Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Forest ride

Last night I hooked up the float, checked the brakes, packed my saddle, and some carrots, so that I had less to do this morning. I slept pretty well except I had a dream there was a nail in our driveway.

I got up at 7am and had a shower and ate breakfast outside. It was a beautiful morning, no wind and sunny. Then I made a coffee and checked my emails. I had planned to load at 8.45am - allowing for any delays with that and to give myself some groundwork time once there, since I was meeting Bronwyn at 9.30am.

I went outside to get Garbo at 8.30am and he was lying down having a sleep - the other two were as well. I went right up to him and he just groaned.

I took the opportunity to take a photo!

or two...

Maraschino was lying down too.... 10 minutes later he still didn't look interested in getting up!

Finally he got up - I didn't want to force him. I gave him a brush and picked out his feet.

Then it was time to load.... I headed towards the float and practised a few sends through the gap between my car and the fence (both sides - one bigger than the other)... and then stood at my tackbox and asked him to load up. George was watching so I wondered if he would load as well as last night. But he did. I closed the dividers and shut the back door (while Garbo ate his grain at the front), and closed the top.

George said I'll get the gate for you - hold on a minute you have a flat tyre (on my car!)... No way! So off came Garbo and I texted Bronwyn to say we might be 10 minutes late - just as well I started early.

I led Garbo up the side to eat grass and he loaded up again!! I was down the side of the float and he was on. So funny.

My lovely husband changed it for me in record time. I loaded again (and and he was an angel even after all that! Off we went.

We arrived at the horsepark on time!

There were quite a few trucks and floats there... this was the empty end...

Bronwyn said "No way" when I told her I was riding in a hackamore. Garbo was really well behaved while we saddled up and quite calm - there was alot going on, trucks arriving, horses unloading at lightening speed, dogs...

I did some ground work including sideways and backwards and then I got on and my nerves disappeared (although they were not too bad). We had a lovely hour long walk on a loop track in the forest, a couple of little hills and a little trot up the last hill. Critey (Garbo's sister) was very calm as always and we had a lovely ride and a catch up.

It's been nearly a year and a half since I last went to the forest ( had started Parelli one month before my last ride there) and while on the ride today I realised the following;
  • My balance is better
  • My seat is better
  • I feel so much more relaxed - all this work the last 18 months on confidence thresholds for Garbo and I has really paid off
  • I don't panic when Garbo moves up a gait - I don't grab the reins like I used to - I just sat and lifted one rein slowly
  • Garbo was really relaxed

Also - I pedalled quite a bit when ever I thought about it which was great. Garbo had hardly any opposition reflex like he does at home. So all in all a good day. He even got to play in a puddle and cool himself off. There are troughs along the tracks so he got three drinks too.

This is near the end of th ride - he doesn't look too knackered (I thought he would).. the reins look a bit tight here because I was trying to stop him from heading home.... he was supposed to be posing.

(tired on the last leg and lagging behind a bit)

When we returned to the horsepark he had a big roll in the sand and I hosed him down and headed home.

I had asked George to give Coco and Maraschino a little feed after we left - and he did. He said Maraschino called out a few times but never panicked or ran around - and when I came down the road I could see him - he was very calm. He calmly walked over to the fence after asking Garbo where he had been. Garbo was still in the float and started telling Maraschino all about it.

So - a great day - might do it all again next week!!

A snippet from today

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Oh my God - I can't believe how cool today was.

Garbo didn't seem over keen to come in (he wasn't standing by the gate waiting), so I wondered if I had been too tough on him yesterday. Anyway - he seemed fine so I led him over to the float and decided to start with backing him in. Well - guess what - today he decided he couldn't back straight - let alone into the float. I spent ages trying to correct him but he would just go either side of the ramp. I spent about 10 minutes..... after a while I gave him a break and some grass....

I was going to try it again and I thought - what the heck I'll have a go at sending him in and see what happens.

Guess what!? He went straight in, all the way in, and quickly!!!!

I had some grain up the front this time so he spent a bit of time eating that, and then something gave him a fright and he rushed out, I patted him and sent him in again and he went in again!!! Finished the rest of his grain and calmly backed out again.

It was like he needed a night to think about it!

So I have my float all hooked up ready to go tomorrow morning, hope I don't get too nervous as that will effect him. Thinking positive though.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trailer loading prep

We are off to the forest on Wednesday and rather than wait till then to find out we have a problem with loading I took Pats advice off the Jan Savvy Club DVD and practiced today (and will do some more tomorrow too).

The last time we went out I had my friend help and we got Garbo to load after about 30 minutes (on the way there and back), with me standing outside the float, but my friend had to be up the front. So today I thought I would work on that.

Normally Garbo will go on the float if I lead him in - just fine - except for if I am stressed or in a rush or both. Then he flatly refuses. We have also had a couple of accidents where he has got a fright while in there (when I have been still in there too), and rushed out, once turning inside the float and squashing me against the divider - luckily it's padded but I still fractured a rib.

So - from a Parelli perspective - he trusts me enough to go in there with me, but as soon as I back up to close the divider he loses his confidence, or if something gives him a fright. Once the divider is closed he's pretty good.

So - I didn't do the obstacle prep today - but we have done tarps, backing into stalls, backing through tight areas, squeeze gane and all sorts round the float.

I walked up to the ramp and stood to the side (left side) and asked him in (like I would with a squeeze game ask)... he put one foot on the ramp - then two, then stopped and looked at me. I lifted my stick until he moved another foot (a millimetre it seemed) and then stopped, he would turn and look at me so I had to use my left hand to point at his nose with energy up to get him to look forward... he has a trick of looking sideways then taking off that way.

This went on for about 30 minutes and we were not getting much further up the ramp - he would paw the ramp, sniff the dividers, turn and whisper in my ear and look all cute, try and lean into me, dive out the right side, anything except load. He even tried loading sideways at one point but I think it was just to position himself for a quick escape.

So - I thought - lets try another tactic. I decided to back him up the ramp into the float. Hah! It only took a few corrections for straightness and I had him yo-yoing into the float backwards, stopping with his front feet on the ground and the rest of him in there, backing up again. I threw the rope over his back and patted him all over, even went to the front of the float to get a carrot for him (I always have carrots up the front as a reward for him).... I went to stop off and he wanted to come too so I snapped the snap and asked him to stay in there while I got out. He looked a little unconfident but lets face it - if he really wanted to and was RB - he would have hightailed it outta there.

If I could float him backwards on an angle I would!!

So then I loaded him how I normally do - leading him on and holding the rope up short and asking for one step back one step forward, back two forward two, back three forward three... he got on and off many times calmly.

So - back to standing at the side of the ramp.... after many many many asks he looked like he was nearly going to go right in and he would stop as soon as I stopped at the ramp.... I have this huge tack box that swings out on the left side and all the dividers open to the left too - so there aint alot of room for me. During this last session he yawned alot and shook his head alot too.

An hour had passed so I thought I would end on a good note - loading him in the old way - gave him two carrots and backed him off slowly....

I will try again tomorrow.

Alot for me to lick and chew on over night and at work tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Slipped off

I spent a bit of time with Garbo online and at liberty today before my ride as I had given him a treat (ones he does not have very often) and he can get grumpy about having more of them, he lifted his leg twice when I was wiping the dust off him.

We went into the middle paddock and he was a bit spooky right next to the maize, on the circle he would spook or canter faster or come in on the maize side of the circle, so I faced the maize and asked him to canter on the circle, then asked for transitions on the maize side, and change of direction. It wasn't long before he was over the over-reacting.

Then we did some sideways without a fence, and I took his halter off. I ran towards the jump and he went over it so I gave him a treat as he didn't do his normal 'I can't jump it I'll knock it over', which was great. Then we tried the higher jump and he cleared that easily too. I asked him to back up by walking backwards myself, then to go sideways, by walking sideways myself. He did so well I gave him treats for each. It's like he knows he's clever and can do all these tricks once the treats come out (esp the good ones).

Then I decided to test my seperation as I had not done any all week so I jumped on bareback (after putting my helmet on) and walked up the road. Halfway up he spooked at gawd knows what - went sideways and I literally slid off. Now I know why I need the bareback pad!!

I must have done a predator thing and gripped the rope reins (lead rope) as I slid off and I got rope burn (which soon made me let go). Garbo just stood there which was good as sometimes in the past he has run off afterwards. So now I have a very sore little finger, and a bit of a sore back but other than that only my pride was hurt.

He was still a bit spooky up the road in hand but I didn't stay up there long as I needed to get my hand under water. The other two are a bit jumpy too today - maybe it's the new paddock they are in or something. Coco has not taken carrots from me for a couple of days. He jumps and moves away just before he gets to me.

Cool bath in the heat

I gave both the boys a nice cool shower today and tied them up on my new high up hitching rings. They are soooooo much better - they cannot accidentally get tangled in the rope with their legs. Maraschino has only pulled back three times... one was a whirlwind going through the arena at Royal Oak and the other two after he had been pawing and got his leg over the rope and then panicked.

So I tied him up yesterday for about 80 minutes while I brushed him, combed his tail and put hoof polish on, washed his face and combed all the knots out of his mane. Well tangles really. I went from Garbo to him in turns so they had a nice relaxing time tied up safely (learning patience) in the shade.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday ride

Had a quick ride on Garbo today bareback and we went up the road. The neighbour was trying to catch the foal and he was just running around flat out, the dogs were barking, and there was a motorbike and a ride on! So much for a quiet country lane hey! Garbo wasn't fazed at all. We even practised trotting (bareback for me is a challenge past walk) up this hill.

Garbo was eating on the weed hill just before I got on.

Mr Maraschino was very calm today when we went off for a ride. I went back two times (once on foot), and after that he went and ate grass round the other side of the barn.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Voluntary seperation

Yesterday I took Garbo just outside the gate, I grabbed a yummy weed and headed back to Maraschino (left Garbo eating with the rope over his back), and opened the gate from the washbay to the other grass area. Maraschino headed into the grass because there is not alot of grass in the track.

Garbo also slowly wandered away towards the main gate so that they were actually out of sight of each other (but both could easily get back to within sight of each other if they wanted to).

They both seemed pretty peaceful so I went and picked up poos for about 30 minutes. Then I just bought Garbo back in without nay fuss or big deal. So that went pretty well.

Today I tried it again but it was really windy today - you know how that always seems to make horses a bit more on edge. Maraschino called out a few times and then got caught up a little bit in the hose in the washbay, but he soon settled, they were apart (in and out of sight) for about an hour all up.

Coco comes up to me now at dinner time looking for his carrot. I actually saw him following me today when I was picking up poos with the wheel barrow.. I don't want to turn all predator like and just grab him -as tempting as it is!! Would love to get his halter off!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Unplanned session

Well I planned a ride up the drive today but decided to play with Garbo first because George was mowing the lawns and Garbo was not quite rideable. It wasn't bad or anything but considering I wanted to go up the drive and bareback... I decided to do some stuff on the ground.

Garbo has been cracking me up lately... he trys every trick in the book so as not to do anything. He will stand over the jump and go sideways and as soon as I laugh he comes over to me. It's really quite sweet.

So he wanted to sideways instead of everything else today so we worked on getting sideways at the end of the 22ft, and also at liberty, and with me crossing over my feet next to him as the cue.

So - at the end of the day that took an hour so I didn't ride.

Next I played with Maraschino. Still no trot on circle. We worked on driving from Zone 3 which he is unconfident with, and that improved alot. He still thinks the savvy string over him (friendly) means move though. I stopped soon after he started to look sleepy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 7 seperation

I wasn't going to do Day 7 but since I missed a day between 6 and 7 I decided I should. Maraschino tried to follow us through the gate but mainly because the last two days I ahve been letting them graze a little area through a different gate from the washbay. I think he thought that's what was happening, it was about the same time of day.

He called out on the first trip so the first retreat was quite quick but the 2nd and third trip away was much longer.

I think he is ready - I am not 100% sure he won't call out a few times but I don't think he will do much more than that.

I am going to go to the forest for a 30 minute ride on Tuesday or Wednesday. The forest is only 10 minutes from here.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Day 6 Seperation thresholds

Day Six I decided to ride Garbo back and forth - bareback. So after getting him out of the track and Maraschino taking absolutely no notice (it's like he is trying to prove how brave he is), I took his cover off, and took him towards the trailer gate. Still nothing from Maraschino. I walked him up and down our little track for a short bit and still nothing so I stopped him beside the trailer and got on. Garbo then decided to climb up the topsoil bank to get the tasty weeds at the top - so I nearly slid off - it was very funny - his back legs were on the ground and his front feet about 3ft high up.

So - after that close call and lots of giggling - we set off up the drive and through the gate and down our road. Garbo was very keen to go see what was happening and to nibble on the grass up there along the way. We got past the barking dogs without them noticing us so they didn't bark - but once past they saw us and started. Garbo didn't give two hoots - I think I was more worried. Not at the barking but the fact they came charging at the fence with teeth gnarling... can give Garbo a fright - and being bareback and all.... anyway - he was fine. Soon I calmed down too.

George heard them barking and knew I had been a bit nervous about them so he wandered up to see how we were and walked back with us. At this point Garbo had seen Wilma and Jimmy - neighbours horses so he didn't want to go home - he wanted to keep going. I told him next time - that we had to go back and see how Maraschino was.

We got back and Maraschino had made one little call out that I had heard so I expected him to be by the fence but he was in Garbo's stall pretending to be very brave, he's so good.

I left it at that because we had been away a while and he was so good.

George commented on how easy it was to take Garbo up the road compared to our neighbour who used to spend half an hour trying to get her horse out of her drive way up that road, and she had a martingale, a grackle, a saddle, bridle the works - I had a lead rope and halter and was riding bareback.

I was very proud of Garbo and myself - it was the first time I have ridden him up the road, and of course bareback - the first time I have ridden him bareback off our property.

I said to George later - it's all about confidence - not just mine - but Garbo's. We had prepared by going up there inhand many times.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 5 Seperation

Well I went into the paddock to get Garbo and he walked up to me as did Maraschino. I haltered Garbo after a chew on the halter (by him not me), and took him into the washbay to take his cover off and put oil on his hooves. Maraschino wandered off in the opposite direction and started grazing.

After removing several ticks I took Garbo to the gate that leads to the float and Maraschino didn't even look up from the other corner of the paddock. He was closer to Coco than to us. I have noticed the last few days that Maraschino and Coco are grazing closer together than before, which is good.

So - off we went out of sight. It was about 10 minutes later Garbo blew air out his nostrils that gave the game away - we had gone right round the other side of the barn and Maraschino could see us on the other side. He looked up and then saw Garbo, so I took Garbo back to our normal retreat spot but Maraschino was not there waiting - he stayed where he was (about 40m away). He carried on grazing.

So off we set again - there was heaps of gun fire from a couple of neighbours away - goodness knows what they were shooting plus motorbikes a few paddocks away - you couldn't see them - just hear them. I took the opportunity to not just make it a grazing session for Garbo but some sideways and also some patterns round the float. I squeezed Garbo down one side between the float and the pile of topsoil with weeds on it, and I climbed onto the wheel well and drove him back and forwards, and squeeze, from there (kind of Zone 3 which moved to zone 5 and 1 depending on where he was.) Then he got to snack. I could also peek through the side float window, out the other side window and see what Maraschino was doing. It was a good 20 minutes before he even looked over - even then he just called out, so I backed Garbo up a bit so Maraschino could see his hind quarters.

It was such a successful session on all accounts I ended it there.

Tomorrow I think I will do the same but ride Garbo - I can get on by standing on the wheel well.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Day 4 Seperation

Yes, we missed a day - by the time I had done all the hay yesterday it was dark.

So today I only did about 4 trips away but apart from the first time I stayed at least 10 minutes each time. The last time was probably about 15-20 minutes. Maraschino didn't come straight to the gate when I took Garbo out this time, and he didn't stay by the fence waiting either - he would go into Garbo's yard. I heard him call out a few times, Garbo didn't answer, but each time we went back he was calm and still. All good!

I see him and Coco grazing closer to each other, and Garbo more on his own (as he likes it), and sometimes all three within 50ft of each other...nice to see.

Three more sessions and we will try a short ride out to the forest or Woodhill Sands.
I may even ride Garbo on Day 7. It's been good for him too getting used to the stupid dogs up the road, they just appear and have a really aggresive bark and growl... he jumps and then continues to eat with one eye on them so it will be interesting to see what happens when we ride.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Day three seperation

Garbo has started chewing the halter when I go to put the halter on for some reason. It's like he is trying to floss his teeth!

Looks like it yes!

So - it was about 5.30pm before we started the seperation threshold training. I'll explain the pictures as we go. This was Maraschino as I took Garbo out the gate....

We came away this far for the first one since we had made it past this yesterday.

This is what he was doing as we headed back toward him with grass in hand.

Eating the grass - doesn't look too stressed does he.

This is just outside our gate looking up the private road as we head off up there for a walk up here.

This shows how far away we were. The blue thing is the building site porta-loo.

When we got back -this is what he was doing.... it took him a couple of seconds to turn around and face us.
Walking away for our longest time yet.... check out the sky.

This time we were awy for 10 minutes because I got talking to our nice neighbour. I heard one little call out.
This is how far away we were.
But he was a happy chappy...

This is Garbo trying to make some headway on our pile of topsoil weeds.

I had a quick ride on Garbo today bareback, and he was good for mounting.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day 2 Seperation

Day two of our 7 day programme of seperation by thresholds went really well. I did the same thing taking Garbo way a bit further each time, then for longer (as well as being longer because we were walking further each way), and walking back casually and bringing him some yummy weeds or grass. He was so calm. At one point I was away for about 8 minutes - right out of sight (we walked up the road which Garbo enjoyed). When I got back he had done one little wee call out and he was in his yard, but came right over and got his treats completely calmly. I was really impressed. He still stands by the fence and looks to see if he can see us. I also put Garbo behind the float so Maraschino couldn't see him, and then took Maraschino weeds. He was still fine. Looking but fine. He kind of looked at me like he was missing out on extra grass rather than missing Garbo. Fingers crossed.

I then took Garbo into the middle paddock and decided to teach him to stand up against the tyre while I mounted bareback. First he wouldn't stand in the right place (too far back) so I got the carrots out. He quickly changed his mind. Then I leaned on him each time waiting until his ears were forward rather than back... and gave him a carrot. Then I put one leg over and rested it on like you would the carrot stick when resting it on his back during driving from zone 3. He lifted his leg and stuck his ears back. I took my leg off and rubbed him. Then tried again - this time he didn't lift his leg so I waited for ears forward and gave him a carrot.

Then I got on... it was a bit of a wiggle.... but made it - and we had a nice bareback ride. He kept wanting to go to the gate so I just played passenger and asked to go forward even when he was up against the fence and he plodded off to the other side of the paddock!

We did some great sideways for a carrot. I tried a big trot but it was towards the gate and quite fast (therefore) and I nearly bounced off!

I made a point of getting off at the tyre (not the gate). All in all a great day.

Coco walked about 50m to me to get his carrot tonight!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Seperation thresholds

I did some work on seperating Garbo from Maraschino this afternoon. I found the Herd Bound article on the Savvy website and it said to just take them away a little way and bring them straight back - repeating or and over going a little further each time. So I took Garbo outside the gate (that leads to the trailer) and just let him nibble there for a bit - then took him a few steps away and came back again to Maraschino waiting at the fence - I picked some grass for him along the way. When I got to the fence I gave him the grass (or dandelions, yarrow flowers or what ever I could find)...

Doing this each time and adding a couple of extra steps in each time, and remaining very slow and casual no matter if he called ot or not, and still giving him the treats no matter what - turned into a game of where's my grass instead of where's Garbo.

After 20 minutes we got about 100m away (and completely out of sight). I heard Maraschino call out twice in all and even when I got back he was still looking for the grass and treats. The very last time he had gone into his stall when I got back and Garbo called out to him and he did a little call back but he was a bit introverted - either that or thinking. I showed him the ggrass I had for him and he looked, waited and then came over and ate it. So all in all a good result. I shall do it again tomorrow.

I played with Garbo with the barrels and spools and tyre. I can get his left leg and his right leg (one at a time) on the tyre - it's so high though he can hardly get it off again. I don't think he will be able to just step up there. He will need to jump... hmmmm

Garbo just wanted to chew and lick everything today - had no energy what so ever. It's all the grass I think! In the end I just sat on the barrel and he stuck his head in my lap for a pat for ages, very smoochy. Perhaps we were still making up from yesterday.

Next I played with Maraschino and our friendly game is getting better - slowly. We did some great figure 8's and started him on driving from Zone 3... he was a bit unsure about the carrot stick at first. I made him all sleepy after about 10 minutes so I just sat down on the barrel and he hung his head near me for about 10 minutes more before he licked and chewed, and then yawned.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Had a very interesting online and liberty session today with Garbo.

We went into the middle paddock while Coco and Maraschino were grazing in the track around the outside.

Garbo was not showing alot of energy, stopping at every obstacle and scratching himself on it or biting or licking it. Pretending to be really interested in it. So he didn't have to circle.

We started circle game and soon after that Maraschino started chasing Coco round and round the track (they both need the exercise), and Garbo got all stressed. He wants to come in and crowd me when this happens and usually back end first or sideways (so he can still see where the tigers are), so I get quite assertive in driving him back out even if it means phase 4.

He got more stressed so after a while I decided sideways along a fence would be good instead of circles. That worked alot better.

I tried liberty (only because I had asked my husband to video me and of course best laid plans and all that)... it was a disaster. All he wanted to do was be back on the track. Then he saw Coco on his yard and it was tea time so he must have thought he was missing out so he galloped back to the gate (there is that energy!!)... I could not get to his head to get the halter back on, he was turning away from me and backing up so I drove him away from the gate with the carrot stick.

He circled and then game in with ears back and an evil look on his face so I drove him out again, slapping the ground with the savvy string.... this happened 5 more times before he decided to come in with his ears forward.

He still was not in tune with me enough to video so I haltered him, did some sideways and then yo yo'd him back into his yard to see if he could still do it- and he did. So we ended there.

I took him into the washbay, gave him a carrot and a big groom.

Day two Coco

Well he still stands and grazes on the very outside of the herd. Like he has been banished. Maybe he has.

I went over to see if he was ok today while picking up poos and he started to walk towards me. He stopped at the compulsory 10ft mark. I sat down and looked away. He must have stared at me for 5 whole minutes before he turned away (big step). Then I got up slowly and walked away...he came over and smelled where I had been sitting. Maybe he was looking for carrots.

Today Maraschino chased him again, this time round the track so he was not able to cut him off, and after that Coco went running to the yards and went in Garbo's.

Uh Oh. Garbo saw from the other end of the track and started cantering towards the yard (I think he thought he may have been eating)...

Coco came out and was just coming out when Garbo arrived with Maraschino hot on his heels.... and Coco went into the next stall.... Garbo followed and cornered him and boy did it sound like someone was being murdered.

Coco ran away and then Garbo started chasing and driving Maraschino... for ages.

Butter wouldn't melt!

I went to see how Coco was and he came up to me - up to about 5 feet. I went away and got some carrots and came back, sat down about 10ft away and he slowly came up one step at a time, until he could stretch his neck out for the carrot (but he couldn't quite reach) so I reached a bit further with my hand and he took it. Yay.

Human progress

Maraschino decided it was his turn to dominate, drive and chase poor Coco today. Not all day just at dusk after it stopped raining. Coco squeals like his throat is being cut it's terrible. So I rushed outside with my camera - knowing I can't really do much but let them sort it out (hopefully).

I have given him a little feed both last night and tonight, and tonight I was really pleased that he came walking up to me as I walked in the paddock with his bucket, stopping about 10ft away. I put the bucket down and left. Normally when you face him or look at him with your energy he turns his back or walks away.

I was picking up poos in there today and tried really hard to completely ignore him. I had to be careful even not to point the wheelbarrow at him.

I tried taking Garbo out this afternoon for a walk round the property but Maraschino obviously needs more time to bond with 'squirt' as George calls him, before we go too far. As soon as we were out of sight he started running round so I had to do alot of approach and retreat.

This is a typical stance after they have been having dominance challenges with each other. Coco will go and stand over by the fence and face out, peeking round if there is any movement from horses or humans. I guess it's a good sign he looks round otherwise I would think he was going introverted.

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