Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Many Fine Learning Opportunities

Hey...it's the second blog post of the month...I made it past my June record...GO ME!

Anyway, this month is flying by. I can't believe it's already early the morning of the...8th?! WHAT?! Okay, anyway. The month of July thus far can only be described as a series of many fine learning opportunities :) I've been playing and riding for hours on end every day, with so many horses it's hard to keep track of! So, let me see what I can say about it.

The 5th of July was a day filled with horses. Micky and I took several rounds of rides, starting with Prin and Clue, Dawnelle's big QH gelding. I rode him and he did fantastic, that's the happiest all of us have seen him in months. He's very out of shape, but Micky and I are shooting to start playing with him 2-3 days a week at least. He's a wonderful gelding, he falls into that category that everyone loves--10-12 years old, quiet, reliable, friendly, etc. Makes for a nice trail ride, and he'll feel better being used more.

Next ride was Crest and Prin, and boy did I have fun! I rode Crest, and played with slowing his walk down. Crest is a power-walker, and often causes people who don't know him well to ask me if he's got gaited in him. The answer is absolutely not, he is just...super impulsive, and will running walk and fox trot if he's feeling particularly peppy. So, I focused on slowing that. Using a combination of lateral flexion, hind quarter disengagement, fore-quarter disengagement, and very very particular back-up, we established some communication. See, Crest is an extremely intelligent, observant horse, and one pattern that he discovered in me is that I'm not very particular with what he does with his hind legs.

He'll "run off" so to speak, at the walk, because I'm not asking his hind end to listen to me. (I discovered this after about dying, asking for a HQ yield about 3 weeks ago with Farrah). So, the way it would work was this: Crest would get braced in the walk, so I'd bend his head, ask for lateral flexion/disengagement UNTIL HE LOOKED AT ME, (respect/attention thing) and then allow his front end to move around in a direct rein, and ask him to continue forward. Rinse and repeat as necessary as he showed signs of rudeness, braciness (I think I just made that word up!). Once he got that pattern, and understood that I would take control of his hind end if necessary, all it really took was my asking him to stop and back up several steps at my speed (another thing he used to RUN through with no respect or control) and he'd settle down. By the end of the ride, he was walking slower than Prin, and actually taking time to eat some grass and enjoy his walk :)

Later on that evening, Prin and I played with some of our finesse stuff. It's going pretty well, but I found some holes in myself and my experience that I need to play with before trying to advance Prin, because unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure what I'm feeling for, and Prin doesn't particularly care to have her body be the grounds for that sort of experimentation, and I can't say as I blame her. Fortunately, I have both Farrah and Michelle coming in 3 days, and so I'll have the resources to research and improve with! It should be a lot of fun!

Yesterday was another long riding day--Micky, Sarah and I played with Prin, Crest, Clue, and Micky's horse Shadow. All was successful, and we had a very good time. Shadow is a quick learner with a stubborn, naughty streak, and so he's been a fun challenge for me to play with.

Yesterday I also played with a friend's horses. These two ponies are neat characters, but are also challenging for me. One (previously mentioned on here--Luna, a Quarab) is a LBI with a dislike of the canter or actually being polite in her responsibilities. Last night I spent 45 minutes playing with JUST her circling game, demanding instead of just doing the circle, that she do it at the trot, with rhythm, relaxation, and contact, something I hadn't been a stickler on in the past. She found it in the walk almost immediately, which was neat, But the trot took the entire session, and by the end she was sweating and panting, (and she was only being asked to TROT!) but she finally found half a lap of obedience and contact. I realized right then that I would NOT be riding that until it could happen at all 3 gaits on the ground. I'm really beginning to learn the value behind that. It's amazing what repetition will teach in my brain.

The other horse I played with is Fig, a National Show Horse gelding, a LBE, who doesn't care much for maintaining the same responsibilities as Luna, but for him, it's in the slower, downward gaits. He's quite impulsive, and doesn't read energy and body language AT ALL, so we played for 45 minutes with sensitizing him to that. By the end of that session, he was doing walk/trot/walk/halt transitions on the circle without my even having to lift the stick. Too cool :)

Today was just downright weird. I won't get into details, but lets just say it didn't flow very well. Anyway, Micky and I trailed Prin, Crest, and Shadow to Hay Creek recreational area near Red Wing, MN, to do some trail riding. Hay Creek is a beautiful area with MILES of groomed trails up and down hills, etc. Lots of fun. The idea was of course to enjoy a nice ride around the area, but also to socialize Shadow and get him doing things with a herd of obedient, seasoned ponies. We started out with me riding Crest, ponying Shadow, and Micky on Prin. Crest was FANTASTIC, being totally collected and relaxed in his new environment, not impulsive (our lessons from recent times are sticking!), and an excellent leader for Shadow to follow.

We stayed in that configuration for about a half an hour, and then, I hopped on Shadow (who was being wonderfully obedient) and Micky rode Crest, and ponied Prin. Again, Crest wowed me by being perfect for Micky, too. What a superstar! We ended our ride (the last hour) by switching one more time--Micky finished the ride on her little man (HOW AWESOME WAS HE?! He was totally perfect for her!), and I rode Prin and ponied Crest. All in all, we had a fantastic time, and I think we all learned a ton. Good stuff, and I think my horses have earned a day off tomorrow, they've been playing hard!

Savvy on, I'm headed back up to bed. Remember my mentioning that today didn't flow very well? Well, the 4 hour nap between 7:30 and 11:30 pm was part of that off flow--I was wide awake for a while there, but now, back to bed!

F

1 comment:

savvyknight said...

Wow Fran!!! you have been really busy1! I'm glad that everyone is doing Great!