Sunday, June 14, 2009

Taking the time it takes.

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 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.

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