Thursday, March 26, 2009

A word to the wise...

If you are a nurse, and upon getting home from work, you decide it would be nice to hop on your horse bareback for a few minutes, don't do it while still in your scrubs. The really do not provide any grip. Now, I know this seems like common sense, but I thought I'd share just in case there are any other stupid nurses out there.

The good news was, Licorice was an angel. I did some ground work with her, practicing sidepassing (for some reason she sidepasses much better to the right than to the left) and also trying to get her to leave her front end where I put it. She likes to always turn and face me... this was recently a topic of debate on FHOTD. I personally do not think it is a problem for her to face me when stopped or when "whoa"ing on the lunge line, as long as she doesn't try to "crawl into my lap," as it was stated. And yes, she likes to do this. We are at a point where when she even shifts her weight towards me, a sharp look and a flick of the leadrope will change her mind.

Anyway, I digrees. This morning I worked on moving the forequarters. She yields the hind great, but she's not as automatic with her front end. When we got to where she would stay put for a good 5 seconds, I called it quits. This will definitely be a frequent lesson.

Anyway, I hopped on bareback, in my well worn and too-big scrubs... we walked all over the paddock with a minimum of attitude... I mean, there's still attitude but it's getting to where it's manageable. But stupid me, I decided to ask for a trot, which is normally no problem... but as my ass had no grip to it, being that my clothing was a little inappropriate, I proceeded to flop all over her back like a toddler. Oops. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not entirely blaming a wardrobe malfunction... if my seat were better, this probably wouldn't have been an issue).

But Licorice did exactly what she should have done... she kept trotting, because her retarded rider had told her to and hadn't asked her to stop. This, of course, didn't help my foolish ass up there scrambling for balance... but the point is, she was a good girl, and when I finally righted myself, I stopped her and told her so. Then we finished our little jaunt at a walk. Ears pricked forward and all.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Follow the Leader

I had an "aha!" moment today.

Watching the Parelli Level 1 stuff has made me think about some things. First of all, I think there is probably something valuable to get out of just about any training program. Well, one of the points that was made is that your horse gains respect for you and considers you to be his "safe place" (ie: not the barn, or his stall, or the pasture) when you are able to protect him/her from other horses. This makes sense- you are proving yourself to be the boss of other horses, so your horse assumes you are alpha above all horses, and is less likely to challenge you.
I realized I hadn't been doing much with Dutch because a) he was out of commision for a few months and b) he's not my main riding horse. Being semi-retired, I figured it wasn't a big deal if he got a little rusty. But I realized... what if it's a big deal to Licorice? I mean, I expect him to retain some basic ground manners- do not run me over, do not try to snatch hay out of my arms, stay out of my space, etc. But I hadn't been actually focusing any groundwork on him.
So this morning, I was playing some of the Parelli "seven games," which are really no different than any other training method, much as they may claim it is. The Driving and Porcupine games are yielding to indirect and direct pressure. The Yo-Yo game is practice backing and coming back in. I will say that watching the discussion about how your horse may respond to these has been helpful though. I worked with Licorice for about 10 minutes, and then decided to do the same with Dutch. It's amazing how unresponsive he has gotten! He doesn't "argue" like Licorice, he just tunes me out. I had to get pretty assertive with him to drive him back and yield his hind- and forequarters. He finally started listening, responidng, licking, and chewing, but it took some doing.
Interestingly, I stole glances at Licorice, and she was watching us intently. When I did some leading practice and jogged Dutch around the yard at a trot, Licorice looked postiviley jubliant. She ran around bucking and farting. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I'm pretty sure it means something. I wonder if she had an "aha!" moment too?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I rode Lic yesterday and she was so good! We walked, trotted, cantered. She did spook a couple times... it's funny, because we passed two big dogs and she was fine, but she spooked at this yard with 4 little ankle biter dogs. Then I stopped to talk to my neighbor (the one with the three horses) about riding together sometime... well, she was having some kind of family get-together, and there were like 7 dogs running around, and some guy playing football... it was too much for Lic, she attempted to wheel around and bolt... but once I stopped her, I had her stand there until she calmed down, and she did fine. We are still having that issue where she bucks going into the canter sometimes- I have found that pushing her through it is more effective than stopping and trying again, but that, of course, means I ahve to sit out the bucks, and I think I need to work on my seat. I didn't fall or anything, but talk about spanking yourself on the ass... lol. Once I consciously told myself I HAD to lean back or I WOULD fall off, it was fine- I got my balance and Lic cantered instead of bucking. So I think her issue might be as much with me as anything else. I also worked with her on the scary white cement on my neighbor's driveway. She put two feet on it, and we're going to work again every day this week, even if I don't have time to ride.

I went to a local horse show on Sat. I could only stay for the morning classes, which were English, but it is super beginner friendly. I'm out of town for next month's show, but I'm thinking about entering in the April show. They had some weanlings (I guess soon to be yearlings now) on the farm... and I fell in love with one. It was a buckskin, and he had a splint on his leg and a shaved spot on his neck where it look like he had an IV before or something... anyway, he came up to see me over the fence, but he was very hand shy... poor baby. But he gave me several nuzzles/kisses... I thought I would die from the cuteness. Hopefully in two month's time we can enter the WP walk/trot or novice classes.