Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pattern 180

9-14-10 afternoon Misty then Blu 1 hour 30 minutes

All of the horses were out back (the fence is fixed, so Blu has regained the privilege going out to eat with the other horses, and he can even go out naked!). Misty and Ginger were the ones a saw first. I whistled and Misty began to come to me. Now, to be honest, what would have happened if I had stood still is Misty would have run past me and gone up front. Usually, when they are out back, they see humans and quite often think we are there to round them up, so they will run to the front. I decided to do something I don't think I have done before. I walked backwards. Then I turned and walked away. Then I ran. Misty and Ginger followed me with really interested faces. I was making their idea my idea. It was pretty cool.

I ended up with Blu because Conner got Misty and Ginger's attention and stole them from me. I did not mind, today. I lead Blu on the 11' finesse reins that I bought at the Performance Summit. I wrapped them around the tying post while I got the 45' line and carrot stick. Blu was very attentive while I was in the barn--I kept peeking out at him.

Again, I started out slow. Friendly, then using my energy to back him up. I accepted that he would be groggy and less sensitive at first, so I did not get critical or particular right off the bat. I accepted his littlest try, even though I knew he could do better. You see, I knew he was not mentally engaged yet. Slowly, I built up his sensitivity with politeness. So, within about 3 minutes, he was backing up with a good clip with just my energy--and I had him go all the way out to the end of the rope like that. Over time, I got more particular--I wanted straightness, I wanted more speed. We made good progress in both of those. For straightness, he has a tendency to back up crooked with the intention of circling.

What followed was a big, long, circling game that reached a crescendo before I finally put my foot down and said "Okay, let's take a step back and get a simple victory for ourselves." He was having problems with his flying changes, specifically his change of direction when he was changing to going counterclockwise. I would do the "come here so I can smack you" look, which is supposed to mean, go in the other direction, and he would just freeze up. I was testing out different things, and everything seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket. Finally, I got my head on straight and decided to work on the change of direction in its most basic form--with a fence.

I took my energy way down and went into do as little as possible mode. We did a lot of changes. I did not worry about gait, I just waited for him to do a confident, relaxed change to the counterclockwise direction. When we finally graduated away from the fence (which was a slow progression of approach and retreat away from and back to the fence when needed), I quit when he completed a circle then a change of direction in both directions with relaxation. Oh, boy! It was a long time, but it definitely wasn't a waste.

I took off the 45' line and coiled it up right there. He followed me to the fence, but laid down and rolled on the way, so I laid down, too. When he got up, he continued following me. When we arrived at the fence where the finesse reins were tied, he stopped just out of reach of the clip. Instead of taking the halter and porcupining him forward, I tested his "Yes, Ma'am" by asking him to come forward with a beckoning finger. He looked at me very intensely, thinking, then he stepped forward. One of the attributes of a good partner that we talked about this weekend was "a horse that sees what you want and puts effort into helping you do it." I don't think that there is a better definition than that for what Blu did. He saw me stretching the rein's clip toward him and me asking him to come forward, and he helped me accomplish my goal of tying him up. That was really cool, even though it was very simple.

I put the finesse reins on and jumped on. He stood and waited. Off we went to the invisible round pen. My plan was to do follow the rail, with an emphasis on maintain gait. When he broke gait, I thought, why not do a change of direction? So, we did follow the rail with 180 squeezes every time he broke gait. It worked really well, and he was super at the squeezes. I was so pleased with it. I ended when he was able to complete a lap in balance at the canter. Things to work on are his short fence line lines, which he tends to make into oval caps. Once he is really good at the 180 game, I will focus on the corners game.

Dismounted by standing on my hands and knees then stretching down his back and off his rump. No problem. He followed me at liberty to the other pasture and even when the other horses left did not leave. I lead him to the water to see if he needed a drink. He did not. I told him to go out back and I really ad to encourage him to leave.

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