Salt Wells, Wyoming Mustang Mare

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Relationship Building - Making Deposits

America was very calm during 99.9% of our walk. The only time her head came up above her withers was when we were walking by Lake Rousseau and some people in a boat went by. America was watching them intently then wanted to go to the waters edge to get a closer look. She was practically leading me as she confidently walked briskly towards the water!! She really WANTED to get a closer look at the boat and the people.

We had a really nice day, walked for about 3-1/2 hours then headed back to the trailers to relax a bit before loading up to go home. America loaded right in the trailer when asked.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Get Your Good Better!!

 I decided to warm America up for her freestyle session by doing some liberty with her. We played with stick to me and then with figure 8's. The stick to me went well but we had a bit of a rough start with the figure 8's. America would draw around the cones, both right and left, but when I sent her through the center, she would leave. I tried sending her very softly but she still would leave so I "helped' her leave. She figured it out very quickly it was much easier to just walk through the center, around the cone, and back to me for a rub then to go running off at the trot or canter. She's so smart!!

Tonight was the fourth riding session for America with my friend Sheree and everything went very well. We started out with walk to the left and America was following a direct rein nicely, with softness, and with minimal corrections. She also did well at the trot to the left; however, at the canter, she still wanted to turn back to the right. It took some persistence to get her cantering to the left without wanting to turn back but when we got it going well, America had a very nice, relaxed canter without all the impulsiveness she'd displayed in the last session. Her stride was cadenced and smooth. After she'd completed one lap without trying to turn back to the right, Sheree brought her to a walk and they played with the ball for a bit. America enjoyed this, biting the ball and pushing on it with her nose. She even tried to put her foot on it then kicked it!!

After a bit of a rest, Sheree asked America to walk, trot, and canter to the right. This went well as expected...this is America's "easy" side. They did two laps of each then stopped.

I showed Sheree how to do the 9-step back-up and America was nice and soft...backed up 6 steps.

We're going on a trail walk with a friend and her horse tomorrow morning so we can get some trail experience with me on the ground. It's also a great way to spend some undemanding time with America and she deserves a well earned break. She's been learning a lot and working hard lately!!

The next riding session is Saturday morning.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What Happens Before What Happens, Happens!!

Went to a friends house today to play and had a ball. We warmed up online playing with all 7 games with different obstacles: log stumps, a tarp suspended between two trees and blowing in the wind, the arena fence and the driveway, and my friends trailer.

After we warmed up online, we played versions of the same games but freestyle. We did walk and trot in both directions, also peppered in some direct and indirect rein and a bit of yo-yo for upward and downward transitions. America prefers to go to the right so when we went to the left, she kept wanting to turn back to the right. I just slowed everything down and had polite "conversations" with her using the reins until she went left then I left her alone. Eventually she OFFERED to go to the left at both the walk and the trot!!

I tried a few 9-step backups and on the third try, America backed up when I sat in my seat and thought about back...didn't have to pick up the reins at all. She really figured out quickly "what happens before what happens, happens". The back up was really nice and soft too!!

My friend and her horse joined us in the arena after our walk/trot sessions and we played with a couple of patterns and the was fun and America caught on to the patterns really quickly. She wickedly smart!

We played with trailer loading in my friends trailer; it's very different from my open stock trailer, more closed in so more of a squeeze game. I did alot of approach and retreat and after a few minutes, America loaded herself in the trailer and was confident enough to get a bit of hay from the hay net and she stayed in the trailer for several minutes just relaxing in there. Up to that point she had been a bit worried and when she put her hind feet in, I could see them shaking...poor girl was nervous. By backing her out and sending her back in, she gained her confidence enough to go all the way in and then stay in.

It was a really fun day but we had to call it quits as the rain started to move in and was coming down harder. I loaded America in my trailer and put up all my equipment and headed home marveling at all the gifts my horse had given me throughout our play.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Playdays and Cantering!!

It's been a busy two days for America and I. We went to a playday yesterday and played with all kinds of interesting new obstacles: umbrellas, cushions on the ground, a balloon squeeze, a hay ring tipped on end to use as a squeeze, trailer loading into a different trailer, being introduced to the plastic bag on the cs, and being in a pen next to another mare at lunch time.

America did well at all the challenges, even backing through the hay ring squeeze. We've done so much backing through gates I think she thinks that's normal now lol!! The one thing we need to work on is when there is something in her zone 5; she is a bit unconfident about it. It's not extreme but she does want to turn her zone 5 just a bit when she approaches the object.

I was happy when, at lunch time, I put her in a pen between a horse she knows and a little Arab mare. There was the tiniest bit of squealing by the two mares but again, nothing extreme and they settled in and were quiet through lunch.

We played online; I would have liked to ride a little but it was REALLY hot after lunch so I opted to head home instead. When I got home, I got America settled and I jumped in the felt so good!!

Today I had Sheree over again and after warming up at liberty, we played with FTR at the trot to the left first and then to the right. America again preferred going to the right but it was easy to sort that out and soon she was walking then trotting nicely to the left. She was a little bit impulsive at the start but within 2-1/2 to 3 laps, she began to relax and her trot smoothed out. Within another two laps, she was even in her strides and was asking questions so I asked her in to the center to rest.

After the rest, Sheree used a direct rein to ask America to go to the right. After two relaxed walk laps, Sheree asked for the trot and America went into a really nice, relaxed trot. After two trot laps, Sheree asked for the canter. This took a bit of convincing and going through the phases, including using the ss but America began to canter. As expected, she was a bit impulsive but started to relax within 1-1/2 laps so I asked her in to the center to rest. America was standing next to me, with Sheree still mounted and America had her right hind cocked, very relaxed. After a few minutes, Sheree dismounted and I unsaddled America and took her to hose her off. After hosing, Sheree and I took America out to hand graze, spending undemanding time with her.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Maintain Gait and Direction and New Strategies!

 I played online with America tonight and our figure 8's at the walk are going well; America really understands the pattern now. At the trot, she is still having a bit of trouble with the draw around the cone but it's getting better. I think I need to look up a couple of videos to help me get a better idea of how to help her with this! Circles are going really well at the walk and trot; America has found relaxation on the the canter, she is still a bit impulsive but is finding relaxation much quicker now. Got a couple of trot steps during sideways on the fence tonight. Sideways over a log is good a close range (12-15 feet) but beyond that and America seems a bit lost. I need to think about that for a while.

After the online warm up we headed to the round pen for a bit of stick to me at liberty to test our connection before freestyle riding. I also played with leading by the mane I set it up like Linda showed in the video on the Savvy Club site. America did great! We took it slow so she had time to respond and we did forward, a couple of turns and even a back up. The back up started with her just leaning back a bit which I rewarded and the second attempt, she actually took a step back. She got lovin for that one. I should add most of this was done at phase 2 or less with the exception of the first attempt at each...I had to touch her with the cs to cause her to move off. The second attempt just took the phase two. Will play with it again tomorrow night.

My friend also came over tonight for lesson #2 and we started with walk to the left which went really well...nice relaxed walk. When asked for the trot, America again tried to turn to go in the opposite direction; America REALLY prefers to go to the right. We saw a pattern developing where each time Sheree went through her phases and had to spank with the ss, America used that moment to do her turn which would cause Sheree to stop the spank to pick up the reins. Instead of using the reins to try to "steer" her, I went to the center of the round pen and sent her to the left at a trot. It worked beautifully...America went into a trot with just me bringing up my life and pointing. She maintained gait and direction and was on the rail and Sheree didn't have to use the reins! I began looking for the slightest sign of relaxation so I could ask her in. America went six laps before she began to relax and look for me, asking questions. I invited her in and we all rested in the center while America licked and chewed. I think this worked so well because America and I have played this game at liberty several times and it was familiar to her...she understood. I also really liked the fact it wasn't necessary to use the reins.

After a good, long rest, I left the round pen and Sheree asked her to walk and then trot going to the right. America had no problem in this direction. Sheree allowed her to go two laps then sat down and said whoa and America stopped without having to pick up the reins! SESSION OVER!! Lots of lovin and a couple of cookies while America stood relaxed with her left hind cocked.

After the rest, I unsaddled her and she nibbled a bit of grass then decided to roll while Sheree and I were talking. I think that says alot about how the session went.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Go Buttons, Trotting, NO Brace!!

Spent time with America tonight saddling her up then playing online to warm up for riding. She started out a bit impulsive online but quickly settled down and began connecting with me. Once we had a good connection going, we moved to the round pen for riding to work on trotting more than a few steps...the goal was a complete lap.

I have enlisted the help of a neighbor who is not a Parelli student but is kind and natural with horses and is a good rider (she used to be a jockey!!). I got on first so she could see what we've been working on and where we were. We warmed up by walking a nice, free walk on the rail in both directions and then America offered me a trot when I brought my life up!! We went about 1/4 lap and she stopped, I asked her to go again and when I brought my life up she began trotting again another 1/4 lap. Yeah...we have a go button!!

At this point, I got off and my neighbor got on with a goal of a complete lap without stopping. It took a bit of time and several starts and stops but America then offered 1-1/2 laps at the trot on the rail to the right without stopping at the gates or where I was standing outside the pen. WAHOO!! My neighbor lets her stop and rest and gave her lots of rubs and scratches!!

Next up was FTR to the left at a trot...America kept trying to turn and go back to the right. My neighbor abandoned the trot to the left plan and worked on a bit of direct without brace to get some "steering" going. Once America understood this, they went off to the left at a walk. Sheree left her alone unless she left the rail, then put her back. After a few repetitions, America was walking an entire lap without stopping or changing direction on her own. At that point, we called it quits with more rubs, scratches, and atta girls for America.

It was a great session and fun for me to watch someone else ride my horse so I could see everything. We have several more sessions planned to develop trotting and then cantering and if everything goes as smoothly as tonight did, we'll be cantering in no time.

My neighbor also complimented me on how nice a horse America is...that she's so willing and tries hard. She also said her trot is AWESOME...very smooth even at this early stage.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Being Progressive!!

America and I went camping this weekend with a friend, Terri Love, and her horse Beau. I had such a good time even though it was HOT, HOT, HOT!! The mornings started out cool enough but by afternoon, it felt like the mid 90’s.
We stayed at fellow Parelli student, Mary Lou Hawkins, Renaissance Farm. Mary Lou has a really nice playground and separate riding arena set up. She also has a round pen which I took full advantage of.
We started out in the mornings playing online or at liberty and during the heat of the day, we rested in the shade while the horses enjoyed turnout. Mary Lou also gave us a tour of the neighborhood and their private 23 acre park on the Santa Fe River. It’s so beautiful there and the cool water felt so good on my feet when I went wading out into the river. It was a welcome break during the heat of the day.

America and I played on the 45’ line so I could experiment with playing at distances. We had touch it going pretty well at distances from 22’ to 31’ and circling game at about 34’. It seems America has an easier time cantering out at 34’ than on the 22’ line…she tends to cross fire at that distance. Also, playing on the 45’ line allows me to play the rope out to avoid her pulling on it with her nose and instead, keep her nose tipped inside the circle.
We also had a good squeeze game going at 31’ and she was maintaining direction and gait while jumping obstacles. On the couple of instances she decided to change direction on her own, I just asked her to speed up in the new direction. She decided pretty quickly that it was a good idea to maintain the direction I originally chose!
Sideways is going well; however, the greater the distance, the more she lags her hq. I need to think about that for a while and try to find some info to help problem solve!
Two things America fell in love with over the weekend were the green pedestal and the big, green ball. Once she figured out how to get all four feet up on that pedestal, she kept offering it. I kept having to say “thank you, but how about if we do…”. She pushed the ball with zone 1, zone 2, and zone 3; however, zones 4 and 5 will take more practice. She really enjoyed the big green ball and pushing it with her nose and chest/legs. She also allowed me to bounce it near her and then on her!!
Afternoons were reserved for freestyle riding. We waited until about 6:00 p.m. when it cooled down a bit. The first day for America and I was devoted to getting a relaxed, free walk. By the time our session was finished, we were walking on phase 2 or less and America was allowing me to give her a little direction with the direct and indirect rein. We even had a couple really nice stops off my seat…didn’t have to lift the rein or bend her to a stop. WOOT, WOOT!! We also rode a couple of figure 8’s at the walk to give purpose to the direct and indirect rein. The process certainly doesn’t look like the product I hope to have but it was a great start. One more note, during our walk, America followed the rail and only required two corrections on the last lap!!
Day two started with warming up strong online, again on the 45’ line, reviewing everything from the day before. Our online play was nice and America felt softer than the previous day (I think she was a bit “up” the day before from being in a new place, with new surroundings and new horses). America also felt more connected to me then yesterday and was asking a lot more questions. Since America felt so connected and soft, I decided to go ahead and mount up for our freestyle riding.
I mounted up out in the big playground area and we rode, at a walk, to the round pen. Once inside, we started at the walk and when that was going well, relaxed and free, I asked her for the trot. The first three times I asked, it took me making quite a bit of commotion with the savvy string for her to get the idea. I rewarded her even speeding up her walk a bit at first. I could feel that we were really close to getting the trot. The fourth time I asked for the trot, America picked it up. We only went a about 4 strides but I lavished the praise on her then asked again. We repeated this about three more times then she offered about 1/4 lap of trotting, long enough for me to actually post a couple of strides!! At that point, I decided to stop and we rested at the X in the figure 8 (planning for the future when we’re trotting figure 8’s!!). At this point, I dismounted, and we spent some undemanding time together as a reward for everything America offered me during that freestyle session.
I’m so proud of America. This is all new for her…she is my first “colt starting” project and she’s doing fabulously!!