Sunday, March 22, 2009

Advancing Cowboy and riding bridleless

Tacked up and rode Cowboy today. I was very interesting in studying his displacement behavior where he works his jaw and fiddles with his lips. He looks as though he's trying to work a piece of grain out of his back teeth, but it's actually a perversion he developed as a coping mechanism somewhere before Jen bought him. He does it when he's stressed or feeling unconfident and impatient. He actually does it while he waits for his grain at feed time. He does it the most in the arena, though.

Today, I started by riding him outside the arena. Well, first we warmed up on the ground and I got some great, great canter-trot transitions on the circle. Very pleased with his progression there! I also loaded him into the 2 horse straight load. He was a little worried at first, but settled nicely and stood quietly in the trailer. He wasn't relaxed, but it's a great start. I then rode him up my driveway (1/4 mile) at the canter. When we got near the gate, we stood. I wanted to see if he would work his mouth. He didn't! He was calm and ready to move out. We walked back and worked on sideways and half-passing. He's quite bracey when I ask for lateral movement so we're doing a lot of that to get him more supple.

I then took him into the arena for some PPL at the trot. His perversion went into full drive once we walked into the arena. How interesting. I rode him at the trot until he seemed to relax. It was a mild change, but a change nonetheless. Poor guy - someone really worked him hard in an arena and he stresses out immediately upon entering the sandy fenced off area.

We finished with a little liberty time in the round pen. This was our first liberty session! He got so playful and I had to laugh! How neat! Obviously, no one did that with him and he has no preconceived notions about what liberty time will mean. He was comfortable and playful and tuned in. We'll build on that with ease.

It was a great, progressive time and I tied him and put a halter on Z. Z and I worked on a very quiet, easy bridleless session where we weaved in and out of trees and around obstacles. Our bridleless sideways needs some more practice but otherwise, she was quite amenable to my asks and stayed very calm. It was windy as heck and she was unaffected. We were slow, I rubbed her often and tried to make it an easy session. We had started off with some nice, nice ground work and some more practice loading into the 2-horse.

It was a great time with Cowboy and Z!

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