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.

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