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. 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.