Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lead Change Ladder Day Two

I feel like I have finally had a real breakthrough in my feel so I can get the rapport and respect I need with Blu--the stuff we lack when Blu is swishing his tail. Today, he did it even less as a result of my new feel.

I started in a new way: I opened the door from several feet away and maintained my position there. I couldn't see any horses. I let the drama of the void in the door way build before I called out to Blu. I heard feet shuffling. Blu appeared into my view and I played peek-a-boo with him. After a few minutes, Ginger popped into view. I backed her up by wiggling my carrot stick in my hand. As Ginger backed away, Blu came to the doorway.

I sat and stretched while Blu ate in the aisle. He was very cooperative when I put on his bridle. He sought out the bit and kept his head in position throughout. I put the halter on over the bridle and hooked him up to a feather line.

As we went off to the drive way, I had in mind to keep Blu next to or ahead of me, rather than trailing behind me. I feel like he's often way back there and when it is such a constant thing, it feels like a lack of partnership. So, Blu walked next to me.

Our first deal was sideways. I had three buckets set up 22' apart, each with a cookie on it. I got him sideways to the first one without moving my feet, then the other two. Each time got better, but he was still dragging something and not moving both together (as in his FQ or HQ). Next, I switched to him coming to me. I saw him thinking about coming to me with just the stick floating over his head a few times, but it did not go any further than that and I had to use the string over his back gently wiggling. He tried to go forward a few times and I just stopped moving (I was about 7' from him) and wiggled him back into place. When arrived to the other side, I switched sides and he came towards me in the other direction. I did not notice a difference between the two sides.

I turned the feather line into two long reins and drove him from zone 5. It was a bit wiggly and unsure and when we got to the trailer to go sideways, he was very unconfident and confused about what I was asking when I wanted him to go sideways. I stayed patient through his experimentation. When we arrived at the other end of the trailer, I opened the tack compartment and put on the English saddle that was in there. Blu was looking at me as I saddled him up, but he was not pinning his ears and he had a soft face.

For mounting, my dear friend Anna had the most creative idea for me to try. I set up two barrels on end, stand on them with a foot on each, then ask Blu to squeeze under me and between the barrels and I sit gently on his back. I was standing on the barrels and just about to ask Blu to try it when my brain kicked in and I realized I needed to be a bit more lateral about this. So I stood on one barrel and played the squeeze game through the 2 1/2 foot gap between the barrels until he was doing them fluidly. At first, he was aiming toward a barrel. I played the ambassador of yes and simply backed him up and sent him forward again--no bracing. Next I had him squeeze through while I held an arm over his head. When he graduated going between my legs, it was easy as pie!

We were working in the driveway today. I don't know if that was a better place than the snowy yard from yesterday, but I do know that I was very uncomfortable with the saddle between me and my horse. He was kind of making progress with the transitions, but that saddle was frustrating me.

I used a snow drift to stop him, once. However, he stopped out of balance, leaning to far forward and so he kind of stumbled up the drift a bit--kind of like falling up the stairs. The lurch sent my saddle rolling down his side. He was in the drift up to his belly in snow, but I was plopped next to the drift a bit.

One of my greatest fears is having my foot stuck in the stirrup and being dragged. With my boot stuck in the stirrup and Blu hanging his head waiting for instruction, I freed my boot in a panic. I pushed the saddle back on, unbuckled the girth, and pitched the whole thing into the drift. I shakily remounted him. Blu was just ho-hummy and happy as a clam. I knew it was a silly thing to panic the way I did.

We arrived to a nice canter-walk transition and I called it a day.

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