Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Water jump

Yesterday was a fabulous day weather wise and Parelli wise - or savvy wise.

The day before (Sunday) I had taken Garbo down to the large water jump at Royal Oak - on previous occasions he had just avoided looking at it - but on Sunday three other horses went in for a play Both Sunday and Monday were really hot days) - but still on Sunday he just looked and watched and took it all in. I walked around the edge but didn't ask him in, then we went home.

Had a great ride before that - we were doing point to point - Garbo offered canter and his canter is so much nicer now - this was all in our new hakamore. He enjoyed the game and so did I!

So Monday - I was going to ride but it was so hot that Michelle said she was going to take Taz to play in the water jump so we went along too. After Taz going in a couple of times and making big splashes I could see Garbo really wanted to go in but wasn't sure how. He was a little unconfident.

I asked him in (once) and then waited while he thought about it. I just waited calmly not too focussed on him, until he turned away or stopped trying - then I would back him up a couple of steps quietly and ask him again..... he would look at the water, sniff it - pretend to nibble the grass on the edge while looking at Taz playing in it.... then we would go round the side and say hi to Taz.... so then I would ask him again.... at one point he got his nose in.... (wet) - it was so funny watching him think.... he was blinking and chewing and licking...... and gradually his confidence came back.

He never once panicked which was great.

After about 5 or 6 minutes of this I asked him again and I stood on the very edge of the ledge on a piece of grassy mud - and he went straight in.

I took his halter and rope off and sat on the grass in the sun and watched him and Taz play in there for 20 minutes. Taz thought she could make a big splash until Garbo started pawing in the water - first with one foot - then the other... it was so funny.....

After a while they both got out and we played with them at liberty for a while and then washed them off and I took Garbo home - he loaded straight away - he was so cool.

I didn't ride but it was a huge achievement today - first time in the water jump.! All without losing his confidence or trust or dignity.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Today at Royal Oak we played with three obstacles. The swiss ball, cones, and a tarp.

Garbo was so chilled out - he was investigating the tarp while I was getting poles to weight it down, and we played stop at the cone, over the tarp (even at canter). There were two poles holding down the tarp too so it was doubly tricky......

After a short ride he followed me back to the float with no rope.... and he just chilled out.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Liberty and Horse Behaviour

I am up to DVD 4 of this study programme and it has helped me immensely with reading Garbo and when he is being dominant vs confident vs playful vs unconfident.

Todays 'task' from the DVD was to play the 7 games with 3 obstacles using our new strategies and knowledge of reading horse behaviour and then applying the relevant strategies.

So - what did I do different?

Well after watching the demo with Mickey (horse) and Linda - he was alot like Garbo and did the head down thing too - so I realised the head down (head in the sand) was definitely a lack of confidence (he couldn't look at me) which I had suspected but wasn't 100% sure until today. Although he is confident he can be an unconfident learner. So today I was less 'firm' which Jackie had suggested for the dominance and I was more quiet but asking, and he responded really well and I didn't lose his confidence at all.

When asking him to change direction on the circle at trot from right rein to left rein he avoids it/evades it, so today I just brought him back to walk and did it all in extra slow motion. And it worked. I think getting all dominant back at him was just making him less confident and a little fearful.

I am also very aware of not ruining my rapport and not ruining by draw....

So we also did some driving from Zone 3 nearly at the end of the 22ft line which I had not done before. I got him to stop at the cone on the circle so he didn't get bored - he picked that up pretty quick - and his trot was even better - more relaxed.

I was actually in the sloping paddock with Blue as the arena crowd wouldn't have liked my obstacles (a swiss ball, trot poles and a cone). And Blue just watched! Garbo was great, cantering past Blue without getting all wound up....

Then I took the rope off - large paddock, Blue loose in same paddock - not really setting it up for success but I had my treats for incentives! So we did walk/trot/walk/halt with me beside him and for the first time he learnt to back up and or stop with just the carrot stick to the front and side of him (not in front of him).

Then we went and investigated the swiss ball again (at liberty), then we did some small circle game at walk and trot and ended it on a good note.

I walked away and he kept following me. I went to fix some electric tape and he went to have a drink (and smell some poos - as you do) and I was about 50ft away. He looked up, ears forward and came trotting over to me - so cute!

I was really happy with todays session.... lots of good stuff.

Oh - the other things I did differently? I didn't stay on one task too long - did it once good and moved on, I didn't focus on the obstacle, at one point I tried to play 'don't touch the swiss ball' and it worked - he stuck his nose on it.

I released my energy alot and had lots of friendly breaks. I backed him up alot (good for dominance issues) and that fixed most things pretty quickly.

He offered sideways along a pole too!