Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finally... progress!

The past couple weeks have gone really well with Licorice. I have had about 3 good rides on her- rides where I felt like progress was made. The first good ride was a couple weeks ago, and I actually walked her away from home, because she throws a fit if I try to ride her away from Dutch. I know this will eventually have to be remedied, but my goal right now is to build confidence for both of us and to show her how much fun a good ride can be. We went to a field about a mile away, and I lunged her until she settled down- she was very full of it, so we spent about 20 mins cantering around in circles. When I mounted, she was a pain in my ass for a few minutes, bucking and acting foolish, until she realized I wasn't going anywhere. Now, this field is about 90 acres, and has some pretty established ATV trails we were using- there are gopher holes everywhere else. But I figured the ground was soft enough that if I got dumped, I most likely wouldn't suffer any mortal injuries. So I was pretty comfortable asking for w/t/c. She really threw a fit at the canter, but once again, I just plopped my ass down and kept it there like it was made of velcro. By the end of our ride, we she was trotting and cantering (in the correct lead) with very little attitude. Our only downfall was when we came across a small bridge with a white colored concrete- she was convinced it was going to eat her. Being that there was traffic coming and going, I didn't push the issue- we just cut across a field.
Then, this past week, my friend Sarah who I bought Licorice from came to visit. She gave me a couple of riding lessons on her, especially focusing on her balking and biting issues. My left leg is currently several lovely shades of purple, red, and yellow, incidentally. But my new method of getting her through the nasty biting is a good hard kick on the side she is biting at, a pop in the mouth from the opposite side, and continuing to cue for forward movement. It took me a few tries to get all three of those movements down simultaneously, hence the gnawed-on leg. It took some doing, but I got her through it. Yesterday, I was riding her bareback around the yard, and she was doing her biting crap, and I just tried to stay very consistent with my cues until she would walk without any attitude. When asked for the trot, I got the same thing (she's not a dumb horse, she knows that a faster gait+bareback rider=less balance for me when she acts up. Doesn't help that I'm still working on balancing her trot bareback- she has a much bigger trot than Dutch) and we worked on that until the farrier got here, but it's definitely going to take time to convince her that I'm not going to back down.
She was, however, a perfect angel for Sarah, much to my chagrin. We took both horses out on some state land (Dutch is coming back form a hock injury complicated by arthritis, but he actually loosened up and looked more comfortable after being ridden) and Licorice seemed to have a blast. She did buck a few times at the canter for Sarah, but other than that was very good.
So, having someone more experienced here helped me a lot, and having her talk me through some issues helped my confidence. I just figure I have to keep plugging along. And Sarah gave me her extra Parelli Level 1 and Level 2 stuff... I figure I'll give it a chance and try it out... and just keep pushing Licorice and myself. But the progress we've made has really given me then confidence and determination to keep working with her.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's a mini, not a mounting block.

Ok, I was with this girl until she started playing jumprope with her horse (wtf) and using her mini as a moutning block.

For the record, I am not as anti-Parelli as a lot of people are. That said, I'm not paying a month's salary for a stick with a rope on it. I read a book by Parelli once, and when I was done, I was left scratching my head and going "huh?"

My personal take on Parelli is this: I think he is gimmicky beyond belief and out to make a buck. No surprise, isn't everyone? If someone wants to pay up the wazoo to play his 7 games or whatever- far be it for me to criticize. Know why? Because other than a couple dumb things the girl does, in that video I see a cooperative horse willingly doing whatever his owner asks, at liberty, and without coercion. That, to me, says something about Parelli works. Just not my thing.

I personally prefer Clinton Anderson. I will probably get some shit for that, but, oh well, everyone has an opinion. I have one of his books- his writing style is very accessible to me, and his ideas make sense. Now, I also didn't pay $75 for his stick with a string either. I paid $7 for a lunge whip. And I didn't pay whetever he charges for his special rope halter with knots on it... I paid like 12 bucks for a rope halter from the feed store. I could have paid less and made my own, but I'm too lazy for all that.

I guess my point is, even the most gimmicky trainers (and yes, both these guys are gimmicky) will have something valuable to take from their programs. Anderson's groundwork is working pretty well for Licorice. She knows she needs to lead like my shadow, and is getting better about lungeing all the time. Some of his exercises have made her very respeonsive to my body language. She's not a perfect horse, and I would say I'm not a perfect trainer, except I wouldn't dare to call myself a trainer. I guess, I'm not a perfect owner? I know a lot of her issues stem from my inability to demand respect, and now I have to learn how to earn, and insist upon, her respect and trust. So without a good trainer to rely on (and frankly, withou the hundreds of dollars it will cost to get one) we are muddling along, and I am taking ideas from wherever I can find them, and adapting them to our situation.

Hopefully, somehow in all the steps we make, forward and backward, we'll get somewhere.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I am such a nerd.

I never read blogs until this past year. And I have to admit- I love the horse blogosphere. Yes, the previous sentence is proof that I am a huge nerd. I have always loved the internet and have always posted at message boards- for poetry, music, politics, that kind of stuff. But now, I'm just reading (and posting) about something I like... not because there is some agenda or point to prove... but because I always wanted a horse, and now I have two of them. And there is this really cool community of people who I can read and learn from.

And then I can blog my dorky little heart out. If only my husband knew... when he finds out, and he will... I will never live down blogging about horses. I will be teased mercilessly. Oh well.

Hopefully I can work with Licorice this week and post something soon. Her originaly trainer is coming to visit me next week, and hopefully she can help me figure out where I've being going wrong.

Happy blogging. :)