Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maggie's Birthday is My Gift

I am so abundantly happy. Today was a world rocking day for me. The weather was lovely this morning. I helped Maggie strip Ginger's stall down to the cement before my class. It was her birthday. I was happy to help her so she could play with Ginger sometime today.

I got through my class in peace and quiet, pleased with my time with Maggie and the weather.

When I got home, my Karen Rohlf DVD had arrived. It is the first DVD in her Dressage Naturally series. I will post notes later. I based my session plan for Blu on what I learned from the sections I watched and what I have been doing with Blu.

When I opened the door, Blu looked up, but he was grazing in Ginger's little pasture. I went out to him and pet him. Then, I led Blu from Ginger’s little pasture to Misty’s stall by the mane. He was very light on his mane.

He was startled by the sight of Ginger’s completely bare stall. Haven't seen one of those before! Too funny. I let him retreat then reapproach and guided him to Misty's stall across the aisle from Ginger's. In Misty’s stall, I gave him some hay while I groomed him really well. He looked great and there was a huge pile of hair on the floor of the stall.

Then I gathered up the sticks, lines, bridle, and halter while he migrated to the hay room. I put his halter on and he squeezed out of the hay room to follow me out the front door. With my arms full of equipment, I squeezed him through the gate and he turned & faced while I shut it back up. Then we headed off to the tent I made out of the tarp the other day.

I put my bridle and other stuff I wasn’t using underneath the tent because it was starting to rain. Blu was really curious about the tarp. He pushed on the tarp with his nose and did not panic as I went under and came out etc. When I asked him, he would stick his nose under and dip his head down below it, but that’s all I asked of him, today.

I pet him for a bit before heading off. Misty was being mean to him, so I shooed her. That got Blu moving out a bit and I just morphed it into a circle. I played with stopping him at the tent. The first time, he pushed forward on a string that was holding the tarp down. It was a slow but unconfident leaning. I delicately got him turned around and was sure to not let that happen again lest the whole thing topple over. He got more and more confident about what I was asking, though. On the last one, he stopped a bit late. I waited to see what he would do. He went sideways to the tent, sniffed it, and looked at me! Then he trotted to me when I invited him back.

At liberty by the tent, I did all of the massages to warm up his muscles. He swung his head back when I was stretching left side of the girth and when I was grinding his scapula with the side of my fist on the right side. Otherwise, it’s looking great.

As I was getting up on the barrel, Blu was swinging his head at me. I waited until he relaxed then asked him to come sideways. He did right away, but he was a little tense as I sat down. However, he licked his lips once I was sitting and sighed. I think he is anticipating pain and then realizing it doesn’t hurt anymore.

My plan (after watching a Karen Rohlf DVD) was to start with the ride bridleless to check that I could back up, do left and right lateral flexion, and yields of the hindquarters and forequarters to the left and right without the reins before putting reins.
His back up improved through our warm up. At first, I had to use the sticks and then they got crooked. But each time we stopped and backed up, he got better. When I did his hindquarter yield, it BLEW ME AWAY. Usually, the first time I do those in a session, I need to support with something—stick, string, rein, etc. Today, he immediately did it perfectly (with a tail swish) :). His forequarter yields were good. He needed stick support for the ones to the left once. On the rail, he was doing great at going off my thighs for direction. We did not need much lower leg or heel support, let alone stick. We do have plenty of room for improvement.

On the way to the tent to put on his bridle, I did a spin to the right, walked forward then did a spin to the left. When we spun right, he did it perfectly, and when I stopped, I could feel that if I had gone for a second spin, he would have done it fast. But we flowed on and into a spin to the left. That is when he needed the stick support before we got one without stick.

I tossed the stick down and then asked him to go sideways to the tent. He went perfectly sideways without any rein, without hesitation, without tail swishing—right over to the tent. As I reached under the tent and got the bridle, he was patient and confident. He lifted his nose and put it on the tarp. I reached forward and set the bit in front of his nose and he reached forward and took it into his mouth! I put his ears on and latched the throat latch :). I cried as I reported that :)

First up was to achieve relaxation with the fluid rein. Then I was going to try out what I learned in the Karen Rohlf DVD I watched before me session. You alter the body position of the horse and let him show you what position causes him to stretch and relax. Interesting, right? For fluid rein, we went at the walk for several laps and he was putting his head down, but he did not start blowing until I cantered and trotted. For the other relaxation exercise, he stretched the most into shoulders in. His gaits were much improved to the left from the last time we worked in the arena to the left. They are still not as nice as the right, but there was much less frantic behavior. That goes for his bridleless ride, too. Also, I was super conscientious about shaping my body the way I wanted his. For the fluid rein, I grew my spine 2 inches stretching it and breathing deeply at the same time as well as stretching between my shoulder blades. It took a lot of focus for me to get that one! Of course for shoulders or haunches in or out, I was putting either my torso or hind end in or out while keeping the other straight.
Our relaxation exercises were in the arena. For the rest of the ride, we played with the question box. Next on the plan was to do the friendly game by taking up the reins, finding contact, then putting the slack back in, all without intention. It should mean nothing to the horse, so no pushing or head tossing or stopping or getting tight. Blu did great with it. I verbalized so I could keep a good rhythm. He was doing great at taking cues from my thighs, too.
Next was to change my focus and position to "up" and he should follow. If he doesn’t, I back him up to get him back on his HQ. I did this and started the game of contact at the same time. He kind of braced against the contact and was backing up instead of going forward. I stayed gentle but steady because I knew he was just confused, not being naughty. I returned to the fluid rein and reestablished relaxation. When I returned to the game of contact, he began blowing and snorting and searching for me to use my triceps instead of my biceps. We did at the walk and trot. It was SO cool to feel that hind end power up. As soon as he got it for a lap, I ended the session. He went both directions, and again, his tail swishing goes away while we play the game of contact. When I dismounted, he did not throw his head up, either.

I am welling up here! The waterworks are flowing as I recall this amazing session!

Blu followed me to the tent where I picked up all my ropes and equipment. But when I went to the gate, he stopped and rolled. There goes the clean, well groomed horse I started with :D. That was good to see.

Then he followed me into the barn. In Misty’s stall, I put his belly cover on and sat on a bucket while he ate some hay. We relaxed like that. Putting the belly cover on, I went under his belly a few times and he was very good. I used a horse blanket to wrap his belly (this is to avoid cramping in the abdomen from a cold breeze on his warmed up belly muscles).

Blu followed me to the round pen with his belly cover on. He was noticing the different feeling on his belly, but no negative reactions and he quickly started walking normally. He did a nice squeeze through the gate. I took off his belly cover and pet him for a while.

He did not immediately follow me to the center--he had to smell the earth. I did a little hindquarter yield and drew him to me. He came over with a bright face and I pet him. Then he drank water from the giant pond that is the round pen, right now. Luckily, it was all still clear because we had not played yet.

I played the circling game to see how his new concept of pointing down to circle close and up to circle far away. The good news is that he did not just hustle out to the circle. He was present and participating in the send. I did a change of direction and it was really nice (trot). I did partial disengagements to keep him on a curve around me. When I pointed to the ground, I supported with a partial disengagement. HE DID IT HE DID IT HE DID IT!!!!! I could point up to send him back out and then point down and he would circle close. It was so clear that he got it. MORE TEARS remembering this session. He is the most special horse. He is so smart. He is the BEST and I can only look on as his blinding light consumes all the dark feelings I have suffered through this winter.

He followed me to his stall and I gave him hay. Tomorrow, he is going to get a nice quiet day of reading or something. Blu is a true gift from God.

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