- Savvy Horse Girl
- North Lawrence, New York, United States
- I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
So, Fosse and I played on the ground a bit and then I rode him in the bareback pad and rope halter, one-rein, and we worked on not only PPL at the walk, but steering and point-to-point via my looking and thinking about where we needed to go, and he did it, with ease. We also rode through several obstacles initiated by each of us. Fosse is definately going to be a great time. I did try for a trot but he was not clear on my request--a bit premature on my part. Once we were done, I took him out of the arena and fed him. Whiskey was watching from the woods but not buying in---yet.
I returned to the arena and there was Whiskey, hanging out at the gate. I suspect he wanted dinner but, the bareback pad was hanging on the gate and I decided to saddle him. I haltered him first and then saddled him with the pad. He did not fuss at all and seemed ready and willing to play, if only for a bit.
We played on-line at firist. I would ask for a walk with one smooch and a trot over the obstacles and down the arena by asking for a trot with two smooches. He immediately changed gait as requested. it was totally cool. Rather than play on the ground on line much longer, I let him go loose in the arena still tacked up. He followed me. I then asked for a circle. He willing circled me --this is a first at liberty for us. What made this experience even more fun was, I was able to ask for a walk by on smooch and for a trot smooching twice doing this too. I also was able to do this with him close by me and far away. Whiskey and I were really partners and he looked great--this was so fun.
Finally, I rode him. We did walk-trot PPL using the one and two smooch technique. He and I did fantasitc! One time he even rung his head around in a playful motion, he was having fun! He is willing to trot out quite a bit more now and understanding the tasks. He even made some talking noises at me, happy horse talk--how interesting as he is usually silent. Whiskey's personality is really blosseming. By the way, he is looking better than ever too!
BTW--Mini-Me is doing much better. He has been sick if you recall but seems to be improving. He is in our version of a stall situation (horse trailer with three dog kennel panels out the back. He is happy. taking his meds, and looking better.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I have no concrete diagnosis, only suspicions (that may be totally wrong--I wish he could talk). I have him on bute, SMZ-TMP antibiotics, and confined (using the horse trailer as a stall, padded the floor with 2 bales of shavings), have the dog kennel panels as a turnout attached to the trailer). feeding hay and very minimal grain (enough to give him the pills about 1oz alfalfa pellets, 1 oz Ultium with a little molasses and oil), and water.
I have consulted with two vets and this is the plan for now. Anyhow, I am worried about him. (I did not realize until this morning how much I really do love the little guy.) .
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Tonight, we were able to work on pushing passenger with walk-trot transitions! He only offered one ugly look and nip attempt at my foot after the first transition. I used a lot of friendly game after shaking the lead line at him. This worked well to get him back to being calm and paying attention. I believe this behavior was because he had forgotten what it felt like to trot with a rider on board (we've only trotted a very few times and not anywhere near each other time-wise for a variety of reasons so it may as well have been the first time).
Anyhow, after that one incident, we had several walk-trot transitions around the arena. These were all sitting trot with the Parelli bareback pad (an English fleece pad underneath it) and a Parelli rope halter and 12 foot lead (riding with one casual rein). Once again, a lot of friendly after each halt and a lot of time and patience to get started again (using my phases slowly and deliberately). I am using several cues and experimenting. It seems that when I lift the rein, wait, then one smooch for walk, two for trot, he was getting it and was not agitated. I do use some leg pressure but only when needed. He is a very light and responsive horse so I am careful with my phases. I also did a little spank the air/hair as needed. By the end, two smooches and we were off!
By the way, his diet change is agreeing with him and he looks great, is eating well, and has gained weight--finally! It has taken me so long to find the right combination for him. He is also not exhibiting out of control herd-bound behaviors either (although we have not been back to camp).
Also, this evening, when he was eating his grain, the others left. I went out to put him back in the arena (remember he is separated to eat). I gave him one piece of carrot and let him go back into the arena (at liberty, I point and he goes). The arena leads to the upper turnout and barn. Once in the arena, he started to run up the hill to see the other horses. I called to him by name and he returned to me! I could not believe it! And, I just happened to have more carrots in my pocket. :) So, I fed him, gave him a last rub for the evening, and said goodnight. I am so happy and I think he is too! Yeah!
(Image from A White Horse, by Stacey Mayer. Click for Copyright Info.)
Saturday, October 06, 2007
He moved forward and was very happy to do so. There was no biting, no head flipping/bobbing, no gulping noises, no sudden stops, no snotty twists and turns, or any other indication of irritation or concern. We walked around the arena a few times (maybe 5 minutes if that) and I dismounted. I then walked him to the front turnout and fed him (and went back to feed the others). I then proceeded to water the critters and gave out a few apple treats.
It does not sound like much but to me it was definitely important and progress. I like that he was pleased to do this with me, thanked him and told him I needed that time with him. It seems like I am getting through to him.
What a beautiful morning!
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
I called Carol Coppinger last night and she wonders if he has gastric ulcers. She said that the things I am doing with him sounds on track and that horses don't typically blow a gasket like this unless something is really going on.
I spoke to Dr. Lamb today (the vet) and she said maybe ulcers but the cost to even try to medicate is almost $1000 per month!
We have opted to change his diet and work on additional training--still doing PNH. Dr. Lamb agreed and is hopeful that thhings will work out. She said that she understands and is fine with the choice we have made.
Tonight I played with the horses (in the woods and the arena) but paid particular attention to my interactions with Whiskey. I think that I have discovered something. I don't believe that I have been as good of a leader to him as I needed to be. With Fosse, I was always willing to push his buttons and really lead, hard at times. With Whiskey, I think I've let him off the hook when maybe I should not have. I think this is because he can be such a quiet horse, not an in-your-face horse. Anyhow, I am being more persistent and very clear about my expectations with him and, expecting more out of him. The result, I think that we had a little progress tonight, he seemed surprised but, more respectful. More later!
Monday, September 24, 2007
I also played on the ground and saddled Fosse, approached and scratched Minime (without him trying to leave), and rode Whiskey. Whiskey did fantastic--the best in sometime. We are making progress, again.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
After this, I grazed Fosse in the lawn for a few minutes. Whiskey called to me--we were not our of sight so it wasn't a herd bound thing, he actually was trying to get my attention. Whiskey was next. I ran through the same things as Fosse and there was Mini and the goats, tagging along through it all! The goats, throughout everything were always nearby (Mini too), they worked through the obstacles, and even got a little grooming when I was doing the horses.
Lastly, I played with Mini. Funny how now all of a sudden he was eager to be haltered! We ran through the ostacles and 7 games, he did very well. I am truly encouraged and know that with him, the more aloof I become, the more interested in me he becomes.
How interesting, depriving your horse of attention after he decides to run away from you. Rather than chase, just walk away--all of of sudden you become interesting!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Anyhow, so why am I telling you this? Well, let's step back a bit and let me remind you who he is. Mini-Me is the mini-horse rescue from 6 months ago (he had woolly-mammoth hair and elf shoes with rockers). He is a head-stong, not overly trusting mini-horse who also has catching issues. For those of you who don't have minis (or those with docile ones), this horse can only be described as a head-strong, alpha gelding with an attitude and swift moving hind quarters. He is also very intelligent. He has learned the 7 games but is not great at all of them yet--and he is more than willing to challenge me as herd leader.
While trimming him tonight, I had issues with his rear feet. He even bit my head (hit my hair and scalp. He wanted to swing his hind quarters, offered to kick a few times, etc. This was something that occurred two weeks ago and it ended up being a knock down, drag out, war between us. He and I were both frustrated, I cried (twice), felt guilt about my anger, and he was pissed off too. (But he was trimmed.) I did not want tonight to be the same thing (or ever for that matter). (By the way, he was not this bad a few months ago but developed this rear feet phobia and attitude recently.)
I have been learning a lot from you all and a lot about myself, especially about dealing with stress, confrontation, and my own frustrations. PNH has also helped me through this process.
So, how I worked through this issue tonight was to tie him, then as he leaned and tried to manipulate his body to get out of the proper position, I leaned back into him. I used the nipper handles to porcupine him in the hindquarters area above the flank when he tried to push into me (my hands or fingers were ineffective), he knows this game and would eventually move off. I used tons of friendly game throughout the session. I kept rubbing his leg and hindquarters, would pinch his hock to pick up the leg (he knows this too). Then, if I could get it even a centimeter off the ground, I'd hold it and release when possible. Then friendly game. If he offered a kick, I tapped him on the hindquarters, then friendly again. Eventually, I was able to use the nippers to knock of the toe and rasp to finish (although not an excellent finishing job, good enough). The trimming took about 1 1/2 hours. But, in the end, we learned a bit about each other, I think we left on a respectful note, and no one got hurt. I even was able to easily catch him after he was released back into the arena to put him on the grass, and then again to put him away later.
So, I guess what I wanted to share was that Mini-Me and I each had an experience of new communication, learned how to not explode on each other, and got the job done.
Aren't horses interesting?
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
I went out to the arena this evening with the idea that I wanted to ride.The horses were not coming down and I started to feel depressed. I was thinking that they are not interested in me and that maybe they are getting sick of spending time with me. Rather than just leave, I sat in the woods and just waited (IE. The Catching Game). Mini-Me came to me first. I was not looking at him at all. He came up behind me and started nuzzling my pony tail and nibbling on my shirt. It was so cute and unexpected. Then, Fosse and Whiskey came over, nuzzling me, licking me, and being so sweet. Okay, so they DO love me still I thought! I walked to the arena and they followed.
I put up the "gate" (it is just white electric fence tape) and the goats, horses, and I were in the arena for some play time. The goats are funny, usually in the way at some point but, I think they are having fun too.
I started playing with Whiskey first. I saddled him with my Theraflex pad, English saddle, and Parelli natural hackamore. We played on the ground using the 22 foot line and carrot stick. I practiced this week's serpentine challenges too. Then, I mounted. For the first time, we worked on pushing passenger at the TROT! He got better each time I asked him to move forward. I also got better about allowing the trot and not micromanaging.It was excellent and we definitely made progress. It seems as if, after time, we started to really trust each other and work as one. We are starting to "get" each others rhythm.
I then saddled Fosse the same way (he has never had a saddle on, only the bareback pad). He and I worked on the walk and steering. We also went through the obstacles (this is all after ground play by the way). He also did very well. He did a little ear pinning but, it was at the other horses and goats (I think). He is really doing well and accepting new challenges.
Finally, I played with Mini-Me. We played the 7 games and he is finally understanding the sideways game. He is really cute and fun to play with. He is also starting to understand that the carrot stick is not a threatening item. I actually haltered him with the same hackamore as the Arabs! He is quite flexible.
After opening the gate, everyone except Whiskey went up the mountain. He actually started waling next to me and went through the obstacles that I walked by. He was playing "stick to me". How exciting and unexpected. I actually left him in the arena and then he finally went up with the others.
When I went back to the house, I enjoyed a few glasses of wine and a nice dinner (made by Rick--who also has been preserving our homegrown food all day as well.)
Overall, a great day (yeah, also went to work, a very long but productive day there too).
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Whiskey and I did very well this year. We placed in every class we entered. Here is how we placed:
Western Model 5th
English Model 4th
In--Hand Trail 2nd
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Fosse and I played first. I sat on the mounting block and waited for him to come to me, he did (Whiskey did not at this time by the way). I got a few kisses on the cheek and then, haltered him while sitting. I then sprayed him with fly spray (which he is totally fine with now--unlike the past where he would blow a gasket)--Whiskey got his dose of spray too (unhaltered) , and then put on the bareback pad. I walked him, in-hand in the arena playing the games and going through obstacles. Off to the mounting block next where I mounted and then just sat there. When we started walking forward the goats followed us around too. Whiskey was rolling in the arena and then bolted up and took off running. It startled Fosse but, I used one rein and halted him. We were fine, no worries, just savvy. We rode around the ring in both directions, at a walk doing pushing passenger, steering, and going though the obstacles. I then dismounted, loosened the girth, and walked him through the course in-hand again. I took off the bareback pad, then the halter (we were in the questions box). He just stood there wondering what was next. I porcupined him back out of the box and told him he could go. (This is ride three and this horse is excellent! Pandapas here we come.)
Whiskey was next. I went back on the mounting block and took a seat, waiting to see if he'd come to me. Fosse did and started cleaning my face! Anyhow, Whiskey got curious and came over. I haltered him and put the bareback pad on him. Same drill as Fosse, ground, riding, then ground. He had a few temper tantrums (as usual-- during riding but, he is becoming more responsive and these fits are not as bad as in the past. He eventually would do well through the obstacles and ring but, all at a walk, no trotting today. He is responding to leg pressure and I take it off as soon as he is moving forward.
I then haltered Mini-Me, put fly spray on (he is a bit skeptical about this still) and we did the obstacles and 7 games. He is great at everything but sideways. I am seeing progress but, he is not quite there yet. I also plan to start ground driving him soon.
Friday, August 03, 2007
He and I have never really worked on trotting at all, this was SO FUN! He did not offer to buck or anything. At one point, he was getting antsy and I dismounted. It was time, he and I worked hard. So I hand walked him back down the trail, worked in-hand at a water crossing, and then we walked back to the parking lot, side by side. We both needed a cool down anyway. This is why I LOVE people in PNH, no shame, no judgements, just safety and fun!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
So, how did we do it? We played on the ground for a bit, working through obstacles, then I saddled him with the Parelli bareback pad using obstacles in between cinching to make it a "saddling with savvy task" (first time he has ever been saddled with anything by the way), once saddled, more obstacle and ground work.
After that, I layed over him twice, then mounted. I sat there, flexing his head to each side several times. I then thought, what the heck, and asked Fosse if he wanted to walk! He stepped around a little, getting his footing, using the Parelli techniques ("My Horse Won't Go"), I asked him for forward movement and got it! We walked around the arena, went over groung poles, and around obstacles. He did great! I look forward to riding him again soon.
I also rode Whiskey today. He did well but was up to some of his usual antics. We had fun regardless but, I warned him that he may have competition now! LOL
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Mini-Me is looking great and totally different from when I first got him. It has been an amazing transformation. Check out some before and after photos. (By the way, the top photo at the beginning of this post is of Mini-Me and Fosse.)
Friday, July 27, 2007
Rick fixed my trailer (obviously) but, on the way home from Clare's, my electric cable ended up dragging and wore through--no lights, no brakes ARGH (the truck seems to be sagging for some reason too---I WANT A NEW TRUCK!). Rick just looked at me, smiled, and said, no problem, he'd fix it right away (but not tonight). He is a gem.
I decided to get in some horse time this evening and worked on trailer loading with Fosse primarily and then a little with Whiskey and Mini-Me. It was fun and yes, Fosse did load, several times. It was time well spent, fun, and very productive. I do have to figure out something for the mini horse though. The dividers in the trailer are at a height where he can slide his back under them. I see this as a potential hazzard. So, we are going to have to be creative and figure something out. I want a solution that is easy to put on and remove--hmmm, I'll have to think about this--I bet Rick will know what to do.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
After our excellent and fun session riding, I dismounted and fed grain to the horses. (Oh, by the way, it was thundering and sprinkling during all this.)
When Fosse was finished eating, I played with him on-line and at liberty. It was a riot. We were playing like I've seen Linda play with Remmer--so exciting!
So, I really had fun today and I think they did too.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Once we found the place (the directions were not very good), we were delighted to run into the camp host and talked about the facilities and policies for usage. This is a definate place for a trip whether you plan to ride, do ground training, or just hang out with the group. It was about an hour from Rich Creek, Virginia. The fees are reasonable and the accomodations are nice (and new). The sites have are level and gravel. Each includes a tublar steel corral--there are single ($15/night) and double sites ($25/night). There is a playground and dogs are also welcome.
Ok, so imagine this, we are in the parking lot of the day-use area (free by the way) and Whiskey decides to not unload! He is used to backing out but, is reluctant this time. It is a good thing to remember that each experience with the trailer and horse may differ and using our skills and techniques always come in handy. Using the yo-yo and porcupine games, we were able to unload him. I am finding that now, unlike the past, I am calm, cool, and not anxious about these trials and tribulations. In the past, I would get so frustrated and angry. Parlay does not unload by backing and unloaded by walking off front-ways. This is a task Clare plans to work on with her.
We decided to "dog walk" the horses and work on obstacles rather than ride. Clare was not feeling well and I have not done anything substantial with Whiskey in a long time. Our first obstacle was a stone covered bridge. We asked the horses to go off the side of it and the ends, no problem. Then the water crossing. It was a babbling brook. Whiskey leaped it, several times, very high in the air--I think he is a pegasus with wings. Parlay was wonderful and crossed it with ease. Clare's work has really paid off. This horse is coming along nicely. Then, we did other tasks like backing while we were seated eating our snack -- Clare had Parlay playing the hot/cold game with her sandwich, backing up embankments, sidepassing, walking over logs, one foot at a time, very slowly with pauses, etc. On the way back, the water again. This time, on the third try, Whiskey walked across, not as good as Parlay but, calmly and better.
This takes us to the parking lot and trailer loading to go home. Whiskey decided to not load immediately. We were trying it without Parlay on board yet (oh by the way, she is in heat and has been flirting with Whiskey throughout our excursion). A good-looking "cowboy" comes over to offer his advice/help. He soon realized, thanks to Clare, that we were thankful but uninterested. She even asked him to not go behind the trailer and he complied--thank goodness. He did walk away from us while we were talking, frustrated I am sure, with these "weird women" and their non-compliant colt horse (as he called him). Clare would eventually load Parlay first and Whiskey, was still not loading but, he was not alarmed either (he was in the very beginning though). We ignored him, and used several approach and retreat, driving, and other games/techniques. He was on the trailer within 20-30 minutes. He was not afraid and was pleased to be aboard. We then waited a little more before pulling out, just to be sure the horses understood that there was no rush or urgency to worry about.
When we got back to my place, we soon realized that the trailer and truck running lights were not working. We unloaded Whiskey first--he offered to back out and did like he usally does on my trailer. I was able to locate, test, and replace the fuse that had burned out in her Chevy truck. Clare was able to travel home safely.
So, what did I learn. I was able to recognize and remember the fact that Whiskey has really only been off the property 5 times and thast we have a lot of learning to do, together. I was able to understand that taking the time it takes really does mean something and know that I need to spend more with Whiskey. I also was able to better comprehend the need to understand the major differences betweeen "them and us" (regarding horsemanship styles) and that I have to remember I already have one strike against acceptance simply for being involved in PNH (IE. the cowboy deal--he really meant well but, assumed that the helpless women needed his help, yadda, yadda, yadda). I also remembered how much fun Clare is and why I love natural horse people. Patience is not just with our horses, but with each other.
Tonight, while watching the Next Food Network Star, Bobby Flay said something that rings true to me, "If you're not nervous about your passion, you're not passionate about it." I tend to feel nervous while "performing/playing" with my horses in front of people. I am not sure about all the whys but my own body image is one thing. Failure or making a fool of myself another. These are things I need to work on. Clare also says that nervous could also be excitement. Anyhow, I have some work to do on myself as well.
Well, that's it! Night all!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
This is me with my friend's horse Parlay today.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
As you know, being able to back your horse is a very important skill. It takes patience, persistence, and savvy. This week's task is to practice backing your horse. First practice on the ground, thorough gates, barrels, and other obstacles, Then (if possible) work on it while in the saddle/bareback, in the round pen, arena, field, where ever and everywhere! Remember, obstacles, hills, and other challenges wil help increase your skills, your horses's confidence, and make you both a success!
*Weekly tasks are based on many different Parelli resources I have studied as well as my own ideas on how to proceed through my journey. Some of the content was copied to make it easier to put up in a timely manner. Please consult http://www.parelli.com for any official instructions or materials.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Today, Whiskey and I made great progress and had fun too. After grazing on the beautiful grass for over an hour, I retrieved Whiskey and took him to the riding arena. We played using the 22 foot rope, rope halter, and carrot stick. In thinking about what Linda Parelli said in the L2 DVD about using a 22 foot rope and a "thing" as she put it, I decided to use a ground pole as our "thing". This of course was because I need my horse to be curious and not bored, I needed the tasks we perform to be useful and have a purpose too.
I was able to get Whiskey to sidepass over the groundpole while facing me. It took time but, he finally understood what I was asking. This was the first time we were able to complete this task. I started with asking for a sidepass while being on his side as this was more familiar to him. I then began to position him for success and eventually was able to get him to pass over the pole while I faced him with relative ease--I was thrilled. I then added two barrels and asked that he sidepass over the pole with the barrels in zone 5. (This is just a variation of sideways and squeeze game together.) He finally did it and I stopped that part of our playtime. Please note that there was a lot of friendly game used too--he reacts well to praise and love.
I decided that I also wanted to see where he was emotionally about saddling and then possibly mounting and maybe riding (sounds like "nose, neck, maybe feet" doesn't it?). So, he and I left the arena (I switched out the 22 foot rope for the 12 foot rope) and headed to the horse trailer. I gave him a horse treat and then got out my bareback pad, girth, and helmet. We walked back into the arena. I used the Parelli saddling techniques and took a great deal of time saddling him. His lips appeared to be pierced tightly and I took this as a sign of him shutting down or going catatonic. At this point, the bareback pad was on and secured with the girth but not tightened totally. I stopped working on that and played with his mouth. I massaged his lips, inside and out, rubbed his tongue, and pet his muzzle. He loosened up and I was able to continue cinching in stages. Taking this time to prepare him and make him more comfortable paid off and was the right thing to do (in my opinion).
Once sadddled, I thought a great deal about past experiences (especially the last two or three) with him regarding riding. He has been emotionally unfit and difficult to deal with--perhaps even unsafe. So, I needed a new, open-minded approach. I decided that I was possibly micromanaging him and pushing the phases too quickly. These were two things I would definately have to work on today.
So, I mounted after laying over him a few times, rubbing him and checking that it was ok with him. He stood perfectly still and seemed okay with me on his back. I took several, exaggerated, deep breaths and massaged his withers (something I would do throughout the riding portion of our time together). I decided to ride him in the rope halter, one-reined (to avoid micromanagement). I used the phases to ask him to walk forward. He seemed touchy about leg contact so I tried to avoid it. I opted to bring up my energy (smile with all 4 cheeks), use my savvy string and spank the air for a long period of time, and smooch if needed. His walking forward would eventually come much sooner as the lesson progressed. He seemed to appreciate me avoiding the leg. (This also made him less likely to toss his head and try to bite my leg.) Now, I realize we will have to work on contact but, that was not something to do today. Overall, what I did was use a long phase 1 to allow him time to comprehend what I wanted--it worked and I felt like we were connecting.
Rather than steering him, I decided to do a passenger lession. He only wanted to walk and seemed to prefer walking a few steps and stopping and all by the gate. In the past, I would have discouraged this, tonight, I just let him do it. The task at hand was for him to walk and for me to be a good passenger. By the end, he actually walked around half of the arena and this was the point at which I stopped the lesson. I dismounted. We then headed back to the horse trailer for a treat and I took off the tack. I proceeded to take him to my "grooming tree" and tied him there, fed him his grain and groomed him.
I almost forgot to mention, my mini-horse called Mini-Me was with us in the arena the entire time. Today, he let me catch him several times and seemed very interested in what we were doing. He actually nipped Whiskey's leg when I was riding! This little guy is also coming along nicely too--more on him at a later date.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Good Evening Parelli Play Group--
Well, I have played with Whiskey again--this morning. My goal was to ride him in the arena and then in the woods two times during the two week lag between our meetings. If you recall, I modified my goal noting that maybe he was not ready for the riding component and that we may have to work on other related issues.
This morning I played with him and we had what I would consider a great session. He came down to the arena and said hello. I put a halter on him and played with him a little. Then, I saddled him with the bareback pad. I took a long time to do this (probably 15 minutes total). I used a great deal of approach and retreat, asked him to put his nose on the pad, etc. I then used a very long phased cinching with several tasks in between the three cinchings. I did this specifically because I have recognized that I may have been rushing the phases with saddling and mounting tasks with him which may be part of our problem (including of course the lack of time we have spent together since the fall). In any event, the saddling exercise went well as we worked through the process together.
Next, I stood on the mounting block. He decided to circle me and instead of correcting him, I allowed it. Then, I asked him to disengage and then sent him in the other direction. I think he was surprised with this. I then asked him to stand at the mounting block for me to lay over him. He nipped my leg and I nipped him back by pinching his neck (phase 4 porcupine game really). I proceeded to lay over him, he looked as if he might try the nip again so I blocked the action, layed over him, he pinned his ears (not totally back but, I could tell he was annoyed or upset). I got off of him and played friendly game for a bit and then started laying over him again, rubbing him all over, and then standing on the mounting block. I did this maybe 15 times and each time, I noticed a progressive change in him--for the better. He eventually relaxed and was fine with the activity. No biting or ears laying back. He was calm and relaxed.
This is where I ended the session. I did not mount (as he may have expected). I walked with him on a lose line to the water trough, took his halter and the bareback pad off, and released him. He took a drink. The other horses had been coming in and out of the arena the entire time but at this point, Wilbur was the only other horse in the arena. I layed the bareback pad on him (did hot cinch it) after haltering him. I then just took it all off and gave him a good scratch. These horses had no clue what to expect from me today.
Wilbur left (slowly, not running away or anything) and Whiskey stayed around. I walked to the shed to get their breakfast ready and noticed Whiskey looking for me--it was so cool! So, I took a few treats down to him. It was wonderful to see that he was not upset and not wanting to run away to the herd.
So, personally, I think I was successful these past two weeks. I may have been able to actually do the riding tasks but, as you know, the last two weeks have been less than normal and i have only played with Whiskey twice, MIni-Me once, Fosse once, and rode Wilbur once. I typically play with them all on a daily or every other day basis. In any event, I think progress on our relationship (Whiskey and I) and communication skills are going well. We are reconnecting for sure.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
My friend Clare and I went to the New River Trail at Draper, Virginia for a trail ride. I took WIlbur and she took her horse Smokey. This photo (from the Washington Post), represents what we say while we were there. The horses were riden WTC and hand-walked over trestles like this one. We also got to see part of Claytor Lake. This was a fun-filled adventure for sure!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Ok, so how it all went. I was out with the horses twice today. The first time, there was a lot of undemanding time. It was my goal to see what my horses would do and what they would be interested in.
Wilbur saw me and left. Mini-Me ignored me totally. Whiskey and Fosse came to investigate. I did have Fosse putting his front feet in the trailer; I then tried to get him to load with the savvy string only. I think that for today, he was pushed too much. He did come back several times but was not convinced he wanted to stay with me, totally. (Oh, did I mention that there were dog cage panels behind the trailer and he was basically in a 10x10 dog cage with one side swung open? I was shocked that he came in--Whiskey did too, at the same time--no claustrophobia here folks). Whiskey came a few times but really was more interested in what Fosse was up to. When I went to get the halter, Fosse and Whiskey left. I found this all to be interesting and depressing. I question why my horses are not interested in me--could it be today? Could it be because we have done little since November? I am just not sure. Other times, they seem so much more interested in me.
I went back out this evening to feed. They all came running down to their trees to be haltered and fed their grain. So what is this all about? Am I just their waitress? HMMM
After they were finished, I released everyone and took Whiskey with me to the arena. I played with him a little, saddled him with my English saddle and Parelli Natural Hackamore. I then rode him. Overall, I think it was successful on many fronts. He was willing to move forward and we weaved in and out of cones, side-passing, and stopping. This was all at the walk. He also bucked a few times. Rather than bailing out, I worked through this threshold of mine and was fine, I lived, I was ok and so was he. Whiskey is an emotional horse. I am convinced that this behavior was a left-brained temper tantrum. I really thought long and hard about this and he probably wanted to be up with the other horses. I dismounted one time and played on the ground with him again. Remounted, only for a few minutes and then dismounted again. I took his tack off, blanketed him, fed him cookies, and he was reluctant to leave me. Does this mean he really does like to spend time with me? HMMM
Overall, I am really satisfied with our time together. I believe that we are making progress. And no, I did not trot today. Why? Because, I believe that would have pushed the limits a bit too hard today. This is the first real, successful session I have had with him since November and I believe that we made true progress, both of us.