Thursday, March 12, 2009

The day the arena became home to a circus...

March 11

Played a little with the ropes today, this time asking Chickadee to unwrap herself from the 12' line (my walking behind her bum to her other side - at her head - and applying pressure to the lead, asking her to "follow the feel" to do a 180 turnabout and face me). At first she was a little leery about the rope around her hind end yet but she quickly settled down and played the game on either side three times. Her driving, yo-yo, and porcupine games were alright (she tested me a bit by trying to walk off at the driving and porcupine games but all in all was good). I played a little of the switchback exercise with her (where I have her doing switchbacks back and forth in front of me at the trot) to establish a higher level of respect, and we did all our regular circling game expansions - the traveling circle at the trot (where I walk down the arena and she continues circling), spiraling in and out at the trot, directional changes, even some canter - all on the 22'! Her sideways game was great and we even did some squeeze game over the barrels! She was a little bit resistant at first but did not try so hard this time to come over top of me to evade the barrels (lol) - with a little encouragement she popped over the barrels nicely twice in either direction. Well done on her part!!

By the time we got to the patterns though, we had two riders come in separately but one after the other. The one man was leading a foal at his mare's side while the other rider, a barrel racer, was ponying another gelding of hers in the arena. The problem was that little barrel rider (not so little either, say in her 30's...and wearing spurs with a tie-down and huge-*** curb bit on her horse...) had no control of her own horse, never mind the one she was leading! The gelding she was leading got away twice on her (after putting up a fuss that definitely got Chicka's attention lol), and she seemed completely unable to catch him on her own horse, basically just following the horse around as he darted about the arena, trying to chase down the other rider's foal he was leading. At one point (when the barrel rider's gelding that she was leading was acting up), Chickadee threw in a few bucks during her circling game. By this point she was saddled so I was just circling her to tighten her cinch, but I was a little worried about riding a freshly started, green mare in an arena where one horse kept pulling away from his rider and wreaking havoc! That horse was intent and pretty disrespectful towards the other horses in the arena when he was loose...last thing I needed was to get hurt (or for my horse to be injured!).

Mounting up, Chicka was a little right-brained but she quickly re-focused after we did some patterns under-saddle (just working through the barrels and such). We did some walk and trot, working on transitions and small circles on the rail...little back-up and figure-8 patterns as well. She actually did very well and never once offered to buck. I was very impressed. This was her first time working with other horses under-saddle in the arena, and "strange" horses too, to boot! There was the odd time she wanted to visit but at those times I allowed her to stop (the first couple of times) so as to regroup and re-start out. Eventually though she was willingly trotting past the other horses. An awesome session, especially for it only being her second solid and official under-saddle session!

Chickadee (or Dee, as her owners call her), will be staying an extra month after some talk with the owners. She's making excellent progress but I feel that her owners would be more comfortable with some more miles under her cinch so that she does not return to them so green, considering they are relatively green themselves.

Did well today, even completing the weave and figure-8 patterns on the 12' with a friend of mine, so great job with him as well! His knees, which he's been banging on the roundbale feeder and bruising nicely (as we finally surmised), were in great shape today too, which was fabulous to see.

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