Friday, June 26, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The shanks aren't anything overly fancy, but they're nice and should look good in the parade, which is a bit of a bonus. It's labelled a FG Futurity Bit. It's got a low port for some tongue relief (but less bar pressure), curved short shanks, a roller for play, sweet iron inlay, a little bend/shape to the mouthpiece to wrap around the horse's mouth, and independant movement of each side of the bit via swivel joints on either side of the port, beneath the roller - so if I pick up the left rein, only the left side of the bit lifts. We'll try it out and see how Silver likes it, but I think it might be a great refinement bit for us at our current level. We'll try it out Monday or Tuesday, depending on how my day goes Monday and if I have time to fit Silver in that day.
Friday, June 19, 2009
He blocked me out a bit during our games. His trouble is with the sideways game - he gets psyched up and reactive and forgets that he can just think things through and play the game! We did finish with a relaxed sideways on either side with a little work. His impersonation of a pufferfish today while tightening the cinch was slightly less than yesterday; we worked on it a bit more when untacking, getting him comfortable with my playing with the cinch. I'm not sure what's gone on in this guy's past but he has a real aversion to being tacked up! Nevermind being ridden! I know his owners are not in the least bit abusive towards him though, but I just cannot figure out why he's so reactive towards being tacked up and ridden. Is it a time thing (ie. such a long layoff from working under-saddle)? Maybe he was never quite confident under-saddle and it just worsened? He seems to really know what the games are about and I appreciate that strong foundation - he does most of his games at Phase 1 or 2 already. On the other hand, he's quick to get reactive at times - I don't understand where all this fear-based reaction comes from. Anyways, I tacked him up and had him circle as well. This time there were no blow-ups, though I found out he becomes quite reactive when I cluck to him, like he's expecting the earth to split open beneath his feet or something when I cluck. Several relaxed circles in either direction though before I stood in the stirrups on either side - he's still a little leery of that. I had planned on roundpenning him, but I saved it for next week's first session for a number of reasons. First, I was pretty short on time today. Second, it will allow for a good intro for us next week, before I get on. Coincidentally, he'll probably be a little tired out from the roundpenning and so I'm hoping it will help him think - in place of becoming reactive and bucking - when I go to get on. I won't work a horse to make it tired so that I can ride it, but I will certainly use a horse's being tired to an advantage! We'll see how it all works out. We finished on a good note with lots of work to do next week! Next week will be a very full week, particularly due to this week's time constraints and missed day when my car broke down!
I actually had some difficulty catching my little roan mustachio man, so today we just did some laid-back work in the pasture. He did a great job at the 7 games before I left him back to his busy day of grazing. He's done well so deserves a day off of under-saddle work and I don't want to sour him from working with me, particularly since next week will be a big week of work for him as well.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Well as we increased the challenge of our lesson today, we unfortunately hit some of that blocking me out on the ground during the sideways game. All his other games went fab and eventually though we did get the sideways in either direction, mostly calm. Saddling up he was better as well, he didn't puff up quite so much and was more relaxed than yesterday at least. During the circling game though we hit a bump. The first time I asked him to disengage his hindquarters, he ignored me. Little bunny-in-a-horse-suit locked down in panic mode and took flight. Leaving me with the much-welcomed gift of rope burn, he took off and bucked - hard - around the pasture I was working him in. After a good solid few minutes that would make any rodeo horse proud, he suddenly froze to a stop and allowed me to catch him (speaking of which, he was great to catch today and even walked right up to me when he saw me). He was great (relaxed) with his circling game after that! Haha. I also stood in the stirrups and just rubbed his neck, trying to get him to relax (he did, but not wholly). I sense some roundpenning with the saddle on in the near future! Near future being...ah yes, tomorrow. Haha. I'll also start riding him (next week) in the smaller pens. Good progress, but some more yet to break through...once we break down the wall he's got up he'll be a breeze to work, it's just getting that wall down that's gonna take some work. Someone suggested to me I use something mechanical to keep his head from bogging and thus preventing him from bucking. Trouble is, that nails the physical end of things, but not the mental and emotional. The key is to solve the latter so that the former disappears!
When I played with her a little at one end of the alleway (just using body language) she actually walked right up to me, several times. It took a bit before she'd allow me to snap on a leadrope though. Seems she likes her face being rubbed without the trouble of having a leadrope attached ;) Well I guess everyone prefers pleasure to "work". Hehe. Once I did catch her, I spent time just running my hands all over her and allowing her to graze. She refused to graze when I was with her, but as long as I was 4 feet away or so she would eat. I carried an armful of grass to her pen before turning her loose ;P Still working on developing and cementing that trust and partnership so we can work on all the rest.
Well, despite a little bucking spree we experienced, my little Mustachio man did excellent today! I'm convinced he could have made a good bronc too. He's got this crazy bucking style; he bucked until I'd lost both stirrups, then began twisting. Perfect style for getting a rider off, haha. Didn't work though! Ahem...well...perhaps just barely didn't though, haha. His ground games (minus saddle) were great all-round and after we worked through his initial bucking under-saddle (fear-based, he'd been spooked by my reins being looped on the saddle blanket and then coming loose), we got all our basics done well. Though he's straighter on the left rein, he is even bending around my leg on the right rein, and is very soft at the back-up! Overall he's coming along real nicely. Oh, and bonus, he was great to catch! He sort of started walking away so I went to where he was about to walk (all of 3 feet, haha), and he turned towards me and walked all the way up to me instead. I met his breeder today as well (him and another guy, as well as Twist's owner, were taking the wagon team out for a practise run down the roads), who's keen on seeing the little guy work.
Her ground games were great, though we need to work on impulsion and respect. Not that anyone particularly revels in working in the sweltering heat of the day, but I do expect some momentum rather than a slow and resigned shuffle (lol). I think primarily we'll work on it under-saddle with some point-to-point. Today I actually tacked her up (english with a cradle bridle) and rode her around - just walk, trot, circles, turns on the hind and fore, back-up, sidestep, etc. She never flinched or anything of the sorts, she was great, despite it being a good 7 months since she's been under saddle last. She wasn't particularly fond of the bit so we worked in the halter - I think she needs her teeth done, which is our next priority (her, Silver, and Koolaid). Today I simply worked her in the paddock she was in, but tomorrow we'll work in the actual arena for a more official work. Today was just about seeing where she's at.
Time to prep for the Stampede Parade if we want to participate! I worked him in a snaffle today, a Happy Mouth, double-jointed O-ring. He did great and had a lot of bend! I tried out a curb bit on him next (double-jointed with a copper roller in the middle, shanks sweep back, about a 2 1/2:1 curb ratio, I think it has sweet iron). Last we worked in a curb bit was a number of years ago. To show western pleasure, Silver had to be in a curb bit since he was over 4 years of age, so our instructor put us in a curb bit. Well Silver spazzed out. I wasn't prepared, he wasn't prepared, yet we were both forced into it and Silver was having none of it (he was extremely reactive). No help from the instructor. Since then, he's never worked in a curb, so I wasn't sure how he'd be about it today, but he was fantastic! Our snaffle work was great, and our curb work was even better. We were on a completely other level of communication - it was almost surreal! Silver loves a long rein and made sure I gave it to him (haha), but he was so responsive to my every cue. His trot slowed to a jog today and we achieved a lot of bend and suppleness - even some engagement and roundness. No canter - he's a very forward-thinking horse so I wanted to do a lot of patterns and lateral work rather than forward work. It was pretty sweet. I feel pretty confident about riding him in the parade; we've got another week and a half to prepare. I think too I will keep looking for a more suitable curb bit for him - he did well in this one, but I have an ideal I am looking for: sweeping shanks, low curb ratio, shaped mouthpiece that's jointed to move laterally but not vertically (so the pieces swing around to fit nicely in the horse's mouth but they do not flex upwards into the palate and have a nutcracker effect on the tongue), 1-1 1/2'' port for tongue relief (under 2" so that it does not apply palate pressure) with a roller (Silver loves to play!), sweet iron mouthpiece... Haha, pretty complicated but I'll eventually find what I am looking for. Oh, cool story. Prior to tacking up, I noticed the neighbour trying to get her loose calf in, with the aid of one of the individuals living at the property I board at. The calf kept running amok, so I looped the leadrope around Silver into a set of reins and walked him over, intent on helping. Well we only were able to help a minute or two until the calf was in, but Silver had a blast those two minutes! Haha. He was terrified of the tiny goats flitting about and wasn't too sure about a huge woodpile, but he was pretty excited to see that calf, and so - despite his wariness of the goats (I'm sure they were just ready to pounce), he still kept moving forward without much prompting on my part, to get to this calf. I asked him to duck out sideways once to block the calf and BAM!!! he was there. It was pretty sweet - he got right down to that calf's level and cut. It inspired me actually to see if I can't find a place, maybe even just a ranch, through the Team Penning Association, where I can keep Silver and work cattle, maybe even compete. We'll see what we can't work out, because that horse loves working cattle (as do I) ;P For now though we'll be busy prepping for the parade and even just working on refining our communication and movements. Pretty excited. To quote Bolt: Let it begin, let it begin, LET IT BEGIN!!! Hahaha.
Man, I'm missing my Link horse, haven't seen him in a week and won't get the chance to work him until next Monday! I suppose I'll live. Barely. But I will ;P Working the same 5 tomorrow before jetting off to Slave Lake for the weekend. Back Monday to work the 6 (5+Link) and to get everyone on a more regular schedule. Got a call about working another horse today and another neighbour to where Twist is at asked about maybe getting some work done on his horse, so we'll see how things play out. For now, I'm hitting the shower before my close encounter with Mr. Pillow.
The big paint was easy to catch today - we played all 7 games beautifully (he now backs on the yo-yo game when I so much as glare at him, then comes right back in when I relax my body posture), including some improvised figure-8 (using the squeeze game but with a lot of changes in direction). Next I tacked him up...to find a pufferfish!! And you thought they only dwelled in water... As soon as I commenced tightening that cinch, he humped his back and puffed out his belly...at which point I, surprised, took a short step backwards, eyebrows raised towards him, to see if he'd blow. He didn't. Lol. I had him circle in either direction until he was no longer humping his back up or throwing in little crow hops - until he seemed half comfortable with things. Next I did put weight in either stirrup and stood up on either side, but I never swung my leg over. He was uncomfortable enough with the saddle (prior), and then with my standing in the stirrup, that I felt it would be pushing it too far to actually sit on him and/or have him do something. My main issue is not the crow hopping, that's not an issue, we can always ride that out (though I'd prefer not to - I'd prefer if he did not feel he had to buck!). My issue is how he blocks me out when he gets scared. What I can envision happening is for me to mount up and ask him something, only to have him explode (and this horse has the power and ability to buck hard) and completely block me out, so that I cannot even a) have any chance of control, and b) have any chance at calming him down. It's a long ways down. So my goal is to deal with this in progressive steps. For the most part, we've sorted out all his ground issues - he no longer blocks me out on the ground as part of our regular work. Next is to get him comfortable with the saddle, then with my standing in the stirrup, and finally with my mounting up and us doing work. Piece by piece though. If I push him, I'm going to create a bad impression on him. If I take it slow, he should come along fairly easily and cleanly. I don't know about the next person, but I'm not particularly fond of bruises. Or broken bones. Never had a broken bone yet *knock on wood*, so let's keep it that way.
I had to herd her into the alleyway but once I did, I was once again able to catch her there. I spent a good 10-15 min just getting her comfortable with me and rubbing her all over. Much improved over last session even!
Mustachio man walked off when I first came into the pasture, but once I walked up to him and sort of blocked him a little, he turned and walked up to me and allowed me to halter him without hesitation or trouble. He did well at his games - very well, actually. We did them without tack today and my using my stick to extend my arm. He tacked up fairly nice (and untacked nicely too, actually - we worked on his remaining relaxed while being untacked last session and it seems to have held). He was great under-saddle. His circles are better, his stops are fabulous, his back-up is softer, and his turns on the hind and fore are coming along. His trot was more consistent as well, and his walk was pretty relaxed. He's even straightening out on the left rein, so that he is not arcing so much to the right when travelling to the left. Fab progress!
After getting the three done in the morning, I joined mom for her lesson with Sonny's trainer, down near Millarville and inside the Kananaskis. It was fantastic, she did a lot of things she would never have allowed me to push her to do, and she accomplished a lot! She also had a lot of fun ;) While she rode Sonny, the trainer handed me the keys to a coming-5yo Standardbred mare off the track. I'm in love. Haha. She was a pleasure to work with (we did ground work as well as under-saddle work) and I've fallen in love with Standardbreds. This trainer, from his experiences, feels STB's are more level headed than TB's, that they are less inclined to become "hot" so quickly. Quick interjection here: a Thoroughbred (same as an Arabian, or any other "hot" breed), while challenging and certainly higher energy for the most part (generally speaking), do not have to be 'hot' all the time. They can be worked with in such a way that all that energy is harnessed and channeled, where they are easily manageable and calm. But back to the main story. This little mare has not been off the track all that long and has not been worked under-saddle prior, yet she has only been there a week and a half and is already comfortable and working nicely both on the ground and under-saddle. What a great little mare. As a bonus, I love that Standardbred gait. The fast-paced trot is a little rough, but - I felt, still smoother to ride than a fast-paced "normal horse" trot (ie. TB or QH). The jog is absolutely fabulous - sort of in between a TWH and say a Thoroughbred. It's kind of got this rocking motion to it and you have the feeling you could go for miles at that pace. It was absolutely wonderful. On another note, Sonny looks like he's doing great under-saddle. When I rode him he was very responsive to leg aids and while he's not the softest yet, I think I can have him soft fairly easily and quickly. He was great with mom though, very relaxed and responsive to her.
Last note: I may be riding in the Calgary Stampede Parade!! It's pretty exciting. Twist's owner has offered me the chance to ride with him and his wagon crew. He actually offered me the chance to ride in both the Airdrie Parade as well as the CS Parade, but I don't think I will have the time to ride in both. I have to confirm with him, but if I do take him up on the offer (likely), then I will have to work Silver a good chunk over the next two weeks to have him ready! Pretty exciting though ;P
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Captain Canada (CAN) on the 11yo Dutch WB gelding Redefin placed 3rd and took home $21,500.
Mario Deslauriers (CAN) on the 13yo Dutch WB gelding Obelix R ranked 12 and took home $1,150.
Beezie Madden (USA) on the 18yo Dutch WB stallion Judgement ranked 4th in the derby and took home $17,500.
Leslie Howard (USA) on her 11yo Dutch WB gelding Raimond W placed 9th with $3,000.
Keean White (CAN) on the 9yo Zangersheide* mare Celena Z took 17th place and $650 in earnings.
Jorge Verswyvel (MEX) on his 9yo Warmblood stallion Artifice LS were eliminated for refusals.
Jorge Verswyvel of Mexico (on his 9yo WB stallion Artifice LS) and Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil on the 10yo Holstein stallion Champ 163 were each eliminated for refusals.
I felt the 'worst' horse/rider combination (placings aside) by far was Jeanne Hobbs (USA) on her 16yo Oldenburg gelding Night and Day 8. Her gelding spent the entire time switching his tail back and forth (never a good sign - often a sign of discomfort, pain, or frustration), and even threw in a buck at the end to further prove his point. He was completely unfocused and the horse/rider team just did not seem to be in sync with one another. Night and Day was pretty uptight and as a result, they left the ring (first to go) with 24 faults.
The most impressive horse/rider combination (again, as far as partnership goes), I felt was Ian Miller - Captain Canada, and the 11yo Dutch WB gelding Redefin. You never caught Ian once sawing on those reins or pulling on that horse's mouth. They were smooth, elegant, fluid, and quiet. They were working like a true team, and it obviously paid off because the pair took away 3rd place and $21,500 in prize money.
The little black mare was first out of the gate today. I actually managed to catch her in the alleyway today, and even had her take a few steps towards me to catch her - great progress!! I spent the next 15 minutes just running my hands all over her and standing next to her (either side) with my arm looped over her back while she sniffed me, just trying to make her comfortable around me. Later, she even followed Twist and I down and grazed around us while we worked!
My Mustachio man was a little more reactive today than he was our last session, but overall he still did well. I've continued using the stick with his ground games now and he continues to progress really nicely. Under-saddle, he bends to a stop nicely on the left side, but not on his right, and today he was particularly spooky on his right side (my lifting the reins, bumping the saddle leathers, etc), so of course we worked a bit on that (and will continue to do so until we've evened out that one-sidedness). His back is okay, but not consistently good. His jog on the left rein was better today though. Overall he was great though. He hasn't been stepping away from me when I go to mount either, the past week or more now. When I go to step down though, he usually nuzzles my foot and then keeps his nose there as I fully dismount, lol. Pretty cute. Also shows his one-sidedness a bit though, as he does not do so on his right side.
The big paint was a little difficult to catch today (took maybe 5 min), obviously he wasn't so keen on sweating it up the other day! I think it was Jonathan Field who said "go out to catch your horse and you find out what he thought of yesterday with you", and it's so true. Today we went through all 7 games - he was much better today even than last session. We also spent some time going back and forth with the squeeze game between me and the fence, working on changes in direction and getting his left side more responsive, getting him thinking rather than reacting and blocking me out - he progressed fabulously! When we finished, he was changing directions nicely and was pretty responsive and calm with my direction on his left side. Afterwards, we just spent a little time hanging out, so that he associates me with good things rather than just simply work!
I particularly focused on being very quiet and very patient with the golden child today. Hard work! Lol. All her games were great and we had very little problem with the circling game. We finished the game when she gave me two consecutive laps at the trot without trouble, which was fantastic! I would like to see her snappier in her responses, but that will take time...at least we're getting the games down nicely (first). I think introducing her to the patterns next week will really help as well. I was pretty tempted to saddle her up today and have to admit to spending the good part of at least 5 minutes looking back and forth between my car (where the saddle was), and Missy. I decided if I really wanted to make an impact on her, on how good she did at the circling game (versus the trouble we've been having the last few sessions), I should stop right there. Also, I wanted to end on such a good note between her and I, as she has been a little difficult to catch. So, we'll leave the saddle work for next week.
We played our games after saddling up, next to my car, before taking off for the arena. It took a bit to get him focused on me, but he finally did for the most part. We worked on a few of the exercises I've been working on with Link and while Koolaid wasn't as good at it as Link is, I had to remind myself that Link's had a lot more work on him than Koolaid has this year. Koolaid did fabulous, but I'd like to see a little more umph, more responsiveness to my leg aids, and a more even rhythm at the leg yield. We ended on an excellent note with more of all of the above and a lot of engagement. We also threw in a little canter to our session, which was very nicely balanced and engaged and consistently on the correct lead! A great session for essentially the first actual work (where we worked on something specific) of the year!
My my my, Silver and I have a lot to work on! Haha. He was pretty zippy under-saddle, but this is also his first real go at a regular schedule under-saddle too. His jog needs to, well, be a jog (too forward), his canter needs to slow down to a lope akin to something you'd see in a WP class (but still 3-beat, haha!), and I'd like to see more bend and softness in him!! He wasn't all that focused with me today either, but that's to be expected after my neglecting to work with him for so long! I should also be introducing both him and Koolaid to the patterns...maybe next week when I do it with Missy. He was pretty responsive to leg aids though, for the majority of the session I actually rode him with the reins looped around the horn. Still a ton of work, but we finished with some nice trot rollbacks and a very soft, droopy-reined back-up. I have been contemplating taking up reining, just for fun, but *ugh* there are only 24hrs in a day. I'd love to work cattle and maybe team pen on him, I definitely miss the cattle work with him! For now I guess we'll just focus on being the best we can be, which is a continuously evolving and lengthy journey.
Wow, I got out there today expecting Link to be all fired up from his 4 days off, but he wasn't! He was actually relaxed as can be!! We played our 7 games and patterns (trot on either side at the weave!) on the 12'...mostly because I was too lazy to actually walk over to the arena fence where I'd lain the 22' and snap it on. Hey, in my defense, it was 8:00 and I'd already spent the last 5 1/2 hours working 6 other horses, lol. I was tired. Under-saddle, he was fantastic. He was pretty impatient to get started and had, as per usual, quite the walk on him, but to start (during our warm-up), he picked up a nice long trot that was pretty relaxed for the most part. We did a bit of a different warm-up today, with lots of relaxed work at the walk and trot, just large figure-8's across the entire arena and just using the entire arena rather than doing smaller circles and such. I also interspersed a lot of loose-rein walking time into our session. Otherwise we essentially did the same exercises we've been working on as of late (time to throw in a few new ones!). He was very good, though I felt maybe he didn't have as much engagement as usual. Also, he was actually quite sluggish near the end - to the point of refusing to pick up the trot on a 10m circle, particularly when circling to the right. We hadn't worked hard at all and it was a rather short session (45 min). So I'm not sure if he's just really 'improved' and thus relaxed, and that that trail ride Monday did a lot for my partnership with him, or if something is up? He seemed like he could perhaps be ever-so-slightly off on his right shoulder, so if he continues I'll have the chiro out to check up on him. I didn't push the issue of the trot and just waited for him, as I wasn't sure all that was up. Otherwise though, he was absolutely fantastic!! Calm for the most part, but still with lots of energy (most of the time) and very in sync with me - it was perfect. I really focused on keeping my shoulders loose, my hands light as birds, and my legs constantly communicating to him. It was great, I felt we both did well :)
Someone had said on one of the blogs around here that we stop just simply spending time and such with our horses, as we did as kids. Kids are always running about, braiding their horses' manes for no reason in particular, carting their ponies grass, just spending time in the pasture playing with them, etc. Seems as adults, much of that disappears as we focus on workworkwork. We tend to see time spend just hanging out with our horses as time lost that could have been better put to use working on that 20m dressage circle, on that reining pattern, or on that course with the oxer, rather than time well spent deepening the relationship with our horses (which, ironically, furthers our work with them). I really took that to heart and have been trying to spend more time just chilling with my horses. I was thinking soon here maybe I'll just bring a lawn chair out and let Link graze a bit in the hayfield. Or take Silver or Koolaid out for some grazing time too (they might not appreciate it as much though, as they get to graze on long grass several hours each day, hahaha). Today I spent a good 10 minutes or so just toddling back to Link's pasture, letting him graze here and there, then carting grass back to him while he waited at the gate after I'd returned him to his pasture (his pasture is all grazed down to short stubby stuff). I haven't toted grass to a horse for awhile, so it was fun, and Link sure seemed to enjoy it ;P
Aaaah, for a day off now before another crazy week of horses! Oh, last neat thing to point out, while I worked both Silver and Koolaid someone was shooting something nearby (couldn't see them)...neither horse so much as glanced in the direction of the noise as numerous shots were fired. It was neat to see both so cool-as-cucumbers whilst shots rang out around us.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I finally actually feel like Twist is a real bona fida saddle horse! Today he came running in with everyone else (the lead mare, the little pony I call Nubs almost always comes roaring in to greet me - all outsiders get the once-over by her first, so of course everyone else usually follows) and walked right up to me to be caught (with a few rubs, of course!). We started off today with our grooming session as usual, then tacked up. Yesterday's work using the carrot stick and just throwing in some small things really cleaned up today's ground games! He was pivoting on his hind end quite nicely and on a very light touch today, was very responsive to the driving game, and overall just did excellent with all 7 games. So, time to mount up! No bucks whatsoever today, he was much more comfortable under-saddle. A few instances where he felt the need to scoot his bum beneath him quickly, but that's about it. Our session today consisted of working more on all our basics in the pens. We worked on walking relaxedly, halting (he eventually did it from a trot when I relaxed my seat!!), circles on the rail, figure-8's, turns on the hind and fore (not so pretty today, I was right yesterday in thinking that he hadn't quite picked it up yet...yesterday's success can be attributed to his wanting to move his feet and my setting him up correctly to succeed, but today he didn't fully understand and was relaxed enough to not feel the need to have to move his feet about), back-up, and trot! His jog was relatively relaxed (after a few strides) to the right, but on the left rein he kept arcing his body to the right, so we worked quite a bit on that side at getting it straighter (which will come more once we've developed leg aids as well) and just more relaxed overall. The arcing is simply because he is tense and feels the need to watch that side (for Velocoraptors, of course - never know when they might pop out), once he relaxes he'll be a little more straight and supple. Establishing leg aids will also help me later at developing a better bend in him. We finished on an excellent note with a horse that is pretty confident in the basics. Though he is only meant as a trail horse, all that we have been practising thus far remains important because it serves to develop him into a more confident, relaxed, and thinking (as opposed to reactive) partner under-saddle, even if his rider say, never asks for a single turn on the forehand in the future. It's not about the exercises and maneuvers themselves, it is about the mind those exercises and maneuvers (challenges, learning experiences) develop, thus making him a (potentially!) successful horse under-saddle.
The big paint pony is hanging out with Gypsy, who is still terrified of people, so of course when she got all hyped up over this red-haired version of a Velocoraptor, so did he. He wanted nothing to do with me today, despite his laid-back ground sessions the last few days. So I trotted him on down into one of the smaller pens and roundpenned him. It took a bit, but pretty soon figured out I was the good guy: stand next to me and you don't have to work, run amok like some chicken with its head cut off, and you run around the pen on a sweltering hot day. He voted for option #1 rather quickly and was soon following me about. His ground games (all 7) went well, though today we stumbled across some future work for us and a possible reason for his prior poor behaviour under-saddle (for his owner). Fear. While he's a pretty balanced horse, has a relatively short flight path (ie. short spook, doesn't go too far), and is not all that reactive, he can at times get into this fear-based mode where he blocks everything out and just flees. Everything, being code for: me. For example, while having him circle, if I want him to turn and face, he might turn and face, or he might just run faster. Or, while playing the driving game and asking him to move his front end away from me (we did finish successfully in the end, with a thinking, responsive horse moving his front end around several steps when I asked) - on his bad side - he would back and back and back, then bolt (despite my not escalating my phases though continuing to quietly ask). During his bolting phase, he completely blocks everything out. No thinking whatsoever. So I'm working on him to first: earn his trust so that he doesn't feel the need to bolt from me, and second: teaching him to think rather than blindly react. I definitely got through to him today and made progress, during the driving game, so I anticipate we will make more progress quickly. He's a smart horse, when he's thinking. We finished the day with a pretty sweaty horse, but overall relaxed - plenty of the lip smacking going on.
She wasn't too bad to catch today, but it did take a few minutes of roundpenning. A few times she actually looked like she wanted to come in, but I sent her out regardless, to further cement what I wanted. She didn't really walk up to me today (optimal), but she did stand and allow me to rub her face, then snap the leadrope onto her halter (we're getting close to the point where we can remove it, after only 3 sessions now - I think I will remove it after a session or two next week). I spent the next fifteen minutes or so just rubbing her and brushing her (uber shiny!) coat. I'm in no rush so we'll work slowly. I think though next week I'll try to wedge a foot into the door of her Buddy List by taking her out for some grazing time. She already grazes 24/7 where she's at, but not the real long nice grass! And I'd love for her to feel comfortable enough around me to graze.
Rather than working her in the arena today, I voted on working her in the pen with her buddies, to see if that made a difference. It didn't. Not really, anyways. She was great with all her games except for the circling game. She'd circle some, then (usually in Koolaid's direction) she'd stop and back. She's a powerhouse, there's no holding her, lol. If she backs, you back with her. Hence, the need for a roundpen! Lol. I tried telling her to back when she wanted to back, I tried just passively backing with her while continuing to ask her to circle, I tried everything. I think what I really need to do are a couple of things. 1. Forget about the fitness plan, or at least forget about doing it for 5 min straight on each side (for now). Maybe have her circle for 5 minutes, rest for 2, then circle another 5 (as we've been doing), but doing circles in either direction each set (rather than having her circle in one direction for 5, then the opp direction for the other 5; include both directions in each set of 5). I think she's using boredom as an added excuse. Keep her changing directions. Or, even just forget about so much circling and get her under-saddle and getting fit that way. Or pony her off of Koolaid! 2. Spend more friendly time with her. Since she's come back, she's had 2 weeks to herself really before being tossed into sweaty days in the hot UV rays. No wonder she really could give a rat's a** about me. I'm making her work. Hard. Lazy horse being made to work hard...yea I'm thinking she's probably got a reason to protest circling so much. Maybe just take her out for some good 1-on-1 grazing and rubbing time. So, I'll have to change some things up a bit with her, get her wanting to work with me. I'm proud of the foundation she's got on her and of how much she retained from our work last year, but I need to re-establish that partnership with her. Ugh, so much work. Hahahaha. Whoever said training horses was easy?? I also tossed myself up onto her back, bareback and with a halter, today. I guess I was, y'know, feeling a little like I needed to live more on the edge...what with Twist on such good behaviour now. Man I'm brilliant (jk!). She started at first but relaxed immediately afterwards. I didn't ask her to do anything, but just sat up there for a moment before dismounting. Yup, she'll be fine for some saddle work next week ;P I'm proud of my mare. As much of a challenge she is, I still love her. She's doing a good job and she's teaching me enough to last me a lifetime.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Getting the green horse to stand still when he's yet only just barely comfortable under-saddle...is quite the chore, lol
Twist was okay to catch this session, so we tacked up quickly, played our games, and hit the trails for a good but short ride. This time we took a tour of the entire field, passing by Moustachio's buddies...he was not impressed. He was pretty willing to continue onwards but as we hit the last bit home he started throwing a bit of a tantrum - tossing his head to try and head back to his buddies, then progressing to a little bucking and even rearing. Yea that's about when I decided it was time to dismount, haha. No way in heck I had to stay up there as he continued to escalate. I tried remounting a few times in the field, but Twist had other ideas, so I waited until we left the field to remount. A little trip further under-saddle to end on a good note and we were finito for the day. Hopefully we can look forward to a better ride next ride, though at least we still did make progress today ;P
Looking back towards more Kananaskis country
Back at Wareabouts Ranch, nestled in K-country - where Sonny is currently temporarily residing
Link and I enjoying the ride...well actually I think Link was more or less eyeing up the scrumptious grass beneath his feet at this exact moment...
His herdmates were past us at the gate en route "home"...this is Link panicking as he honestly believes I intend to keep him - alone - in this "wild" and "dangerous" forest. Racehorse meets wild country alone. And panics. Lol.
Link eyeing me up at the trailer after our ride. This horse "bounced" in the trailer the entire ride here. 3-hour ride later...no bouncing. He was quiet the entire trip home, haha.
First day back with the horses after exams!! Mom and I hauled Link out to where Sonny is currently at, out in Kananaskis country, for a solid 3-hour ride through the mountains! I wasn't sure how Link would handle it, but he did awesome. He walked over roads with creeks passing beneath, walked over a long (approx. 25'?) and narrow (like 4' wide) wooden bridge over a wide and rushing creek, passed through three wide creeks (he rushed the first one but by the last one, the widest and deepest, he walked through completely relaxed), made his way up and down muddy hills, went through fields of cattle, and made his way over all sorts of rough ground (which seemed to surprise him at first - what? ground isn't always flat?? LOL). What a great horse! He was pretty energetic - as usual, but there was so much to keep his mind busy so for the most part he was pretty relaxed (loose rein, low headset, etc). A few anxious episodes the odd time I asked him to keep his feet still, but that's to be expected. All in all Link completely wowed me, completely blew me away. He handled it much better than I had anticipated and - as my mom pointed out to me - he was pretty tuned in to me, which was great!! The first couple of logs he walked over he accidentally tapped with his toes but after that he was much more careful with his feet and rarely touched another log lol.
Sonny back at the trailer later
Sonny did fabulous as well, he seems to really be coming along nice with the trainer who's got him. And, joy, mom listens to him (the trainer) haha, so not only is Sonny benefiting from all the mountain riding, but she is being pushed to do things she wouldn't do if it were just her and I. Sonny handled everything beautifully with a calm head. I'm going to take him on for July and put some additional work onto him, including (hopefully) some dressage work. The guy working on him now doesn't think he's all that smart, but I personally think it's simply lack of motivation and immaturity on Sonny's part. When I do teach him he picks some things up quickly and other things...he just doesn't pick up at all. But I think it might be because he just doesn't care. Like how he raced, lol...or failed to. So, how do you motivate him? My other horses and others I've worked with, I don't have that problem. You develop a partnership and they want to work with you, it just comes. But Sonny seems to just. not. care. Sometimes too I'll be working with him and he'll just completely play around, bolting and squealing on the ground, rather than work with me. *sigh* So we'll see if we can't get him motivated, or if it maybe comes with age? Or with a job (cattle?)? We'll see.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Sunny, investigating my saddle. On of my June horses belonging to the neighbour of the property where Twist's owner keeps some of his horses. He's a registered Paint gelding, about 8 or 9 years old, in for a tune-up...aka ground work and some miles under-saddle.
The yearling colt I've dubbed Pip. He's a Welsh x Arabian, a brother to the filly behind him. He was unfortunately injured as a foal when he went over backwards - too bad, especially considering he is such a looker!
One of the cute little pony fillies chilling with Twist. This one's cute as a button, but not very tame yet.