Monday, January 3, 2011

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

ORI: Blu, 1/2/11, Afternoon, 1 hour, 30 minutes

Sometimes when learning something new, Blu gets very concerned and worried. I have to wait it out and find the little tries as efficiently as possible so he can get a release. It used to make me nervous for his well-being when he would start to get so confused. Sometimes, I even got frustrated. Yesterday, I just knew that he would find the answer, though. Invariably, he does, as long as I set him up to. Today we were doing things that he is not "solid" on. I wanted to move these skills into more sensitive phases. The key was to keep going until he got a right answer, not increase the pressure when he was trying, and to stay calm, no matter how high the phase was. I called this post "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" because after we got over the shaky and rattley stuff, we rolled right along!

Blu was eating hay outside a stall, but he obediently came with me. I let him eat loose hay in the aisles on the way out of the barn. Then we fought with the water trough. The water heater shorted out on him, so once that thing was trashed, I had to show Blu the water was safe. It was comical. . . except when Blu pitched my gloves into the water trough--something I only find funny looking back!

I had buckets set up, but forgot to put treats on them. So, as we would pass a bucket, I would quick put a cookie on it so it would be there next time. We worked up to the canter. Blu got a little bit on adrenaline, so the buckets were really important because he knew we would stop there, so he was already slowing down when I asked him. A couple times, I asked for him to just walk, which surprised him, as he was ready to take off again. Today, I will play more with transitions in shorter spans--more buckets!

As a personal progress note, I am getting better at handling the featherlines in zone 5. I am still draggin 10 foot tails behind me, but he is not getting feet tangled in them as often. I would say we got feet where they shouldn't be in relation to the lines about 10 times during the session. I will be watching for that number to go down and to continue to increase the amount of the lines that I am using.

We also did a focus on sideways with the trailer. At the neck area of the trailer, I had a chair with a cookie on it. I did not let him arrive at that cookie until we could with relaxation. We must have gone back and forth 15 times. Needless to say, it took a while. He would get very confused, have opposition reflex, and want to go forward or backward. I used my phases very clearly and rewarded him immediately for anything right--from a thought to stopping doing the wrong direction to actually sidepassing in the correct direction. It all depended on what he need each moment. It was a good exercise for knowing what he required. When he finally got relaxed and could go sideways without worrying, I had him go sideways on our phase one to the cookie-chair. Phew!

I took off his gear and dropped in the super dry-frozen driveway. He followed me to the barn. I told him he could eat the loose hay in the yard, but he only took a few bites and followed me to the barn. I deliberated for a moment about whether to do finesse or freestyle. I still was not comfortable riding with absolutely nothing, so I put on a neckstring and took two carrot sticks. I mounted up using the water trough. He was very cooperative. Still, he did not automatically sidepass to me, but he did not pin his ears or get worried.

We started fast to get him calm--still really windy today, plus freezing cold. I could definitely tell he was a bit worried because he could not focus on me enough to have sensitive back ups. Once he had some semblence of mental collection (and more sensitive back ups!), we focused on sensitizing his hindquarter yields; they are still pretty clunky without a bridle. He gave me several really nice hindquarter yields with just a light heel. Sometimes, it was another case of the shake-rattle-and-roll illustration, and I will definitely be wanting to check on this today.

In any case, yesterday was a good session between my two work shifts. Very cold and windy, but we made first steps that will be important to our progress.

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