Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stella #23

First time riding Stella today after 2 weeks off.  She needed time off after her hocks were injected and then I had a hard fall that tore some muscle in my hip flexor.  I only rode her for around 15 minutes after some good warm up time in the round pen.  My hip was still sore and we found a nice place to stop after managing some obstacles.

Unfortunately, she had quite a high head when I asked for the trot under saddle.  This tells me that she hasn't fully accepted softness in the bridle outside of the walk.  In the walk, it's very positive, but at the trot her head and poll shot up immediately.  I'll continue to work on that with her.  It only took her a few minutes to find comfort again  with a low head at the trot, but I realize she's not quite there.

This week, I intend to try the rope halter instead of the bit.  I'm curious if the bit itself causes the negative reflexive behavior or is it higher speeds with a rider regardless of the head gear.

Also, planning to get her on the trail!  Not cooperative weather so far...  Today we got very unexpected snow.

Stella #21 and #22

Had 2 great sessions focused on her confidence and connection.  Stella made some super nice changes in these 2 sessions.  I played at liberty, slowing things down so she could respond to me while feeling sure of everything.  She was able to circle me at liberty at the walk and I was able to draw her in off the circle with ease.

Her ear-pinning is a direct reflection of her confidence, I believe.  As I get to know her and her needs, I'm able to change the way I play with her to help grow her from the inside out.  I am not a believer in responding directly to various feedback (ears-pinned, tail swishing, stomping...).  If we tell our horse to not express themselves, we lose the opportunity to grow them in the way they need to grow.  They lose their voice.  I want horses that are content and comfortable in their tasks with me and know they can express it when they're not.

Did sideways, transitions, began to teach her down transition using the carrot stick and "laser-beam".  She is easily left to feel stifled and shut down, so playing with communications where she can continue forward and doesn't feel the need to disconnect.

Pretty pleased!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Stella #19

Rode her around the property. I was curious how she'd do without a big warm up that potentially fires up pain in her hocks. I could tell I was riding a horse that needs a mental warm-up, as she was tighter and needed to move more. I do no warm up, just tacked up and went.

Played with confidence on obstacles, focus and following my focus. 

I have to say, she was less swishy and irritated than normal where I usually warm her up with cantering.

Stella #20

Played a bunch with trailer loading!  this was a good session for her trailer confidence. She became way more confident and was going in and out with ease. She was able to stand in the trailer and eat with a leg cocked. Good growth for her.

Stella #18

Tried a test with bute to see how she would feel after an anti-inflammatory was on board to fight pain and discomfort.  She was way more comfortable and able to allow her hind feet to come back enough for a trim. Rode her and felt much less tail swishing and negative response.

Poor girl needs some support for her physical comfort.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stella #17

Met Wendy today for Stella's session. Played in the indoor at first, due to a cold breeze. Started online and played with different levels of energy to get more info on the motivation behind her pinned ears. I truly believe it's lack of confidence because she's the best when I'm super clear. When I'm softer, she pins her ears more. I'll keep working on that.

Then some liberty, but she had very little tension and was able to trot circles vs. her normal very fast canter. She also was listening and ready to come in as soon as I asked. Cool.

Rode her at all gaits, played with leg pressure and figuring out some more on tail swishing. Tried Wendy's saddle to see if it made any difference, not sure it did. She just needs more comfort under saddle in my opinion. Then, rode her out on the front pasture, looking for herd or barn sweetness - none!!  She did great. Really enjoying her progress.

Played in the obstacles to end it. Tractor tire was easier, but needs much more work. Mailbox, hanging obstacle, teeter totter...  not bad, but lots to improve on.

Good session.

Stella #16

After a nice warm up at liberty, then some w/t/c in the arena, we headed for obstacles and then the trail!  Had Tammy on rain for me to keep things calm. Followed Rain at first, but Stella was happy to lead!  She was calm, her tail was quiet, she had confidence and comfort I've not felt in the arena. We went about 2 hours, mainly walking and a little trot. Encountered dogs baking at fences, things blowing, squeezes through narrow channels...  She was stellar. She's a trail horse!  Deuce was next to us the whole time - no issue for her. Excellent!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stella #15

Great session - rode her in outdoor then in the playground.  She was calm and connected.  Went over tractor tire and around other obstacles.

She's not confident with the tractor tires, so we will work on that. She will reluctantly step on, but wants off right away.

She's ready for the trail!

Stella #14

Showed Stella to a potential buyer today. We spent 2 hours together and she rode her on the end. Stella was very tight and forward tonight, which I think made the buyer hesitant. She wanted a more finished horse.

It was very nice to get Stella into all gaits, though. She relaxed eventually, but it took a bit of time.  She wanted to throw his nose high and we worked through that. She just needs more time to relax under saddle.

I was very pleased with her!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Stella #13

Great, great session. Trotting and finding relaxation!  Cantering and finding an engaged back and less rushing. Had 2 incidents where she thought to go around the barrel one way and I the other. Both times, she nearly lost me. It scares her when her rider loses balance.  She's moving fast and she's so supple and bendy that I can feel like riding a snake with wings for a minute.

She made some really nice changes today!  Her headset was lower more often, she found reason to pop her head up high way less, she was trotting slower and hardly ever frantically.

Her warm up was way more connected!  After the ride, she didn't leave my side. So pleased.

Django #4 and #5

Long session today. Played online for a bit. Worked with django on maintain gait, cod and canter departs.

Rode django for a long time. Counterarcs, right lead canter, right side suppleness, bends, bends and bends...  he was pretty tired, but he did very well. He started off blowing me off, but ended very signed on to the partnership.  His counterarcs improved dramatically.  His right bend for much softer and his mouth was finally quiet at the end. He spends a lot of energy trying to find comfort in the snaffle bit without success so I focused on setting it up for him to find it.

Loved this session. Feel good about relating this back to his owner and jerking her find the feeling I found with him.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Django #3

Fun!  Played online, then liberty in the big arena. He enjoys leaving at a fast pace, so we moved to the round pen. Played with change of direction at the trot and yoyo. Tried to create an event with the rope between his front legs, but couldn't make it happen. 

Decent stick to me, but need to fix his strong desire to leave quickly.  It's quite fun for him to do that.  He comes right back, but he's enjoying his ability to choose.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stella #12

Indoor arena on a super windy day with Wendy watching. Stella was awesome. Forward, relaxed, great liberty, just a great session.

She's really finding a lot of comfort with a low poll and that makes me happy. Her liberty is getting better and better with her finding fewer reasons to leave.

Stella #11

Trotting figure 8s. Working on relaxation. She did great. Nothing too exciting today, just helping her get comfortable under saddle.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stella #10

Nice catching game to start tonight. She didn't even consider leaving me. Decided to bring chance out for some time, too.

Had her in the large outdoor to start for some connection game. Then took her into the round pen for some trotting. In the beginning, she wanted to have her nose high. I asked her to travel with her head lower and her hind engaged and it didn't take her long to oblige. I played with walk, trot transitions and flexion while trotting.

She was actually quite relaxed and she blew a lot. She seems comfortable being ridden but she seems to need me to be very specific and clear. I was able to get transitions without her putting her nose in the air and decided took quit there.

She did well today.

Django #2

Took django down the trail today. It was great to get a feel for how I can help him be a better riding partner for his owner. Here's what I found: 

1)  dull to my leg, doesn't isolate well
2)  doesn't have much flexion or suppleness
3)  Could be much softer in the bit
4)  decent go and whoa
5)  happy in front or behind

Did a lot of weaving and serpentine pattern. Tried to get him bending and softer. Well work on isolation next ride.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stella #9

Wanted to ride, had planned to ride, but the wind was so bad today. After being in it for hours for equine dentist day, I was a little irritable and decided to do ground development.

What a great session we had!  She was connected right away and did great with staying with me. Played with going over a single barrel, change of direction, and and sideways. She is more and more calm all the time. Loving it.

Django #1

First session today.  Played with connection, maintain gait and over a barrel.

Just wanted to get a feel for him tonight. He was quite responsive and I'm looking forward to figuring out how I can develop him in two short weeks.

Stella #9

Wanted to ride, had planned to ride, but the wind was so bad today. After being in it for hours for equine dentist day, I was a little irritable and decided to do ground development.

What a great session we had!  She was connected right away and did great with staying with me. Played with going over a single barrel, change of direction, and and sideways. She is more and more calm all the time. Loving it.

Stella #8

Ride #2. Stella got to help me teach today. She actually did very well!  Started with friendly to connect from the saddle. I had to tone my friendly way down to keep her in a learning frame of mind. I'll be building that up though. She learned quickly to drop her head amd connect. Very good girl! 

Then we played with counter bends. She was a little tight with this and I took it slow to help her find confidence. By the third attempt, she was way more loose and willing. I was very pleased with how she handled the new info. She did great with all the other horses as well.

Enjoying this little mare! :-)

Stella #7

First ride on Stella. Get back seems healthy and she seemed ready to get started. Had my daughter ride sonny on the indoor with me in case Stella lost her confidence. Warmed up at liberty and she did great, then got on.

Quickly determined Stella doesn't have a back up!  So played with that for several minutes. Then played with walk and stop and turning. She was actually much more comfortable carrying me than I expected her to be. Played a little with isolation of the ends and then called it a day.

That was a good place to stop and a nice set of building blocks for ride #2.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Stella #6

After a couple days off for rest per the chiropractor who adjusted her Tuesday,  today was good for her. She was energetic and a really circled me beautifully at liberty in the outdoor arena!  She came in on her own and I was able to walk around with her sticking to me.

Played with zone 2 driving,  isolated ends,  soft sends on the circle,  catching.

Tomorrow, we ride!!  Her back feels good today,  no soreness.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stella #5

A shorter session, but a good one. More zone 5 driving, isolated ends, touch it game and stick to me.  Didn't play at liberty today. Definitely setting her start more relaxed and think quicker in our sessions. Played in the indoor, which seemed a bit easier on her.

Stella #4

Great time today with Stella!  Decided to play in the pasture, biggest space ever at liberty for us. She was weary at first, but I was surprised how quickly she got the idea today. Especially in that size of a space.

By the end she was sticking to me and walking with me. It was definitely the most connected she's been with me, yet.

Did some more zone 5 driving and maintain gait on the circle. Good session.

Session #3 with Stella

This session, the owner was there to watch and hopefully get some footage of Stella doing her thing. The weather was great, so decided to take her to the outdoor arena. It would be her first time there and it's the largest of all the places I've played with her.

She had trouble connecting and it took her some time to think that might be an option. Once she connected and stood with me, I tried to ask her to stay longer while we walked. Her lack of confidence would win over and she would never stay for more than 15 or 20 seconds.

We went for a while today and she worked fairly hard, but made some nice changes along the way. She was staying longer and liberty and coming back to me sooner and sooner.

Her disconnection is my primary focus and it's where I'll be spending most of my time until she starts to come around.

Online, I played with stick to me and isolated ends. She is learning to be calm and responsive online and Hoping that will support her liberty over time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Session #2 with Stella

She started out calm and ready today. Really nice!  Started out with some touch it game, a little tarp work and then some isolated ends. She was being so calm and responsive, so moved on to some friendly on the circle. Again, a non-issue. Then moved on to some zone 2 driving. This is very challenging for her, which explains tension with a rider. She is the most comfortable with me in zone 1, so this is where I decided to develop her for the day. I used my 22' and worked my way back to zone 5. She was extremely bothered with the rope, with me behind, with the whole thing.

We played with yo-yo game from zones 2, then further and further back until I could see a change in her comfort level. She began to understand that she was ok and that she could do what I was asking. I'll be working a lot here to build her confidence.

We played some stick to me at liberty, as well. She is staying with me longer and longer. Her tension builds though, and I can see her sort of running out of confidence. No problem, we'll build that up.

She is looking to me for answers a ton and asking lots of questions, great stuff!

She is nearly ready for riding development. Her back is much better from her trailer incident. Starting to see a horse that could be trustworthy. Great session with this cute mare. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Huge changes with April

This was probably one of the most impactful sessions I've had with April in a while.  She is so good at getting what she wants and one of those things is to leave the arena.  Today, I decided it was time to address that behavior and help her understand that maybe that idea is not fruitful for her.

In the beginning, she rolled and stood up like she sometimes does - flying!  She realized she was loose and she went running out the arena doors and over to the neighbors horses.  One for April.  :)

I warmed her up some more with the doors open, then decided it was time to ride and I wanted them closed for that.  While saddling, she was a little extreme and I accidentally let the rope go.  She went running again.  I decided it was something that needed to be addressed.  Bernardo closed the door to the outside, so April could leave the arena, but not the building.

She went to the stall aisle and I made it very uncomfortable for her.  This would end up being my first time playing liberty with her.  I unhooked her lead so we could go play this way and she could leave if she chose.  When she did leave, I got big and after a couple attempts, she stopped leaving!  We were able to play at liberty for a bit and her whole demeanor had changed.  She's obviously been needing me to make a bigger deal out of that behavior.

I rode her in the rope halter and focused on yo-yo.  I wanted her riding off my seat so I made a big deal of exaggerating my seat position to help her get the forward vs. the backwards.  She was emotional about it all, but when she finally settled and was able to just get with me, we quit.

I tell ya, she was a different horse than I started with.  Maybe now we can start getting some things done.

Stella's first session

Stella is in an interesting mare. She came to my facility on Thursday after having a rough go at a boarding facility for a couple months. Seems the environment and the herd was really impacting her confidence. I played with her in that facility before she came to my place and focused on getting her calm and connected with fairly good success. She didn't want to catch me at first, however. It took about 30 mins for her to make the choice to be caught when I first met her.

Today was her first session in a new environment. It was also her first time in my indoor arena. I had a focus group going, so used her as my demo horse. She had 7 humans watching as I showed some basic maneuvering, forequarters and hind yields to start. Then, played with extreme friendly on the circle, seeking a connection. She did quite well with this!  Happy to see that my first session with her made a lasting impression. That's very promising.

She started head-high and feet flying, full of tension. After about 5 mins, she was calm, blowing, dropping the poll.  Things were going so well so quickly, I decided to play catching game in the arena so I could demo the feel of when to draw and when to drive. She was disconnected at first and it took her a little time to choose to ask a question. One she did, and got the relief, she had it all figured out. She had a hard time just standing with me for any length of time, though. Her tension would increase and she'd need to leave. No problem, just allowed us to play again.
We probably played the game about 7 times. Finally, she chose to stay. A really big change in her body, her tension, her connection. I then kept her with me to increase her feeling of connection while the others took turns doing similar playing with my coaching.

She walked out of the arena calm and soft. I was very pleased with her changes. Ready for the next session.