Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Just takin' a walk...

With Gemini. We just strolled down the trail. I wanted to do more but got out of work late. I led him with the 22', in case we needed to "partner up" while out there alone. However, he was just fine. We stopped about a mile out, he ate grass, I relaxed and let the stress of work ease away. I heard the horses call, and at one point, he thought to call back but didn't. I thought that was interesting. If I'd gone further, he would have called. We'll stretch the bubble slightly more next time.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gem and Rain

I started with Rain, worked on her feet a little more, and then took her on another short ride with Chrissy and Cowboy. She was so great! We played with opening the gate a little and we've conquered the flat bridge. She didn't want to stand on the flat brigde and I've spent a few sessions helping her gain confidence with it. She's solid there now, which is nice to see.

Gem has been trying to get my attention, which is so darn cute. He's there and ready to be haltered every time. Today, he hung his head over the fence and stared while I tacked up Rain. :-) I decided I'd make sure to bring him out and play with some bridleless riding. And we did! After the short ride with Rain and Chrissy, I brought him out. I tacked him up, trimmed him up a little, and we went into the arena. We worked on isolated ends, bridleless backup, a little passenger lesson and transitions. He felt so great today!! He's becoming more sensitive and light, which I love. I really want to conquer the trail with him this year and be able to ride him alone. The weather has been easy over this Christmas break and I hope to get him out on the trail this week. I'm back at work, unfortunately - but I'll make it work out somehow.

Tomorrow, maybe Z and Starlet? I've got more hooves to manage and hoping it stays warm. Enjoying some slow time and getting back to my passion and my partners.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

And now... back to the horses...

December was rough on my horse time! Business trips and then vacation for a week of skiing with my family. The skiing was fantastic, but by the end I was really missing my equine buddies and ready to put my energy back into my horsemanship.

I was finally able to get out today and enjoy a horse. I chose Rain. I trimmed her feet and gave her a good grooming. Then, Rain and I took Chrissy and Cowboy out for a trail ride. It was a short ride, 1-2 miles, but it was nice to be out!! Rain and I have a great language together and I really feel like riding her is like hanging out with my old best friend. I don't spend a lot of time with her as I'm trying to further develop Gem and I've been starting younger horses. But, I always miss her and decided to try ACTHA with her this year instead of trying another season with Z. I'd like to get Z ready for some endurance rides. And Gem and I will continue our L4 journey with maybe a couple shows. I have big plans for 2011!

Anyway, nice to be back in the barn to do more than just feed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Takin' it easy...

I wanted to spend some time with my 2 best mares today - Z and Rain. I started with Z. I groomed her, trimmed her, all while she ate nice hay. Then, I tacked her up and we just did some walking around the property. I did some passenger lesson around the play area and she surprised me by stopping at nearly every obstacle and offering something. Pretty cute. It was easy and thoughtless time with my most advanced horse whose been on vacation. I'd like to start riding her again.

Then, I brought Rain in for a trim. Her front frogs have been healing from some thrush, so I took my time and made sure her frogs were in good shape to continue recovering. I wanted to ride Rain a little too, but the darn wind was so strong I decided not to. That's ok - we'll ride a lot in the spring.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Liberty with Gem

Great liberty session just before the sun went down. Got amazing exhuberance from my LBI. The promise of pressure is so motivating. Worked on the spin some more, a little spanish walk and COD prep for the FLC at liberty. Also backing from zone 5 and sideways from zone 1 and 3. Nice responsiveness and a happy face on my boy. Good day!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kime Group Lesson #3

A huge change with my horse and I and a great day with the group.

moving the hand - hand too far in the air
huge change in our stick riding - actually felt him turning and moving with me w/o reins. cool.
weird cantering - a few strides then drop to trot - am i in his way?
great improvement on backup - one foot at a time
best figure 8 i've ever gotten after he kicked out at me and landed a hoof on my stomach. I took my leadership up a notch and it was just what I needed to do. He's a dominant horse and I've got to watch it with him.
rode english and want to start doing that more to help me find my imbalances while riding.
practiced bridleless isolation of the ends and really found my bridleless riding improved from that practice

remember: quality, speed, distance - PICK ONE!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quick liberty session with Gem

Had a little bit of time before the sun went down and took Gem to the round pen. Played with the spin, spanish walk, the rear a bit, and some circling. My gorgeous Z mare was standing outside the round pen, waiting to come in. Honestly, I was shocked. She could have been anywhere on our 35 acres and she stood outside the liberty pen gate. So I asked her in and she stuck to me while I played with Gem. I had them both sticking to me after a minute or so and Z and I played with close circling. I miss playing with her - she's such a fantastic mare. She must have liked liberty work more than I realized. I hope she's enjoying her time off to just be a horse, but sometimes I feel like she wants to be taken out for some play. I planned to ride her once a week during her mini-retirement, but I haven't done that. I hope to get good riding time over the Christmas holiday.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Trimmed Rio. Missing horse time. Dark and cold after work. Pity, party of one please?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Doc checks out Gemini

Today, I had Doc McCall come out and take a look at Gem's swollen hock. I had x-rays taken a couple years ago at Littleton Large and I had shown them to Doc McCall before T-day week. He wanted to take new x-rays and see how much progression had occurred.

Luckily, when he palpated the hock, he changed his thoughts on the hock. It turns out to likely be a hernia on the tendon sheath. Gem isn't lame or anything, so Doc says we just need to watch it and do nothing at this point until it seems to be bone related. For now, it's a blemish and nothing more.

What a relief!

I'm really missing horses. It's been a rough month for horse-time between family vacation and the winter weather moving in. This weekend is our last group lesson, so I'm looking forward to a day with Gem and spending time talking about horses with my horse friends.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More fun with Jess!

Rain, Starlet - loaded them up and drove to Jess' place. It was a great day and the girls were a breeze to load and go.

Deuce and Rain moving cows - a huge herd of big angus heffers were at Jess' property line, so Rain, Deuce and I played with pushing the cows. Deuce was afraid at first, but he got more courage as we went. Rain LOVES pushing cows and she was all in from the start. Really enjoyed her!

Starting Starlet on 7 games. Starlet no likey cows. She was afraid and was quite RB most of the time. She didn't like seeing Rain walk away while she stayed tied to the trailer. She is a horse of course, but I hope to grow her confidence over time so she's more courageous on her own.

COWS! are fun. I need some.

Jess rode Kade and they are looking pretty good. Glad to see Jess make progress with her horse.

It was a great day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A great horse goes home...

I've had Tina in my training program for about 1 year. She's been a challenging horse, but she came around and now I enjoy her immensely. It's hard to imagine her not being here, but it's time for her to move on.

I showed the owner how to keep M's mouthiness under control and they were happy to see his black coat and slightly improved hoof condition. I wish I'd had time to do more to his feet.

Reka was easy to catch and halter and we lead her back to the barn with M. I was glad to see her show her comfort with this.

The horses loaded great, with the mares in one stall and M in the other.

It was a nice, short visit and sad to say goodbye to those horses - especially Tina. I look forward to seeing them again soon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cantering and Trimming

... in the snow! Not a lot of snow, but a cold, cloudy Colorado day nonetheless.

I started with Tina. We warmed up and then rode in the arena. Worked on getting the canter depart lighter, leg yielding, and a soft feel on the bit. A great session and her work ethic is fantastic. She sometimes loses momentum when I ask her transition down, so worked on keeping her forward motion in the down transition. She's great with her leads naturally and I get some unexpected lead changes from her quite often. Her canter felt more from behind today, it's better every session.

I played with Reka in the round pen. I haven't been playing with the young ones for November, but she goes home in a couple days and I wanted to spend a little time alone with her and make sure she's in a good place for leaving. She's an introverted horse and I believe her to be more left-brained. She saw my Great Dane in her winter blanket for the first time and was startled and wary, but her very next move was to go closer and check the dressed dog out. (My Dane in her winter coat typically takes every horse by surprise!) She was fine in the round pen with me, easy to play with. We did a little porcupine game, working on her yield to pressure. She's a sweet, sweet mare.

I then pulled M out and got his fronts trimmed. I'll trim his hinds and touch up Reka before they go home on Wednesday. It's strange to think of them not being here. I'm going to miss Tina terribly. :(

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Catching up

Had a rough week for horse time due to my travel and Steve being out of town. I wanted to play with Gem and Tina, first and foremost. Then, I really wanted to get some more feet trimmed.

I started with Gem and decided to start some trick-training with him. I've been pushing him to be more exhuberant and I believe I need to attack it from a different place. So, I'm choosing to teach him a few tricks with hopes of improving our relationship and motivating him to put more effort into it on his own. We worked on the Spanish Walk today and the spin. I've never done either with Gem, but he learns amazingly fast. He was having a good time - I could tell by how much he was willing to do! I also taught him to rear. He already offers this sometimes in our groundwork, so I want to get him doing it on my ask and controlling when it's offered. I also hopped on and played with getting his backup softer. I hopped on bareback which I realize I've hardly done with this horse. He has a comfortable back for bareback riding and in the winter it keeps me warm! It was a fun session with him. I enjoy this type of training quite a bit and Gem is a great horse for low-energy play like learning tricks. We'll get back to the 45' line for groundwork soon enough.

I put a trim on Cowboy as it started to snow and I thought I'd have to ride Tina tomorrow. However, it didn't snow for long so I pulled Tina out, trimmed her hinds and played with her on the ground. We worked on the clippers also. She had a very hard time with this so unnatural tool for grooming. She's getting better and I really wanted to send her home confident with clipping. I've got a few days to focus and I'm sure I can get her good enough to cope with clippers. Tonight I was able to rub them all around her face when we finished and have her smell them while they were running. She's so skeptical and the trick for me is not lose her trust.

I also brought M and Reka into the barn today for the weekend. I want to get fresh trims on them before they go home and I wanted to spend some time with Reka before she leaves. They both look really great - nice coats and full bellies. They seem to enjoy the west pasture.

It was a cold winter day, but I enjoyed a couple horses and look forward to tomorrow! I also need to catch up on my blogging.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tina and Cowboy take a ride

Loaded up Cowboy and Tina for a day at my great friend's house. Jess has land and cows on the adjacent property and it's a great place to go ride around. Tina had a fantastic day. Our big goal was to get more balanced in the canter. Having eyes on the ground (Jess) was very helpful so that I could get a better canter from Tina.

The wind was slightly obnoxious, but it was a great day regardless. We built a better canter depart and I rode a few amazing flying lead changes (Tina is a master at changing leads). I found that if I asked for a faster canter, she gathered herself up better and got lighter in the front. After about an hour of off and on cantering, she felt much better! Her canter was much smoother and she was more willing to get into the canter and stay there. Her best gait to me is her trot, but her canter will continue to develop and will be very nice in time. I also wonder if she's still growing and once she gets slightly higher in the wither she'll come together more.

Jess was able to get her L2 Freestyle audition completed and filmed, which was great. She's been wanting to get that done for some time.

The neighbors' cows came up to us at one point and I was on Tina at that point. She was so curious about the cattle! She was wary for the first minute or so and then she wanted to go to the cows. We got as close as we could on Jess' property, but Tina wanted more. I had to ask her to watch from where we were, but I was dying to go through the gate and see what Tina really would do with those cows. They were bigger cows than I've ever moved so it was just a bad idea. The fact that she wanted to get closer vs. run from them was huge to me. Her attitude about new things has so drastically improved.

Chrissy had some rough moments with Cowboy, but she really got it together after a bit of time. She got on him at one point, but didn't stay on long. I rode him for her as Tina had been pushed enough for day. He felt really nice! He's been a bracey horse, but he was quite soft in the mouth and neck today. I enjoyed riding him! He had good forward movement and offered the canter with ease. We worked on getting more suppleness in his body and neck especially. He was quite fun and felt very willing.

It was a very fun and productive day! I was very, very proud of Tina.

Tina Reaches a New Peak of Confidence!

I saw Tina push Rio around today. Wow! It is absolutely astonishing how much she's changed in a year. She now is higher on the ladder than Starlet, Rio, and will push M around.

Rode her in the arena today. I had planned for the front pasture, but got out late today. Chrissy wanted some help and time so Tina and I gave her assistance together. We worked on leg yielding, the beginning of haunches in, canter work, and extended trot. Her trot is so amazing and has become very powerful.

Worked with Chrissy on building up to sideways. From the ground, Cowboy is moving sideways nicely. She hopped in the saddle to she me how she can isolate the ends. We worked on getting him to understand to move only one end and I helped Chrissy develop that ask in the body. I was able to demo end isolation with Tina pretty well. It was good for Tina to just stand with me on her back and relax versus have me constantly asking for something.

Wanted to get more trimming done. More tomorrow...

Friday, November 5, 2010

More time with Tina

Rode and played with Tina. We rode in the front pasture and just enjoyed the warm evening and the beautiful sunset. We trotted figure 8's and played with end-isolation. I also trimmed Tina's fronts. Nice night!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quick ride on Tina

Tacked her up for a quick ride moving her out at the trot and building more balance in the canter. Her isolation on the ends is much better, too. We did some large figure 8's and then some passenger lesson.

Brought Gem out for more building of maintain gait and driving from zone 3. Got some very nice and energetic trot departs on the circle.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tina at the canter

Gem - hard session for him in the front pasture building his circle game and maintain gait. I pushed him quite a bit from the ground, asking for energy and responsiveness. This was a great session for both of us, really. He needed me to step up my leadership. I need to be sure my timing is right so that I'm not simply making him hyper-sensitive to my ask, but asking for thoughtful responsiveness.

Tina - rode really well. Used western saddle for the first time in a while. Cantering - she needs time to develop that better and get more balanced.

Rode Rain for a short session in the playground. I got her to stand on the bridge finally. Trimmed her hinds. She took a pic with steve for steve's company - kinda cute. Steve sat on her bareback with his laptop in his hand for an advertisement.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Group Lesson with Kime

Good day of instruction with a group of friends. This was session #2 of a 3-part group lesson. Gem was interesting today. Some respect issues are arising with him. I'm not getting enough play time with him and it's showing.

Syncronized riding - we rode in a group from 2 - 5 horses doing syncronized riding. It's amazing how good this is for human and horse. It gives us purpose and it teaches our horses to focus on their rider versus the horses around them.

leap frog - a few of us played this with obstacles. Very fun and great for transition work.

canter departs - worked on getting canter departs from the ground with Gem. This was where his lack of respect showed. We did finally get some nice ones from a halt and Kime had me apply the back-up to "wind him up" before sending him.

Kime wants gem farther away from me when we're online. I've been keeping him closer as I'm working on prep for liberty. I forgot to ask her why this is so important to her at the moment.

Gem and I did great figure 8's at the trot with no obstacles - this was our highlight of the day in my mind!

Maintain gait at the canter - we can't even get 1 lap. We have lots of work to do on him understanding his responsibility. Nevertheless, I'm having a challenging but fun time with this horse.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trims and Playtime

Reka in the round pen. Soooo good! dropping her head, yielding with porky, catching game.

M - wow, huge changes. Figure 8 at the trot - beautifully done. S pattern, sideways, conversations with energy, squeeze game. Wonderful, soft and fun session.

Trimmed Z's hinds. Negative palmar angle. started to rasp the toe callous, which is risky and something we don't do as trimmers but needed to bring her angle back.

Great, calm wonderful day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Progressing Tina

Had a very nice ride on Tina. We worked on a 20m circle and developing her forward energy at the trot on the circle bend. When her trot became elevated and full of power, I'd release and let her find comfort. She seems proud when she moves that way, as she should. We also worked on leg yielding with my stick as an aid. I have to be careful to make her feel criticized. She can be very easily offended. We worked on yo-yo at the walk with the intention of building her halt a bit. I've lost a little of the down transition from my seat somehow. We also worked on "soft feel" with the bit. She can be slightly over-reactive when I pick up the reins, so I want to help her feel comfortable to follow the bit and not at all defensive.

She's doing so well and her confidence is at an all time high. The days are very short and it's tougher each day to get more than one horse going. I've got a full weekend of horse training ahead of me - looking forward to it!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More trimming

Got Z's and Starlet's fronts. Starlet's hooves are coming along nicely! Tons of bar breaking away and a nice solar dome forming. Amazing to watch her feet go back to natural after the crazy padded shoes she was wearing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Holy Wind!

Today was the 2nd day of cold air and crazy high winds. Too miserable to stand in and play with horses. The wind was so strong, it blew my stocking cap off! So instead, I caught up chores and trimmed Rain's front feet.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gettin by with a little help from my Friends!

Had my great friend Jess come out today and play horsetime with me. Had a very productive day!

Started with Tina... played with some new natural dressage groundwork I'm learning from Karen Rohlf. I'm watching Karen's videos and trying new techniques in "Conversations with Energy". I am loving this stuff! It's amazing how tuned in Tina is to me and how easy it is to get her flowing with my energy. We did some of our cool obstacle stuff like strattling the two pedestals, teetering on the teeter totter, and jumping the barrels. Then I hopped on and had one of the best rides on her I've ever had.

Her confidence has soared. She's actually offering some leadership and trying to take over a bit in our riding sessions. This makes me so happy. Today, as I asked her to move with energy, she gave me some of the most beautiful trotting to ride. Wow. She was moving freely from behind and getting some amazing elevation in the front. I felt a moment of suspension with this powerful trot. Such a great feeling! We practiced more leg yielding - which is much easier on the fore than on the hind. We'll keep building the yield on the hind. Just a great session with this amazing horse.

Then, I played with M. I tried some of the new dressage groundwork with him and he did quite well. I also played with sideways, obstacles, circle game, and backing. He's giving lots of try and I'm so pleased with his new attitude about humans. Jess visited with him and he didn't offer to bite or get dominant. His respect for humans is so much better - makes him safer and will help him get along better in life. We also played with stick to me a bit where I ask him to trot when I trot, walk when I walk, or halt when I halt - all from zone 2. We'll play with this some more as it was a new concept. The 6th time, he halted when I did and we quit there. Big improvement from where he started.

I then played with Gem. I didn't tack him up, but we played a few mins on energy and then Jess and I took the horses for a walk. Jess is retraining an OTTB and she decided not to hop on him today. Her horse seemed introverted so a walk seemed like a good idea to get his feet moving w/o a lot of pressure. He did seem better as we just walked and Gem never once called for home. Gem was perfectly content to leave the property. Once we were about 1/2 mile away, I did some circles with him and played some more with getting the trot I wanted from the ground. I'm enjoying the introduction to all of this dressage-focused theory and technique in natural horsemanship.

I also finished trimming Gem tonight. He didn't want to give me his left hind at all, but I'm pretty sure it was because he needed to go potty. I didn't get the left hind done as nicely as I'd like.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back to the horses

After a company meeting for 4 days, I was ready to see my horses and reenter my routine.

Touched and talked to everyone, oh the peace the horses bring to me.

Tied Gem in the barn while I fed as I wanted to trim him. He panicked! Surprising that he can panic so in his own barn, but that's his herd and he is unable to protect them from the barn. I didn't plan on setting him up for such concern, but that's what I did.

I got back and he was still very worked up (probably a 10 min period of time while I was gone). I took his lead and asked him to move the fore back and forth and the calling stopped pretty instantly. Then I did yo-yo with him. I was watching for him to breathe and relax. He started to relax some and would lick a very little bit at certain points, but he was still pretty unconfident. Then, I asked him to yo-yo through the barn door - in and out of the barn a few steps repeatedly. He was getting calmer and calmer. Finally, I took him to the play area and asked to sideways over the barrels and jump half-way over. This was when he found relaxation. Interesting to see him get so upset and figure out just which games or actions settle him.

Nice to be talking to a horse after 5 days of meetings with humans. :-)

I started to trim him - the whole start of this evening's plan. He has shed his sole nicely and I'm so happy with the solar dome he's developed. He had quite a bit of wall growth with the sole exfoliated, but a recent rain made trimming a breeze. I only got 1 hoof completed and started a 2nd. I'm pretty tired after a week gone and decided to go in and be with the family and get some more trimming done tomorrow. I have lots of hooves needing attention. I think there are 24 hooves to address this week! Wow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gem and Tina at a friends house in the country

The weather was amazing today and I had planned to spend it with a friend at her place. I loaded up Tina and Gem, Kendall and her bike and headed out. I spent the majority of my time with Tina. She had a large open pasture with obstacles and an arena with no fencing. Tina was amazing today! She was not tense or nervous about this new place at all! Wow. We had a nice easy ground warm-up and I was ready to get on. I started her in the round pen and waited for her to blow and show that she was ready. Then, Jess watched us and helped me to get her lighter on the front by working her more from behind. Jess is an amazing horsewoman who's trained for years. I felt some nice hind power from Tina and it gave me a good idea of what to ask for/look for during our sessions at home. Then I rode Tina in the big open area and she just did so great. The wind had turned on and it was blowing like crazy by now, but Tina was solid.

I then switched for Gem and just did some ground work with him. He definitely didn't get a lot of my time today, but it was good for him to take the drive and stand at the trailer for patience practice.

Jess is working with rehabbing an OTTB and we worked together on making some changes with him. He's a huge LBI who quickly goes RBI if asked for too much. He might appear confident, but he's sucking his thumb on the inside so I told Jess how it looked to me and what I'd do with him. Then, she and I took him into the round pen so she could mount him. This was his first mount since racing. He was somewhat RBI, but mostly seemed ok with things.

Jess and I helped eachother tremendously today! Thankful for my close horse friends. Just a great time with horses.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Moving Tina along

Great ride on Tina. Worked on isolating the ends, softness in the bit, turns and soft feel. I'm asking her more softly with my legs and body to move her body with me. As she gains confidence in the bit, it helps tremendously with developing seat and leg aids. She's not so worried about the bit, so we get more going with other zones.

Helped chrissy soften Cowboy with turning at the trot. I just think Chrissy has a great horse, but he does have a lot of built-in brace. He used to be a lesson horse and with his high intelligence, he learned some ways to get out of doing what's being asked. I hopped on him, asked for trot and we spent a good 20-30 minutes turning. I would only release when the turn was free of brace and we would immediately turn the other direction. At first it was like riding a merry-go-round horse - he was turning on zone 3. But after the first 10 mins or so, I started to feel his neck flex and he started to follow his nose a little. By the end we had made some progress and it was a good place to quit. He needs a program of this to get softer. I really believe he doesn't know how to be soft at this point - he needs to be taught.

After that, it occurred to me that Chrissy may not really know what soft should feel like. How can a rider get softness if they don't know what they're striving for? So, Chrissy rode Z and felt it for the first time. She felt how easy it can be to talk to a horse via the reins and with her body. She rode sideways for the first time. I think it made quite an impression on her and opened her eyes to what I strive to develop in horses.

I then rode Z and worked on the canter in the round pen. Z's canter depart in the pen or arena is typically not happy looking. It's very, very different on the trail - she's forward and happy. But arena riding is tough and she doesn't like it. I wanted to see how I could play with asking her to canter that would not cause her to get tight and mad. This was interesting! She's learned to cut to the middle and spiral to a tiny circle. She would put her ears flat back. She's been like this since I bought her and I've worked on developing less mental brace with the canter depart, but obviously I haven't gotten there. She was like this with trot departs and I've gotten that completely fixed. But canter departs with no mental brace - we still don't have that down. I found a good place to quit, but I would really like to get her attitude about canter departs better. I'll continue to play with this and see what works.

Great day!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Riding Tina in the pasture

Great ride on tina in the front pasture. She was super soft and we worked on circles and flexing. We did the teeter totter (she's great at that!) and some figure 8 patterns. Her flexion is wonderful and She's comfortable in the bit now. I'm very proud of how she's going!

Played with M and got our softest canter depart online yet. He's come a long way with the groundwork. He was very willing and compliant and it's time to time him to the next level. Very cool. This was the first time I've asked for an online canter. He's offered up lots of cantering of course, but it's been hard cantering with a lot of brace in his mind. Today, he was my willing partner and that canter depart meant his mind was soft and easy. Wonderful!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tina and M

Tonight, I played with Tina and starting developing leg yielding. I also added the cavesson to her bridle so she could get used to that piece of equipment. That was a non-issue. I did some circles with long-lines in zone 3 to help her learn more about the bit pressure with me on the ground. She's gotten much quieter in the bit, but she needs more time. She did very nicely with me in zone 3 as the line had to wrap around her hocks and I could manage her collection with the outside rein. She looked so gorgeous trotting around me with her powerful movement coming from behind. She is going to do well in the ring when she gets there.

Played with M and had the softest, most wonderful online session with him since he arrived! Wow! He was so obedient! Sideways was so soft and nice, we did figure 8's and he took some responsibility for the pattern, and we did some smooth turns on the fore and haunches. Great, great session!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reka's first trim

I've been working on getting Reka ready to stand for her first trim. Today, she seemed ready and I was able to get under all 4 hooves and give her a great trim! She had no worries and handled the trimming with such patience. She is going to make a fabulous mount. Her temperament is perfect.

Rode Tina - we rode in the arena and on the playground. I played circle game with her near the hanging obstacle but did not ask her through it. She shied from at first but as we left circles and went on to something else, she was no longer shying away. I'm glad I didn't ask her to go through it - she needs more time gaining confidence simply near it. Worked on voice commands for the gaits from her back as well. We have more practice to do on that.

Friday, October 8, 2010

M and Liberty with 4 horses!

I wanted to try playing with multiple horses at liberty today. I've only ever played with 2 at one time and after Cavalia, I've been wondering what I'd get if I played with more. I started with Rain in the roundpen. This is kind of tough because I haven't done liberty with Rain in literally years. She did ok - very intensely listening and also unsure of what she was supposed to be doing. I decided to add Gem and thought maybe she'd follow him a bit. He was so "ears forward"! I was shocked! He was listening with great focus, but as I added horses, I lost him. I then added Z, who was really having fun. She bucked and kicked and showed a ton of exhuberance. She really made me giggle. Then, I added Cowboy. Cowboy was not so interested in moving his feet and I'm quite sure he didn't like being at liberty in a small space with his leader Gemini. However, I was able to get a few nice trot/canter circles and a couple changes of direction with all 4 in sync! I realized right away why someone would love circus performing. Wow, what a rush playing with all 4 brains at one time. Z quickly decided to stick to me and I had to keep sending her back out with the herd. Is that because she felt safer with me or because she knew she could rest with me? Hmmm... What a fun session!

Then, ground time with M. He did super! Softer all the time and more willing and obedient! More energetic tonight than usual. The air is crisp he's got lots of energy. His figure 8's look great and he understands the pattern very well. I played with giving him more responsibility by allowing him to do the pattern and only correcting vs leading him through the pattern. He's a cool, cool horse. He's maybe the most confident horse I've ever played with.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

M and Tina

Tina - riding with the bit and asking for collection. Then put the western saddle on her and played with voice commands on the circle. Her voice command responses are great, with a little more work needed to transition down to walk.

M - great, great circles!! Beautiful, soft sideways. Best session ever.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I love what I do

Tina in the roundpen, awesome session! Moving fore and hind after lots of trotting and asking for canter. If she changed or slowed on the circle, I changed direction. Worked great and she was giving me more and more unguided trot - maintaining her gait by herself and not requiring me to keep her there. Isolating the ends was very interesting as she is a little confused, but after a few attempts, I got some nice isolation of the ends. Good girl!

M - nice circles! Took a little time to get them, but he's doing really great. Sideways is much harder when i'm on the left, so we played with lots of sideways in that direction. We finished with figure 8 and helping him squeeze past me and around w/o changing his stride. His attitude is very changed and he's progressing wonderfully.

As I do nearly every day, I spent a lot of time loving on Reka and asking her to yield to various directions. We're picking up feet every day and just getting her overall comfortable with all the human interaction. She's the sweetest little filly - so interesting.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Riding Tina

In the arena. It was raining off and on so I didn't ride for very long, but she was great - relaxed, calm and responsive. Worked more on soft bit communication and moving into the bit. We played for a bit with the hanging obstacle, but I've brought her way back from it to help her gain confidence. I also played with the clippers some. I've started to wait, wait, wait - as her horseanality needs me to do. I turn them on and she turns her head away. I wait until she looks at me and the clippers and I immediately turn them off. This makes her braver to look at the clippers and is a very effective way to encourage her bravery. I started with approach and retreat, but this method is working better.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Trail Competition and Cavalia!!

Trail competition with Zarah and my friend Jodi! I hadn't seen Jodi in maybe 2 years, so it was great to reconnect and hit the trail together. Z seemed so tense and I had a feeling it was going to be a tough day right from the start. I rode Z around for about 45 minutes, just trying to help her relax and trust in me as her leader. She was able to walk, albeit very fast, around the camping area. She was listening and letting some of her tension go, but I could feel the engine purring underneath me and I was hoping I could keep her calm on the trail.

The first mile or so was ok. She was working through it and moving along nicely. Then, a couple of riders came charging up behind us, a bit out of control. Well, that was the end of Z's restraint. We let them pass and from then on, Z was jigging down the trail. I didn't ride her straight. I had her doing haunches in, sideways, even backing down the trail at times. The thing with Z is making the wrong thing difficult can be tough because she's so athletic and has great endurance. I might need to sidepass her for 3 miles before she starts to wonder if there's a better way. She's an amazing horse that way. Unfortunately, the next obstacle was a zig-zag of halt and sidepass and she was too "up" to maneuver it. The horses ahead of us had charged off at that obstacle and she was so reactive to them that we needed a few minutes to get it together. I decided to pass on the obstacle, knowing that winning the competition was not an option today. It was about my horse and I getting our act together. So, while Jodi took her turn, Z and I did figure 8's over logs. I needed to canter her for a couple miles, 30 mins longer than she wanted to, but that wasn't really an option. So, we just kept going and I kept rewarding every hint of relaxation I could feel in her. Finally, when we got out of the wooded gorge area, she started to relax. We were next to a shooting range, and the gunfire was finally starting to get quieter as we got further away. And then, at around mile 3, my horses feet touched the ground and Z was back. Phew!

The loop back was good, with more of the jigging in the treed gorge area where the incessant gunfire was going off. But, we ended the ride nicely.

Immediately after, I got to see Cavalia with Jen and our daughters. It was an amazing show! There was a liberty session where a woman played with 8 horses at liberty which was my favorite part. Very inspirational!

Busy, but very fun day!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fence fixing and training

Played with Z in trailer. She goes in fine, but she's not confident while in there. So, we worked on loading and staying in and expanding her confidence inside. She did better. I have a long 4-horse trailer, so I played with having her stand in the 3rd stall, closer to the door, hoping that she'd feel less claustrophobic if she wasn't so deep in "the cave". It seemed to help and I decided to trailer her that way for the trail competition the next day. It's amazing how much better the trailer is for her if there's another horse. She has no issues if she's not alone.

Played with Rain on bridge. She doesn't have confidence on the bridge or teeter totter and I believe it's because she slipped once or twice. She's had a couple slips in her past (on cement once, too) and she's wary of standing on something that doesn't provide her good footing. So, we worked on the ground, building her trust that her feet weren't going to slip. Once that was better, I hopped on and we went over the bridge repeatedly. I didn't get her to stand on it today, but she was crossing it much better, so we found a good place to quit and go soak. I love her - her way of thinking things through is so wonderful.

Played with Tina through the hanging obstacle. This is extremely hard for her. I believe its the idea of these noisy and unnatural things overhead. I pulled some items back so the squeeze would be less daunting. She knows I want her to go through so she tries so darn hard to overcome her fear and get through the obstacle. The problem is that she doesn't get more confident this way, she actually gets more and more afraid. I thought to try flooding technique and gave it a try. This did not work at all - she got less and less confident. So, I quickly changed back to approach and retreat and we got a slight improvement. I've learned to recognize quickly when her confidence is leaking away and change my method. For Tina, confidence and trust in me are the keys to success. We'll need to work with this obstacle for a while.

I then hopped on and rode her in the arena. Worked on follow the rail and turning with feel and softness.

Last for the day, helped Chrissy with bareback riding. She wanted to develop her independent seat and decided to hop on her horse bareback. I led her around and tried to help her find harmony by feeling the horse and moving with the horse. This is so good for Chrissy! She's forced to breathe and relax to get more fluid.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Advancing M

Wow - he did so well today! He was light on the line and barely got oppositional the entire session. Sideways, squeeze, circle and back.

Z - trailer loading. She loads fine, so we worked on her staying in there calmly. I'm going to try using a closer stall to the door so she's not so far into the deep trailer next. She was LB the whole time - soft lips, no pooping, slow movement...

Rain - worked on lateral flexion, backing, going over the bridge. Don't know why that's hard for her, but it is. I really enjoy getting back on that horse. I don't know what the future holds for developing Rain. She'll make a great demo horse with her flash and maybe she could really be a great mount for CTC's and CTR's.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A fun night!!

Miss Reka - so cute. Following me around and just loving the attention she's getting.

Pulled Tina, Gem and Zarah out for some time tonight.

Tina: I spent time yesterday reading up and remembering all the interesting things about RBI horses. One thing I want to make sure I'm doing well is waiting! Do I always wait until she's ready for the next step? Are there times she's telling me she's not ready by not giving me 2 eyes and I'm not seeing it? Do I need to slow down more often? RBI's can be difficult horses and the beginning of something new is typically very hard for them. I went out with a renewed vision tonight and really studied her behavior and tried to listen to her intently. With the hanging obstacle, I asked her through and then I waited. She went through fairly calmly. A few more sends and she was as calm as she'll ever be. With the clippers, I turned them on and I waited. I waited for her to ask me a question or show me a new level of calmness. I tried to turn them off at precisely the right time (Timing is EVERYTHING!). Finally, she looked to me with the clippers turned on and I released by turning them off. We did it twice and I felt like that was enough. Tina teaches me to hone my skills and pay close attention.

My goal: make sure I arm her owner with as much information as possible. The beautiful thing about RBI's is that they excel in dressage! They thrive on the consistency of the patterns and they are ultra-obedient, making them fun to work with. RBI's make the best dressage horses. I'll be printing off flyers and info for her owner to take home and no doubt they'll have much success.

Gem - darn, he's so handsome in english tack! His winter coat is coming in, which is super black. He just looked so nice tacked up and he was ready to go for me. I only rode him for 20 mins or so and we played with leg yields and backing. We rocked on the teeter totter (I swear, he loves that obstacle!) and we worked on headset with different directions of hind movement. I tried to play with the 8-bends, a super useful technique for teaching isolation of the ends from the saddle. We did it all in a hack, the first time I've used a hack with him in a long time. I was surprised how soft he was with it. We are building some great things together and I'm so, so happy with him.

Z - I'm taking her to a trail competition on Sunday and I really wanted to hop on and see how she's feeling about being particular with/for me. I'm trying to do something with her about once/week, just to keep her handy. She feels the same whenever I hope on - like an old comfortable shoe. So, we just did some easy things - figure 8, over the pedestal, moving the fore and hind. Eventually Kris showed up for some Rio coaching and Z was the perfect horse to have help with that session.

Rio - we wanted to continue to evolve his relationship with Kris by exposing him to more separation from Z and leardership from Kris. It was getting dark, so she stayed on the ground for tonight and we went to the front pasture. She had her plan of taking over his feet if/when he got upset or fearful and tense when Z and I left. The first time we left, he got a little tense and she decided to back him. The second time, she didn't need to - he was fine with staying there with Kris even when Z and I were out of sight. Huge changes and I know Kris is loving the metamorphosis that's occurring in their relationship. She seems astonished most of the time. This stuff really, really works!

After it became obvious that Rio was ok with this, we decided to start building the turn on the haunches. This is one thing that Rio has seemed to struggle with. He came here with some decent ground work knowledge and I was impressed by what he knew. But the turning on the haunches has been tough for him for some reason. Tonight we worked on one step at a time and he was great. He was so relaxed, he kept dropping his head to graze. For some horses, this would be annoying. For Rio, it meant the world (to me, at least). Kris and Rio are making huge strides.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tina and Reka

Tonight, I really wanted to pick up where Tina and I left off yesterday. All the horses were in the west pasture so I walked out to get her and spent some time with the herd. Reka and M were off on their own and hanging out with Steve and Kendall while they fixed some fence. That was very cute. What was very, very interesting was when Steve and Kendall left to go back to the house, Reka left M and followed those 2! I yelled across the pasture for them to act a certain way, backing up facing Reka to continue drawing her in. How great was that!? They pet her and rubbed her a bit and then went back to leaving the pasture. Reka then came cantering over to M and Tina and me. Reka and M then followed Tina and I back to the barn.

Tina and I went back to the hanging obstacle. She was pretty sure she was in danger as soon as we got close to it, so I pulled things out of the way to make it easier for her. I sent her through and she scuttled quickly through it. However, the rest of the times through she walked tensely until finally she walked relaxed. At that point we left and did some other things like the teeter totter. Then I took her in for some more clipper practice. She's terrified of the clippers. I pushed her too hard the first time. I am going to study the horseanality material for Right-Brained Introverts again. I know I need to do things slow with her, but maybe some of the material will remind me of some other things I introduce her to more scary items. She didn't seem flinchy today, so that was an improvement.

I tied Reka off and played with her trim prep and feet handling. She's doing great. Kendall then came running out in her silly kid way and scared the holy heck out of Reka! She was tied and felt the halter at the poll, but her it took her a few moments to realize there was no release there. When she calmed down after a few moments, I had KK be my apprentice and we worked on Reka's confidence with KK's jumping around. Reka was fairly quick to calm down. She is a very calm horse and she learns quickly. She's getting more and comfortable with us humans every day.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nerves are back!

Tina... I wanted to ride her around the property today, that was my plan. She warmed up fine and we did a bit of the hanging obstacle (her very toughest). She actually handled it worse than previous sessions. However we played with it until she seemed to be thinking through it. We did some circles with voice commands and she seemed slightly more forward than normal, but nothing extraordinary. Then I hopped on. She seemed ok, head low, walking when I asked. A couple times though, I felt her flinch in a tense way. No big deal.

Steve had to leave to pick up our daughter, so I hopped off and decided to figure out what was going on with the "edginess". I've made it a rule to not ride the young ones alone (with no one home). We went back to the hanging obstacle and she was just a tense mess. She was terrified. This means to me that she's been coping in an introverted way with that obstacle and wasn't really handling it. How interesting!! I made the obstacle simpler by moving some of the items to the side and sent her through repeatedly. I really don't want to send her home knowing she can't handle things swinging or touching her as she goes through. So we played with this until she got more calm.

I then took her into the barn to work on clipping. She goes home soon and I want to make sure she can be clipped easily, too. Boy, this was incredibly hard for her as well. Something was going on with Tina today. She was a tense ball of nerves and lacking confidence like I haven't seen in a while. We worked on the clippers, then back to the hanging obstacle. We went back and forth for a couple of hours. She flinched and twitched and really struggled. I need to take her over the edge a little, I believe. I am going to work this week on helping her come back from this terrified place because she wasn't able to cope today. She won't be able to cope at a show or with the environment a show brings if she's like she was today.

Could it be a heat cycle thing? She got this flinchy back in April - maybe a season start/end for her? What else could have caused this change in her? I started her back on Magnesium and she'll stay on it until she goes home. I'll also recommend that they keep her on it through her transition to the home environment. I'm perplexed by this change in her. I'll be watching her closely during our sessions before she leaves and hopefully help her get her feet back on the ground.

M and I had a GREAT session tonight!! He's really learned to yield to the pressure on the poll and showed some great softness tonight! His sideways was very nice, forward was easy, turning on the haunches was responsive. Wow - he's stepped up to the plate and he's ready for the next level of learning. His respect has shot way up and he's been a perfect gentleman. He's easy to catch in the pasture, which means he's handling what we're doing just fine. I always end our session on a nice quiet and comfortable note, which is paying off. We focused on backing up tonight. I would like that to be better so I backed him all over the place for a while. He wants to swing his hind around, meaning not back up but just get out of the way. I'm being particular that I need him to back up straight. There's a huge difference and he's starting to understand that. We had a very good session.

Eureka and I played with being touched everywhere, being brushed, being caught and prepping for trim work. She's come far in a short period of time! She's so easy to catch now that she actually came to me in the pasture! She loves the tender petting moments, especially on her chest. I've handled her every single day since she arrived and she's really learning that I can be a good, comfortable thing to have around. When I brought her in from the pasture tonight, I wanted to get her final steps of trim prep done. I'd like to trim her this week. Her feet aren't terrible, but she grows wide quarters and no toe. So tonight, we practiced picking up all four feet, patting the soles and holding her leg up and letting her practice the 3-legged balancing. She did really well - calm and obliging. She's ready for her first trim.

Great evening playing and learning about these great horses!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lessons and Herd Management

Reka was back in the middle pasture with M today. Again, M jumped out. Pretty nifty. I watched him later and realized he's doing less jumping out and more walking through the ribbon. HA! My electric line is grounding somewhere. He also had his way with the water tub again. That area is now constantly soaked and puddled. So comical!

Did a lesson with Kris this evening. Rio was calm and great for her! Very, very happy to see the changes. We did more trail simulation and set him up for upset by leaving him. I was on Z bareback and enjoying my well trained mare. She's so soft and easy. Kris practiced getting Rio back with her by moving his hind and directing his energy. He blew and settled after a minute or so and I'm sure Kris needed that long to calm herself as well. I will next work on her doing this with a completely loose rein. She's still getting a little tight and Rio can feel that. Next session...

Kendall came out and rode Z for a minute bareback. She was amazed at how soft Z was compared to Rain. Beginners riding Rain have made her bracy and it was kind of neat for Kendall to feel what it CAN be to talk to a horse with reins. She asked me to soften Rain so she will ride again. It's a good idea. Rain needs some softening and less brace.

I left the young ones out for the night. They needed it. They are with the herd now and all is well. I've got 2 pastures opened and Reka seems to like Cowboy and of course, M. M is kind of a loner and I get the feeling he's figuring out what trouble he can cause. :-) Reka has been easy to catch, which is super.

A day with David Lichman

magic spot - teaching Gem to bring his hips to me with his neck bent to me on the ground.

Gemini liberty figure 8 in 5 acre pasture! Wow, he was amazing!

Riding to the music and keeping the horse in rhythm.

circle with eyes on me, change of direction.

Gem was an amazing partner - so proud of him!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What a DAY!

Gemini : played with cloverleaf, softening the forward cue, left lead canter with Jen. Jen worked on trotting in a frame a bit. Jen and Lynx got some nice, nice collected movements and they looked so much better! Lynx likes to go with her nose poked out, so this was such a pleasure to see. Jen also brought her new horse over for the exposure. He was not too keen on being tied and I think his presence added a bit to Lynx's energy level. Gem did great with the left lead canter and I'm getting better and better at feeling the lead from the hind.

Then, M! Worked on more giving at the poll, nice,
nice sideways and squeeze. Squeeze over barrels was funny - lots of hoof, not much jump. Into the trailer - no issue at all. He leaves soon so I wanted to be sure he could load. He's coming along nicely!

Little Reka more catching game and friendly time. I'm just spending time every chance I get with her to make sure she can be caught at home and trimmed, lead around, basic stuff. She's getting more and more comfortable with my presence, but it's tough for her when a 2nd or 3rd person enters the picture. She's getting more used to Kendall, which helps grow her confidence with humans since Kendall is more active than an adult.

Alice on Rain: I had a wonderful visit from a remote friend. Alice tagged along on her husband's business trip and came and spent the day with me and the horses. She has been spending time at a traditional barn and wanted to get some time in my natural facility and watch some natural horsemanship at work. She's got some background with natural horsemanship, but not as much with Parelli-stylings. I enjoyed her visit!! She helped me with chores and after watching me do some training, I asked her if she'd want to ride Rain bareback. She hadn't ridden bareback since 6, so this was basically a new experience. After I gave her a few basics on how I communicate with my horses, she just spent time getting to know Rain and feeling her move. She had perma-smile, so I think she was having a good time!

Rode Tina, beautiful response to the bit! She's doing so well! Need to ride her around the pasture! We were in the play area and I feel that she's a little over the bit, so I'm trying to pick her up slightly. She has great longitudinal flexion from the work we've done since her owner's visit. Now I want to work a little more on the vertical flexion. She was calm with the bit - maybe the most calm to date. Riding he felt great today!

M in the water after jumping out of middle pasture. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG14g3KgEMA It's hard to see on the video, but he had his tongue sticking out to the side while he did this! What a hoot! I put he and Reka in the middle pasture for some grazing and movement. M thought that was a dumb idea and was out of their pretty fast. Reka stayed in, but then Cowboy also went in. Horse herd mayhem! Cowboy and Reka were grazing side-by-side, ribs nearly touching. Cowboy is such a nice horse and he's so easy to mix with other horses. I'm grateful for that.

Lesson with Kris: I rode Rain bareback through the
lesson. Chrissy rode Cowboy with Kris and I. We simulated trail riding in the arena by going single file, taking turns leading, and maneuvering around all the obstacles. We then let Kris practice managing Rio when the other horses left. Once Chrissy and I got far enough away for Kris to feel him get upset, she worked on swinging the hind back and forth until Rio calmed down. After 2-3 times, he let us get all the way to the other side of the arena!! Kris was happy. Now we have to stretch his boundaries farther and give him more opportunities to trust in Kris as his leader.

Kris trimmed 5 hooves - Rain's fores, Cowboy's fores, Tina's front left.

Friday, September 24, 2010

All about Tina

Had such a lovely time with Tina tonight. We practiced voice commands on the circle and then I helped her gain more confidence with my new squeeze obstacle. Whew! That's hard for her! But she was able to walk through it tonight instead of scuttle-butt through for the first time.

I then hopped on for some casual riding in the arena. What a beautiful evening we had!! We just worked on riding with light contact at the trot. She was really nice tonight! I've been focused on some of the ground stuff I want to develop before she goes home so I haven't been on her back for about a week. However, she did beautifully and I enjoyed her!

I'll be riding her again tomorrow and I want to get her to follow the rail around the front pasture.
I also played with Reka a bit tonight. I just handled her and touched her all over and helped her understand that she doesn't have to be afraid. She's not really afraid any more, but I like pushing the envelope and developing that the most I can.

I put Gem in a run for the weekend as he goes with me for a 1-day clinic on Sunday. I want him to separate from the herd a bit before we leave.

So happy for the weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Short and Sweet!

I managed to spend time developing 4 horses tonight!

Tina, more voice command practice and time with the squeeze game through the dangling obstacle.

Gem, figure 8. Helping him gain responsibility. Found a nice place to quit after he managed to maintain gait on the pattern.

M, sideways and squeeze. Huge improvements! Much less opposition and more partnering with me. The biting is gone and he's extremely respectful to me now. Pretty nice to see!

Reka, more trim prep. Played with her feet mainly tonight and got her let me hold her hoof as she stood on 3 legs. What a good girl. She was trusting and calm.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Voice Commands and Trim Prep

Good day with the fillies! I spent some time with Reka working on picking her feet up. She understands to lift her feet now and she even managed to balance for a long time while I held up a front as if trimming. She's unwinding beautifully now, as well.

She spent the night in my large arena last night with M. I was wondering how both of them would be to halter up this morning and wow! They both came to me and haltered up like pros. I was impressed.

I also played a bunch with Tina today. I started with voice commands while lunging. She has pretty much got the commands down now. "Walk" needs a little more work when coming from the trot, but another session and we'll have it. I had the surcingle on by itself tonight and it's the first time she's worn that in months. She bucked and bucked! Oh, Tina... really? She was done after a few canter circles in each direction, but it just goes to show how sensitive she can be about her girth area and back.

I also worked on driving her from behind in the arena. I wanted to continue building her feeling contact with the bit and with the rain, it was easier to do this from the ground than to get out a saddle and try to keep it dry. It was very interesting to see that she followed the figure 8 pattern we normally start riding in the arena. She's learned that pattern well.

Driving her really helps her to learn to feel of the bit and it allows me the ability to release when necessary. It's also a great way to ride her with actually "riding" her. Perfect for those times when time is tight and saddling her will take too long.

Tina was very confident and easy tonight. At one point, all the horses ran off to the west pasture while we were in the arena and Tina looked but never felt any pull to the herd. She wasn't bothered by their running off and happy to be with me building skills. That lack of herd sour behavior is so nice to see. She doesn't get her confidence from the herd and she's fine if they leave.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gem and the Babes

Figure 8 with Gem - waiting for him to take responsibility!
I've been getting picked on with instructors lately for spoon-feeding my horses. I need to keep building up their responsibility to maintain gait and direction. I also need to continue building the power to think in my horses. They need to continue solving puzzles, even if they're level 4 horses. This is something I need to work on for myself as a horse trainer of advanced horses. This is less important for the young horses.

I decided to move the babes into the arena for the night. I don't like them in runs, but I'm not comfortable with them in the herd. I also wanted to make sure I could catch them again once I put them out in a big area. I put Reka in first and she jumped and bucked and kicked and... she needed that. She was so darn cute. I put M in with her and he was pretty low energy. He's not a wild moving horse on his own.

It was nice to hang with them in the arena a bit and ask nothing of them. They both wanted scratching and hung around in between nibbling on the weeds under the fence rail. M's biting behavior is gone at this point, so I reward him with time scratching him all over. He's learned some good things about respecting my space.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bringing up Babies!

It was all about the babes tonight. I played with M first and after some friendly game, went to work on the figure 8. Hmmm... he was rowdy and a bit obnoxious! :-) I just stuck with it until he calmed down and got with me. It didn't take too long. He was calmly walking the figure 8 by the end and I found just a fantastic place to quit. He really needed to play, though! I want to get him out on pasture - he needs to move. He and Reka both need to move. I'm just not a fan of keeping horses locked up and with M and his brain, he's probably struggling to keep himself entertained in that run.

They aren't here long enough for a herd introduction, so I'll put them out on separate pastures and give them a chance to move their feet as much as they need to.

After we played with figure 8, I wanted to build on the sideways game. This part started off good, but then got worse. Hmmm... I tried to pay attention and see if I wasn't being fair or making him feel criticized. I also wondered if I was playing with him farther from the barn - he definitely had druthers toward the barn. Regardless, we stuck with it until he understood and could calmly take sideways steps.

We then did some unwinding, to make sure he can handle the pressure on the poll and the hocks and the claustrophobia. This was all a non-issue for him. He was calm and thinking and it was a good place to quit.

Reka and I worked on yielding to pressure and I played lots with her feet! She'll pick them up for me, but I couldn't hold them just yet. She's concerned about her balance and being trapped, so I'm taking it slow and helping her understand she will survive this. She's a sweet, sweet filly who just wants to be ok. She's learning to better deal with poll pressure, yielding her body to pressure and relaxing on the end of the line. I've been trying to keep her learning sessions shorter and spend more time just being with her, scratching her, helping her find comfort with a human.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Progressive Group

Kime, Gemini, Trail with Gem, trail with Z, Reka.
-my main lesson - I need to teach Gem to be more responsible! I'm holding his hand too much and he needs to advance. Carrot stick riding - we weren't ready for that and Gem's feet got "stuck". That was his introversion coming out and I found it fascinating. Sideways on the rail at the trot - Kime had me focus on the front foot and hind foot as we moved along. This helped us get a better sideways trot. Only use the Ellis technique of 180,90, 45, touch when transitioning up! For a send, it's always lead, lift, swing, touch. I was overusing Ellis' technique. I'm using too much leg on Gem. I need to stop using leg until he can respond to my seat. Did lots of cantering and bowtie practice to get the left lead. By the end, we were getting the left lead consistently. Yay!! Kime had me try some interesting techniques where I stretch my outside leg long and bring my heel down which forced my inside hip up and forward slightly. Interesting! Also fixed Gem's COD from right to left. He's been blowing through the COD, but we got it fixed with a bump and a resend. He's doing so great.

Afterwards, Gem and I rode a short trail ride with Deb and her horse. It was his first trail ride with me in a couple years. I've ponied him on the trail tons, but it was my first time on his back on the trail in a long time. The reason is simply that I've focused on developing Zarah and this past year, Tina. He hasn't gotten my time. Now that Z is getting time to hang out with the herd and Gem is my main horse, we need to get on the trail. He did well, but I realize I struggle to trust him. We'll keep working on it. After a couple miles we turned back so I could switch horses to Zarah and show her more trail.

Zarah and I moved out fast with Deb. We galloped and the horses were racing for a good stretch! That was great fun and I could feel Z pulling for the lead. Once we got deeper onto the trail, Z and I moved into an extended trot and just really moved out. It was great and she was forward and fun. A couple times she kicked out (maybe at Deuce?) and made me laugh. She's such a spitfire. We walked the last 1/2 mile home and Z was happy to walk - she'd worked hard the whole ride. That's exactly what a long horse like Z needs. She needs to move enough that she enjoys walking.

Handled Reka with guests, she was a little more wary with new people. This was interesting to see as she's so friendly with me now. Actually, when I muck her run she stands with me the entire time and I scratch her back and rump with my rake. She loves that! With new people in her run, she was unsettled and wouldn't come close. I hung around until she got a little more confident. She's such a darling little filly.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Playing with the youngsters

M learned the figure 8 and he did quite well!! His first real pattern. He's getting with the program nicely now. He's less oppositional and looking a little more for leadership from me.

Drove Tina down the trail with Z. That was COOL! I rode Z and had Tina on long reins in front of us. We went for a walk down the trail that way. What was amazing was that Tina did not want to come back! She wanted to explore the trail and kept turning around when we headed home. This is such fascinating behavior from this generally fearful horse.

Played with Tina for a long time with voice commands. She's starting to very much understand the voice commands.

M got trimmed today. Worked with him on trimming manners.

Tina also got trimmed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tina on the trail... Sorta

Tina down the trail ground driving. Really no hesitation! No calling, she did great.

Played with Reka, more rope handling, unwinding and then leading around toys and obstacles. She did really great stepping over things after smelling and snorting at them. We'll work on the tarp next.

Want to play more with lifting her hooves.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Trimming and Playing

Tonight Kris was over to get some trimming done for me. She got 5 horses trimmed in the same time that I probably would have done 1-2. Ha! And my back wasn't tired when she was done either! Not a bad deal. She trimmed Gem, Rain, Z, Cowboy and Starlet. She'll come back in a few days to do the others.

While she did that, I played with M, Reka and Gem. M and I just developed more friendly game and started working with moving the fore. I wanted to keep him calmer tonight as our last session was challenging for him. He was much more compliant tonight and I'm sure he's starting to understand that I mean business. His disengagement looks much better, and he can send away. We'll continue games 4-7 next session too.

I took the halter off Reka and just played with getting her haltered back up. She was a good girl and stood nicely for haltering. I always ask the horses to partner some by bringing their head around for halter on/off. She's learning to bend towards me when I halter her and getting more confident all the time. I rubbed her all over as I've been doing every day to help her accept me as friendly. KK even went in her stall today and played a quick catch game. It took Reka only moments to turn to KK and be caught. That was a good sign that she's ready to progress.

Gem and I only had a few minutes before pitch-dark was setting in, so I decided to work on sending him into the trailer from a distance. I got a few trots into the trailer from about 20'. I'll continue to build the trot into the trailer from farther distances and then from the trailer fender. That and the zone 5 driving will put us at a filming spot for L4 online.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Teaching M more basics

Today I took M into the arena with the intention of teaching him the rest of the 7 games. He gave me a run for my money tonight! He had lots of ideas and definitely didn't want to be told what to do. This is the fun part about dominant left-brained horses. They aren't looking for a leader so I have to much enough of an impression on him that he turns the leadership over to me. Horses that are right-brained are looking for a leader and they are quick to take direction. M is smart as heck and learns fast, but isn't necessarily looking to be bossed around. :-) So, instead my focus tonight had to be helping him understand that he didn't have to listen to my requests, but that was definitely going to be the easiest way. :-)

We got through all the 7 games and sideways was definitely very tough for him. He tends to blow through my wall (made with my stick, string and my body language). He also does not think he needs to move his hind - a typical left-brained behavior. I did not spend much time moving the fore and I imagine that will also be a tough thing to get done with him. I'll keep impressing upon him that I'm in charge of his feet and he'll be fine. In a few more sessions, he'll understand that there's a purpose and a game that he can win here. He'll start to communicate more and ask questions. He's not really asking questions yet.

I also played with Reka and tested her ability to handle being haltered. She's been wearing a halter since I put one on her (4 days now?) as I wanted to be sure she could handle being haltered again when I needed to. She was a little wary when I started so I decided to give it one more day before I took the halter off. She absolutely loves to be scratched though! She especially likes when I muck and she slowly brings her butt around to me so I can scratch it with my manure fork. When I stop scratching and go back to mucking, she gently bring her butt back around and continue asking me to scratch until I do. Pretty darn cute!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

getting lots done

I started off riding Tina today. We rode in the arena and I focused on riding with more contact and asking for a more forward trot. She's responding better and better to the bit. Our turns were quite soft. We rode for quite a while and I did some pattern riding using the cloverleaf.

Then, I brought Reka out to work on more haltering and getting her used to the tools I use. I just played with her, getting her more used to me and starting to introduce her to the things I'll ask for soon. I also started unwinding her, which is where I ask her to find the release when I wrap the lead rope around her body and over her hocks. She has to "unwind" herself by following the feel of the halter. This is hard for horses at first since they feel very confined and there is pressure on the hind legs. Reka struggled at first and felt afraid and claustrophobic, but she quickly understood that she would survive this and next thing I knew, she was eating grass immediately after unwinding. I liked to see that she could get worked up and afraid but come right down off the adrenalin and go to grazing. As she develops more understanding of the things I ask she'll find fewer reasons to think she's in danger. Before I put her back in the run, I started teaching her to have her feet handled. I'd like to put a trim on her in the next week or two.

Kris came over for a coaching session just as I was finishing with Reka. She put a trim on her horse and then we got to work. We played with Rio for about an hour and I used Gem through the session to demo. I wanted Kris to start understanding the elements of the circle game, so after she had Rio's attention she got started. Rio is very cool and responsive and sensitive. He's also learning to trust in Kris' leadership. I love to see the changes horses make when their humans start to make clear sense. We also played with the new obstacle with the hanging bottles and pie pans. Rio and Kris practiced walking through it calmly and found a good place to quit. Gem walked through it warily once or twice, then proceeded to eat the hanging bottles. He ripped the pie pan off! Silly clown horse...

Then, I pulled Gem out for some focused groundwork. I focused on transitions online. I'm looking for softness and responsiveness! I pushed him too hard at one point and he left me, but otherwise he was giving me some nice transitions. He still doesn't stay in the canter for more than a lap or two - we need to build that!

Chrissy made it out to play with her horse today, too. I was so glad to see her tack up Cowboy and get on! She hasn't done that much since school started and I know she's dealing with the changes to her schedule and being a student with homework. Cowboy always looks so calm for her and it makes me happy to see her spend some time with him like that.

Horses, horses, horses!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Time with Gem

Riding in the arena, then tit for tat out front. That was interesting! He couldn't leave the area next to the barn. We didn't even make it past the driveway. My goal was only to see how hard it would be for him to leave home and it was hard! His home sweetness is hard core. I'll try to build this slowly so the foundation is strong vs. forcing him away and risking a blow-up or a break-down of his trust in me.

While in the arena, worked on the left lead and left turn cloverleaf. The left is his hard side. He's offering lots of canter departs, and I tried to get a working trot w/o the canter. He was going into the canter when I really wanted a faster trot. We'll continue to work on that. I also need more hip response for the left lead. Will try to build on the leg yield from the right to get it soft enough for left departs.

It was a nice session focused on my big black gelding.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Getting by with a little help from my friends (Zarah!)

Tonight was the night for Reka to get lead around the play area and then into the barn where she'll be in a stall/run. I started by having Z help me lead her around in the round pen and making sure she was yielding to the pressure at the poll. She lead up nicely right away! She was like an old pro! So I hopped off Z and lead her around by hand. Again, she was doing great. I decided then to open the round pen and lead her out. She followed right on out of there and we started to investigate the obstacles together. She smelled each one with gusto and I'm sure she's been looking at those obstacles from the round pen since she arrived, wondering what they were. We just checked things out together for a bit and then slowly made our way to the barn. I thought she might be uncertain about the cement or the rubber mats, but that didn't phase her. I stood while she smelled and checked everything out and she walked right into the barn! I just managed the rope and let her investigate all she wanted. I had the stall door open and then asked her to follow me through. Again, no issues at all. I walked her through the vinyl strips, which I have tied back for now. She was uncertain about those, but I gave her time and she came through when she was ready. Voila! On to the next step with Reka...

It was nice to have the round pen back! I pulled M out and started playing friendly game in the round pen. He was unsure of my tools and I tried to be kind and give him time to understand there was nothing to fear. I have to be careful with him to not push him too hard. He's definitely a very confident horse, but it would be easy for me to make him afraid and I don't want to get into fights with him. Instead, I just want him to think of me as a leader and be willing to be a good partner by doing what I ask of him. These 6-8 weeks will be eye-opening for him and I hope to teach him to respect the humans he encounters as well as honor their requests. I also however, will do everything I can to preserve his dignity and communicate in a way he can understand. I've seen many confident horses like this get handled very roughly and be very misunderstood as "jerks" or "difficult horses". I own one - Gemini. Gemini came to me very messed up and had been poorly treated. He still struggles to trust humans. He went through the auction process and I'm quite sure was treated badly many times before I found him. M is very similar to Gem and I want to get him started right so that people that encounter him don't feel the need to "manhandle" him or physically try to put him in his place. We'll see what I can do in this short time.

We played with games 1-3 tonight and he did well. Games 1-3 (friendly, porcupine, driving) are the building blocks for games 4-7. He is sensitive, learns to yield from pressure rapidly and learns the game easily. Next session we'll see what he thinks when I put those games to together for some actually maneuvering of his feet. I really, really like this horse.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Teaching Reka to lead

I love my mare Z. She and I are so partnered and I value that tremendously. So, I started by putting the ropes back on Reka. Then, I used Z and her strength to hold Reka by looping an end on the saddle horn. Reka kicked up dust and fought, like any baby would. She didn't do that long though and I could see her look to Z and I as if to say, "Ok, you got me, now what?".

I worked my way down the line towards her, played friendly by stroking and rubbing with the halter, then calmly and gently haltered her up. Phew! Z was so perfect. She stayed at my shoulder at liberty and helped me drive the filly's hind around until she would stand calm enough for the haltering.

Once we had her haltered, Z and I went to teaching her to lead. When she got stuck feet, we'd move toward the hind, holding the tension in the line. That would unstick her, she'd find the release and we'd move on. After about 20 mins of leading, she was getting less and less stuck. Z was right with me every step and I loved that I could ask Z for things with little to no feel on the reins.

We found a good place to quit and called it a day. I left the halter on for the night so we could pick it back up tomorrow and get it done.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting Reka caught!

Had a long day at work, but went straight to Reka to continue working on getting her haltered and caught. I decided the halter at liberty was going to take too long and I needed to get her caught before she learned to be more wary of my attempts. I used my 12', made a loop and got it over her heard. Then I put a few knots in the right places so the rope wouldn't get too tight on her neck or too loose that she'd step in the loop. This was a surprise to her and I know we kicked up quite a lot of dust through this.

She learned quickly that she could leave me and lose me. So I attached my 22' line to the 12'. This way, she could run off but there'd be enough rope to continue my work w/o her losing me. I played with asking her to leave off and hiding her hiney. The neck didn't quite allow me enough leverage. I realized I was going to need my trusty mare Zarah to help me get this job done.

I called it a night with a different plan for tomorrow.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Play day with horses

Had a great day today! Planned for a play day with friends and their horses. It's always such a great boost to get together with like-minded people to study the same things and grow and help each other. We had the whole day to do this - what a treat.

We started with Reka and catching game. Jen was curious what that looked like, so she watched and commented while I was in the round pen with the filly. Reka understands the game, but her wary nature makes it hard for her to let loose. That's ok, we'll get there.

Then, we played "Can You?". In this game, we take turns following each other. So, Jen will come up with a "can you", perform it, and then I will try. I chose Tina for this day and she did great! After a while on the ground, we tacked up for riding. We worked on the cloverleaf pattern and transitions. Tina was right with me and I was proud of her! I used the confidence snaffle and then after a while went to the rope hack. Tina was learning to be soft in the turns and follow my leadership. She was fidgety with the bit at times, but overall she's learning how to use that larger bit.

After a few hours, I decided to give Tina a break and pull Gem out into the action. Gem and I warmed up briefly then got back into the pattern with Jen. We worked on leads and canter departs after a while, too. Gem and I struggle with the left lead, so this was a good day to work on that and figure out how to set him up better. Jen was working on feeling the leads and asking for the canter as softly and nicely as possible. They've made huge progress with this summer!

It was far too windy for a trail ride, so we played in the front pasture - circling each other and being each other's "eye" on the canter leads and departures. Gem was pulling to the herd a bit, but we were able to get some nice things accomplished. I'm working on really feeling the lead from behind and not cheating by looking at the shoulder. I want to get consistent with feeling the lead after a stride or two from the hind end. Jen focused on the departs and getting Lynx to leave nicely and without a hop or an over-reaction.

We did another catching game session with Reka in the afternoon and again, it was better, but not good enough to put on a halter.

It was a great day!!

a couple of gentle catching game sessions with Reka.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Steve rides Rain!?

Boy, I felt tired this morning. It was a full couple of days with Nanni and new horses and the stress of demo-ing. I has planned to spend time with the kids and take a mental break from the horses. However, the kids were with my sister so Steve and I spent the day alone and running errands.
more catch me game with baby. I started with more catching game with Reka, then Steve and I took off for some time together.

When we got back, Steve had agreed to ride with me!?! I tacked up the girls and Steve and I took a trail ride of a few miles together. He looked the best he's looked on a horse ever. He was more relaxed and more in harmony with Rain than I've ever seen. Rain was fine and Z was my great girl, as usual. It was windy, but we went to the ravine and had a nice ride.

I just couldn't take a whole day away from horses... It's an illness, I guess.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Nanni rides again

Started the day catching up, putting M in the north run and stall and getting him settled in. I will be pulling Reka into the southeast run and stall after she's learned to be caught, wear a halter and lead. I played catching game with her for 30 minutes or so and she was coming along nicely with her understanding of the game.

KK and I then tacked up Rain and Z and took a short trail ride. KK wanted to ride! She hasn't wanted to for a while. So I was careful not to push her and to help her regain her riding confidence. She had a couple of bad rides and got afraid this summer. We had a nice ride and Kendall was proud of herself! I offered to pony her, but her comment was, "Mom, I really want to do this myself." Ha! Good girl!

After that, I played catching game again with Reka. An improvement, but not a big improvement this time.

I pulled Gem out to ride before Nanni arrived, but ran out of time. When Nanni arrived, she went and got Tina, we brushed her and tacked her up and then after a short warm up, we got started on a great riding session. I rode first and we played with bits a bit. I had her in the rope hack and planned to move to the bridle. Nanni wanted to see her go in a fatter bit, so I swapped my Watts snaffle bit bridle for the confidence bit I have. Tina hasn't really worn that bit much, so I decided to keep the rope hack on in case I needed to use it to talk to Tina instead of the bit. We had a lot of ropes and reins at this point, but I liked having the halter reins available. Tina did fine, though. She was feeling for the bit, finding releases by herself and just generally getting used to it. We trotted around for quite a while, maybe 30 minutes. Nanni wanted to ride then and I was glad! I took off the hack and she put some time on Tina's back asking for a strong working trot. It was so lovely to see Tina under saddle like this! I'm always on her so I don't get to see how gorgeous her movement is and her potential.

I got back on for a little more riding after that. She'd done so well and I was needing a break so we called it a day. Before putting Tina away we talked about lunging and helping Tina prepare to go home. Nanni will lunge her for warm up and I agreed to try lunging Tina and also to teach Tina "walk, trot, canter" commands. We talked about the differences between how I train horses and what Tina will need to know to be successful at Nanni's.

The three things I'll build for the next 2 months while Tina's here:
1) Trailriding
2) Riding with an aid (crop or whip)
3) Lunging with bit contact and voice commands

Then, we decided Tina's should go on home and get started on her dressage career. How exciting!!

We had dinner plans, but before that Loma wanted to see M move. M has a minor roach back forming, so watching him move was a good way to see how it's impacting him and if his future is limited due to it. M's first ground working session. I took him to the arena on the 22' and proceeded to teach him something about circling. I wasn't concerned about a send, but I was very focused on the allow. He of course, thought this made no sense and it probably took about 15 minutes before he understood that I just wanted him to go forward. His inclination was to go "Up!" - a typical LBI response. He reared several times and fell backwards once or twice. When he realized that wasn't working, he tried to leave with a strong trot away. He hit the end of the line a few times and finally he was out of ideas and started to circle me. He was worked up and his heart was thumping but he stayed very calm throughout. At the end, he came into me showing submission and allowing me a moment of leadership. What a fun, fun horse!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Nanni Rides Tina!

Today was a big day! Nanni came from Texas to spend some time with her wonderful filly, Tina. It's been a year of progress for this mare and I was excited to show Nanni what her girl knows. Nanni also brought two young horses for some ground training.

She arrived Friday morning around 10am and I was able to cancel some meetings and spend a couple hours visiting with the 2 new horses and demo some of Tina's groundwork. The new horses are Emler ("M" will be his blog nickname) and Eureka ("Reka"). M is a big, big just 2 year old demonstrating very LBI personality traits from the first moment I met him. Reka is a just 1 year old filly who is fairly new to the world of humans. They both have the pleasure of living on large acreage in a small herd of other youngsters, so my goal is to put some good ground work in them and teach them to yield to pressure and be comfortable on the end of a line.

M has worn a halter, been trimmed and some other very basic things to keep his health maintained. He's pretty dominant, so I imagine he'll learn brilliantly as long as I preserve all his confidence. Reka seems pretty weary of humans and has only just begun to be handled before being loaded on the trailer. She'll need to start with the catching game and learning to be haltered. I smile just thinking about putting these two through the paces with natural horsemanship. They are basically blank slates and natural horsemanship will work well for them and help them adjust to serving their owners.

While we stood and talked and got reacquainted, I watched these two in my round pen. Reka is not nearly as confident as M and seeking M's leadership. However, they are both quite calm and don't seem to show much extroversion at all. So interesting.

I decided to step in and visit. Reka was stand off-ish, but M wanted to know what I was about. I decided it was a great time to see what the catching game would yield. I put myself in zone 5 and added a little commotion. I was watching closely to see how they perceived this pressure and what they thought to do about it. M was under-impressed, but still moved off the rhythm. Reka was more right-brained about it, but still showing introversion.

After 5-10 minutes, M started to understand that if he gave me an eye, the pressure would cease. Smart boy. Reka was following her instinct of being in the middle of the herd. M got annoyed a bit and threatened with a little pressure back at me once. It was so half-hearted and gentle, though - not really a threat at all. He'll be a blast to play with!

After that, I grabbed Tina and showed a bit of her ground work knowledge. We did a little sideways, squeeze, circling, and maneuvered some obstacles. I think this stuff is foreign to Nanni, but I believe she enjoyed seeing how much her mare knows. Tina did well and showed how calm and confident she's become. She made me proud.

We finished up and I went in to do some work. Later, Nanni came back to see Tina ridden. I just rode her in the rope hack to show what we do and how I've been building her under saddle. I didn't push Tina, just kept her calm and in her comfort zone. I think Nanni enjoyed seeing her mare ridden and decided to get on herself! I was pretty sure Tina would be ok, but I asked to lead them at first to be safe. After all, Tina's only had me on her back and she'd gotten rigid and bucked just a week or so prior. Tina was so calm though, she just seemed fine. So after a couple minutes of leading them, Nanni rode off. Wow - I've put in a lot of time and energy to get Tina to this point and it felt wonderful! She was perfectly fine with Nanni. They only walked and it wasn't long, but it meant the world to me. What an amazing moment for me, as a horse trainer, to see Tina make it this far! She's had a rough, rough road.

More tomorrow...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A quick ride

I wanted to spend a little more time with Tina before her owner arrived and just make sure she was as ready as she can be. We did some pattern work in the arena after some warm up. She was very calm and willing and I was very happy with the work. I used the rope hack instead of the bit. Tina is so calm and getting a good foundation with an ever-growing confidence.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Playing with Tina

I was feeling tired today and a little run down, so I played with only 1 horse. I decided to halter Tina and take her into the round pen for some riding. Life got in the way today and the sun was already going down by the time I was walking toward the round pen. I then changed my plan and decided to advance her ground skills a bit. She is an extremely obedient horse who will do anything I ask and try her hardest. So, we played with moving back from Zone 3 and transitions online.

It was a short session because I just felt drained. I was glad I did a little something. A good night's sleep should have me back in action.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tina trotting patterns and Gem Online

Nice night! Cool and breezy...

Started with Tina in the arena. We did a little groundwork, but I wanted to focus on riding. We rode the bowtie pattern at just the walk for a bit and I was asking her to feel of me and talking specifically to the inside fore as much as possible. Then, we trotted the pattern for a while. She was relaxed and calm and very responsive. She kept pulling to the other side of the arena and after we'd been riding about 40 minutes, I decided to let her take me where she'd been wanting to go.

My arena has some weeds growing around the edges and that was what she wanted! Some of the weeds must be her favorites. I let her take a few bites and then we went back to work. It was a nice, confidence building ride focusing on building softness.

Tomorrow we'll go back to the large circle and work on transitions on the circle. We'll also get some cantering in.

I then pulled Gem out for a little Level 4 groundwork. We didn't spend much time, maybe 30 minutes. Worked on transitions online, sideways, and teaching him to follow my focus on the feet to change gaits. He was soft and easy, but thinking about the herd more than I'd like. Still, we got some nice things done. I drove him from zone 5 through the trees before going back to the barn. He did nicely with that!

A good night with a couple great horses.