Official Records Information Blu/45 minutes/11.25.10/afternoon
Blu was in Hoosier's run-in stall when I arrived. He gave me a nose kiss and came out into the aisle. I was already ticking away at my strategy for the session. He was in a good mood, but being a bit oblivious to steady pressure as I maneuvered him out of the aisle way, out of the barn and into the open lawn. Even as I gathered up my equipment, I was planning.
I wanted to add hindquarter yields to his legs-only repertoire, but I knew that we would need to play with that sensitivity, first. I also wanted to check on his yoyo and see if we could have a better start with the yoyo.
By making clear phases, I woke up his sensitivity to the feel on the line when he is grazing to a soft touch to lift his head from his beloved grass. That sensitivity would last throughout the session and this instance played the important role of a daily touch up for his porcupine game on the halter.
I fixed a downed section of my homemade arena by driving a disembodied wooden handle into the ground with a hammer. I don't know what I did, but I ended up with said hammer swinging through the air. I caught it by the head, but the way I pulled it too me, the handle bumped Blu's nose and surprised him. I think I would not be including this part of the story in the world publication of my life if it was not midnight, but it is midnight, so I am crazy-unintelligent. Needless to say, I yoyoed Blu to the end of my 12' line and continued my maintenance. He was fine but that could have been much worse.
Next, I went to a fence line of the homemade arena and I was going to do a yoyo on the rail, but I thought better of it. I should start out this thing that causes him to go introverted with something nice than sending him away. So, friendly game rubbing his face, massaging his lips, and scratching his neck to relax him before doing something very demanding. . .
With the yoyo game on the fence, we hit a milestone: no shut down when he got to the end of the line and he was able to come back to me straight, all on the first yoyo. I recalled the other day when his yoyos got progressively "worse." I tried the yoyo again. I thought he was going out, but he didn't. He came back to me with just a suggestion. Phew. I will tell you, it is a little nervewracking when something that has never been a problem and is as basic as the yoyo game come-back starts going strange. I am glad to be on the right track to sorting this out.
As far as the send half of his yoyo, that is looking better, too. Once I was ready the first time, Blu was looking to the east. I stepped forward and rubbed his ribs. I could sense he had some apprehensions about the pressure that would follow this position of me facing him. That massage straightened him out almost immediately and I waited a moment before sending him away so he relaxed. I used my energy-only phase one, but I had to experiment with energy levels to find the "just right" amount because at first he was saying "that’s too loud."
On the 4th yoyo send, once he was out, I sent him on a circle and did 1/2 circles on the fence because those hindquarter yields on the fence were going to be the focus during our freestyle. So, in a sense, were practicing what we were about to do.
After the 1/2 circles were getting fluid and relaxed, instead of changing his direction the next time he came to the rail, I sent him sideways. I did not have a carrotstick on me, so I just had my intent and body. I only asked for about 15 feet then stopped. Blu was not looking at me for severl moments. I just waited through that. Then he looked to me and came to me upon invitation. Little did he know, he was now in position for mounting up as he stood in front of a barrel (said barrel has water pooled on its end and Blu quickly drains that. This information is important for later).
Mounting took a long time and lots of friendly game. I started on the ground and once he tolerated me jumping by his side, I stood on one of the upended barrels that makes up a part of my arena rail. Blu seems to prefer I don't swing on from the ground. I don't know if this has to do with physical pain on his part or if it is a something that just upsets him, so I try to find something to stand on.
Blu was biting, pinnin his ears, and swinging his head when I was on the ground. When I was on the barrel, I played with come sideways to me. Honestly, sideways game is not so good for Blu, but he figured this out pretty quick with the 12' line. He was not as violent when I was on the barrel, but he was defensive. This makes me think that this is not about pain, but in a confidence thing. If it is confidence related, I think I should keep treats out of it. Anyhow, I did approach and retreat until he finally said I could get on. He waited quietly for instruction once I was on, too.
The first priority was to take him to the water trough if he was thirsty enough to slurp up the water in the end of the barrel . . . well. He had a big drink at the tank.
Back in the arena, I made up a pattern in my head and began riding with one rein. I would do a tear drop change of directions at one cone, and at the other, we would do hindquarter yield to change direction. I pretended like I did not have that rein, I just needed it as support for the hind quarter yields. Once we had several light yields, I took the line off by doing a lateral flexion with no reins. He was good waiting for me to do that.
Here, I would like to say how awesome Blu's trot to back up with nothing but the seat is, now. He took a wrong step toward the inside of the arena and I was able to correct by changing my focus to an 1/8 more to the left than center. It was very cool to feel him respond to that.
His corners could have been better, surely. I think some corners game would fix that, though.
The hindquarter yields puzzle went unresolved for the most part but it's on the way. I was close to a learning breakthrough for him when my dad pulled in the driveway to whisk me away--I had lost track of time!
I dismounted and Blu followed me at liberty to his stall where I gave him some hay. Good boy!
So, next time, hindquarter yields and no using treats to resolve any facial expression issues during mounting because it is most likely not a dominant thing!
Natural Horsewoman Out.