Monday, September 14, 2009

Nina and Tina

Had a fantastic session with Nina today! Maybe the best yet. We started with tacking up and some warm up on the ground. Warm up was very interesting tonight. I've upped the game and asking her for more advanced things. She's jumping with ease, circling better all the time (maintaining her gait and taking responsibility), staying out of my bubble, following the feel I give down the line and understanding that it's safe to try.

She was feeling extroverted and playful, so we practiced falling leaf and s-patterns for a bit in the arena. The playground was getting too tight and crowded for the amount of feet-moving she wanted to do. At one point, her adrenalin got the best of her and she galloped off. She came back and we started again. We practiced more figure 8's, circle game with consistency (tough for her because she's so extroverted), leading up and maintaining the space between us no matter where my feet go. She was doing great, working hard and giving me very soft responses. By the end, she could walk a couple circles without going into the trot and I knew it was time to ride.

I'm still using the rope hack, but ground working her in the confidence snaffle. For now, it's about soft responses to the pressure from the halter. I took her into the round pen and made sure she was ready to ride. I mounted up with ease and she was confident and stood perfectly still. She's got this part down pat now. We played with lateral flexion for few minutes until I felt that she'd really turned loose to it. Then we worked on forward. I want a forward movement on my suggestion, not after a lot of commotion, so I play with this quite a bit. We also follow the rail and I ask her back to the rail whenever she leaves. This will set her up nicely for future work. Then we practice bow-tieing back to the other direction - asking her to follow the feel on the halter and follow her nose where the halter suggests it to go.

We're ready to trot. She's nice and warmed up to having a rider on her back and she's ready to move a little fast. We practiced back up and that needs work. Our halt is simply a bend at this point, also. We'll continue to build strong fundamentals so the advanced work comes easily. She's doing so well - I'm proud of her! And she's gotten so big!! I think she's 16hh now. She's gorgeous.

After, I sprayed Nina off and played friendly game with the water from the hose. She was standing still by the end and I tied her off to let her soak on the session. She cocked a leg and relaxed for 90 minutes or so while I halter Tina to see what she knows.

Tina was on the track and saw me coming out from the barn. She came trotting from the other end of the pasture - looking forward to some interaction. Although the horses are spending time with her, I'm sure they haven't "accepted" her yet. She's going to need more time to feel at home here. She seemed genuinely happy for the time and attention. I haltered her, asking for some partnership and give while I tied the halter knot. She holds still, but doesn't quite understand why I want her head turned toward me. She's a very quick study though, very eager to please. She'll be a quick learner - I noticed that right away.

I lead her toward the barn and through the water and rock patch on the track. I love this track feature. It's so good for the horses to walk over rock and water every day. She wasn't too sure about the water, but I waited and asked her to re-approach when she retreated herself. I didn't push, only used some driving game to move her feet when she was ready to re-approach. It only took a few minutes, a foot forward, then back, then two steps forward... She will do it easily next time I'm sure.

We then played with the vinyl strips a little. I'd like her confidence strong for those quickly as she'll need to know she can go inside if the weather turns. Right now, they are like a brick wall to her. We'll work more on that tomorrow.

Then, the fly sheet. She'll need to wear that until the mosquitoes fade away (I hate mosquitoes!). A lot of approach and retreat, growing the size of the sheet by unfolding it while asking her to tolerate it and retreating as she got calmer. She seemed tolerant at first, but she was introverted and not blinking. It's good to know that there's some introversion there, in her mind. She seems quite left-brained, but very extroverted typically. She doesn't seem to use her mouth for her curiosity, except when she's checking my hands for treats. I won't be using any, unless I think we need them for motivation. With her extroversion, I don't think that will happen. We'll see...

After 10 minutes or so, I felt that she'd gained some confidence about the fly sheet. It wasn't where I'll want it at the end, but it was a good place to quit and she was able to wear it. We dragged it around next to us and that bothered her quite a bit. We've got some desensitizing to do.

Once I had her sheet on, I wanted to see how well she could tie. Two other horses were tied so she wasn't alone and she seemed to do ok. Soon, I'll add stimulus while she's tied and help her find the release on her own (moving towards the halter/tie to release the pressure instead of fighting it).

Tomorrow I'll start trimming her feet. I got some pics of her and her hooves for comparing later. I'm looking forward to getting some concavity built and bringing in the flare on the hoof walls. She's got very overgrown bars as well. She's going to move even nicer on properly trimmed hooves. She's going to be fun! I like her mind, she'll be great to play with and start.

Most of the time while I played with horses, Chrissy stood with Lakota tied after grooming him. She had dental work done today and she was feeling a little slow and tender. She played with Lakota a little, but mostly she spent UDT with him. He's truly warmed up to Chrissy and he seems to know he's her partner. It was nice to watch her spend time close to him, relaxing, w/o him being mouthy or bothersome. She's got the "love" down, now for more development of "language" and "leadership". She's doing so great.

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