Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January update

It's been awhile since I last posted, since I have been either traveling (Christmas) or at work on the road!! This is turning out to be a busy busy winter, as I had anticipated, and as such, my time with the horses has been relatively limited.

A few changes have occurred re: the horses since I last blogged, though I was only home for a few days prior to having to take off for work once more and so my equine time was limited…

In my quest for an upper-level show jumping prospect (mare), I found a 2002 model Argentinian WB mare and signed a lease with the option to purchase. Unfortunately however I have discovered she has had a couple (undisclosed) prior injuries that make me leery of a purchase, so I decided not to follow through on such. I have removed all previous blog entries pertaining to this mare, at the request (threat) of her owner. So the search continues for a mare, though I feel a little buying-sour at the moment! I am however interested in a coming-3yo mare who is owned by some friends of the family and will hopefully be taking a look at her at the end of February upon our return journey home from the Olympics (she is in BC). She is unstarted, which is fabulous – I can put all the work on without having to undo someone else’s mistakes, and I can be confident that she has not been pushed too hard too fast in any way. We are also looking into likely breeding this mare for an April foal next year. I will post more about her (including photos) upon seeing her and signing papers - until then, I refuse to jinx it, hehe.

The day after I returned home, I spent a little time (at liberty, in the round pen) with Cody before we trucked him out to the facility Koolaid and Silver are at. He was quite difficult to catch however he was absolutely fantastic in the round pen and loaded fairly easily. I was so proud of our boy when we turned him loose with Silver and Koolaid and the rest of the herd (a mare and a gelding, both very rude but especially the gelding, who has even threatened us at times) and he stood his ground! He chilled with the two boys he knew (Koolaid and Silver) and refused to allow the other gelding to gain a single inch of authority over him. He would stand still and quiet, not bothering anyone, but the minute Gelding approached with clear intentions of superiority, Cody would pin his ears and tell the Gelding where to go (including landing a few light kicks). So proud, haha, as it is about time that Gelding were put in his place! We will truck Cody back to where Sonny and Link are at (with the indoor arena) come April or May so I can start back to work on him this year.

Koolaid’s lease does not seem to be working out…the Lessee was supposed to start covering all expenses on Koolaid as of January 1st, however she has yet to pay his board (which I have now had to cover). There is more, but I will not go into details. Since I have failed to hear back from her, I will be placing Koolaid back up for lease, as I had had a lot of interest in him. I think this time though it will not be a free lease; I am thinking of charging a small lease fee. Though I hate to do this, it might make things a little easier for me – if the lease fee is not paid by the 1st of the month, I can simply default the lease, rather than waiting to see if the Lessee is going to pay board. I am also contemplating having any potential Lessee board at the barn we keep Sonny and Link at, so that I can more accurately keep an eye on Koolaid and have others keep an eye on him as well. Hmmm. I am pretty ticked off with the whole deal as I had thought I had found a very good lessee but I guess that is how the cookie crumbles – people, eh!! The more people I meet, the more I like my dog…I mean, horses, hehe.

I was privileged to be able to work with Link twice during my brief stay at home, once at liberty in the round pen, and once under-saddle. The round pen work was pretty exciting, as, for the first time ever, he seemed to really sync up with me and focus on me! He was not 100 percent by far and we still have a long ways to go, but he was fantastic nonetheless, responding to my body language including coming all the way in to me when I stepped back and breathed out, and even circling in closer to me!! We finished off with his sticking close to my side, whatever I did, at liberty! For a very independent Left-brained Extrovert, it was HUGE progress!!

Obviously we still both need work (yes, including my position, LOL), but we're getting there!

A day or so later I played a little on the ground with Link prior to taking it up into the saddle in the indoor arena. He was actually quite responsive and tending to track up and relax, so we took it to the outdoor arena. Outside, he was pretty wound up, like a spring, and ready to blow his top, but he gave me some fabulous work during the times he would fully relax. He was tracking up nicely, grabbing contact and rounding during our extended trot, and was ok supple. Our canter was too tense though and I did not get the superb leg yields or responsiveness I usually get, as a result of his being more wound up than usual from working outside (he even threw a couple of minor tantrums when he just could not take the stress here and there, lol) and from my not having ridden him in awhile (though the individual half-leasing him has been out a couple times a week). Afterward he and I went for a bit of a trail ride through the snow – we stayed close by and were only gone maybe 30 minutes, but he was pretty good and I was able to keep him relatively focused and not panicky. He is really improving pleasantly and is coming together nicely!! His blow-ups (which only occur outside now) are occurring less and less frequently, have less and less power behind them as he learns to trust in me fully, and he 'recovers' quicker and quicker now – he is learning to follow my leadership and simply relax and think through things better…we are almost there!

I have since found three (a father/daughter and another woman) riders for Sonny, so he will be working pretty regularly this winter/year! The first pair are a father/daughter who are about intermediate level. Though they are looking primarily to get some further miles under their belts, they have also signed on for lessons with K, my instructor. They are not phased by Sonny’s energy or lack of maturity at times (which is actually pretty good anyways, he definitely has matured over this past year!) and seem very confident on him. The daughter, who is 10 if I recall correctly, in particular is able to get a lot out of Sonny, which I found surprising!!! I was a little concerned they might not work out at first, but after seeing them ride him and hearing their updates later, I am quite impressed, particularly with Sonny. He really is a great horse, especially for a coming-6yo OTTB!! He is very responsive and seems to really match his energy levels and such to the rider on his backs (which I LOVE!). The other rider is more experienced and seems to also really get along well with Sonny – when I watched her ride she was soft and gentle with him and was also very attentive to what Sonny was communicating to her (such as, after 45-60 minutes of work, he was getting a little grumpy and obviously wanted to stop, so she called it a day on a great note!). He seemed to really get along well with her too and put in a lot of effort into the ride. Though she has been out of the saddle for a number of years now, the two really flowed and she knew exactly what, when, and how to ask things of Sonny (and when not to). I was quite impressed and the first two riders agreed to sharing Sonny, so I allowed the woman to also ride Sonny. Should keep the boy on his toes!

On a different note, I also recently watched the Parelli Celebration DVD. I was disappointed I did not glean as much information as I had anticipated, but I did still learn a lot. One of the biggest things I took away from the DVD was probably more about horsenalities – to a point where I am even better able to figure out and address a horse’s horsenality! The following is what I took away on a personal note, as pertaining to our own horses:

I think he might actually be a LBE, though he has some minor RB tendencies. The reason I think LB though is because he is quite dominant at the front – things I had not noticed previously really indicate this (after watching the DVD) and make sense to me. Things such as being pushy with his front end, playing a lot with his mouth, etc etc. Very much an extrovert though, as I had already figured ;) I am trying to keep in mind to notice the small details from now on – I find I have missed some of these signs in the past and noticing and understanding the smallest details aids in your tailoring your program to the horse.

Still the LBE I had thought he was, though with extreme RB tendencies at times. It was really neat to watch some LBE’s playing with their people on the DVD, as I could really see Link in them! It was really a HUGE relief (I hadn't even realised it worried me at all) actually to hear that what I am experiencing with him is normal for him (as a yet-undeveloped LBE) and not something I am alone in experiencing. He is going to want to move his feet a lot and is going to be independent – it is difficult to increase the draw in a LBE (have them want to come in to you) and as such, they can be easily offended too. I had been a little sad that Link still did not seem to want to be with me after all this time; just recently though (while I was home this recent stint) he actually was walking up to me, really seeking me out more than is normal, and was working in sync and pairing up with me in the round pen – he had a lot more draw!! Still though, I was a little disconcerted that it had taken so long, but after watching the DVD, I realized this was normal and ok at this time – he will continue to come around, which is really exciting. I have to remember to play with him as if I have no ropes though.

Though I still maintain Silver to be a RBI, he also has quite a few qualities that could almost classify him as a LBE with RB and Introvert tendencies. Linda relayed something Pat had once told her that really hit me (as obvious, but something I had not considered): sometimes a very extroverted horse will go introverted with force or subjugation. Also, confidence issues can make a horse appear to have a different horsenality, which also makes sense to me. Either way, as good a horse as he is (uber responsive and sensitive and currently my highest level horse), I think I still have quite a bit of work to do on him to further balance him out!! Learning more about his horsenality though and why he displays these other tendencies though is really helping me to understand him overall and what my job is with him. I am actually very seriously considering moving him to where Link and Sonny are at this year so I can do more work on him – I would really like to bring him up to Level 4 this year, as he is so close to it and has so much more potential as my partner than I have been allowing him!! I actually very much miss working with my best bud :S

Still the very same LBI I have always known he was as he is so obvious and typical about it!! LOL.

I had originally thought he was a LBI because of his strong tendency to think his situations through, but actually he is very clearly a RBI. He stands like an RBI does (legs underneath, ears flicked back in awareness) and very much acts like an RBI – his front is easier to move than his hind, his feet are difficult to pick up because he wants to keep them on the ground for the purpose of flight, he is very defensive through his hind end, and displays classic introvert-ness when he takes that moment to think because his emotions are in the way (he has to get clear of his emotions to think). He is a horse you really have to take it slow with and do a lot of walking away from (rather than walking to him and touching his face). All of this I knew innately (ie. not to touch his face, allow him to touch me instead, walk away from him, etc) because it just felt natural to do and he really responded to it, but really hearing it and understanding the RBI better has really helped me to see Cody clearer. I am actually very excited to apply more of what I have learned to him! I think I may have previously mistaken his lack of LB-ness though, so it is good to better understand that and what is really going on with him. He is going to take a lot of work, but not as much as I had previously thought I think. I am pretty excited to work with him this spring!

In short, I did learn quite a bit from the DVD and am excited to apply it and see the results I obtain :)