Saturday, October 30, 2010

Back to the forest after 8 months

Once I start not going to the forest it tends to drag out and get this whole new life and energy of it's own. Garbo was not happy (his hip was sore) last time we went in February, so we turned home early and ended the ride. So I had todays ride planned from ages ago - well not the day - but leading up to it - preparing. I had done a little work with Garbo online and a little riding so it was time for a 45 min walk in the forest. I got a little nervous before hand and wondered how my rule of not getting on nervous would play out, but it was all good... let me tell you....

So - Garbo loaded really well - my new thing is to put the rope over his back as a signal to load. I'll let you know how that progresses...

We arrived early which was great - time for me to settle down - I can't think of any reason why I am nervous (certainly not of Garbo) but Bronwyn pointed out that it's the other peoples horses who we tend to worry about - they canter up behind you without warning or whatever - well that has never happened - but I think she's right.

Garbo was so calm tied up to the hitching post waiting while I fluffed around getting him saddled. So calm - when I think what he was like 4 years ago, even a year ago - and the carpark was full of horses too!! Loading, unloading... I heard the mother ask the daughter with the horses next to us "do you want the crop?", "what for?", "To smack her if she spooks"... hmmmmm

I ignored it and so did Garbo.

Emotional fitness is what it's all about hey.

So horses came and went as did trucks, there were forest staff there too having a meeting. A few trucks left and it seemed to quieten down. Bronwyn and Critey arrived and parked on the opposite side to us - another challenge - but he was great!! Even at the end of the ride when we went our separate ways he just happily stood over by his hitching post with his leg cocked.

So - by the time Bronwyn saddled up, I had put on my fluro jacket, and hat, and got my camera, locked my car, we headed over to the mounting lock - aka picnic table, I was calm and was not nervous - yay I could get on!

Off we set and basically Bronwyn and I chatted the whole way so I can't really remember the scenery much but it's always nice in the forest - lovely and cool.

Things that came up on the ride and I how I dealt with them;
  • Garbo trying to hurry Critey along by biting her bum - I got Bronwyn to wave her whip behind her, and at one stage we went ahead - he was so confident - I really do have a new horse on my hands.
  • Trying to rush down hills... I used sideways as a distractor so we zig zagged form one side of the track to the other, all the way down. That worked really well... Pat's idea of course but as usual a blimmen good one.
  • He sometimes got a bit jiggity so I used a little partial disengagement - as usual awesome result - thanks Linda!!!
  • He spooked at something behind him at one point and ran forwards, I wasn't quite balanced enough not to tip back - but I didn't lose my stirrups. And my adrenalin didn't come up either.
  • The lead rope part of my hackamore came undone from my saddle without me realising - Garbo kept stopping and pawing and putting his head down - Bronwyn noticed it trailing along the ground - thanks Garbo you are so clever.

Garbo loves to have a roll in the sand afterwards!! He was sweating from head to toe, and had an icecream bum.

We're going to go again next week.

Maraschino's week

I have played with the saddle and Maraschino twice more so far this week.

The first day (Tuesday), I saddled him up in the washbay - just like I would for any horse, pretending like it's no big deal. I didn't have him tied up, just held the rope over my arm.

We headed off to the round pen and I put the stirrups down so he could feel them banging etc where my leg will be... on the circle we did two circles and stopped after each one (at trot). It was quite funny - the stirrup on the inside was centrifugal forcing him out on the circle and to bend in! Very handy! He seemed a little alerted as to how I was pushing him out with the stirrup at trot - but when I disengaged him he relaxed.

We went for a big walk all over the place (the paddock) and then called it a day.

I let him think about things on Wednesday and Thursday, and last night I used my jumping saddle since I had it out to clean because I am selling it. It was a wee bit snug to say the least, behind the shoulder, but at least when I do get a good saddle he'll know how nice it is!

He went straight to the saddle and smelled it and fell asleep with his leg cocked while I was saddling him up - what a star.

I put my rhythm beads on him as well - for two reasons - something else to get used to (they have jingle bells on them) and something else going over his ears.... he was a little wary of having jingly bells so close to his ears but I took it slowly.

So off we set - stirrups down and banging, and jingly rhythm beads jingling... heehee... I also took my car windscreen reflector - I have only ever had it for horses - it's shiny and bright and silver and folds up. I lay it on the ground and he went straight to it and licked it, then stood on it when I asked him to. What a good boy he is.

We worked on back up as I wanted to get him back to

I dragged the windscreen window shade back along the ground as we headed back and he gave it the evil stare but soon relaxed, then the wind caught it so I casually folded it up - held it in front of him and he licked it. I am still blown away by his trust in me, every day.

Sorry folks only one piccy from Tuesday! Promise I'll take some today...

Next I'll tell you about my forest ride with Garbo yesterday....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Garbo and the ball

Garbo and the ball is on my list of things I avoid. He seems to think that it has super horse eating powers - especially when it's any distance off the ground what so ever. Now this was not a big green Parelli ball - this was my little green Swiss Exercise ball. But Jane kindly got me a BIG green ball when she was in Pagosa and on Sunday George (OH) below it up for me.

Well Garbo had a mild panic attack as he saw it approaching them he just wouldn't look at it - turned away in his yard and had his bum facing it like it was the prevailing wind.

So later that day Michelle had a play with him after we let Maraschino loose (and off he went hooning back to the yards - goodness knows why - everyone else was in the paddock - maybe he thought he'd forgotten to eat some of his dinner.

I'll let the photos tell the story - beautiful.

The next day I rolled it past him and he didn't even blink an eye... I'll keep it up though... keep me on track friends.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

and then came the saddle

Michelle and Maraschino swapping secrets.

Yesterday my friend Michelle came over for a catch up on Maraschino's progress and to give me some pointers on where to from here. We headed down to the round pen - I had my new green ball in there - wow it's massive (thanks Jane xx).

He was pretty unphased by it. I led him near it and he headed straight for it and touched it.

Funny story - blew it up in the garage - guess what - it doesn't for through a normal doorway! Trap for young players... I had to take it out the roller doors and around - then lift it over the wash bay gate - much to Garbo's horror - he lept up (front feet off the ground then back feet off the ground in his little panic mode) and then looked away - just refused to look at it. Out of sight out of mind.

George and I took it into the paddock as the boys watched on from their yards and we bounced it - it bounces higher than two or three of me!

So - back to the round pen and Maraschino sniffing the green ball - no problem at all.

I went to get the saddle while Michelle used the savvy string to make a cherokee bridle. He actually quite liked it - he loves chewing anyway. She also worked on putting it over his ears and off again like we would with a normal bridle.

Then I just put the saddle on just like you do in Level 1 - and he was fine about that too.... he actually went to the saddle and touched it while he was chewing in the savvy string bridle.

Girth up - no problem. Michelle moved his HQ, and FQ's around with the girth done up about as much as you would before the last tighten to get on... and he was still fine.

Then she handed him over to me to just send him out and get him moving - and he did - just as normal - no problem at all - what an angel he is.

Did that for a bit - playing with the green ball a little too - then we put the stirrups down while he was standing still, and flapped them around rhythmically - that was really the only time he had any reaction what so ever. But once we had done it on one side the other side was fine. He had also stopped chewing on the savvy string by then too.
Then I just got him in the mount from the fence position for ages rubbing on him till he got all sleepy - and we ended it there.

Today - same all over again just with some obstacles. I'll do that all week and Sunday/Monday all going well he'll have one of us sitting on him (just sitting for the first session).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ponying the Paint

Two firsts today - I rode Garbo in the round pen for the first time (yes the Plovers have finally departed), and I ponied Maraschino for the first time... in the round pen for saftey sake.

Maraschino had to stop and poo twice (he couldn't possibly poo and walk at the same time) so I think it was quite a big deal for him. We started at walk round the rail and then added some stops and go again, and then a back up. Interestingly while trying to protect Garbo's space because Maraschino was holding his tail, (not literally) I shook Maraschino's lead rope and Garbo backed up!

I had never done this before so it was new for me too - ie which hand to you hold the lead rope in and how long etc. I soon got the hang of it. Luckily to two abrubt stops didn't give me rope burn and George was to the rescue to pick it up again for me, after his majesty had gone poop.

I decided to do more walk first so we did about 6 laps of the round pen I guess and ended on a really good note - nearly a whole lap of trot.

Garbo was an angel and Maraschino at one point raced on the rope on an upwards transition, Garbo kept going so I was being pulled backwards and to the left by Maraschino (and I didn't want to release on the brace) and Garbo was still going forwards like a good boy - George said I was practically out of the saddle but my body stayed up straight - and he trotted in the end and I was back in the saddle properly. As you can see I had my 'good' riding clothes on!

I could feel the muscles round my left ribs later so I think I correctly used my core which is great news for me.

George took 3 videos...
The first one is the very first trot off... and abrubt stop - I think he forgot he was attached to a lead rope.

2nd video things were going a little better...

And lastly even better - we continued on for a while after this before we trotted again....

Coco of course tagged along the whole time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Float loading practice for Mr M.

My float is all shiny - ready to go to it's lovely new owner - no one has bought it yet but I don't have my new one yet wither so I am not worried. The Universe works in mysterious ways.
After unloading Garbo it was a lovely day as you can see - so I took advantage of having the float on the new concrete - a great surface for some loading... Maraschino was happy to be haltered and I took him over to the float. Now - it was parked around the back of the house so Garbo couldn't see us - so it doubled as seperation training with Garbo - something I have been dreading doing. (side note for those of you who don't know this - he once jumped a gate from standstill to not be in the paddock alone as I walked away). So we made a few trips back and forth in between playing put your foot on the ramp.
Garbo called out a few times but eventually after seeing we kept coming back - he went into the main paddock instead of creening over the fence like below.

I know - Maraschino's front feet need trimming again - this weekend's job! So - then all four feet on the ramp... it was quite windy so the float was making all sorts of noises.... I had grain - and sat on the floor up the front of the float (holding the 12ft) and fed him grain handfuls everytime he took another step. Then we'd hear Garbo and go back to be 'in-sight' then return to the float. Keep in mind - Maraschino has never been on this new concrete nor has he been round that side of the house so he was doing so well.
I am lying down here to get this shot above!! How's that for two way trust.
Then we had four feet in and he found some of the grain on the floor which was great because I wanted him to keep his head down for backing out - which he did.
Afterwards he seemed to not want to go and be with the others which I thought was nice - and that I hadn't over done it.
He's such a trusting soul - I get a strong feeling Blue is with him and whispering in his ear - he seems to trust that anything I ask him to do will be ok - because I said it is. And that he will be safe, he tries so hard.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I fitted quite alot into 3 hours

After a bit of a stressful morning (spending an hour on the phone to another business person giving them business advice they didn't want to hear), I called Garbo after hooking up the float and he came in. Awesome! The other two did too - so I gave them all some vegemite.

Gave Garbo a quick brush and a hoof pick and off we went... we were on the road 40 minutes after I walked outside to hook the float up. Garbo loaded nicely and with the rope over his withers after front two feet on... decided I am going to trust him to make the right decision.

Not a soul was at Woodhill Sands but as soon as I pulled up I spied a horse through the trees in a paddock having words with his cover - it was round his neck (buckles at the top) and around his front legs. I texted the facility owner and got no reply - and I could see he was getting tangled trying to walk so Garbo and I went to the rescue. I tied Garbo up to some baling twine on the fence and went under the electric tape to take this horses cover off - a horse I didn't know. I held out my hand and he sniffed me, then he looked quite relieved so I undid all the buckles and got rid of it for him. Garbo just ate calmly I was quite impressed.

So back to the float to swap ropes to the 22ft and off we went. I had decided not to ride since there was no one there at all... just to be safe.

We had some major squeezes to get to the arenas the back way - through trees and round X-Country Jumps, and one was uphill and round a tree 270 degrees round the tree!

We worked on - change of direction without panicking - he panics when I ask him in for COD and rushes past so I can't touch him with the savvy string... so I concentrated on asking for COD while maintaining walk. He got it after a few goes and lowered his head at the walk in both directions - yay.

Then I worked on disengaging the HQ on a circle - but - don't come in - just disengage - I feel I have not seperated this from disengage and come in - he thinks disengage means - disengage and come in. Didn't take him long but he looks so put out when I ask him to stay out - don't you think?

If I could sum up Garbo's day I would say it would be best described as an unconfident day - he had airplane ears alot - but it was good practice for him and me, and for him to realise I can be a good trustworthy leader.

We spent some time looking at the X-Country Jumps - I love the look on his face here as if he's saying "and you know I ain't gonna jump this right"?....

I had to go to Phase 4 at one point on the travelling circle and he lept in the air and bucked - honestly you would think the savvy string was an Australian Stock Whip at times.

This fence is our sideways along the fence and half circles fence - how cool is it??!! I am not even at the end of it.

This is what we get for sideways along a fence at the moment - bum trailing. Although Sideways without a fence is quite good...

There was a little back at the side of the arena with a large water pipe at the bottom of it so I sent him over the pipe and up the bank - and then down again - a few times. That was cool.

We checked out some more jumps as a wind down before heading back along the lane back to the float. A few times he tried to tell me which poop (horse email) he wanted to smell and which grass he wanted to eat so I bumped the rope to remind him who was driving who. Oh yeah - he says. He spooked at a bird jumping out of the trees along the lane... it was at that point I had been considering a ride round the car park - but I thought - nah - thats just silly.

I still feel like I have hit an imaginary brick wall - feels like I am boring Garbo - and he's like "yeah yeah" although there are some things we have not yet achieved. Either I don't know how to ask for them or he doesn't understand... or both.... Don't get me wrong I still enjoy our play dates but sometimes it does kind of feel like we have lost sight of the end result desired. Just at the moment. I know what needs improving; just a bit lost as to how to get there....

We loaded brilliantly and off home we went. Then I gave Maraschino a go at being a big horse...float loading practice.... I'll blog about that tomorrow - it's after midnight... tired...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Out twice this week...

and I haven't blogged yet!!

So this is two days worth... ok!

It was really windy and I nearly didn't go, cancelled then re booked - I think I knew it was because I had told myself I was going to take my saddle and ride. I don't do much more than a couple of strides of trot in the bareback pad so in the saddle I have no excuse.

So I was pleased I changed my mind back and decided to go and not ride. Heading down the road in the float (Garbo loaded really well despite the wind), we passed a grader and a gravel truck going about 100kmph. They were added more gravel to our road and evening it out.

We had a really good session online and his circles are really improving, his right hand circles are still looking stiff and he's looking out - perhaps forgetting his hip is not sore anymore - or favouring it still, or maybe just habit because we more often go to the left (note to self to even this up).

There were leaves and twigs all over the place and Garbo liked the taste of them so as a reward I would stop him on the end of the 22ft after he'd done something well, at a leaf or twig, for a treat.

I just focussed on not drilling the circling just getting a nice lap with head down and relaxed and looking in, and stop.

We are working on me leaving to go and pay while he waits calmly....

We had a nice walk back again to the float and he loaded well again. Off home we went. He unloaded really nicely and Maraschino had been good again - not alot of calling out.

I did play with Maraschino on Wednesday but I'll blog that seperately.
Again another nice day and no wind, loaded well and off we went. Maraschino didn't look bothered at all - he called out and for the first time Garbo didn't try and come off or do anything in fact when Maraschino called out. Arrived to find Bronwyn had decided not to bring Critey so again it was a great opportunity to practise Garbo working (and focusing on me) without any other horses around - and for me to ride him alone too. Yes, I took my saddle.

He wasn't completely as ok with the saddle going on as the bareback pad so I am going to get it checked again soon.

Well - happy to report - no spooking today and he was calm and Left Brain the entire time. I think he looked up once or twice at other horses grazing in the distance, but nothing much at all. My new rule for myself is to not be on Garbo if I am anxious or nervous - I know he feels it, in the hope that he will only have rides that has me being cool calm and collected.

The circles to the right were again stiff so I shortened the rope and made smaller circles at the walk adding a little flexion to Zone 1 and keeping Zone 4 away from me, he did that well and then I made the circle slowly bigger. I think we are making progress. The left circle oh my goodness - lovely - head down, blowing, using his back... nice.

So on I got - he was good for mounting from the fence... and I ventured away from my comfort zone - near the fence and near Bronwyn. We went over the poles a few times slowly moving out further away each time, and I used the barrels to make some figure 8 at walk, and interestingly enough his right circle round the barrel is actually fine. I increased my confidence with every lap away further and so did Garbo. So we went for a little trot - back to the fence. And then another.

Then - I decided to shorten my reins and try out the engaged position as per the last Mastery DVD - hmm... well the upper part of my body felt good, Garbo seemed to be ok with it, but my heels came up... interesting!!!! I shall have to try and isolate what is happening there.

We rode all the way back to the car - well nearly - 3/4 way back I realised I'd left my carrot stick in the arena so I went back on foot and Bronwyn took Garbo back for me.

Bronwyn had to leave then because her house alarm had gone off so I took Garbo and we walked back to pay the money (there is a green letterbox you need to place it into)... and then I decided we'd walk back down the sandy shad lane past all the cross country jumps (a different way).

Garbo was totally relaxed, no thresholds, past a tractor towing something (parked) and Garbo stepped over the tow cable that was lying on the ground like it wasn't even there.

All in all a great day - loaded well on the way home (with no other horses around for security)... it was eerie it was so empty, and off we went.

I gave him carrots from inside the float!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why do we skimp on porcupine?

Well I do anyway - I was playing with Maraschino this week and realised I had hardly done any - it's like you do it a few times, yes, that works, then forget all about it. Well I certainly seem to.

It's been really strange working with maraschino - as a youngster because he has no baggage really - and yet I am not starting at Level 1 with him in my learning - like I did with Garbo. So sometimes I feel like we've skipped some and I can't figure out what...

He was willing to be haltered which is nice - that was not always the case. We started with some Figure 8 - like Linda pointed out with Crest and Crest's owner in her blog post - I definitely micromanage them round the Figure 8.. I was trying to figure out how not to today. I walked backwards, gave him more rope, but he still stopped at each spool. Hmmmmm... more thinking required on that one.

We did some more circle game - interestingly enough my carrot stick with the savvy string was in the float and rather than get it I used my 2nd carrot stick without the savvy string and happy to say that Maraschino was not so sensitive to any movement of the stick... (ie just coming 1 cm off the ground).

He can't really manage more than one circle without stopping and facing me (behind me). But that's ok. We can trot together now with stick to me so that will be handy for the Golden Horse Show on November 28 (Paint Ring). I am going to be a rebel and take him in a brown rope hackamore.

We did another few squeezes between the tyre and the round pen and then called it a day. He licked and chewed for a bit after I took the halter off in the paddock we had been playing in, and then he nibbled grass then he took off with a buck back to the yards. Very funny.

Oh - we finished up with a bit of Porcupine!