Monday, May 30, 2011

Prince: Having fun on the 45ft line and trail riding!

May 25, 2011

Today was such a nice day so Mom and I decided to head out for a trail ride. First we played in the riding ring though. Prince and I saddled up and then played with the Weave at the walk and trot from about 40ft away, pushing the ball at the trot from 45ft away, yo-yo's to the end of the 45ft line (these are getting better and better. Right now we are playing with just getting the lightness all the way out to the end, speed will come later), can you tell we are trying to get more and more distance? ;) 

Then we played with circles at the canter. Prince cantered six laps each direction with rhythm, relaxation and connection. It took a little while to get it to the left but in the end Prince got it and then we stopped. We also played with jumping barrels on the circle. Prince maintained gait and direction really well so we didn't stay at that long. 

When Prince was ready to ride I mounted. We rode Follow the rail bridleless. There were two barrels placed a long the fence about 30ft from each other so we would canter a long the rail and stop at the barrels, I didn't care much for jumping barrels bridleless today :) So after a rest we would pivot on the hindquarters (direct rein) and canter off the other way to the other barrel. I guess we were kind of doing 180's :) 

Prince picked up on this really quickly so once we got a few good ones in each direction we stopped that pattern. It was so much fun and Prince was so connected! We went into the canter at a phase one and Prince maintained gait and direction so well! 

We also played with pushing the ball. At first Prince would only push it when it was a long the fence and then trot past it when it left so we played with following it and tracking it. I was looking for Prince to put effort into following it no matter where it went. 

After a couple minutes it caught on and figured out that it was the same as we do Online and at Liberty and we trotted everywhere following the ball. It was a lot of fun to say the least!

When Mom was ready we headed down to the front yard. Prince and I rode down the hill and backed out the gate then I allowed Prince to graze for a few minutes and then we rode some circles!! I really wanted to canter them because our circles are getting kind of boring at the trot as they are going so well. So after testing the trot first I asked Prince into the canter. 

At first he was confused and didn't quite know what to do as we have only walk and trotted circles before. But once he figured out what to do he seemed to just "get" it and we cantered a lap and a half in each direction with only two corrections each way!! It helped that we have certain boundaries such as the house, the rose garden, the apple tree and the swing set by the corral, so we have four things on each side that we can't exactly ride through, although Prince has tried in the past riding under the apple tree while I was riding... but that was some time ago ;) 
It was such an amazing and wonderful feeling to finally be cantering circles!! It was wonderful! Needless to say, Prince got a long rest and got to each lots of grass before we headed out for our trail ride :) 

We rode through town today and I was so proud of Prince! Even when vehicles came up behind him and in front of him, he took it all in stride and trusted me as his leader. Even going between the two tall buildings that normally he doesn't like a whole lot Prince was confident. I was way more confident also, which I am sure made a huge difference for Prince. 

I was in the moment and knew that if in the next moment Prince got worried I would handle that then, but for that moment he was confident. 

We had a great trail ride. We did lots of cantering, which is always fun. Prince and I played with trotting really slow, a very slow jog. Prince was fabulous and I didn't need to use my reins at all! It was all though my body!! This horse is incredible!! We have been playing with this concept for three days now and already we can do it on the trail and for long distances! It is so much fun!! 

On the way home we cantered a long ways and cantered up the hill. I am not sure if we made it to a gallop, as I have never galloped before so I don't know what that feels like but I think we got pretty close as it was as really fast canter. Then when I asked Prince relaxed into a nice lovely canter. It was soft and slow and we cantered like that for a little ways and then when I relaxed my body we came down into that beautiful, slow jog. It was instantly also, none of that really fast trot and then a slow trot. It was the most beautiful canter - trot transitions we have ever gotten!! 

One thing that I did differently today verses other days out on the trail was if Prince broke gait or I asked him to come down to the trot, walk or halt, I made sure that he was relaxed mentally and emotionally before asking him into the canter again. I think this was what made for that beautiful transition into the jog from the canter at the end. Also through out the whole time I would go with stopping in mind, stop with backing in mind and back with the quality of respond in mind. This made a huge difference because when I stopped I was thinking back up so Prince could feel that I meant stop, not like previously when I had a really hard time completely relaxing on our canter - halt transitions. 

Oh and on that note! Bareback riding has completely changed, for the better, my fluidity! I can now ride canter - halt transitions with fluidity and not bounce, thanks to focus and riding canter - halt transitions bareback ;) 

We rode back home through town and again the horses did beautifully we allowed them to graze for a while and I brushed Prince off and once he was dry we headed back into the corral and I fed the horses. 
It was a great session and I think both Prince and I had a lot of fun!

Here are a few pictures from our ride...


Ruffian: So smooth!

May 25, 2011

This morning Ruffian and I had a wonderful session. He was playful but at the same time very obedient, not in a dull way but in a more centered Left Brain Extrovert way. It was so much fun! He was asking loads of questions and we were having a great conversation! 

We started with the Falling Leaf pattern to test and see where he was at this morning. He was energetic yet did the pattern very well. Then we did the Figure eight pattern around two barrels... wow!!! Talk about smooth as silk! Ruffian trotted the whole thing and was so soft! He was engaged and asking lots of questions! I didn't over do it though and brought him after about six or seven Figure eights. I want to slowly build up the amount we can do but at the same time not do so many that it is boring. 

Then we trotted the Weave. We haven't done this pattern in ages but Ruffian knew and didn't miss a beat the whole time. He trotted softly around each marker and we did one complete weave at a trot then stopped!! I was having hard time figuring out what to do because Ruffian was doing everything I asked so well! I had to stop and think of something new to do because I didn't want to bore Ruffian, or myself for that matter :) 

So we played with pushing the ball at a trot. Ruffian will push it at the walk so the trot was a little challenging but after a matter of seconds Ruffian figured it out. We trotted the ball from one end of the riding ring to the other and then we positioned it between two barrels and my goal was to get Ruffian to back up to it. I know that Ruffian can had confidence issues with things in zone five so we took our time and I respected his thresholds and pretty soon, even though it felt like a long time, he was able to back straight, 20ft to the ball and touch it with his back legs!! Touch down! He had a bit lick and chew after that and so we stood still and I let him process that for a while. 

Then we played with needle simulations and also getting tension out of zone one, his mouth. Even since Ruffian got all those porcupine quills in his nose/mouth last spring he has always been a little bit tense about people touching that area. This were getting a lot better but then Ruffian can have static electricity and a couple times of being shocked... well that didn't help thins much :) So I just massaged it and then when he started to release I would quit. Pretty soon he was getting more and more relaxed. So I unhaltered him and allowed him to roll, which was what I was pretty sure he wanted to do. 

It was a great session all around and I am do pleased with how well Ruffian was progressed! We have had a lot of ups and downs in our journey over the past year and a half but I think we are heading up for now :)


Twosox: Releasing Brace

May 24, 2011

After I played with Prince I played with Twosox. We had a great session and we were able to play with quite a bit actually. My main goal was to continue helping Twosox have no brace, which means me having no brace either. 
We did Figure eights, circles, jumping a single barrel towards me from a stand still, transitions, changes of directions, backing by the tail, jumping barrels that were standing on end, stick to me, and playing with the ball. 

Twosox offered to put a lot of energy into what I asked and it was great! While doing Figure eights I changed strategies a little bit because Twosox was bracing as much anymore. He was only breaking gait around the one end at which he used to brace, so I would bring him into me at the trot and give him a treat then send him back out again. Pretty soon he got it and trotted the whole Figure eight and we got a few really nice, soft, figure eights at the trot. 

I asked Twosox to jump one single barrel that was laying down on a yo-yo, from a stand still. Twosox got it right away and jumped it and cane trotting into me. This horse is such a fast learner! 

Next we played with circles. First I asked Twosox to trot 4 laps each way with out breaking gait and then we played with upward transitions into the canter and also changes of directions. Twosox is started to canter more and more and actually canter not just something that isn't a trot but isn't a gallop ;) He has a nice canter also! It looks like it shall be nice to ride once we get it solid  Online. Slow and right beats fast and wrong! 

We ended with jumping the barrels that were standing on end. Twosox jumped them but he wasn't putting a lot of effort into it so we kept playing with it until he was able to clear the barrels. My job was to cause it to be a game and not tell him the answer, his job was to discover the answer and try ;) In the end he figured out the puzzle and jumped the barrels, clearing them no problem. 

Then we hung out for a little bit at Liberty spending a few moments of undemanding time before we went down to the corral. 


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Prince: This is just to much fun!

May 24, 2011

You may have noticed a gap between today and the last session but that can be explained in the simple fact that I was sick and the weather was uncooperative.  Today it was cloudy and looked like rain but we went out and played anyway. The sky cleared up in the end and it was even more beautiful outside! 

Prince and I had so much fun today it was unbelievable! We played on the 45ft line like planned and we backed up the hill and into the riding ring. We got a little stuck at the gate because there is a rock wall there to --try-- and stop the riding ring dirt from washing down the hill. But in the end we made it over the wall and continued to back to the end of the 45ft line. 

Then we went sideways without a fence to the end of the 45ft line and then I asked Prince to touch the barrel with his nose. Then we turn and went sideways over the another barrel and back over it the other way, then I asked Prince to back up to the rope gate and touch it with his tail, all at the end of the 45ft line and with me keeping my feet still 90% of the time.  

It was really fun to be able to challenge our communication at 45ft away, something we haven't been able to do in a long time. We finished with Prince jumping a single barrel on a yo-yo and trotting towards me. It was really cool especially because of the distance we were doing it.

Then we played with some circles. Getting more and more circles at the canter with rhythm, relaxation and connection. Prince really put a lot of effort into it and we got some nice traveling circles at the canter as well as normal ones. While going to the left Prince had a harder time maintaining gait so we played the game "Don't make me come out of neutral" This worked really well and after a couple times Prince had it figured out and cantered without breaking gait.

We played at Liberty a little bit also and did some traveling circles at the trot, stick to me, and jumping barrels that are on end. Prince did really well and was so connected! So we didn't play long because I wanted to end when Prince was really connected.

Mounting from the ground went really well. It was easy and I got it on the first try. I felt even more stable and confident, so much so that we even tried the canter. I rode around bridleless for a while. Doing Follow the rail, circles off of the rail, sideways, backing up refined, indirect and direct rein.

We also played with speeds within gaits. We focused on the trot mostly and got a really slow jog all by my energy. It was incredible!! I put my hackamore on for the canter. Prince did so well! He went into the canter smoothly and we cantered around half of the riding ring. It wasn't actually that bad. The hardest part was the canter transition downwards but then I realized that it was because I wasn't focusing up when I went to stop, as soon as I did that I was able to ride the transition to the walk (or halt) well and it was so much more comfortable.

I couldn't get over how well Prince went into the canter, at a phase one consistently, and he maintained gait so well, not like before when if he went into the canter softly he couldn't maintain it for very long. Then I realized that it was because Online we have been playing with the exact same thing, getting more and more circles from a phase one. It has paid off!!

We finished shortly after that and then went over to the pedestal and hung out there for a while. It was a lot of fun and I can see how bareback riding will definitely improve my fluidity :)


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Twosox: Figure eights and jumping

May 17, 2011

After I played with and rode Prince I had a little bit of time left so I played with Twosox. The blackflies were getting worse by the minute so we kept it short and... well short. We started with Figure eights. Twosox was not connected at first and was bracing a lot. So we played with that and eventually his bracing got less and less, but he was looking out on the one end of the Figure eight so I decided to give him a reason to look to me... food! I brought him in, gave him some sunflower seeds and then sent him back out again. This worked very well and after a few times of doing this we got two beautiful Figure eights at the trot and Twosox was willing and motivated! 

Then I set the barrels up on end and asked Twosox to trot out onto the circle then I set it up so that Twosox could have a choice of whether to jump the barrels or not. He picked to jump them. He trotted up nicely, having a great rhythm and relaxed trot and jumped over the barrels to problem. I asked for a change of direction which we got and then we went the other way. The first time I allowed Twosox to come between myself and the barrels because we had done the change of direction a little to close to the barrels for him to comfortably, at this stage, jump the barrels. He could have done it but I wanted it to be relaxed and not rushed. 

He trotted a full circle, came up to the barrels and jumped it no if, buts, or maybes :) Then I brought him in and gave him a rest. After a little while we walked over and I let Twosox lick honey off of the bit and also bridled him for a short amount of time. I didn't leave it in his mouth long because I was getting pretty bothered by the blackflies so I unhaltered Twosox and went down to the house. 


Prince: Challenging ourselves

May 17, 2011

Prince and I had a wonderful session. It was a lot of fun and it was great to be able to play on the 45ft line. I didn't want to go to quickly with it and then run into a lot of issues because Prince wasn't ready so we stayed at around 35ft for the majority of the time that we were doing longer distance things. It was so nice to be able to play and advance our distance especially in the circle game! 
We started however with picking up all four feet, massaging the legs, getting some very nice, light, fast hindquarter disengagements using the porcupine game, as well as forequarter yields. Then we played with some Falling Leaf and then circles. Prince did well at the trot so we didn't stay there long. We went into the canter and played with maintaining gait. Pretty soon Prince's mind was engaged and he was cantering around and putting a lot of effort into it!! 

Changes of directions were interesting as Prince would brace and go faster and faster in the canter. It was very similar to what he used to do at the canter so I knew what to do and eventually, after a lot of consistency we were able to get a couple nice change of directions at the trot and canter (with flying lead changes) and we ended with a beautiful canter draw! 

Mom was ready so we headed back to the riding ring. I led Prince most of the way and didn't do a whole lot. When we got back I put the bareback pad on Prince and off we went. I have also given myself a little challenge that I want to ride only bareback, or with the bareback pad, for the next while. I want to improve my bareback riding and so this is an active step towards that goal. 

We played more with changes of directions because Prince was still bracing and didn't know how to respond to that pressure. It took quite some time but in the end we were able to get the changes of directions at the canter (where Prince was having the hard time) in both directions and Prince was also able to get the flying lead changes.

Then we played with bridling. Prince was okay with licking the honey off but not completely comfortable with it. So I decided that I wasn't going to bridle him because he wasn't truly accepting of it. I could have gotten it in there but our relationship is more important to me than getting Prince bridled. So until Prince is accepting of it and can take it in his mouth willingly, I will not put it in. I can guide it but Prince has to be okay with it. 

So then we went over to a rock that is sticking out of the ground (it is a big rock) and I mounted from there. It is about 2-3 inches off of the ground so it was a little easier to mount than the last day but that was okay. I am pleased with how well this little task has come along and how well it is going considering I only start a couple days ago :) But then Prince isn't very tall ;) 

After I mounted we stood still for a little while doing nothing while I helped Mom and Knightly out. Then we did some forequarter disengagements. These were super light and Prince put a lot of effort and energy into them plus it was at a phase two! I was really impressed. Hindquarter yields were a little more interesting as I could tell Prince the answer but if I asked him and stayed at a phase one or two he would try everything else, trying to figure out what I wanted. So if I gave him the answer he would willingly do it, how fast how far kind of thing, but when I don't tell him the answer he gets lost and confused.

We played with this for quite some time before Prince started getting it. It was difficult balancing supporting Prince, helping him so he wouldn't get stuck, and giving him the answer. But in the end things started going really smoothly and we were able to get about half a circle with just my body, no leg. So we ended there.

Then we rode the rail! We started at the walk and put full and half circles off the rail and back to the rail here and there. This went well and when Prince could walk the circle and just my body and no stick or reins we went up into the trot. Prince offered me a nice, very soft trot which was so comfortable!! We trotted a long for a couple laps changed direction and trotted a couple in the other direction. Then we played with circles, like at the walk. Prince wasn't as light as at the walk so we kept playing with it until he started recognizing when I changed my focus and when put my leg on, which by this time he would be turning. We did big circles and small circles, full circles and half circles. It was great fun and all bareback!!

I wanted to find a good place to end so I decided that I wanted to trot a long the rail then turn off of the fence and trot in a straight line over to the pedestal where we were end... but I wanted Prince to figure that out. I didn't go past phase two and if we missed the pedestal we trotted in a full circle and came around again. Eventually we figured it out and Prince climbed on the pedestal thinking that it couldn't have been that easy!

It was such a great ride and I am looking forward to improving my independent seat through riding bareback. Hopefully soon we shall be able to start cantering... that shall be fun! I have cantered once bareback and the transition into it was the hardest part... so we shall see how that goes :)

We ended by spending undemanding time, Prince just didn't want to leave. So as long as he hung around I stayed and then eventually we both left :) I love being able to spend time with my horse :)


Monday, May 23, 2011

Ruffian: Playing on the 45ft line...

May 17, 2011

 Today the horses left before Mom and I got out so we went out to the back field to find them. Ruffian was the easiest horse to catch -- "Catch the easiest horse first" as Mr. Parelli says -- so I haltered Ruffian and we played. I had the 45ft line because for the next while I want play only on the 45ft line. Ruffian was so connected and kept the slack in the line the whole time. It was really amazing.

Everything was going well and we were getting some really nice circles but when I asked Ruffian for a change of direction he stepped over the rope (my fault for not managing the rope better) I decided just to let go of the rope and then catch Ruffian again. Ruffian would have been fine except the other horses started running around and since the rope started dragging Ruffian got scared. But eventually I was able to catch Ruffian again and my 45ft got a nice trip through the bush, mud, water, grass, and etc :) 

Then we played our way back to the field and then did a lot of approach and retreat with my coat that I had taken off and left on the grass before. Ruffian thought it was really scary so we would do squeeze games, circles to the threshold and then stop, backup and go the other way, and kept doing this until he was able to walk up to it and sniff it. After this he was convinced that it was safe and commenced to eat it in a typical Left Brain Extrovert fashion. 

Mom had put her coat on a log so we then went and checked that out, Ruffian had by this time figured out that coats where not scary and could be eaten. So we checked that out then we did some yo-yo's, sideways and lots of traveling circles! Ruffian loved the extra room but still kept the slack in the line, which was great! 
Then we finished by checking out a big rock and pawing it then I sat down and unhaltered Ruffian. He stayed with me for a little while and then he moseyed off and I went and played with Prince. 


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prince: Long rein driving

May 16, 2011

Because Prince still seems to be having a hard time accepting the bit I decided to try doing long rein driving that way I could fully concentrate on it and not have to think about much else, verses riding where I have to think about more at once. Bridling was easy. Prince didn't have any hesitation about taking the bit in his mouth. Since I do not have the Featherlight lines I tied a few savvy strings together and that did a good enough job for now. Hopefully I will be able to get the real Featherlight lines eventually. 
Prince was very light in turning, going and stopping but he constantly had his mouth open. So I am not sure what to do. I am out of strategies. So we ended when he was doing better though and was able to do lateral flexions from zone five on both sides, turn at the walk, stop and back up with his mouth being open less. Than I let him graze for a couple minutes and then I unbridled. Now this is where the truth hurts... I wanted to let Prince lick the honey off of the bit before putting it away but Prince wanted nothing to do with it. This is definitely an "Oh Boy" situation :) So we played with it until he would lick the bit clean and then we went onto other things. 

Prince was now at Liberty because I didn't have a halter on so we walked around and went up to the garage to see Mom and Knightly. I looped a savvy string around his neck and then we practiced our ground tying while I went and picked up all four of Knightly's feet. Mom has been getting him more comfortable in the garage so that I can trim Knightly in there through the bug season but she asked me to come in and pick up his feet and see how it was doing with that now. He did great and was way more confident and comfortable in there than I have ever seen him. 

Prince stood where I put him the whole time and then I went and picked up all four of his feet, I think that kind of blew his mind because normally I don't do much with his feet unless I am trimming them or just massaging them (which I am doing a lot more of recently). Prince stood very well and only had a little trouble with one back foot when he spooked at a tree that was being cut down and moved by my brothers, it was a small tree :) 

Then we went over to the other side of the yard and did some mounting from almost the ground. When I say almost I mean I was about 1 1/2 - 2 inches off the ground, just standing on a thin rock. It took a couple tries at first but Prince stood well and in the end I was able to mount from both sides!! I am making sure to be able to do it from both sides and I want to building my muscles evenly and not be one sided ;) 

After that I dismounted and then backed Prince through the gate and into the corral where we spent some time scratching itchy spots and hanging out together before I headed inside. 

It was cooler today so the blackflies were in hiding! Hooray ;) It was a nice treat. 


Twosox: Respect while eating...

May 16, 2011

It looked like rain this morning and afternoon but we never got more than a few drops here and there. Twosox and I had a great little session today that mainly had to do with respect while grazing. I had taken Twosox out to the back yard to graze as the grass in getting rather long. He would wait until I gave him permission and then start eating but after I had given him that permission he sort of "forgot" about me, pulling on the rope when ever he wanted to reach for different grass etc. 
So I would allow him to eat for a couple minutes and then ask him to move around and do something and then allow him to eat again. This took a little while I seeing as I also wanted to play with him and not just let him eat it worked out very well. We did things like sideways from zone three from 22ft away, which at first didn't go very well because Twosox wasn't seeing me as someone to listen to more than absolutely necessary. After we got a few good, soft steps sideways I would give him permission to eat again and go back to neutral. 

Some other things that we did were circles. There is a slight hill in our back yard so it was perfect for doing a little bit of Hill Therapy while we were there. Twosox by this time was responding better and better and so we did two or three circles in each direction with a nice, soft, very smooth and light change of direction between them. At first he was a little unsure about going until a tree branch that was hanging low but by the end he could trot under it with no issues. 

Then I gave Twosox a longer break while still requiring him to maintain the slack in the rope. He did much better. We ended with doing zone five driving with one line from the back yard to the corral. Twosox was so much more confident and relaxed about it this time as compared to last day. Then we went into the corral and I unhaltered and then hung out with all three horses for a little while before going to get some things ready to play with Prince. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ruffian: A little delay...

May 11, 2011

This afternoon Myles played with Ruffian. I was going to hop on him bareback afterward and after I played with him a little but as I was playing with him he tripped and stumbled a bit. I didn't think much of it at the moment as he seemed to be okay but then I noticed that at the canter on the circle it was more of a two beat canter... he was limping :( So I brought him in and checked his wound and low and behold he had managed to re-open his wound. Thankfully it wasn't bleeding and I was able to take care of it and let him graze for a little while before we headed back to the corral. 
So Ruffian shall get a couple more days off until his wound completely heals but hopefully we shall be able to still play a little Online and such. 

We did get some nice Figure eights and circles. Ruffian was so light and connected! He was asking loads of questions and we also got some nice cantering on the circle. It was great! Hopefully we can pick up where we left off once he heals again. 


Prince: So much learning!!

May 11, 2011

Prince and I had a great session today. I have been licking and chewing over some of the major things that I have learned from the colt start over the weekend. Most of them aren't exactly from the colt start specifically but things that triggered other things a couple are...

- Put the relationship first in everything, think about what it means to put the relationship first with your horse, what is in it for him? Safety? Comfort? Food? Play? How can you make it more interesting and fun for him? 
- Offer lightness but be firm if necessary. Also offer the best deal first.

- How can I set Prince up for success so that he gets it and it makes sense? 

- Patience! When things don't go right keep on going and give it time and stay calm, cool and collected. 

- Go at Prince's pace at first but don't stay there. 

I read this blog recently: and two things jumped out at me. Haltering! I don't think I normally do it rudely but am I making a effort to cause it to be enjoyable for Prince? I am not putting a whole lot more time and making how I halter more important. Even if it is just spending a little bit of time afterward scratching Prince and hanging out before we continue on with our session. 

I got to thinking about how I would like it if someone, one of my parents or siblings, came into my room while I was doing something I enjoyed, such as watching a movie, and came in, said hi, then grabbed my by the arm and told me that we had to go do something. Even if I enjoyed and liked what we were about to do I would be a bit flustered or upset that they didn't care enough to ask me. Now if somebody came in, sat down, said hi asked what I was up to and then asked if I wanted to go do something than I would most likely be more than happy to join in and do something together. It sets us up for success. 

So then I though to myself, do I do that with my horse? Even if I go through the motions of seeing where he is at when I get there do I truly mean it?

Another thing I have been thinking about was giving my horse my undivided attention while we play. When we are playing I want to treat him like the most important person with whom I could be having a conversation.

One more thing! Many times when Prince would bring his head around to me for a rub I would rub it but he would turn it away half way through the rub. I thought that maybe it was that he didn't necessary want to be rubbed but that he was just checking in with me. Well today the thought crossed my mind that it was probably my energy. Even though I wasn't rubbing him with a lot of energy before I was still to much for Prince. So the next time Prince brought his head around I rubbed it really slowly, still with feel but with very little energy. It worked better but Prince still turned his head away, be he kept it there longer. The next time I did it even slower and Prince kept his head there the whole time.... How interesting!! It was really cool to see the feedback!! 

There were many more things but these were some things that I have knew but they are meaning new things.

Prince and I started with mounting from almost the ground. We were up in the riding ring so I picked a rock that is sticking out of the ground. Now I was thinking, how can I put the relationship first and put something in it for Prince because really there is nothing in it for him. Me being able to mount from the ground is for me, my physical fitness and never ending self improvement. So Prince being a LBI likes food, scratches etc... so I made sure to give him lots of scratches on some big itchy spots as I lay across him. He was already much better from last day and had a more positive attitude about it which was great to see. 

Then I saddled. But as I saddled I realized that yes I was doing everything politely but I was doing it all subconsciously as I was talking to Mom about something. Sure Prince was standing still and wasn't bothered by it but I wasn't there with him mentally, what if for some reason he was bothered by something and I missed it? So from this point on in the session I made sure to give Prince my attention and if I needed to talk to somebody or they wanted to talk to me I made sure to finish up with Prince, even if just for a short amount of time, so that I could be fair to both Prince and to whom ever I was talking.

After we saddled we did some Figure eights at the trot and Prince was had the rhythm, relaxation and connection right away so we did three complete Figure eights and then ended. No need overdoing it right?

This went really well and by the end Prince was able to canter a complete lap in each direction from a walk-canter transition. Each time Prince would break gait I would ask him to walk for a couple steps and then ask him to canter. It took a while because Prince would either go into the canter for a few strides and then break gait into a really fast trot, or he would just trot really fast and not canter, in which case I would bring him back down to the walk and start again.

I think the consistency of the pattern really helped Prince and he had a big lick and chew afterward. Then I put my hackamore on and mounted!

I only had one pattern that I wanted to play with this ride and that was the Bowtie pattern. We haven't ridden that pattern in a while and the last time we did it Prince had other ideas... he thought we should be playing Point to point and that he should get a rest at each barrel and not have to be picking up the canter ;) So we left that for a while and concentrated on getting the correct leads on Follow the rail.

That is going well now so I want to play with the Bowtie patten, and quite frankly, I think it looks really fun! I went out purposed to put the relationship first and taking the time it was going to take.

We started the patten at the trot and walked the ends. This took very little time to get it going well. I had to remind myself to stop. Things were going very well and Prince was getting it even though it wasn't perfect. I could have kept going but then I was like "What am I doing??" It is fine! Prince is going to get bored if I keep doing this pattern, and I don't want a bored LBI trying to the Bowtie pattern ;)

So we left that and did some Follow the rail at the canter just to make sure that Prince could pick up the correct leads going in both directions and then we came back to the Bowtie pattern and cantered it, getting Simple lead changes so we would trot the ends.

By this time I was falling in love with this pattern because if Prince wasn't completely relaxed when we came down to the trot to go around the barrel we would trot in circles around it until he relaxed and then we picked up the canter, with relaxation and off we went on the correct lead.

It was a lot of fun and I think Prince had fun too. He caught on really quickly and our lead changes were so easy and simple!!

We also pushed the ball around a bit at the walk and trot. Prince offered me such a nice, soft trot and put a lot of effort into trotting after the ball even when it went off the fence.

We had a really short ride but it was so much fun!! We ended an amazing session by spending over an hour of undemanding time. Prince just wouldn't leave me!! Even after we left the riding ring he stayed with me outside the gate and so we spent even more time just hanging out. I guess we did have a good session!!

Eventually I had to leave because it was getting late. Prince followed me over as far as he could and watched me leave... I strongly dislike when that happens... I feel so bad for leaving him ;)

I was very pleased with our session and the progress that we made and the best part was that we were learning and at the same time having so much fun!!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ruffian: Day Two.

 May 10, 2011

Today Myles and I played with Ruffian and I rode. We decided to just put the saddle on Ruffian instead of the bareback pad and then the saddle. Ruffian wasn't bothered by the bareback pad yesterday and he was fine with the saddle so we didn't feel that it was necessary.
After Myles finished playing I played with got Ruffian cantering and moving around a little bit more. Mom suggested that we move all four horses around the riding ring at Liberty and that way get Ruffian and Knightly canter. 

I brought Twosox and Prince up and gave them the responsibility to stand still on their "spot" while I let Ruffian and Knightly loose. The look on their faces was priceless!! Twosox and Prince stood side by side and looked at me with two ears and two eyes the whole time. 

At first Prince, Twosox and Ruffian were trotting around nicely but Knightly decided that he wasn't going to go with them and he would turn and change direction when ever he wanted. So I focused on getting him going with the other horses. Once that happened everything went fairly smoothly. Ruffian and Knightly were saddled but weren't bothered by the saddles when they were cantering and jumping. 

Myles was there helping me and our goal was to get all four horses to jump the barrels. We got it really close one time but one of the horses dogged around the barrels but the next time we got it and then we had to bring them in... Prince came in to me really quickly... introvert much? Then Twosox stopped and faced me but didn't come in... another introvert? Ruffian and Knightly kept on going for a little while longer but finally Ruffian realized that I was asking him to come in and then Knightly followed soon after. 

It was a really amazing feeling to have all four horses one on each side of me and asking to be rubbed. Since Ruffian was giving green lights all around I mounted. The blackflies where really bothersome this morning and Ruffian was itchy all over so I wasn't sure if he was going to roll. He looked like he wanted to so I dismounted and moved him around a little bit and then mounted again. We did a little bit at the walk and then trotted. Ruffian picked it up a lot faster today and we almost trotted a full lap around the riding ring without any breakages of gait. 

We also played around with riding a Figure eight. Ruffian started to get it but I didn't want to push it to much. We also played with the ball and I bounced it while I sat on him. Ruffian was calm and confident the whole time. 
After he licked and chewed I dismounted and we went down to the front yard and I let Ruffian graze for a while on the 45ft line. I am always amazed by how willing Ruffian is and how he tries so hard to do what is asked of him. He is such a cool horse!! 


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prince: Mounting from the ground...

May 9, 2011

After I played with Twosox I played with Prince. Before we went out onto the front yard I wanted to bridle and unbridle Prince just to do something different than last time. He came to meet me at the gate and stayed there while I put the honey on the bit but then left shortly after. So instead of doing what he expected me to do, which was get him and bridle him, I bridled Twosox, who was more than happy to be bridled. Then after I bridled Twosox I let Ruffian lick some honey off of it and play with it for a while. The whole time Prince was standing right behind me, getting interested as to why he wasn't being bridled. 
When Prince's turn came he really wanted to be bridled. So I bridled him and then after a couple minutes unbridled and then we headed out to the front yard. We played with a couple small things and then I wanted to start getting more athletic and be able to mount bareback from the ground. I started from a log but that was to easy so I went to a tire which was a little more challenging but not really that hard so I had to find something that was between the tire and the ground. I ended up getting two boards and then putting something on top of them. It was about three inches from the ground which was the perfect size. 
We played with it for a while and finally I was able to jump up and get half way on Prince, which was the hardest part. Prince wasn't to sure about it at first so I made it good for him by scratching his itchy spots while I was laying on him.... he soon really liked it :) 

I mounted a couple times and then I got off and I wanted to try twirling the rope from zone one like a jump rope. Something I have always wanted to try but never remembered when I was actually out with Prince. At first Prince thought it meant come forward but soon he figured out that it was a friendly game and he was able to stand still. Than Mom and I took turns skipping. I always wanted to have someone else to skip with when I was little.... :) It was fun. The look on Prince's face was priceless. It was so much fun. 

We let the horses graze for a little longer and then we went back to the corral and took refuge inside the house from the blackflies :) 


Twosox: Helping Twosox find the answer

May 9, 2011

I brought Twosox out onto the front yard to graze for a little while and the we did some zone five driving with one rein. I didn't want to just tell him the answer but help him find the answer. So we went back and forth up and down the street until Twosox could put me in zone five and keep me there. If he moved me out of zone five I would just turn him around in a full circle and start again. 
Once this was going well we then played with walk-halt transitions. Twosox wasn't able to stop without turning. Again I didn't walk to just tell him the answer to the puzzle so we would walk a long and if he didn't stop we would "run into" the fence which would stop him. Then we would carry on. 

This took some time but in the end Twosox started to figure it out and we got some nice walk to stop transitions. So we ended and I let Twosox eat more. 

Then I mounted him and at first I just allowed him to graze but then we rode Figure eights around two marks which went really well actually. Twosox had a hard time finding the rhythm because there was a slight hill and Twosox would speed up going down the hill. So it was actually helpful to his conformation also. 

After I don't know how many Figure eights Twosox was able to adjust himself to be able to walk down the hill at the same speed as the rest of the Figure eight and we also started getting some really nice circles around each marker, resulting in a beautiful Figure eight. 

I was bareback so that made things a little more interesting as it was the first time in a while that I have ridden bareback. It is definitely something I need to get better this year. I can walk and trot bareback for the most part with fluidity but the canter... not so much :) So I am going to ride bareback more often this summer. 

We finished with giving my youngest brother a little ride and then I let Twosox graze some more and then we went back to the corral. 


Ruffian: New confidence.

May 9, 2011

What a session Ruffian and I had this morning! Since watching the Colt Start Naturally over the weekend (or as much as I could watch between work and other chores) I was given so much confidence and strategies that could help Ruffian in the area of his Freestyle. He was "green broke" when we bought him but we soon found some issues that were more than we could handle. Than through a series of events Ruffian's journey became my responsibility but I only had time to play Online and not really do any riding. I did a little bit here and there but nothing much. 

Since Myles has started playing with Ruffian he has gained so much confidence and so since I gained some really great strategies from watching the colt start we decided to give it another try and just take it a step at a time. I have saddled Ruffian recently but I wanted to do it fairly similar to what they did just to do it right. So this morning Myles and I went out to see what we got and what we would get. 

Ruffian did fine with the bareback pad so we left it on while Myles played and then switched to the saddle and I played. Now since Ruffian is doing some Level 3 things there were hardly any confident issues but I made sure to look for green lights and everything went really smoothly. 

We started off at the walk doing some touch it, sideways, hindquarter and forequarter yields and then we did some circles at the walk and trot. Ruffian didn't have any problem at the trot so after it was tightened enough we switched onto the 22ft line and did some cantering. Ruffian bucked once and then just tossed his head a bit looking like he might buck but he didn't. I set the barrels up in his way so that he had something to thing about and pretty soon he was cantering nicely with rhythm, relaxation and connection. He jumped quite a few times from the canter and wasn't bother at all by the saddle. 

So then we tested the stirrups to see whether or not I could move them with my savvy string while we walked around. Both sides were great. Next we played with the ball. Ruffian only had a little bit of trouble with the ball on his back but with with some approach and retreat on the second try he was fine with the ball being on his back. 

Everything looked great and I was seeing loads of green lights so I got ready to mount. Lateral flexions were great. I mounted from the ground on both sides and Ruffian stood still the whole time. 

We started with a passenger lesson at the walk to let Ruffian get used to me being up there. Then he ended up wanting to stick closer to the rail so we did some Follow the rail at the walk. I was a little cautious about riding near the sandy end of the riding ring because I didn't want Ruffian to lay down. But I decided that if I was going to do this properly I would have to know if that was what Ruffian was thinking. We did one lap of Follow the rail in each direction and since everything was going so well we did some trotting.

This was the first time in at least two years that Ruffian has been ridden at a trot but he took it like a pro and even though he wasn't to sure at first what I wanted he soon figured it out. We trotted in both directions and I was reminded yet again how lovely Ruffian's trot really is to ride. Then we pushed the ball around the hung out for a while before I dismounted.

While I was riding I made sure to "push" Ruffian with the carrot stick rather than "pull" him with the reins. That seemed to work really well and Ruffian understood what I wanted a lot sooner.

I was really pleased with how well it went and Myles was also :)


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Prince: Two more things...

May 4, 2011

I forgot to put in my last post about Prince and my session that we also pushed the ball while riding at the walk and trot. We were follow the rail at the trot and the ball got pushed onto the fence so we pushed it from one end of the arena to the other at the trot and then it got into the corner so together Prince and I had to figure out how to get it out. Prince figured it out and decided that the best way would be to knock it out of the way with his head. And then I bounced it a bit and then we carried on. Prince was pretty sure that it was way more fun than following the rail because he followed it and wanted to push it some more :) Prince really likes his ball :)

We also did skipping. Prince had a hard time understanding that it was a friendly game and not a driving game so we walked around and I swung my carrot sticks around lightly until Prince was able to relax. Prince was fine at the stand still because that is normally when we do extreme friendly games and such but as soon as it was different and we were walking Prince wasn't reading my body language.

Pretty soon we was able to walk around and I could swing both carrot sticks together, rotate one at a time and do lots of other things. Then we were able to skip :) Prince still had a little bit of a problem accepting it but he was much better so we kept going until Prince could walk around and know when I was asking him something and when I wasn't asking anything and it was a friendly game.

Prince did really well though and did very well at listening to my body, not running into anyone and following my focus so I didn't have to use my reins. It was very interesting.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Prince: A big day out!

May  4, 2011

Where do I start? There is so much to tell!! I guess this would be a good time to say "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..." 

Seeing as our friend was delivering hay in her trailer anyway she offered to trailer Knightly and Prince to her place for the day. So even though it was threatening to rain we headed out and it only sprinkled a little bit in the end. 
Before she arrived I let Prince lick the honey off of the bridle because I forgot to do that last time when we ended. Prince had no hesitation to lick it all off. I guided it into his mouth for a couple seconds and then out again. Prince had no brace and was very soft and light.
Trailer loading went well. The first time Prince walked in fine but I decided to back him out and send him back in again just for good measure. Prince did fine yet again so this time I tied Prince and then it was Knightly's turn. 

When we got to where we were going we left the horses in the trailer for a little bit while we got our tack unloaded and ready. Then we unloaded and I let Prince graze for a little while before heading into the arena to saddle and then we started with played Touch it. There were a couple new things in the arena since the last time we were here. The ball and a barrel with some plastic. Of course Prince has seen the ball before and the plastic and the flag where no issue. But I wanted to what sure Prince was okay with them anyway. 

Then we got a little creative and played Touch it with zone five. So Prince had to back into different things. We started with a barrel and then the ball. Then I asked Prince to push the ball with his back legs. He did this very well and we backed quite a ways down the fence. Then we turned around and played with pushing the ball at the walk and trot. Prince did really well at the trot and we followed it even when it went away from the fence. Prince trotted past it a couple times but I made sure not to tell Prince the answer but helped him find it instead. 

After that we blacked between two logs, stopped halfway and then went sideways over the one log. It was so light!! Prince and I were having a lot of fun by this point and I was really happy that I was able to get things interesting and start off the session at a pace that we both really enjoyed. 

Then we played with sideways at a trot. Something that last fall when we were here for two and half weeks Prince and I had a really hard time doing. Well I am so pleased to report that this is no longer a hard task. We still have to get sideways at a trot when using the porcupine game but that will come. Prince picked up the trot on both sides from a sideways at a walk and we trotted about 75ft sideways!! It wasn't a fast trot but Prince was going sideways and trotting so I was more than happy!!

Next we did some stick to me in small circles at the walk, trot and canter. Prince had a way better expression on his face this time and even offered to canter closer to me with the same positive expression!!  It was really cool to see the progress to quickly. 

Then we switched to the 22ft line and did traveling circles at the canter to the other end of the arena so that we could do other circles. I couldn't believe how light Prince was while cantering!! He definitely had the rhythm, relaxation and connection! Prince only took the slack out of the rope once or twice and the arena is 200ft long. It was amazing!! 

We did three laps each direction with a flying lead change in between. I couldn't believe the change of directions with the flying lead change. It was so smooth and soft! Prince didn't miss a beat the whole time. 
Since that was so amazing and our first attempt at a traveling circle at a canter we headed out to graze for a bit. I definitely wanted to reward Prince for the effort!!

Next I bridled Prince and rode! We started with Follow the rail at the walk with my arms folded. My goal was to be able to walk and trot with my arms folded and then canter with a casual rein. We haven't done enough canter Follow the rail to be able to fold my arms.... yet :) 

The walk went great and Prince did well going in both directions. The trot was 90% good but there was one side where Prince would want to go towards the two other mares that were in the arena. So we played with this for a while until Prince was able to trot along the rail and not move off of it. 

We also played the corners game. At first Prince wasn't really sure what to do but really quickly he started walk, trot and cantering into the corners with really seeking them. But not making assumptions that we were going to stop there. 

Canter follow the rail was interesting. Prince had a hard time picking up the left lead so we played with that, doing partial disengagements down to the walk to get his ribs and mind in the right place. If he broke gait we would go back down to the walk and then to a canter transition from there. If I didn't Prince would just rush into the canter from the trot again and we wouldn't be a head any. 

Recently Prince has found another gear at the canter and his canter has become huge and that is an understatement. Some one commented on it and said that it looked and sounded like a big draft horse canter.... so needless to say I have been trying to gain new fluidity at the canter. My back has been hurting after I ride so I know that I am not moving my back enough. It was been interesting!! 

We also played with jumping... very badly :) Prince did well but I wasn't the most fluid jumper to say the least. But considering I haven't jumped since November I guess I did alright. Next we did opening and closing gates. Prince gets a little to ambitious and wants to help before I need it. So we played with doing one step and then waiting, the next step, wait, next, wait and so on. He soon figured out that even though I needed his help he had to wait until I asked for it :) 

The last thing we did was sideways on the outside of the arena down the fence. We went sideways at a phase one for 150ft!!! Prince put a lot of effort into it and we were going sideways !!!!

We rode down to the round corral and dismounted then we went into the round corral and I let Prince eat for a while. I mentioned this in a earlier post that the next time I had the chance to play in a round corral I wanted to just hang out and to very little. That way helping Prince to see that it isn't all about circles and pressure.

So with that in mind after Prince ate some grass for a while we played with some small things. We did do circles but they were very low key and they weren't just "circles" There were two small barrels lying on the ground by the rail with a narrow gap between them. So my goal was to have Prince maintain gait while either going over the barrels or through the gap. We did this at the trot and at first Prince would break gait down to the walk while going through the barrels.

So I would playfully tag behind him when he got through the barrels and pretty soon he trotted through the barrels so I brought him in for a rest. This really got Prince's mind engaged, which was my goal also. Which is something that I wasn't able to do before. After a rest we did it in the other direction and Prince caught on really quickly.

We also got two beautiful changes of directions at the trot. The whole time I made sure to be as light as possible (lighter than I would ever have imagined) but also being ready to be firm if necessary. I kept it really short because we had already had a huge ride but I just wanted to play with a little bit and take advantage of the round corral.

Prince grazed for the next 30-45minutes or so until it was time to leave and then we walked, at Liberty, from the round corral all the way to the trailer which was on the other side of the arena. We went and got some water at the stream, Online, and then loaded up and went home. I loaded Prince all by myself which was really fun. He stood so well. Before we closed the trailer door just before we left both horses were sleeping while munching on some hay :)


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Prince: Matching energy.

May  3, 2011

This morning was kind of an odd morning. The internet has been out since Friday, coming on just yesterday, explaining why all of a sudden there were many posts on here :) so this morning I was still getting caught up on some stuff and also it was such a gray, gloomy day outside that neither Mom or I were very interested in going out to play. But eventually we got out. 

It was an amazing session in the sense that I learned how Prince and I are so similar when we are both sleepy and not really altogether wanting to play. Our energy matched almost exactly. So it really was a great learning experience. Although it would have been nice to just go slow for the whole session we were planning on going for a trail ride before the rain came so since I was the leader it was my responsibility to cause us both to want to be more active. 

We started off with some stick to me with Prince behind me and Prince had to keep the same distance no matter what we were doing, whether walking, trotting, stopping, or backing-up. Then after that we played with some sideways at a trot but instead of sending Prince around in a half circle then push him down the fence we started off walking sideways and then going up into the trot. This was the first time that we have tried this as Prince had a really hard time doing it but slow and rights beats fast and wrong because we took the time it took and now Prince understands what I want and how he can move his body in that way.
We got some beautiful sideways at a trot and most of the time the transitions into the trot were at a phase two or less! It was really amazing! 

Then I decided to ask Prince to back all the way to the other side of the riding ring at Liberty because that was where the saddle was. I stood by the fence and just looped the lead rope over Prince's back and Prince backed all the way, very straight, with a lot of effort, at a phase 1 (just my energy) about 50ft!!! Twice he got a little bit stuck but it was only for a moment and then he carried on. I couldn't get over how light and connected Prince was and how many questions he was asking also! When he got to the other side I ran straight towards him, something that really used to bother Prince, and Prince just stood there giving me two ears and two eyes and was fine!! 

After that I groomed Prince and saddled. Prince was very relaxed and I realized that Prince still holds a bit of tension when I saddle because today since Prince was so relaxed I was able to get my back cinch up an extra hole right away and there was still extra room, and as much as I would like to say it, Prince hasn't lost that much weight even though he has lost quite a bit :) 

Then we played with backing by the tail and making small turns. This went way better than I expected and Prince caught on really quickly. We have played with it before but Prince has never really "got it" but today he did. On the first try Prince figured it out and so we would back up, turn a step, back up, turn another step or two and so on, rewarding the slightest try of course, but Prince had it figured out :) 

After that we played with stick to me with myself in zone 2/3 at the walk, trot and canter. At the trot we played with Prince matching me so we would trot slow, very slow, fast and even faster and so on. Prince picked up on it so quickly and we were able to get a really fast trot and then immediately afterward a very slow trot. Up next was the canter. We played with two main things. Balance, Prince getting the correct lead and maintaining it which if he brought gait we would go down to the walk and go into the canter from there, and secondly attitude. Prince will pin his ears when go into the canter unless he is about 5ft away. Which is fine except I want to build it to him being able to happily canter with my hand on his neck. So we would continue to canter until Prince put his ears forward and then we would stop. 

The first thing really helped the second as it got Prince's mind engaged and asking loads of questions so really the second thing didn't take long at all because the first helped it immensely. Then we did some circles with Mom and Knightly. The only problem was that Knightly has long legs and Prince has short legs. So Knightly trots was a lot fast than Prince's ... we got into a couple messes but in the end we did get 10 circles each direction both horses trotting fairly nicely :) It was fun nonetheless :) 

Then Prince and I did some canter circles Online. Prince picked up the cantering to the right no problem and cantered 6 laps. But to the left he had a harder time. He was trying really hard but was cross-firing. He cantered almost 4 laps like that and then did a lead change to the right lead and then a flying lead change to the left so that he was on the correct lead... all by himself!! He is so clever!! He brought gait a couple more times before getting a really good circle with rhythm, relaxation and connection so I brought him in for a rest. I could tel that he was trying very hard so I wanted to reward that even though we didn't get the 6 laps he got 5 with a couple breakages of gait and ended with a full lap on the correct lead. 

Then we headed out for our trail ride! We were hoping to get back before the rain came but it started raining part way through so we decided to come back home. We did get to do a little bit of stuff such as some leg yields at a walk, walk-canter transitions, and some other small things but I didn't want to do a whole lot of things today as the last five or six rides Prince and I have done a lot  so it was time to just have a simple trail ride :)

One thing I found very interesting was I had brought a long one of my brother's kidz carrot sticks and was playing around with that, it is such an amazing different riding with that verses the normal ones. I love it!! One thing I really liked that was I was able to use it to support my phases for asking Prince to canter on a specific lead and it was a million times easier than using my savvy string. I could be much more effective and it was so much easier to maintain my fluidity if Prince had a bit of trouble getting into the canter, which he normally doesn't on the trail but today he did so it was very helpful.  I think I shall be riding with this little carrot stick a lot more :)

It was raining pretty hard by the time we got home so it was a good thing we came back when we did but it was kind of fun riding in the rain considering I hardly noticed it :)


Monday, May 2, 2011

Prince: A Great Session!!

April 30, 2011

After I trimmed Twosox this morning I played with Prince. He was out grazing on the front yard while I trimmed (and might I add quite enjoying the freedom, he was King of the grass for an hour) so after I took Twosox back to the corral and picked up and brought my saddle out and brushed and saddle Prince. We practiced ground tying and also not eating the grass unless I gave him permission. All that went extremely well and Prince did stood perfectly still while I saddled.

Then we played on the front yard for a little while. I tested our porcupine games, hindquarters, forequarters, backing up by the chest and nose, and sideways. All that went well and I was happy fairly happy with how light Prince was although the forequarters were a little sticky. Then for the second stag of saddling we did 8 laps at a trot, on the circle, 12ft line, each direction, one send (no carrot stick), with my in complete neutral. Prince did very well and did it beautifully!! To the right he found the connection very quickly. He kept the belly of the rope on the ground after the second circle. While going to the right even though there was slack in the rope it wasn't on the ground but on the sixth circle he found the connection. It was great!!

We then headed up to the riding ring and played with Figure eights at the walk, trot and canter, but mainly the trot. As soon as we got into the riding ring Prince was disinterested and 100% unmotivated. He would do what I ask but he wasn't asking questions or anything. So instead of making him move I asked him to go slower. I wanted to play with Figure eights at the canter yet I knew that Prince wouldn't be very motivated if I just went in there and did them right away. So we started at the walk... which was painfully slow yet fascinating!! After a couple Figure eights at the walk Prince was getting more and more interested so I asked him to trot. Like I expected he trotted the one end beautifully yet the other end he drifted, while maintaining gait though which was interesting. I decided to change strategies from what I was using, because it wasn't helping Prince put more effort into coming around that barrel. Even though there was some improvement I wanted to see if I could get him more interested and connected.

So instead of sending Prince through the barrels again I brought him into me at the trot and gave him a treat. Then backed him out and sent him on the Figure eight again. I did this twice Prince started to figure it out really quickly. On the third time he came trotting around the barrel with effort and he didn't drift. I brought him in and gave him another treat and repeated the process. The next time Prince did exactly the same at the previous time and put even more effort into trotting around the barrel so I gently redirected him between myself and the barrels and we did two complete Figure eights at the trot with rhythm, relaxation and connection. Then I disengaged Prince and brought him in for a rest!! It was so fascinating!!

Up next was circles! We mainly focused on the canter. My goal was six laps each direction. If Prince broke gait I would change direction. He caught on really quickly and it took fewer changes of directions before Prince cantering six laps with rhythm, relaxation and connection to the right. Going to the left was a bit harder as that is Prince's harder side but in the end we got it. Prince was sweating quite and bit so I gave him a long rest until he was able to catch his breath and cool off a bit. It was warm but it also shows... how shall I say, out of shape Prince is ;) But he is in way better shape than last year and we are going to continue to build on it and get Prince in great shape for September.

Then I mounted. We started with played with indirect rein and getting it even lighter, Prince responding to just my weight shift. This went really well and Prince remembered from the fall when we were getting it back then. Then we played with forequarter pivots/direct rein, getting them light, more speed and being a little bit more particular about how Prince was doing it. Once we had those going well we did what Mr. Parelli showed in the second last Savvy club DVD where you move the hindquarters an 1/8 of the turn and then the forequarter the same, building to true sideways. Prince did well moving each zone but when I went to switch to the other one he didn't understand and would go sideways, which was what my end goal was but not what I was asking fore in that particular moment. I didn't want to make him feel wrong yet at the same time I needed to support what I was really asking. We played with this for quite a while and eventually we got it and Prince started understanding what I was looking for and also I had to change a few things in my body to help it me more clear for him.

Once Prince got it though he did it really, really well and it was smooth and accurate. It was a lot of fun and I love being able to play with small but important things like that and getting more lightness, speed and distance.

Then we did Follow the rail. Repeating last days session only I didn't have to stay as long at the walk and trot as Prince did really well. I added in a little variety though and did a circle to change direction and so the other way. At first Prince didn't respond with lightness at all and so we would ride a circle until he figured it out and then continued on following the rail, either in the same direction or in the opposite direction.

At the trot Prince offered the canter a couple times but I maintained the trot in my body and asked for a trot again and he came back down. At the trot I was really looking for rhythm. At first Prince would trot faster on the downhills and slower around the sides etc so we continued until he found a good rhythm. Doing the circle to change direction took a little while and we had to ride on that circle for a while until Prince started responding to my body more and reins less.

The canter was a bit harder than last day. I lost my focus a couple times and that put us back a bit so we stopped (later than what I should have) and went in the other direction, which was Prince's harder side, and but picked that up quickly and so after we got one complete lap to the left we rested and then went back to the right. Prince got it on the first try and so we ended there.

After I had unsaddled and everything I took Prince over to the sandy area in the riding ring and sat on a rock. I was hoping that he would roll but seeing as this is still one area that Prince holds back I wasn't expecting him too. I thought that I would offer it though and see as he was very sweaty.

To my surprise after a couple minutes Prince went and rolled! I was so happy! Of course I kept it inside and matched Prince's energy. Prince will let me walk up to him if he is lying down but for him to lay with me there is a rare occasion.

All in all it was a great session, I learned a lot and I am looking forward to our next ride knowing how I can set Prince and myself up for even better success.


Twosox: Extreme Friendly Game... In a different way.

April 28, 2011

This morning I played with Twosox. It was very windy so that in and of itself was an extreme friendly game. Part way through our session the other horses left so I had to help Twosox find relaxation before I finished. We started with some circles as Twosox wanted to move his feet, not in a right brain way though, so we did some traveling circles and falling leaf. Each of these went well and I played with putting more feel on the rope and that really helped Twosox to want to follow the feel instead of fight it.

The last thing I wanted to do was continue with day two of jumping the barrels standing on end. As I was setting them up was then the horses left and so I only had them part up set up when I had to get Twosox left brain again. It turned out good though because we did some squeeze games over the barrels and at first Twosox would jump them in an unconfident state but as he relaxed he found the space between two of the barrels and trotted through instead.

So then I set the barrels up like last time, two standing up and on in the middle but on the other side of the two barrels standing up, so the gap was only about one foot wide. Twosox jumped this no problem and actually jumped the one standing on its end. So I stood all three up and sent Twosox out on the circle. The first two times he jumped them but wasn't completely left brain so he knocked them a bit. The second time he knocked the barrel closest to the fence down but I decided to leave it and see if I could set it up so he jumped the remaining two. And he did! He even though he could have easily jumped the one that was knocked over by the fence he jumped the other two and cleared it no problem.

So I brought Twoosx in and gave him a long rest. He was way more relaxed and confident now so I unhaltered him and he stayed with me for a while before following me over to the gate where I let him out but he stayed with me for a bit. Then I sent him out and he trotted off to find the other horses.

It was so windy so the horses stayed out all day and so I didn't get a chance to play with any of the other horses but I was glad to have the chance to play with Twosox at least.

Prince: Follow the rail!!

April 25, 2011

Prince and I had a big session today. We started by played at Liberty a bit and played with close range circles at the walk and trot. The walk and really great but the trot Prince will loose connection and leave. So I decided to cause his idea to be my idea and when Prince started to leave I would send him. He would canter around the area and then come back. We did this a couple times and Prince was started to get it but then he figured out that he could still not do what I wanted by leaving. I realize now, looking back, when I should have stopped, which was when Prince thought about leaving but decided to trot past that spot. But hindsight is 20/20 right :)

I decided to go Online and play with it there so we did and then once that was going well we played with cantering on the circle. Six laps each direction. Going to the right was the easiest but the left was a bit harder but in the end we got it and so I brought Prince in for a rest. I know that Prince can do to and I don't want to make the body do it, I want Prince's mind to be engaged! So that is the challenge but it is fun and I can see we are getting it more and more each day.

I then saddled and played with some Figure eights, changes of directions, jumping, sideways towards and away and a few other things just to move Prince around in with the saddle. Then I bridled and mounted up. I decided to ride with just my bridle and but I had a carrot stick and also a savvy string around Prince's neck. We started with the lateral flexions and indirect rein and Prince did a beautiful job and was very light. He wasn't bothered by the bit at all.

Then we set out to ride the rail! We started at the walk and did it in both directions with my arms folded. Once that was going well we went into the trot. The walk and trot were fairly easy, there were just a couple small things that we had to play with but all in all I only had to pick up my reins once or twice. I did both the walk and trot with my arms folded and went in both directions. I was looking for Prince to really understand the pattern and find the rhythm, relaxation and connection.

Then I decided to try the canter! We haven't cantered in the riding ring in some time because we have been mostly cantering on the trail because there is more room. But I wanted to give it a try. So off we went. Prince did so well!! At first I wasn't sure what to expect but pretty soon my goal was for one lap. Prince would canter three-quarters of a lap but then at one spot consistently have a hard time maintaining the correct lead. So we cantered about five laps 90% of which were on the correct lead but I was looking for that complete lap. On sixth lap Prince got it and we cantered a complete lap.

One thing that I really had to get right was mental focus and keeping the energy in my body correct for what I was asking of Prince, especially in the spots where he had a hard time maintaining the canter.

Going to the left Prince had a bit harder of the time getting the correct left lead but pretty soon he was cantering three-quarters of a lap and just breaking gait at one spot at the one end. Again we cantered five almost complete laps before Prince was able to canter a complete lap. But in the end it was completely worth it. I can understand now how you can easily spend forty-five minutes doing just Follow the rail!! I love it :)

The best part was that the whole time we were cantering those laps I only had to make one correction each lap, which was asking Prince to pick up the canter again. He knew that he was supposed to stay on the rail :) That was something about which I was really happy.

After Prince got that one complete lap to the left I dismounted, unbridled and let him out to eat on the side patch of grass beside the riding ring. I was so happy about how the whole ride went and Prince blew my socks off with how much he tried!!


Twosox: Time to advance.

April 22, 2011

This morning Twosox and I had a great session. It was kind of unexpected as I was planning on playing with Prince first and then Twosox but Twosox came over to me and I had to give him his supplements anyway so I played with him first. And then Prince and Ruffian left so I didn't actually get to play with Prince after all. But Twosox and I had a amazing session and had so much fun!

We played with Figure eights and those went really well. Twosox had the rhythm, relaxation and connection and maintained gait around the ends also. I was really impressed! Then we played with cantering on the circle and got some incredible canter transitions and Twosox cantered almost a complete circle more than once! It was a relaxed canter, the best that I have ever seen!!

I soon realized that Twosox was definitely in a learning frame of mind and if I didn't teach him something new he would loose interest and motivation. So I decided to try jumping barrels there where standing on end. We have done this before but Twosox wasn't mentally connected and it would just keep getting worse because Twosox felt way to much pressure. I didn't set it up and wait and I didn't set things up for success.

This time I was going to set it up for success. I started with two barrels standing up and one laying down in the middle. Twosox jumped that no problem so then I moved the two barrels that were standing up closer together and put the other barrel, still on its side, in front of them so there was a smaller gap but still a barrel there. Twosox jumped it so problem and actually jumped higher than the standing up barrels. I wanted to make sure that Twosox was truly confident jumping these barrels though so I set it up so that the barrels were in his way a couple more times and he jumped it each time.

So then I set up all three barrels standing up and off we went. Because I didn't want Twosox to think it was about the barrels I sent him on the circle and walked away from the barrel then slowly walked back towards them. Twosox calmly trotted up to the barrel and jumped over them with not even the slightest amount of hesitation! Of course Twosox got a long rest afterward :)

We basically ended there but we played with some ground tying and Twosox caught on really quickly. I had to go down to the house to get the camera and he stayed exactly where I left him and didn't move the whole time. He learns so quickly!!

Prince and Ruffian did end up coming back but I didn't have enough time to play with Prince as I had to get ready for work but it was really nice to be able to have a longer session with Twosox and we both had so much fun!!

It really is an amazing feeling when you set your horse up for success!!