Sunday, February 28, 2010

February and Deprivation Training

Somewhere in the middle of February, I found myself in the midst of a whopper of a sinus cold. Man talk about putting the brakes on my progress. My horse & I were puttering right along and then blam..... I had to pull back and rest. It took everything I had to slow down like that as I do not like being sick and missing out.

Fast forward to the end of the month when we had a lesson with David Lichman. Talk about feeling a little nervous knowing we had only been playing for a week prior. As I chatted with David about what we had been doing (or not doing) in the previous month since he last visited and how even though I had lost a couple weeks due to illness my horse was amazing in what she was offering me. He replied that it is called "deprivation training," and some horses definitely improve with it! I am not sure I can explain it well but it suffice it to say it worked with Dove & I. So we proceeded with our lesson and there is my partner Dove- calm, confident and trusting! She was offering to circle me at liberty, walk, trot & canter with her head low and soft & then to top it off ~ canter departs. Although just a few steps these canter departs were from a halt. Oh yea, Dove is one smart cookie. She really filled in for me that day.

As I look back over the video we took last week I can see all of her little tries and how my little breaks and pauses as reward worked wonders. So big duh that this latest bout of "deprivation training" was timely and effective. My little RBI needed a long release from her busy RBE human.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Went a little horse crazy today

Riding all 3 horses bareback in one day again! OK so my son rode Chero and I rode Spice and then Dove twice! First let me say that is was SOOOOO cute to see Chero figuring out how may ways he could get a cookie from Chris. He was one smart attentive gelding today. How about a lateral bend? You'd like a step forward? Ok.... and a bend for my cookie please? Chris was such a champ, game to help me give my horses some ride time and to do so bareback! He was so gentle and patient even when Dove tried to take him on a walk about down the road. She is hilarious and quite determined to test out the leadership in her rider. LOL. Chris took it in stride and rode with her until he found a good spot to bend her and then pet her. We switched back and I played on Dove and Chris was back on Chero. Once all the cookies were dooled out we hopped off our steady mounts, tucked them back in their pens and claimed this a good break from work.

I returned in the evening to play with a friend. It was Spice's turn and she was simply... amazing. This girl has got it going on! We warmed up online playing with the tarp, barrels, cavellettis etc. Then we moseyed on over to the mounting block and I hopped on for 15 mins of fun. We practised perfect lateral bends, pushed the little ball around and then since Spice was ears forward eager to "go somewhere else" we walked halfway down the arena and pushed on a barrel. We then waited for our friend to finish and then rode backup to her pen. Nice finish of session #2 of "riding in the arena."

After a short break I tucked Spice back in and brought Dove out for some fun. We walked with our friend back to the arena and played with our canter departs for our 7th session. I think Dove is losing interest in this pattern which is such a huge change. She was very ho hum about moving AT ALL. My go-go pony is now a whoa-whoa pony. WOW...... I am at a loss for better words.

Life is really good!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Progress never felt sweeter!

Normally the weekends are too busy to get any time in the covered arena. And with all the rain lately the other arena is too soggy to use. However, I found time to squeeze in Sat afternoon and had a rockin' good time with Chero. I put the bareback pad on him and we played with transitions on the 22' as well as trying some sideways over the barrels. He showed he that he would prefer to put his hoof on top of the barrel vs going sideways over it. He is so funny! A few times he stood there with one front leg hanging over barrel, pausing as if contemplating something profound. The look on his face..... so serious. lol. At the end of our play session I took him over to the mounting block as I wanted to see what he thought of me mounting him in the arena. He moved around it a couple times and then settled in, relaxing at just the right spot for an easy mount. So I hopped on and he & I hung out for about 20 seconds. We are shooting for 30 seconds but he wanted to move so I asked for lateral bends and he was soft and gave them to me easily. Cool! I then asked if he wanted to walk toward the gate. He took a few steps looked at the quagmire of sand and goo and stopped. So we practised our backup. Wow it was great. Note to self- backing away from a gooey mess is great incentive to Chero. Another fun moment. Since I had only planned to hop on for less than 5 mins I dismounted and together we walked through the gooey gate area to the mounting block outside the arena. Since Chero was relaxed and stood next the block easily I hopped on and he gave me a ride back to his pen. He had a lovely swinging walk as we sauntered down the road, his reins were swinging side to side. I sat on him for about 5 mins while he had a snack from our "hay bar," thinking about how far we have come together to now be able to play with riding in the formerly scary arena.

Since the barn was still quiet I took Spice out for some arena play. She had more life in her feet, but she usually does. We played with transitions and circles on our 22' and jumped some barrels until she was ready to focus on me, or at least acknowledge me. ;) She is my uber aware mare, always on the look out for predators. As we played with cantering online she started offering to canter complete circles. Although she likes to move she is also one to want to move on her terms. So she was offering to do alot of work by continuing to canter. How interesting! Each time I would sigh or say good, she'd stop. lol. She was starting to tune into me, cool! On our last circle she jumped the barrels, and ran up to and stopped in front of the mounting block, giving it a sniff. I asked her in for a rest while we put the barrels away. Then we proceeded to play with mounting in the arena. She quickly relaxed by the mounting block. It felt as though this was a comfort to her much like lateral bends once they become a pattern. I mounted, we sat for about 20 seconds and she sighed. Her lateral bends were the softest and easiest I have ever felt with her. WOW! Like with Chero we tried walking toward the gate and she took did not want to go into the goo. So we backed up and although she was more bracey than Chero she did respond. I then hopped off, walked through the gate together and remounted at the outside block. As we rode back to her pen she wanted to trot. So I trotted with her. :) As we rounded the corner she slowed down to a low headed walk, reins loose and swinging, WOW! again, and then wanted to trot some more so we did for about 25 yards or so and then she slowed down, sniffed some left over hay on the ground and sighed! Holy smokes this is great! While she had a snack from our "hay bar," I sat on her, rubbing her shoulders and pondering what fun we've had over the years to get here.

Yesterday Dove & I had our 5th session of riding transitions bareback. What can I say about this awesome mare of mine? She is a super fast learner! We played online for a few minutes with Fig 8's around barrels and transitions on a circle around the barrels and tarp. Although scary stuff was happening in the bushes around us she stayed tuned into me. She became really focused on pushing the barrels and was eager to stand on the tarp! At one point hopped off, and looped her reins around her head while I repositioned the tarp. I turned to see her pushing a barrel around all by herself! Now that is something! We then played with riding the Fig 8, cantering in between the barrels. At the end she was cantering as we rounded the barrel and I was just thinking about asking. She understood the pattern! We then played with walking and trotting the cloverleaf and soon she was so tuned in and asking me if we were going to stop at X in the middle! Talk about her whoa improving. We also tried cantering a half circle and then stopping in the middle. Very cool session. Her canter departs are at times like little leaps up. She no longer dives down into a canter, plus she is ready to stop the instant I think about it. We are starting to get our whoa and go more balanced. Sweet! After this amazing session, we took a long break back at the "hay bar" enjoying our progress.