Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beautiful Weekend...

After a particularly trying week, this weekend has been great. I got to play with Josie in the outdoor arena this morning, which was so great! The footing was great, the sun was out....couldn't have asked for much more.

After our unexpected blow up earlier in the outdoor earlier this week (see previous post), I made sure to use approach and retreat to enter the arena! I actually started out in the grass yard just grooming her. She really wanted to be groomed today! She kept positioning parts of her body towards me, especially when I got distracted talking to Kari and stopped currying! She would wriggle closer to me, asking to be groomed again. Very funny!

We eventually entered the outdoor arena. She had mild apprehension going in there at first, but I let her come in and out of the gate until she was comfortable staying in the arena. She did notice the cows today, but had a much quieter response to them today. The fire breathing monster did not rear its ugly head again!

She had good impulsion today, which of course comes with being outside. She gave me some really great figure eights today. That's about it for today. We are slowly making progress with the patterns. I can't wait for trail riding season!!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The things we are afraid of in life...

Today was a beautiful, warm day. A great day to spend outside with my horse! Miss Josie was happy to see me, and I collected her from the back paddock and brought her outside. There was a lesson going on in the outdoor, so I brought my brushes outside and set to work on her shaggy muddy coat. She really enjoyed the grooming (and fresh shoots of grass). She was in a sweet, soft mood today. I really didn't have much intention of asking her to do much tonight, but once the outdoor lesson was done, I thought we could mosey in there for a bit. All was fine, until she spotted the cows from up above on the next door farm. The same cows she looks at all day from her pen, no less! LOL!!!!! (I never say LOL, but that is just what I did!) My soft, sweet girl transformed instantly into a fire-breathing, sweat squirting hot mess! So much for not asking too much....

So we transformed into managing the situation that presented itself. She needed to move her feet, so I had her move her feet. I eventually got her attention. She then gave me some nice soft figure eights and the walk and we quit there. I think I may call Gretchen for some on line lessons. I feel like I am not always the most effective leader for her in those situations. The obvious answer is to not let her go there. It is possible that I did blow through some thresholds going into the arena in the first place, and the cows just activated the RBI blow-up. But even so, I need to learn to more effectively handle those when they happen! The good thing is that I didn't lose my temper, or my good humor, or get frustrated at all. I was happy for the opportunity to work on an interesting conundrum. And I'm sure that it won't be the last time, since those cows aren't going anywhere soon!!!!!

After we exited the arena, we went back to the grass. It didn't take her long to roll several times....a release of adrenaline. I am so happy that she can express her emotions like that. I was thinking about some of the other non PNH horses that I know that 1) wouldn't be allowed to do that, and 2) wouldn't even offer it.... An interesting thought to ponder.
Savvy on!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Farrier Prep

Josie has not always been the perfect horse for the farrier. She has gotten loads better since I got her, but she is not the perfect partner when it comes to giving up control of her feet..... The interesting thing, is that she is not bothered by getting her feet tangled up in things (hula hoops, kiddie pool, etc). She just isn't all that willing to pick her feet up and hold them for you. I have to admit that I haven't worked with her enough on it in a focused manner to get her better for the farrier. After watching the recent Savvy Club dvd on farrier prep, I have re-committed myself to making a program out of it to see if we can overcome this issue. I have no doubt that it will increase my leadership points from her if we are successful!

So yesterday, when I went out to play, the girl did NOT want to talk to me! How interesting! I had not seen her in about a week. She was at the round bale with several other horses. I entered the paddock and started walking around the round bale. There was an Appaloosa in there that likes to be in my pocket, so I just played with driving him around for a while. She eventually got curious enough to look at me, but still didn't come over to say hi. I eventually tapped her butt when I went by on the circle, at which point she ran away from the feeder and away from me, and then faced up to me. I just kept on playing with the other horse, and eventually she came over to check me out. I petted her for a while, then asked her to halter. I went to lead her--away from the gate, which she wasn't expecting--and she was just dogging along. So we worked on stay with me and give me some EFFORT. Eventually I had a more willing and respectful horse. We went into the indoor and I let her loose with Vegas for a while. They really ripped around, preferring the canter today, which is very interesting!

After haltering up again and playing some games, I decided to do some of the farrier prep exercises. I friendlied her legs quite a bit, and worked on picking her front feet up. I led her with the rope around her leg, then put a noose around her pastern. I have been playing with holding her leg up with this for the past week or so. My goal is to get her to hold her leg up, instead of me doing all the work. Then I tied her leg up like Pat did in the video. I really did not know how she was going to take this, since she doesn't like the control taken away from her on her legs. At first she just stood there. I released her leg. I did it again, and let her stand there for a while. She eventually started trying to free her leg. She never completely freaked out, but did have a minor tantrum. She was particularly interested in trying to get the rope in her mouth so she could free herself! It was very interesting to watch. I waited until she relaxed and put her head down a little and then released her leg. She went kind of introverted after that, but all in all I think it was a successful session. I didn't want to do too much at once, so we quit on that note.

When I came out today, I was fully expecting her to not want to greet me again today, since we had kind of a provocative session yesterday. I got the complete opposite! When I whistled for her, she perked her head up and came over to the gate immediately. Just before the gate she stopped, blinked a lot, and licked her lips, showing me some tongue! She doesn't lick with her tongue out very often!!! Very interesting indeed! I must have gained some leadership points yesterday....

I won't go on too much longer, but I had friends out to visit today and they were going to have pony rides on Coco. Turns out he woke up on the crazy side of the fence today, so I ended up using Josie instead. She was a complete doll! I love my girl!!!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hula Hoops

Josie and I have been playing with hula hoops this past week. It is a good winter time activity since there isn't a lot of sweating involved! My main goal at first was to back her into a hoop and have her place her back feet in the hoop. Shouldn't be that hard, but it is amazing how they don't want to stick their feet in that hoop! The first few sessions, it took some patience and finagling to get her in there. After a few days in between the first two sessions though, it went remarkably more smoothly when we revisited it. I can now get her to put all four feet in two hula hoops, from about 25 feet away. I haven't been able to get her to back through the first hoop on the way to the second hoop yet. She ends up sort of next to the hoops with her back feet, and then we sideways those into the hoop. But we'll keep playing with it! I was even able to get her to do it at liberty yesterday, from about 15 feet away.

My next task will be to get her to sideways into the hoops, and I would also like to play with putting her back feet in the hoop and yielding her FQ around without having her back feet leave the hoop. We have also started playing with drawing at liberty--more specifically to have her come to me at the weave! I was inspired by a fellow Facebooker on this one... We have some elements to work out on this one, but it is a good goal to strive for! I was able to get some nice trot-to-me draws at liberty yesterday, which is good for my lazy RBI! I'll keep playing with the figure eight and weave patterns and eventually work those in at liberty. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A new year

I am going to try to start blogging more regularly again. This winter is going by quickly, and I feel like spring is right around the corner....pretty soon it will be trail riding season again!

I met Kari out at the barn today. It was nice to have another day with our ponies. Both of our horses were quite full of it today! In a good way! We let them run free in the arena for a while at first, and Josie was kicking up her heels more than I have ever seen her do. That fat rear can really get off the ground when it wants to! We played on the ground for a bit, working on figure eights and putting hind feet in hoola hoops. She is getting more confident with that, but still has some hesitation about getting both feet in the hoop. It is interesting to me that keeping feet in the hoop is such a big thing. We have definitely made great strides with the last few sessions of trying it.

Then we rode bareback for a while. A nice warm task for a cold and dreary day! Josie was great--stayed at the mounting block like a good girl once I got on (unlike last time when she decided she should take off at the trot! whoops how interesting....let's try that again, honey!!!!!)

That's it for now. I plan to go back out again in the morning. Maybe I'll blog again then!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lovely night in Vienna

Through the vagaries of life, I have not been out to see my ponies in about a week. My progress on the patterns has come to a grinding halt. But the good thing is that I can always just pick back up and start back where I left off!

I just got back from the barn, and my dear sweet Josie was so happy to see me! I whistled at the back arena door, and she came tromping (because that's what she does best...) over from the feeder, through the impromptu stream that has developed in the paddock with nary a hesitation. She was sweet and affectionate, and happy to see me. Since there were lessons in the arena, we went straight through to the barn. She sometimes has many thresholds in the barn, but tonight was very left brained and needed to put her mouth on everything! That side of her doesn't come out very often. We mostly just did some undemanding time. We did a few small figure eights in the barn aisle and called it quits. I am looking forward to a horse weekend. Barn play on Saturday, and hopefully a trail ride with my dear friends on Sunday. Lets hope the weather cooperates!!!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 6 of the On-Line Patterns

By golly, the patterns work! They say by day 5 or 6, your horse will make a change. Today was our sixth session working on level 1 touch it and figure eight. She made a significant change in touch it by day three. Figure eight took until today to really make the change. I have really been focusing on slowing things down for my right brained introvert. The level one task of a 12 foot line (shorter than I am used to lately) and at the walk (slower than I normally do...) has been great for both of us. I have really been focusing on doing level one with excellence, and going back to "kindergarten" has really opened my eyes to the holes that we have.

I used to think that our figure eights were okay, but I was really just micromanaging her through the turns and edging her one to keep up her momentum. Through our first 4-5 sessions of playing with this pattern, I really focused on quality, not quantity. So sometimes, we didn't get a full figure eight. If we got half a pattern with quality, I was happy with that. Yesterday, I started asking for more, but was still pushing too much with the stick to keep her going. Today I warmed up with 7 games, and worked some weave. Her send was sticky/slow, so I isolated that for a while to get a quality send at the WALK. A gait that is good to focus on for both of us! It is so easy to send her at the trot, since that gives her more momentum, but I really needed to step back and slow things down and get a quality walk first.

Once I had that going, then we moved into the figure eight. I found myself wanting to micromange her into the second turn of the figure eight, because she would start to slow down. In anticipation of her stopping, I would pick up my stick and push her onward. Finally, I told myself that I needed to let her uphold her responsiblities (maintain gait and pattern) and just TRUST her. By golly, it worked! She gave me some really great, soft, albeit SLOW figure eights. Soft eye, willing expression, no interest in the lucious grass... A great place to stop. We ended by doing a few touch-its. Ted (our barn owner) was there, and I was showing him what we've been working on. He was quite impressed that I could focus on a certain poop pile, and have her put her nose on it!!!! Kind of blew his mind that I could influence her in that way :)

I look foward to day seven of our program tomorrow. Then I can start working on the level two online tasks--longer lines, more responsibility. It will be great!