Sunday, November 28, 2010

Prince: Overcoming resistance little by little

November 26 2010

When Prince and I went up to the riding ring things were starting to melt a little and so it wasn't quite to icy but it still wasn't safe enough to move around a lot. So I decided to play with picking up his feet and holding them between my legs, like I do when I am trimming. Prince has gotten a million times better and there is no doubt about that... the fact that he will even let me hold his feet, let a lone between my legs, is a major improvement from a year ago when I started trimming him.  But I can feel just the slightest bit of resistance when I got to put his foot between my legs and when I am finished and put the foot back on the ground.

So what we played with today was basically friendly game. I would put his foot in the right position so I didn't have to hold it with my hands and then I would rub him all over, scratching him etc and then I would play around with his foot, then hold it in a different position then slowly put it down, making sure that it was my idea the whole way.

Prince started to get the idea and by the end I could put his foot between my legs, rub him all over, then put it down and he didn't resist it. It was a great improvement. I did this with all four feet and each time it got better and better. By the time I got to his other front foot I didn't feel any resistance when I picked it up and got it into position but there was just a little bit when I let it go, it felt more like he was taking it back. So we played with that a bit and then once he had softened we ended.

He stayed with me at Liberty for a while before we both headed down to the corral. One thing that I noticed that was different about the way that Prince walked down the hill compared to the other two that walked down the hill was that Prince didn't look twice at the ice. He just walked down it, walked through the deep spots, over the water, he just crossed what ever was in his way.... I guess that is the mountain pony in him still ;)


Twosox: Staying safe and having fun!

November 26 2010

Next I played with Twosox. I wasn't sure whether to go up to the riding ring or not but in the end we went up. Seeing that it was still icy I decided to play around with asking him to pick up his feet when I tapped them with the carrot stick. We had done this before but it has been a long time since we had played with it so I wasn't sure how it would go.

We started with the front left foot. This one was the hardest of all of them but I think the other ones were easier because Twosox knew what I was asking for. Once Twosox caught on he knew exactly what to do and he would lift his foot up and just rest the tip of his toe on the ground, keeping his weight off of it. I did all four of his feet and like I said earlier he caught on really quickly.

When I went to his back feet as soon as I asked he lifted his foot, and kept the weight off of while I massaged it. It was really interesting and I couldn't believe how fast he caught on!

After that we finished and then I played with Prince!


Ruffian: Having fun with tying!

November 26 2010

I played with all three horses again today. We got a lot of freezing rain last night so everything was ice. It gave me a chance to use my imagination though.  First I played with Ruffian. We made it up to the riding ring safely but it wasn't any better. So we just hung out by the fence for a bit. While we were standing there I got the idea that I should practice tying Ruffian and getting him used to that. Seeing as if we ever have to trailer him somewhere... it would be a good start.

So I looped the rope around the rail and started out by just doing some friendly game, then some extreme friendly game in zone 2,3,4, and 5. Ruffian was so calm and relaxed he was looking around but he wasn't at all RB.

Then I decided to get the little sled out that was had brought up last winter. I let Ruffian see it first and then I started moving it around, he was okay with that so the next step was to push it back and forth a little on the ground. Ruffian wasn't bothered by that so I started pulling it behind me and I walked in a big half circle around him and kept doing that for a couple times until he totally relaxed and wasn't bothered at all by it, which didn't take long.

Even though Ruffian is a LBE I wasn't as worried about him moving his feet so much as him going RBI, which he does when he is worried,  feels pressure or anything else like that. But he did extremely well the whole time.

After that I started kicking around a basketball. Ruffian was a little worried about that but he still stayed still and didn't go internal which I was happy about! He even started licking and chewing after a while and then started lowering his head and yawning! Part way through I had shortened his rope so he only had about 1ft of rope. I wanted to see what he did when he couldn't move his head as much (I started out with quite a bit of slack in the rope).

Ruffian didn't move his feet once through out the whole session. We ended when he was relaxed, calm and sleeping. I was really impressed to say the least!

We slowly worked our way down the hill, trying not to slip. We were able to make it down okay but taking a longer route. It was a lot of fun doing really small things because we couldn't move around a whole lot. It was cool!!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Prince: Reviewing some small things

November 25 2010
Today Prince and I just reviewed some smaller things that I want make sure we keep up on. Since the riding ring is frozen but there is no snow so it is really hard Prince and I played on the 12ft line and kept it simple. We did some Stick to me. We played with halt-trot transitions which got really light and snappy.
After that we played with some circles, yo-yo's, jumping the single barrel from a walk and trot, changes of direction at the trot on the 12ft line, and some Touch it. We did one Touch it where I wanted to get Prince's left hind foot in a small tire so I decided to do it from zone 5. To get the end result we used leading by the tail and sideways mainly but a couple times either Prince or I got it wrong so we had to play with it. It didn't take long though and Prince had a big lick and chew afterward. I love picking simple tasks and doing them it a little bit harder way! It is also so much fun! 

Next I hopped on and rode around bareback with my carrot stick and one rein. We did sideways, back-up's with no reins (using just my body), sideways over barrels, indirect rein with out and reins, and standing with all four feet on the pedestal. We didn't ride long because it was getting colder but it was still fun and it was nice to get back on and play with some little things... making sure they are working right for the next time I ride! 

I am thinking that I probably won't do a whole lot of riding until we get snow because of the ground issue. I am really looking forward to the snow! I am tired of the mud, died grass, brown trees... etc etc  :) Besides I am really looking forward to going trail riding a lot this winter :) All that snow!


Ruffian: Gaining mental connection

November 25 2010

Ruffian and I had a great session today. We played with really getting him mentally connected to me as he was anything but connection. I could tell that his mind was a million miles away so we started with some stick to me from zone 2 along the rail. We started out with halt-walk-stop-back up transitions and then once those were going well we added in some trotting. Ruffian stayed with me really well for the most part.

One thing that I noticed was that even though I thought that I was "walking with purpose" I wasn't really. Yes I wasn't walking really slowly but when I actually started walking somewhere Ruffian put more effort into following. It was amazing how when I picked a spot to which I wanted to go and then went there, Ruffian started to go even more mentally connected and we had a lot more success. We did it on both sides and when it was going really well we stopped.

Ruffian was more introverted today and it took him a long time to lick and chew about it but I just waited. I wanted him to process it before we went on to the next thing. After he finally licked and chewed and started looking a little more alive we went on to leading by the chin... something that Ruffian doesn't like to do.

For a while I knew that he didn't like it and that he would just toss his head in the air and he wouldn't go. But since I wasn't really playing with him I didn't bother with it but now that I am trying to do simple things with excellence... well I can not ignore it. Over the last couple months he has gotten a lot better but there is still a lot of resistance even though he doesn't toss his head up any more.

The thing that I found the most helpful was again making sure that I was walking somewhere and not just aimlessly walking around. It was my job to go somewhere and it was Ruffian job to follow. This made a huge difference instead of asking for Ruffian so come but not really having a plan as to where we were going. Ruffian would sense that and decided that it wasn't worth following. All in all it went really well and Ruffian was really light and hardly put any resistance into following.
Then we took a long rest and again I waited for him to lick and chew. This time he took even longer but that was okay. I just waited... and froze! But it was worth it because in the end Ruffian let go of a lot of tension and was able to relax. Which was great.

I am always amazed by how much tension Ruffian actually has when we play! He is so tense and introverted. He literally is a totally different horse from what he was a couple years ago... and I don't think that is a good thing. But this is the horse that shows up and it is my responsibility to act like a partner not a predator, to be willing to take how ever long it takes and in the end it will pay off!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Prince: The need for maintaining the patterns...

November 24 2010

Today Prince, Knightly, myself and my mom went out to a friends place (where I kept Prince for two and a half weeks) for a play day. It turned out to be a nice day even though it was cold and windy, but at least the sun was shining!

The ground was hard in the arena because of the -11 temperatures over night so Prince and I mainly played in the field. We did some circles at the trot. About 8 each way. Prince wanted to see the new horses so he would take the slack out of the rope when ever he got to the one side but then he started to blow and stay connected the whole circle. Going in the other direction was of course easier because he had already figured out what I wanted. We also did some cantering on the circle. Prince had to figure out what I was asking but he got it in the end. It is amazing how when you do not do something for a while how it almost falls apart! I noticed that a lot today.

When Prince was there for those two and a half weeks we were getting things like drop to trot simple lead changes on a change of direction, 6-10 laps at the canter with rhythm, relaxation and connection... but now that we have been back home and do not have the same space to do those kind of things they have gone down hill.

We did play in the arena a bit and did some jumping, straddling the log, sideways towards and away from me and some other things. Then we headed out into the field to ride. We started with Follow the rail on the outside of the arena, which was grass so it was easier to ride on. Prince wasn't responding to my body at all. So we had to play with that quite a bit. Eventually he started getting better and I didn't have to make as many correction with my rein or carrot stick.

Then we went to circles. These were much the same as the Follow the rail. I had to make lots of corrections. Eventually Prince started to get it and when we got some nicer circles going in both
directions at the trot we finished. After that mom and I went for a ride up and down the road. We trotted for a long ways and then headed back over to the others. I felt even more in harmony with Prince today which was really cool considering it felt good before. We didn't do any cantering because of the ground being frozen but that was okay.

When we loaded the horses into the trailer, both leaving and going home we tied the horses last. So Prince had to wait quite some time because he was loaded first. I was really proud of how well he stood in the trailer, untied with nobody holding him, and he just waited patiently while Knightly was loaded and everything was ready! It was really neat!!

This was the last time that we are going to take the horses out there because winter is just around the corner!!! It is getting really cold now but in the spring I have the opportunity to take Prince out there again for two weeks!! So I am looking forward to that!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Prince: So far in so little time!

November 19 2010

 I was so proud of Prince today!! Words can not describe how incredible he was! Today my older brother and Prince went on a trail ride with mom and Knightly. I walked with them the whole way just to make sure everything went okay but both my brother and Prince were incredible! 

Before we went on the ride though I played with Prince and got him saddled then my brother came and played with him. He got Prince to jump the barrels, yo-yo's, circles, Touch it and some other simple but important things. We went over lateral flexions on the ground before mounting up and then he got up. They did some Follow the rail, lateral flexions, 9 step back ups and some over things that would be important on the trail. 
For the first part I walked beside Prince and he was basically following me but later I was able to walk farther on a head or behind and Matt was able to keep Prince on track. He even directed him around some trees and to some nice grass (Prince liked him for that!) 

I was so proud of both of them! Prince took really good care of Matt and Matt, who had only ridden a handful of times before was so gentle but also he knew when he needed to get firmer. He was patiently persistent!!

On the way home my youngest brother who had tagged a long with us got to ride Prince home and I led Prince. I can't believe how far Prince had come in such a short time. It really made both of my brothers day I think. They both had to much fun and Prince enjoyed himself also. He was to motivated on the way out and then coming back he was walking so slowly! I guess he enjoyed himself quite a bit not to want to go home. 

Prince also seemed to do better on the gravel. He seemed to be walked better. So that was good too. It was nice to get out of the riding rind because the ground was frozen in there and really hard for the horses to walk on. Let a long trot and canter. Hopefully mom and I will be able to do even more trail riding this winter and I am hoping to take Twosox on more and more trail rides. It should be a lot of fun! 


Ruffian: Making the riding ring a friendly place...

November 19 2010

Today while on the way up to the riding ring Ruffian and I came across a couple thresholds. I am not sure if it was just because he hadn't been up there in a while, or if he saw something different, or if it was because when ever we go up there we play and recently we have been advancing some things and I am asking for more. No matter what I reason was, we didn't cross the threshold until Ruffian was ready. When we got up there I decided to play a little bit and get some good things going and then end on a really good note and then just hang out. 
We did some circles, Falling Leaf and jumping the single barrel and then we went and hung out on the pedestal. Ruffian fell asleep and even after I took the halter off he stayed there so one of my younger brothers grabbed a brush and brushed him. Ruffian really enjoyed that because when my brother walked away Ruffian followed him! It was really sweet. 

It was good for both Ruffian and I to just hang out in the riding ring after we had a really good, provocative session.


Prince: Online...

November 18 2010

Prince and I had a short but really good Online session today. We did some circles and played a little bit with our cantering on the circle. Prince stayed well connected and cantered a couple laps each direction and while maintaining connection the whole time. 
Our sideways at a trot is getting so much better! Prince picked up the trot while going sideways today... which is something he has been having a hard time doing. It was beautiful and he trotted sideways quite a few steps before I stopped. Even to his hard side he is starting to get it and we are making lots of progress with it!! 

Then we played with circles with a single barrel on Prince's circle and his job was to jump the barrel each time. He had a bit more trouble with it this time so I kept with it expecting a lot, excepting a little and rewarding often and by the end he circled at a trot twice in each direction and jumped the barrel each time. 

We ended with me putting my fingers in his mouth and he was perfectly fine with it! I did it a couple times and was able to move my fingers around a bit also :) Just another lesson for me in taking the time it takes and it will take less time!


Twosox: Circles, pushing the ball and more!

November 18 2010

Today Twosox and I had a great playtime. We started out with playing with the ball. Twosox really likes pushing it around and kicking at it. I think of all the horses he is the one that puts the most effort into it and gets the most enjoyment out of it! Prince will push it when I ask and it will do it really well and Ruffian will sort of play with it but neither of them really get into it as much as Twosox! Which is really interesting because he is a RBI!! Who would have thought!!

Then we did circles! 10 laps each direction with out any correction! The first time we tried the other horses kept getting in the way so I had to move them. But after I did that Twosox did them really well and maintained the rhythm, relaxation and connection really well!!

We also played with some little things like straddling a pole lengthwise... one front foot and one hind foot on each side. Twosox caught onto that really quickly so I then asked him to back up and come forward while still keeping that same position! It was fun!

The session wasn't long but we did a lot more than we normally do. I wanted to test a couple things that I had marked off on the self assessment sheet months ago but we hadn't done them in a long time so I wasn't sure if we could still do them! But we still could and Twosox did very well with each task!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prince: Getting back into the swing of things...

November 15 2010

Prince and I played in the field first today. We started with taking our yo-yo's game to the next step, getting it even lighter and with more speed. When we got that the distance came really easily. Even though Prince was backing up he was putting just enough effort in so that it looked like he was responding well. But he wasn't asking questions. That is what started it. I noticed that and so we played with a couple different things and it took me getting to an effective phase 4 for Prince to realize that I was asking him for more. Gotta love that long phase 1 quick 2,3,4! Prince started asking more and more questions because he was starting to get interested in what I was asking.

Then once that was going well I had to change things up a bit or else Prince would get bored again. So I would back Prince up and then send him off on the circle, allow him to circle for a lap or two and then bring him in. The next time I would just back him up and either bring him in to me or I would go to him. Just keeping it interesting!

Once all that was going well and I felt that Prince was prepared enough we played with circles at the canter.... something we haven't done in about a week because both Prince and I were taking a break of sorts. Prince did really well. At first he kept breaking gait so every time he did I would ask him for a change of direction. He caught on really quickly but was pulling a bit. So I just gently asked him to come off of the pressure and he did it really nicely. We got about 1 lap each direction so I stopped. We will just build it back up again from there... and hopefully this time keep it!!

Then we headed home and saddled up. Once in the riding ring we played with some circles at a trot with jumping a single barrel each time. Prince caught on really quickly to my surprise and we got 3 laps each direction and each time he jumped the barrel really nicely!

Next we did a little bit of friendly in Prince's mouth. He is getting so much better and accepting it really well. Then we played with sideways at a trot. Prince did really well and he is starting to get it figured out. Slow and right beats fast and wrong!!

Then we rode! The footing in the riding ring wasn't the best so we didn't canter but we did some Follow the rail, transitions, guiding him through a weave with my figure tips, sideways over things and jumping the barrels... all bridleless. Jumping was definitely a lot of fun!! After that I climbed down and we hung out for a bit before ending.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ruffian: Where did those circles come from??

November 12 2010
Ruffian and I had a really fun but interesting playtime today. He totally blew my mind away with his circles! He trotted around with rhythm, relaxation and connection on the 22ft line but he was trotting a 15ft circle or so and he kept the same amount of slack in the rope the whole time. They were by far the best circles we have ever gotten.

We also did some changes of directions and again Ruffian was so in tune with me that the belly of the rope was on the ground for 90% of the time!! Our transitions were smooth and Ruffian was really connected. But of course every LBE has to have a LBE moment here and there and one time as he was circling around he leaped in the air, bucked and then kicked almost all at the same time, then the next moment he was peacefully trotting around again. I just had to smile. That is Ruffian for you!

The next thing we did was some stick to me with Ruffian behind me. I wanted him to keep the same amount of slack in the rope no matter how fast or slow we were going. At first our draw was really good and Ruffian came off the pressure really easily but when I melted down to a stop he didn't stop until he was at my shoulder. So I would back him up to where he should have stopped, gave him a little time to think about it and then we tried it again. Then things switched and Ruffian started to stop really nicely but he wouldn't come off of the feel very good. We just continued to play with it until Ruffian trotted when I ran, walked when I walked, stopped when I stopped, and  backed up when I backed up. It Ruffian came forward one step when I stopped but we still ended with that one because it was the best we had gotten yet and it was still pretty good. Next time we will build on it and it will hopefully just keep getting better and better. 

After that we hung out for a little bit then I un-haltered him and mom and I headed home. It was nice to play out in the field and have a bit more space. Even though I know that soon I will have to go back to playing and riding in the riding ring.... or at least riding. I guess I will have to use my imagination a little and see what new things I can come up with! :)


Prince: Struggling to adjust...

November 12 2010

Today I was having a really hard time with trying to adjust to being back home with Prince and having to play in our much smaller riding ring and not being able to advance with the patterns and tasks we were having so much fun and success with over the last couple weeks. I didn't even want to think about playing with Prince because I knew that I would have to think about really changing the whole way we have been playing. It is frustrating but I know that God has placed us here for this time and I want to be content with what He has given me. He knows best.

I seriously debated not playing with Prince today but I was able to gather myself up enough to do a little bit with him. The horses were in the field and so mom and I decided to just stay out there and play. Prince and I played at Liberty and then rode bareback and bridleless.

While played at Liberty we started with some w/t/c/back up stick to me and then did some sideways from different zones, hindquarter yields,  Figure eights at the walk around two rocks, Touch it, jumping a log while drawing at a trot and some other fun things. Prince stayed with me the whole time and was really interested. We both had fun and it was nice to switch things up a bit and get my mind off of what was depressing and frustrating me.

Then I mounted up bareback and bridleless but of course armed with my trusty carrot stick and savvy string ;) We did some basic things like sideways, back-ups, indirect rein without reins, and lateral flexions (can't forget those!). Then we put it all to a purpose and we rode over to where mom and Knightly were standing, took mom's coat and then went and hung it up on a tree branch for her. Prince did really well and responded to my focus really well.

Mom then challenged us to back a Figure eight. Of course me being the type of person that if somebody challenges me to do something, in regards to my horsemanship/ Parelli that is, I am always willing to try. We may not get it right away but we shall work towards it. I love a good challenge!! They make we think!

So off we went. Before we started though I thought back to one of the Horseman's Apprentice episodes where Mr. Parelli was teaching the Mastery students how to back a horse in a circle. I couldn't remember all of it but I remembered some of the main points. At first it was a little messy but when we were coming around the second marker things really started to click! Both Prince and I seemed to just get it. When I changed my focus Prince would turn as he was backing up and we would continue on. It was really amazing! I, of course, missed the middle a little so we have to reposition ourselves but I was pretty happy with it for our first try!

We ended there and took a little nap for a while. Then we went and played with Ruffian!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prince: Small things...

November 11 2010

Well Prince and I played for the first time in our riding ring in over three weeks. We kept things simple and small. We played with our forequarter and hindquarter porcupine yields, getting them back up to where they were at the lesson. Prince did well. He finds one side easier and so we focused more on the other side. Sometimes I still have a hard time seeing if Prince is putting enough speed into it but it is getting easier and I think we are getting it. 

Then we played with sideways at a trot. Before we try it by using the porcupine game we are going to get it through a normal sideways game (driving game style). I decided to try sending Prince out at the trot, ask him to trot around me and then when he was almost up to the fence I would push him sideways. We got couple nice steps of sideways at the trot so we quit on a good note. One thing that I noticed that Prince has improved on is that he can now go sideways, confidently at a faster pace at a walk and stay straight. So that is an improvement!! 

Up next was backing up in a circle. Prince caught on fairly quickly but it still took a bit of time for him to figure it out. At first he was a little to far away for me to properly help him if he got stuck so I brought him in closer so I could help him if he needed it. We got one lap which was pretty good. I am aiming for 1-2 laps with me in neutral... it might take a while but we will continue picking away at it. 

One thing that I found hard to do was to go back to neutral or a phase 1. Then let Prince stop or make a mistake then correct or help him. So I have to be more aware of that. Because if I don't then Prince will not learn and I will be micromanaging at a phase 2. 
We ended with the first step for us towards holding Prince's tongue. First I need to get him to accept my fingers in his mouth. Right now he doesn't like it so much. So I just kept them in there until he stopped trying to get them out and then I took them out and repeated the whole process. Prince caught on pretty quickly and by the end he was accepting them. Not totally but we are getting there!!

Then we just hung out for a bit before I let him go. It was nice to keep it simple and play with some smaller things that we can do in our riding ring. 


Twosox: Trail ride!

Well, I am a little late posting this due to being really busy... but here is what Twosox and I did on November 8th 

 November 8 2010

Wow! What can I say?! Twosox totally surprised me today. Mom and I decided to go on a trail ride this afternoon. I decided to give Prince a day off and take Twosox. My plan was to play strong and then just walk Twosox on the trail then depending on how things went I would decided whether I wanted to mount up or not. 

Twosox and I played really strong. Especially in the area of friendly game. We played with the ball in all zones, bouncing it, rolling it, I put it on top of his back and then pushed it over him. I also dragged things around, behind him, under him etc. Twosox wasn't not to sure about the tire dragging behind him so we played with that for a while until he could walk confidently beside me with it dragging he hind him. 

We also did w/t/c transitions on the circle, changes of direction, sideways, hindquarter disengagements, Figure eights, and touch it. Once I felt that Twosox was ready to ride I mounted up and we did some Follow the rail, walk-trot transitions, direct and indirect rein and or course lateral flexions. 

Since mom wasn't quite ready to ride yet Twosox and I headed down to the front yard and I let him graze for a while then I decided to see if we could walk up to the end of the road. I wasn't sure how many threshold Twosox would have but he didn't have any it was really amazing! He calmly ate the grass on the side of the road and even when cars when by he was calm, cool and collected! 

Once we were ready we headed off. Since it is hunting season we decided to take a different trail instead of riding down the old railroad track like we normally do. To get there though we had to do through town... right down main street to be more exact. So off we went. We decided to walk the horses through town and them mount up once we had gotten to the trail. Twosox only had one threshold which was just as we were coming up to the where the street we were on meets the highway. Twosox didn't spook but just stood there looking at the traffic and then we were able to go forward. On the way over we had to go through the park and over the covered bridge (with the river going under it, which also included a water fall on the one side... very noisy!!) Twosox didn't look twice at it though and we marched right on a cross the bridge like it was nothing! What a horse!

Once we got to the trail we mounted up. Twosox was incredible!!!!!!!!  He was so calm and relaxed, he didn't spook, followed my focus and direction and was over all totally blew my mind away! Even when mom and Knightly trotted up on a head Twosox didn't get worried but kept at the same pace that we were at and we eventually caught up. We did do some trotting. Again Twosox was so amazing. He also has an incredible trot. It is so smooth and he keeps the same rhythm the whole. We had trotted before in the riding ring so it wasn't like I haven't ridden it before but we hadn't had the chance to just go! So this was our first time really just trotting for a long period of time.

Twosox's transitions were smooth and his go equaled his whoa. If I asked him to stop and stand still he was fine with that but he was also willing to trot. It was really neat. At one point we had to cross over a big puddle I wasn't sure how Twosox was going to do I allowed him to stop at the edge and then gently asked him forward and we walked across it.

Coming home we rode over the highway and across the bridge and then through the park. I think the main thing that kept surprising me was how Twosox trusted me as his leader. What ever I asked him to do he did it and was confident in doing so. We let the horses eat in the park for a bit and then walked them through town. Another cool thing that happened was we had to go between some buildings and a row of vehicles. Twosox followed behind me and even when cars went by he was fine. Even when some people came up to see him (one being on a bike) and give him some grass he was curios but not afraid!!

We made it home safe and sound. Twosox stayed with me after I let him go and didn't even want to go find the other horses. It was a special way to end a really amazing day!! I definitely want to do that again sometime soon!!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Prince: Coming home!

November 6 2010

Prince came home today! But before we brought him home we had one last play session and ride! We started by playing in the arena. Prince had so much energy! All he wanted to do was canter everywhere so we did some circles with changes of direction then we did Figure eights at the canter. I had to play around with how much energy I needed to have in my body to match his and some other things but at the end we got one complete Figure eight at the canter and Prince was pretty light also!

After that we went out and played on the 45ft line in the field. We played with transitions, change of directions, and traveling circles. We did a little bit of each and everything went pretty good. Then we mounted up!

Prince and I didn't ride long because there were only a couple things that I wanted to do and I wanted to keep it easy. There were 4 things on our Level 3/4 Freestyle self assessment that I was pretty sure we could do but since I had never tried them I couldn't mark it off. Mainly they had to do with doing w/t/c transitions with two carrot sticks plus guiding your horse at a walk with your finger tips.

We started off with the transitions and they went extremely well. Prince went into the canter beautifully and the transitions were really smooth also. We got a couple really nice transitions and then ended. I am amazed at how our cantering has really improved in the last two and a half weeks. It really has been wonderful to have the space to advance and play!

Then we played around with guiding with my fingertips. We have played around with it a bit before but nothing major. Prince caught on really quickly and we even rode Figure eights. The funny thing was that Prince was responded to my focus, I didn't even need my leg (!!!!!!) so I didn't want to use my fingers because he was responded so well with out them! But when I needed to correct him I would lightly touch him on the withers and go through my phases if needed but Prince barely ever needed me to go past a phase 2.

After that we rode the Clover leaf one last time! I am going to miss riding that pattern! But hopefully in the spring when we go back (Lord willing) we can pick up where we left off. We also played with sideways with two carrot sticks. Prince had a bit of trouble at the beginning but that was mainly my fault ;) But then we both got it right and went sideways in each direction, with me using just my body, for over half the arena width which is about 50ft!!

I decided to go through the gate a little bit differently, we opened it and backed through it. Prince wanted to go forward a lot today so it took a little extra longer we did yo-yo's back and forth through the gate then we did walk-backup transitions all the way from the gate over to the trailer which was on the other side of the field.

We took a break for lunch and then loaded Prince up into the trailer and went home. The horses weren't in when we got home so we went out and found them. At one point Prince went off on one of the other trails but mom and I took the one that was the most dry. Then a couple minutes later Prince comes running up, nickering and stops right by me! It was so sweet! We then went the rest of the way to the field together and that was where the horses were. It was so wonderful to watch them reunite! I really think Ruffian missed Prince! Especially when he saw Prince the look on his face was priceless!!

Here are some pics...

Going to find the horses!

It's an oreo!

One of my favourites!
Together again!

Victory lap!

Classic Porcupine game!

Awww..... Best Buddies!
Prince and I are going to take a couple days off and just spend some undemanding time together and then slowly get back into the swing of things. It has been an physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting two and a half weeks, yet it has also been absolutely incredible!! 


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Prince: Audition time!

November 4 2010

Yes that is right, today Prince and I did our Level 3 Freestyle Audition. I have no idea if it will pass or not but I guess we shall find out soon enough. After yesterday I felt that our lead changes were good enough to at least try. Everything went well. We played really strong and it made a huge difference! We started with some canter stick to me on the 12ft line with drop to trot lead changes (with a change of direction). I was really particular about Prince picking up the canter quickly and he did really well. 

Then I saddled up and we did some circles in the field on the 22ft line. Prince cantered between 5 and 6 circles each direction with slack in the rope and over a tarp! At first he would break gait when he crossed it but pretty soon he started maintaining the canter while crossing it. 

We also played with some changes of direction with simple lead changes. Prince didn't miss a single change and the whole time, in which ever direction he was cantering he was always cantering on the correct lead.  We then went into the arena and did some jumping, sideways using the porcupine game and a couple other small but important things. 

Then it was time to ride! I had to plans for my audition, one which was starting in the arena and finishing outside of it and the other was starting on the outside and working out way in. We ended up starting in the arena because I wanted to practice our simple lead changes before the actual audition but I also had a plan so that if they went really well we would just continue on from there. 
So off we went... we had to restart it only once because Prince was having a bit of a hard time picking up the canter and the left lead. So we started again which turned out really well in the long run because as my mom was getting ready to film it again (our battery on the camera was running low so we had to get a cord) we practiced out jumping. Prince wouldn't jump the smaller log so our only option was the big log, which I have never jumped before. The first time Prince straddled it... oops! Hehe then the second time Prince jumped it but hit his hind legs a little but I rewarded him for that anyway because he did jump it. 
Then when the camera was ready we set off. I actually wasn't nervous from the time that we started playing Online, but before I was pretty nervous. I am so thankful that I wasn't nervous as we were doing it though. It helps though that I have been video taped a lot before so that doesn't make me any different.

Anyway. There was a couple things that didn't go exactly as planned but all in all everything went well and I am pretty happy with it. Even if I don't pass I know that Prince and I did the best that we could do and we had fun! I never would have thought that three months after I started cantering I would even be considering sending in our Freestyle audition so no matter what the outcome I am so proud of Prince and I will happy with even the feedback! When it came to the jump Prince cleared it no problem and I rode it pretty well I think... ;) 

Needless to say Prince got a long rest and got to each grass for a long time. Then when it was time to leave I hopped on him again and we rode up to the pasture. We are planning that Prince will come home on Saturday. I am excited for him to be home but I know that we will both miss the space to play and the big arena! We are invited to come back in the spring so that will be something to look forward too!! 


Prince: A bit better?

November 3 2010

Today I came out with a better idea of how I was going to prepare Prince Online so that we would have more success while riding and getting our simple lead changes better. I felt way more prepared!

We started our session out a little bit differently today though. I decided to back Prince by the tail all the way from the little gate where which we are now using to get in and out of the pasture, and back him all the way down to the driveway, across the field and over to the gate of the arena. Anyone who would have seen use probably thought we were crazy but it was so much fun! At first Prince it wasn't as easy but Prince figured it out pretty quickly. We have never done that much backing up by the tail. Normally we got maybe 10 or so nice steps and then stop. But this put a purpose to it which was a lot of fun. Once we got there Prince got a long rest and got to eat grass for a while as I got our saddle and tack out. 

Once Prince was saddled we went out into the field and played on the 45ft line. At first Prince was cantering but it didn't look very smooth so we kept playing with it until he cantered a some nice circles with rhythm, relaxation and connection. It didn't take long but it made a huge difference in our riding. 

We then went into the arena and did some canter stick to me and lots of transitions!! We also played with our halt-canter transitions because if Prince is going to get the simple lead change he is going to need to go into the canter easily and without resistance. They got really snappy and happy so we quit on a high note!

Then we mounted up! We started with Figure eights at the trot. It was beyond amazing because Prince listened to my body and I only had to make 1 or 2 corrections with my carrot stick!! It felt amazing! I remember in the spring when I was struggling with this and it felt that we would never get Figure eights where Prince would listen to my body and I wouldn't have to use my reins/carrot stick. But through a lot of trial and error, and with a bit of frustration we now have it! It is really amazing! And the best part is that we aren't staying here though, it can and will always get lighter, and with more speed and distance!

Next we played with our simple lead changes. First though we made sure our trot-canter transitions were working. They were pretty good so we went onto the lead changes. It took a while but the last couple ones we got were really nice! We both seemed to just get it and they came together nicely. Of course, they weren't perfect but they will get better and better as time goes on and we continue to practice.

The next thing we played with was our Question box. It went really well at the trot so I decided to try asking Prince to canter it. It was no doubt interesting. I think that Prince got a little confused so we kept playing with it for a bit. But it wasn't getting much better so I decided to stop and leave it for a time when are more ready. But I am glad that I tried :) 

We went back into the arena and we did one more simple lead change, this one was by far the best and then we ended with circles. I wanted to play around with jumping but it was still a bit to muddy so we left that. Our circles were pretty nice and got even better. The last one looked like this... 

It wasn't perfect but I was really happy with it! I know it will just keep getting better! 


Prince: Eventually I will learn right?

 November 2 2010

Once again I failed to prepare Prince enough for the task that I wished to accomplish. But I think that this time maybe, just maybe, I will have learned the lesson! 
Today, one of the things that I wanted to play with while we were riding was simple lead changes, one of the only things that Prince and I can't do that needs to be done for our Level 3 Freestyle Audition. Well, I don't know if we can't do it but we haven't tried because we have been working on the ingredients for them. 

Prince and I played on the 22ft line in the arena but since the ground was hard, it was frozen so it was hard for Prince to canter on the circle a lot. We were able to get some nicer circles. Prince some how cut his upper lip a little bit so we had to wait until it stopped bleeding before we continued.

So where I realized I made the mistake was I went right into the Bowtie pattern after we did some sideways, indirect rein and pivots etc and what I should have done was done some cantering a long the rail, making sure Prince could do that. But alas hindsight is 20-20 right? :) 

What happened was Prince got confused and then it started loosing interest in what I was asking him to do. He wasn't in a learning frame of mind when we started so he gave up trying. Totally understandable! I would have done the same :) 

I realized what happened and so we went to Follow the rail and did lots of transitions. Once Prince was able to canter in both directions and on the correct leads then we ended. We then went out and rode the Question box Prince did really well with that. So I definitely know what I am going to do next time to better prepare Prince! 

Ruffian: Learning...

November 1 2010

Ruffian and I had a really good play session today also. It was short but meaningful. We played again with our hindquarter disengagements and he was quite a bit better. He had more confidence and was responding instead of reacting. 
We did some circles with transitions and a couple changes of directions. Ruffian was confident and playful! It was great!

After that we went over to the fence and just hung out there. Twosox came up so when I let Ruffian go they both took a nice nap in the sun while Mom was playing with Knightly. We did some saddle fit and such trying to get the right shimming pattern for Knightly. As we were doing that Twosox and Ruffian both decided to lay down. So when I had the chance I went over and sat with them. It was neat. They both looked like they really enjoyed it ;) 


Friday, November 5, 2010

Prince: Having Fun!

November 1 2010

Well it is November 1st already! Can you believe it!?! Times really does fly when you are having fun! 
Today Prince and I played in the fields on the 45ft line again. We did 3 laps each direction at the canter with rhythm, relaxation and connection!! It was really amazing. We both had a lot of fun and Prince did so well. Then we played with some changes of directions. Prince still leaned on the halter a bit before he changed direction but we got some nice ones in the end. Up next was spirals at the trot! Prince did really well and was very light even when the circles got smaller and smaller. 

After all that we went over to the one corner of the field where the big hills are and I backed Prince up the hill and to the end of the 45ft line and then after a short rest I asked him to come trotting to me down the hill. Then we played with maintaining gait and directions while going over some other hills. Prince did really well and only broke into the canter once going down the hill but after that he maintained the trot. We also did that at the canter which he did really well with. 

We then head back to the arena and rode! We tested out indirect rein with out reins and Prince was even better than yesterday! We got two pivots this time with out any leg pressure! The next thing was the Clover Leaf pattern. Going to the left we did it with my reins at support if I needed them and that went so well that I decided to try it with two carrot sticks when we went to the right. Prince was incredible! There was a couple times that I had to use one stick to support what I asked in my body but most of the time Prince responded with out them! It was such a cool feeling! 

Here is a short video showing the first complete Cloverleaf, of which we did two...

After that we went over to the gate, opened it and then headed over to the middle of the field and rode the Bullseye pattern! Going to the left was better than to the right but in the end we got both going fairly well. I have to make sure that I balance stopping in the middle and stopping on the outside of the circle. If I stop in the middle more than on the outside Prince will put a lot of effort into going into the center while we are riding the next circle. So it is interesting! 

Here is short video of us riding the Bullseye pattern... 

We didn't do any cantering today because it was muddy in the arena but we still had a lot of fun! Hopefully tomorrow we shall be able to play with our simple lead changes! 


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Prince: Playing in the snow!

 Oct 31 2010

Since the weather wasn't very nice yesterday I didn't go out and play with Prince but today it was much nicer and so mom and I headed out.  

We ended up playing at Liberty in the round corral first. I wasn't quite ready to dive in head first... or should I say ropes first, and get all my ropes wet and snowy, that ended up happening though ;) Prince was absolutely incredible!

I wasn't going to ask him to do a lot of trotting/cantering because I wasn't sure about how slippery it would be with the snow on the grass but it was actually fine so we did some hindquarter disengagements and once those were going well and were light we did some circles. We started out with some simple circles at the trot and then I asked Prince to canter, he cantered 4 laps in each direction!! It was to cool!! We haven't played at Liberty in a round corral in... well a long time but Prince was fantastic! 

Then we did some changes of directions which set us up for better Figure eights. At first Prince just thought I was asking him for a change of direction so he would miss the barrel but still do a really nice change so I didn't want to make him feel bad for that so we just took it slow and eventually he was able to get it right. Then we ended. I wanted to keep it short, interesting and end when Prince was motivated! 

We then played Online for a little bit. Prince did really well cantering circles. We are now playing with changes of direction with a drop to trot lead change. Prince is pretty good but he still leans on the halter a little bit before he changes. It will get better though.

We did a little bit of jumping, sideways, Falling leaf and some other small things and then we played with mounting by the neck! It was interesting because Prince and I haven't done that since the spring so we had to play with it for a while. But eventually we got it. It wasn't the prettiest but Prince kept his feet still, which was the hardest thing to get :) 

We started with Figure eights at the trot which went fairly well. Then we rode the Cloverleaf but since I only had the bareback pad on, after a while it got really uncomfortable to sit Prince's trot. So we only did one direction. But Prince did well and for our second day it was really good! 

After that we played with some smaller things, particularly indirect rein with out reins. Prince got so light that I didn't even have to put my leg one. I just shifted my weight and focus and he pivoted a full circle like that in both directions and he was putting speed into it also!! 

We finished by riding back to the small gate which leads to the pasture where Prince is staying.  When we first got here Prince had a huge threshold right by the barn where we had to go between the barn and the electric fence, a long the driveway. He was fine walking up there Online but not while riding. So we just left it because we really didn't have any need to go up there. But today I decided that we would go up that way to get to the gate. We opened the gate in the arena and off we went. Someone of a four wheeler went by and I wasn't sure how Prince would react to it coming so close (it was with in 20ft of us) He was attentive but he didn't spook. Then we continued across the field and over to the driveway. 

Prince didn't have any problem going between the barn and fence. So it either shows how our riding has improved and that Prince trusts and excepts my leadership more, or it is just because Prince had gotten over it. I am not sure but I was still really happy! 

Here are a few pics that my mom took...

And of course a short video of us mounting by the neck... or at least a good attempt!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Oct 31 2010

Yes, you read that right, we have snow. It snowed yesterday evening and all through the night so needless to say, we got quite a bit of snow!

It was so pretty!! God truly knows how to paint a breathtaking picture! On the drive out to see Prince I took some pictures...



Prince: It keeps getting better!

Oct 29 2010

Prince and I started out playing with sideways at a trot this morning, one thing that we have been playing with more recently but having some trouble with. Today we had a small break through though and so that was really good.
After that we went out and played in the fields on the 45ft line. Prince did really well and we got 2 circles at the canter in each direction with rhythm, relaxation and connection!! Then we did some traveling circles, spirals at a trot, changes of direction, maintaining gait and direction while going up and down big hill, backing up the hills, and lots of other fun stuff! We both had a lot of fun! 

Then we headed back to the arena and we rode. Prince and I started out with circles. They are getting better and better! Even though it was hard at some points because it was really windy and we were riding straight into the wind... so it got a little hard to stay focused and balanced! But we made it. I only had to make 1 or 2 corrections each direction. My goal is to be able to do it with my arms folded which I think we are really close to getting. 

After that we rode the Cloverleaf Pattern! This was our very first time riding ring because we don't have enough room in our riding ring and we don't have corners so it makes it hard but Prince did so well today! We rode it in both directions. The first one was the hardest but after that Prince just kept getting better and we both really liked it! We did it at the trot and I think it is going to be one of those patterns that we shall both end up loving ;) 

The last thing we did was some Follow the rail at the canter. I am starting to ask Prince to canter farther distances now and he did so well!! To the right we cantered just over half the arena and to the left we cantered two sides!! I was soooooooooooooooooo happy!! Prince picked up the correct leads fairly easily, he had a little bit of a harder time to the left but he still got it pretty quickly. It was incredible!! 
We then opened the gate and rode out... I let Prince eat for a bit and then I got off and we went back to the pasture. Prince is doing so well and we are both having a lot of fun. I am not sure how we are going to adjust back into being home when the two weeks are up but somehow we shall. 


Twosox: This seems familiar...

Oct 29 2010

Twosox and I went through a similar issue as Ruffian and I went through yesterday except for this time it wasn't because Twosox didn't move, he was moving to much and in the wrong directions. It took a while but finally he started keeping his front feet still (or almost still) and pivoting his hindquarters. So once we got it going well on the other side we took a little rest and then went to the other side. This time, even though it still took a while, it took less time and Twosox seemed to understand what I wanted more. 
That is what we focused on for the whole session. It was a short but meaningful session that is for sure!