Thursday, April 30, 2009

Standing around and doing nothing...yes, this is horse training at its finest...

April 29

Just a brief overview of the sunny-but-chilly-I-can't-make-my-mind-up-if-I-want-to-be-winter-or-spring day...

Yes, don't we all just LOVE winter coats? C'mon now, sense the sarcasm...oh, oh...there, there's so much of it it's dripping now...

We did some circle work on the ground, including w/t/c, transitions, and changes in direction. I am anxious though to get a temporary/makeshift roundpen set up (ie. electric fencing sticks and rope), as we are only getting into the year and I want to get off to a good start. I do not have his full partnership on the ground - I have much more drive than I have draw with him, so I'd love to do some liberty work in the confines of a roundpen to work on that draw towards me. I rode him under western with the cradle bit (little cross-dressing here, I kept the bit on my english bridle and used it rather than transferring the bit over to a western bridle - the shock! The horror!!); Silver was a little reactive at times but was otherwise soft, supple, and relaxed - and collecting nicely for me. I think we'll continue for awhile in the cradle - C3 - and see how goes before moving up into a similar curb (ideally a Myler; approx 1'' port for tongue relief with a copper roller, sweet iron mouthpiece that curves in the horse's mouth and that preferably is double-jointed but solid - ie. the joints allow rotation side-to-side without up-and-down action that places additional pressure on the bars, and short shanks) to eventually show in (time willing). Lots of refinement work left to do obviously but we are getting there slowly but surely. We did not do much for patterns work though this time - next time.

Same as with my little silver horse, Koolaid and I did some groundwork first. I am also anticipating some liberty work with him as well to balance out our drive:draw (currently drive is more in our favour, given his nature). He had a blast showing off for Venus in the arena before we commenced (none of his 10/10 extended trot though...I guess she's good enough to impress but not that good hahaha). I worked him a little under english and in the C3 cradle bit as well, which he seems to love. We did some basic dressage intro work - leg yields, circles, figure-8's. We worked a lot on that bend on circles (without falling in! haha) at the w/t/c, including 10m circles at the canter even. He was fabulous and was collecting nicely and consistently for me, though we definitely need to work on our leg aids further to get them sharper and also on creating some further impulsion (beware: this one's a speed demon!...sense the sarcasm...). We kept the session short and sweet though so that he would not be sore for me after all the collection work (lots of relaxation in between collection asks though).

BAM was much quieter today than usual, she was very trusting and soft. I kept my "communication" quiet and soft for her as well, using minimal direction and quiet movements. We also did a lot of relaxation in the form of stopping and rubbing to reinforce that "draw" and trust with her, which is uber important in her case since she tends to be so jittery and untrusting. So lots of standing around and doing nothing. All in the name of training. Yes I love this job. We got through all 7 games easily and lightly and so moved on to some saddle work. After a little desensitizing with the western saddle (which looks so completely ridiculously small on such a massive creature!), she was finally tacked up (she has carried an english saddle previously) and we did a some work - flapping the stirrups, moving about, placing weight in the saddle, etc. We ended the session after she was consistently and relaxedly allowing me up in the stirrups so that I was hanging over her back. Something Jonathan Field said in his vid Inspired by Horses (and also at his clinic at the Mane Event) was that he always ends his sessions at the height of connection. When you really succeed and really have that connection with a horse, that is the time to finish your session rather than to get greedy and ask for more. Finish on a fantastic note and soon what happens at the end of one session starts happening at the beginning of the next session. So that is what I have been keeping in mind and that is what Venus and I did today. She finally let me up into that saddle so that is where we called it quits - after a high. Overall she was very soft and relaxed today with very very few reactive moments (unless you include the time she tried to split Aly's head open because pup was in the way...oh wait...not reactive, lol).

He came out today initially for some under-saddle work, but his back was slightly sore (definitely need to re-adjust my saddle) and so instead he was simply groomed up and vaccinated. He heads out to a NH trainer May 1 for 30 days. I originally could not fit him into the last-minute schedule my mom had wanted him in and so Sonny is off to enjoy some time with someone else! We drop him off tomorrow; personally I am hoping he comes back with even further balanced emotions (ie. calmer, braver, smarter v.s. reactive at times) and with leg aids! Just makes my job a whole lot easier (as well as more enjoyable riding when my mom chooses to ride him), then I can work on further developing him when he returns.

Yes, Murphy's Law dictates that my camera (yes, the one with the filthy lens), shall die before I can take photos of the two new fillies. Actually it died before I even got to Venus. Oh joy.

Little Queen Bee and her buddy Little Roan Filly (Vienna) marched right up to me as soon as they saw far so good. I don't anticipate them being this easy to catch consistently throughout the 30 days though, especially as the LQB learns to work and is asked for respect. We had the entire arena to ourselves today and she was fabulous! So much better than yesterday. I did get the odd attitude, such as with the yo-yo: SURE I'll come in to you, but this is MY game and I run this show!! through attempts to run me over, or with the circling game (w/t on the 12'): hey, note I'VE got something to say about all this work!! via headshakes in my direction, but overall she was pretty pleasant to work with. Her sideways game as of yet is non-existent, so we'll work on the other 6 games before we try for the sideways once more. I tried to also make sure I threw in a lot of simple "chilling time", where I could earn her trust. Again...standing around. Doing nothing. There seems to be some sort of recurrent pattern here. Just kidding ;)

Poor LRF, by the time we got into the arena (after Queen Bee's session), riders were entering the arena as if there was some event going on or something. Some event being the Airdrie Rodeo Riders... Within minutes there were a good 6 riders cantering around us at any one time (not allowing us much room either, I might add, despite there definitely being the room available). One in particular made LRF jumpy, a little chestnut QH pretty hyped up and his head tied down way too low... Anyways, she was a little distracted but only made 3 or so attempts at deafening me (they actually worked too) and was great overall! We whisked through our 5 games and played a lot of friendly game as well....a.k.a. we lazed about and I rubbed her.

Yup, I saved the best for last! There was definitely some sparkle in his eye when I brought him in and he spotted all the horses and people milling about...perhaps too much sparkle? His inquisitive nose instantly set to work at persuading me to allow him to touch everybody. Me: 1, nose 0. These didn't seem the type of people that wanted horse snot on their Lululemon. I am taking a bit of a different approach with Link, and all my higher-level horses lately - limited 7 games (throw in a bit here, a bit there, something akin to confetti...) and more focus on the patterns. Of course this was our first time working in the outdoor ring (by now the Rodeo Girls' official lesson had begun) though, and with two other horses (a barrel horse being longed at the canter for an hour straight while his owner conversed on the phone, and a 16yo black-and-white Paint who had not been ridden in 8 months) to boot. To put it mildly, Link was ecstatic. Oh, and I had virtually no room to play any patterns, so our new focus on the patterns was restricted to circling with changes in direction. Link paraded around, tail in the air, head waving, air puffed through those flared nostrils excitedly (better make sure everyone knows how excited we are...). He was fairly attentive though and though he did break into the canter quite a few times, for the most part it was a relaxed canter where he even maintained some nice balance on about 10 meters of circle (prior to my slowing him). He was pretty excited under-saddle though too (english, C3 cradle bit - which he loves) but was still fairly attentive and very responsive. We walked until he was calm before doing some work at the trot - bending, suppling, softening, collecting. I won't lie, there was plenty of holla-backed-girl trotting, but there was also quite a bit of soft and relaxed trot. We also did a little canter work - it took a bit of work on my part (half-halts, uber relaxed seat) to attain some relaxed and rhythmic canter, but we did alright! He had trouble picking up his right lead so we will have to work some on that as well. As our canter work continued he did tend to become more reactive so we attained some short strides of relaxation before calling it a day. We ended without him so much as breaking a sweat or breathing hard (despite working for a good 30-45 minutes) and with his being relaxed and attentive to me. Oh, funny story. As the Rodeo Girls were loading up and leaving, someone made some sound behind us that Link took as the sound of a prowling cougar. Not that I blame him, I mean, I was convinced it was the sound of a prowling cougar (disguised of course as the sound of a trailer door opening or such) too. He did this huge flying leap into the air and came down, rocking me out of balance and loosing my left stirrup. Can we say....scope?? Yup, he's a keeper for the jumper ring, lmao. Luckily for me however he was actually very calm after his Pegasus-like-endeavor and he stood quietly as I re-collected myself...definitely a change from his I'm-a-wild-horse(!!!) Link days. We are definitely getting there, Link and I!

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