For my session, I wanted to keep in mind what I learned/was reminded last night during my lesson with Meggie. Let's review:
- Don't use the stick / don't make me use the stick
- Tail swishing = not wanting to = need to get interesting
- Don't "yell" (ie use a phase 2 when you could use a phase 1. . . or an even lighter phase 1!)
- Count how many times you use the carrot stick per lap
- Canter transition: look above the horizon line
- Don't lean back to back--just the belly button
- Only have two carrot sticks down by head to stop
- As confidence grows in "spooky" spots, ask for more try
Blu/45 minutes/ 1-28-11/ evening
Misty/ 5 minutes/ 1-28-11/ evening
I had a pocket full of cookies, two unstrung carrot sticks, and a savvy string. Blu was eating from Ginger's afternoon hay snack. He immediately connected with me when I came over, went to eat some more, but when I stopped, he stepped over to me. I gave him a cookie and led him back to his sneaking-hay spot. "How was your day? Did you eat stuff? Did you get snowed on? Did the big horses pick on you? Did you deserve to be picked on?" questions. Then I took a handful of hay and set it next to the cistern 6' away. I gently lead Blu to it and gently yielded his hind quarters so I could mount from the cistern. He ate from his little pile, but when I stepped onto the cistern, he was concerned. I reassured him and when he relaxed gently sat on him. He did not stiffen, but stayed relaxed and ate his hay. We stood there for a good five minutes before I asked him to go to another hay pile.
It was about 10 minutes of me asking him to eat hay before I asked him to go to the gate. He tried to leave the gate initially, but I just circled him back around (gently) and we were back where we started. Now, he settled with me. I sat there for several seconds before asking him to back up. I had to use my feet wiggling on his shoulders gently at first. In position, I let him stand and relax again. Once I got to unlocking the gate, he was still and patient. As I got the gate open, he was cooperative again. Locking the chain back up, I repeated the relaxing stands and everything went so smoothly. Gates get SO much simpler when you give the horse plenty of quiet moments and really wait for the cooperation and soft feel before moving on.
As we bumbled off at the speed of a tortoise, I thought about doing something that would not make him swish his tail. . . so I began to go the speed of a glacier in my body (glaciers are much slower than tortoises, you see). Or at least I tried. As we went along, I found myself releasing more and more energy that was getting pent up in my abdomen. Blu was slowing down until we were creeping along. All this with just energy! Then I began to build it back up and moved my arms a bit more at the walking clip I wanted. We walked right over the pedestal without loss of momentum. No tail swishing. I began using the pedestal as a resting spot. He was no tail-swishing when we began the jog/trot. I did the same thing in that gait-slow and slower and back to slow. I did not ask for much variation, I just wanted to be a little bit provocative.
This was an excellent warm up: it got us both thinking about tiny things and thinking together. When Maggie got out there (bless her heart, she recorded our entire follow the rail session), Blu was READY for that 100' by 50' arena session. We went in and he was on the rail doing his job--I could feel it.
After viewing the video, I see that Blu does a lot of tail swishing! I was trying to find the smallest voice. The stick seems to be used much less. Good focus. Really nice stop at the end of the session. . . video still not on youtube, though I do have the link below to a video of how Blu followed me afterward.
I also made a video of five minutes of liberty with Misty chasing me around. Chasey chasey. . .
Natural Horsewoman Out.