Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The joys of frozen teeth

April 22

Got a good taste of Mother Nature's winter weather warning this morning! By the time I was finished with Venus, my teeth had nearly frozen off, nevermind working with Silver and Koolaid!

The long side of the arena where Venus, Silver, and Koolaid are boarded at. The weather looks decent in this photo, but photos can be deceiving! Haha. My fingers froze taking this photo lol.

The short end of the arena - decent footing


We did our 7 games today:

- friendly (45' rope and carrot stick familiarization)

- porcupine (180 degree turns on the hind and fore/chest/nose at Phase 1 or 2)

- driving (180 turns on the hind and fore/back-up Phase 1 or 2)

- yo-yo (end of the 12' Phase 2 at most, soft wiggling of the lead)

- circling (better than yesterday, she was much softer at the end of the lead and gave me 2 laps with confidence)

- sideways (still a little reactive yet)

- squeeze (between me and the fence - still some reactiveness here too but we finished on a good note).

I had wanted to do more, but as I mentioned above, my teeth were freezing off, and so I ended the session - on a good note - short, but sweet, to prevent any loss of said teeth. Due to the high winds she was a bit reactive in general today too, so I thought it best to leave the saddling intro to a day where she was in a better state of mind (of course if that day involves my owning a warm ass rather than a frozen-off one, that's okay too!)...which had been the next step I'd wanted to take with her anyways.

Silver and Koolaid...well they got a good look-in today and some pets on the nose...but that's all my poor teeth could endure, hehe.

I left my trunk open for literally 5 minutes while I unloaded equipment and my trunk interior was already covered in a fine layer of snowdust! We tore through our 7 games...the especially cool highlights of the day:
- driving game 360 turn on the fore and hind (could be cleaned up some but was half-decent and phase 1)
- porcupine game 360 turns on the fore and hind phase 1(awesome!!)
- yo-yo to the end of the 22' phase 3 at most (gentle wiggle with my forearm) and he even backed up when I brought the phases down to 2 (wiggle my wrist, no wiggling of the lead beneath his chin)
- circling game w/t/c - he actually walked without prompting on my part! He also trotted left-brained and remained as such throughout changes in direction, transitions, etc. His canter was pretty rough at first (he kept hitting the end of the 22' and then spinning to face me) but by the end he was balancing himself enough and was relaxed enough to complete 2 excellent laps in either direction.
- sideways without the wall

We also did some figure-8 (trot) and some weave...unfortunately only at the walk on the right side, trot on the left (my being on his left). I'll keep plugging away at it and hopefully we can get it so that we can progress to level 3 on-line. There were a few times he shot me a little attitude (he was ignoring me) but partially he was just being a little reactive too, so more time together will remedy that.

I saddled him at liberty today! A huge feat for us, as he's always tended to get anxious being tacked up (he was always very anxious being tacked up on the track). It was fantastic to throw that saddle up and have him free to walk away but not doing so, head lowered to the ground and even yawning (lol).

Under-saddle we did some freestyle level 2 - carrot stick riding. Figure-8 at the was pretty tough but we got it, he's not so balanced at the trot around the barrels on a direct rein anyways so that definitely played a role too (we'll have to work on it). His right side was especially difficult, he'd block me out and thus ignore me, running right through my request, but we did finish on a good note with some good solid rounds around the barrels...more improvement to come with more practise! We also worked on some carrot-stick back-up (twirling the stick at his shoulder and having him back) and small circles on the rail (pretty responsive) at the walk. Last for the carrot stick work we did the weave at the walk and the "question box" - basically a series of circles and transitions within the walk and trot.

When we got to the finesse end of things, he was a little tense I think from the carrot stick work (he's not yet entirely comfortable with the under-saddle work with the carrot stick) maybe we'll reverse things next time - finesse first freestyle later, at least until he grows more comfortable with the carrot stick work (another few sessions perhaps). We worked on level 2: walk-trot, circles on the rail, trot figure-8, weave trot, back-up, question box (various circles centering around a square of cones), sideways (no wall). Lots left to do and a lot of cleaning up to do, but we did great together for our first official shot at the finesse patterns. He is definitely very sensitive and responsive to leg aids (I had him cornering nicely according to leg position, etc), most of the time he was responsive to my energy level (ie. downward transitioning when I relaxed), and he was mostly left-brained during our trot. Just for kicks I pointed him towards a downed barrel (just one, so it was a fairly narrow jump) and while he avoided it the first couple of times (nothing violent, he'd just step around it), he finally did squeeze over it with me under-saddle! It was pretty neat!!

I have to admit there was the odd time I got a little frustrated with Link today but he did awesome! He was definitely a partner most of the time and we did do awesome together - sometimes I just need to relax and accept less-than-perfect, especially for his first time at something!!!!! It's hard for a perfectionist to let go though sometimes! He was fabulous today - left-brained mostly and he is always so much improved each time we work together, today was no exception. Today when I let him loose with Sonny in the arena, Sonny tore around like a madman on a sugar high, getting himself all sweated up. Normally Link joins him and races about the arena, high-headed and sharing that same sugar high (lol), but today he was relaxed and while he cantered around a little and even tossed in the odd hand-gallop, he was pretty relaxed (no sweat, no snorting and blowing - he was very left-brained) and failed to even join Sonny most of the time - he actually spent a lot of time following me around! A huge change from the Link who used to roar about and get himself all worked up!!

Sonny bolting about the arena...Link lagging behind

The big orange twit was tied for a bit beforehand (no way I was walking through that terrible ear-freezing weather twice to grab horses!) and so he was definitely a little anxious by the time I untied him to work with him. His games were great, very light (he yo-yo'd back when I glared). His weave we only did at the walk and his figure-8 was decent at the trot (after a few initial high-tailed explosions and squeals as he rudely tore past me haha), but that's about all we did. He was fairly reactive and I was freezing up so we called it a day at that. He's a great horse...but annoyingly childish sometimes (squeals, playful bucks, and striking forelegs as he roars about, included). Oh yea, when I first haltered him, he bit me! I had turned to halter Link when I felt Orange Dink's teeth on my arm in a playful (but domineering) nip - usually I won't do anything when a horse bites but in this case I did spin around and play some driving game with him. I'm not quite sure how to explain it but I just felt like I had to react by driving him this time, as opposed to other times horses had bit me. Anyways, like I said - good horse just a retarded toddler sometimes, lol.

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