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!!