Sunday, March 21, 2010

Two Horses are Better Than One

Since Spice has been quite RB lately I decided to bring both girls to the arena for our lessons with David on Friday. I felt that even if Spice interfered during my lesson with Dove, it would be much better for her to have Dove there when it was her turn. What happened was a dream come true for me!!!

We started with Dove and showed David our circle me patterns (the ones I saw on Karen Rohlf's video). Dove was awesome as she circled me closely on both sides! Yeah going right is getting better. David noticed her lack of impulsion so had me ask Dove to stick to me at a trot and then "go around" the barrel and run to me. Working the pattern from the end forwards. Soon Spice was joining in.... as expected. When Dove decided to leave and canoodle with the gelding who lives near the arena, David had me switch and play with Spice. So Spice & I tried the same stick to me and circle the barrel pattern at Liberty!!! Spice was brilliant. What a feeling to be able to play with her and test our progress like that. Then as Spice would leave I'd try to catch Dove. Soon it became a game of me walking between them and seeing who wants to play.

After about 20 mins the girls were pretty hooked on me again, although the gelding was not far from their minds. ;) Next I wanted some help starting our stick to me at a canter. With Dove online David instructed me to start to run along the fence and keep running until Dove would catch up and if she cantered to then turn and run backwards drawing her to me. Not only did we get a few nice canters going but Spice was joining in the game as well. Hilarious!

When it came time to reward Dove, I'd switch to Spice online and we played with shoulder in along the fence. This is a prep step for circling me with her head down. I had tried the other variation of me walking forwards, holding the lead and asking for her head down and pushing on her shoulder and ribs as we circled but it wasn't clear enough for Spice. She is brilliant so I had to find a way to be more clear. The shoulder in exercise was very interesting. I could feel Spice trying to sort out what I was asking and when she'd get it wow it felt so soft.

For the next 30-40 mins I was switching between horses and their respective exercises. What fun that was! But my dream was about to come true..... We were nearing the end of our 2 hours and David said "Now let's go for the grand finish." OK I said. He instructed me to put both girls online with 12' leads and place Dove on the inside with Spice on the outside and while I ran backwards, draw them to me in a circle. Oh now that is soooooo cool!!!!! Eventually this will become circle me while I stand in the middle. When I changed direction which put Spice on the inside and Dove on the outside, Dove was lagging and eventually got herself on the inside. Smart girl she was showing me the correct pattern. Ok thanks Dove you are right, we really should stick to one variation at at time. At one point I tripped over the block and cone I was using for a center. As I went "kerplunk" my girls stopped and had the funniest looks on their faces! I don't know if they were concerned or amused. :) But I was giggling. I got up and brushed off my hinny and we tried it a few more times, ending on a really nice draw with Spice on the outside.

What a totally awesome lesson that was!!! David said one day this will turn into all 3 of my horses circling me. What he did not know is that one of my long terms dreams is to play with all 3 of my horses together at liberty. At this point I think my feet were no longer touching the ground. After waving good bye to David, I haltered my girls and hitched a ride on Dove while ponying Spice back to their pens. This time Spice wanted to lead! I think she was still playing that last circle me game where she had to be a little in front of Dove to keep up. How interesting.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Circle Me

Dove was brilliant yesterday and so I clearly have my work cut out for me. Here is why: the Horsenality Report came back for Dove and she is a LBE. Holy Cow Batman that is really a 180 degree change! She needed the time to build her confidence and trust before revealing her true self. The past few months have felt incredible. This must be what Pat means when he says "reveal your horse."

2008 chart on the left ............2010 chart on the right

I was experimenting with some Liberty "circle me" patterns I saw on Karen Rohlf's Facebook page: It was immediately apparent that Dove had watched the video too. I was only able to play with each pattern twice before my LBE was showing me how to do it. Those of you with LBE's are saying duh, but you see Dove has only recently shown me this side of her. So my strategies need to change. As my mentor Rachel tells me, take the Porsche out for a spin once in awhile. So I did. This was just a play session, no warm up, no big goals, just experiment with what we saw Karen and Atomic do... play with "circle me." Show me what you got under the hood Miss Dove. Once we started playing she only left me once, even when I flicked my string at her Z5 she responded vs leaving. Hmmm..... that was both amazing and amusing. Perhaps I should call her Left Brained Exuberant! LOL. I did wish I had the video camera running during our session, but I think it would have changed the energy.

In the beginning when I was setting up barrels etc Dove was "strutting" around instead of running around.... seriously she was flicking her front legs out in a fancy extended trot, tail held up softly, ears pricked forward. Mind you she is a quarter horse, barely 15 hh and more stocky than slender but man did she look like a million bucks. Talk about a gorgeous heel first landing! I think she was showing off for the thoroughbred gelding that lives next to the arena as she is in heat and he is interested. Or perhaps she likes the hoof trim I gave her last week? Or her sparkly green Renegade boots? But I digress, either way that strut is a first. For this session I was using cut up carrots as treats but she did not mug me for them either. "Oh boy" how many days is it until our Fast track? I'd better hit the books and catch up with my horse!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Swinging the Pendulum

Had another fabulous mentor session with Rachel Jessop this morning. After watching our videos she congratulated my horse & I on achieving a massive milestone. Dove has gone from a fizzy, gotta move her feet, "go go" pony to this lovely quiet, left brained, don't need to move "whoa whoa" pony. At one point Rachel asked me if I was pushing Dove to keep her walking. LOL now that is something! So now my mantra will be "don't push," "whatever I do, let her stop," and "rub her." ... you know.... reward the slightest try.....

I now have this new left brained horse and I need to understand the other side of the pendulum. We get to play with snappy departures too! Again no pushing while running through my phases. I am also to ride my pony like a carousel horse, sitting quiet, not exaggerating and let her push me up and down. Wow this is cool stuff!!

Last night Dove was such fun as I took my Porsche out for a test drive, bareback of course. We goofed around in the arena with a friend, trying some cantering around them, circling at liberty (line over the neck) and Dove was just the coolest cucumber ever!

This really is way more than riding!