Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Of molding horses

Partially because I was lazy and didn't feel like changing reins on headstalls carrying different bits, partially because I wanted to see how he would be, I actually rode Sunny in a curb bit today. Not typical, but, I was interested to see if there was any difference in his work. I was pretty sure he had been ridden in a curb before, and the curb I was using (the same as what I use on Silver) is very similar to the snaffle I have been using - so I figured no harm no foul. He actually worked pretty much the same in the curb, which was interesting. More work needed in a snaffle before he moves up into a curb for refinement! Lots of circles and patterns at the trot today before calling it a day - he did well!. Not much suppling, but he was responsive and fairly relaxed. I should be able to get one more work in tomorrow before he goes on the trip with his owners this weekend.

Gypsy was a little fearful when I first came in to work with her, but quickly settled down. We picked up all four feet, rubbed her all over, and played 6 of the 7 games - the usual. She was very good though and stood still much of the time - no fleeing about ;)

Thanks to her (minor, but still existent) injury, Missy earned another day off. I expect her to be back in commission by the time I return from my first bout in Tomahawk though :) Pretty minor, but Link was a great customer today, standing nice and still throughout his grooming session - quite the effort for a high-energy toddler, lol. I was tempted to ride him, but saved the last remnants of my energy for Cody and Silver. Link will get his fair share of work in Tomahawk ;)

Silver was fantastic, as usual - super responsive to my leg aids, ultra light on the bit (worked off a heavily looped rein), and awesome flying leads to boot. Spins weren't the greatest though, but we're working on it. So much of it is also me asking properly and my setting him up right - I am no professional reiner and so am doing my best to teach him what I barely know myself in that sense. I'd love to take some actual reining lessons. Of course that would be in between the dressage lessons with Link (maybe Koolaid too) and eventually the jumping lessons with Link as well...oh and I'd still love to do some team penning with Silver. Not enough time to do everything when you want! I guess I'll just have to settle for doing it all over an entire lifespan, haha. It's so nice working with such a light and responsive horse though, you just lightly pick up the reins and touch his sides with one leg and vloom he bends himself around it, touch him with a forward outside leg and boop, he switches direction on a dime. I don't even recall the exact details of how I ask him everything, we just sort of flow into it. It's like molding a clay pot or something - so light, so pliable. I love it! Sometimes I feel like such a student on him, like he already knows it all and is just waiting for me to catch up and ask it of him properly!

While Silver sweated it up nervously by himself tied outside the indoor ring but still within the barn (boy needs to cool those quick heels of his and learn a little more patience, lol), Cody and I played around a bit (with him saddled). He was much quieter today, tossing the savvy string over him by way of the carrot stick and even allowed me to keep him a couple feet away whilst tossing away. He was a little leery of the stick being waved around his head though, so we worked on that a bit as well until he was comfortable just ignoring the stick (just waving it rhythmically towards his head and upper neck until he forgot its existence) - which was pretty quick. This horse has got quite the head on his shoulders despite all his past history and trepidation as a result, which is refreshing to work with. The rest of his games were great, including some circling at the trot even. He let me up into the saddle today without any hesitation, and we just did some basic walk/trot/back-up/figure-8's. He's very responsive and light (wearing the rope hackamore) to minute directional requests, but dragging smaller figure-8's out of him was much harder. Not much suppleness and relaxation there yet. His back-up got lighter and better just over a few requests though. Not sure if he was ever taught leg aids or not, as he seems to somewhat respond to them, but if he does know them, he certainly is not all that light with them! He's sort of got a mind of his own at times but he is quite willing overall - I think once we've got him light and supple he'll be working like a pro. He definitely seems to want to please and do as you wish, he's just working on figuring things out! Another thing I am keeping in mind is that as the fear dissipates, we will have to make sure we keep a good level of respect up, else he'll be fearlessly trodding all over us ;) So far he seems to understand to stay out of my space and such, but obviously we have to always keep that in balance and carry it up into the saddle ;)

So, as it stands tonight, we are leaving for Tomahawk tomorrow evening, so we'll see what comes about. I'm anxious to get on the road! On the other hand though, the more I work with the horses here, the less days I have to return for later. If I put in another good session tomorrow with 'em all, I can already return for three days rather than four, which is what I had originally wanted.

Over-analyzing and catering to horses

Part of training horses is learning how to negotiate each specific horse - learning their quirks and how to work with each horse as an individual...tailoring your method to suit each "horsenality". Each horse has a different way of learning, a different way of interpreting things, different needs and wants, etc.

With Missy, this means keeping my hands soft - earning respect from her but remaining soft and quiet. With Sunny, this means never fighting with him and making things his idea (which is actually very common with horses). Try to fight with the big bugger, and he will make sure that you lose. Little wee bit of stud horse left in that one, lol. Today it also meant changing how I use my leg aids on Sunny. For the last while I have been desperately trying to teach him to be supple under saddle, and to bend around my leg. A number of factors, I feel, have contributed to his reluctance to do so. A stiff jaw. A stiff body that he is insistent remains straight as a board for quick prey flight. The distraction of working outside. A studly brain. Who knows what really goes on in that head of his - deciphering a horse's thoughts can be one of the most difficult parts of my job! Another factor I figured out today though, seems to be how I use my legs. Typically, I slide my outside leg forward just slightly to cue the horse into a circle, tip the horse's nose in a little towards the center of the circle, and apply pressure with my inside leg to bend the horse into an arc and to ask them to lift their shoulder. Sunny seemed to be ignoring my cues to bend his body much of the time though; he easily responds to an outside, directional, leg cue, but have him bend around an inside leg? Not happening. So today I changed things up a little. I still held my outside leg to ask him into the circle, but I lightly bumped, or rolled my heel, against his inside - as if I were wearing a spur. He instantly moved out. Admitedly not all that consistently, but still, it is a start! So, that was the basis of today: lots of circles at the trot, working on bend, working on leg aids (directional), and sharpening up our stop (I drop my reins and "stop riding", he halts). He's coming along well. One more day and I'll be out (hopefully); his owners will take over this weekend, and I will return for a last couple of days on him next week.

Speaking with Twist and Gypsy's owner today, he seems very happy with Twist (he took Twist out to the mountains and had a very successful trip), and also seems very happy with Gypsy's progress. I was convinced he would not be happy with where she is at, that he had higher expectations of her, but he's just as convinced as I am that someone has delivered that little filly a good beating, and is just really happy he can catch her! I've got her now picking up all four feet, am slapping ropes all over her, having her move off of pressure (both tactile and body language), having her walk between me and the fence, having her circle around me quietly, and having her yo-yo away and back to me. She has come a long way. I recommended her owner continue with her all that he has been doing (even take her out to the mountains and pack her - his idea but I completely agree the experience would be beneficial to her), and then start her under-saddle next year. By then she will be a little more built and will have some better experiences with people under her belt. A couple more sessions with her - one tomorrow and the rest next week, and she will be done as well. I could continue her work, but I feel her progress would be so slow her owner would be better off just to continue what he is doing, rather than paying me to accomplish essentially the same (or similar) to what he can accomplish himself. By next spring she should be more relaxed and desensitized to people for better progress.

Missy and Cody have been goin' at it a bit over the fence (pipe fencing, with thick wire mesh in between the top pipes, surrounding Missy's paddock), and Missy seems to have paid a bit of a price with her violence towards said fence. I came out today to see a few nicks on a front leg, as well as some larger hairless schemes on her right hind. It appeared a bit puffy (the hind) and when I touched it, it felt warm to the touch. When I asked her to move out on it she was not really lame, but I could tell she was just a tad sore on it. So, I gave her the day off. It was minor and appeared superficial enough that she probably could have done w/t, but no sense in creating a cranky horse because she's feeling a little sore and resents having to work. As I cold-water-hosed the cut, she darted about, so she ended up getting a whole bath. Her skittish reaction to water has now henceforth earned her a bath after each work so that we can desensitize her to bathing. Maybe she will appreciate water in bath format (pun intended) when she is all sweated up on a hot day? She stays pretty clean, hence the reason I have yet to bath her, but if she is going to a new home, bathing should definitely be on the list of things she does. Such a simple task that most people expect a horse to have ;)

Silver did great tonight - just a quick little work on the norm. I rode him in a different (better fitting) saddle though and felt he was actually quite rough - he just felt very short-strided to me. So, it's off to the chiropractor for him when he returns. Unfortunately he does have to wait until then, as I doubt very much the existence and availability of a chiro in Tomahawk. Remember: a couple churches, a bar, and a gas station. Tomahawk's entire make-up. I wish I could do it sooner for him. In the mean time, I will have to take it as easy as possible on him. Dad even rode him a little afterwards, in the arena ;)

Fantastilicious was the word of the day for Cody today! Dad is really smitten with him (he says I owe him a horse, since I technically stole Silver as a 4yo back in 1999 from him, haha - at the time, Silver had been intended as dad's new cow horse, but they sold the ranch and Silver went to me when I needed a new horse with more athleticism), lol, and came out to see how he'd (dad, that is) hold up back in the saddle again, with the hopes of riding more this year. Cody and I played around with the first 6 Parelli games, at which he did well. Little nervous here and there, but he is gaining confidence and was much more noticeably relaxed today. If he were a client horse, I would have left off there, but since he is ours, I wanted to see where he was at under-saddle. I can't help it, I was curious to know how fast I could be working him regularly up in Tomahawk. I can just picture him gettin' down low and cutting cattle and can't wait! I was careful not to push him, and to always ensure I had his permission to move on to the next step (last thing I wanted was to create a poor experience for him on our first ride), but he allowed me to carefully saddle him up and to even get up (took a minute, but after a moment or two he stood still and allowed me to step into the saddle, on a loose rein). Once in the saddle, he felt a little unsure to me, but he walked out and even did a little jogging for me, pretty relaxed and with plenty of lip smakin ;) I confess I don't know how the last person(s) trained him (whether through force or not), but he seems to understand leg aids and to want to be fairly soft. At first, he simply walked through my rein aids (using the equivalent of a rope hackamore), but after a moment he started listening to what I was asking. He kept wanting to stick close to Silver for security, but he did really great - I am really looking forward to working with him further! I even rode him outside the arena and up to the tack-up barn afterwards as well - he was quite hesitant and keen on following Silver's lead in the dark, but he never once spooked violently or rocketed out from beneath me. I love it when a horse uses their head and actually naturally thinks through situations. It is fun to teach a horse to think (just to see that transformation from reactive to thinking over time as you work with them), but heck it's nice when they've already got that sort of mind naturally and you can just build further off of it :)

We've been delayed another day and are now supposed to be leaving for Tomahawk with the three horses tomorrow evening. So, wish us luck, and if you don't hear from me (all you three readers, lmao), you'll know I did not actually drop off the face of the earth, but that I am just in Tomahawk, with limited internet access. Talk to ya when I return, if not tomorrow.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Horse rustling

I was not aware of any real horse theft in our area until speaking with the owner of the facility where we keep Link and Sonny regularly (and Silver and Cody for the day or two prior to Tomahawk). She asked us to call and notify her should we find ourselves on the property at some abnormal hour, to pick up the three horses we are taking to Tomahawk. The reason being that there have been a number of thefts in the surrounding area, and if she knew her dogs were barking because of us, she could simply ignore the false alarm, but if they started up barking and it wasn't us, then she could be prepared to investigate. I am thankful she is putting in such an effort to keep our horses safe, but just the fact that there have been thefts in the area is turning me into some nervous Nelly. Are people actually turning a profit from stealing and selling horses? Are these horses not later identifiable at a show or sale? I can only figure that most go to meat, but is there really that much money in that, up here in Alberta, Canada?? Nonetheless, it is one of the reasons I try to keep quiet the exact location of our horses, even when speaking to other horse people in the area. I do not delude myself that they are so immensely valuable that someone would hunt them down with info I provided and steal them, but those horses are valuable horses to me - as members of the family, as partners, and as teammates, and I take whatever precaution I can as a boarder to keep them safe as I can. I feel nervous enough posting photos of them, but a larger part of me refuses to restrict my life so fully, to allow what I do to be controlled by some unethical horse rustler. You have to weigh out the risks though.

But, back to a much sunnier topic. Horses.

Ah, long but satisfying day (horses just have a way of making it so). Sunny was my first victim of the day, after I ran around town like a chicken with my head cut off, attempting to get the things done I needed to. Luckily for the big paint man, it had cooled off some by the time I got out to him come late afternoon. We just did some light work in the paddocks, with a lot at the trot. I used lots of leg aids, he pretended to not know what I was talking about, and we all had a fantastic trip. Well actually, he does respond to leg aids when using your outside leg for directional cues, but trying to have him bend around an inside leg was like trying to tell concrete to be supple. Just not all that effective. He is going to need a lot of rides from his owners before he starts relaxing enough to not feel the need to keep his body so straight. He has come along real well and is pretty comfortable under-saddle, but just is not quite there yet. I tried out a new bit on him though (a D-ring shaped snaffle with a roller and low, non-collapsible port) - he seemed a bit more responsive. I showed his owners though how he "works" - ie. how to get him to stop on a loose rein (relax in your seat), etc. I am hoping to work him maybe Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for sure of this week. I am hoping to be back from Drayton Wednesday, but may not be back until Thursday. His owners will take him to the hills this next weekend, and I will finish up his days (3 or 4 left afterwards) on my next way through from Drayton (I plan on returning once a week to work Missy three sessions per week).

Gypsy's owner has been taking her out and just grooming her, and has confessed to me her new easy catcheability, which is great! I still have a bit more trouble catching her than I think he does, I think mostly because to her I represent work and also tense sessions where we push her boundaries. She will still walk right up to me, just not in the larger paddock I typically find her in. Today was another great session with her though, playing 6 of the 7 Parelli games. She was a little more fearful today than usual, but progressed a lot. I was slapping her lightly all over with ropes, asking her to circle, and even asking her to squeeze between me and the fence - albeit hesitantly, she performed it all brilliantly.

Another shorter session with Missy today, since she did so well! I finally have convinced her to canter (on the ground) on the correct lead on a 28' circle (I move my feet a little with the 12' line) on the left rein...and, well, we're working on things on the right rein. She has this affinity for cross-firing on that lead that we are trying to work out, and she is not all that balanced in that particular direction. Under-saddle I actually left behind my friend Ms. Dressage Whip, whom I typically use to back up my requests or as an extension of my arm to communicate more clearly to her. She was very high energy and gave me a lot of respect and impulsion at figure-8's, serpentines, and circles that included some consistent collection and balance. Her trot-canter transitions were relatively snappy, and the canter itself was great in the one direction and okay (I could feel her cross-firing) in the other - I cannot recall which reins, however I assume they were likely the same reins as on the ground. I have to admit that I find her canter a little difficult to sit yet at times, as it is mostly very unbalanced yet (though improving with each session) and her movement is so huge. It's sort of akin to riding a T-rex, or at least something that has a stride the size of a small country. Canter Missy in the open and you can almost laugh at the ease with which you are able to sit that giganturarian stride. The arena, however, presents a whole other story, because she is yet unbalanced... it's coming though!

I meant to ride Silver and to even try out Cody, but by the time dad and I were finished with pedicures, I was wiped and it was 930pm, the night before Christmas. Christmas being my heading up to Tomahawk sometime in the early hours tomorrow morning. Or that's the plan, anyways. All I know is that we have to be in Tomahawk as early as possible so as to round up some large number of high-headed, snotty-nosed yearlings so that they can make sale Wednesday. Oh, and of course these impossible-to-round-up yearlings are on a large parcel of land. Of course. I believe we may also be moving another herd? So dad kindly came out and pulled Silver's shoes for me; he tweaked my trusty grey's feet post-shoe-removal prior to moving on to Link the (nippy) Dink. Link was actually very pleasing with his feet as they received a little touch-up prior to the trip, but I cannot say the same for his playful I'm-a-toddler teeth. Lippy, nippy, he was acting like a kid in their terrible two's. I think someone has been getting too much feed and too little work as of late. Uh huh. Well, big man's about to be hit hard with some work. Goodbye days of heavenly feed and lounging about in the sun, hellooo days of heavenly feed earned by grime, sweat, and blood. Welcome to the real world, Link ;)

So for now, it is goodbye posts for a couple of days. I am sure though that by the time all you three readers realise I am gone, well, I will be back. With incriminating photos of stealthy yearling cattle hitting the bush. 'Til then.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Photo extravaganza

Yup, I figured it was about time to put up those photos I have been hoarding as of late ;)

A farm down the road from where Sunny, Twist, and Gypsy reside raises Belgians. I propose there is nothing cuter than a heavy foal ;)

A cow-calf I miss working cattle regularly - can't wait to get back at 'er!

Some fields belonging to Sunny's owners

Cody Aug 22, 2009

Yesterday we picked up the new horse, Dakoda a.k.a. Cody. He is probably about 14.2 or 14.3hh (I will try sticking him tomorrow) and, as previously mentioned, is a 2003 unregistered Paint gelding (lots of QH blood obviously). When I originally went out to assess him for possible training, his owner took a good 15-20 minutes to catch him, I think largely in part because I was standing there - the entire time he spent with his ears on me (the stranger). He wouldn't walk through the arena door that I held open, and he backed up when I tried to touch him. Once in the arena, he stood shaking and his manure ran out almost pure water due to his nervousness, poor guy. Eventually as I worked with him, he became comfortable around me, to the point of even seeking out to be near me and standing near me, head lowered.

Cody visiting with Link over the fence

Cody checking out mom's horse Sonny - he looks like such a pony next to the two big horses!

He loaded great yesterday! I walked him around the trailer a few times before suggesting to him to follow me in, which he did on a loose rope! I turned him loose upon arrival at his new temp home (he will stay there a couple of nights before heading up to Drayton with Link and Silver) to buddy-up in a pen with Silver and re-caught him a little while later. He was a little hard to catch, but I had him caught in under 10 minutes (sans bribery), after which he proceeded to suffer a full grooming session - bridle path, trimmed tail, clean coat, the works ;)

The little painted pony patiently stood tied while I worked Silver under-saddle in the outdoor ring - he (Silver) was a little excited to be working in a new place but did well. We are working on achieving even more balanced, collected gaits, some quality spins, lead changes, and rollbacks right now...and will be for awhile, lol. "Good, better, best, never let it rest."

Today, we did much of the same, though in the indoor arena this time, so as to escape the heat. Each day we work is an improvement, including some fantastic lead changes today. He's definitely ready for a job though, I cannot wait to get him up to Drayton (well, Tomahawk, specifically) and working cattle - little man's gonna love it!

Nothing like a good roll after being thoroughly cleaned up!

Gettin up to take care of the other side...Aly pup in the background, off to hunt whatever lives beneath the ground

Afterwards, I introduced Cody to 5 of the Parelli 7 games in the outdoor arena and even ponied him about a little on Silver. Of course he was a little skittish, but he did well throughout and seems to learn quickly and easily. Cody did fantastic in today's (indoor) session as well, he seems to be picking up on the games very quickly. So far, the following are my findings:

Yesterday was an outdoor session, during which Cody behaved "normally"; the minute I tied him up in the indoor arena today however he started shaking fearfully. I left him alone to work with Silver in the arena and while he never fought being tied, he was very restless and jumpy. Something about being in an arena (even when tied close to the large open door) seems to shake him up some.

Friendly game - Cody seemed particularly wary of the carrot stick and savvy string indoors but eventually tolerated it touching him and even being tossed over him provided I was standing close
Porcupine - he is starting to move his feet around, including his front end, with lighter pressure, and is no longer resisting pressure to his nose when I ask him to back by the nose
Driving - still a little skittish, but he was moving off my body language and stood still when I relaxed my posture
Yo-yo -
he backs out on lighter phases (today he yo-yo'd back without my getting strong enough in my phases for the lead to jiggle beneath his chin) but becomes very uncomfortable (unconfident) once he's out on the end of the 12' rope. He's like a little squirrel scurrying about out there, so I have been giving him permission almost immediately once he is out there to come back in. We will build him up with longer and longer times out there until he is fully comfortable with it. Coming in (when I even so much as suggest he may come in - when I relax my body and start to lightly comb the rope) he will come in almost all the way but warily stand a couple of feet away from me yet.
Circling - yesterday he would only circle while keeping himself faced in towards me (sidestepping mostly), so I was overjoyed today when he gave me a lap in both directions with minimal direction (we worked up to it from half a lap with a few shots at the game) and walking straight along the circle, even licking his lips. He seems to have mostly figured out what I want and is doing his best to comply to my whims :)
Squeeze - I stood a good 4-5 feet out from the arena wall today when we tried this game for the first time, and after a few minutes of questions from Cody, he haltingly walked through the space, either side.

While Cody does indeed seem to have been abused rather than simply handled a little roughly (mis-management) or someone neglecting to build his confidence, he is very willing to let things go and give building a partnership a shot. We will keep on chipping away at that nervous squirrel exterior until we fully uncover the wonderful horse beneath ;) He is supposed to simply be a project horse, one on whom I was not intent on making a good dollar as opposed to simply finding him a good home (even if it simply meant we broke even) if it came to it, however he is such a nice horse I might have trouble letting go of him! Dad has admitted interest in him as well (I believe "wow, he IS nice" were his words when he first set eyes on him, or something of the like, LOL - tsk, as if I would lie, of COURSE he is nice, I said so!! haha j/k), so we will see, perhaps we can keep him ourselves or at least within the fam.

Missy has been doing fantastic as of late - her whole demeanor is becoming "lighter" and more pleasurable to work with. The beginnings of an excellent partnership forged. Yesterday we ended with a short work after she put so much effort into working willingly with me. She is engaging more consistently, her canter is slowly developing into something with a little more balance, and her lateral work is really coming along quickly. Today we had some prospective buyers out who really seemed to like her. My only qualm with them (should they profess serious interest) is that both riders (mom and daughter) are pretty beginner. Missy is a great horse, particularly for a 5yo - very quiet, bright, and knowledgeable, however I question her tolerance of a beginner rider bumbling about on her? She was great with the girl today, however I only led her around. She could not get Missy to trot out for her (though there were a number of minor factors that likely played a role) and Missy seemed to become more than a little annoyed with the girl's continual asking for her to trot. I recommended them to, if they are were to buy her, continue with their lessons on the horse they currently use and to allow a lot of time - start working Missy very slowly, for rider and horse to become in sync. Also, if they are serious, I want to see them both (mother and daughter) ride Missy by themselves (though at the end of a 22' line is fine) to see how they get along. Even with all this, I am still not so sure that this is the best home for her (though they seem like great, well-meaning people). I can't shake the common saying "green on green makes black and blue" and I don't want Missy to suffer the potential consequences (or for the young girl to be hurt in the process). I started riding Silver as a 4yo when I was only 12 (though I had been riding since 5 or so), and my mom, a re-rider, is getting back into riding on a 5yo off-track Thoroughbred. However while Silver and I turned out a great partnership and mom and Sonny work fantastic together, I am still not convinced that that can be the case for everyone. *sigh* so we will have to play things out. Personally, I would rather Missy go to another prospective buyer in Philedelphia, to live up to her potential as a wonderful dressage horse, where I do not have to worry she be mishandled by an owner's misunderstanding trainer or end up in the wrong hands because green on green made black and blue. This is a great little horse and I really want to see what is best for her. Sometimes it is difficult though, particularly in this economy, because sometimes ensuring what is best for a horse means sacrificing financial means (ie. refusing a high bid to a home and taking the risk the horse might have to sell for less to get her into another home as it remains on the market). BUT, isn't that how abiding by ethics and morals work sometimes? Yet it is always worth it.

Sunny got a good day of groundwork in yesterday, for two reasons: 1- he worked uber hard the previous day, in a 31C oven to boot, and yesterday was another scorcher. 2- he was extremely difficult to catch. The last thing I wanted to do was to take 10 minutes to catch him (and just barely) to work him hard. Because that would have just lit him up with excitement the next time I came out to work him. Henceforth though, he gets no freebies. Hard to catch, my trying to leave a good impression on him or not, he needs another week of trail riding in. Hopefully we are blessed with some good weather in which to do so! Today was a day of rest for him (and I!!), so his week-long trail binge will commence tomorrow (though will be split by another day or two off while I am in Drayton). Cowboy up!

My little Gypsy mare has been coming along, though much slower than even Cody - someone really messed with this poor mare. She too earned a day off today (okay, actually I earned it, she reaped the benefits, haha) but worked hard for it yesterday. While she didn't quite allow me to catch her in the larger paddock she was in, she did allow me to catch her (walked right up to me) in a smaller pen off from the larger one she was originally in. We worked in our square "roundpen" and actually had a very quick session - she whipped through her games easily and pretty calmly. I am hoping we can get some additional progress in over the next week of work left on her before leaving off with her for the year. I am hoping her owner continues to work with her and then has someone (myself or another trainer) work with her next year to lightly start her under-saddle. We'll see. The world of horses, eh.

Link has been eating his little heart out each day via beat pulp mash and seems to have put on a few pounds. Heck, he even walks up to me regularly now - no walking across the pasture to get him. Today I was on the phone and accidentally even walked right past him to, a minute later, find him hunting me down, lol. I have just been too busy to do any work with him and so have put off progress with him until I get him out to Tomahawk with Silver and Cody. There, we should get in a lot of work. I feel terrible for leaving Koolaid behind, but I can only take so many horses. Poor man has been horribly neglected attention-wise though. I keep telling myself though that you can only do so much, and that I will be able to do more with all the horses once we have our own property and I do not have to resort to spending so much time driving to all the horses. I hope I am right, and I hope that in the mean time our horses remain as happy as I am trying to keep them. We're doing our best!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Using the weather to your advantage

Today we hit 31C - at that temperature, my jeans started sticking to me and I could swear I was about to melt. Oh, that was just stepping out of the truck. Nevermind grabbing a horse, saddling him up, and heading out on a ride!

Sunny was my first horse of choice today. To start, we did very limited groundwork - a little as we walked in from his pasture, and a little circling as I tightened the cinch in stages prior to mounting up. Poor Sunny was sorry, I am sure, that he had fluffed up a winter coat when it turned cold on us a couple of weeks ago! Poor guy was absolutely dripping by the time we returned from our ride, and that was just keeping things at a walk!! His owner, on another mare, and I headed through one of their canola crops (destroyed by the terrible storms two weeks ago) to eventually skirt a ravine. It was a nice ride, and it wasn't long before you grew accustomed-ish to the heat. Sunny was fantastic - he stepped right out and never put a foot wrong. I was very proud of him. I think we will do mostly "arena" work the next two sessions, then when I return from Drayton (he will get a day or two off) after this weekend, we will do more trail riding (6 days left when I return).

Gypsy was great and even allowed me to catch her again without roundpenning her. On previous occasions, it is not that I had to roundpen her, but I chose to - I didn't want to have to walk up and catch her while she was cornered, I wanted her to come to me or at least stand and allow me to walk up, which is what she has been doing the past two sessions. We played our "usual" 5 games:
Friendly - she is now allowing me to touch her everywhere, hind legs inclusive. I have even been applying a bit of pressure on them, in prep for having her pick them up for me (almost there!). She also allowed me to swing the end of my rope over her back, neck, and around her hindquarters and legs. Lastly, I also played around a lot with her head, including waving my hands around her head to the point where she no longer flinched.
Porcupine - she is no longer exploding and is now backing and moving her hind/fore almost perfectly!
Driving - she's always been a bit leery about my driving her front end around, but today she moved her front around (both sides) very nicely and very calmly - I have to keep my body language very "quiet" though when asking her; it takes so little pressure to ask her to do something.
Yo-Yo - little mare seems to have this one figured out! We yo-yo'd back and forth three times, with her backing up when I wiggled my forearm (but the lead at the bottom of her chin was not yet moving whatsoever), and coming in when I relaxed my posture - sweet!
Circling - she still circles with her body mostly arced so that she can watch me, but she is starting to relax and straighten out her body as she understands what I want. Today was the first day I stood still and allowed her to walk behind me, as opposed to following her movement with my body. We did 6 sets of about 2 laps, 3 sets in each direction, before calling it a day.
Last game we played was the squeeze game, though mostly just to see where she was at (I was not even sure she would do it, and was pleasantly surprised when she did). I stood at the opening to the gate and pointed her through (a gap of approx. 4 feet). She hesitantly followed my lead, then bolted through the last couple of feet and spun around. I remained relaxed and didn't even turn around to face her and close the gate until she'd had a moment to breathe, which seemed to help her relax a little.
Overall though, she did excellent. Plenty of chewing and lip-licking, and even some cocked hind leg as she rested and relaxed!

Missy was my last student of the day (too tired to work Link, though he did get fed his mash of course - big kid's just lovin' life now, extra feed and everything, without even having to work for it! lol). We worked in the arena some, first on the ground of course - I worked hard at keeping her respect level and thus impulsion up and worked her on the patterns her second time (figure-8 and some circling game extensions). I also cantered her on the circling game - trying to gradually teach her to balance herself at the canter on the ground, so that she can do it under-saddle. Under-saddle she was pretty responsive - we worked on w/t/c (her canter was better today - a little more balanced and a snappier transition into it when we first went for it) as well as some lateral work (leg yield, sidepass). The lateral work was a little rough (not rhythmic or fluid and such) but will improve as we continue to work on it. Her turns on the forehand were much smoother today - the smoothest and best they have ever been! Lastly, we also worked on engaging and rounding on circles, which she did nicely when I worked in the proper position (lol). I had to be extremely diligent about keeping my entire body soft (including my hands, shoulders, and legs), shifting my weight appropriately, and keeping my reins short and hands in the proper positions! I really concentrated on staying soft with her today, and as a result, she also stayed soft! Her back-up was brilliant, and she was much keener on letting me up on her back even today; usually I mount-up in the arena (she does still stand nicely), but today she allowed me to mount from a mounting block (last few times she stands sideways and will not let me up), which sort of required "extra" permission from Queen Bee herself ;) We did not work too long in the arena before we hit the trails (1 - I do not want to sour her and 2 - she did so well I wanted to reward her and make sure she was enjoying being worked, it can be very important to impress upon a horse at times just how well they did). The weather by this time was absolutely beautiful - the lowered sun was not beating down on us so hard, yet it was still very warm. While we were still in sight of the barn, she was pretty hesitant - not fighting me at all, but just hesitant in her strides (and constantly looking back). No whinnying though and no refusals to move forward or such. Once we were out of sight of the barns and then later headed back, she strode right out. She was calm, relaxed, and willing - it was great! Riding her out in the fields though definitely caused me to directly notice her huge movement!!

So, that was it for the day! Tomorrow we are picking up the new horse, Cody, as well as Silver. Both horses will be brought to the same facility Missy and Link (and Sonny) are at. Then hopefully Sunday Link, Cody and Silver will be headed to Drayton. I will follow them up and stay in Drayton a day or two to work cattle and repair fences prior to returning home for a week to finish up training with Sunny and Gypsy. Then it is back up to Drayton, for the month of September. I will likely be down weekly though (3 days a week approx.) to keep Missy progressing. More explanations on the title of this blog at The Perfect Horse ;)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New horse: Cody

So I went up to Carstairs today to check out a horse for potential training, only to come home with him! Well, not literally, but figuratively. His owner had been contemplating either selling him or training him; possibly selling because she wasn't sure his (very severe) fear-based issues could be fixed (though I tried convincing her to give him a shot). Either way though, she wasn't sure she was suited to him, and finally decided after my visit to just give him up rather than put more dollars into training him. Hence how I acquired the new horse! I pick him up Sunday and will move him out to Airdrie, then hopefully that same day we will haul him and Link and Silver up to Drayton Valley. Silver, because he's my cow pony (how could you go up to work cattle without bringing your best cow pony!??), and Link because I want to keep up his weight gain and overall work. Obviously I am bringing the new horse to work on him and because I feel giving him a job such as working cattle will greatly benefit him.

Details on the new horse:
Dakoda ("Cody") is a 6yo palomino paint gelding, approx. 14+hh. He was initially 'rescued' by an individual up north of Edmonton, who bought him only to get him out of an abusive situation. Said rescuer put 20 rides on him prior to selling him, sight unseen, to the individual I got Cody off of. He is very obviously skittish, particularly of strangers. He is keen to learn though and tends to think through situations already, so it will be fairly easy to take and extend that into all facets of his work and living... I hope. He looks like a very talented little horse though, so I am excited to work with him! I would love to keep him, but I am not sure if that will be financially feasible, so I may end up flipping him, provided he makes the progress I believe he will. I am not overly keen on making a dollar off of him really, but just in finding him a good home. So, anyone interested, I am open to offers. He is not registered though is obviously paint with QH lines. He looks real athletic and like he could spin a real dime or cut cattle real fancy. I will have photos up asap!

So, as for the horses in training today (just two - Sunny and Gypsy, as I took the rest of the day off to chill with the family courtesy of mom's birthday):

He has come along well these past few days - yesterday he was still quite spooky but was pretty decent under-saddle - we even toured around the farm a little after working on w/t/circles/figure-8's etc in the paddock. Today he was 100 times better over yesterday, even. He was a little easier to catch, his groundwork was great, and he went so well under-saddle (lots of trot) that I took him over to his owners for them to give him a shot. Both took him for a tour - walk, trot, circles, and were happy with what they found! He still needs a lot of work at getting him to supple up, but otherwise he is doing fantastic, and his trot is much more relaxed and willing as of late! Tomorrow morning Sunny and I are headed out on a short trail ride through the fields on the property with one of his owners ;)

She's been doing absolutely fantastic lately - today I did not roundpen her at all! She has been working through the first 5 Parelli games - friendly (ropes, touch), porcupine, driving, yo-yo, circling. She is extremely intelligent and gets some of the games immediately; others she needs a little work on to be less reactive. She has come a long way though and is becoming much less one-sided as well. For example, doing the porcupine, turn on the hind, from her off side (her right), she would explode away, whereas now she is actually thinking it through and trying to do what I ask. It is pretty neat to see her progress so rapidly, and at a much quicker rate now!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whatever happened to our summer?

Because I seemed to have missed it. I don't know if I blinked or what, but it's been nowhere to be found. It's August and today it was something like 11C. And muddy. Yesterday, I felt like I was in England - mist hanging over everywhere (all day), delegating a fine layer of wetness to everything it encountered. We even had to withstand a few all-out rainy episodes. Anyways. I had planned on writing a blog per day of training, but I am sick as a dog (bad cold). I sound like a dying seal thanks to a wet cough and I feel like my last remaining days are near. So, all this amounts to one post to cover all of the last few days.

Sunny has been doing very well, from riding out around the yard to continued work in the pen, to just simple groundwork (today) because I had a difficult time catching him. Sometimes doing something on the ground one day can actually progress your saddle work in leaps and bounds, believe it or not. I would explain further, but sick people don't write explanations. So you'll just have to take my word for it that taking a day off to do groundwork can sometimes progress your horse further under-saddle than if you had actually worked him/her under-saddle that day. Sunny has been doing w/t thus far, though only short spurts of trot (I bring him back down whenever I feel him starting to slip his hold on reality). He still has something going on with his mouth - either something bugging him, or he just does not like the added control (?). My thought is the preceding reason, so I will speak with his owners again to make sure his teeth (and chiro alignment) are checked. He has been doing great, but he seems so consumed with something going on in his mouth that often times it is difficult to obtain his focus. We're right on schedule though despite the rainy nasty weather that makes you want to hole-up and never come out again.

Gypsy was progressing and does continue to do so I guess, though just not as quickly as she did the last time I posted. I had hoped that her being kept basically alone in the barn would turn her around a bit by making her more reliable on humans, but she still seems unable to let go of her wariness of humans. Today she was much easier to catch than usual, but she was more explosive on her right (off) side than usual. So far we've worked on desensitization to ropes/halters (friendly game) - I can now halter her after a little work, no problem; releasing to pressure - still a little explosive at times when she's asked to move her right front side around (though she's slowly coming around); yo-yo game - working on straightness now and on draw; circling game - seems to be getting it; driving game - just a little, as we need to really make sure to balance draw with drive...I guess that is about it? All the basics, anyways. I do still roundpen her to get her in tune with me and to catch her (I just send her out of her stall into the "roundpen"), but she is typically ready to come in and work with me rather quickly. I will probably push her a little soon by tying, grooming, and applying the circingle.

Missy was video'd today, though we have to redo the videos tomorrow morning (technical difficulties). She's pretty comfortable and happy now to be doing w/t, and we're working on transitions into the canter. Her canter though is really dependent on balance (as per most young horses), which she does not yet have. She is very comfortable otherwise with the canter though; changing the gullet plates on the saddle (to a wider plate that fits her better) has solved all her grumpy-when-I-canter issues. She's starting to move in a more engaged manner, though it is still a work-in-progress. She is definitely much more willing in the indoor arena though and is even responsive to leg aids indoors. Tons more refinement work to do, but she's got all her basics in. She seems to be doing great in her new "diet pen" and is even happy to see me now, since I offer something for her to do other than just standing around in a dirt pen! Lol.

Link has moved down an entire body score since I was last working with him regularly, being in a larger herd, so he is one of my top priorities right now. I will be out there every day almost to work with Missy anyways, so regardless of whether or not I have time to work with Link (might just progress his on-line and liberty groundwork for now?), I will be feeding him his beet pulp mixture.

Okay, it's off to bed for some much-needed rest. I am really hoping I wake up tomorrow feeling a million and a half times better. Heck, I'd even settle for feeling a little more alive than I feel now. This is absolutely ridiculous. Who invented colds anyways? On the other hand, one good thing about being an EMT: I can check my own lungs. Yup, I said it. I had the wet cough of a dying seal and so checked my lungs earlier today to ensure the congestion had not moved down from my upper airways into my lungs. Good news: nope. This feels like some slow and torturous death. So now that I have complained enough to bore a small village, I will leave you with one last lesson of the day: don't step on your rabbit. Not for fear of crushing said rabbit, oh no, but for fear of thereby losing your toes. Who said rabbits don't do revenge??! Because they never met our Tinkerbell. My toes are just lucky they survived.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trailers and video cameras

I just realised I have written 159 posts between the two blogs! This is post #160 (total). Anyways, I feel like someone has sucked the life out of me, so we're going to make this another short one ;)

Gypsy was my first trainee of the day and she was great! I found her in the alleyways today and so quietly herded her down into the "roundpen". I only ran her a little bit (say 5 minutes?) before she was willing to walk right up to me. It took another few tries though before she allowed me to put a rope on her (we'll work on putting a halter on over time, but she allowed me to put a rope over her neck). I used the rope just to gently guide her here and there - little bumps, little corrections, but mostly I just acted like she was still at liberty. If she wanted to take off, she was free to do so, but I'd use the rope to ask her to come back in again - which she always did. We did the yo-yo game, the porcupine game, some friendly game, the circling game, even some driving game. All a little improvised to accommodate the lasso in place of a halter, but it worked! I had to catch her again later and once again just used a rope (though this time I used the 12' soft rope) looped around her neck to lead her into the barn and into her new stall where she's to stay from now on, during training. It was pretty sweet, as she had never been in the barn before yet she followed me in with little hesitation! Tons of progress today!!

Sunny was great, though he gave me a little attitude under-saddle. We just did a couple of games on the ground before I rode him, once again in the Happy Mouth. He really likes a lot of rein, which I gave him, but he still kept headshaking :S When I asked him to trot, clockwise he got pretty reactive, but we eventually got in several strides. Counter-clockwise (left rein), he actually gave a little buck, though not with much effort. I pushed him through it (in this situation I felt it appropriate) and we trotted a few more strides before I told him he could rest. All in all, he did great though and I look forward to trotting him relaxedly for long periods of time by the end of the week.

Silver was a doll today - we did some curb work prior to some liberty work, all of which he did fab at. We worked on flying lead changes and threw in a little counter-canter work for kicks. Still lots of work to do in those areas but he was great. His gaits were slower and more relaxed as well, almost real WP-like (while maintaining correct-ness, haha) ;) Near the end of the liberty work he got a little grumpy (what's with all this work!?? - I am sure was what was running through his little head) and ignored me a bit, but a couple of corrections with the carrot stick (just holding it out to the side, blocking him) and he was back to humouring me. Afterwards, I had him cart around my uncle, whose horse experience is rather limited - I was pretty proud of Silver when he didn't hesitate to take my uncle about the arena for awhile, despite all the work he had already done. What a partner!

I only rode Koolaid for a few minutes, western and in the Happy Mouth - he did well though at w/t/c with even a little work towards collection thrown in. Later he packed about my uncle's girlfriend - he took great care of her, for which I was grateful :)

We moved Missy to a facility with an indoor arena (where Link and Sonny are at, actually), for a number of reasons. 1. it lends a more professional look 2. she's in a dirt pen and on a diet!! 3. the indoor arena allows for no distractions and for us to work in all weather!!! She was quite grumpy to be ridden today (at the new facility; she was boarded there last year as well), however she did humour me in the indoor arena after a bit. In the outdoor ring she was a mess - she had no intention of doing what I asked. At all. Indoors, she had nowhere she really wanted to go, so she was willing to go where I wanted her to go! She was even relaxing and engaging a bit. I was a little frustrated with her, however I was pretty pleased to see that she was already working better now that she had no distractions. If we work hard and consistently indoors, then we will later have no problem working outdoors either (especially since thus far all our work has been done outdoors) ;) We recorded some of Missy's indoor session on camera today and will do more over the next few days, especially as she settles in!

Today I spoke with Twist's owner to find that he did very well in the mountains - one very happy owner, which is very nice! Sunny's owners are also very pleased with his progress and are greatly anticipating being able to ride him - soon!

That's it! What a long day though, I am wiped. And burnt!! Haha. Tomorrow it's the three as usual, plus likely Link and perhaps Sonny. I will probably have to at least check in on Koolaid and Silver, as Koolaid wasn't so pleased when I took his in-heat mare away. I felt pretty bad, as he started searching all the pastures/paddocks when she left! Poor guy :S Anyways. So horses plus all my other errands, lol. Oh, and sitting in construction for half an hour each direction (no alternate routes). Sweet. Such is life. No rest for the wicked!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Singing to horses: it works!

It has been a long day so I am going to keep this short and see if I can't even type it up in 10 minutes ;)

Sunny did fantastic today working on basics at the walk in the Happy Mouth bit, which he seemed to be okay with. We did a few strides of trot in either direction, but only a few strides, as he was quick to become worried and reactive. I did not want to push things with him and was happy just to get some trot, particularly when he was so distracted by the new device in his mouth. We'll draw out the trot over the next week until we can get some consistency and relaxed trot. I was pretty impressed with him today though, as he came in to start his groundwork quite reactive. He finished relaxed and calm, and remained so under-saddle - not to say he wasn't ready to leap at any leaf falling (hey, it was a windy day, what can we say), but he restrained himself and focused on the work at hand. He came in a right-brained horse and left left-brained, which I was quite pleased with. That is the first time I have been able to continue to work him (particularly under-saddle) while starting out our session with his being right-brained and very reactive. Bonus!

Gypsy did half decent. She approached me several times, allowing me to rub her head/neck/back/barrel/chest and even allowed me to "hug" her in a simulation of putting a halter on. She also allowed me to touch her shoulder with the coiled rope - 6 times each side, all at liberty. What was neatest was at the end I stepped to the side so that I was no longer blocking her exit, all the while continuing to rub her. I wasn't sure if she would take off or not, but in fact she didn't. She actually let out a sigh and visibly relaxed. It was like now she was truly there by her own volition, though she had been at liberty the entire time. Pretty neat! I might play around more with this tomorrow, see what I can get. Another neat thing was that at one point she really tensed up, so I started singing to her in a relaxing voice. She visibly relaxed the moment I started. Once again I'll repeat myself: don't underestimate your voice and its effect on the animals around you ;)

Silver got in a good session while we waited for the individual interested in Missy to come out. We worked in a curb and did some patterns as well as some good rollbacks, though only at the walk. The arena was too deep and wet from the recent hail storm to do any quality rollbacks at the trot. He gave me some excellent turns on the hind/fore, back-up (with slack in the rein), side-step (no reactiveness!), leg yield, etc. All his gaits were relaxed and slow, which was fantastic. He kept cross-firing on the flying lead changes at the canter though so I am thinking either a) chiropractor or b) more work to achieve that perfect change. Finally I removed his bridle completely and just did some liberty work with him - he was awesome and really seemed to enjoy himself! We did serpentines, circles, figure-8's - at the walk, jog, and lope. It was pretty fun. We finished with turns on the fore/hind, back-up, leg yields, and sidepass - all still at liberty. I was pretty thankful he was willing to work with me in such partnership!!

Koolaid's session was rather zippy but we got in some good engaged and rounded circles at the trot and canter. He was pretty focused with his mare being directly in the arena! Hahaha. Though the session was short, he did well.

I did ride Missy for all of perhaps 5 minutes prior to the possible buyer coming out, to work any kinks out. She was a little grumpy but otherwise did w/t/c great, so I left things there. When the prospective buyer came out however, she was even grumpier by that time (though she'd just spent the last hour and a half or so tied up and relaxed next to Koolaid) and even let out a little buck going into the canter. Try telling a buyer your horse does not usually buck going into the canter!! She's got a nice insect bite on her back, so whether that was the reason she bucked or it was because she's starting to go into heat again, or because she simply didn't want to work a second time (even though her first session was so short)...I'll never know. The person really liked her though was of course a little concerned about the buck. They would like me to keep them updated with her progress and in the mean time they will work on selling one of their horses so that they have room for another horse. On my way back home, I received a call from another prospective buyer, a professional dressage trainer from the States, interested in Missy as well, so we will see how that goes. I would like to move Missy to a facility with an indoor arena (and a washrack, though she does seem to keep pretty clean) though so that she can work easier without distractions. Also, keeping her at a nicer facility looks good from a marketing point of view. I'm looking into moving her this weekend, so we'll see... I'd love to be able to keep her alone for a little bit so that she re-attaches to me and starts working more willingly. Wish me luck!

I had intended to work with Link and Sonny today but by the end of the day I was just too exhausted; by the time I wrapped things up with the prospective buyer for Missy, it was 730pm. Tomorrow hopefully we can get them all in - it's going to be a long day!! I have to be up fairly early if I want to get everyone in prior to an engagement in the evening. Bah! When does the busy-ness STOP!!? Lol.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Leave them wanting more

Yesterday. Or the day before now, by the time this gets published. August 8th. Saturday.

First horses of the day were Sunny the paint and Gypsy the little wild-as-a-hare filly (who's filling out and gaining some nice topline!). Apparently Twist did well with his owner out in the mountains, though I have yet to hear of the details from his owner himself. But back to the topic.

I found Sunny chilling with a buddy out in one of the yards - he was pretty easy to catch, which was nice. He was actually very calm, though I'm sure the warm day helped us out a little in that area ;) Games all went absolutely fantastic (better than ever before), including some relaxed walk and jog without any reactiveness. He packed the saddle around during our games and allowed me up to ride him in just the rope halter. We took it easy on his first day back in about two weeks, just basic work at the walk - halt, back-up (some great back-up!), turns on the fore, circles, figure-8's, etc. He's about ready for some bit work (I will try out my double-jointed loose-ring Happy Mouth on him tomorrow) as well as some trot work (this week hopefully). He did great for his first day back from vacay and I look forward to stepping it up with him this week.

My little wild child Gypsy student wasn't quite as keen on being caught, though I easily shooed her into a smaller pen from the large pasture she was in - how I am going to get the Einstein to do it again, I have no idea - so wish me luck! I played with her enough to get her walking up to and following me about the pen a little, which was good enough for me. I had forgotten my ropes anyways, so the rope work that we did last session will have to wait until tomorrow (or, today, rather...sorta after midnight already). I was actually pretty happy to have her walking up to me and seeming to want to spend time with me, so we'll work hard this next 30 days to take that and progress it into something more. The key is to leave them wanting more. Just when your horse starts to get interested, stop. Case in point: this filly wants nothing to do with humans. I started off with her at one end of the small pen, my blocking her exit. When she turned in prep to run past me, I turned as well, so that she had effectively turned towards me, without intentionally meaning to. Then I walked off a few steps. At first she only followed me because she wanted to go in that direction too, but pretty soon she grew curious and started following me to check me out. I continued playing until she was sniffing my back. Then I'd walk off, leaving her wanting more (she'd only just started sniffing and still had more to do! lol). Pretty soon she was allowing me to rub her head (she loves her forehead being rubbed), then I'd walk off, and she'd follow. She was soon allowing me to work the burrs out of her forelock and to rub some of the rest of her body. Progress, even if it is slow. I do feel though that we could be at the edge of a tipping point, where she might trust me enough to start allowing me to do more. We'll see!

Always end on a good note, on a relaxed note with your horse. Pretty soon, what happens last starts happening first. If you end when your horse is relaxed and interactive, and just starting to become interested, you further pique his interest. He wants more! Next time he's looking forward to seeing you, because he wants to continue the mental challenge you started with him last time! It's difficult at times, as humans we get greedy, but it is vital to quit while you're ahead - it can allow for so much quicker progress with a horse. If he does something by fluke and you quit there, rather than trying to force another out of him, he'll soon realise that that fluke is what you were looking for and you will get it much easier next time.

Hopefully that makes sense. Things seem to make better sense in my head sometimes than they do when I actually get them out ;)

The big golden Missy mare was great too, though she wasn't so fantastic to catch - apparently some horses aren't so keen on work?! Lol. It's probably time for just some "fun" time with her, maybe a trail ride to re-gain her interest? She doesn't seem so motivated to learn, which I would obviously very much like to change. I rode her western and we worked on all our usual basics, with focus on respect on the ground first so that we'd have a good level of respect under-saddle. Under-saddle we focused on getting some leg aids - doing liberty work (though I kept the halter on as a safety net) with the carrot stick. She seemed to know what I wanted some of the time, and she's a very brilliant horse, so I found it difficult to believe that she didn't know what I wanted all of the time. Her penchant for the gate makes me think she did in fact know what I was asking, but just wasn't motivated to do it - she'd rather be back in the pasture. *sigh* sort of disappointing. So sounds like more friendly game and just hanging out together is on the agenda. Left-brained, smart horses are fantastic to work with, but are sometimes challenging to motivate! They're so intelligent and they get caught up in working their way out of things, lol. Not that they are not willing, just it can be a little more challenging to work that willingness out of them ;)

Tomorrow (Monday) afternoon I have got someone lined up to try Missy out, and I have already had inquiries since I started advertising her tonight. So, wish me luck that she finds a new home soon, as I would love to head up to Drayton Valley at the end of the month minus one horse to haul!

I would like to look into this guy more in the future, however what I see so far is pretty captivating. From what I understand however if an individual starts using his method, they are asked not to incorporate any other methods or to study any other ways of working with horses, they are asked to fully commit to the Nevzorov Haute Ecole - something I am not so keen on. I am all for learning, however I have a very open mind and do not like to be restricted. Focus on the method you're learning, by all means, however I want to always be a sponge - open to learning everything that is out there. Never follow blindly!

212 The Extra Degree Movie - and there's a book? Watch the short quip, it's very inspiring :)