When I opened the door, Blu was in Ginger's area eating stubbly grass. He looked up as soon as I opened the door. I smiled at him and cocked a leg. He turned around and began walking away--it was strange, though because he had his problem solving face on (yes, he has a problem-solving face). I realized that he was not walking straight to me because the muck not so bad if he walks away from me and around to the east. I thought that was cool.
I put his halter on and let him eat in Ginger's stall while I groomed him really well. I let him tell me if certain brushes bothered him. I remember learning when I was a kid that grooming is a special time for a horse when I read Black Beauty. Black Beauty mentions how much he loves the experienced groom who knows how and where to brush with the different brushes in a way that feels good and doesn't hurt him.
When we left, he had nice feel on the line. In the drive way, I drove him from zone 3 to get the newspaper. I wanted him to show me his thresholds on the way to the road. I talked myself through them so I could remember them for this post:
- at the first one, his head came up, his ears started darting, his head was looking quickly from one spot to another, and his back was tense.
- I waited
- he dipped his head down and licked and chewed.
- I asked him to walk on and he went right off, head low
- I saw his head start to rise a bit and I knew the threshold was coming.
- he stopped, raised his head more, ears darting, etc.
- the time was less for me to wait
- he put his head down, licked and chewed, brought his head level, and continued walking on his own
- a repeat of the 2nd threshold episode was our 3rd threshold, only the wait was even shorter
- At the road, he did some circles, but stayed pretty level. He is definitely making progress
I have to watch the Karen Rohlf DVD again, but what I did with Blu tonight was disengaging the hindquarters in motion. Instead of leaning down, you lift your posture up and the horse continues forward motion. The inside hind leg steps deep under and across the belly and all the legs are going toward the outside direction as the horse faces you a bit. Blu was confused, but he maintained his forward motion really well. I am just taking it slow, of course. Our preparatory circling game to make sure his normal hindquarter yields were good went well.
We had to hunt for my reins (I hung them on a post, but I could not find them for a while!). I mounted from the picnic table. He did a nice job. He went right to the grass when I got on. When we walked off, he was kind of keyed up. I could tell he had some jigs he had to get out, still. I flowed with his fast walk and gently directed him around to the gate to go into the pasture.
Working the gate, I was able to hold onto the gate the whole time.
I cantered around the pasture to let him get his "jigs" out. He had some bucks to throw and a few head tosses. I rode with him and he blew and got a drink of water from a puddle. When we were on his left lead, he had a tendency to fall to the left.
Now that we were at our pattern, I could tell he was feeling like himself. I wanted to play with having him move his shoulders right as we cantered on the left lead. I was placed with the question of how to get Blu motivated to go to the canter, though. I have been doing the question box for a while, now, he needed a purpose! I sat on him and thought about what we could do.
Then it came to me.
I turned Blu around and we cantered right off to Misty. My plan was to put her inside the question box. All I know is that if Blu and I play with cows, unless Blu is terrified of cows, I might have trouble keeping his attention on me--he might just prefer to chase the cow around and ignore me. As you might guess from that, Blu was very keen on this idea of herding Misty. Misty gave warning kicks at him. I kept Blu in her zone 5 and steered her to the box by simply putting his nose on the side she should turn away from. It was going great until we got to the box. She stopped before going in. She wanted to talk to me . . . :)
I tried to shoo her, but she really wanted to talk to me. I pet her face (itchy!). She looked at me with her deep brown eyes. They looked glowy and innocent and sweet. THEN SHE PINNED HER EARS AND SWUNG HER HEAD AT BLU'S HEAD AS HE BEGAN TO LOOK AT HER and then immediately turned her sweet innocent face back to me. It was very funny to see how fast and CLEAR she was about her sentiments toward the different zones of Blu (I like zone 3, I DON'T like zone 1).
I flailed my hand at her to try and get her to go away to the box. I finally was able to push her sideways with Blu (pushed her sideways as I pushed Blu sideways). She was pretty confused/ornary about this set up. As soon as she was in the box, I had Blu go sideways the other way. Blu and I waited for her to leave her box. She did after about 30 seconds and we sprung into action. She was just stepping toward us, so we sprung into the action of gently putting her back. This time, she waited patiently watching us. After a few minutes, I whistled her to us and she came immediately (they both got a cookie).
Misty started eating and Blu and I played our question box game. He did a nice job of shaping himself. I played a little with contact. He was making contact with the outside rein while putting slack in the inside rein really nicely. I surprised him once by asking him to go then immediately asking him to stop. He had a big sigh and lick and chew after that.
When I went to get down, he had a bout of back pain. GASP! I forgot his massages! Oh no!! I sat on him for a moment. He was swinging his head at me trying to bite my foot. I had him do a lateral flex the other way and he relaxed a bit, but I did not want to lean forward and pinch something . . .
I whistled and Misty immediately came to us. She greeted me and I greeted her. Then I held my hand up and cued her to present her back to me. At first she tried to touch my hand with her nose (I think she thought I had a cookie). Then she kind of went "Oh!" and set up right next to Blu. I slid to the side and onto her back. Blu did not throw his head up or pin his ears.
Misty stood stock still, totally naked. It was such a beautiful partnership display. I gave her a cookie and got down.
Blu wanted to roll, so we walked around and found a good spot. Misty was following me.
Misty followed us to the gate. I promised her I would come back and take her on an adventure walk, later. I put Blu away and went with my mom to the pet food store to buy dog and cat food.
When I got back, I got our Griswold the Barn Kitten/Cat and tucked him in my shirt. Misty was watching me, waiting on the edge of her seat. When I called, she immediately came to meet me at the gate. She ducked her head right into the halter when I held it up. We walked down the driveway, down the road, and only got 100' on the neighbor's drive and then Griswold's new people pulled in.
Griswold is going to live as an indoor kitten with a friend. I will really miss him.
While we chatted, Misty was a good girl. She tried to rub on my friend's boyfriend, but not too hard and she came back to stand with me. She was very confident about their van as it drove away.
Then I trotted with her down the drive, down the road and all the way to the neighbor's pasture. It was a very lovely adventure trot. I let her eat grass for a bit then we walked home. Misty was so calm on the way home. I walked with a hand on her withers. As we approached the road, even as we went on the road, her tempo and tension stayed level. That was cool.
In the driveway, we played rough for a moment--rearing, spinning, running, jumping. Then we came off adrenalin together and I put her in her stall. Later in the evening, she exhibited confidence and sensitivity as I put her back in her stall by backing her up.
Misty felt like such a part of me tonight. I love her. I hope she is happy.
Natural Horsewoman Out.