Blu was in the North Pasture with Connor, the sun was out, but it was not too hot. What a beautiful day! I went out with a 45' line, halter, and bag on a stick.
good for catching-very nice feel, expression
Very good connection on the way out to the back of the pasture
Stopped at the tire pedestal and played with getting 4 feet on with as little line touching as possible from a distance of about 10’. He was fine with two feet and really good at inching on, but I could not time the “stop” right and kept getting two front feet-inch-inch-two back feet. Here is the kicker for me: he was confident enough to back up onto it once it was just his back feet on it! But then he would back off to just two front feet. I laughed when I asked him to come forward again and missed the stop again ended up with him right in front of me with his butt on the pedestal. You see, he went crookedly off it with the front feet and I had to pivot him around his hind end so that when he backed up on to it he would have room to back up and keep his back feet on it. He was confident and obedient enough to do that! I laughed at him and told him he was a really cool horse and put his face. He sure does like that. After 3 times of having him back on to it again, I got my timing right. Also, he was beginning to see what I wanted. I don’t think confidence was the problem at all, he just didn’t know what I wanted. Later on, when we were walking back up to the front of the pasture, I had him go to the pedestal and put 4 feet on it, and it was perfect because he understood what the goal was.
I decided that I should probably make his phase one for the yo yo better the way I was for Misty. Good plan because when I did the new phase one, he went back 3 steps right off the bat. Huh. HOW INTERSTING! He did not look unconfident, about it either—just simple obedience and understanding of what I wanted. As a reminder, my new phase one is for me to just push my energy at them, which I do by tightening my core and holding my fists up like I am driving a car. As I continue to refine it, I will want my hands to stay at my sides. Maybe someday I will just think “Back up, Blu” and that will be my phase one! Anyways, I played the yo yo game for a bit, doing the friendly game when he was out there because it looked like he was ready to go onto the circling game sometimes. I never used the old phase one during this session, let alone a phase 2-4.
Before doing the circling game and the jump I had set up, I had Blu go sideways with the new phase one. I figured that since he understood this so much faster than Misty did, I should try to find something that would stretch him a bit more. That horse went sideways (no fence) for 12 or so feet before I had to use the lightest phase with my hands to finish him off to the end of the 45’ rope. I was absolutely astounded.
Eventually, I did send him around in a circle. He went right off with plenty of step to get him out to the end of the line at a quick trot, but he was not scrambling or anything. It is interesting to see the difference between him and Misty during the circling game. His extroversion may come out in exuberance, or he just obediently maintains gait, for the most part. I was especially impressed with him when I had to go to the barrels to make right them into a line of three (end-to-end) and he just continued circling me, watching where he was going (the back pasture is a mine field of barrels and cones). I walked back to my original, maintaining neutral in my energy, and Blu still just circled obediently. The jump took most of our session up. I had to also keep 1/3 of my attention on the food barrel because Connor found it. When I first chased him off, Blu got flustered because he thought he was the object of my running and shooing antics. I just kept shooing in the opposite direction of him until he was following me curiously and confidently. Then it was back to the game at hand. Throughout the session from then on, if I had something to say to Connor, Blu was able to discern the direction of the energy and just keep circling if I was going for Connor.
One of the strategies I used in the beginning after his first refusal was to have him change directions every time he came to it, before he could even have a chance to jump it. When I finally did not change his direction, he went over it and got the come back and relax as a reward.
I think that in the end, he jumped the barrels 4-6 times total with various degrees of quality. When he went in the direction that did not have a barrel with food on the other side, I rewarded him by instantly disengaging him and giving him a long rest with lots of friendly game. It took quite a while for him to start aiming himself. My vision for our ending point was for him to go over it at the end of the line without me pulling or pushing him—even the slightest bit—so that his path would cross it. The reason that I had to have this smaller goal (originally I wanted to see if I could take away a barrel so the jump was only two barrels long) was because he began to not choose to jump it, but rather come in between me and the barrels. Indeed, when he went over willingly, I ended our session.
I already told you about how I played with the pedestal on the way up to the front. That was basically the end of the session (a very pleasant “letting him go,” too).
Natural Horsewoman Out.