I expanded on my plans from last night. You may or may not recall that last night I wanted to use my invisible arena to play with freestyle/finesse, but did not make it to the riding part because it got too dark. This afternoon, between my two work shifts, I was able to do a session riding in the invisible arena that I set up last night. I will also remind you that the invisible arena is 50' by 30' with two existing fence lines for two sides and the invisible corner (southeast) is marked by a tire with a ground pole going out west and north. There is a 4' log in the southwest corner.
| ...................^that's a tree
|................................ W E
| \ That is a gate<--
So, there is my visual for you. I was going clockwise during my session. Notice, then, that we would be going toward the gate when heading east and Blu may be more drawn to going toward the gate instead of staying "on the rail." That is why I used the log as a place for Blu to aim for, to see a boundary that he could associate with.
Misty, Connor, and Blu were in the North Pasture nibbling what remained of their morning hay piles. Misty thought I was coming for her and she looked apprehensive about it. So, I thought it would be nice if I said hi and then surprised her by walking off and getting Blu. She did not give me a chance, though. She walked off casually and drove Blu away. I made a game of walking in her tracks slower than she was going. When she gave me her attention, I smiled, called Blu over to me, and started my session with him. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. :D Hehehe.
So, Blu haltered very together with me. I had the 45' line, strung carrot stick, and halter. I forgot gloves. Oops. No big deal, though. I rubbed on Blu for a bit because he really wanted to put his face on me and be held for a few minutes. Enough of that. I porcupined him out to a distance so he could see my face and body language, then I used energy phase one to send him out. I worked on straightness (he wanted to back crooked or back very crooked and go forward on the circle) for a little, but once that was fixed, I sent him out. Now, I did it very lightly because I could tell that while fixing the straightness, he had become very attune to my body language. I just pointed out with my finger a little bit, only at the height of my waist, and he leaped into the air and did a very left-brain introvert speedy leave then settle into a jog, then a walk. That was fine with me until he began to not connect with me. He actually walked straight away from me. I began a pattern where every time he disconnected with me, I yielded his hindquarters, brought him in, and resent him. Now, Meggie said that when I do this, I should send the horse out about as soon as he or she comes back, but I accidentally snuggled Blu a few times. I scolded myself and moved on.
So, now Blu is going around the circle with nice energy, connected to me, confident. So, I begin to ask him to think about the bridle on the barrel in the ditch. Initially, the changes of direction caused him to become flustered. I just kept at it and he began to do them before I got the "come here so I can spank you" look and then he relaxed. It took two changes of direction before he was fine. So, once that was sorted out, he stopped at the barrel.
I set the line down, went to him, unhaltered him, and rubbed his face. Then, after I picked up the bridle, he did something really nice: he turned his head to me and told me he was ready to put the bridle on. And it was true; he stood and took the bit and bridle very nicely. Then I beckoned him and walked off and he followed me to the saddle on the fence. He stood, only moving to swing his head at flies while I put the saddle on and tightened the girth. I got on, though, and he moved off as I before I had my other leg in the stirrup. So, off I went. I tightened the girth a notch and got on again. This time, he did not move until I was settled, but still before I asked, so I came down again. After I was satisfied with the girth, I got on again. This time, he stood and waited patiently for me to begin. I would like to clarify that his saddle was not dangerously loose and did not slip when I got on, but since I did not move him around before getting on, I knew that it would need to be tightened. Had Blu stood still for mounting, I would have gotten down and tightened it anyways.
Blu was going with good energy, so I did not feel the need to get his impulsion up before we went to our invisible arena. However, I chose to do a corners game so as not to cause him to shut down his impulsion. The pattern was go into the corner, stop, back up until he was thinking back, ride forward into the corner and turn. I did a lap and a half at the walk. At first, Blu's backing was heavy. I used a neck string to help him stop leaning on his forehand as I held my back up position. Of course, his back got much better. He was great at following my focus and going deep into the corners. Next, I asked for the trot. At first, he was having serious issues physically trotting. He tripped three or four times in a row on the second fence line that we trotted. So, my goal was for him to be able to physically perform that trot as well as to pick up the trot from the stop and do it into the turn. I did for a lap then, the next time we were heading south on the east invisible fence and he picked up the trot from the stop with no brace. Instead of stopping when we got to the corner, I kept going in my body. He was completely ready when we got to the tire and jumped right over it like that was the plan all along. I had him slow to a walk, then a pleasant halt. Dismount.
I took off the bridle, rubbed his face, and walked to the fence. Blu followed and stood to be haltered. We grazed on the way to the barn, where I took off the saddle. After a little more grazing, I sprayed him off (it was very warm). After I set him loose in the pasture, I walked with him, mirroring him as he laid down. I am going to make that a short term again, laying down, that is. He noticed.
Blu is a very difficult horse to say goodbye to. He followed me to the fence, so I just had to go get him a farewell cookie. Then another. Then I went back in and pet him. He followed me along the fence as I picked up the Parelli equipment off the fence, so I had to go get him one more cookie and give him one more scratchy before I got in the Barnkat and left.
This was a lovely little session, and during this fall semester, I look forward to having these short sessions that pack a punch in the success department.
Natural Horsewoman Out.