Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A little liberty

A great liberty session with Z! Played with transitions down with the laser beam, got some amazing trotting circles very close in, a few great flying lead changes, some nice spanish walk (tough at liberty!).

Kendall jumped in with me and I taught her how Z will transition up and/or down when we do (we jog in place, Z trots... we canter, Z canters). She thought that was pretty cool.

Had a fun time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A great day!!

Spent some time with Nina and her owner. Gave some demos of the things her horse can do and the things I expect. We saddled her, mounted, took pictures, bridled, played on the ground, looked at hooves... Unfortunately, the filly is going to be sold. Wish she could be mine but I just can't justify a horse of that caliber in my little herd. If I had big dressage plans, I'd feel differently.

Then, saddled up and rode Tina. She was calm, blowing often and very responsive. We walked and trotted and practiced lots of turns and stops. She did great.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A cold and snowy Saturday in March

Spent time with Nina, just prepping her for riding tomorrow. Good ground work, looking for positive responses to my body language. She did well, got a little excited but overall, a good positive session. The footing was tough and I tried to keep her energy down so she wouldn't slip and hurt herself.

Tina - I tacked her up and planned to ride her but decided the footing wasn't good enough. Had a great time with desensitizing her to ropes around her hind legs, very improved catching game, extreme friendly, standing on pedestals, figure 8's. She was calm and attentive. Getting on her tomorrow when the ground is more firm.

Zarah - really wanted to ride Z too, but again, the footing didn't support the idea. Played with her at liberty, practiced DE's way of transitioning down (laser beam). She was starting to understand and she was definitely more interested in solving this puzzle than our normal way of doing things. Is it better than how I normal do transitions at liberty? Yes, because it causes my horse to think and solve the problem vs responding the same old way. It's advanced and she needs advanced to stay engaged. Her Spanish Walk is beautiful, need to move it to the saddle now. At the end of our liberty, the cat was hanging around and I put him on Z's back while I talked to Chrissy. For about 30 mins, he curled up on her back and slept, I stroked Z everywhere while she napped and Chrissy and I had a good chat. A great, low-stress way to end the horse day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Riding Tina

Rode Tina - didn't want too much time to go by after our trip. We had a great warm-up. I mounted from both sides twice before swinging a leg over. She was fine. Nice lateral flexion and we walked off. I have to admit that our accident was on my mind. It will take a few rides to put that behind me.

I asked for a trot a few times but mostly spent time turning her at the walk and following the rail. She did great and I think I'm the one that has to get past our incident. Another ride our two and we'll get back to cantering.

She's going to be just fine. So glad I took her to California.

I wanted to also ride Z, but I had so many chores to get done. Still needed to unpack the truck, clean out the trailer, fix fence, sweep the barn... A storm is coming and 6-12" of snow are expected. Time to prepare for a classic Colorado spring storm.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 6 - Dave Ellis

Hard, hard day. We finished the day with a rodier. The 5 of us huddled around the cattle and held them while one of us at a time would go in and sort a cow. Each time I got a turn, I had to do more. First was just separating a cow out of the herd. Then separating a smaller, more agile cow. Next, separating a smaller more agile cow and getting them to be 100 yards or more from the herd. Whooo - the small ones are fast!

Dave wanted Z and I to do a better job of tracking the cow by staying light in front and rocking back on the hind. Z's fore was heavy though and she wanted to turn her whole body, not just the fore. I was struggling with helping her do the task correctly. She then resorted to backing really fast. It was avoidance, I know. She was confused and decided to try something that's pleased me in the past. She also stopped moving the hind for me. It was a mess at the end and I got flustered as Dave was barking at me to get it together. I felt defeated and tried to finish the task but in all honesty, I needed a break to gather myself and try again. Our first two attempts went beautifully. It all fell apart on the third attempt.

I also spent some good time with Tina and she got a 2nd ride by Dave's ranch manager. It was slightly better than the first - meaning she was slightly more comfortable with the idea of a rider on her back while she cantered around.

I started off the day with Dave's young Freisian. Dave wanted me to feel the draft horse and see what I thought. What a kept thinking was, wow - this horse moves slowly. Everything was slow motion. I missed my Anglo-arab right away. We played with collected, precise riding and patterns in the large arena. It was interesting, but I definitely felt that I wouldn't want a horse like this of my own. In the beginning of our ride, he bucked when I asked for a canter. It tickled me that his buck was so slow and easy to sit! He bucked a few times and it was very easy to ride. Perhaps he would be a safe horse for newer riders with his slow movement. He also could easily develop brace, though.

Main points of the day:

The promise of pressure is often greater than the pressure itself

Rhythmic motion vs rhythmic pressure. Friendly game vs Driving game.

Phase 1 should always be getting lighter!

Set it up for Zarah to find the answer, work hard on not always spoon-feeding her the answer

Fix disengagement with Z - she got confused during the rodier

Inside rein and cow side rein always higher

Buy colt starting saddle - to give me a better edge

First rides with brace and rigidity, develop softness over time

Develop bend in Z's hock! Hill work, lots of backing, etc... Help her find the strength behind.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 5 - Dave Ellis

Just cutouts - DE told a great story about meeting bears on the trail while riding on a ridge. He dealt with it by continually telling himself that the bears were just cardboard cut-outs. He knew if he kept himself calm, his horses would stay calm. It was a cute story but very clearly about our emotional fitness and what we have to do to maintain calm control of ourselves and our horses.

How he met Pat - interesting story of seeing Pat at a fair and Pat showing his stuff. Dave repeatedly asked Pat how he trained his horse to do that. Pat would answer every time that the horse already knows how to do these things. Eventually, DE ends up with his horse getting a lesson from Pat as his horse is a run-away. Pat tells him to let the reins go and let the horse run. Dave does and the horse stops running. Dave has been studying and learning from Pat every since. Pretty cool.

Keep porky light - don't let my horse get me doing more! I know this, do I always do it though? No. Keep practicing on finding this with my horses.

Played game of focus in round pen. This was cool with Z and I working on the "laser beam" for transitions. I pointed my stick at the wall of the pen and each time she ran through it, I walked in a slightly larger circle from center. Eventually, she'd see the stick was in her way and transition down. Over time, she will learn that when I lift the stick, it's time to transition down.

Worked on timing and release from porky game.

Precision patterns with circles going through the intersections and midpoints. This was a hard session for me. My brain was bored. I needed music or something. I struggle with precision patterns in the arena. Z, however, did very well and seemed to enjoy the repitition! How interesting...

Got the very best canter walk transitions I've ever gotten. After a while, I was getting the softest and most beautiful halt-canter transitions I've ever gotten from Z. She was responsive and I simply leaned back a little for the canter and lightly sat down for the down transition. Wow! I enjoyed that riding immensely. I could get use to dressage, perhaps. Z got supple and round. She was on her hind and ready for the transitions. Her canter was the softest I've ever ridden. Just Brilliant.

Ponied tina around track and hills. We were gone for quite a while cantering up and down hills, around trees in patterns, over obstacles. Tina is a great pony horse now and Z was learning to have a pony horse by her side. Z doesn't like it, but Tina did her job well. I was having a great time working with these two great horses, getting them more fit and exercising their brains by changing the pattern or game often.

A great day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 4 - Dave Ellis

Dinner at Dave's in the evening. We watched Bite the Bullet with Candace Bergen. Fun movie.

Precision riding in the big arena. We practiced collection, direct rein, suspension rein, tight turns. I practiced some transitions and had some nice, nice ones on Z. Light and responsive.

Liberty - whoa... Dave had me work on transitions down a whole different way than I have in the past. We used a "laser beam", where I pointed my carrot stick to the wall. If she squeezed through it, I would begin to walk a circle around the middle, growing the size of the circle each time. Eventually, she'd feel the squeeze ahead and slow down. I'd reward by dropping my beam.

The difference? DE wants our horses to think more. His philosophy is that my horse started to make decisions based on the information given versus responding to a cue. Z was definitely more interested in what we were doing! It was an attitude adjustment for me - I train my horses to do things when I ask. I will now start training my advanced horses to think about what I'm asking. I took a day or two to wrap my brain around this concept and how I think normally.

Honeycomb riding - cloverleaf with no change in gait. This was pretty fun! Z had nice gait maintenance up and down the hill. I thought to canter the pattern some and she did very well. We stuck to the trot mostly to help her maintain. She knows this pattern, but having the honeycomb on such a steep incline was amazing. We were instructed to never ask our horse to slow down. If Z got too fast, I was to take her into the round pen in the honeycomb until she settled down. Then, we'd go back to the pattern. I never had to take her in the small round.

Z moved cows VERY nicely!! She started out hot and excited, we were able to move cattle and then it seemed she just needed to run, so I let her. I took her to the 75 ft round pen and asked her to canter around it. She lost her hind footing at one point and lost her butt. I plopped on the ground and had to laugh. It was about a 14" fall since her butt was on the ground. Otherwise - we had a GREAT day.

Dave took us back to his tack room to discuss all things tack. Bridles, pads, saddles, hacks, everything he uses and why. Very educational.
Waist down operates the hind, waist up operates the fore.

Learn to let your horse lope for fun.

The snaffle and hack are direct pull. Once you get the response good in a snaffle, go back to hack to determine the effectiveness of talking with your body.

Put the saddle in the saddle groove and the cinch in the heart groove.

Martingale - originally used to hold the cinch from slipping back. Breast collar is to hold the saddle in place.

Play game 3 ONLY if game 2 doesn't work. Focus is also a porky game.

Search for lightness in the fore always. You can feel the difference in the front feet fall - does it sound like the horse is picking the front feet up or putting them down?

Down transition at liberty - hold the stick straight out to create a laser beam towards the circle wall once the horses pass you. Each time they pass the laser, they'll feel the pressure. After they've passed once, pivot and begin to walk a spiral out of the center in the opposite directino of their travel while holding the stick straight out. Optimally, the horse will transition down 180 degrees before they hit the beam.

Lead, lift, swing, touch - the swing should be straight up in the air!

If the horse doesn't maintain gait on the circle at liberty, change their direction by turning towards them opposite the direction of travel and send them the other way.

Send - step to 10 or 2, not back to 8 or 4. 8 or 4 creates draw, 10 and 2 clearly send the horse out adds porky to the circle.

Z didn't need the thick saddle pad I've been using. Went to just a wool blanket and she did well. Hmmmm...

Precision riding - go to step 7, lift the rein in the direction of the turn, then use the direct rein to make the turn. This helps the horse make a sharp turn following their nose.

Shoulder in - use the inside rein to talk to the inside fore and ask the horse to travel with the front feet on an inside and the hinds on the rail.

Dave prepared a track that had 3 inside lines, cutting the horizonatal and vertical into 1/4ths. Ride those lines precisly as possible. Add diagonals for help in getting shoulders or haunches in.

Z cantered softer than I've maybe ever felt before. She also ran out of steam. We were both pretty tired by day 4.

Vernon Purdy pads...

There's a difference between asking the horse to do something politely and causing it to happen when you need it. (Now vs. a transition to the request.) There's a time for both methods.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 3 - Dave Ellis

GREAT ride on Z in the morning moving cows up and down hills! Wow.

Then, watched Dave and his horse from Craig Cameron in the small round pen with the full bridle (spade bit bridle, bosalito).

Then, rode Loretta. Apparently, she doesn't get ridden much and she needed some good warming up. She bucked some and had a hard time going slower than a trot. After about 45 mins of getting to know each other, rode her over the hills and to the play yard. She wouldn't put her feet on bridges, obstacles. Interesting.

Moved cattle with Loretta, Dave's Thoroughbred. She was great at chasing cattle down and was able to get some good stops with her. She bucked some while we chased cattle, but otherwise she was a blast!

Rode out with Loretta and the others. Skooch, the big bowl cantering... I didn't understand what Dave was after here and so I just rode Loretta the best I could up and down in the bowl. We cantered a lot, trotted more. He was looking for her to relax and settle into efficiency in her gait, but honestly, I felt like that could have taken hours. She was bounding up the hill and I tried to get her softly cantering up the hill.

Came back, saddled Tina, prepped her, then in the round pen with her. Had a great warm-up where Dave had me push her hind out on the circle for a few strides, then send her forward straight again. We did this all with focus and porcupine game followed by driving game. This was a cool exercise.

Then Matt put a ride on her. I'll post video asap. She had some moments of bursting forward and a little bucking, but nothing too energetic. It was good to see how she behaved. Her lateral flexion was soft and nice. Dave was in the middle on his horse Dan and Tina sought comfort there a few times. Then they rode the circle together at all gaits.

Tied Tina off and then rode Z back to the bowl for more. I wanted Z to feel the downhill and uphill and find efficiency. I was also darn tired though and getting a sore bum for 3 days straight in the saddle all day.

2 kinds of bits - active and signal. Spade is signal. Hackamores, cradle, curb, snaffle are all active.

Snaffle and natural hack are direct pull.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 2 - Dave Ellis

Rode Z out for moving cattle. Had to get off once - otherwise she was good to go. She was ready to move cattle and very confident about it!

Good talk in the morning about all things horses.

Rode to the play yard, over jumps, over obstacles...

Evening with Sarah - slept in my trailer.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 1 with Dave Ellis

1. Ask the horse to transition with phase 1. When the horse doesn't do it, phase 4 to get the next gait up, transition down to original gait and try again immediately.

2. When your horse gets right brained, direct the hind - not a simple disengagement, ask for hind off track. Always continue in the direction intended. Go backwards if necessary! Alternately, choose sideways if the horse doesn't go the gait you've asked until they're thinking. Continue throughout to give them the opportunity to go the requested gait.

3. L3 - most important game: circle. L4 - most important game: yo-yo. Transitions up and down are yo-yo - even when in the same gait.

4. Horses are still learning to balance as mounts until they're as old as 6, 7 or 8.

5. Don't get in the horse's way when turning - make sure you lower the outside of your body and lift the inside so the horse feels your body push them into the turn.

6. Turns - direct/indirect based on level of study?

7. 7 horses in the herd - zone 1-5, lead mare and stallion. The lead mare directs, the stallion reinforces the mares request (driving).

8. Power of 3 -
- if the horse can stop the cow 3 times, the cow turns and leaves
- work on teaching in sets of 3: try the request 3 times, if the 3rd is better than the first, put it away. if the 3rd isn't better, then try again from the first.

Don't try it again after 3 or you'll ruin what you're trying to teach.

9. DON'T SET YOUR JAW! If you're setting your jaw, your not being natural.

10. When loping, reach forward to pet their neck and back to pet their rump with your outside arm. This relaxes you and then in turn, relaxes the horse.

11. When releasing the horse with the herd, don't let the horse leave you - direct it to leave. Maintain the leadership always.

12. Pre-flight check - doesn't need to be extensive. Use groundwork to check the horse's frame of mind, then move on when you've got the mind. (New statement from Pat at Ray Hunt Memorial.)

13. Alternatively to falling leave, disengage the hind, ask for multiple steps straight back, then ask the fore to move out the other way.

14. When your horse gets worried or in trouble, it makes a big impression on them if you don't abandon them. (Z's back end fell in a hole and I managed to stay on - DE explained that it was important that I did.)

15. When do you get off your horse? The second you ask yourself, "Should I get off my horse."

16. Flying lead changes - it's the hind legs that matter! The hind end is the driving force, that's the lead that matters.

17. When asking for a flying lead change, if the horse is cross-firing or counter cantering, ask for more speed to help the horse get the lead from behind. It's ok to allow the horse to drop to trot for a simple change in the beginning, but soon you have to ask them to sort it out while cantering - hence adding speed.

18. DE is specific that when mounted, it's job time. No grass eating while mounted. DE will take off the bridle or the head gear, then allow grazing.

My morning was pretty intense. Z was extremely herd sweet with Tina and she wasn't ok with leaving Tina behind. Got off repeatedly, ground work assistance with DE. Walked her a bunch. Got back on when I could. She was actually quite ok with moving cows! Very cool.

We made a ton of progress.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 1 - Dave Ellis

The journey was long, long and especially long. 22 hours in the car.

But we unloaded horse about 4am and slept in the trailer for about 4 hours. We then got settled, met the apprentice Sarah from Australia and the ranch manager, Matt.

Went home, showered, caught our breath, then went back so I could ride a little and take care of the horses. We jammed it to the airport to get Chancellor and made it back in time for fast food and bed. Whoa - tired!

Ride on Z was good - she was having issues leaving Tina and I had quite a right brained horse on my hands by the end. I was able to manage her with just a rope around her neck (no halter), but she was quite upset and not feeling like my partner at all. Good! An opportunity!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Developing Tina

I spent time with Tina today, building her confidence and advancing her online work. We honed sideways on the rail, getting a very straight sideways with a light cue. We worked a bit on her leading and staying exactly where I want her. If I trot, she must trot. If I stop, she must immediately stop as well.

We then worked on the circle game and her maintaining gait. We built up to 3 trot laps in each direction. We also built on s-pattern, helping build her draw. Also, did some extreme friendly from all zones - so proud of her for this one! Standing in zone 5 and vigorously hitting the ground with my stick and string! She's done very well... Time to advance again.

Good session!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Frustrating, but still horse time

Left work early and was furiously trying to make my way to the barn. My daughter said to me, "Mommy, I want to ride too!". I love to hear this! I always ask her to ride with me and she typically turns me down lately. But today, it was her idea - how could I refuse her?

But, I really wanted to... I had a plan to get 3 horses moving and an 8-yr old joining me means not a lot will get done. I tried to just hurry.

I have a new saddle pad I'm trying so I started with Z. I tacked her up and we headed for the arena. I tacked up Rain for KK and she planned to ride around with me. I wanted to play with FLR and transitions. KK decided to just hang around and ride Rain without using her reins. That means Rain was right on our heels the entire time. That's just fine with me - I know KK is safe on Rain. Meanwhile, all the horses were out today and they were hanging around outside the arena. Deuce was barking, Kahli was barking, Oscar was annoying the cat, the cat was trying to follow us around in the arena... Aye yi yi...

I tucked the dogs into the barn and got back to it. Z was fantastic!! Our Spanish walk looks great! The spin is coming along and she's ready for full time liberty with that move! (so cool...) Her down transitions are getting light and easy - we worked on canter to walk and trot to walk. She seemed really, really happy in the new pad. It's the CSI saddlepad - showcut and it's perfect! (Thanks, Kim!). I've finally found the pad for us. The shims are great wtih velcro attached to stop any movement or slipping. Her hairs were perfectly flat and showed no signs of friction when I untacked her. I didn't ride her hard enough for a sweat since the nights are cold and I didn't want her wet. But I'm pretty sure sweat patterns are going to show uniformity when I ride her hard enough.

A good time with my daughter, a trial in a great new saddle pad, and some good training time. I spent a few minutes with KK on ground work to help her learn to be safer leading these big horses around (Rain is 16hh and KK is a little 8 yr old).

Trying to make my way back out there for some young horse training yet tonight.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Playing in the dark!

The weather was warm enough and I promised myself to leave my desk early and get some horsetraining time. So, at 5pm, with work half-finished, I stood up and marched out for horse time. The days are slowly getting longer so I figured I had 90 minutes.

It turned out to be very warm and calm outside, so I turned on my outside lights and stayed out until 8:30pm. I had a great time and got some fantastic things going with horses!

Tina - I started with Miss T. I'm continuing with confidence building. I'm noticing her curiosity really growing, a pleasing change! She is really starting to investigate the things I offer up quicker and with more confidence. Today, I worked on her wearing the tarp and dragging it around. We did some trailer loading and asked her to stand on my bridges and other objects. Neck, nose, maybe the feet... I'm getting the nose very quickly now! She understands when I ask her to investigate something and she's willing to check it out. She actually put some decent holes in my tarp by picking it up in her mouth and waving it around. So pleased (but need a new tarp!). Good stuff.

Nina - We practiced maintaining gait. I need her moving steadily in a circle and she still has some silly moments. We worked on COD will calm confidence. She was a little worried w/o the herd in the very beginning, but it didn't last. Her sideways is looking great and we started w/o the fence. I will continue to build her circle size for gait maintenance and will start developing transitions online. After my trip, Loma and I will begin her intense mounted training.

Zarah - We did some driving from zone 5 with 1 line. She was a little distracted at first, but eventually she could do patterns around the trees with her. Her spanish walk is coming along great and we practiced her spin. I took her into the arena and hopped on for about 20 mins of bareback riding. We practiced bridleless backup, weaving, sideways. I love her - she's become so advanced and quick to learn. She's trying hard and highly motivated by treats, I'm learning. She's a left-brained learner and needs motivation.

A great night! I was using my house flood lights and doing all this work on the side of my house. It was warm with calm air - spring is on it's way!