Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One Foot Under

official records information
1 hour

My younger sisters had snowdays today because the winter storm that is raking across the midwest dropped a foot of snow on us. Luckily, I collected all of our obstacles that I had strewn about the pasture and put them in piles (on my mom's advice, of course), so the pasture is not full of landmines, but groundwork was pretty out of the question, from where I stood (no pun intended). I did not want to soak my pants and socks trudging through that mess! Suffice it to say I had a general idea that I would keep things short or go for a ride.

I hung the 12' line on the fence and carried the stringed carrot stick, halter, and 18' line with me. I met eyes with Blu and smiled. I was glad when he came over to the fence to greet me. Misty still had not done much more connecting since I first greeted her walking out of the house. Rather than going to her and getting her to put her eyes on me, I decided to use some reverse psychology and attend other horses until she got curious enough to come say hello. So, I moved on to Conner. I played some friendly game until he relaxed. Every chance I get to do nice things with him, I do. He is getting better and better at reading me and jumping to the conclusion that I am there to chase him away from Misty's food or something. Once I was on his other side, Blu was there by the fence looking over it. While I was petting him, Misty came up to me. Might I say, Misty was so soft and quiet in her presence, today. She stayed completely connected while I rubbed her and scratched her. Her newest itchy spot is on the points of her shoulders and around the underside of the neck. I walked all around her and then scratched her itchy forehead. Putting the halter on was a nonevent, aside from her pleasant and enjoyable cooperation.

I did not just huff off into playing a game, though. She was so relaxed, I wanted to find a natural transition into playing. I began to pick around in the snow for pieces of hay, which is what she had been doing before I came out. After a few minutes, I began to walk off and she followed happily.

I backed her up with a tiny wiggle of my finger and sent her on a circle. I let slog through a few rounds then slowly began to ask for more. It was a moving circle and by the time we reached the gate, she was trotting steadily. She came right in when I yielded her hindquarters.

When I went to the gate, I wanted to do something different there besides just walk through it or back her out of it. I decided to do something I have not ever done with the gate, just doing simple squeeze game through it. Misty did fine going out, but she was disinclined to come back in. I waited for her to come through on her own then changed tactics to the yoyo game, rewarding her with scratches when she came back in. I stood with her for a while and massaged her until she began to doze off.

I did the falling leaf pattern to the place on the fence where I had left the 12 foot line (I had decided to go on a ride out in the snowy world). The falling leaf got her more connected and awake.

After I had a helmet and 12' line, I took Misty to the the trailer. I let her go and used my carrot stick to position her so I could get on from the ladder. She was super cooperative, but she was confused at first and started to wander off. I hopped down and drew her back then got on the ladder. This time, I stuck my carrotstick in the rein, and with one cue to back up, she backed up and swung her back over to me!

She went right off and I did a couple bends to make sure she was stoppable. Then I did some forequarter yields. Rusty! She had major issues loading onto her haunches. I had her trot sideways in both directions down the Aisle. She was super soft, but it can deffinitely improve because I really need to have the reins keeping her from going forward. We went to the back and she ate the dried chickory and wild carrot for a while.

On the way home, I worked on those forequarter yields. I asked her to stop and back up then go forward and back up. Then, I asked her to stop, back up, and yield. That perfectly loaded her onto her hindquarters and she was doing perfect, soft 180s.

I took her into the barn for a bit to take off ropes/helmet, then I took some hay out to the pasture (just a handful). I let her clean up by the fence. Just more time to relax. I stopped again and scratched her some more before putting her away.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

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I am a young horsewoman with a million things on my mind. I have been a student of the horse all my life. As a little girl, I had a desire to understand horses on deeper levels. I believed that there was no such thing as a bad horse, and I believed that all horses were beautiful. One might say that I was a naive child, but I guess I don't have an excuse anymore, because I still believe all of that, and Parelli Natural Horsemanship is helping expand on this perspective.

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