Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another ride at Jools

I had arranged to meet up with a colleague who lives locally, for a ride at Jools. It was quite a windy day but so sheltered down in the arena with all the trees surrounding it.

Garbo took 25 minutes to load, and it wasn't pretty - well not as bad as it has been in the past, no running off or anything but basically would get everything except Zone 5 in - he had a good sniff around the inside though during this time.

Since my friend didn't know where to go I knew she would be waiting on the road for me, so even though I kept saying to Garbo there was no rush - he knew better of course. In the end I led him on and ducked under the divider so I could exit via the personal access door and George did the back divider up for me. Coming home he actually loaded fine and it was Tracey's horse that wouldn't load. Funny.

Well - the ride itself was a little more tense than the other day with Bronwyn. my friend has quite a straight horse and she rode it round the arena like a show jumper does, quite alot of canter, kind of forward seat, so I didn't feel ready to canter immediately. I got on and Garbo started trotting around the rail then at the corner he offered canter - how funny.

After a while I relaxed enough to ask for canter and we did 3/4 of the arena! So that was an improvement (without changing back to trot). All on a loose rein. My friend wanted to try it too (what I was doing but her horse went right brain when she loosened off the contact and started speeding up.)

How interesting.

Afterwards we went for a small ride round the property - this is Garbo and I attempting to close the gate - we can open them ok - this one kept swinging open before I cold grab the latch.

We are planning a beach ride on Friday - I have some visiting Germans who sell my Kiwi Cowboy Courses coming over and I am taking them and Garbo to Muriwai to meetJulie with her course participant this week plus two extra horses for the Germans so that will be 5 horses all together so I think Garbo will be fine. I have not been to the beach for over 4 years, and not since starting Parelli - so it will be interesting.

I was really nervous at the beginning of the week but probably more nervous about loading so will try tonight again. Then I keep visualising a calm ride at walk and I feel better too. Fingers crossed for us.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Partial disengagement - I am in love with it

Oh this programme just gets better and better. I had great success with this today with Garbo - it worked just like Linda said it would and it was easier than I thought too!!

Went to a very cool grass arena today (and on that note yay that finally I have found an arena I can use anytime I like - no need to book and basically no one else ever uses it in the day. It's surrounded by trees but not on the edges of the arena - around the property boundary fences so the whole place is really sheltered from this annoying wind.

I was supposed to meet Bronwyn at the top of the driveway at 10am. I played with maraschino and loaded the float with my saddle etc, and then at 9.45am went to load Garbo. He must have picked up I was a bit nervous (new place etc), and he decided he wasn't going to load. It shouldn't have mattered but of course I knew Bronwyn was waiting on the road so was in more of a rush.... and he knew it! Then the neighbour teenager came down to the fence-line to go through the gate and into the paddock where he has a smoke I think - in his camo gear and hoodie. I said Hi since he was like right there but then he decides to chat and then after the chat was finalised by moi - he decides to just stand there and stare. He was kind of between bushes so it was a bit annoying - shouldn't matter I know - but it did. Today anyway. I finally asked him to move. "Do you mind NOT standing there?" I said. He goes "oh' and wanders off. Felt a bit bad but heyhoo.

So - Garbo not wanting to put Zone 5 in the float for some one point he turned on the ramp so I was real quick and backed him in there heehee. I tried to relax - I texted Bronwyn to take the pressure off - that was at 10.03am.

We were on our way by 10.07. Garbo still wasn't 100% but I decided to work on that when I have more time - I know - I can hear you saying "take the time"...but you all know what it's like when someone is waiting for you.

So - we arrived at Jools place and it has a very peaceful feel to it. Garbo had lots of long grass and carrot weed to eat while we were saddling up. I untied him to out the hackamore on and he wandered off after that while I was talking to Bronwyn - leaving Critey and us and going off to visit the other horses no less. I got him back and then he did it I had to pry him away. Garbo seems very relaxed there - as do all the horses actually.

So - we had proper rails - post and rail all the way round and a line of tires on the ground down the middle of this lovely flat spongy arena (weedy kykuia grass).

We started at walk following the rail - I tried the partial disengagement at walk and we did loads of follow the rail both ways with a few corners thrown in for good measure. At trot though he was a bit more emotional - he was a bit tense (head down grabbing reins, looking like he would buck and he did buck twice so I did the partial disengagement - OMG - I AM IN LOVE WITH THAT!!!!!!!! It was really easy and here we were feeling like we were doing fancy dressage around the arena with him facing out 45 degrees. At trot!

It turned him into this amazing lovely calm horse - and any time he got a bit tense again or rushed I just popped him back onto 45 degrees - instant results. I we made a few patterns of follow the rail at trot and he was really getting into the pattern - I was really pleased. In fact he was so calm and going so well I felt confident to ask for canter - and you know what - we cantered round the rail for about half a straight at a time - on both leads and on all sides!!!!!!!!!!!!

But BEST of all - for the first time ever I had a TRULY loose rein. I could sit back and feel relaxed, didn't grip with my legs and I didn't come out of the saddle. Relaxed - hah - it's actually a lovely gait when you relax!

Bronwyn got some of it on video for me....that's her doing the commentary lol.

Well I still have a grin on my face - I had just been saying to Bronwyn that I have not had the chance to really practise my position in canter feeling relaxed - and voila! Now I have this arena to use I know we will advance in leaps and bounds. I am going again on Sunday and then on Wednesday too.

Garbo was pretty hot afterwards so I hosed him down (I have water in my float) and we came home again - loading wasn't fabulous but an improvement (only about 5 asks).... Bronwyn kindly said she wouldn't leave till we had loaded.

Got home and the boys were waiting patiently - I had made up some food to give them as I left but in the rush I didn't - I sneaked it to Maraschino when the other two were back in the paddock. He was happy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Green Ball Day

Jane was talking about having some holes in her Levels self assessment sheets and I have to admit - I have never addressed Garbo not liking the green ball (unless it's still and on the ground) but it can't touch him anywhere - not even the foot, and you definitely can't lift it up, let alone above my head height!!
So today - starting with Maraschino I worked with the ball with both of them. I actually took Garbo for a walk first because while I was playing with Maraschino - Garbo took off at a great pace from his yard where he had been watching, when I put the ball on top of Maraschino!

So I had some treats and this made Maraschino very confident very quickly - first I rolled the ball on the ground around him and then touched his legs with the ball - slowly at first, then kind of bumping the ball into his legs, then rolled it under him. The biggest reaction he had was when Garbo took off!
So funny - scared of the carrot stick but not the green ball (not much anyway).

Then I bounced it while walking forward and asked him to follow....

Then I lifted the ball up and touched his sides, then rolled it up (cue Garbo taking off), - he was soooo good.

Here's the video to prove it!

I played with Maraschino first for a reason - I wanted to take Garbo away for a bit - since we are going out to ride tomorrow.

So - Garbo and I went up the road with no dramas

and we only had one threshold along the way - Garbo spotted the neighbours kid walking up the driveway (a long distance away) with a silver back pack on - the back pack of course nearly bigger the the kid). It only lasted a few seconds and off we went again - today on the 22ft.

He's quite confident walking out ahead of me so I leave him to it when he can and catch up and overtake if he stops.

We went a little bit further today but not round the blind corner.

When we returned Maraschino was calm - just looking out for us and wondering what goodies like carrot weed I had brought back for him. Garbo stood waiting while I closed back up the tape I had to move to get out the gate.

So - then we started with the ball with Garbo - he was not sure at all and when just following the ball being rolled around he had this big worried look - wrinkles above his eyes...

He would move to avoid the ball rolling into his foot (maybe I need a ball on the end of my carrot stick for the 45ft circle lol), and when I picked it up he tried to leave the building.

So - for you lucky ladies who have a horse that doesn't worry about the green ball - check this out...

I persevered playing approach and retreat and tried backing up to him with me holding the ball - that worked but it was not allowed to touch one single hair on his body! Maraschino was watching from the outside of the wash bay.

Then I lifted it up and put it on top of my head. I had read the article in the Savvy Times about the guy that spent ages and ages with the friendly game over the horses head or back - sitting on a fence. Garbo had a complete RB moment and tried to leave but stopped when he felt the rope - good Garbo.

I kept it on my head and Garbo just stared - wide eyed, wondering what on earth was in front of him. It sounded like me - BUT - didn't look like me.

Well guess who just could not contain his curiosity - Maraschino came bowling up and sniffed the ball on my head! I set the camera up and did it again so you could see. The wind blew it over!

Coco was never far away...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Partial disengagement

In the Savvy Mag this month there is an article by Linda about Partial disengagement to make a horse more relaxed and less tense. I am going to try that on Friday when we go out. Seems like a good idea and I have been thinking alot lately about how I can relax Garbo when we are riding with other horses and they get tense. And then he picks up on their emotions.... (emotionally scattered??).... It's something I have not really dealt with yet (just avoided the situations).

Quite often he will get tense and try and toss his head (grab the reins) or go faster (jig jog), I usually pull on one rein (or sometimes both in a moment of auto predator reaction) and he hates it (and normally bucks).

So I am going to try it on Friday as I think his sister will be tense being that it will be a new place for her.

I'll let you know how I go. I'll read the article a few more times first.

Walk up the road in the wind

This photo was taken the other night after they had finished their dinners - waiting for me to open the gates. Very patiently!

I took Garbo out for a walk today - since we are going out on Friday.
We went further than we had before - I didn't do much - just had the 12ft line and kept him at the end of it - he walked on the grass - I walked on the gravel. I asked him to stop and back up a few times. When we got to the point where we had not been before it has really big tall pines trees - it's still windy here so they creak a bit - he was a bit on edge but a couple of back ups later to some really long grass and he was fine.

On the way back we trotted and walked and backed up - with me in Z3 on the end of the 12ft - which was quite cool - not done that before.

Maraschino had had a poo by the fence while waiting but other than that he was calm - I brought him back some long grass and carrot weed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Garbo Mr Garbo

It was really windy tonight and later than I realised it was so after a quick play on the 45ft with Garbo, and it not going so well - I decided to ride.

I saddled up and took him into the round pen. I got on and things seemed fine but he started doing something he has not tried for quite some time. It's the whole "I cannot POSSIBLY do anything - it's dinner time, limp limp, hop hop, pretend to spook, threaten to buck", every time I ask for an upwards transition.

So instead of follow the rail I said ok we will go backwards over this pole - something we hadn't done in saddle. and he did it - so then we did sideways off the pole and I got off, took him up to the drive way where there was grass, and I got on again, and played seperation training with Maraschino and eat grass with Garbo - with me on board.

OK - not what we planned but hey.

I got off and it was 6.45pm!!! No wonder!!!

Then I attached the 45ft rope to the fence and practised swapping hands with the carrot stick and rope (up until then I was always getting very tangled.) After a while I saw a good improvement. The boys didn't know WHAT I was doing and were looking at me very oddly.

Then I fed them - 7.15!

We are going for a ride at Jools on Friday and maybe Sunday - then next Friday we are going to the beach!!!

Maraschino rbI - thats capital I

I played with Maraschino today - oh my goodness - it doesn't take much for him to get that falling asleep look and become still, head down. And I mean HARDLY anything at all. I have a major job on my hands with that one. Luckily he's not a Complete opposite of Garbo - at least they are both introverts so I am in tune with that side of things.

Treats seem to work well with him to keep him from going too inside himself.

We started with touch this on the 22ft, and then figure 8. We didn't even do circle today. We did instead lots of swinging of the carrot stick and a little bit or porcupine and some driving.

He gets this glazed over look in his eyes like he would fall asleep if nothing else happened. Funny.

You know what else is funny - I can put the halter on and walk away and he follows. That's how sensitive he is (no rope attached to the halter). His head down is going well - a little too well - sometimes he uses it as a head in the sand technique. If it ever stops blowing I might get the tarp out again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Coco update

I wanted to update everyone on the progress I have been making with Coco. Today for the first time I rubbed him all over, all four legs, under his belly, his neck, and head, and he was calm. YAY.

Got it on video too.

I have been practising running with Maraschino where he trots behind (and eventually beside) me. At first he was very scared and just stopped and braced. But he is getting better. It's lots of fun. There is an in-hand all breeds show on at the bottom of our road soon - it would be cool to take him along. I would have to get a babysitter for Garbo as he would not cope being left behind!! And I would need to do some float training with M. Wonder how he would be alone. Just fine I think.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Adding to what we have been working on

Today I played with Garbo again to see if we could keep working on getting things better at further distances, getting him to back up confidently and not assume I was going to send him, and to get him to be confident coming in again.

I had noticed that since I started tagging him and being insistent about backing away from me and not coming in too close - he was getting a bit unconfident when coming in, and so would come in too close and then when I would ask him to back up a little he would turn sideways to me and put me in Zone 3.

So today we started with a really slow back up - really soft phases and really slow phase one. He was riveted. When I asked for a send - big long slow phase one - he sent well to the left, and stayed on the circle - and went over the pole (he loves going over the pole now). I tried some changes of directions by dropping the carrot stick like Linda did - that seemed to work well. Still not as smooth and easy as Linda's but better.

The 22ft line seemed so short today - I kept looking at it thinking it must be the 12ft by mistake - but no.

We did some more slow back ups before each send and when I asked for a send to the right he tried to go left - well he thought about it so I just did a little tug on the rope and kept my arm out and he went right.

When I asked him in and he crowded me I just stayed in Zone 3 and patted him - his breathing slowed down and he seemed less anxious. Like a big Phew.

I keep thinking back to the one and only clinic I have been on - Jackie's Clinic in 2007. I basically had the same problems - too much draw not enough drive, Garbo standing right over me when he came in. Jackie used him as a demo horse and she had him cantering all over the place. But he was a bit anxious about it still - I could tell even then. Fast breathing, worried look. It's such a hard one to get over or through I find. Because deep down I feel bad for making him feel even just a little bit worried or scared (at the hands of myself or others).

I had to play hide your hiney alot today because Garbo insisted on not backing up straight - now Linda says that's a confidence you two eyes....or in his case, not. I tried tagging his hind end just softly (more like just twirling the savvy string till it touched him) and just doing it really slowly and standing up quickly when he faced me. That worked quite well. I have to admit trying the other way just made him kick (using the savvy string to tag him), and he has ALWAYS kicked out at whips when people use them - fair enough I suppose. Another thing I have yet to get my head around - using the carrot stick to be a horse bite. To me it still seems like using a whip.

Anyway - bad me - when he kicked I tagged him again out of frustration and he he didn't go "haha - got ya!", he went "oh no" or "oh darn" - not really sure which....

At that point I decided to play a different tack and just slowly porcupine him with the handle of the carrot stick (tapping) on his hind end till he got to move it over, then I stood up.

We played lots of friendly in between with the carrot stick and I think in the end I got a good balance. Still insisting on a back up - even if it was slow (but it must be straight) and giving him ample opportunity to miss the savvy string (phase 2,3,4)... or the rope or whatever.

Each time he came in I just stayed in Zone 3 and gave him a carrot and patted him, he shook his head finally and started breathing more slowly.

Then I took the rope off and we did some wonderful liberty - at 45ft most of the time - and I got some of it on video.... not sure why he was cutting the corner going down hill - thats the side he curves his body towards the centre as you will see - always in that quarter of the round pen.

Then we did some stick to me, and he was really good at that too.

Then we finished and he followed me out, waiting while I opened the two gates. He's so good. And so patient with me. Just hope I am not boring him!

Then I had a wee play with Maraschino - he is getting better with Friendly Game with the Carrot Stick.... and we had some nice non RB trot circles today. He always looks so sleepy - I think that's partly his introversion. He wasn't eating grass in this photo he was snorting at the carrot stick - I was waiting and relaxing on the grass while he processed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

DVDs having stuff added

Can I have an apple? Isn't he adorable. He has to really stretch to get his chin over the gate.

When I was at the Parelli Celebration in Sydney last year Linda was encouraging us to watch our DVDs over and over, because she said, they have information added to them while they are sitting on our shelves.

Well today - she was right (of course!).

I watched DVD 5 in Level 2 - preparation for Changes of Direction at Liberty and preparation for transitions.

You would have thought I had not seen it before - it was like watching completely new footage!

And - it was just what I am needing right now.

She also covered tagging the horse if they have not left the quadrant 12 o'clock to 3 o'clock after a looooong phase 1. Again - exactly what I am needing right ow to get Garbo's out farther on the circle.

It also showed a Left Brain Horse crowding her - exactly what Garbo does - she said that an unconfident horse feels more comfortable with you close and in Zone 3 if he is worried about coming in to you - exactly what Garbo has been doing. She said you need to do what ever it takes when they do that to make them relaxed again. I guess it's also being able to distinguish that from the dominant horse trying to get you to be ineffective. But given his breathing is fast and he looks worried when he does it - I'd say I have asked too aggressively or too fast.

Everything on Valium.

So - tomorrow I am going to do everything with a long phase 1 and a quick 2,3,4.

Seeing the change of direction again was really helpful too - Linda actually holds the end of the rope (the leather) and walks backwards until horse looking at her then walks in to resend. Even if horse stops and looks at her - no problem. No carrot stick either.

I watched the Savvy Club DVD on falling leaf again too.

Seeing the 'how to' for carrot stick downwards transitions with Allure was great too - going to try that tomorrow too.

It's been windy and drizzly on and off today...the boys were laying low out of the wind this morning.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Play today

My friend Viv popped round today to give back some books and to grab hers I had borrowed. We started talking over coffee on the deck about Natural Horsemanship and how alot of people don't know what they don't know. Actually Viv couldn't believe they didn't know but I convinced her lol.

Then I asked her if she had time to look at my change of directions to the left compared to the right in regards to my body language - since Garbo practically ignores my ask to change from right to left.

She said they looked completely different - in fact she said she wouldn't have guessed I was asking the same thing!

She said I leaned backwards on the good one but leaned forward on the bad one and also was not as clear with my arms.

After a few more practices with backwards falling leaf (hee hee I can't remember how to do a forwards one) she said it looked more consistent and the results spoke for themselves.

Funny thing was I was only on the 22ft and that didn't reach the pole on the ground from the centre, and Garbo wanted to circle over the pole today.

In the end I took off his rope and he successfully did a lovely send over the pole and a circle at Liberty.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Take the time it takes

I had a session with Garbo in the round pen again yesterday, didn't have time to blog it then. Today I had another one so I'll blog them both - I played with Mr Maraschino too today!

OK - so yesterday I just did some really small asks for things as well as backing Garbo up to the end of the 22ft and asking him to stay there for a while. And when I asked him in (he rushes in and comes in really close like he thinks I am going to tag him or something), I asked him to stop just before he could touch me - THAT was really hard for him - we spent ages doing that.

I then asked him to walk over the pole from the end of the 22ft, back and forth, turn face and wait but backing up at the end of each turn and face because he would make it a half circle over the pole, rather than a straight line. I did this very quietly asking for about 10 minutes.

After that I wanted to reinforce what waving the carrot stick in Zone one from Zone three actually means (stop or back up) - he seemed to think it means that if we are playing stick to me, but on a circle he doesn't think it means anything - maybe speed up. So we started with alot of transitions and lots of backing up on the 45ft circle and with me in Zoe three next to him. Got him to back up half a circle - bonus.

Then I quit.

Today I took the 45ft line in thinking that I don't have to use it all I can use 23ft, 24ft, what ever. So that was a bit of pressure off myself - why did I forget that step?

Holding the 45ft I asked for back up to the end, we got it fine. Then I asked him to put your nose on the pole - he went to the pole, then put your nose on the mounting block - he did - then put your nose on the cones (half a circle away) - he cut in a little bit, missed the cones and went back to the pole.

I asked him for over the pole, turn face and wait at about 30ft I guess - and he did it and waited at about 22ft - breakthrough!!!!!! I was so pleased. I think he was pleased too. We did it a couple more times, I had to re-back him up just once.

Then I asked for circle just briefly, then come in - he stayed about 30ft away I guess...yay. When he came in he still came too close but I asked him back again and he seemed more relaxed about it (less anxious and less fast breathing).

Then we tried the CS transitions again, at stick to me but with me about 10ft away. He got it!
I took the line off and we played stick to me and guess what - I sent him over the pole from the centre of the circle (45ft) and he went over it!!! OMG - so pleased. So pleased I asked him in and gave him a rest. I had to rest too - it's quite tiring doing walk trot and canter myself!

I coiled up the 45ft (best coil up yet) and lay it on the ground while I went to gather up the 22ft and the halter and CS, I looked back and Garbo was eating grass out of the space in the middle of the coils of the 45ft. So funny.

Maraschino was his normal delicate sensitive self. Taking any movement of the carrot stick offensively (including rearing), but by the end of a few sends and asking him to stay out he was better and funnily enough he likes to come in close too. Then we played friendly with the Carrot Stick and string and he stayed calm (ish). I kept the session short.

We had a big grooming session - all three and they both stood tied for ages so I was really pleased.

Coco let me scratch him and brush him all over except the mane near his head and his front legs. Even his ears and poll!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Hi everyone.
I had a session with Garbo today in the round pen and boy did it feel like we went backwards, one step at a time. But I think in the end something came of it.

I started with the 45ft rope and tried back up again - much better....then circle. Not bad, but change of direction was a nightmare - he seemed to miss my signals to come in to me to change direction all together. Yet - if I look down by mistake he takes that as 'come in' even when I think he is not looking at me. Boy oh boy - I need someone on the ground to see what my body is actually saying!

Side note - I am really annoyed there are no L3 clinics scheduled for Auckland in the for-seeable future by either of the two NZ instructors. No clinics of course also means no lessons available. Unless of course I want to drive 4 hours with Garbo for a one off lesson - no thanks . Auckland is the biggest city in NZ for goodness sakes - there needs to be more Parelli instructors here. I should be able to get a lesson once a month if I want one. The NZ instructors teach in the UK and Australia for some of the year - perhaps an Australian instructor would like to come to Auckland and do a clinic? The area I live in has alot of potential Parelli Students - it's such a busy horse area.

So - back to my 'asking incorrectly'. After a very frustrating 10 minutes I tried to drive him from Point A to Point B on the 45ft, it worked ok because he was playing touch it (and I might get a treat). But in the circle he would creep in slowly and before long it would be a 12ft circle at canter and then he'd stop behind me, put his head over my shoulder and breathe deeply (puffing).

So I put the 22ft back on the tweak the COD again. I have always known my draw is better than my drive but I am at a loss as to what else to do at a distance as far as drive goes. We can Yo Yo to the end of the 45ft because I can still 'effect' him by putting energy down the line, but on a circle - how on earth am I supposed to get him to move out? And stop him creeping in?

By this point Garbo wasn't doing anything at walk - so he was trying to do COD's at canter. But he canters right through my carrot stick. Then I ask him to face me and he comes at me sideways. I ask him to back up and he backs his back end to me. Everything ends with him being in my lap.

Ok - so you can see why this session is a backwards session right?

Now I realise I need a stronger send, but a stronger send means to Garbo - go faster not further out. I tried a few times and basically got Garbo and myself hot and bothered. I stopped for some friendly.

What else can I do to make him realise he does not need to sit in my lap all the time?

So now I see the pole, still have the 22ft line on and decide to get him to send over the pole, turn face and wait 22ft away. I position myself 22ft away from the pole and send him backwards so he is in line with the pole, and ask him to go over the pole. He heads off in a circle past me so I shake the rope to stop him (after asking him to turn and face). Then he stops but stops sideways and sidles over to me. I had to be firm about the rules, don't stand on top of me.!!

At one point I closed my eyes and jumped up and down and waved the rope in one hand and the carrot stick in the other and then opened them and Garbo was 12ft away looking at me. Boy he found it hard to be away from me. Now I see why driving him away is so hard.

So we had to repeat, back away, send over pole, turn face and wait AWAY from me, back up if need be, wait. I had to do it about 10 times before he got it. Then we did two more just to make sure it ended on a good note because by then my phases were softer and lower, and ended it there.

Well - certainly lots for us to lick and chew on tonight!
I still find it so hard to be assertive without feeling like I am being aggresive. But I have to think like a horse. Aarrggghhh.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Audition Scorecard

I recently requested my L2 Audition Scorecard and they emailed it to me (after my friend got hers and I loved how it was broken down so you could really see what you needed to work on the most).

This is it (Freestyle).

Relationship (the marks are the level I achieved in each area)
Expression - 2++
Rapport - 2++
Respect - 2++
Impulsion - 3 (and everyone used to say he was a lazy horse!)
Flexion - 2++
Technical - 2+
Technique - 2+
Assertiveness - 2++
Focus - 3

Friendly - 2+
Porcupine - 2++
Driving - 2++
Yo-Yo - 3 (Go Garbo!)
Circling - 2 (oh dear)
Sideways - 2++
Squeeze - 2+
Overall Feel - 2++
Mounting - 2+

Focus - 2++
Feel - 2++
Timing - 2++
Balance - 2++

Awesome relationship! For using the mounting block treat it as a squeeze game - where your horse puts himself in position rather than you taking the block to him. Increased your scored on your fluidity - you go with your horse nicely especially at he canter and over the jump. Remember, your squeeze game is stop, turn, face and wait"

I was blown away by that last comment. After starting riding lessons for the first time 6 years ago, I have up until I received this, felt like a beginner rider. Well no more!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Maraschino in the round pen

I played with Mr Maraschino today in the 90ft round pen and on the 22ft line.

We started with some driving game (move your fq and hq), back up, then circle game. We managed to get a nice trot today on the circle. He still keeps coming in after half or one and a half circles (yes, behind me).

Then we did some send over the pole, turn face and wait - he was great today - not emotional at all. Now I am wondering why I didn't do patterns (apart from touch it) guess I keep thinking I haven't covered the full 7 games yet with him.

Then for some maniac reason I took the halter and line off. And asked for a circle. He went to the edge and looked out. I asked him to face me and he didn't so I snuk up on him and tagged him with the halter. He ran off and looked out again. Then he thought he saw something scary and I couldn't catch him (yes by this stage I thought - you idiot - put the rope back on!)... I played catching game for a while, it was a bit scary when he went a bit right brain about something over the fence and looked like he might try and jump out!

I went and got a carrot after he had calmed down (and was following me and checking what I was doing as I was pulling out buttercup while I waited) and then haltered him while he ate the carrot.

So - back online I decided to do some rope tossing again - he's such a jumpy bum compared to Garbo. On the near side he was handling it but on the far side it was a different story. We persevered and finally he was calm on both sides (as long as I didn't throw the rope too high or near his head).

Then I decided to play circle game while I sat on the mounting block, to take some pressure away - he did a circle at walk with just a point of the finger. Then he came in and lowered his head to my lap and hid his face in my knees for a bit, then licked my hand. I gave him another carrot after a long rest and think, and we ended it there.

Then I asked Garbo to play - he decided to eat Maraschino's halter (or more like use it as tooth floss)...
We saddled up and went into the round pen - he came over and positioned himself when I stood on the mounting block which is a first.

We did some more follow the rail at trot and half circles of canter (up hill) and for the first time I was able to put my thumb under my bum, and move my arms like the canter stride, and - for the first time I felt my legs relax and release the canter grip they normally have! It was great.

Sadly the ride was cut short due to a beat up old hoon car heading down the neighbours race making a real racket, Garbo was distracted so I got off and finished up there. It was still a great result. I gave him the rest of the carrots.

This is Garbo standing at liberty while I unsaddle.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The horse's responsibilities, and mine..

Well I have been listening to Pat's October CD in the car about the horse's 4 responsibilities - Look where you are going, don't change gait, don't change direction... and don't act like a prey animal.

Mine are - don't act like a predator, have an independent seat, and the last two which I have to admit (embarrassingly) that I had to look up; are to think like a horse and use the natural power of focus. Perhaps those are my two weakest?

Anyhow - Garbo has never been very good at, and I have never been particularly particular (be particular without being critical)... about testing these first two, under different circumstances etc. For example - I once taught Garbo a year ago to transition and a pole. Now everytime he gets to a pole he stops. Hmmmm. Even on a trot of canter circle.

So - guess what we did today?

We went into my 90ft roundpen (aka pigtails and tape)... and started on the 12ft briefly. Now - on thinking about this alot over the last few months - I know it's my send that is broken if Garbo does not stay out on the circle (he creeps in to me like I am a horse magnet - Mummmm!)...and if he breaks gait.

So - we did a little practise with sends on the 12ft and asking him to stay trotting over the pole.
Well this is where you have to have a sense of humour with my horse, with any horse but esp with a Left Brain Introvert - they are so clever - he must just be thinking all the time - how can I get a treat? Do this? Do this? Do this? Well - very sweet indeed Mr Garbo but - not what I was asking (not making) you do. Cue the Oct CD in my head...."Not make and let - cause and allow".

So he tried; sideways over the pole, straddle the pole, paw the pole, roll the pole with my foot, run my other foot over with same pole, oh and bite the pole.

Sweet - but no. I asked you to keep going on the circle, don't change gait, look where you are going.

At this point I removed the halter and 12ft line.

I asked for a circle and he actually did quite a nice 45ft circle - first time he's stayed out for nearly the whole circle, at 45ft at liberty, I asked him in for a treat. He comes in with his ears forward, a crested neck and such a cute look on his face - and at canter normally - so hard to resist.

Ahh - but staying out - well quite a different story. He tried change of directions just because he thought that would be a shortcut back to the point where he could stop, or the pole, he even tried over the pole, turn and back over the pole. Very nice Garbo - but still not what I asked.

We actually managed some 360 turns on the circle because of this, me trying to ask (not get) him to keep going to the right, he would turn to the left facing outwards - I would use my carrot stick to get him to go the other way again and he would either go sideways or to a complete turn. 360 degrees! Again - very clever Garbo - but not what I asked.

Ok - so this is where my responsibility may have gone out the window - still analysing it in my head.... even as I type this - so your thought fellow savvy buddies - would be appreciated.

On one of the 360 degree turns (un asked for) I use the hide your hiney move to get his hind end facing the correct way for the circle again, and he ignored me so I asked again, still ignored me so I tagged that hind end real hard. Well he nearly jumped out of his skin - looked completed dejected and cantered with a buck or two round the round pen. After one lap I asked him in. Maybe too soon....

Then I asked him to back up so I could send. Now I am not sure how many other LBI's do this but he knows what comes after back up so he just sends himself - but that was not what I asked for. Asked him in again. Tried back up again - he took one step back then turned sideways. I tilted my head towards his hiney, nothing, so I spanked his arse with the savvy string.

Now you and I know it really does not hurt, and another horse would hurt much more, but again that dejected look, followed by shock horror (how could you do that to me) and off he went in a Right Brain panic because the neighbour had just at that point tried to start his broken ride on mower and it made a very odd loud noise. Maraschino joined in on the outside of the round pen.

Ok - time to put the rope back on and fix that back up. And fix the scared. We played some friendly and then some circles over the pole with a strong send (Linda's voice echoing - do what I ask but don't be scared)... he reared at one point and the 12 ft was very short, but after about 5 circles at trot and canter over the pole (without stopping) I asked him in again. He was puffing.

It took about 4 goes with the 12ft with yo yo and he was again backing up nicely. I took the rope off again and when I got a nice back up without turning sideways, about 12ft, I asked him in and gave him a treat.

Then we just did some extreme friendly with the carrot stick, and at the end Garbo picked up the treat bag by the strap and facing me, walked two steps towards me and swung the treat bag until some fell out. I cracked up laughing and called it a day.

Still feel bad about the tagging. But - as Pat says it's not gonna work with Love, Love, Love - it's Love, Language and Leadership. In equal doses.

Tomorrow it's this guys turn and I will ride Garbo.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Track ride with Garbo's sis

Garbo's sister came over for a visit today, Bronwyn and I wanted to just go for a quiet ride around the property.

When Critey arrived Garbo knew instantly and when she appeared around the corner the other two boys also got excited - most notably - Coco - who started cresting his neck and parading around her and trying to small her back end! I am SURE he thinks he is a big horse - never mind that Critey is 4 times his size!

While Bronwyn was getting her tack I noticed that Critey was shaking and mentioned it to Bronwyn. She said she thought it was anticipation and she gets it when she goes on the hunt too. I said that I would want her to be calmer before getting on and she admitted having to do it in the saddle previously.

I asked if it would be ok if I did some stuff with her online. We put the 22ft line on and I backed her up - she licked and chewed and looked at me instead of out to the paddocks and neighbouring farms. I kept an eye on her pulse which was racing, and soon enough she calmed down and licked and chewed. It only really took 5 minutes. Then I asked her out on a circle and she did it really well - moving her FQ was as hard as Garbo used to me and I noticed she holds her breath and does big swallows like Garbo does - it was like working with Garbo two years ago.

Then we went for a nice leisurely ride around the track a few times in between the showers. After that I showed her that she could do lots of things to increase Critey's confidence like backing her into Garbo's stall (Garbo didn't like that very much he was pawing the ground while she was in there).

Then we let them go into the middle paddock while I made us a coffee. I left Maraschino and Coco in the track. The trotted around a bit and Garbo was chasing Coco and Maraschino away if they tried to say hello to Critey.

Then after about 30 mins Critey had to go and Garbo was so sad - he was calling out and gazing up at the gate for her for about 2 hours afterwards. Awwwww.

They just looked gorgeous together. I left my darn camera in the house. Next time I shall take some photos.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

45ft round pen

I am not really sure why I have not done more of this in L1/2 but I guess it was because I was grazing elsewhere and the yard owners wouldn't really like me setting it up, and then last summer I forgot all about doing it. Just before winter this year I set up a 50ft round pen and it was great - and really the first time we had done online in a round pen.

So today I set it up again but made it 90ft diameter (45ft from middle all round - radius)... and started with some online on the 45ft. he actually stayed out quite well on the end for most of the time. I tried a change of direction - he started to come in instead but we got there in the end, that rope is a bit of a handful for that.

Then I took the rope off for some liberty. He circled really well to the left, but not so good to the right - he tried to change directions (facing the outside) so I tagged him and he tried to tag me with his hoof. Didn't get me though. That got him trotting around the circle. When he did a nice one I asked him in - he cantered in with such a sweet look on his face - really too hard to resist - gave him a treat.

Then we did some stick to me - interestingly enough he is really good at mirroring me when I am on the near side but he is less confident with me on the far side so I will work on that. We did walk trot, stop, back up, sideways, and canter at stick to me. He gets a little close with his shoulder sometimes but I am getting better at keeping him in check.

We ended with some undemanding time in the pen while he ate grass.

About then the people that were picking up some horse manure arrived so I left Garbo in the pen while I went to see them.

After that I lugged my saddle, saddle pad, helmet and saddle blanket into the round pen (oh and the mounting stool - all in one trip!)... and saddled up.

It's really the first time we have ridden in a round pen (we did lots of passenger lesson in a square pen) - it was actually pretty cool - and good that I made it bigger too.

We concentrated today on follow the rail adding in transitions and turns, just to really get Garbo into the pattern in the round pen. Every now and again he would cut a 'corner' but most of the time he was pretty good. As you can see in the video - on the spooky side of the paddock (pen) he has his ears pricked and his body curved the wrong way (out) so I intend to do alot of this until that gets better.

The good thing was I felt totally 100% safe in there. We even did some canter. That's the next challenge - canter on the rail. Russell told me not to do it with him yet but I am going to. We both need it.

I spent some of the time practising the new postures and standing up in the saddle. My crotch ends up over my pommel while standing so me thinks I must be leaning forward....

So - here's the video of some trot and walk, following the rail (mostly).

The last two circles we did he relaxed and did a lovely slow trot - so I ended it there.

Ride in the wind

Yes, after a lovely calm morning - it got windy again!

Anyway - after planting the potatoes in the garden I set up some cones in the shape of an arena over in the far end of the paddock - where it's the least puggy.

Garbo was in a good mood even though it was nearly dinner time so off we went. I think this new hackamore really does make a difference. I got on after doing a quick figure of 8 round the spools on the ground and we headed to the cones.

Well we did some cone to cone (treat at each cone) in walk and trot. Garbo spooked once and he spent the whole time looking for something to spook at I think (down that end). After a while I let him take me where he wanted to go (rightly or wrongly) and he headed off up the 'rail' to the tyre. Then we mucked around a bit up that end, doing some sideways over the pole - AND - backwards over the pole - that's a first in the saddle.

We went up on top of the clay pile a few times, tried some figure 8 (I really need to move those spools out more now), and we ended it there. I made sure I had lateral flexion lots of times during the ride, did lots of transitions, circles (harder for him to the left than the right), but to me - he still does not seem to enjoy it at home in the paddock. It's pretty bumpy. And not really anything new to see. Maybe it's my imagination?!

I am investigating local arenas to hire at the moment - he does like being ridden on a nice smooth surface (snob horse lol).

Garbo waiting for a treat after I got off.

Anyway - I am not really sure why I turn into a boring partner once in the saddle, but I shall have to have a lick and chew on that.

I did some finesse in the hackamore (you are probably not supposed to?) at the end and you know he looked great from where I was sitting! He's finally stopped backing up everytime I use a concentrated rein.

But - you know what happens to me? I get all stiff in my back and arms and hands.... hmmm.. I find myself doing what I used to do and pulling against him.... need to finish watching this months DVD.