Sunday, February 27, 2011

Twosox: Lots of new experiences...

February 21 2011

Twosox and I went on a trail ride with Mom and Knightly today. We definitely had lots of new experiences. A couple were, riding across the bridge (the water was running really quickly today also... very noisy!!), riding through town, having a minor spook at a truck that came over the hill way to quickly (I thought one was supposed to go 50km/h in towns??), riding past the skating rink, crossing the road, up and down hills, and riding past man holes (we past three in total, the first two Twosox shied away from but the last one he stopped and sniffed it!! Touch down!! 

All in all it was great. I wasn't sure how everything would go considering we only played on the front yard because the riding ring is very icy. But Twosox was a champ and was really relaxed, excluding the one spook with the truck :) One thing that I noticed with out mistake was the fact that Twosox drags himself up hills. It is a huge difference compared to Prince who pushes himself with his hindquarters up hills. So I know what we need to play with come spring and summer!! (1) Hill Therapy and (2) well I shall leave you in suspense for that one ;) More to come in a later post, can't get to far a head of myself here :) 

I dismounted and walked Twosox home because we went to see a friend of my Mom's so I was already off so I decided just to walk him home. It was so much fun! I couldn't get over how relaxed Twosox was! He seems to really love being out on the trail! Maybe I have stumbled across the key to what motivates Twosox?!? Maybe... just maybe :)


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Prince: Figure eights, circles and more.

February 15 2011
Prince and I mainly did Figure eights and circles this afternoon while we played. Figure eights Online and Circles Freestyle. 

We started though with bridling. On the first try Prince took the bit into his mouth like he had been doing it all his life!!! It was amazing! Again he wasn't sure whether to lick the honey off or try to get the bit out but he chose to get the honey off so after a couple seconds I guided the bit out. We are doing lots of approach and retreat!! The second time I guided the bit into Prince's mouth and Prince licked it for a couple second and then his mouth went quiet and still. So I took it out :) And that was where we ended. I was so proud of Prince!!! It was so easy and hopefully will just keep getting better and better!! 
With Figure eights the challenge was for Prince to maintain gait around the ends. We haven't done Figure eights in a while so Prince needed a little bit of reminding as to what I expected. Then after that was going well we did Figure eights at the canter. Or at least we played with it. Prince cantered around the left barrel (to my surprise, as that is his hard side) really well but would break gait when he got to the middle, where he would over had to do a flying lead change if he had of maintained gait. But that was okay because we were so close to getting it!!! I am definitely going to continue playing with it and hopefully Prince will just continue getting better. 

What I am going to try next session is to do simple lead changes, dropping to the trot in the middle, and then picking up the canter again while going around the ends. This way once Prince gets that solid then the flying lead change with come eventually, no rush though :) 

After that I mounted and rode! I set two barrels up. One at each end because I wasn't sure where I wanted to ride the circles. I started at the one end but didn't like the footing and the fences so I switched to the other side. Even though it was challenging because of the size of the riding ring and all Prince and I still had success and we were able to  get some good results. 

We had to finish early because I had an appointment with my Mom, brother and sister. But that was okay. Prince did well and we ended on a good note and hopefully we shall be able to pick up again next session. 


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Twosox: Figure eights and circles!

February 15 2011

I was going to play with Prince after Ruffian but when I opened the gate to let Ruffian out, Twosox came in. So I played with him. We played Online and did Figure eights around two barrels while I stood on the pedestal. These went fairly well but Twosox would loose the connection while going around the barrels. So we played with this until he was able to keep the rhythm and connection at the walk. 
Then I asked Twosox to trot through the middle and walk around the ends. Since we were just on the 12ft line there wasn't enough room to trot a good Figure eight so we just ended when Twosox was able to maintain the rhythm, relaxation and connection through out the pattern. 

After that I climbed up and we rode circles! At first they were supposed to be Figure eights but Twosox wasn't responding to my focus very well so I decided to ride circles to help that. They were small circles because Twosox was also a little bit impulsive. Towards the end Twosox did really well and I didn't have to make nearly as many corrections. So we ended there. We hung out at the barrel for a while before I got off and let Twosox go. 

Just after I took the halter off Twosox started yawning a lot! Which is something (I just noticed recently) that he never really does a lot of either with the other horses or with me. So it was great to see him actually relaxed!! 


Friday, February 18, 2011

Ruffian: Confidence at last!

February 15 2011

Ruffian and I had a great session this morning. It was amazing to see how confident Ruffian was but at the same time it was challenging for me to be able to keep it interesting enough for him while not putting to much pressure on him and sending him unconfident again. 

We started out with some Touch it and then circles on the 12ft line. Ruffian kept breaking gait. So I decided to handle it as a lack of confidence/ misunderstanding issue by resending him gently and then going back to neutral. That didn't really make a difference so I decided to see if it was a lack of interest/ boredom. So I picked up the pace and we did some changes of direction and falling leaf which really worked well. Ruffian started maintaining gait and he came alive. 

Since we had done the falling leaf pattern over to the other side of the riding ring we then did some circles there and I set it up so that a single barrel would be in the way. Ruffian jumped it confidently each time, which was about 3 times each direction. Then I brought him in and let him lick and chew over what we had just done. 

Ruffian was looking really rideable so we went over to the fence and played with mounting then we did some Follow the rail along with direct and indirect rein. Ruffian lateral flexions are amazing so we didn't have to spend long with those. We were able to do Follow the rail at the walk for about 3/4 of the way around the riding ring, which for Ruffian was really great!! 

The whole ride Ruffian was confident and the best part was that he didn't try laying down on me ;) That was a big bonus :)


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Prince: Online

February 14 2011
Prince and I were able to play Online today and focus on some things that we hadn't played with in a couple days because we had been playing at Liberty mainly for the last couple sessions.

First we started with bridling at Liberty though. Prince did so well and he took the bit in his mouth first try. He tossed his head a little bit but then he wasn't sure if he should toss his head or keep his mouth closed and try to get the honey off the bit. The look on his face was priceless!! We did that a couple times and then ended with me letting Prince lick the remaining honey off the bit with out it in his mouth. Bridling is progressing a long so well!! 

So we played with close range circles, changes of direction, backing up by the tail, sideways at a trot, traveling circles close range at a trot, and zone 5 driving with one rein with turns, transitions and jumping, 

Everything went well. Prince was light and responded well. While we were doing sideways at a trot Prince did really really well on the left side, his hard side, but on the right he had a little bit of trouble. Not much, just some little things I wanted to play with. Once we did that we did zone 5 driving. Prince wanted to come off of the rail a couple times so I took it, while still walking a long the rail and asked him to do a full turn and keep on going. 

The barrels were set up a long the rail so we jumped them and carried on. Once Prince started maintaining direction better and not coming off of the rail when I didn't ask for it we stopped and then I rode!

Our ride was good. I rode with the bareback pad on which was nice. We started with Follow the rail and played with trotting departures. Prince did well and towards the end we were getting them at a phase 1! They weren't perfect but they are getting better. Up next was circles. Prince had gotten less responsive to suggestions with my body so I wanted to do circles to help improve that. 

The hard part is that our riding ring is so small that there isn't hardly any room to do circles unless they are small, and Prince being a LBI it makes it harder. He tries really hard and will maintain the trot well and all but I can tell that it really isn't that interesting trotting such small circles. 

But we had something to play with today because he had to figure out the puzzle, how to keep my in neutral. It took a while for me to get a good clear circle in my head but once I got it things seemed to go pretty quickly. I had to make loads of corrections at first but we persisted with it and pretty soon we got a nice circle with only one or two small corrections so we ended there. 

Over all it was a great session. There are some things that we need to continue playing with but it was fun for both of us and I can tell that we are both making a lot of progress. 

Prince: Freestyle circles

February 11 2011

Today I trimmed Prince but before we started I rode Prince bareback and with one rein in the corral. We did some sideways, direct and indirect rein, and then we played with circles. This was interesting as we haven't ridden circles in a while. At first we started by going around the tree but it was hard to get a good circle because of the other tree that was in the way. So we had to do really small circles.
Then we moved over to the other side of the corral and were able to do a little bit bigger circles. We stayed at the walk and at the end, once I gained a really strong focus and could envision the circle better we had success.

After that we rode over to the gate and opened and closed that. It was a bit challenging because of the snow and it is a big green gate but Prince did well and we got it done in the end. Then we just hung out for a bit in the sun before heading over to the drive way to trim!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Prince: Bridling and Liberty!

February 7 2011

Prince came into the riding ring after I let Twosox out after our session. We played at Liberty for a while. We did Stick to me at the walk, trot, back up and canter. Then we went over to the barrels that were set up as a jump by the fence and my Mom asked me to try asking Prince to jump the barrels, turn face me, jump them again and repeat the process a couple times, and with speed! So we did that about 5-6 times, where Prince jumped the barrels, turned, jumped them again etc etc then we ended with me changing it up and asking Prince to straddle it, which he did perfectly!! It was a lot of fun and the look on Prince's face at the end was priceless! 
Then we came sideways towards me off the barrels and then took a short break before I asked Prince to go sideways over the barrels while I stood about 20ft away. At first he was trying everything when I just wanted him to line up in front of me and wait and then go sideways. So we played with that until Prince figured out that I didn't want him to do anything yet. 

Once Prince stood still I then asked him to go sideways and he was so light. I just lifted up my energy and focused straight over Prince to the other side of the barrels and Prince sent sideways perfectly right over the barrels. 

While Mom and Knightly played for a while before we started playing together at Liberty Prince and I went over and played with bridling. Prince knew exactly what it was and was reaching for the bit while I held it like I would bridle him. Through out the process I was able to guide the bit into Prince's mouth three times. The second time he tossed his head a little but when it stopped and lowered it I took the bit out. The third time though he took it really nicely and then continued licking the honey off then his mouth went perfectly quiet and he was fine with it!! So I guided it out and then I just put some more honey on it and let him lick it all off and didn't put it in his mouth. He was amazing!! Prince has made such huge progress in the last couple sessions it is incredible!! 

When Mom and Knightly were ready we played at Liberty together again. We decided to send the horses in the other direction around the riding ring this time and we also set up two jumps in different places so we could judge whether they were staying to the outside of the riding ring or not, and also to keep it interesting for them. 

The horse kept wanting to change direction at first but once we got that figured out the horses cantered about 3 really nice laps except Prince kept missing the jump. So we played with that until Prince jumped it and didn't go around it. Towards the end though Prince was getting tired so we decided to let the horses trot instead of canter, seeing as they had already cantered some really nice laps. At one point Prince was cantering around, jumping, and doing everything beautifully but Knightly kept turning and facing Mom after he jumped the barrels so once we solved that everything went really well. 

The horses were pretty tired after all that but it went well all in all. They had the most beautiful expressions on their faces when they came in too!! It was fun! We ended after that because they were getting sweaty and we didn't want them to get a chill or anything. Plus they had done really well. 

When we were cleaning the corral this afternoon Prince was following me around everywhere and when I was in one spot for a while he would just stand beside me and fall asleep then when I moved, he moved to right beside me again. We must have had a good session :) 


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Twosox: Liberty

February 7 2011

Well I went out to play with Prince but Twosox was the first to come into the riding ring when I opened the gate (all three horses were standing just outside it while Mom was playing with Knightly) so I decided to play with him at Liberty.

We started with Stick to me along the rail. The snow is really deep in the riding ring except for along the edges where Mom shoveled a path so that made it easier. Then we played Touch it with barrels, pedestal, tires, etc.

Our draw has improved so much. It used to be our biggest issue at Liberty. Twosox was fine unless he left or we did things from a farther distance and then he wouldn't know what to do. So it has greatly improved over the last couple months and it is really effecting, in a positive way, our Liberty!!

We ended by hanging out on the pedestal and Twosox had a big lick and chew. It was great!! :)


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Twosox: Freestyle

February 4 2011

After I trimmed Twosox today I mounted up and we rode around on the front yard a little bit. We did some really basic tasks such as direct rein, indirect rein, one rein back-up's and stops and point to point. Twosox really wanted to walk up the road towards town so we went a little ways and then turned back and rode over to the gate where I got off and we finished there.

So not a whole lot but it was fun and warm!! The sun was out and it was beautiful out! Perfect for trimming and riding.


Ruffian: Waiting for that relaxation!

February 3 2011

Ruffian and I had a fantastic session today. We played up in the riding on the 12ft line. Since things were going well in the corral on the 12ft line and Ruffian was confident and connected I decided that we were ready to try it up in the riding ring. I took my 22ft line up just in case Ruffian needed a little extra room but we didn't need it.

We started with Touch it because after all the snow we got on Wednesday, it was actually only about a foot and a half so really not that much... we are used to more ;) but it was the most snow we have gotten this year at one time and everything looks so much more scary when there is a foot and a half of snow on it right? Well Ruffian thought so.

After he figured out that everything was the same we did some circles. Ruffian was connected and kept the slack in the rope almost the whole time. While going to the left he was super relaxed, he had found a really soft rhythm and he was so connected. So after 4 laps I asked him to come in.

While going to the right everything was going well until a lot of snow fell off of the fence and spooked Ruffian and so after that Ruffian wasn't not confident around that part of the riding ring. At first I wasn't to concerned about it and we continued playing. He didn't look really right brain or anything. We did continue doing circles until Ruffian stopped coming in on the circle a bit on that side.

Then we played with turning circles into sideways. This was fun and Ruffian caught on really quickly. When we ended Ruffian was able to trot on the circle and then I would walk over to the fence and then push him sideways. At first Ruffian would stop and then go sideways but at the end he had more "flow".

While we were doing some squeeze games at the one end of the riding ring that Ruffian wasn't 100% confident about being around I noticed that it was a bigger issue than what first caught my eye. Which I should have known because when Ruffian is scared or worried it never looks as bad as it really is, that what makes him so complex because he can go from being extroverted and playful to being really introverted.

So I decided to go back to circles and wait for the relaxation. It took about 12 circles until Ruffian started blowing and stretching, lowering his head and relaxing. Once he did that and I could tell that he was relaxed I brought him in and he was way more relaxed. He came in and his head was low, he was licking and chewing, and he was actually sweating!! So there must have been some emotional sweat in there because it was only 12 circles at a trot and even though it was warmer it wasn't that warm.

Then I took the halter off and we hung out at Liberty for a while before going down to the corral. Like Mr. Parelli says "Take the time it takes and it will take less time" If I didn't take the time today, it very well could have been 20 circles tomorrow... 30 the next day and it would have just gone on and on.

Ruffian teaches me so much! Principle #7!!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ruffian and Twosox: Friendly game with the bit and bridle and other stuff!

February 1 2011

I also had a chance to play with Ruffian and Twosox with the bit. They both figured out really quickly that there was honey on it and Ruffian, who has never had a bit in his mouth before, was so amazed by it! The look on his face was like he was thinking "Finally Keri has a toy that I can put in my mouth and I am allowed to chew!!" It was fun to be able to watch him explore it and play with it.

Twosox did well and lowered his head nicely and practically put his head in the bridle just to lick off the bit. It was great!!

Ruffian was in an extra playful mood so we played at Liberty for a while. I backed him into the shelter from about 15ft away then after a short rest asked him to come back to me. We did some stick to me, sideways, touch it and friendly game around the legs and tail. Ruffian was connected for the most part except once when he left but he came back and we continued playing.

When we were up in the riding ring Ruffian and Twosox came up and started playing. It was fascinating to watch because Twosox is really starting to show signs of wanting to play. So the two of them were playing really hard, rearing, striking, kicking, biting etc etc all the stuff that horses do when they play.

One thing that I noticed was that they were playing a lot around the chin and trying to bite around the bottom of the lip area. Now what was really interesting was their response, when Ruffian did it to Twosox, Twosox would throw his head up in the air... which is the exact same thing that Ruffian and Twosox did when I first started to teach them to lead by the chin... hmmmm..... how interesting! No wonder! It is a game that they play!! Fortunately they don't do it any more but it is still really interesting!

I always love watching horses play with each other. It is so entertaining and educational at the same time! The amount of persistence the boss horses have to have is incredible!


Prince: Bridling, Liberty and more!

February 1 2011
Prince and I had an incredible play session this afternoon. We started out with bridling at Liberty. We started by me just letting Prince lick the honey off the bit. He knew exactly what it was this time and didn't hesitate to get right in there and get it off. So since that went so well I decided to ask Prince to lower his head and I held the bridle like I was going to put it on. Prince didn't avoid it or hesitate at all when I held the bit for him to lick off the rest of the honey. He was actually taking the bit in his mouth part way all by himself. After we played with that for a while we ended on a really great note where Prince was actually reaching out for the bit and wanting it.

Then I haltered him and we went up the hill with me in zone 5. Prince wanted to walk really slow so I took it and asked him to walk even slower, which of course caused him to want to walk faster. I do so love reverse psychology!!

Once we got up to the riding ring we played with some different small things like backing up into an extreme friendly game with me in zone 5 (backing up also). On the first try Prince wasn't sure what he was supposed to do and turned and faced me so we just restarted and this time he got it. I put the rope between his legs so it was going right down the middle under him and that helped also. On the second try he got it and we backed up a couple feet with me doing an extreme friendly game. It was fun!

Then we did Sideways at a trot. Today I was a little bit more particular about Prince's hindquarters being over more. I still rewarded the slightest try but we kept with it until Prince was able to get his hindquarters over more. It was really nice to be able to advance it in a small way and both of us being able to keep our mental, emotional and physical collection ;)

After that we did some close range circles at the trot. Prince put so much effort into doing the circle and the belly of the rope was almost of the ground while he was circling me at about 3-4ft away! It was amazing!

Up next was Liberty!! Prince and I started out with Touch it. Then we moved onto circles. Prince did really well but we needed to play a little bit with maintaining gait. One interesting thing I have noticed recently is that Prince will pin his ears when we are doing close range things at higher gaits i.e. stick to me at the canter and sideways and circles at the trot. It is really interesting because we haven't had to deal with that a whole lot because Prince doesn't normally pin his ears a lot. I know of a couple main strategies to play with to help that though so I am prepared.

Our circles were really good by the end of the session. Prince was connected and maintaining gait and direction while watching where he was going. Then we did Figure eights at the trot from 20ft away!! I was totally surprised at how well they went.

Prince maintained a nice, smooth, relaxed trot and was so connected it blew me away! He didn't hesitate at all when I asked him to come around the barrels. All I had to do was shift my weight back and take half a step back and Prince would come around the barrel and then I would take a half step forward and he would go through the barrels. It was equal on both ends! I was 100% blown away!! Figure eights used to be one of the most challenging things for us to do at Liberty whether it was in a round corral or not. So to get them in our riding ring just like that... it was incredible!!

Then Mom, Knightly, Prince and I played at Liberty together. We started with getting both horses on the pedestal standing side by side. Than we did stick to me along the fence. Knightly was right by the fence then Mom was beside him, I was beside Mom and Prince was on my left hand side on the outside. We started out just at the walk and then once that was going well we went into the trot and did transitions and such, while trying to stand side by side the whole time. It went really well for 90% of the time. One time Prince and I got ahead because when we went around the corner Knightly slowed down a bit but all in all it went really well.

We then played with how we wanted to do the turn to change direction and go the other way. We decided that the best way would be to drive the hindquarters and then bring the forequarters around and walk off. It ended up looking really nice in the end!

Next Mom and I backed the horses out and sent them off around the riding ring. At first we didn't quite know what we wanted except for both us humans and the horses to be able to uphold each of our responsibilities.

At first the horses were breaking gait (from the trot) stopping and turning etc etc but pretty soon I got a really clear vision of what I wanted it to end like, which was both horses cantering one lap with out any more than 1 or 2 corrections from Mom and myself, the horses not cutting corners or running into each other.

It took a little while but eventually the horses would keep to the outside of the riding ring and they stopped trying to turn and change directions. Mom and I each had a side of the riding ring that was our side and so it was our responsibility to correct the horses if needed when they were in our half.

It got going really well and each of the horses started upholding their responsibilities. If we had to correct one horse, the other one kept cantering along. One time though Knightly got too close to Prince and Prince kicked him. After that Knightly kept his space. It went so well and we brought the horses in when they had cantered one complete lap and we only had to make one correction when Knightly broke gait for a couple strides.

When Prince got past my shoulder I brought him in while making sure Knightly kept going then when Knightly got to Mom's side she brought him in. It was so much fun! Both horses had a long rest and huge licks and chews and we ended there. We all walked over the gate and Prince and I opened it then we let them out. It was a lot of fun and once we get better we want to video tape it all :)