Saturday, February 28, 2009

Riding with Nancy!!

Had a fantastic day riding at Sharptail with Nancy! Loved it! We rode hard and fast and Rain was a great partner. I rode her almost the entire way w/o picking up my reins! At one point she was cantering downhill and a big dip was coming in the trail and I wanted her to slow down. I tried to slow her down at first with my body and I needed her to slow down right away so I went for the reins. We cantered and galloped a lot and all with no reins!

Otherwise, I did the whole ride w/o them and we were riding for about 3 hours and 12 miles. I love that mare. I like that I'm getting good bridleless time on the mare I fully trust so that I'm more prepared to get that done with Z. Tomorrow I ride Z for the first time in a couple weeks.

Need to trim some hooves. Rain's feet are growing very crooked and I need to balance her out.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Started Nina!

She had a great start, too. I'm so honored to be a part of her first ride. When we started, she was quite wooly and I'm not sure why. She had a lot of piss and vinegar and we were thinking today wouldn't be the day. However, I kept playing with her and showed Loma some of the things I've been teaching her. She was definitely playing some dominance games with me and I was doing my best to act like her partner so she'd act like mine. I tried to start some good sideways and that was when I felt like she finally started to settle. We squeezed over barrels (she is NOT a jumper!). We did a little falling leaf, circle with change of directions, stick to me, yo-yo and a bit of yield the fore and the hind.

Loma loved the circle game where I had Nina trot and canter when I trotted and cantered. I explained that it's a start to her mounted work - when I trot, you trot. When I canter, my horse should canter. Nina does great with that game.

I started her w/o tack and when she started to settle, I tacked her up with my western saddle. I had to put the saddle on her a few times before she would stand still for it. I continued to pull it off until she finally stood still the 4th or 5th time. Then we went into the round pen and warmed up with the saddle on.

My saddle has a lot of strings hanging down and it was windy. Nina was bothered and kicking at the strings. We played until I could get her to canter w/o bucking. That took about 15 mins. Then, we decided it was time to settle her down some and have Loma get on.

I felt very confident that the time was right and it was! She stood quietly while Loma got up and down, then bellied her, then swung a leg over. Each time she got up on her belly, I let Nina get very relaxed, then we'd walk a bit. In the end, Loma sat up straight and we rubbed Nina all over. She was relaxed and took a huge breath in and out. That was when I asked Loma to hop off and we were done.

All in all, a great start for a fantastic performance horse with a great future. I can't wait to see how she develops.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mending a relationship

Not sure what it was, but Zarah has been avoiding me over the past week and I've been working to mend the relationship. Today, we made great strides. It was the first day in several days that she offered to walk to me. I'm not sure exactly what I did to make her think avoiding me was the best move. My guess is I pushed her too hard by taking her on the trailer, on the trail alone, or something like that. I was maybe doing too much with her. Anyway, I'm mending the bond and I'll pay close attention to be sure I don't do it again.

I put Kendall on Rain for a bit and she rode around the yard, crossing obstacles and just having an interesting time with Rain. In the meantime, I tended to Cowboys cut on his heel bulb. Zarah was in a stall finishing her grain. After Cowboy, I went in to see if she was interested in some time with me. She looked at me, I waited and about 10 seconds later she walked to me. Ahhhh... So nice.

I gave her a few cookies and haltered her. I led her into the barn and just brushed her for a while. She was relaxed and calm. She enjoys being brushed. This was the first time I'd interacted with her in many days. Her hind feet are starting to look very bull-nosed again. They were looking really nice for a while. I'm guessing the lack of movement is a problem. When I'm using her and riding her often, she lifts her hinds more than when she's in the pasture.

Anyway, I took her into the round pen and decided to try to teach her a trick. I chose the head-shaking trick. It was cute, she didn't have a clue. I've taught her to hug and we've tried to develop the bow. Seriously, I'm always working with her on specific tasks for the program and never just teaching her a silly trick. I could tell, she didn't really know how to feel about it.

She wasn't quite getting it and after some time, I smiled at her and we left the round pen. We'll see tomorrow if she thought that was interesting or not. I'll know by how she responds to me when she sees me tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Passed L3 Online!!

I'm very excited to say that I have officially passed L3 Online. I submitted my videos about 6 weeks ago and passed the 3 remaining tasks of Liberty but did not get any notification on Online. I then learned that was because I did not pass Online. So, I was very disappointed to learn that way (by investigating and asking questions via email). I would have expected my submission to include some indication of what I'd passed and what I'd need to go further develop with my horse partner. However, I got nothing.

After a couple days of thinking it through and processing what I felt I deserved, I wrote an email asking that my submission be reviewed again and feedback provided. I was respectful and tried to just explain that I put a lot of effort in and felt a deserved a little more in return.

Lo and behold, they reviewed my submission and passed me on the whole savvy! So, did they not watch it the first time? Did they just pass so they could keep a high spending dedicated student like me around? Do I care? Maybe a little.

Anyway, I have Freestyle left to do and I'll be officially a L3 grad and a L4 student. Way to go, ME!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Riding Rain at Spruce Meadows

Marcy and I headed out in the trailer today with Rain and Joker. We went to Spruce Meadows and I want to go figure out how many miles we did. It was awesome!! My Rain girl had spunk and wanted to move out. I was working on riding her bridleless, so I was using my carrot stick and tied my reins off onto my saddle. They were there when I needed them, but I tried hard to not use them. We did great and I cantered her with no reins a lot of the time. We really moved out and went pretty fast. We stopped and walked some, but we mainly were at least trotting or gaiting. I loved it! We rode for about 4 hours.

Marcy is a good riding partner and we talked about an endurance ride in the spring. She's a little worried about it, but I promised to take care of her. :-) Her horse will be awesome at it. Which horse will I prepare? Rain? Cowboy? Not Z, not now. She's assigned to partnering through L3 with me and I can't do both with her. She'll hate me if I try. She hates me enough at this moment. I'm doing horse-human relationship repair with Miss Z.

It was a great day devoted to fun times with Rain. Just like old times.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back in the saddle

The last 6 weeks have been challenging at best. My job has been kicking my butt and I've had little time for my horses. I've had a hard time keeping my spirits up in the midst of all my work. We also went skiing for several days over 2 trips. Anyway, I just haven't had horse time and I was elated today to get out and play with my beasts!

I started with Rain because when I went out Zarah saw me and took off in the opposite direction. Our relationship needs mending right now and I will not play with her until she gives me permission. I have plenty of other horses to play with and I can wait for her to come around. Rain came to me from across the pasture, so she was obviously interested in what I may have in store for her. Good!

I brushed her, gave her a touch up trim, tacked her up and talked with one of my boarders. She's about to start a lease with Gemini and we talked about how to get things going nicely with him. I offered to spend a little time with the two of them, show her what Gemini knows on the ground and then give her some ideas of things to try in the saddle. He's not doing a great job of maintaining gait with her, so we played with Corner game and giving him the responsibility. It was interesting because she's a traditional student and natural techniques are new for her. Her thought process is very traditional and I'm trying hard to say/do the right things to help her look at things a little differently. She had a great time riding Gemini and trying out some of my ideas. She seemed very happy in the end. Good deal!

I was helping her from Rain's back and just asking her for little things here and there. All I normally do is ride her down the trail in a straight line, so this was a change for her. Then, we played with opening and closing the gait, followed by untacking her and playing in the round pen. We practiced bowing, and then I asked her to play stick to me in a circle at all gaits. She was thorougly confused, but she picked up the game very fast! It was a blast to teach her something new. Then, I took off the halter and played a little at liberty. I just wanted her to stick to me and be with me at walk and trot. She never left, which is nice after all the time we've had between liberty sessions (months!).

Then, I haltered Nina, who was standing in the trailer :-). I gave her a touch-up trim, then put my western saddle on her. We played a little and she was doing great! She understands the communication. Then, I took her into the round pen to play the stick to me game. She was also thoroughly confused, like Rain, but she caught on fast, like Rain! She would go to buckin' in the canter with the western saddle, but she would settle down nicely and it wouldn't last. We did a little sideways, some squeeze, and she was calm and understanding. Then, I decided to bend her towards me and put a foot in the stirrup. I wanted her to feel the weight of me on her back. I jumped up and down next to her and put a foot in, lifted my weight over her, rubbed her opposite shoulder, hopped down. She was a little curiuos, but not afraid. I finished by asking her into the trailer a few times. She was willing and happy to oblige.

I smiled and I felt really proud of her. We walked back to the barn and called it a day.

Cowboy felt like playing, I could tell. He watched it all and whenever I came into the barn, so did he. I want to play with him badly and ride him! I'm trying to let his heel bulb heel from earlier this week. It's closing up nicely - a few more days and I'll have him back out.

In the end, I went out to where Z was, about 30 ft away, looked at her and subtly asked her to come to me. She stopped eating and walked right over. I scratched her favorite spots, gave her a cookie, and walked away after a few minutes. Hopefully, I put a white marble in the jar.

Such a great day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Time with Cowboy

I spent some undemanding time with Z, working and paying bills outside her stall. I locked her in the stall with so she'd be near me while I worked.

Then, I went for Cowboy. I needed to trim his hooves. Steve helped me out! (Poor guy) Then, I brushed him and tacked him up. We started with put your nose on it, some squeeze, some sideways w/o a fence, then "mirror me" at the walk, trot and canter. I practiced his down transitions from my body versus my stick or rope wiggling. It was a nice warm up and I was ready to get on in about 10 mins.

We rode around doing tit for tat in the play area. I'm really trying to soften him up in the rope halter. I had him wear a bridle the whole time, but I talked to him with the rope hack. We worked on lateral flexion - which really causes him stress. I'm not sure why it so hard for him, but I want him to learn to relax in that position. He thought going back to the barn was a good idea, so I just asked him to canter to the barn and then we'd immediately go back out near the round pen.

He started to soften up and I decided to take him into the arena for pushing passenger. We did 20-30 mins at the trot. I was looking for him to leave the rail facing the barn and when he did, I rewarded him with rest. We practiced back up and getting that softer as well.

At one point, we tried to move dogs and he went to cuttin'! I was shocked! He knows how to cut.

Had a great day with Cowboy. I really like him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Undemanding time...

I'm feeling a little worn out from travel and the wind was just stupid today and cold. So, I took my laptop outside, a blanket and a good outdoor chair and sat in the stall with Z. The dogs were annoying as hell, but eventually I locked them in the barn, out of the stall so Z and I could be spend our undemanding time in peace. It was nice.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chores and the New L3

I had manure everywhere. I just had to get that picked up. I've been wanting tires to make some pedestals. I just had to get that going. I had lots to do and it seems like it was our last nice day to get things done. So, I was chore-girl today. Blech.

Found 4 nice big, wide tires. Filled with manure and sand and Voila! A pedestal! I asked Z to stand on it and she sunk to the coronary band. Doh! Need to put something else in there to support the weight of a horse.

Then, I had my new L3 self-assessment list and we got started. We can do most things on the list pretty well. I taught my horse to lead by the mane and move with me (though, not sure if I'm doing that one right). We started working on jumping a single barrel on it's side - Z is the queen of last minute avoidance! We worked more on stick with me at all speeds and then in the large arena I asked her to trot with me. That was great. Asked her to canter with me and she was gone like the wind! Made me laugh.

I know she'd be fine in the round pen, so time for us to challenge ourselves more with the large arena. I haven't done much ground work with Z since we finished all our taping for L3. It was kind of fun to get back to doing things.

I'll get my pedestal right and then we can start playing with 4 feet on the pedestal. We also have to start getting sideways towards going. Most everything else is achievable. However, I believe this audition is going to be a lot about the relationship and I imagine they'll be watching my horse's expression a lot.

We'll see...

A tough day

A little bit of getting over not passing L3 Online, mixed with hormonal tides, topped with work creeping in on vacation and a sprinkling of intense wind... not one of my better days. Instead of torturing horses, I cleaned up and caught up on chores, read up on the new Parelli Pathways and tried to get my head right. About 2pm, I was ready to get some horses moving.

I decided to hit the trail with Rain and Cowboy. It was a great ride and helped to cheer me up. I wanted to switch at some point so both would get ridden, but I just wasn't in the mood to hop off and move my saddle to Cowboy. So, lucky Rain carried my butt the whole way. She became a little spooky about 1/2 into the ride and I'm not sure if it was the wind or the setting sun or what. She was a little more extroverted, which I enjoy. She was moving out so nicely. Cowboy was a good boy and played his part as the pony horse well.

We did 8 miles with lots of cantering. I spend more and more time with Rain feeling of my body and barely ever using my reins. She's great with go and whoa, we need to build more clarity around direction. I'm not using my reins, I use my stick - but I don't feel her responding well to my body cues for direction.

She was extra pacey today, too. I'll check her hoof balance tomorrow. Cowboy needs to get a trim, too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nina's Day Out

Nina and Z to Chenango. Z on trail, Nina in roundpen at Nancy's. Then, reload and took both to Tammy's indoor. Coached Tammy while the 2 horses stood with me.

Rode Z and ponied Nina for practice and learning in the indoor.

Loaded and unloaded Nina many times! Big day for her.

Didn't pass L3 Online - only officially finished with L3 Liberty.

65 in February. Amazing.

Wanted to take Z to Chenango originally, no go. Refocused on our partnership for an hour, then we left with Nina.

Trimmed Z.