Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Returning to Jumping--it got even better!

Official Records Information:
Blu, 1 hour, afternoon, 7-29-10

I squeezed a session in with Blu in between work shifts. I saved horse time for last because I had a lot of 4H responsibilities to take care of, first. By the time I got the two jumps set up and all my stuff out for Blu (23' line, halter in a barn know, carrot stick with plastic bag on it, and a Korsteel broken snaffle bridle), I had an hour for Blu. My plan was to warm him up on the ground with the 23' line, then put the bridle on and jump, then take the bridle off and jump and do some other freestyle things for the cool down. That just so happens to be just how it went.

I am very fond of Blu's relationship with me. He is so easily drawn to me--he comes when I call--then he sticks to me really well during and after our session. I do not take what I have with him for granted. Since I have to work so hard for Misty's heart, I can truly see all of the value in the way Blu is with me. So, during my sessions, I am constantly keeping mind that I want to have the highest priority be that after the session, Blu still wants to be with me.

Our on the ground warm up consisted mainly of the circling game. I started with the figure 8. He was not doing the pattern on his own, sometimes he was not maintaining his gait, and once he went RB and pulled to the end of the line and trotted off. I just tracked behind him and as soon as he relaxed I called him and he came right to me, like "Oh, hi. What just happened?" I decided to work on his change of direction and maintenance of gait on a simple circle for a little. When he was more relaxed and maintaining gait, I went back to the figure of 8 and he did it perfectly. Then I moved us into the canter and did moving circles. I was very pleased that he maintained all through it: he went over uneven ground, did flying lead changes for the two changes of directions I asked for, went over a big lump--lovely. Then, the tire jump was in his path and the kid targeted it and went straight over the middle. Nicely done Blu! I had him come in after that. He got a long snuggle and scratches. I was going to work with his unconfidence with the barrels so maybe I could jump him over them while riding, but I could tell that he was going to take a while (and I was on a time budget), so the first time he finally looked at me with a question, I welcomed him in, took off the halter, and he followed me to his bridle.

Just to mention it, Blu is excellent with bridling. He is relaxed, takes the bit, head low--I like it. Then, he stood and waited while stepped out of the pasture (just 15' away) and turned up the radio. Lalala. Also, he stood nicely while I vaulted on. First I tried to off my bad ankle and I just oofed into his side as I changed my mind--hurt my ankle anyways. So, I ran over to his other side and got on that side. On occasion, Blu shows displeasure at me getting on and I then work through it until he gives me permission, but today he was happy to go from the start.

For a ridden warm up I did follow the rail in my invisible arena. I used the northwest corner fencelines then, as the southeast corner of my arena, I used the tire jump. First I just rode a lap at the trot--which he offered--to see where we were. He was cutting the corners and bowing the invisible sides. So first we did corner to corner to straighten those line. I only did each corner once. Note that this means he had to stop right in front of the jump. I trotted then cantered then changed directions and did the trot and canter laps and all of it was straight and quite precise. Then, I changed direction again, trotted a lap, cantered a lap, but when we came to the jump corner, instead of turning right I kept looking straight ahead and Blu jumped it like that's what we were doing all around. I knew we were ready to begin our jumping session.

I had the stansion jump set at 24'' (his highest jumping record, so far, in his jumping career--which is this summer), then the was the tire jump, which is only between 12''-18'' high, but is 2'' feet across. I had the barrel with food on it set up 30' after the 24'' jump. First thing I did was jump the tires, then rest, then loop around and jump them again. The second time he did not put as much effort into it, and like dingbat I decided to loop around and do it again. This time I heard his hoof scuff the tire and he went over the space between the two cones I had set up on either side of the jump (about 8'') instead of the center. So, to fix my transgression, I cantered around to the barrel of food, let him get a little bite, stood and let him chew it, then tried the tire jump again. That time he did it perfectly. I am glad I immediately realized that I made the wrong decision in looping back around and jumping again. When your horse is not motivated, doing it again is not going to make it better! Duh!

I tried several combinations of jumping. Blu did knock the 24'' over the first time he went over, but then he was clean the rest of the time. At the end of the session, I went over 4 jumps without stopping for food and I put the jump up to the 30''. He did just barely clip it when it was at 30'' and the wobbly/rotted stansion pitched a fit and fell over. However, that jump was so full of try, that was it for us. I got down, took the bridle off, rubbed him and let him eat, got back on (his necklace was already on), and rode to the trees where I had the carrot stick and bag hanging. He did not react at all when I pulled the hanging carrot stick from the tree. Good boy, Blu.

Our bridleless ride was super. I rode through the weave pattern at the jog. When he got that, I did the tire jump then jumped over the stansion/pole mess that was left of our 30'' jump, and then stopped to let him eat. Then I did a short bit on his spin progress and backing up with the plastic bag, both of which got better. He is just beginning to spin quicker without me using the plastic bag and backing is better, too.

Afterwards, Blu followed me to the fence. He watched me take care of my gear then stood while I sprayed him off from the other side of the fence. He loves getting sprayed. He is even very good about having his face washed. You know, it's great to know how to use the friendly game to get your horse comfortable with things like that, but it is very special for Blu to just be this way. I can hardly take credit for a lot of his good attributes, other than to say that I have not ruined them.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

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About Me

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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.

What We Are Currently Playing With

  • Moving Close Circles at Liberty
  • Soft, Balanced Canter on 45' Line
  • Zone 5 Driving