Monday, January 31, 2011

Twosox: Online and Liberty

January 29 2011

Twosox and I had a great play session today. We did Falling Leaf first and Twosox was full of energy. So we did some of that and then played with circles and changes of directions because Twosox wasn't connected. After that we did Figure eights at the walk. They were really small Figure eights too but they really got Twosox's mind engaged which was what I needed.

Up next was sideways at a trot. I discovered that if I sent Twosox in a half circle over to the fence and then push him sideways it is to much pressure for him. He escapes it and gets worried. But if I ask him to go sideways at a walk and then ask for the trot sideways he does it beautifully and confidently. It is really interesting because that is exactly the opposite of Prince.

Then we did some friendly game with a plastic bag on the end of the carrot stick.

Then we played at Liberty! Twosox left a couple times but he always came back when I ask him too. We did sideways, leading by the chin and ear, backing up by the tail, jumping, Touch it and extreme friendly game in all 5 zones.

It was the first time we have played at Liberty up in the riding ring in a long time so I was pleased with how well it went over all. Then we hung out for a bit before we went back down to the corral.


Prince: Bridling.

January 29 2011

Today our focus was on bridling. Getting Prince to accept the beginning stages of bridling with out even putting the bit in his mouth. At first it was interesting. Prince was subtly avoiding it. He couldn't even accept me holding the bridle in front of him in the position that I would bridle him. So that was where we started.

It took a long time but with a lot of approach and retreat, not releasing on a brace and knowing that pressure motivates and the release teaches, eventually he accepted that step so then we moved on.

Next we played with me being able to hold the bridle like I was going to bridle him and ask Prince to open his mouth, just by putting my thumb or finger on his tongue. This went well so then I would hold the bit loosely and ask Prince to open his mouth. This was the step that took the most time.

Prince would turn his head away just a little bit but I knew that was his way of saying that he wasn't accepting it. So we played with this for a while until I could hold the bit, ask Prince to open his mouth and not have to move his head away and then I would release. That was all I wanted.

Prince doesn't raise his head really high but instead he will lower it. I don't want to discourage that because like Mr. Parelli says "I would rather have a sore back from bridling than a sore neck" But at the same time I know that Prince is avoiding it still so I would just ask Prince to raise his head just a little bit and release then.

I was going to end there but there was honey on the bit so I went over to Twosox to see if he wanted to lick it off. He picked up really quickly what it was and licked it all off which gave me the idea that I should have done that with Prince. So I decided to give it a go.

At first Prince wanted nothing to do with even though I was holding the bit in such a way that I really couldn't have put it in his mouth even if I wanted too but I wasn't going to force it so we continued playing with it and we got to the point where he would touch the edge of the bit but nothing else and he still didn't find the honey. But we kept playing with it until he found the honey and we ended by him licking all the honey off the actual bit and we did that a couple times. It was a really great place to end :)


Prince: Trail ride!

January 27 2011
Since I didn't have to go to work today Mom and I decided to go for a trail ride. Prince came over to meet me at the gate when I got there which was really neat! He was in a deep sleep in the sun but when he saw me he woke up and came over. Then I brushed, saddled and bridled Prince. We definitely need to play more with bridling and lots of friendly game with the bit. After bridling and un-bridling a couple times Prince was accepting it a little bit better but we are still going to need to play a lot with that :)

We then headed up to the riding ring and played. We played on the 12ft line the whole session which was fun because it gave us a chance to see how good our porcupine game is in regards to how well Prince kept slack in the rope. Prince did so well. We did some really cool stick to me transitions on a circle. We would canter for about 4 strides and then stop, back up four steps and then canter off again. Prince was really good at going into the canter from the halt and was pretty good at stopping but he would take a couple steps forward so we played with that and at the end we were getting snappy departures and graceful transitions. It was pretty cool!!

Then we played with backing by the tail. Prince was light, put a lot of speed into it and we got the distance! It was great!

I then mounted up and we did some follow the rail and transitions. We haven't cantered up in the riding ring since before the Ron Pyne clinic which was in October. I just didn't want to deal with it because it is really hard for Prince to get the correct leads in there. So we have just been cantering on the trails, and when ever we ride out.

Once Mom and Knightly were ready we headed out. Prince and I rode down the hill (which was so much fun. I love doing that!!) and then we walked the horses through town Online. Then mounted up once we got through town. Prince was great the whole ride. He was relaxed and didn't speed walk the whole way ;) On the way out we just walked because we weren't sure how the footing was. It was good though and Prince and I had fun.

We got our chance to meet with some snowmobiles. Fortunately we were able to hear them coming before we saw them and Mom and I had already determined that if we met with any we were going to get off. So almost in perfect synchronization we both dismounted at the same moment and were prepared for the snowmobiles when they came by us. Prince did well for the most part and only spooked a little bit when they were on both sides of us. But he had a big lick and chew afterward and we mounted up again and carried on riding.

On the way back Prince and I cantered lots. It was so much fun. Prince even offered a left lead one time! Which is his hard lead. It was amazing! We did need to play with our downward transitions a bit because Prince wasn't as responsive as I wanted so we played with those and they got better.

It was so nice just to go and not have to stop because of fences or anything. Prince was so light on our upward transitions into the canter. I just had to tip my one shoulder back and ask for the lead and we were off.

We met with two other groups of snowmobiles and each time the horses did better and better. It was really nice to have the chance to use my emergency dismounts even though it wasn't really an emergency but it was the same idea. I guess all that mounting and dismounting from the walk, trot and canter that we did at the Ron Pyne clinic payed off ;)

On our way back through town we got off and walked the horses through again which was good because there was a big dog that was out and Prince was okay with it until the dog jumped up at the end of it's leash and barked, growled etc. Prince spooked a little bit but wasn't so bad.

It was fun and just really nice to get out and ride. Plus it was so warm (well compared to what it was last week) so we stayed nice and warm :)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Ruffian: Porcupine games!

January 27 2011
Since it was so warm out today, -3 C. I decided to play with a whole bunch of different porcupine games with Ruffian. We haven't concentrated on them in a while so I wasn't sure how light he would be. 

We started out with hindquarter disengagements and that went really well. Ruffian was fairly light and we were able to get 2-3 full rotations going in each direction. The forequarters were a bit harder. They were sticky ;) But after a little bit were got it lighter and even with a bit of speed :) 

Then I wanted to play with a direct rein from the ground. Ruffian didn't know what to do so we played with it for a while and what he would do was just spin his hindquarters around and around. So after we had gotten a small step in the right direction I stopped and thought about how I could get this to make more sense to Ruffian. 

So what I did was I held onto just under the halter, just above the snap, and asked Ruffian to yield away from me by following that feel. Once he was able to more his forequarters away and keep his hindquarters relatively still we did it on both sides and then went back to the previous task. 

This went much better because Ruffian knew to move his forequarters to get the release. We ended when we got some really nice steps with out his hindquarters moving. Then we hung out for a while when we went over to the fence and I mounted from there. We rode around bareback for a while. We did lateral flexions, indirect and direct rein, one rein back up, and a whole lot of friendly game! Ruffian was super confident and did really well. I was really pleased with how well that went. "Slow and right beats fast and wrong!"


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Prince: Fun but cold!

January 24 2011
This morning I just had to go out and play with Prince. Even though it was really cold, -30 or so I just needed to get outside and be with the horses. 

I decided to try something a bit different and just loop the 45ft line around Prince's neck and play with him that way. The last time I tried that it didn't go very well in the sense that Prince didn't know how to respond to the pressure and was pulling the whole time. But that session sent me off on a long journey to get lightness, which I am still on but we have come a long way since that day, which was over a year and a half ago. 

So this morning I thought I would try it and see what would happen. I started off slow and we did some sideways, yo-yo's and circles at the walk with changes of directions. Prince did so well that we went up to the riding ring and we did Touch it, traveling circles and falling leaf. Prince wasn't putting a lot of effort into doing the falling leaf, he would maintain gait but he wasn't putting effort into turning and going the other way. So I knew exactly what strategy I would use. I would tap behind him each time he didn't put effort into turning. 

It worked really well and even though it took a little bit for it all to come together Prince started putting a whole lot of effort into the whole falling leaf and he was responded to my body and not nearly as much relying on the rope. 

Up next was circles. We started off at the trot and waited for rhythm, relaxation and connection which came pretty quickly. Then we played at the canter. Prince would keep the connection for most of the circle but he would break gait at one point so we played with that until he cantered one lap each direction with rhythm, relaxation and connection. 

Then we did some stick to me at the walk, trot and canter, close range circles at the canter (!!!!!) and to end we did sideways at the trot. Prince trotted sideways beautifully sideways on his easy side and it took a couple tries to get it on his harder side but in the end we got the best sideways at a trot we have ever gotten!! 

On Prince's hard side the first time he broke gait at the fence but picked the trot back up again but his hindquarters were lagging a lot and I was to far away to properly ask him to get them over but at least he was trotting. The next time he maintained gait when he got to the fence and even though I was closer to him I still wasn't able to quite ask him to get his hindquarters over, even though they weren't lagging as much as the time before. 

The third and last time Prince maintained gait when he got to the fence and I was close enough to influence his hindquarters and it resulted in the mos beautiful sideways at the trot!!!! 

After a long rest we went down to the corral where we hung out for a while and by this time I was so cold so I went in to get warmed up :) 

This up coming week is supposed to be nice and warm. Or at least warmer. I am really looking forward to the warmer temperatures!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Prince: Online, Liberty and Freestyle

January 20 2011

Today Prince and I played in three savvies. He did so well. Our connection has never been better! 
First we started with zone 5 driving with one rein and did walk/trot/canter/halt/back up transitions all at phase 1!! We got a super nice canter-halt-back up transition also. Prince was so light and offered a lot of speed especially in the back up!! 

Up next we did some jumping, Touch it and then we did sideways!! Prince trotted sideways very easily on his right side. It was very light and he picked up on it very quickly. On his left side though he had more of a hard time. This time though I was really happy with how well I stayed emotionally calm and when it didn't go right I was able to help Prince through, reward the slightest try and in the end it paid off because we got a really nice sideways down the fence at the trot and even though Prince broke gait for a couple steps I kept the same rhythm in my body and asked him to pick up the trot again and he did! It was great!!! I was so proud of Prince and even when things weren't going as well I was able to help him and in the end we got it!!

After that I took the halter off and we played at Liberty. At first we did some Stick to me and then Prince was so connected to me that we did some close range circles at the trot!! A first for us. Prince was so connected and he put a whole lot of effort into it!!

He only left once when we were trotting over to the pedestal. He went back down to the corral but when I got down to to the bottom of the hill he came back over to me and we ran back up the hill and took a rest on the pedestal. We did circles in the other direction and while going to the left Prince trotted a 12ft circle while I was completely in neutral and after one complete lap I brought him in. It was so amazing!!

Then I put Prince's halter back on and we went down to the corral where I let him go and then we rode bareback and bridleless for a bit!! We haven't ridden in a while because it has been way to cold so it was nice to ride again. Prince was great. He had a couple misunderstandings in regards to hindquarter disengagements. But once we figured those out everything was great.

Ruffian was hanging around so I decided to play a bit with him while riding Prince. At first he thought everything meant move out of the way. So we had to play with that for a little while and then we got some connection and I was able to ask him up onto one of the pedestals while Prince and I went and stood on the other one! It was fun! We ended by going sideways over to the gate where I dismounted.

Prince still wanted to stay with me though so we hung out for a couple minutes then I ran inside to get warmed up!! It was freezing!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's not about the...


It is too cold to play with the horses today. So I was watching some Level 4 Online Auditions to get an idea of what the Parelli's are looking for in that level. As I was watching one Audition, I don't know what triggered it, but I started thinking about how I have had quite a few people look shocked when I say that I want to pass my Level 4 with Prince. I have had comments like "You're really going to do your Level 4 with him?" "Why don't you do it with one of your other horses?" etc, etc.

Yes, I understand Prince isn't a top notch, athletic, "won't miss a flying lead change for his life" type horse. But it isn't about the.... breed. Of course I am not going to expect Prince to compete in high level dressage competitions, because that isn't what he is build to do. Now people may say that Prince isn't "build to do" flying lead changes, jump high jumps etc, etc but I do not see any reason for him not to be able to try and shock people when he succeeds! When people tell me things like this, when I hear them say such things and when I see the look on their faces it just makes me even more determined to do it.

It may take more hard work, time, heart and desire but I am 100% willing to do it and to succeed... Prince can do it. He can do flying lead changes, Prince can canter 40 laps, Prince can jump higher, run faster, and go farther... if I get his heart. If I can prove to him that I am a leader worth following. If I can help him get him mentally, emotionally and physically collected. If I can be the human that he has always dreamed of having.

I am not putting a time limit on this goal. I am not going to make Prince do it, because I can't. My goal is to cause Prince to want to do those flying lead changes and jump those high jumps all because he sees me as his leader and trusts me.

Yes I will take other horses through Level 3 and into Level 4. Twosox and Ruffian have just as much heart and desire as Prince does. Prince may not be bred for high level cutting, jumping, dressage, reining, or anything. He may just be a normal, ordinary Halfinger... but he is special to me and he is my perfect partner.

It is not about the breed. Yes breeding is important when you aim for the competition ring or for a specific sport, yes some breeds of horses do better at jumping than in cutting but that doesn't mean that just because a horse is one breed doesn't mean that it is excluded from trying.

Prince may not be headed for the winners circle but my goal is to gain our black string together, Lord willing of course. People may say it is impossible, they may think it is crazy but I don't and I am willing to give it my all.

"There is nothing you can't do when your horse becomes a part of you" Mr. Parelli


Ruffian: Relaxation on the circle

January 20 2011

Today Ruffian and I played in the corral. We didn't do a whole lot but we focused on quality and relaxation in everything. So we started out with a little bit of Touch it in different zones. That went well so we then did circles at the trot on the 12ft line. I have gone back to the12ft line while doing circles (1) because the riding ring is still a bit slippery so we can't do a whole lot there and so the corral is the best place right now for doing circles and a 22ft line would just get in the way and (2) since Ruffian has trouble staying relaxed on the circle, he gets on adrenaline and then goes internal while trotting, kind of like what Allure used to do.

I have tried some different approaches so since the corral is way to small to have barrels and all for Ruffian to navigate we are playing on the 12ft line and seeing how that goes. Today was day 2 and it went very well. Ruffian was relaxed and found the rhythm and connection very quickly, almost right from the very beginning!! I asked for two - three circles each direction at the trot with out a breakage in gait and then I asked for a change of direction, another thing that really gets Ruffian adrenaline up and can cause him to go right brain.

Today though it was much better and Ruffian stayed calm and relaxed through out all the changes of directions. It was great!! We ended after we had done some really nice changes of direction and some great circles, and of course when Ruffian was relaxed and left brain :)

Then after a bit of a break and a chance to process we played with backing up by the tail. Ruffian used to be really good at this but then he thought that when ever someone was in zone 4/5 it meant to back up or if I even looked at his tail he would start backing up. It was a lack of confidence issue. So I just spent a lot of time massaging his tail and not even asking for the back up. Now he will back up one step but then lose confidence and turn instead of backing up. So we played with that and when we got two steps of straight back up, we stopped.

Ruffian took a long time to lick and chew, he had gone internal and wasn't moving and barely blinking. But then he slowly but surely came out of it and really relaxed, started to yawn and lick and chew. It was great!

Then we played with some zone 4/5 driving just so that it would be balanced. So that Ruffian wouldn't think that backing up was the only think we did back there :) Like I suspected. Ruffian started to back up a couple steps so we persisted with it until he was able to walk straight, confidently and then stop and stand still.

We ended after that and then just hung out for a bit. It was a nice way to end the session.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Prince: Sideways at a trot

January 18 2011

As I said in my last post: Twosox: Getting the mind engaged having the success with Twosox and sideways at a trot got me thinking about what I could be doing differently that would cause Prince to not be getting it. So when I was thinking about what I would do with Prince in our session my plan was to see where Prince was at in regards to trotting sideways and then we could go from there. 

Prince was some energy that he wanted to use so we did the Falling Leaf pattern at the trot and canter with circles when we got to each end of the riding ring, the circles we did at the canter on a 12ft line! Those went well so then we went into the sideways at a trot. I sent Prince in a half circle over to the fence at a trot. We started to his easier side and to my complete surprise Prince maintained gait when he got to the fence and we went sideways at a trot for about 30ft! I was very shocked! Prince was on a bit of an angle but I could tell that he was actually going sideways and not just trotting forward. After a long rest we went in the other direction. 

I wasn't sure how it was going to go but I was prepared to reward the slightest try, which is hard for me, especially with Prince. I expect a lot and can accept a little but when it comes to rewarding often I tend to not reward often enough. So off we went. Prince trotted the half circle and when he got about 2ft from the fence I started asking for the sideways. Not only did Prince go sideways but he maintained gait, which he hasn't done before while going sideways this way at a trot, and he trotted sideways about 15ft!! It was actually even better than the sideways we got going the other way! 

Needless to say Prince got a long rest and we ended right then and there. When I took Prince's halter off he stayed right beside me and followed me everywhere. Even when I stopped just outside the riding ring to pick up my 22ft line Prince stopped with me and we walked down the hill together back to the corral. 

It was definitely a great play session and I learned a lot :) 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Twosox: Getting the mind engaged.

January 18 2011

Today I played with Twosox first. He came over to me first when I got to the corral and followed me around everywhere so I figured he probably wanted to be played with ;) He was being fairly mouthy and wanting to bite everything so I knew right from the start that I would have to get his mind engaged right away or else our playtime would not start on a good note and would probably be a very challenging session.

So we started with sideways which then led into sideways at a trot. Twosox caught on right away and we got some really nice sideways at a trot. It was incredible! Afterward I had to ask myself the question, was there anything different in me today that would have cause Twosox to get it so quickly and easily when it was so hard for Prince to get it just the other day? I boiled it down to the fact that with Twosox I rewarded the slightest try but with Prince I was being to critical in trying to just be particular. Hmmmm..... How interesting... 

After that we did some Touch it from different zones and then I asked Twosox to jump a single barrel which he did from a stand still :) Then we played with Mounting by the neck!! At first Twosox wasn't sure what I wanted, he would lower his head and keep it low while I bounced up and down but when I jumped up onto his neck he lowered it instead of raising it... can't blame him though ;) That seems to be a common issue when you first teach a horse this task. To make things a bit easier I decided to use the pedestal to help. That way I could help Twosox more and be in a little bit more of an athletic position. This made a big difference as I was able to put myself a little bit higher up on his neck and so he made it easier for Twosox. 

After some approach and retreat Twosox would let me jump on his neck (softly of course) and he would keep it still. So it was a big step and so then I played with teaching him to lift his head when I smooched. This went well and even though he didn't catch on right away he got the general idea towards the end because we were able to put it together and I was able to ask him to lower his head, I would jump up on it, smooch, and Twosox would raise his head, while keeping his head still :) So I decided to end there for the day and try it again next day. 

Twosox had a huge lick and chew and was yawning and yawning. It was great to see. When I let him go he stayed with me so we hung out for a bit and then Prince came over to me and I haltered him and we played :) 


Monday, January 17, 2011

Respect at feeding time

Well as I mentioned in a previous post I was thinking about changing the way I feed the horses. I was thinking about not letting them come in to the manger until I gave them permission. Well I tried it and it has been going so well!!

Seeing as I feed the horses three times a day they have learned the pattern very well. I will go get a square bale, either put it in or leave it just outside the manger, send the horses to the other side of one of the cedar trees and then get the hay all set up right, take some over to the shelter for Twosox etc etc.

The first couple times one or two of the horses would try and come past the line but I would just send them back out. Once everything is ready I will go and bring each horse in one at a time. At first Twosox and Knightly would try to come pass my invisible line (from the cedar tree to the fence) but now all four will wait patiently until I am ready and then one at a time I will bring them in. When one horse leaves the other horses will come up and wait for their turn.

It is really interesting because Ruffian has never liked being led by the chin, unless we had a really great session and he was mentally connected but if I was to just ask him to move off of that feel while we were in the corral he would toss his head up and struggle before coming off of it. But now that I have made it that that is the only way to get to the hay... well (1) it has a purpose and (2) when he is hungry in the morning he wants to get to that hay. It was worked amazingly well and now, after only two days, he will come nicely and follow the feel with out any resistance!! I always make sure though to rub him and such before I ask though.

It has been really interesting to see how it all has worked out and Prince will now see me coming with the hay and he will head over to the tree because he knows what happens before what happens happens ;)

Also I don't even have to move from the manger to send the horses. I just point and they move past the tree and stay there until I bring them in. It take extra time but it is worth it in the long run. Plus on days like today, when it is -32 Celsius (-25 Fahrenheit) and I don't really want to spend a whole lot of time outside, I still get to interact with the horses :)


Prince: Learning curve...

January 14 2011

Prince and I had one of those sessions that you know you will come away at the end of the day having learned something...
Our focus point was sideways at a trot... one of those things that I kind of avoid like some people avoid the porcupine game ;) Oh well that is not entirely true. Part of the reason Prince and I had not played with it in a while is because (1) It was been to icy and (2) it is even more challenging because of the way our riding ring fences are and how small the riding ring is. Today though I wanted to play with it because I know that once we get it, it will be a lot of fun and our relationship will be just that much better!

So off we went. We did not start with it though. We started with Figure eight and circles but quickly found out that it was to icy yet for circles. Figure eights we could do though. They were good. At first I had to make sure that I kept it mentally interesting for Prince and kept him engaged. Once I got that it went really well and we got two nice Figure eights at the trot with rhythm, relaxation and connection while I kept my feet still!!

One thing that was playing through my head as we were doing the Figure eights was to give Prince the responsibility and then if he doesn't withhold it, help him but make sure not to take it from him. Do not micromanage!!!

After that we did Sideways. I made sure that we could do sideways at a walk from different distance, that went well so off we went. It was hard. Prince either did not get it or he wasn't going to do it. I tried different strategies and none of them really helped so we ended on a better note after quite a while.

Prince will trot to the fence on a half circle and then I can push him sideways-ish along the fence but I am not convinced he is going sideways because as soon as he gets right to the fence he will break gait and when he is trotting I think his hindquarters are lagging to much for it to actually be sideways... but it may just be that I am being to particular but I am not sure. So I went in and had a lot to think about.

After having quite a while to think about it all, I think that the reason that Prince isn't trotting sideways is because he doesn't understand what I want. When I think back over the things that have been hard for us to do and what I had to do to help Prince succeed, it has been a lack of understanding that has been the root of the problem. Once I slow down and really made sure that Prince knows what to do, he will do it and it will be a million times easier. So that is what I am going to try the next time we play.

I also did some research and got some strategies that I am going to try next time also!!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ruffian: Touch it, circles and more

January 12 2011

This morning I played with Ruffian. It is still very icy in the riding ring so we couldn't play there, unfortunately. So I decided to play in the corral and eventually go out onto the front yard and play there then end up over by the garage and give Ruffian his supplements then play our way over to the corral again. 
Everything went according to plan as we started in the corral with playing with the pedestals. Then we did circles with walk/trot transitions and changes of directions. I was very careful this time though to make sure that I didn't do to many changes of directions and because at this point if I do to many Ruffian will get worried and feel really pressured. So we would do one and then do some transitions and more circles and then do another one and keep it fairly consistent. That seemed to work really well and Ruffian stayed left brain and confident through out the whole thing. 

Then we did some Touch it. Ruffian seemed really introverted so we did that until he relaxed and started releasing some tension. Then we went and played with backing through the gate. At first Ruffian wanted to rush back just to get to the other side so we kept going in and out in and out until he stopped making assumptions and started asking questions. 

After that we did some Falling leaf, sideways, hindquarter disengagements, and yo-yo's then by the time we had done all that we were over by the garage and Ruffian and I went in through the little door to get the grain pan. I have been playing recently with getting the horses used to being in the garage with the big door closed. Just another trailer simulation!! Ruffian was actually really relaxed. Twosox doesn't like it and isn't confident so we have been playing with it a lot. 

We went back outside so Ruffian could eat his supplements and then we moseyed over to the corral where I un-haltered him. He stayed with me though and so I rubbed him and hung out for a bit before going inside.

We are doing some renovations in our living room so my assistance was needed in there :) 


Twosox: I think it is a pattern now...

January 10-11 2011
I think Twosox knows the pattern now that I will come and get him, take him out to the garage, wipe his eye, give him his supplements, play a bit and then we will go back to the corral. I even did it almost at Liberty one day. I just had my savvy string and really didn't feel like going all the way back to the garage to get my halter so I just looped it around his neck and out we went. He did really well and we were did everything like that.

Today we did a little extra and we played with our yo-yo's, porcupine back-ups and sideways. Then we went back into the corral. He is also learning the pattern of when I come to give them hay he will wait until I call him and then he will come with me or meet me at the shelter and go in and eat. Knightly will do the same and I am contemplating the idea of making them all wait until I have gotten the bale of hay in the manger and Twosox's over to his spot. 

Even though Prince and Ruffian are not being dominate when they come in to the manger if I make them all wait and then give them my permission to come in and eat it would be more of me allowing it and not letting them come in... just something I have been thinking about recently. I don't think it would hurt in any way so it could only help :) 


Prince: LBI gone RBE

January 11 2011

Prince and I definitely had an interesting but very fun (for myself) play time today. Mom and I decided to take Prince and Knightly for a walk down the old rail road track, where we normally trail ride. Since it was so cold though we just decided to do it Online. We were also hoping that a snowmobile or two would go by just so that we could see how the horses would respond. That when if we are trail riding down that way and one does go by, we will have a better idea of how they will respond.

So off we went. I decided to make it a bit more interesting and do it from zone 5 with two lines. Prince and I haven't had a chance to do a whole lot of that lately so I thought it would be really fun. Plus it would test Prince's confidence in me as a leader to go through tight spaces and etc, where Prince would have to go first.

At first everything went well. We walked up through town with no issues. Prince was confident and curious. We hit one threshold when we had to go between two buildings and the snow was melting and dripping off the rooves so Prince really wasn't sure about that so we just did some approach and retreat and soon he was able to walk through it with no problem.

Then we took a short rest in the parking lot behind the buildings before we walked up a hill and onto the old rail road track. After we had gone up the hill and were walking along the road I heard this sound that sounded like some snowmobiles! Great I thought! Here is our chance to test it out! But as we continued walking along we soon found out that the noise was neither coming towards us or going away. There was a slight hill in the road so we couldn't see what it was until we got closer and then I saw it.... it was one of those cherry-picker type trucks that was cutting trees down from the side of the road. Prince was a little bit concerned to say the least. So we just waited and waited and didn't go any farther until he was more calm.

We were able to get about 250ft away from it but there we came across a big threshold and I decided to not proceed any farther from zone 5. I knew that it wouldn't be the savvy thing to do considering the state of mind in which Prince was. It was a good thing that I untied my reins when I did because Prince was right brain and needed to move his feet. So we did some squeeze games, sideways and yo-yo's until he was more relaxed, still not totally left brain again but he was at least paying more attention to me.

Then just as things where getting better a big propane truck turned down the road... I have to say, in that moment I didn't think "Oh boy" or "How interesting" but "Great" with a bit of sarcasm there ;)

I quickly changed my thoughts and my frame of mind and got REALLY focused. I knew that in that moment Prince needed me to be an even stronger leader and I had to be mentally, emotionally and physically collected and focused. We moved onto a side driveway just so that I would have a bit more room to play and we did sideways, walk and trot, and then I backed Prince all the way out to the end of the 45ft line. That gave me a task and goal and that in turn focused me and focused Prince. He had a big lick and chew over that and then we carried on. He was much more relaxed, even though he wasn't totally calm yet, and I think a major part of that was because I was way more focused. At first everything was distracting both Prince and I but from that moment on I knew I had to stay focused and be the leader.

We were able to walk a little closer to the truck and just as Prince was about to relax and really let go of a lot of adrenaline one of the workers from the truck, all dressed in orange, helmet and all (you couldn't even see his face) came walking towards us. The look on Prince's face was like "Oh no not again. Now here comes a big orange monster" I don't blame him. The guys did look scary.

Prince and I immediately walked away and I let Mom and Knightly, who was way calmer through out the whole situation, deal with that. The guys just wanted to know if we wanted by... hehe of course he didn't know but I think the horses would have literally left the planet if we had to gone by that truck!! We said no and that we were just getting them used to the noise and such.

After that I though that things would probably get better as they were already and Prince was way more left brain. But then three four wheelers when by... Prince didn't really get to bothered by them until they started waving... he spooked a little at that but it wasn't a big deal. Also along the course of our outing two trucks and a van went by.... of course we had to pick the busiest day to come out ;)

We left for home when the horses, especially Prince, were calm and left brain again. The interesting thing through out the whole experience was that (1) even though Prince was RB he was still listening to me and not running me over and (2) I learned how much energy I have to get in Prince so that when I smooch to ask for a trot while going sideways, Prince will pick up a sideways at a trot ;) Okay so maybe not that much energy but it was still really interesting!!

All in all it was a very interesting session and we learned a lot!! I can laugh at it now but while going through it, especially the first part, it wasn't a laughing matter. Hopefully next time we go that way it will be quieter :)


Monday, January 10, 2011

I am at a loss for words...

Needless to say... I am extremely happy... beyond words.... very shocked. I never in my wildest dreams expected that high of a score! I got a Level 3++, making me an official Level 3 graduate!!!!

2010 Video highlights

Here is a short video of highlights from 2010. It was a really great year for Prince and I!!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ruffian: Watching cars...

January 8 2011

Ruffian and I had a really interesting playtime today. We walked up our road and just watched the cars go by. At first we met two thresholds on the way up but once we got past those we didn't come across any others. Ruffian at first wasn't to sure about the vehicles, especially because it was slushy and they were making a lot of noise. So we just stood there and it was good though because the road turns so the vehicles would come towards us and then go away... approach and retreat!!

After about 5 or 6 cars it didn't bother Ruffian as much and after every one went by he look at me and lick and chew. I want to continue getting Ruffian more confident with different things. After that we went to the garage and I want to give Ruffian his supplements. First we played friendly game with the garage door. Then once he wasn't scared of it opening I opened it all the way and we went in. Ruffian isn't really bothered being in there but he had never been around when I opened the door before so it was a new experience for him.

Of all the horses I think Ruffian is the one that is bothered the most by things like this just because he isn't brought out enough to experience them... but that is totally my fault because I am the one who isn't bringing him out enough :) So it is my personal mission/goal to get him more used to and confident with potentially scary things. It should be fun!


Prince: Doing some small things after trimming.

January 7 2011

After I trimmed Prince this morning we played a little bit on the front yard. We did some sideways and yo-yo's on the 12ft line, which were really light and Prince was amazing. Then we backed all the way from the garage, across the front yard and to the corral gate by the tail, which included making turns because it isn't a straight line. Prince did really well and put a lot of effort into it even with out me asking! By the end we got our turns really light and even though they still need some work and time to improve, I was really happy with them!

It is always fun doing these little things when I trim. It gets the horses into a good frame of mind and it gives us a chance to test things that we don't do a whole lot, plus it also puts a purpose to a lot of the things we do on a regular basic :)


Prince: Lightness, speed and distance on the back up.

January 6 2011

Prince and I also played with yo-yo's and back-up's. Prince backed up to the end of the 45ft line and it was a lot better than it used to be but after about 22ft he would loose speed. So we played with backing up farther than 22ft and maintaining the same lightness and speed. We started with porcupine game backing up by the nose. Prince did well with the lightness, speed and distance but he wouldn't go straight. So we had to play with that once that was going well we did yo-yo's to the end of the 22ft line and then I would start walking forward and ask Prince to continue backing up. 

This helped a lot and things were going well. Prince was keeping the speed up and stilling being light and responsive. Then I noticed though that he was still going crooked just a little bit and he couldn't give me two eyes all the time. I played around with different things and found that it was because I had just a little tiny bit to much energy and so Prince would just slightly tip his head to one side and then after a while he would go crooked, because he wasn't looking at me with two eyes. 

After that we got extremely straight yo-yo's, with lightness, speed and distance!! We then put it to a purpose and backed all the way to the gate and Prince was superb! He was straight, light and totally attentive, and also asking loads of questions!! 

We ended with backing down the path and then from 22ft away I asked Prince to turn his forequarters and touch the latch on the gate, which he did and got it on the first try :) One thing I had to particular about was at one point I had to ask Prince to turn and back with me in zone 2/3 but he thought he still had to keep two eyes on me so I just had to make sure I was really clear in what I wanted an to make sure that Prince knew that he could back up with out giving me two eyes, but when it was my idea :) 

Prince stayed with me even after I unhaltered him and so I scratched him and we hung out for a while before I had to go in and get ready for work. 


Twosox: Yo-yo's!

January 6 2011

After I had cleaned out Twosox 's eye I decided to play with him a little on the front yard. We started with zone 5 driving with one line zone. Twosox was a lot better than last day and he was able to walk, stop, and back up confidently and not have to turn and face me. Then I put the 45ft line on and we played with Yo-yo's. That is pretty much all we can do because everywhere else is ice, except the path for the hay truck so we played up and down that and it really opened my eyes to just how much Twosox's doesn't want to back up. 

We played with that for a long while until Twosox was able to back up about 20ft with lightness and a little bit of speed. Then we ended there. So I know exactly what we are going to be playing with next time!! Yo-yo's! 


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Twosox: Playing doctor...

January 04 2011

For the last couple days I have been playing doctor for Twosox, who we believe has an eye infection. So we really haven't been doing a whole lot other than going from the corral to the garage to clean his eye out and also to give him his supplements (salt, Hoffman's minerals, sunflower seeds etc). He seems to be doing much better. He is able to open his eye completely now, unlike last week where he could barely open it half way. Plus it seems to be cleansing it's self well and it is looking a million times better.
It has been good though to have a reason to get out with him every day! All in all he is doing much better and I am very happy, and relieved!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Prince: Lightness, speed and distance on the circle...

January 4 2010

Prince came over to me after I had unhaltered Ruffian so I haltered him and then I decided to start by playing with and around the log. We stared by doing some yo-yo's, looking for lightness, speed and distance. Then we did sideways in zone 1 from 22ft away. At first Prince was being a little slow and sluggish but then I asked him to trot to me and jump the big log then back up to it. This really got his attention, I don't think he was expecting it ;) 

After that we did circles! I drove him from zone 5 over to a clear area and then sent Prince off on the circle from zone 5. It was an different way to send him but he figured it out right away. Once I saw that he had the rhythm, relaxation and connection at the trot on the circle we played with some changes of directions. At first they were really rusty so we had to play with them and get them lighter and more snappy. Our drive was good but our draw was what we were having issues with today. So we did quite a few of those until Prince got lighter and until over all the change of direction got better.  

Then we played with getting rhythm, relaxation and connection at the canter on the 22ft line circling. We haven't played a lot with this recently because of all the ice and such so it was nice to be able to play with it again. Prince did really well and even though he had a hard time at first getting the rhythm he was able to find it and in the end he cantered very nicely with rhythm, relaxation and connection! Pretty much the whole time he kept the slack in the rope which was really nice to see! 

Going to the left was a little bit harder but that was no surprise because that is Prince's harder side. We just kept with it until he was able to get the correct lead and maintain gait while also keeping the slack in the rope. He tried really hard and pretty soon he got it nicely.

After that we took a little break and then went and played with some more yo-yo's, sideways, and then I just wanted to do a little bit more with our changes of directions because where we left them it was good but I didn't have a really good idea of where we had left them because we went into playing with the canter. Prince was really light and we got some really nice changes of directions at the trot. They were 100% better than they were when we first started at the beginning of our session. 

We ended there and Prince stuck with me for a long time even after I let him go. He actually took a little nap and then all of us, mom, myself and all four horses, went home :) 


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ruffian: Having fun with circles!

January 4 2010

This morning the horses weren't in so Mom and I went out to find them and to play. Since we had a couple really warm days there is a lot ice so that made things extra interesting. We couldn't play or ride in the riding ring because it was almost complete ice so we decided to stay in the turn around and play there. The horses were playing when we got there but they came over to us when they saw us. Ruffian really wanted to be played with and we got a really nice draw at the trot all the way from the other end of the turn around! So I haltered him and we set off. 
We were doing some really nice Falling Leaf but then Ruffian suddenly stopped, there was a ice everywhere under the snow. So we headed back to where it was better and we did some circles. They were going fairly well so we did some changes of directions. Just as I was thinking that I had to be careful not to do to many changes of directions because they get his adrenaline up and then Ruffian gets worried and might take off... well just as I was thinking that Ruffian took off. 

After I got him back, which wasn't hard because he just went to the other horses and then came back to me when I asked him too, we went over and played with the big log. We did Changes of directions there except I would ask Ruffian to jump the log every time. That way he had to think about it and not get so worried. 

This worked really well and Ruffian stayed relaxed and connected. They got really good at the end and so we stopped. Then we went out and played with some zone 3 driving/touch it. Ruffian wasn't totally confident with me being in zone 3 while we were walking to different places but after we did some Touch it he gained his confidence back fairly quickly. 

One thing we needed to play with though was when ever Ruffian was trying to avoid some ice he would come into my space. So I had to get firm and make sure that he wasn't coming into my space. Once he got that though he ended. The last thing I wanted was to have Ruffian think that the best place to go when gets worried is into my personal space :)

Ruffian was really relaxed when we ended and he was also motivated and obedient! It was great! It was nice to get out and play in a different place also :)


Monday, January 3, 2011

Prince: Liberty and Bridleless

December 30 2010

Today we some friends of my parents came over and they wanted to see a little bit of what we were doing with the horses so Prince and I played at Liberty in the riding ring and then I got up and rode bareback and bridleless. 
While we played at Liberty we did Stick to me at the walk/trot/canter/ and back up, Touch it from about 15ft away, sideways over some barrel from zone one at about 20ft away from me, and (to my surprise) we jumped a single barrel from a stand still and Prince cleared it!!! I was really surprised that (1) he jumped it because just recently (over the last couple months) got it good Online and to the point where Prince won't try to go around it (2) that Prince cleared the barrel. Normally from a stand still he will knock it with his back legs, we have been playing with getting more effort and it is coming along but I didn't expect at Liberty yet :) So needless to say, I was happy :) We ended with a draw at a trot for a good 50ft or so then I mounted up. 

Since I hadn't ridden Prince in almost a week we started off with some hindquarter disengagements and forequarter yields. Prince was superb and we got some really nice forequarter pivots with Prince responding just to my body, no leg!!! It was really cool!! 

Then we did some sideways, back-up's and Follow the rail with walk/trot/halt/back-up transitions. Prince did so well and everything felt so smooth!! We also walked over to the pedestal and I asked Prince to put all four feet on it and then I stood on him and swung my carrot stick and savvy string around. 

So we didn't do a whole lot but I was still really pleased with how well Prince did, especially while we were riding. He responded so well!! It was really incredible! 

Then my youngest brother got up with me and we rode around for a short while. He loves to ride! This was his second bridleless ride too :) I had him focusing with me where we were going and dropping his energy when we were stopping. It was fun :) Then we got off and Prince and I spent some undemanding time together for a while before we went back down to the corral. 
So considering I was not even planning on playing with any horse today because we had company over, I was very happy to be able to play :) And to have such a great session was just a bonus :)

Prince: Reviewing circles...

December 28 2010

Today my plan was to review our circles. We haven't really focused on our circles for a couple sessions because we have been focusing on Figure eights. So we set out for 30 laps at the trot in each direction. We haven't done this in a long time so I wasn't sure how it was going to go but Prince did really well and going to the right he didn't need any corrections. While going to the left it was two but that was only because both times the rope got caught on a ball of snow (with it being so cold lately the snow is kind of weird and the rope was catching on it) and Prince turned and faced me. But that was okay. At least he was being sensitive!! The whole time Prince had rhythm, relaxation and connection. It was amazing!

I did however get a little bit bored while he was circling to the left. Prince found a good rhythm alright but it was a slooooooooooow trot. That is my LBI for you ;) I timed it and it took 10 minutes for him to trot 30 laps to the left... so I kept myself interested enough by every time Prince circled a complete lap I would try and think of what that number reminded me of. So that helped ;)

Then after a little rest we did Figure eights. Prince was so engaged! He almost cantered a complete figure eight! It was really cool! We ended though when he trotted a couple nice Figure eights and maintained gait through out the whole Figure eight.

Then we took a nice long rest and then went down to the riding ring. It was a shorter session but still really fun!


Ruffian: Progressing!

December 28 2010

Ruffian and I had a really good session. This just keep getting better and better!

Our Figure eights were great. Ruffian maintained the rhythm, relaxation and connection the whole time. It really was amazing. He was spectacular! We also did some circles and again Ruffian, even though playful, was connected and we got some really nice circles and changes of direction.

We also played around with jumping the single barrel. Ruffian jumped it from a stand still on the first try. He put a lot of effort into it and literally jumped at least 1ft higher than necessary. I love playing with this horse! :)
I am really enjoying that fact that Ruffian is more playful now and less introverted! It is something I never want to take for granted :)


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Twosox: Connection... in a different way.

December 28 2010

Just after I haltered Twosox this morning and as we were heading up towards the riding ring I had a BFO that I don't find it easy to connect with Twosox. Maybe because he is a more challenging horse so I find it hard to really connect but for what ever reason I just have a really hard time finding what makes him tick and what motivates him? 
One thing that I haven't tried really is using treats to motivate him. I know that Twosox is more confident more now but I have never really viewed him as a LBI so I haven't really used that as a strategy. So today I decided to try that and also to just play around and see if I could find how to get into Twosox's mind. 

We started out by doing some circles. I asked Twosox to trot 4 laps in both directions, which he did very well so then we played with Changes of directions. At first Twosox would do an okay change of direction but he was only responding when he felt the rope and so he wasn't really listening to my body. Then when he did change direction he would take off and we would loose connection. So we played with them until he was more connected to me and he was able to maintain gait, which was the trot, through out the whole change of direction. 

I think doing these first really helped because it got both Twosox and I into a good frame of mind and I was able to have a pretty good idea of where Twosox was mentally. Also using treats at a reward seemed to make a positive difference in Twosox. 

Up next were Figure eights! These went a lot better than the last time we did them. We used the same type of pattern that I am using with the other horses, using circles and Figure eights to keep things interesting and different. Twosox did really well and we ended when we got one really nice figure eight at the trot with rhythm, relaxation and connection. 

We also did some sideways, Touch it and some other smaller, but fun, things. One thing we did was I asked Twosox to jump a single barrel that was lying down in the middle of the riding ring. Twosox did it on the first try which was really cool because we haven't done that in a long time and never when the barrel was away from the fence. 

We ended after that. It was a great session. I am still processing it all and trying to figure out how this session will effect our next session and all but I am really happy with how well this play time went. 


Prince: Motivation!

December 27 2010

Prince and I had a short but very fun session today. I really felt that when we were doing Figure eights he was motivated and I had his mind completely engaged. It was amazing. 
We started out with some Falling Leaf and Backwards "S" which Prince did really well. We had to play a little bit with him not making assumptions about when I wanted him to turn and such but he did well and maintained gait really well. 

Then we went and did Figure eights. The pattern today was one circle, one Figure eight, one circle two Figure eights, one circle, one Figure eight, etc etc. I knew that if I didn't switch up the pattern some how Prince would loose interest but doing this pattern did the trick and Prince was complete in tune with me. As he was coming around each barrel he would ask a question and then I would either ask him to do the Figure eight or if I stayed in neutral he knew to keep circling. It was really incredible! Prince did so well with maintained the rhythm, relaxation and connection when I asked for two Figure eights. It was really, really, nice! 

We ended with the Figure eights and I brought Prince in for a rest. Then I un-haltered Prince but he stayed with me for a while then we both walked down to the corral together.