Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spring day finally

Oh my goodness it's been lovely this week - it was 22 degrees today...

I went to Woodhill Sands again with Garbo - took my bareback pad just in case, my 45, 22, and 12ft lines, carrot stick... just as well I have a Parelli bag!

He loaded well - 3/10 - and unloaded about the same not too bad - actually, I am being harsh it was 4/10. He still starts backing before I ask.

So - the things going on there were amazing - and once I would have though Uh oh - but today I though Oh Boy. There was a tractor moving big cross country jumps all over the place, the local farmer came down on his quad bike yelling at the trailing dogs to "get in behind" - for you overseas readers that's a Kiwi saying farmers use to tell their dogs to get behind them and behave. There was harrowing in the arenas, a lady giving her daughter who was about 8, a lesson on a pony - jumping... and then Bronwyn arrived with Rose - a pretty mare who Garbo loved instantly - of course.

So cast your memory back (those of you who knew me that long ago) to 3.5 years ago, pre-Parelli, at the same grounds, at a Ribbon Day... Garbo on edge, me not really being able to tell, but knowing enough to be nervous, on anyway, Garbo bucking on the spot non stop as soon as all the other horses started trotting in the same ring. So I hadn't ridden him here since apart from a short ride on the path to the carpark.... not in the huge arenas. It's really just a huge sand area that could fit about 50 dressage arenas in.

So - started online - 12 foot, and worked on getting him to stay looking inwards on the circle at walk. Then stopping as a reward if he did. He's slowly getting better. Then we did some transitions with the carrot stick along the fence, also improving - unless we are heading towards the pretty mare called Rose of course. He was a little wary of the tractor but I did lots of yo yo with my back to the tractor so he felt like he could see it and could move away, and back - approach and retreat in a way.

Then I got him to back through the middle of two poles, facing the tractor and back to tractor.

He wasn't 100% listening to me so I did some Falling Leaf - as Pat says practice what you are not good at.... I had to be assertive to get him to move in time so he didn't walk or trot through the carrot stick - in the end he was doing turns on the HQ with front feet off ground!

About an hour had passed - yes I know!! and I felt he was ready for me to get on briefly. I took him to the large cross country jump to get on bareback - he stayed next to it so nicely - about a 6/10, and I hopped on. We walked back to Rose and Bronwyn and he was very calm.

I asked him to walk away and go to the fence which was about 50m away I guess.. he got about 10m and he felt he needed to go back to Rose. He did that a few times. Remembering Linda's blog about Crest I decided just to let him stay within his comfort zone today - and I just let him graze happily and then got off.

I think that was the right thing to do - considering every other time I have ridden him there it's been in a pretty stressful environment, plus I was nervous then too.... and I think this is Step 1 in our goal to be calm in company and at shows etc... (riding)... oh yeah and BAREBACK in a halter !!! LOL

Coming home - we had been away 3 hours - Maraschino was fine and Garbo unloaded very fast - so I led him on again, he charged off, on again, he rushed off, so - I decided to back him into it! Twice. That really made him think! Calmed him down too - so we'll see what that does for next time.

Other news - Maraschino's entered into the Golden Horse Ribbon Day (inhand) on Nov 28 - in the Pinto/Paint/Appaloosa ring. I've ordered a western outfit to wear!! Yay. It'll be his first show but I know he'll be fine. We'll go somewhere a few times first...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brave the weather

I decided yesterday that if I carry on waiting for the weather to get better I may lose all of September as well. So not having played with Garbo since May (on any real scale) I re-read David Lichmans notes and took Garbo and my 22ft line to Woodhill Sands.

It's just round the corner from here, it's a naturally sandy surface and usually dry but it had a few puddles today. But no mud! He loaded well, on Pats scale probably a 2/10, i.e. he hesitated briefly and had a smell of the inside. Keep in your mind the wind was about 30 knots.

Maraschino didn't even look up from the paddock - just kept on eating.

We arrived and he unloaded too quickly for my liking - we'll make a note to work on that. There were no other horses there, but some grazing around the perimeter paddocks. He was walking fast along the sand pathway towards the arenas so I took the opportunity to drive him from Zone 5, focussing on moving him left or right or sideways as he decided to go see the horses or eat the grass edging. He moved sideways well with a tap on his side with the carrot stick and the feel of the rope on his side. I was standing behind his tail but close enough to touch his tail and I was thinking how many people would see me and wonder what I was doing! But you know what - I didn't care.

In the arenas there were all sorts of interesting things - flower pots, white boards, show jumps, cross country jumps, flags in cones, judge boxes, huge tress blowing in the wind, office, cafe buildings - oh and lots of puddles and horse email - otherwise known to us as horse poop.

I made a conscious decision to not react to anything he spooked at but to really keep his attention and focus on me. It worked really well. After 10 minutes he was completely confident and calm. I worked on Davids suggestion of doing circles but as soon as Garbo looks out (arching his body out) I would disengage him and politely ask him to go again. If he came in I would vigorously send him again.

It certainly got his attention on to me, and we worked a little with smaller circles and getting his nose in towards me, and hind end out.

I did lots of change of direction, then some touch it from the end of the 22 - like the show jumps, the start sign, the cone with the flag.

Then we did some stick to me - just because he likes it - we did it in and out and around the show jumps. They were a bit high to go over (about 5ft high), but great for sideways!

After a very quick hour, we headed back to the float and had a bit of a relax there. Then we loaded up and wet home, loading was about 2/10 again. I was able to ask him on from outside onto the float, but it wasn't immediate or fast.

On arrival back home Maraschino was looking up but not worried at all.... he called out once to say "THERE you are", and then just carried on. The top door rattled alot in the wind as Garbo was backing of the trailer and he rushed off so I took the opportunity to ask him back on, then a huge gust of wind did it again, so I asked him again, but this time just on to the ramp while I banged things inside, like the light and hit the side with the end of the rope. He volunteered to get up sideways on the ramp so I left it there and took him back to his bright green grass.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Calm in the storm

Last night we had a big storm and my horses were so calm. The wind was about 50knots and flapping the hay shed canvas, rattling the tie up rings and the yard doors, blowing my dust pans around the wash bay - and yet the few times I went out to check on them they were very calm.

Coco didn't like the flapping very much (of the canvas) as his yard is quite close to it, but he probably eventually got used to it - it's still blowing now and expected to for a few days.

Poor Maraschino had a mild bout of colic last night at dinner time - I think with the spring grass he's been gorging all day then gobbles down his dinner as well when I bring them in - so tonight - less dinner...

He'd stopped eating and was curving his body in an arc like he wanted to itch his side, then he was pawing the ground. He looked a bit like how my husband does when he eats bread too fast and it gets stuck half way down...

I took his cover off, did some porcupine, yo yo, and driving work with him to see if he could concentrate, and I walked him till he pooped then kept checking him every half hour. I also gave him a good rub down with a curry comb, massaging the tummy areas. His temperature was 38, and he wasn't clammy, and he had tummy sounds, so I didn't call the vet... thankfully the bowel movements continued.

On top of all that - we lost power for a few hours last night as well. This morning there are trees down and general debris everywhere!

Looking forward to getting out and having a play - the wind - if nothing else - will dry the ground up for me.

Oh and there is three Plover eggs in a nest in the round pen - they nest on the grass! Not too clever.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

All clear

Garbo and I just returned from the Chiropractor and although he had a vertebrae (sacrum) out it wasn't anything too bad and he was NOT sore on his hip - yay.... so one day off and he's ok to get back into it.

Yay Yay Yay.

When we got there the horses that live there were having treatments - one was just standing tied up kicking the stable door, another just calling out constantly. Garbo was a bit on edge.

I took him into the arena - it was so nice to have one to use! and we did some yo yo, circle and change of direction till he calmed down and paid attention to me. It took about 2 minutes and then he was very calm both before, during and after the treatment. So much so he wanted to stay in the stable - very different to last time.

Loading was a wee bit of an issue again but I led him on again and we will work on 'loading in stressful places' another day.....

Good news is that he's back in shape and ready to ride - well ready to start working again anyway.

They are in the middle paddock now finally after 2.5 months and they are just loving it - so much so they hardly touch their hay at night - and as you can see Garbo very happy indeed.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pilates for the dressage rider

I got my DVD in the mail this week - it's by Janice Dulak who has worked with Linda Parelli. I got it for a couple of reasons... my sacroiliac joint has been sore for quite a few months now (from back when I started doing the core balancing exercises from the Balance Mastery Manual).. it was back then I realised I couldn't straddle a barrel and lift my left leg (it's my left sacroiliac that's sore).

So months passed and the pain deferred to other areas - mainly my hip. Coupled with no riding due to my HORSE having his sore sacroiliac too (go figure - what's that about mirroring I hear you say?), for the last 4 months - my physio said I need to strengthen my core muscles to support the flexibility I have in my joints. I am one of those people that sit with my legs up all the time, or crossed legged on the floor.

The specialist wants to give me a joint injection but I am going to try this instead for a bit and kill two birds with one DVD.... hopefully improve my riding position too.

Just off to learn the into exercises now.... boy this stomach in and up; ribs together; bum tight; legs wrapping - makes you forget to breathe - let alone ride as well! I feel a steep learning curve ahead I think...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lesson from David Lichman - virtually

That's right - 5* Parelli Instructor form California David Lichman is available for video coaching - so I sent him my links to my L3 audition video and another of us doing circle game and yo yo later on....

He gave me some wonderful feedback and then we had a 15 minute phone conversation about what I can do to improve;

1. Garbo's head being lower on the circle
2. Relaxation on the canter
3. Not to change gait unless asked on circle
4. Arching his body to the inside rather than looking out

I made furious notes then he asked me to email them to him for checking and any extra comments....

So yesterday we tried the head down aid...tapping him on the back but not on the backbone, on the ribs side, with the middle of the carrot stick, standing in Zone one, and with my other hand asking for head down and stopping when he puts his head down. Goodness he got it really quickly- so that by the end of that short session he could lower his head just with me lightly tapping his back.... wow.

Next I have to replace the tapping with the savvy string - lightly landing the savvy string on his back for head down (so we can use it from a distance). Then we add movement with it, I have to trot backwards initially.... that will be funny....

David taught Karen Rohlf and many others.... he's also interested in coming to NZ and Australia to do a clinic next year - cool!

Anyway - he said he loved Garbo and loved my videos and said he was very pleasantly surprised after my pre-amble before he saw the videos....

Can't wait for the mud to dry so we can practise. Also getting the all clear fingers crossed next week from Tommy - I have been really good and not ridden him since May!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Garbo's old life

Cilla posted a photo of her new horse with a previous rider and it reminded me so much of Garbo - this was the photo that was on his ad before I found him...well when I found him I should say...

5 years

The day I brought Garbo home. July 9, 2005.

I have had Garbo for 5 years now, it doesn't seem like that long in some ways - like I have had him forever, and in some ways it's gone super fast. The last three years have been Parelli years and of course the most challenging yet the most rewarding. The most challenging because I have had to rethink some things and tackle things differently to most others, while being silently criticised at times for doing things differently as well.

Luckily now I am at a point where people no longer feel I am just playing with a new way, or don't know what I am doing - people are asking my advice more and more so I hope that means I now have their respect rather than their rolling eyes or skepticism.

I am busting for the weather to improve so I can start taking Garbo out - he gets his hip looked at again on September 15th so hoping (fingers crossed everyone) for the all clear.