I had two carrot sticks and a savvy string. Blu was by the gate eating drifting hay (The snow was coming down, now, and the wind had been present all day). I gave him a cookie after a horseman's handshake then tied on his neck string. I let him eat a bit before leading him to the cistern. He was not immediately cooperative, but he stepped into place after I cued him to. He raised head and I rubbed his lips until he relaxed, then I sat gently on. We stood for a moment. When I asked him to yield his front end, he did so in a perfect isolation. I only asked for about 3/16's of a turn so he would stop in position over a piece of drift hay. Surprise!
As we headed to the gate, swishy swishy tail. At the gate, I let him eat hay when he was in position. He had pretty nice isolations and was very patient.
When we left his hay, he followed Maggie's path (Maggie was recording our session). When we got onto the track of the 100X50 foot arena, I could feel him knowing he was on the track. But when we got to the first corner, he was thinking about going over to Maggie. I gently corrected him and he settled back on his track.
Here is where Maggie began to record us. Here are my notes from the recording:
- Blu was relaxed checking out the barrels as we went by. When he stopped at one, I was going to correct him, but as he moved his HQ around to face it, I thought better of it and asked him to continue his HQ yield so that we were facing the other direction. NO TAIL SWISHING!
- I asked for the trot and got a big swish, pinned ears, and then he cantered . . . I was surprised. It was a very energetic canter. He completed a lap on the rail w/out stick, but broke in the first corner after completing the lap. No tail swishing as I asked him to get it back, but it took the entire short side and corner before he got it back . . . then he broke after a few strides . . . but got it back again at the next corner.
- He maintained through the next corner and I ran him down the next long side into a slide stop that looked like his usual 4-6 foot and then a nice no swish back up. I tossed a cookie onto the barrel and he sidepassed the one step to the barrel without going forward.
- We stayed at the barrel for about 1 minute. When we started off again NO TAIL SWISH :D
- I headed onto the clover leaf pattern and Blu did not swish his tail, though I did need to go up to the stick phase.
- Everything looked quiet until I got to our next leaf and he began to protest when I asked him to trot. He put his nose in different directions. I just kept him on the pattern and held steady. He gave one big swish before settling into a trot.
- He broke to the walk briefly after our next turn and when he went back to the trot, he bobbed his head at me, but did not swish.
- He broke at the next corner, but did not do any negative reaction when I asked for the trot.
- Now, I ask for the canter. He does not swish, though he does physically have difficulty going into the canter. I stay patient and let him get his bearings.
- It looks really nice for the first corner, but the second corner breaks. I go out of the picture, but I think he swished before picking up again.
- He has success in the next corners, though, so I drove him down the center line and plowed to a stop--it was really on the forehand.
- I backed him up with my seat then asked for a FQ yield. It took him several turns to get it right, but I stayed light and released when he had a 1/4 turn--it was just the "beginning" of the session. I gave him a cookie after a lateral flex.
- Now I asked him to step sideways. He took several steps forward. I played with it for a moment and got some nice sideways steps.
- Then, as we headed forward, tail swishing returned, but not such an upset face. Okay, it got to be an upset face several paces later.
- Now, we have changed directions to a left going cloverleaf at the canter. The first whole pattern was not as bad as yesterdays, but it was a lot of confusion, not cantering, countercanter, not following focus, and tail swishing.
- He kind of mentally petered out and I let him relax into a nice jog for about two clover leaf patterns before asking for a canter. Those patterns looked very nice and relaxed on his part.
- When I asked for the canter, he swished his tail.
- Made two really nice corners.
- Broke in the 3rd corner, but no tail swish to pick up, again--but did start counter cantering and going erratically.
- After one particularly "bad" center line, I redid that section for a better feel. Got it.
- On a corner Blu tried to cut too shallow then came suddenly to his turn for the clover leaf, he slipped and caught us.
- He swished when I asked him to walk then jog. He was going fine, so we continued.
- I did a lap of follow the rail at the canter so Blu had a chance to do that corner regular style. He was fine with it--no worry or avoidance.
- Returned to the erratic clover leaf pattern--still erratic.
I stopped him on the bindertwine fence then spun him a few times at slow speed. Then I did a pattern to the right and when we got to that same spot again, we jumped out of the arena instead of turning. I decided that would be cool when I stopped in front of it, but I knew he need to be going a bit in order to jump.
Blu jumped without hesitation and we zoomed through the pasture to stop and back up. It was just our way of welcoming this monster storm/blizzard.
Natural Horsewoman Out.