Beautiful, warm and calm afternoon/evening! I wanted to work with Gemini online to start building up for a level 3 assessment. He had lots of energy today! We started by driving from zone 3/4 and heading out to my front pasture. We got far enough away that he was just slightly on edge. We went from driving to falling leaf, circle game and then some COD's. His COD needs work, he's losing his momentum and turning like he should with falling leaf. He doesn't know the difference yet. With the circle game, he got emotional and went at full gallop back to the barn. He can get a lot of speed on the 45' and I tried to pump my grip - slipping it then grabbing it. That can sometimes work to get a horse to stop running for a moment. I ran out of rope too fast and he went back to the barn. That is called being BUCKED OFF from the ground! LOL I got him, brought him back to the same pasture spot and started again. Again, when he was cantering on the 45', about 30' away from me, he 'bucked me off' and ran for the barn. Darn! Twice and he's learned how to get it done!
OK, got him back out there and this time, kept him closer - about 20 feet maximum away. I was looking for him to be more with me, putting some pressure on Z3 to keep his body bent into the circle and playing at a slower pace. Now, we were getting somewhere. We got some better COD's, but still not great. However, we were able to canter circles at about 30' - together! Finally. No galloping away and leaving me in the dust. That was good, then we could move on to something else.
I wanted to help Chrissy with her figure 8's as she still doesn't feel like she's getting good ones. She's been doing lots of driving from Z3, which is a great game for her. Her horse is still challenging her authority quite a bit and she's struggling to be clear and deliberate with her ask. We talked about Suggest, Ask, Tell, Promise. She tends to get stuck at Ask, never getting to Tell or Promise. She's working on her assertion which will translate directly to leadership. It's not about whacking the horse. It's about a clear intention and request with the willingness to follow it through.
She was starting to get some really nice figure 8's. Once she clearly pushed his Z1/Z2 around the obstacle, they were on easy street. That's been the hardest part for her. Which makes perfect sense for a Left brained horse to be sticky in the front. We talked about her playing with Rain and I think that's not a bad idea. It might help Chrissy understand the nature of a horse to play with another horse and see the response she gets.
Before I put Gem back, I asked him to yield his hind toward me for mounting. I just want to teach him to bring his hind around and not get upset by that type of request. He was much better than the first time we played with it, but still defensive. We'll keep working on it.
Finally, I wanted to trim Nina. I ended up getting only one hoof done because my wrists were so sore. Trimming two horses the night before had my tendons irritated in my wrist. I spent a bunch of time just working on softening her to the idea of trimming. In the past I've allowed her to brace during trimming and forced her some to comply. I made a mistake and I realized that Nina has developed a negative reaction to trimming time. I'll get that fixed up right away by taking the time it takes and allowing her to understand it's her choice, but holding her foot up is a much easier way to go. I also won't brace against her! If she wants her foot back, she can have it. I need the horses to all cooperate and it starts with me having a natural attitude and letting the horse choose to cooperate. Trimming is hard work and it's so easy to become predatorial about the process. I've caught myself thinking, "Dang it, just hold still!". That's not a natural approach to horses at all and it's doubly ineffective. Always learning...
We'll get the other 3 hooves trimmed over the next 2-3 days, focusing first on her willingness and choosing to cooperate. We'll focus secondly on getting the trim done. My horses should always be getting easier to trim, not harder. I'm actually proud of myself for admitting my mistake and moving forward with the correct attitude.
Finally, Tina was showing some interesting behavior. The west pasture lines the neighbors property with numerous miniature horses and a couple paints. My herd will sometimes go and hang out with that herd of the fence. Well, yesterday and today, I noticed my herd coming in to the barn to eat or whatever, but Tina has stayed out in the west. She stayed out there when the other herd was nowhere to be seen. She stayed out there all alone, against the fence. What does that mean? She's ok to stand alone, acres away from her herd? She could still see the other herd (though I couldn't) and preferred that to coming in for feed? Very interesting. Chrissy drove her back on the ATV and we closed the west pasture gates for now. Surely, there's something she really likes about that other herd - all my horses feel that way about that other herd. I also wondered if she didn't know how to get back on the track as I saw her call once or twice to my herd. Horses aren't great problem-solvers and the west pasture is fairly new to Tina. Maybe she thought she was locked in? Just interesting behavior.