Friday, November 28, 2008

Undemanding time

With all the wind and also the earthworks at our place I have not done much with the boys. Alot of undemanding time which has been cool.

Dragged Garbo out today for a ride - just a couple of laps of the track at home bareback so that was cool (no wind today).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Scary tractor

This is what happened when Tim was mowing the middle paddock. The horses thought the tractor was chasing them.!

Check out the co-ordinated canter and flying changes by them both.

The next time I decided I would try putting them in the yards so they couldn't 'practise' running around each time they saw a tractor and they were great!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Off to the track we go...

We went to the track at Helensville Showgrounds today - about 12 minutes from home. We had to go on the inside track since they were making hay on the actual track damn it all... way too tempting for Garbo. He enjoyed the green grass patches every now and again, but he walked on again easily and calmly so that was good.

Here he is having a snack/break.

George texted me about an hour after we arrived and wanted to know if we had broken any records. Ahhh- No!

First I'll write about the ride. Then the floating.

We didn't go right round as they were baling the hay over the other side... so we used the 'straight' to do follow the rail with indirect and direct rein turns and transitions. He was lovely and forward and I am sure had I felt more confident about it, he would have gone right round.

We did some trot, and then some canter but in such a big space I was a little 'giddy-up - BUT just a little bit'... I must have gripped a bit at that point as he stuck his head down like he would buck... no idea why he does that!

Anyway - we tried a few more times, and I tried having a completely loose rein which worked great but after a few strides I kind of felt for the rein so I could stop him if need be, and stiffened up again. Oh well. Next time. It was a great ride all in all.

After that we went into this lovely little mown paddock with a fence all round it so we did follow the rail in there to cool down before loading again.

So now - the loading. Decided it was time to drive Garbo into the float from Zone 3 instead of leading him on. Amazing - it turned out he trusted me enough to follow me on but not to go on alone. There was lots of pawing on the ramp first, checking it out, and then he would get his nose and neck on, but not his back feet. Actually initially not even his front feet. It took about 20 minutes I think and we rushed the closing of the rails abit and off we went.

On the way back I concentrated on using phase one, energy up and pointing to the float and lifting the carrot stick then lifting it up and down, and quickly using it to turn his nose towards the float when he looked left. He didn't rush off which was great. It took a while for me to find the perfect amount of pressure - and what it was was hitting the savvy string gently on the ground behind him over and over until he took a step forward - even if it was a big stretch forward (at one point he had his front and back legs so far apart.

After I think about 20 minutes he was on, and it was his idea! About half way through this session he was yawning like crazy so I think it was a very very big step for Garbo today. I think he will sleep well tonight.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We had planned to go to the Showgrounds in Helensville, they have a race track (grass) there, so I was looking forward to doing some follow the rail.

Well it didn't really go as planned but that's the way it happens sometimes with horses.

I was a bit nervous and Garbo always picks up on that. It's I think because it's a big open space and we had not been there before.... plus I was meeting Michelle at the bottom of the road (time limit - which horses always know about and decide not to load).

So - I fed Maraschino and Garbo saw that - 2nd mistake - and decided he should be getting fed rather than loading!

Took me about 40 minutes to load him and his adrenalin ended up being quite high - but got him on ok in the end with some patience. I started off the normal way leading him on and he went on and backed off in a hurry. I tried again (many times) but he kept backing away from me, sometimes at speed. I tried to not pull hard when he was pulling back, but just went with him. I tried another tact of backing him up (my idea) when he started backing up. That didn't really work - just meant he backed up faster and for longer. Oh well - 50/50 chance it would work right!

I tried facing the float to take the pressure off him but as soon as he got to the ramp he just tried to set his head down so he could stop and not let me pull, (in the old days he would turn at this point and run off).

So after 30 minutes, I got out the carrot stick, and waved the stick and string towards zone 4 any time he was not going forward, or if he was backing up. Sometimes I had to use phase 4, string made connection with zone 4 but it definitely made him think twice about going backwards!

So I did what I had tried once before unsuccessfully, to send him in a semi circle away from the flaot - with lots of energy and when the float got in the way I would stop and rest. Actually - that's not entirely true - I didn't try that last time I just tried to ask him on to the float with me standing outside (like squeeze game I guess) and that didn't work. So this was new for both of us. I had in my mind Pat and the many horses he does this with and I tried to stay consistent. Tried to be assertive and not aggressive. It was hard. But eventually he looked like he was ready to try again (nearly loaded himself) so I led him on and he came straight on and stayed on. I don't know yet if I asked too much of him. His adrenalin was still quite high.

By now Maraschino has finished his food and was watching us leave (not the plan) - so as I drove out of the drive I saw him running around alot so I texted Michelle and said I think I should go back and do it another day when George is home just in case - it would be nice to know he calms down after a bit of a run around - so I turned around at the bottom of the road and headed home. When I got back Maraschino was standing on top of his clay pile - not too distressed but pleased to see us.
Garbo rushed off the float at 100 miles an hour - backwards....must work on that... he was shaking a little.

Michelle came up with the two horses she had on board and she went for a ride round the track, while I played on the ground with Garbo. We did some amazing figure 8 at trot, some circles and weave - like Cilla says - amazing to have some extra energy when you have an LBI! But in my case he was actually a bit stressed. These two new horses were running round the track (in his mind) and Maraschino was following along next to them (so Garbo kind of thought they were leaving). I soldiered on and got him busy and told him that he must concentrate on me and not what they were doing. It was quite exhausting but we did it.

It also was really windy today which didn't help - on top of everything else (20 knots at some stage).

Anyway - so George is back tomorrow so we will try again then.

I felt like I sabotaged the day a bit - by being nervous, but like Michelle said I followed my instinct and went home, otherwise I would have worried.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Morning out alone

Today I decided to take Garbo out and leave Maraschino at home alone - because I knew from his personality so far, that he would be fine. But I got my friend to stay at home and keep an eye on him just in case - plus I wanted to know how he handled it.

So 9am I gave Maraschino a bucket of food and headed off to the float with Garbo. The little pony next door was making more noise about the whole thing.

Off we headed to Woodhill Sands - it's an equestrian facility that is on a natural sand trap so it's basically all sand with some grass. It has some dressage arenas, some cross country jumps, and lots of trees... and the best thing - during the week there is hardly ever anyone there.

We arrived about 5 minutes after leaving home (it's on the next street), Garbo managed to squeeze in a poop in the float in that short trip! He got off in a bit of a hurry and looked around head high to see if there were any other horses around - nope... the last time we were there was 18 months ago at a Ribbon Day (pre-Parelli) where he bucked every time all the horses in the ring (about 30 of us) trotted.

So - we spent quite a bit of time on the ground... getting him ready to ride and confident and listening to me. Perhaps 18 months ago I would not have been able to read the subtle signs and thought he was ok to ride - but these days I know better.

For the first 20 minutes he was half doing what I asked and half looking around, which has always been his 'trait' - he used to get described as 'distracted'. But after a while he became more and more calm and looking to me for guidance.

We played touch it with the outbuildings and the jumps ( I don't think he thought they were jumps - they just looked like short fences with trees on either end to him), initially he was spooking a little from them but after a bit he was checking them out and eating the trees attached to wither end of the fence.

Then we went looking for a jump small enough to jump - but there were none so I stood up on top of a huge log jump and asked for a circle round me. We had great canter transitions, and looking at the photos I am really pleased with the fact that his back legs are coming underneath him well, and the angle of his front diagonal and back diagonal in trot are the same.

We also did yo-yo with me sitting on another log jump.

We walked back to the float and I saddled up, and got on, in my rope halter and lead rope- first time we have ridden out alone in a new place without a bridle, but I didn't even think twice.

We had a lovely ride, he was very responsive. He takes me repositioning myself in the saddle as an upwards transition - hmmmmm... I can't complain.

We didn't canter - we nearly did but he put his head down like he was going to buck so I asked for a one rein stop - and he stopped, I don't think he would have bucked but I stopped him so that's the main thing.

We finished with taking the saddle off and I led him back to an area of the sand he liked so he could have a nice roll. I don't think he wanted to leave.

We drove in the gate after our quick drive home and I could see Maraschino head down grazing - yay.

Michelle said he called out after he finished his food and the pony next door called back, then he slowly walked to each corner of the paddock and called, interspersed with some grazing, and then just carried on grazing.

So I am so pleased.

We might go to the Helensville Track on Sunday - it's a real race track no longer used - will be great for follow the rail.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weave pattern day 2

Day 2 of the weave pattern for Garbo and he mastered it today - even got three weaves at trot and I got further away - not quite at 22 but near the end of the 12. Getting better at upping my energy for the drive and lowering it for the draw. I kind of take a breath and hold it for the drive and release it when I draw. That's what seems to work for me.

I also did some friendly and Touch it with Maraschino. And a little go at Figure 8 for Maraschino - he did it slowly which was good. He had problems with the drive and the draw interestingly enough.

No photos sorry - my photographer is at work!

Lots of yawning afterwards for both my boys, which is always a sign Garbo has learnt something new - as he doesn't yawn very often - but when I started Parelli he yawned nearly every day, but before I got patterns he didn't do it much.

I stuck their covers on as we have rain due tonight and tomorrow.

Weave pattern

Even though our Figure 8's have gone a bit pear shaped we started the weave today and I think it will help actually. Our biggest hole at the moment is driving Zone 2 further away from me - at any stage. Garbo wants to sit on my lap and have carrots I think (instead). He is slowly realising that what Pat does for driving from a distance (rhythmic pressure on Zone 2) means move away. The weave pattern actually helped - I had two barrels and two spools so 4 objects. And we even got it at trot for one time - nearly all 4.

Then I decided to ride and sort out the opposition reflex for turns (when Garbo wants to go back to washbay and stand by his rope until he gets his dinner)... gosh that was hard - I would ask for the turn by lifting the rope out and back up with CS if he resisted - of course he would start heading off in the correct direction and swifly turn back the other way -my CS, rope lifting skills from one side to the other, to allow the gradual phases were simply not up to speed.

After about half an hour of 'discussing' I got off and realised it was 6pm - way after his dinner time. If I had of tried that a year ago I would have had a spooking bucking horse - so I took what I got as a good result and gave him his dinner.