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.