Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Moving On and Boy are We Moving Along

What a turn around from yesterday. Today, I did some things to get myself on the road again. It is the road of the journey. I have been on a ridiculous self-caused detour, but I am back on track. I had a major God-intervention last week and I am done brushing myself off. Goggles are on and don't blink because you'll miss me. Woohoo!

This morning, I watched part of the Parelli Freestyle Patterns DVD while I created a program for me to start with Blu and also made an organizational binder. It has 8 sections:
Finances- spending history, receipts, budget, projected expenditures. I am like a business!
Fast Track- applications, important documents, forms, things I need to take, things I need to do. I am going to be ready!
Four horse sections are obvious: Blu Program, Misty Program, Short Term Goals, Long Term Goals.
Network- all the horse people I know
Blog- my written rough drafts that need to be blogged, and all of my 2009-2010 journaling notes that need to be journaled.

This tool should help me stay on top of things and stay FOCUSED. Yes. This week, I am meeting with my advisor to schedule a light spring semester. This spring will be completely focused on "capitalizing" on daylight in horse terms.

When I was done with my organization fest, I went to the farm. All the horses were out back. I grabbed my jump roping carrotsticks and hustled out. You might not know because I have to update my blog (sorry), but jump roping is Blu's new thing. Tie the savvy strings of two carrotsticks together and jump rope as you ride. So, I am running to the back pasture with these sticks. I get back there and whistle so everyone knows I am there.

Blu came up to me and I stood with him and scratched him for five minutes or so before taking him away. Then I shooed the girls up and put the savvy string in front of Blu's chest while I stood behind him. Then I proceeded to drive him up to the front in this totally new way. He was relaxed and learned how to move properly in it really fast. He backed up lightly, even. Cool? Then I let him walk over the savvy string and I drove in zone 5 from a distance because I saw the opportunity to. He understood. I would turn him to the right by stepping to left then raising then waving the stick. You can guess how I turned him left, then. I was 15 feet or more behind him for most of it. I had to go closer to figuratively "shut the door" to guide him through the gate between the North and South pastures, but he did not panic. He waited very patiently while I shut the gate.

For the next 2 hours, I built a 100' x 50' arena on the flattest part of our pasture. It was a big effort. I have pictures to document the monument to my new program. We will be going through the patterns and cleaning up anything that comes up dirty. I needed a bigger arena so when we move into the cantering, Blu can stay in balance. He has difficulty staying balanced in the other arena I made.
I am particularily proud of the fence made of sticks. Only one part is lashed right now; the rest is balancing![URL=http://s757.photobucket.com/albums/xx211/YouthfulAdage/?action=view&current=Farm-my100x50homemadearenanov162010012.jpg][IMG]http://i757.photobucket.com/albums/xx211/YouthfulAdage/th_Farm-my100x50homemadearenanov162010012.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
You can click on the images to enlarge them.

So, when I finished this project, I had only 15 minutes left to ride! I decided to ride with two unstrung carrot sticks only. Blu had been wandering around the pen and pasture and had visited with me several times, so I decided he was ready to ride. Right away. Or at least ready to ask if I could mount.

I don't know if you as the reader know this, but Blu has been really hating me swinging on. He does not really care if I do it from the stirrup or the fence. But he does not like it at all when I swing on from the ground. I do it gracefully, but Blu pins his ears and threatens me when I jump at his side as if to get on. I have tried various things with menial success. Today, I was going to have better timing, treats, and patience. It was funny that I was so patient even though I only had 15 minutes. I was in a good mood today and had a good perspective for the day, I guess. So, with perfect timing with the treats, the stops, and jumping, he finally relaxed while I swung on. Phew! It only took 3 or 4 minutes.

Then we were on to the arena. The corners are open so that no matter what direction we go on the rail, if we don't turn at the corner, we squeeze right out of the arena. I did this so that he would be encouraged to go high in the corners. We might just ride right out and follow the outside of the rail (we did that once or twice)--or we might turn at the last moment!

In the ten minutes I had with him, Blu proved himself to be an amazing partner. I stopped at the cones I have at the halfway point on the long sides. Then I would ask for lateral flexion without using the sticks (just twist my torso, add a light leg to cue the ribs over (light as in push the hair) if needed) in each direction. I also asked for the backup. I was not particular about straightness, just understanding of lightness and cues. He usually did it with just the seat and energy in my stomach--a chakra movement is the best way to describe it. Phase two is leg flapping, phase three is the sticks coming down, and phase four, which we never did during that session, is tapping the nose with the sticks. I was really pleased with him. He was so light and responsive, I was perfectly happy to call it a day. Couldn't have asked for a better stopping point.

He followed me to the back. As the other horses raced by, he stood by me. He thought for a while about whether to follow me back up to the front or go to the back where the other horses had gone. I began running up to the front (I was late!) and he decided to go out back.

I felt so good about that session. I was so geeked when I realized it was Tuesday and I didn't have class til 4, so after an appointment with my boss, I was able to return to the farm for another session.

Blu and the girls were in Middle Earth. I put a few piles of hay out and called them up. They were already watching me and Misty was already on her way when I called. Pretty soon, they were all there. Blu picked the pile I was standing by. I rubbed, scratched, and did TTouches on him. I also stood back and practiced throwing carrotsticks up and catching them without looking.

When I was ready to get on, it took much less to get Blu's permission. I stabilized him and he only tossed his head one time, got a cookie, and then was ready. Once on, I practiced tossing the sticks. When I switched to not looking, one bounced off my palm before I closed my hand. So, I spent 5 minutes (or more, it felt like it took three days) using the leather loop on the end of one carrot stick to pick up the other from Blu's back. It was very difficult. Blu just ate away. I will have to teach him to "dame" the stick for me ("dame" means "give to me" in Spanish. It is Blu's cue to pick something up with his mouth. So far, he only knows to pick up ropes, halters, and cowboy hats.)

In this session, I wanted to focus on testing out my direct and indirect "reins," but after a very crooked back up, I decided to forego that plan and straighten out his back up. For record's sake, his direct rein (moving forequarters) was about expiramentation. He would laterally flex, but I just held my focus, steady pressure in the same position until he tested out the right thing. Pretty soon, he could differentiate just fine. The indirect rein was another issue, though. I think it would be better to have reins on as a phase four option so I can stay light overall; then we will go back to bridleless.

This time, I stopped in the corners. This tested how well he was listening to me. He was thinking about going right through the gap, not suddenly stopping. We had struggles--not big deals--that I gave a break for after each one so Blu could think. The longest struggle was when he did not stop until he was just outside the arena. This was tough, backing through the opening exactly straight so we didn't plow over the fence. Very tricky! Finally, though he got it just right. I decided that I should wait until he did something more than the immediate lick and chew. After five minutes or so, he sighed, yawned, shook his head and neck, and licked and chewed. "Wow!" he said. We went at that corner again, and this time he stopped with just his head out. I backed him up and went to it once more. This time, he stopped right on time. The next corner, which was following a long side (so he had distance to forget his lesson), he stopped right on again. I backed him up straight and did it again. Same great results, even better, a great place to stop.

I tried to give Blu a treat in the carrotstick, but he kept knocking it out of the leather loop. I would use the other carrot stick to load the cookie back into the loop. Mad skill, man, mad skill. Anyway, I gave up and gave it to him with my hand. The reason I wanted to give him a treat with the carrotstick was to counter all of phase 4 tonight. I wanted him to know the carrotsticks weren't bad.

I got down and walked to the back gate. He followed me out and stood with me again as the girls ran out. This time, he followed me up to the front pasture. He even stopped and nickered to the long-gone-girls then continued to follow me. I gave him hay in Hoosier's stall. . . and a hug.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

The next step with the lateral flexion is to have him keep his head back by me while I pet his face and after that, it will be while I bridle him.

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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