Wednesday, March 9, 2011

the little things

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, all three days together, not in training, but in recording this. I had a good ride all three days on Camina. She is coming along nicely and I am getting better as a horseman. Since I realized that in my circling of Camina that I needed to step towards her butt she has kept bent on the circle and responding to my feel wether to slow down or speed up to another gait. She has even given me better canters. It is amazing what just a little thing like body position and the slightest movement can speak volumes and get a lot more done in a shorter time.
I have been desenstizing her with different things, bags, noises, tarps, umbrella. I even carried my whip while on her back and cracked it several times. She will walk over the tarp no problem and even try to play with the bag of toys and push the ball.
Monday I pushed a little to hard trying to get her to canter and she bucked on me. I knew she was going to but I kept pushing trying to get a canter and she got mad and pitched a little, but I knew it and was ready and just bent her to the side and made her circle several times til she settled down then I worked her some more.
Tuesday I had company in the arena. Chris, one of my students brought Buddy in and worked with him while I worked with Camina. This was a good distraction for all of us as they wanted to visit each other. It is really a good test to see if the horse is following me or not. After a few attempts she settled down with me and we just kept working on things. She is starting to get soft in my hands so we worked on that most of the time at a walk then at a trot. I didn't even try for a canter.
Today was even better. We spent a short time warming up and desensitizing then I got on. She was real soft laterally. I wanted to work on the vertical softness and shape so as to get her in balance to do various movements. She was the softest ever. I got her to do several leg yields. We were able to get into a canter after some serious nudging on my part and just kept working on connecting a rein to her feet I worked real well and we made much progress today. We were able to get into a canter 3 times towards the end. So I went to asking for softness at a walk for the last 5 minutes and then we quit. She did real well today. She is butt high by 2 fingers so I think that is why she doesn't want to canter with me on her back. She probably has a hard time lifting her front end to move into a canter. So I used some wither pads to lift up the front of my saddle which would put me more over her center and not on her forehand as much. I hoped this would help her go into a canter. I am not sure it did though. We will try again on Friday.
It is the little things that make a difference in life, don't you think?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ice on the roof

Well it has been raining and warming up around here. I'm thankful for an indoor riding arena. However, there are still some pitfalls to that, like snow sliding off the roof. It makes a loud noise the horses aren't too sure about. It did make for good training though.
I have been working Camina. Yesterday I rode her for a few minutes in the end of the session. We had a good one, did alot of desensitizing to ball, bag and tarp she handled all of them good. I picked up on something that I should have known when I lunge her. I realized that I need to be stepping to her hip to drive he forward. When I did that she responded much better and stayed shaped toward me.
Today, I warmed her up nicely and put a bit in her mouth of the duration of the session. She recently had her teeth floated and that made a world of difference in the way she carries the bit. I lunged her remembering what I learned yesterday and she went into trot and canter smoothly in both directions. I got the ball out and the bag of noise and tarp out and worked her through those. She did very well. The cats and the ice on the roof coming off helped in this area. At the end of the session I rode her and she did very well. I even got my whip and twirled it around like I would a rope, cracked it several times did several disengagements and other transitions. I think this was the best lesson yet and that She is farther along now than she was when I quit her last year. I am excited about where we are going from here. She really is moving better from my feel and I am more atuned to her now too. One day at at time though.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cats, balls and noises

You will understand that title in a minute so keep reading.
I got started with Camina by saddling her. She did well for not having had a saddle on for a couple months. I always wonder how a new horse will handle it after some time off. So I took necessary precautions. But it all went well. I got her circling and warming up to a trot and back to a walk. Today was to be a day of desensitizing her to more things.
It all started with two cats who live at Cherrios. they decided they wanted to come out and play in the arena at the same time I was working with Camina. This meant that at times she was more interested in their antics than following my lead. It provided an opportunity for me to keep asking her to pay attention to me. The kind of head turning she was doing was akin to a guy watching nice looking girls walk down the street. He needs a slap in the head, and probably gets one if his wife or girlfriend is with him, and rightly so. It is just plain rude. So I had to put some sense into Camina. The cats took their little circus to the other end and were climbing over the kick wall to get between the walls and that really startled Camina so we went down their to work in ringside with the cats. That went pretty good. I got her on the long line and got her cantering better than she has so far with me. Nice loping canter after an off to the races type canter. She settled down. Then her buddy started to whinny and went into a one really good bucking fit. I am glad I wasn't on her for that. Even though it was a single jump and forced her on faster it would have shook me down to my socks.
Well after about 15 minutes of transitional stuff we changed things up and got the big ball out. I bounced it around her and rolled it against her and up on to her neck and back she didn't like it at first, but she began to stand okay with it. During the whole time of our work the wind was really blowing against the doors and walls making some odd noises. She was quite the jumpy one because of it. I just kept her busy though and she handled it ok.
I finished off with a plastic grocery sack. I started rubbing her with it and shaking it around until she also would stand with that and then I rubbed her around the neck, nose and ears until she would just let me do it with moving her head. I quit when she lowered her head for me as I rubbed her with the bag.
So look at obstacles or problems or troubles as opportunities to grow and change as I looked at the cats, balls and noises as opportunities to further my relationship with Camina. You can't stop the troubles but you can change the way you look at them and handle them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


You have heard of memory mattresses. You know those really thick foam ones that form to your body and then when you get up they spring back to their original form. That way they never get sags in them where you don't want them. Well, horses have memory too. Sometimes they are bad, hopefully most of  the time they are good. She had a good memory. She has a lot of pep and like an athlete I need to get her in shape before I start riding her again so I spent  the time refreshing her memory as to who I am (her leader) and what exercises she needs to do. She was quite the jumpy one, probably because of the wind against the walls and doors of the arena. I really worked her though. I warmed her up with some circling then went through our repetoire of exercises to see how she would do. She wanted to trot alot and bucked several times, but I just sped her up or changed directions. Eventually she calmed down and started to be responsive to what I was asking of her. Then we started into leg yields down the wall and around the arena; the falling leaf, crossing back and forth in front of me as I walked forward. We did some flexing and let her stop and work on desensitizing with the whip popping and so on. Because she was so jumpy, the next lesson we are really going to work on introducing all kinds of scary objects to her. My plan is to take her to another level than we reached last year. I am going to refine her movements and attaching the rein to the leg, you understand with an invisible string so that when I pick up a rein it moves a particular leg and so on. I hope also to get her to move into a canter freely, though even on a lunge line she didn't like to keep caner for more than a few steps. I quit her on this when I got her to canter both directions all the way around the circle. I get to work her 5 days a week this time around so hopefully we will see much faxster and better progress.
How's your memory of late. Exercise your brain and that will help. I may be exercising the horses body, but the exercises and transitions are exercising her brain, which makes for better control and harmony between us.
Have a great day. I will keep you posted.
Do something with your mind today.