectful about it though and it keeps her tuned in to me because she's just waiting for me to say yes lol. She seemed so comfortable under-saddle though that I thought we'd try for some canter! First shot she was a little ticked off at me because I kept asking her for more. I could almost hear her shout at me (liiittle wee buck) "I'm trotting as fast as I can, what more could you possibly want?!!" She did not understand what I wanted at first. Pretty quick though she did pick up that I wanted a canter and so obliged. It wasn't all that pretty - she wasn't on the rail the entire time, felt a little off-balance getting it, and wasn't entirely comfortable at it, but she did it and was entirely LB afterwards and even overall. I asked for a few strides down the arena before taking her back down to the walk. My philosophy is, for the most part, if a horse ever bucks, that that horse was not ready for me to be up there. Sometimes though it's just a result of the horse feeling it has to "shout" at you (which can also mean it's not ready for you to be up there in the saddle) and/or the result of you losing permission, or not having it in the first place, to be up there. In this case though Dee was just shouting at me that she didn't understand what I was asking, she thought she was doing what she was supposed to be doing already, and here I was, still asking!..which resulted in a little buck. It was her way of retaliating for my "shouting" at her (through increasing my phases) when she was, from her perspective, already doing what I had asked. She figured it out though, which was great.
Overall Chicka did very well today. She spooked a couple of times but returned to LB almost right away each time; the large arena door was open today (yesterday one of the riders opened it as well) and despite the distractions outside (including howling wind, snow falling off the arena roof, etc etc), she remained calm and focused throughout. She was a little hard to catch today but as I continue to build that partnership with her (which has definitely been growing at the end of each session!!) she'll come around :) Not sure if I blogged about it yesterday, but I get to keep her for an extra month! I am enjoying working with her and am pretty excited actually to see what the next month brings for us progress-wise!
My main man did very well today for the still-learning friend who worked with him today, a little RB at times but for the most part he was LB. He seemed to have a lot of energy and just wanted to run today but overall he cooperated pretty well with the friend for a successful session.