Week May 11 - 17
Still pretty complicated, the Bigass Mare ranged from calm and relaxed under-saddle and on the ground to Pearl Harbour explosive. Out of our 4 sessions this week, she was under-saddle 3 of them. For the most part she's got her basics down at the walk - halt, back-up, circles on the rail (nice bend in either direction now), and direct (turn on the haunches)/indirect (turn on the forehand) rein, however she is not consistent - some days I can ride her, other days I forego the pleasure of facing imminent death. On the 'iffy' days she will sometimes be calm under-saddle, other times she is explosive but calm by the end of our session, and other days (well, today was the first)...like today...I try my hand at flying. Today she did very well at the walk and seemed comfortable enough and so I asked her for a trot...not something I would have done had I all the time in the world, but as a trainer I've got time restraints to an extent. We obtained trot for all of 3/4 of a lap of the arena. That was my cue to pull her up and rest her on a good note...but of course I didn't. She was doing so fabulous that I thought I'd allow her to continue for a few more strides. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, a blade of grass blew in the wrong direction behind me. Well you can guess what happened next. Little mare suddenly approached the height of the Calgary Tower and lit into bucking. But she followed the rail! At least I have taught her something after all. I held on for a good 1/4 lap before she tossed me behind her (yes, behind)...her rump actually made for a good slide-like descent. She then took off another 1/4 lap before running right up to me, eyeing me up but looking to trust me. It took a few moments for her to calm down and relax around me, as she was pretty keen on viewing me as a predator looking for blood at that point (not my style, but heck, how's she supposed to know lol), but finally - after some groundwork - she allowed me to re-mount. I did not feel she would allow me to walk her under-saddle though so I just sat on her and bounced around up there until she was comfortable once again. She was pretty calm by the end of the session and we did end on a good note, however she is definitely not where I would have liked her to be. This mare needs a lot more time on her and I am concerned that she will not get that time, or that she will be punished elsewhere for her fear-based reactions. Unfortunately though she goes home Monday (hopefully after a session) and possibly on to a new home afterwards. *sigh*
Little Mustachio enjoyed only 3 sessions with me this week after a full week last week (and future full weeks), though I have been out to visit him an additional two times. He is slowly progressing in the trust department and I have finally removed the halter that was on him previously; he actually allows me, as of late, to catch him out in the pasture! His games have been steadily progressing and I have even done some bouncing around him and desensitization to blankets, the saddle, and ropes (I use the ropes in ways to desensitize the horse to a cinch being applied later, ropes around the feet and elsewhere, and to encourage the horse to think in a variety of good learning situations). Unfortunately we did suffer a minor setback mid-week when I applied the saddle (after desensitization), cinched it up (after former cinch-like work), and asked him to move out. Well, move out he did. Except it was more upwards than anything. I learned how well my emergency cinch-tying works (hint: very good)! SO. We have been taking it even slower as for the desensitization process with the saddle. After I deem he's fully comfortable with the saddle and blankets (etc), I'll tack him up and likely turn him loose to become accustomed to moving about with the saddle, at his own leisure (supervised though of course). He is definitely nearly ready to start encompassing some mount-up work and possibly some saddle work simultaneously with his groundwork....just very slowly.
The Little Roan Filly is doing great under-saddle and on the ground. Her games have progressed somewhat (some sidepass even), including to trotting the figure-8 on the 12' line. Under-saddle, she has all her basics and is up to trotting comfortably. She can be a little testy at times when she wants her way though...for example the other day we worked under-saddle with two other riders in the arena (one of which was tearing around like a madwoman...scary stuff for LRF, haha) and Vienna had it in her head that she'd prefer to be visiting her compadre Havanna. The result was a very slow jog away from Havanna, ears pinned when I asked for more impulsion, and even a little defiant buck when I pushed her a bit. SO! We've got our work cut out in building impulsion...I think I hear some point-to-point exercises in the near future! Otherwise she is doing fabulous, I just have to work a little harder at earning her respect under-saddle, which will be accomplished via groundwork and under-saddle work. Her owners were out Friday and she did fabulous in their presence - her owners seemed quite happy and were astonished she stood so quietly tied! Apparently at home her favourite pastime is to dig holes to China. Here she has had restless days but for the most part after I work a horse they are typically calmer and thus are relaxed enough to stand - as has been the case for Vienna (and Havanna).
My pretty Little Queen Bee is doing fantastic! On the ground she continues to progress...she's sitting at about the same pace as Vienna on the ground though she is softer and more responsive at everything she does. Under-saddle, she is extremely light and responsive to what I ask as well - all of her basics are down at the walk and trot (including trotting serpentines!). We have attempted some canter as well, but it's still pretty rough yet (more to come!). Y'know what the best part is though is that she does not paw...just goes to show, there are better ways than bandaid solutions such as the suggested hobbles. All in all though she is moving along amazingly well (love this little horse!) and her owners (one of which even rode her when they attended our session the other day!) were very impressed with her progress. I'd like to do a little tarp work and such with both mares next week as well as some additional rope work. Both mares should be going home at the end of the month comfortable with all their basics, including w/t/c and some trail riding.
Unfortunately I have been riding everyone else's horses more than my own! Ironic eh, haha. Link and I put in a good session yesterday...some good groundwork (including the figure-8 at the trot, some good squeeze over barrels, and circling at a relaxed trot) to start off before we hopped into the saddle work. Well Link had other ideas. It took a few moments for me to convince him to let me up, but once I did he stood stiller than the Statue of Liberty for me as I dragged myself up 16.2 hands+ of horse. He was pretty challenging under-saddle - so much energy and nowhere to put it!! Well, actually he had places to put it, but they were places I disagreed with. See he wanted to put the energy into practising to be a racehorse. I wanted to put that energy into dressage. Despite our differences he actually did very well for me. I discovered too that I need to provide him more support with my aids - when I do he relaxes and is much quieter... if that is what he needs at this time, that is fine. We worked a lot on 20m circles (well, slightly smaller, we were working off the perfect sunlight circles the arena skylights were projecting on the ground - why set up cones when you have sunspots? haha) at the walk and trot and also spiraling said circles; achieving rhythm and bend at both. The trot was more difficult for Link (difficult in that he had ideas to run lol) but we did well. We also did some canter work, which was extremely difficult for Link (particularly to the right) and admittedly more resembled a hand-gallop: Link's compromise from galloping down a track ;) He was quite reactive at times and was pretty intent on being a racehorse however despite having not worked together in a good week or so he did very well with me, considering. Lots of suppleness and work towards collection throughout...of course a lot of work still ahead of us but we are certainly making progress. It's time for some consistency though (ie. a consistent work schedule) and also to get in some lessons with a professional dressage coach soon as possible.
On another note, we are hoping to pick up Formiss next weekend. She is a 5yo palomino 16hh+ QH x Dutch Warmblood mare. I put in 60 days or so on her last year and plan on putting another 60 on her this year prior to selling her. She has a load of potential as a hunter or dressage prospect (wonderful gaits). I am hoping to get her into an arena for some free-jumping (and videos of it) prior to listing her for sale. So she's my June and July project. I also am likely taking on a couple more horses for June thus far.