Monday, January 25, 2010

Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow

YESTERDAY was fun! Dove & I experimented for the 3rd time with transitions while riding. This time we were alone in the arena. During our online warm up once again Dove wanted to share her idea - offering multiple sideways over the barrels- both away and towards me. She is really getting exuberant! She of course also wanted to push the barrels back and forth, sometimes with a big push and then would stop and look at me! While playing with our riding Figure 8's she was ready to canter depart at the slightest suggestion. Mind you I was only making sure I was not leaning into the turn but rather pushing from the outside but I must have also leaned backwards just enough for her to think I meant canter. Holy smokes this horse is really responsive today. Very cool. My friend showed up so I decided to end our session on such a wonderful note and tuck Dove in her pen.

I brought Chero out for a turn. That is us on the left - his first ride in July 2007. Big grin on my face! Tonight he was happy to get out of jail. But then again he's always hoping to get out. While my friend got her horse ready I put the bareback pad on Chero and rode him up and down the road. At one point my friend's horse pulled free and trotted on by us. Chero was unfazed and soon wanted to follow, quite earnestly. How interesting! When we returned to our pen area I hopped off and we took our geldings and our 22's to the arena for some online play. We took turns practising our transitions online while trying to focus on using our bodies and energy vs swinging our sticks and strings. I must say that Chero was quite the student. Only once or twice while we waited our turn along the edge of the arena did he want to get silly and run off, but it was in response to some real or imagined something behind the coverall wall. As another friend has once said, "he's having a party by himself!" So after a couple fast half circles he decided to once again be a good student and wait patiently for his turn. Love this little guy and his playful spirit. Our session ended with a short quick ride back up to our pens. Chero was again a great student as he waited for my friend to hop on her horse too.

TODAY was hoof trimming day and it was quite rainy and cool. I had trimmed Chero's hooves the day before so I was hoping to get to the barn early and do the girls. Alas life interrupted and I arrived shortly before my farrier. She had a fellow farrier professional with her and it turned out to be a good thing I did not trim all 3 already. I learned so much watching the 2 of them discuss my horses' hooves. Wow! Much to think over. I did get graded on my trim on Chero and ..... drum roll please........ I received an A-! Wahoooooo! I am so stoked. You can teach an old dog new tricks..... it just takes a little more time. ;)

Looking forward to TOMORROW!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What a great way to start the year.

Again Dove was a true ROCKSTAR as we experimented with canter transitions and departures riding bareback. She was such fun as she also offered to push barrels and a ball! This girl has alot going on! Me on the other hand, well I watched the video and I am still leaning a tad forward when going into the canter, especially when asking for a left lead. Hmmmm...... but I was goofing with posting, surviving a spook, and laughing to boot. All around great session.

Then since I still had time I saddled up Spice and rode her up and down the road in front of my stalls. She was more interested in dinner that had just been served but she tried harder once she found I had cookies in my pocket. She is funny. She'll flip her head about when I ask for something but ultimately give it to me. Some day she'll realize that she is doing alot more work than me. ;)

All in all a great day. If only I had the time and energy to play with Chero it would have been perfect. He didn't seem to mind as he still had his head in his hay bag.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dove has arrived!

It was cold and dark so we had a short session in the arena playing with transitions online and then bareback. During our online play I had to remove the bareback pad as Dove is now interested in rolling online when we start our head low, trotting circles practise. How interesting! I was even able to offer her a cookie before she got up and she took two! Once again she was occasionally adamant that she be allowed to push the barrels about 8 feet vs jumping them. Really it was hard to pull her away so I accepted her exuberance as it was obviously important for her at this moment. What a neat horse she is.

Then we tried the same low headed trotting circles bareback. I had this moment when I thought hmm I think she is thinking about rolling. Wow! Dove is really feeling confident. After we had some nice circles we played with trot/canter transitions. Soon she was so responsive that she offered canter departs! OK this is awesome. We ended with the nicest softest canter depart I have ever felt with her AND it was on her right lead. Success never felt sweeter than tonight. This has been a slow process but the results are so worth the time we took to get here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away.......

Today we had lightening & thunderstorms and the weatherman says it will continue until at least Saturday. The good news is that it is alot warmer. So in between downpours off to the covered arena Dove & I went. We played on our 22' with our prep for circling at Liberty with the clapping thunder in the background. Dove had several introverted moments in the beginning so we took it slow and soon she realized that moving her feet felt better than standing perfectly still with her head down. At one point she became comfortable enough to roll and then to offer a sideways over two barrels. In fact she not only offered sideways away from me but also towards me! Wow this horse rocks! She has some fantastic ideas going on in her head.

Earlier in the week we played with our soaking boots and again she amazed with her progress. She is getting so much more confident about the whole thing. She took some steps forwards and backwards with the boot on and although she was nervous about moving she tried her heart out. Chero was having no part of this boot thing so we played "put your hoof on the boot" at liberty and he liked that game much better. Spice was uncertain but willing to allow me to slip the boot on and stand in it. She is an interesting example of make no assumptions. I think tomorrow we'll play with our hand held massager as it looks like we are getting more thunder & lightening. Last month all 3 kept their head low while I used the massager to simulate clipping their ears. We'll see what they think about it tomorrow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A great start to 2010....

Saturday was yet another amazing session with Dove & Chero.

First I wanted (felt a need) to tape Dove & I again in prep for our next mentor session with Rachel Jessop on Tuesday so I tried another session of experimenting on long lines. We started out with one 22' line and Dove offered some nice trot/canter transitions. Still a bit high headed compared to our goals but she did not cross fire much. Then I started backing up a little at a time toward a 2 barrel jump along a wall. I wanted to test out what she'd think to do (or what she'd rather do) when barrels were in her path as she circled me at a trot. Surprise she jumped them a few times! How cool that she decided to jump rather than avoid them. Either was OK with me but I was pleased at her choice this time. Sometimes I think she'd rather not jump (emotional) and sometimes I think it hurts (physical). I have been on a mission to rehab her hooves for all those years before me that she lived with long toes and under run heels. Any of you hoof fanatics out there will get what I mean by that. ;) I think we have whittled down all the variables and now just need a bit more time to get her in lovely natural hoof form.

OK enough about her hooves! Back to our play session. So then we tried some long line play- two 22' lines. She was quite nervous and not as connected to me as I'd have liked but we persevered and I saw some out of control cantering online and also some controlled cantering. OK a mixed bag but at least she is honest with me. These days I really appreciate how Dove feels confident to let me know exactly what she thinks about what I ask or what we are doing.

We managed to come more together and play with transitions and even jump some barrels without leaving the planet entirely.

I was finishing up when my friend Juliet arrived. It is so much fun to play with Juliet and her horse Bodie! Dove was about cooked emotionally from our session so I moseyed with her back to her pen and took Chero out to play. I wasn't sure what he'd do tonight as he was very expressive in his desire to "get out of jail." Juliet & I did some warm up goofing about and then we tried taking turns playing with transitions on a circle using our bodies vs our swinging our sticks and strings. No easy feat with our two often rambunctious geldings. Gotta love geldings though. Chero is my sweet buddy, ready to play, very cautious but his curiosity soon takes over. He just cannot help himself! Frankly I think he'd rather come home with me and live at my back door in my yard. Very loyal he is. This night he was quite impressive as he offered some nice canters without all the normal hoopla..... well that is when I got my phases worked out right. My sensitive boy let's me know right away and very clearly when he does not appreciate how I asked him. LOL. He became more and more calm and relaxed as we took turns with Juliet & Bodie. In fact both boys did. How interesting indeed! We ended our session with a nice bareback ride up to his pen. Chero is so much fun to ride as his stride is very smooth and lilting... he is not physically gaited but has many Spanish horse qualities in his gaits. I tucked him in and gave him an extra rub and treat for such a lovely time.