Friday, September 17, 2010

Horse Who Follows Rail

Blu was really superb this afternoon on this day of September 17, 2010, for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

When I got to the farm, Conner was the only horse who was up front. As I walked past him, he followed me. When we got to the back, Misty, Ginger, and Blu ran to the front pasture. I had the 45' line and I made a loop and put it around Hoosier's neck to take him to the front (he was planning on just staying outback while the loopy youngons ran around) so I could put his fly mask on (it was sunny outside and he needs a mask in the sun). When we got to the front, I realized that the we were trapped by the mud. I was wearing my cowboy boots and really did not want to go in the mud with them. My solution was to ride Hoosier into the barn with the 45' line around his neck (bridleless!). I evaluated the situation, the environment, which horses were around, Hoosier's state, and decided it was safe. Hoosier is very slow and I knew that he would want to go to his stall anyway. So, up I went I asked him to go, and off we went, straight to the stall. As we approached, I laid down over his withers and hopped off inside the dry stall. I thanked Hoosier and put on his fly mask.

I ran around to the front of the barn because I had noticed Blu going to the water trough as I rode Hoosier into the stall. When I got to the trough, Blu was just finishing his drink. I greeted him and ducked under the fence to put a loop of 45' rope around his neck.

I stepped onto the sistern, but he walked by, so he did not want me to get on. I played with game #2 around his neck and taught him to yield from the rope around his neck and step toward me. Then I climbed over the fence separating the North and South Pastures to lead Blu to the gate and let him into the North Pasture.

Since Blu had not wanted me to get on him, I decided he would benefit from getting saddled out in the yard where he could eat grass. I also had to get my other equipment around--halter, bag on a stick, gloves, finesse reins, and, of course, the saddle and girth. I was messing around with the stick and at first he was fine with that, but later when I picked it up again, he just quietly left. It was not an unconfident departure. He was just going to the hill for better grass if there was going to be commotion and raucaus down here. I went through the barn with grain and around the back exit to meet Blu on the hill. I had the halter and 45' line with me, as well. The grain went on the ground by me and I just sat and waited. I talked to Blu about my day and the Performance Summit. After a few minutes, he had munched his way to me and was cleaning up the grain. I let him eat, put the halter on, let him eat some more, then moseyed back to where we came from to saddle him up.

I misplaced my girth and did not know if my mom had used it or what, so I was stuck with a girth that was several inches shorter than mine. I learned two lessons today. #1: don't try girthing up a horse in and English saddle and tight with gloves on. Why? Because you will punch yourself in the face and water up your eyes. I was embarassed because that was a very Three Stooges moment. I am glad no one was there to see me. This way, I can always write this confession off as a deceitful attempt to entertain an audience. I am very clever like that. #2: Just teach your horse to keep his head up when you are cinching up (especially with the tight girth situation). I took the time to teach Blu to keep his head up while I was tightening the girth. It just took a few seconds to teach and reinforce and, now that my gloves were off, buckling up the girth was much easier. What a riot, huh?

As I walked to the pasture gate, I noticed that Blu was stiff and skeptical about the bag-on-a-stick. I addressed this with simple approach and retreat when on the way and when we got to the gate. I tested him out by evaluating his confidence as a sent him through the gate with the stick. No problem, there. He was much more relaxed.

I snuggled with Blu for a bit because that's what he wanted to do. Then it was on to the yoyo with energy (that is looking good, he "studdered" at first, but then would go back with short pauses between his pair at a time drags). When I asked him to circle, I went through an elongated phase one in search of how little it took--he went right without me lifting my finger way up, let alone way out.

He got "stuck" at tire. I let him think through it, waiting for a question from him. When he asked, I smiled and turned my back to him. When I faced him again, I asked him to come in. He was hesitant at first, but then licked and chewed when he got to me and put his head in my arm. I waited until he could maneuver all that mess (ground poles and tires) without it being a big thinking effort. He just went through and/or over it. I noticed that he was very confident about the tire. Lots of times, the other horses will jump over them or stride over them, but if his foot was going to naturally fall into the center of the tire, he let that happen, rather than adjusting his stride to avoid that happening.

I took off the line, coiled it up (which took a while because there were kinks in it) and then walked off to the fence to get the finesse reins and my helmet. Blu waited patiently then followed me when I left. He stood nicely while I tightened his girth (no head nodding, swinging or anything of that nature).

I was going to do some lateral flexion right when I got on, but then I remembered Pat saying to try to do everything on the rail when you are practicing your follow the rail pattern. So, we did lateral flexion on the rail. We got a flex to the right at the end without touching the reins (head turned to right and slightly back, not all the way flexed, but it was a good start to lateral flexion without reins)!

Following the rail, I did the following: walk--walk without reins--trot without reins--good stops. When we were finished, I kept my focus straight at the corner and we trotted out of arena instead turning when I was done. He had no hesitation or second-guessing. We then cantered a lap, transitioned to a trot and spiraled down to the pedestal. We came at the pedestal straight on, so Blu could have gone out of his way and tried to avoid it. Instead, he maintained the trot all the way onto the pedestal and stopped with his front end on it. I dismounted by sliding off his rump, which he was fine with. After itching his itchy spots and running up my stirrups, I walked off. He got right down and came with me.

I really liked today's session. Yup.

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