Tuesday, June 16, 2009

South Dakota

We went on our first group trail ride of the summer, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was fun to see a lot of the same people from last year, beautiful scenery and some fun and challenging rides. We had our friend, Misha, with us to ride Cody, and we enjoyed having him along. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of rain, and between the rain and the mud it produced, conditions were not so nice.

It was raining when we arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and the stalls we were given for the horses were deep with sloppy, black mud. The campground did the best they could to improve the muddy road by covering it with gravel on Thursday, and that helped tremendously, but the stalls remained muddy.

There was a break in the rain and we were able to ride with a small group on Thursday morning. I got a taste of Brego's need to stay near Strider and away from other horses. Other than that, he was my champ, tromping right through mud and puddles. It rained all that afternoon, and we stayed in the trailer and napped.

Friday morning was beautiful. We went for a morning ride with a small group again. At one point, Tim was descending a steep incline and Strider got his rear foot stuck under a rock and went down--he just kind of sat. Tim got up, and Strider remained seated until Tim asked him to get up calmly, which was nice--good thing he didn't freak out and struggle with Tim's foot in the stirrup. Strider is fine--no injury.

The ride officially began with an afternoon group ride. The weather remained clear and was nice--not too hot, not too cold. I experienced more of Brego's interaction with other horses, which would be my challenge for the duration. Whenever Tim went off to the side or ahead of the line on Strider, it wasn't long before Brego had to follow. At times he would break into a canter, just worried that he was being left behind, I suppose. I found that as long as we were single file, with Strider either in front or behind, we were fine, but getting bunched up in a group of horses was uncomfortable for him (and therefore, for me). Eventually I knew I would have a problem, and followed Tim as soon as he veered away from the group. It was funny that at times Brego would freak out and try to canter to catch up, even though Strider was only a short distance ahead. We weren't sure if Brego was trying to get to his alpha, Strider, or his other alpha, Tim. At any rate, we will need to work on this.

The other challenge with Brego was to keep him a safe distance from the horse in front of him in line. When we followed Strider, he kept getting so close that Strider kicked at him 3-4 times. That should have taught him, but didn't seem to do the trick. He did stay farther behind Strider some of the time, but without as much distance as I would have liked. With any horse in front, I had to keep trying to slow him down, constantly, and it was ineffective. It was the worst on Saturday on the way home, downhill. At times the hills were very steep, Brego had his momentum going and I could understand him running into the front horse, but we need to learn to avoid that. Tim was also having similar difficulty with Strider--constantly pulling him back from the horse in front, which was usually me.

Saturday's ride was beautiful, and we made it to the top of Custer Peak, at about 6800 feet. We climbed about 1500 feet in about 7-8 miles, then back down again. Most of the ride was cross-country with little or no trail. It only rained a little, but the ground was still quite soaked. There were a couple of boggy areas we had to get the horses through, and Brego's butt was quite muddy from the soggy stuff being kicked up (along with everyone else's horses). The people in the back of the line complained that the trail was so trashed by the time they got there, that on some of the steep downhills their horses were basically sitting in the muck and sliding down. I'm glad we stayed near the front. We had to do a lot of waiting for the back of the line to catch up, on both the uphill and downhill slopes. The view at the top was beautiful, and Tim got shots of several people, but we didn't manage to hand the camera to someone to take our picture. Tim did get one of me with Brego at the top. Misha did great on Cody, and was like an old pro by the end. Everyone enjoyed Misha and complemented him on doing so well. Of course, he was on Cody! Cody was pretty sore by the end of Saturday's ride, and Tim felt badly that we hadn't conditioned him enough prior to the trip.

The weekend was nice in some ways, challenging in others. It was nice to see everyone, but with the rain and cold, we didn't spend near as much time outside talking with them. It wasn't as much fun as last year or as I had anticipated for this year. It poured during the night and early Sunday morning. The weather forecast for Sunday was for severe afternoon thundershowers, we wanted to let Cody rest, and we saw no point in staying any longer in the rain and mud. We skipped the Sunday morning ride and left around noon. Many people had already left, some as early as 4-5 am.

On the drive home we saw a beautiful double rainbow in Wyoming that was full and bright, and stayed with us for several miles. We enjoyed cleaning up and doing chores around the house on Monday, and Misha left in the afternoon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Frisky Brego

It was rainy today, and Brego was frisky, playing with Cody and Strider.  Tim stepped out to get some shots.  Here's a few:


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brego is a Star!

Today we took Brego and Strider out to the North Fork of the Poudre River.  It was beautiful, lush and green, with lots of wildflowers.  I never managed to take out the camera, I just have "memory photos".  

Brego was a star!  He did great, I was relaxed with him, and we had a great time.  There were several river crossings and Brego went through like no big deal.  He kept up with Strider easily, and boy is that a switch from lagging behind and trotting on Cody to catch up all the time!  Occasionally I lagged back a bit, but easily caught up by running in his foxtrot, and what a delight!  It was definitely a more comfortable ride, between the smooth running walk and the slimmer saddle size.  On a few long, gradual uphill grades we both gaited the horses, and that was nice.  Brego likes going fast.  I could tell his little legs were moving a lot faster than Strider's long ones, just to keep up, but he didn't seem to mind.

As we ate our lunch, we heard some thunder rumbling in the distance, so started back at a fairly good clip.  There were a few times that Brego seemed a little out of control, and acting a little nutty/emotional, going faster than I'd asked and not slowing down when asked.  Tim was experiencing similar things with Strider.  I guess they were in "going home" mode.  I practiced slowing him and calming him down.  I realized at one point (after the fact), that perhaps when Brego was speeding up (and not looking where he was going) I may have been squeezing with my legs to hold on, and therefore giving him the mixed message to speed up, while trying to slow him with the reins.  I'll have to watch out for that in the future.  We both stopped a couple of times just to calm them down, and they got a lot better.

There were a few raindrops as we got nearer to the parking lot, and just as we reached the truck it began to rain more heavily.  We got back just in time!  

It was a beautiful day and a beautiful, successful ride.  Brego is a great horse, and a great fit for me.  I realized that he has really become my "partner", in the horse-partnership sense.  (Tim is truly my partner in life!!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Work and Planning

Oh, wow.  The last post was in April!  It's not that we haven't worked with Brego, we've just been very busy with our GARDEN and haven't given as much time to the horses.  Now that the garden is planted and just being maintained, there's room to breathe and time to spend with the kids.

I guess I'm going to have to get a new photo of Brego.  He's shed his winter coat and boy, oh boy, is he looking good!!

Brego is very cute--when I'm in the garden he usually comes and finds me there and stands outside the fence near me, just watching.  I'm sure he's waiting for a pet, or better yet, a handful of grass, but it's awfully nice of him to keep me company.

I've been wanting to canter on him, but his canter is so uneven and he's a bit rocky just getting into it, and I've been hesitant.  I told Tim recently that it would be good for me to canter Cody again, just to get used to the feel of it and feel more comfortable.  Today I got on Cody, and starting in the round pen worked on trotting and cantering.  Boy, it's been so long even since I've trotted!  On Brego, I get into his foxtrot gait often, but he doesn't really trot much (so why bother?).  Anyway, I got to feeling much more comfortable trotting, then cantering on Cody, then we went out to the pasture and cantered in the bigger space.  I must say it was nice to ride Cody again--he turns when I ask him to, speeds up when I ask, stops when I ask...very nice.  I've gotten accustomed to Brego's lack of respect.  I need to be more consistently tough with Brego, to get him to respond when I ask!  

Meanwhile, while I was on Cody, Tim worked with Brego on his canter (and other issues).  Later, I got onto Brego in the round pen with Tim there (and Cody standing in the middle).  I got him cantering several times and felt quite comfortable.  Yahoo!  I'm not experienced enough to notice, but Tim was pointing out that he often uses the wrong lead when circling to the left.  So, we worked on turning his head in (to the left) when cantering toward the left, to get him into the left lead.  Tim would have me canter a bit, then slow down, then canter again, and so on.  We will need to work on this some more, but it was nice to feel successful.

Brego still is not as responsive on his left side--he doesn't turn as well that way, I've already mentioned he doesn't pick up the left lead, and he also doesn't flex to the left as well for lateral flexion exercise.  He chews on the bit and resists for quite some time before giving in.  We will continue to work on that, and some day I'll read this and remember what it used to be like.

Today the horses all got their shoes for the summer.  We thought about leaving them shoeless, but after the last time they were trimmed, we took them out on the road, and they didn't seem to like the gravelly road.  We don't know what all kinds of conditions we'll be in on our rides, so Tim decided to go ahead and get them shoed as usual.

We plan to work with them some more for a bit during the day tomorrow (Friday), then take them out for a ride on Saturday.  Our first trail ride for the summer is coming up, June 12-14 in the Black Hills.  We're looking forward to it, and gradually getting ready.  This year we will be taking along Misha, the 15 year old son of some friends of ours, and he'll be able to ride Cody.  It'll be nice to take all three horses along and not leave anyone home alone.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tim has been getting out the past couple of days to work with Brego a bit, warm him up and get him into a more energetic "working" mode, then I get on and follow up with some exercises Tim suggests.  This has been working well.  Tim has been doing a little groundwork with him, then getting on to work on his gait and also cantering him, to get him into a more relaxed canter.

So far, I've mostly been working on walking straight, speed changes and stopping. We've been "riding the rail" or rather, alongside the fence, to keep Brego going in a straight line.  It's good practice both for Brego and me.  For me, I'm practicing sitting relaxed in the saddle and holding the rein loosely with one hand.  Brego still goes a bit crooked when we get off the fence and go across the pasture, but we're getting better.  This is good. Today I was even successful at getting the back gate open while on Brego.  Tim was going out back with the tractor, and went right by us with no worry on Brego's part.  Later, I was in the barn with Brego, just about to let him out to the paddock when Tim came into the barn on the tractor.  Brego didn't even twitch with the tractor running right next to him.  The fact that I was giving him snacks at that moment may have helped, but he's a good boy!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Brego's wounds on his leg are getting better, and he does not seem to have any muscular problems due to the injury. It looks like the fence wire rubbed against his leg kind of like a "rope burn". There are a few open spots that are scabbed over, and some dead skin around those flaked off, but he is definitely mending nicely.

While we were still taking it easy with Brego, Tim and I took him out one day last week with the other horses--I rode Cody, Tim on Strider, ponying Brego alongside. It was nice to get out, and nice to ride good ole' Cody again, and Brego got to come along.

We got out to work with Brego (and Tim with Cody) a bit a couple of days ago, and as Tim observed the problems I was having with Brego, he realized he needs to work on some of the issues first with Brego, while I observe, then have me continue the process so I can learn, too. It's hard for me to think quickly enough how to correct Brego and get him to understand cues, which in my case are not as consistent as they should be. So, hopefully with Tim giving him more attention to teach him what the cues mean, then it will be easier for me to learn the cues and give them more consistently. Since I am still learning, I think it will be easier for ME to get the cues down if I'm on a horse that isn't misbehaving so much.

I am frustrated that I seem to have such difficulty catching on. There are so many things to remember all at once, that when I'm remembering one thing to do I don't realize I'm causing a problem in another way. For instance, if I'm leading his head to the left, I need to remember to release pressure from the right at the same time, or I'm confusing him with conflicting cues. Sometimes I'm so focused on the left hand I don't pay attention to what my right hand is doing.

I just need to be more observant of what the horse is doing, as well as other things going on all around, while at the same time thinking about what I'm doing with my entire body, all while being relaxed in the saddle.

Yesterday I was comparing this to my working years. As a waitress, or office administrator, I had no problem multi-tasking, thinking of several things at once and doing more than one thing at a time, while being aware of others and the environment around me. I don't know why I can't seem to do that on the horse (or at the end of his lead rope). I suppose it's because I'm working with a 1,000 pound creature who has a mind of his own, and who thinks differently than I do.
I suppose it's a matter of time and consistency--I was a waitress and office administrator for a lot of years, after all!

This whole adventure is much more challenging than I ever imagined, and I'm afraid at times that I'm not going to get this. I'm sure I'm able, I'm hopeful that I'll "get it" and eventually laugh at the days I had such difficulty. Right now, it's frustrating, and I'm disappointed in my lack of progress.

Yesterday we practiced stopping and also getting him to go straight. He tends to veer off to the left or right, so Tim had me ride along the fence to get him to go straight and keep his speed more consistent, at a fast walk. It's strange how he veered so much to the right at one point (fence at left) that he ran himself right into the bushes, and after I straightened him out he did it again. He's done this with me before. Was he just not paying attention? Was he paying more attention to the bunnies, or the neighbors cows? Hmmm...anyway, we have lots of work to do! I'm glad Tim is planning to spend more time with me and Brego.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Owie!

Brego's got an owie. :(  Perhaps I'll take a picture and post it later. When Tim looked out the window this morning, he hollered, "Oh, Laurie, your horse is in the neighbor's pasture..."  Somehow he was on the wrong side of the fence!  Tim got out quickly to get him, looked him over, and by that time I was dressed and looking out the window.  Tim saw me and gave me the "phone" sign.  I got out there with the phone, but as he was walking towards the neighbor's gate, he asked me to call the vet.  Yikes!  I didn't know what was wrong, but Brego didn't seem to be limping badly.  I had to wait until Tim got back with him.

Brego has some cuts on his leg, a large tear in the skin near the stifle, and it was swollen.  The vet came out and cleaned it up, felt of it, and he doesn't think there's anything wrong but the wound (no muscular or bone problems).  He gave us some meds and instructions to put hot packs on it twice a day and some goopy ointment to keep the swelling down.  He should be fine.

Tim looked along the fence to see if he could find how Brego got through.  There is a spot with some reddish fur on the top wire, and fresh blood on the other side.  Brego must have somehow gotten tangled up in it and went either through or over it.  He must have struggled a bit to get out.  Ya gotta wonder what these silly horses are doing in the middle of the night!  I think mine must be accident-prone.

We've got him in a small pen to keep him from being chased around by the other horses, but he does need some exercise, so today I took him out for a couple of walks and so did Tim.  Each time he was a bit stiff at first, but loosened up as we walked.  We'll keep doing that for a few days until he's well on the way to recovery.  Hopefully he'll be fine soon!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pawnee Buttes Photos

I got some of Ed's photos of our ride to Pawnee Buttes! I've noticed that in Firefox, the photos are a bit skewed, and I can't figure out how to fix them. Try IE or Google Chrome.

The End!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pawnee Buttes


Yesterday we went out to ride at the Pawnee Buttes, about an hour & a half east of us in the middle of nowhere. Our friends Carolyn & Ed went with us, and Ed was able to ride Cody, so it was nice to be able to take all three of our horses.

It was 70ish, warm, sunny, and not very windy at all. The area is known for being very windy, and very hot (summer) or very cold (winter), so this was PERFECT. It was very dry out there in the desert. Interesting place, with these buttes that pop up out of the flat plain.

Brego did great. I was a little nervous at times, as we had to go down into and up the other side of many little canyons, or "arroyos". I wish I had taken some photos of them, but we were a little busy hanging onto our horses. (I found some photos online which you can see HERE or THERE.) Going up and down these things, Tim was careful to lead us to a safe place, then slowly take Strider a few steps and stop, so the rest of our horses wouldn't be tempted to bolt through, either down or up these arroyos. At one point we rode right through these passages with walls on both sides of us, like we were in a maze. I was just worried we would get to a spot where there was no way out. A couple of times Tim went up a dead end, and we had to back the horses up a bit. Good thing I've practiced backing up between tight spaces! Brego did great. I honestly got a little tired of coming up to another arroyo after another, and began to feel, "Oh, no, not another one!", wishing it would be over. I think Carolyn agreed, but the guys were having a great time. We survived, and had a great day.

At one time Tim and I were off the horses, leading them to stretch our legs, when there was a particularly steep spot. I was trying to traverse this little ridge with very flaky rock that crumbled easily, leading Brego along. He didn't seem to like it any more than I did. I was slipping, he began to slip, and I had to let go. Brego slid down the bank on his feet backwards, but he was not freaked out and at the bottom he just stood there until Tim got down to get him before he got tangled in his reins.

I know the challenge is good for me, and I learned a lot, particularly that Brego is a reliable, confident horse. He did wonderfully with the challenges, even tight squeezy spots and steep inclines on crumbly rock.

On the way home we planned to stop in a little town, Ault, to eat at the "Bison Breath Saloon". When we got there it was closed, which was fine: it looked kind of dumpy. We came back to Wellington and ate at Beauregard's, which was delicious.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women's Emotional Responses

We didn't have a chance to ride today, but I worked with Brego for a few minutes from the ground. It still amazes me how quickly horses learn and want to do as the leader asks.  The past couple of days we've worked on asking him to lower his head by sliding my hand up to his poll from his withers, then pressing my hand and squeezing at the top of his poll. Today I did this again, and without much pressure at all he lowered his head everytime I asked.  After working from his right side I went to his left, and boy, as soon as I slid my hand up to his poll from his withers, he dove his head to the ground and kept it there until I asked him to raise it again.  He's so willing to learn, and gets such satisfaction when he "gets it".  

Tim asked me this morning if I could explain to him more about what happened yesterday (see 3/17) on the way home, what I was feeling, and what he might have said differently at the time to help me. When Brego took off faster, he wasn't going all that fast--he wasn't even cantering, just gaiting really fast while looking sideways, and in my opinion out of control. However, it made me tense and all I wanted to do was slow him down or stop, but he wasn't responding. That was what made me nervous. Apparently I just wasn't pulling hard enough on the rein (one rein) to get him to slow or stop. He has a habit of continuing to go forward with his head sideways if I don't get his head in tight enough, and I have difficulty tugging him in because I'm afraid he'll twist around too much or get his feet in a hole or a bush or something.

So I was dealing with fear and lack of experience.  I wish I could reproduce these kinds of things in our pasture where it's safe, so that when I'm out I react more quickly with the right actions! But, experience and practice are the ticket...  So, what could we have done better at the time? I just wanted to stop or slow down, and eventually we did. As a woman (and still a novice), I was dealing with my emotions. I needed to calm myself down probably more than calm Brego. As I thought it through, I realized it really wasn't that big of a deal, Brego wasn't going all that fast and possibly just trying to catch up to Tim & Strider, and we weren't really out of control. Perhaps if I think more reasonably (and more quickly), I won't get so nervous and will respond more appropriately to the situation.

Bottom line is, "get over it and move on".  It's just that with me (women, in general), getting over it and moving on isn't so quick & easy.  I think that thinking these things through rationally should help for faster responses in the future, as well as working with him more and more here at home. If I could get him to act nutty here in the pasture and then stop him safely, that would be great!

As we talked about it, Tim realized that men aren't so easily disturbed about these kinds of things and tend to move more into "fix it" mode, while women react more with emotions and just want to stop and go home. Understanding this may help us both next time, and may help Tim in his training experiences with women. I suppose this conversation was prompted by listening to Karen Scholl last weekend explaining how differently men and women deal with these kinds of issues. I'm sure it's helpful to some degree to think about and talk about our reactions, but I don't want to over-analyze to the point of being a broken record or boring.  I want to learn and grow, get over it and move on!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beautiful day!  We worked with Brego some more in the pasture (more of that important ground work) then went for a short ride out from the house.  On the ride we practiced gaiting a bit, and turning, particularly to the left, which Brego isn't as good at.  There are so many things to think about all the time, to keep Brego in his prime and be a good leader for him.  On the way back, Brego began to take off on me a couple of times, so I had to slow him down and "retreat" a bit on the way home.  I don't know if he was just anxious to get back to the barn (be turned out to roll, see his buddies and then get some dinner) or if he was nervous about something in the wind. Anyway, we slowed down (even though it was getting late and we were hungry) and took some detours to get Brego's mind off going home to the barn.  When we got back, he got to stand still while tied to the trailer for awhile, to get him out of the habit of always getting his rewards the mintue he gets home.

Tim also is working with me on learning and teaching Brego to move towards me when I want to mount him from the mounting block or step.  He thought of some new, good techniques that seem to be working!  I'm also changing the way I hold the rope in my hands, more the way Karen Scholl was demonstrating, which seem to help.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's supposed to be nice weather all week, so we're looking forward to working with "the kids" every day, a break from the garden projects.

Today we worked with Brego.  I began by going over some of the basics (ala Karen Scholl), and Brego was great at standing still while I rubbed him all over with the stick and waved it around & whacked the ground with it at his side, desensitizing him.  Then Tim joined me, reviewing some of the things I've done before and adding a few tasks I haven't done yet with Brego.  We worked on getting him to lower his head and keep it down, then worked on "riding from the side", by giving him rhythmic pressure on his back with the stick then holding it there while he walked forward with me at his side, behind his head, similar to how I would be if on top.  It was as much a learning curve for me as for Brego, but after a few tries we got it down pretty well.  We'll work some more on that tomorrow.

Then we saddled up and went to the round pen.  There. I practiced riding him with one rein, just the lead rope on the halter.  It took a little getting used to, There was less to hold on to and I had to learn to flip the rope over his head to the other side.  Walking was fairly easy, but then we sped it up and there was a lot to do in less time!  After that, Tim got the longer lead rope and put it on him to give me more practice cantering.  It's hard to get him into a canter and keep him there, and he seems a bit uncoordinated and choppy.  We'll have to keep working on that!

We had a good & positive day, and will be able to build on it and work with him all week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This weekend (March 14-15) we went to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver.  We had a nice time being in the horse world, a switch from garden mode.  We went to a few of the clinics put on by a few horse trainers, some were better than others.  We also went to a class about windmills and are thinking about the possibility of someday using our wind resource to provide power.  We certainly have the wind for it.

I really enjoyed the clinics with Karen Scholl "Horsemanship for Women", and attended all four of them.  Her training techniques and philosophy are basically identical to what Tim has already taught me, but I enjoyed her approach and I found some of her explanations, from a woman's point of view, to be helpful.  Her techniques were broken down a little more simply than on the Parelli DVD's I've seen, and I liked her explanation of giving the horse a "mama's bite" rather than "give him a whack".  She also explained a lot about how biting the horse is like one horse to the other, and it doesn't mean the horse won't like me--he may like and respect me more!

Like Tim, it was interesting to see how quickly she could gain trust from an unknown horse.  We ended up purchasing her DVD's, and hope there will be more depth in them, building on the basics provided over the weekend.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Sweet Spot

I discovered Brego's "sweet spot" where he loves to be scratched.  Tim has told me before that most horses have a sweet spot where they love to be massaged, and recently I was reading an article about this on a website.  So, the other day when I was out with Brego, I started scratching him under his jaw.  His lips puckered kind of funny and he stretched out his neck like he was saying, "Ahhhhh, more, more, more!"  It was pretty funny, and I was laughing.  I tried it again yesterday, and got the same response from him, so that must be it!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

After my motivating weekend, I spent quite a bit of time with my little buddy today.  We started off in the round pen, first doing some simple exercises he knows like backing up, etc.  I really wanted to get some more energy out of him, but I still need to be more aggressive with cues!  (Later Tim came out and really got him to move, so I know we can do better.)  

I let him off the lead to do some circling & tried to keep him in a canter.  He turned to the fence a few times, but I always got him going back around pretty quick until he got the idea that turning to the fence wasn't in the plan.  Eventually he relaxed and began to look to me, and I let him stop and turn in.  I really focused on not letting him into my space and he did quite well at turning toward me but not coming in.

After I had him back on the lead I worked on trying to get him to trot consistently.  He did better than usual, but still not consistent.  I have to keep reminding him to speed up after he slows.  He's still so confused about his gaits, and just doesn't always know what to do with his feet.  It'll be good when I can recognize his best foxtrot and keep him consistent in that!

I put on the saddle and took him out front.  We worked on lots of lateral flexion and one-rein stops.  I worked on consistently relaxing my seat before stopping so he'll get the idea that my slumped seat means "stop" even before I pull the rein.  His lateral flexion is much better on the right than the left.  At the left he chews on the bit more and doesn't "give" as quickly.  We also sped up and stopped from a faster pace.  He's still slow at stopping, but we're getting there.  If we work every day this week I'm sure we'll make great progress.

Tim came out and did a few things with him on the ground.  He's just SO MUCH better at all of this.  I know he has years of experience, but it's frustrating sometimes that I just don't seem to be getting it and remembering everything!  I'm sure it will come in time.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Down Under Horsemanship

This weekend (Sat-Sun) we went to see Clinton Anderson (Down Under Horsemanship) here in Fort Collins.  It was 8-5 both days.  Tim warned me ahead of time that there would be a lot of pitch to buy his stuff, and there sure was, but in between all the salesmanship there was a lot of good sessions and demonstrations.

I appreciated seeing all the things I've already been learning in a slightly different format, or explained with some different verbiage, but it was all pretty much the same stuff Tim has been teaching me.  Tim was glad to see that Clinton is now doing a lot more groundwork and things he'd been missing in the past.  Tim felt that his partnership with his horse has greatly improved.

I'm encouraged now to get out and work with Brego a lot more confidently and consistently.  This week is supposed to be nice weather all week, so that will give me a good chance to work each day, both on the ground and in the saddle.

Monday, February 16, 2009

We finally had some nice weather today, and Tim had the day off for President's Day, so we got out to ride Brego & Strider!  I was feeling much more confident on Brego riding past the other horses (behind the fence) and then the cows.  Brego was interested in them, particularly when a couple of the horses ran toward us, but he did what I asked, and kept walking forward (even though his head was turned sideways looking around!).

We went down to Smith Lake, and on the straight part heading east parallel to 66 Tim started gaiting Strider, so we followed along, and for the first time Brego gaited much more smoothly and consistently, and didn't veer off to the right.  Of course, Strider was just ahead and to the right of us, and there was a fence to the right of him, so I'm sure that helped.  That was nice.  After that little run, his gait wasn't as consistent or as smooth, but it's a start.

On the other side of the lake, along 11, Tim suggested that I try to canter Brego.  Once I get him going, he gets nutty and it's hard to control him, but that's just what I have to work on.  I tried the one-rein stop, but wasn't choked down enough on the rein to pull his head over far enough and he wasn't stopping.  That's what I have to learn!  How to choke down farther while riding the out-of-control horse! So, Tim gave me some tips--if I'm turning his head to the left, I can let go of the right rein to grab the left one, then reach down farther with my left hand to get that rein farther down.  It's just so hard to remember all these things in "panic" mode.  At least we were in a nice straight, flat spot with no obstacles!  Eventually I got him to canter a bit in a more controlled spot, which was nice.  We just really need to work on the whole speed control issue.  I need to get his speed up here in the pasture, perhaps, and work on slowing & stopping, over and over again!

While I stood with Strider, Tim got on Brego and worked with him a bit.  Brego was still veering off to the side even for Tim, and Tim had to work at getting him to go straight.  With Tim's experience, all of this is so much easier for him!  He went back and forth several times, both gaiting and cantering to get him under control.  We'll just have to keep working on this!!  

Then we practiced walking home slowly and calmly.  That was good--to get him in the habit of going home that way, rather than speeding up to go towards the barn as many horses do.  He was a bit jittery going past the goats at the dairy.  Later, when we were almost to our road, a truck went by and he perked up and starting running faster.  I thought that was odd, because cars don't usually bother him.  Then Tim pointed out two other horses and riders coming our way just up at the turn.  That's what the horses were reacting to!  Tim made a good point to be more aware of what's going on any time the horses react to something--since I know cars don't bother him, what is it?  (I should look for something else!)

As I thought about Brego's nutty moments, out of control when all I did was ask him to go faster, I wondered about spiritual parallels. Sometimes God asks us to move a little faster, and we go crazy!  "Oh, boy, let's go.  Is it this way?  Is it that way?  I don't want to stop--I'd rather run.  What's that over there?  Let's go over there, or maybe over there.  Now that I'm going I don't want to slow down!"  We need to just stay in control, listen to what He says, and follow Him!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's been colder the past week or so, and windy, so I haven't been out to work with Brego.  I look forward to warmer days soon!

There's a new horse at the neighbor's, across the fence.  He seems young, and is out with old "limpy" as I call her.  He is clearly more interested in our horses than her, and spends a lot of time looking for them over the fence if they are not nearby.  The other day those horses had blankets on.  Tim was looking out the window and saw them playing with something, thinking it was a black garbage bag, but it was the mare's blanket coming off.  Later we saw Strider playing with the buckles on the blanket of the younger horse over the fence, as if trying to help him get out of it. He must have worked on it for an hour, but couldn't get it off.  Very funny that the horse just stood there letting him mess with it--he tugged at the buckles and at the edge of the blanket but this one just wouldn't come off.  We wonder if it was Strider that loosened the other horse's blanket to get it off.  The next day those horses weren't out in the pasture--I guess they didn't get to come out to play since they were naughty and lost the jacket on the playground.  (Later they were out, without their jackets.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tim is still not feeling well!  I spent a long time with Brego today, first grooming out that rat in his tail.  I got it all out, and boy is that tail nicely combed.  OK, I'm a girl, I get to brush my horse's tail and mane and make him pretty. :)

Today was much better.  I walked out with the attitude that I would be assertive, consistent and relaxed, and be a good leader for my horse.  We started out with groundwork including keeping him in a faster walk or trot while circling, slowing down & speeding up on command, etc.  I circled him over the jump and worked some more on sidepassing.  I still don't know why he responds so much better to Tim on this.  I think I'm giving him the right cues, but it takes him a while to catch on.  Finally we got it, then I moved on to something else.  

I saddled him up and got ready to mount.  He needs more work to learn to sidepass up to the mounting block...perhaps Tim will have to work on that with him some more.  Finally I got on to him and he stood nice & calm after I mounted.  We walked around a bit to work the kinks out, stopping, backing up, etc.  Then I got to work on the cloverleaf pattern (I moved the barrels out of the mud).  We went round & round on left turns until he was more consistent, then the right turns.  I think he was getting quite bored, and began grunting near the end.  Then I wanted to get him out walking and going faster/slower.  He has such a hard time finding a good gait!  This time he acted like he wanted to canter, and broke into it a bit--too bad I didn't ask for it!  Since he seemed to want to go, I decided to go ahead and ask him to, and we did canter a bit.  This is good, considering I previously couldn't get him to do it at all.  After that, I had a hard time getting him NOT to canter, but just to gait.  When he did gait, he kept veering off to the right--he just can't seem to go straight.  Oh, well.  We had a good time together and I will just need to work more on the whole speed control issue.  I'm sure I'll need help from Tim for that.  It seems to help Brego to gait next to Strider, so maybe we'll have to do that some more.

It's been beautiful weather.  Today was in the 60's and tomorrow should be, too.  Hopefully Tim will be able to join me while it's nice.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I spent some more time alone with Brego today, since Tim is still sick and laying low.  I'm gradually working on the big clump in his tail to comb it out.  Another day or two and it'll be combed through!

Today we worked on a few ground exercises, then I got on board to ride the pasture a bit.  Boy, he was nutty today.  Because we were alone and Tim wasn't around?  Because it was windy?  Because I am still unsure of myself and he knows it?  (Probably the latter.)  Brego just didn't want to do what I wanted him to.  He was anxious, therefore so was I.  It was frustrating.  I worked on calming him down, and he got better.  We worked on stopping and standing still, etc.  I was going to do the cloverleaf pattern with the barrels, but the fence side was still muddy/snowy, and I knew that would bother both of us whenever we reached that side, so I didn't stick with that program. Finally when we were both more calm I decided to call it a day, to end on a better note.  I know it's really ME I need to work on, relax more, be more assertive & consistent with him, and so on.  

I really don't want him to be confused by me or learn bad habits when I let him get by with bad behavior.  I don't want that to be the "norm".

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tim wasn't feeling well today, so he layed down to rest and I went outside to play with Brego.  He was even messier today than yesterday, so I took some time to clean him up.  The mud was still caked on one side, and there was weeds & grass all over him.  Obviously he's enjoyed rolling around the past couple of days.  Now he looks much better!

I took him out to do some groundwork, and worked on following through if he didn't respond.  I think I'm getting better, and Brego is more responsive.  One thing we practiced was ground-tying.  I dropped the lead and asked him to stay still by walking around with my hand on him, then the stick, then I made my circles larger and changed direction.  He only moved a couple of times.  I got him back to his spot each time, and he did pretty well.  Eventually I walked all the way from near the shed (his spot to stand) to the gate, picked up something and walked back, and the whole time he didn't move a step!!  I was so proud of him, he got lots of pets.

We also worked on more sidepassing, and he went right into it very well.  It's good for both of us to do these things more often, so we don't forget (especially me).  We worked some more on speed control.  Getting him to stay in a trot while circling is still a challenge, but we're getting better.  I also practiced leading him, stopping and backing up at a faster pace--jogging for me, walking faster for him.  I'll have to keep working on that and get him to dance with me.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's was nicer weather, so I spent some time outside with "the kid".  He was a MESS from rolling in the mud, but I didn't even bother to clean him up...I just let him be.  I should have taken a picture. I did a few things with him from the ground, and did what I thought was okay with sidepassing along the fence, but got stuck when trying to sidepass using my finger pressure on his side, so I called Tim over.  :)  It turns out that even the part I thought I was doing pretty well needed some improvement.  It just looks so much more polished and better when Tim does it!  As he says, Brego knows I'm not threat and don't follow through, so he lags.  

Tim got him sidepassing more quickly and better, and pointed out that I'd been too close, with too short a lead, and not enough animation.  I followed Tim's example, and sure enough, Brego improved.  Then we did it with slight pressure with the fingers--same thing--I just needed to be more assertive, looking at his side with the "look" and using the stick to straighten him as necessary.  Much better.  Then Tim thought it would be fun to get on him bareback and sidepass while Tim guided.  I've never been on Brego bareback before, and only a couple times in the round pen on Cody.  Pretty rocky & unstable!  For Brego it was probably odd, too, to have that wobbly thing on top.  We managed to do it though, and once he knew what we wanted him to do, he sidepassed along just fine.  I will definetly have a long way to go to be able to ride him bareback, but I want to set that as a goal, along with many other goals.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It snowed earlier this week, then remained quite cold most of the week.  I haven't worked with Brego all week.  I went out a few times just to visit with the kids, and they seemed to enjoy the break from the boredom of just standing there.  Often I would see all three of them laying down in the sunshine either in the snow, or after it has melted, in the dirt/mud.  A lazy week!

The injury on his nose is coming along fine, but it's too bad we spent the money to have the vet stitch it--they didn't "take".  He warned us that it wasn't likely it would work, because the cut was old when we got there.  We should've taken his first advice not to do the stitches, but then thought we'd give it a try.  Oh well...lesson learned.  One stitch fell out on its own, the other Tim snipped off.  Now it's healing up and I think it will hardly show once its fully healed.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today was cold & gloomy, but not windy, so Tim suggested we ride over to the Smith Lake, which I haven't been to before, now that we got our wildlife stamp to allow us to use that area. On the way, we rode past the horses in the pasture across the street.  Brego was curious & distracted by them and a bit animated, but I kept him going straight and paying attention to me more than them, and he soon calmed down.  Later there were cows ahead, and at one point Strider jumped into the street quickly.  Brego was fine, but it put me on edge a bit, remembering how he'd slipped on the slick street last Monday.  I didn't want him to spook then slip on the street and freak himself out.  When we got closer to one of the cows, Tim had Strider go up to the cow & run him off.  The cow didn't really bother Brego, even when it ran towards us.  As we turned down by the lake and started going downhill, Brego started going faster.  He really wasn't out of control, but I was edgy with him going faster.  I don't know why these little things bother me so much.  I picture myself being nice and relaxed while I ride my horse, but so often I'm not.  I just have to keep remembering to relax.

Tim suggested we gait from time to time, and it's fun, but hard to get Brego to gait consistently. He speeds up and slows down and goes from bouncy to smooth to bouncy.  We will need to keep working on that.  It was cold, so we didn't stay out too long.  When we got back, Tim worked with Brego a bit on speed control, to get him to keep his speed up when circling.  Tim is so good with the horses--he always seems to know just what to do.  I'm jealous. ;)  Then we worked on backing him up with the hand on his nose, and got him to touch his tail with his nose.

I've gotta laugh.  On an early draft of a post I said something about getting Brego to back up by putting my hand on MY nose.  We've been laughing about that ever since.  Sometimes I will put my finger to my nose and say, "Back up, Brego."  It doesn't work, but it's funny.  I guess you had to have been there.  One of these days I'll teach him to back up when I put my finger on my nose!

Friday, January 23, 2009

It was snowy and cold today, so I stayed in (after combing & conditioning Brego's mane :).  I watched some of the Parelli Level 1 DVD's.  Boy, they're sure boring in spots.  Those people are truly beginners and don't know what they're doing, and Linda spells things out in minute detail.  The students have these beautifully groomed horses, but don't know what to do with them.  It also seems that their horses are somewhat nutty and have problems.  I guess that's why they spent the money to take the course.  It's funny watching these...I keep seeing these people do the things I do or have done, and I can clearly see what they SHOULD do.  Even Linda Parelli didn't have the kind of presence or control with the horses that Tim does.  (I have a much better teacher.)  I wanted to yell at her "swat his butt" or "wave the carrot stick in front of his legs".  It was easy for me to analyze and see what should be done from this perspective, but when I'm standing there with the horse it's so easy to forget, or I just don't have the presence of mind to know what to do at the right time.  Now I have a better understanding and appreciation for Tim's comments to me while I'm working with Brego--things that seem so obvious from the outside looking in are hard for me to see and react to when I've got the horse and the stick in my own hands.  It's interesting watching these things, even though much of the time they are quite boring.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tim was at the office again, so I saddled Brego again, worked with him on the ground then got on.  He still keeps coming in to me way too much, with the Squeeze game and after backing him up with YoYo.  I guess I'll just have to keep working on it.  After getting on I began working with slowing and stopping with one rein.  I'm getting better at remembering to lower myself with a sigh and only use the one rein to stop, and it's working.  We worked on left turns in the cloverleaf.  Just as I started around the pattern, Tim brought Cody in to the pasture, and Strider ran around to the back throwing a hissy fit because he'd been left.  Distractions!!!  I was a little miffed because Brego was acting goofy trying to see what Cody & Strider were doing, but I knew that Tim would tell me it's a good experience and I need to be my horse's leader and he doesn't need to worry about all those other things.  So I worked on making Brego pay attention to me rather than the distractions.  It was a bit of a challenge, but he settled down.  Then Tim got on Strider and had me follow them through the pattern.  Brego did much better after that.  Tim let me know I really needed to change my "mantra" a bit.  It's lift & look (turning my torso), lay & leg, then lead, and I added "slouch" to remember to relax through the whole thing.  We need to use the leg sooner to get him to curl around the barrel more tightly.  When Brego speeds up unexpectedly, I tend to lean forward when really I should lean back and bee more relaxed.  I've gotta remember that!  Generally I'm sitting forward too much and need to sit back & relax more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today we worked on sidepassing from the saddle, still along the fence.  It took a few tries, but I finally got it.  I say "I" because it's mostly me who needs the training--Brego is catching on really quickly when Tim leads him.  :(   He doesn't do as well with me.  Tim has also been working on getting him to sidepass over to the mounting block, and Brego does pretty well with the carrot stick, but not with just the hand.  We'll get there.  Tim had been at the office, so I got out and saddled him up myself, worked on a few ground exercises and got on.  Tim came home just after I mounted.  Tim set up the barrels to begin working on the cloverleaf pattern to teach him to turn better.  Today we worked on right turns around the cloverleaf.  Lift & look, lay (over), lead & leg...over and over again.  (See tomorrow's post about this.)  Again, I need the exercise and repetition just as much as Brego does (maybe more).  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

With three nice days in the forecast, much warmer and less breezy, I look forward to working with Brego this week.  Today Tim had me work with sidepassing along the fence, along with a few other things, in preparation to get on him and sidepass from the saddle.  I struggled, as usual, to get the right cues and timing, but more practice will make perfect, right?

Monday, January 19, 2009

We went to Carolyn's to join her and Ed for a ride through the "secret gate" to Douglas Lake.  It was VERY windy, and we almost canceled.  We saddled the horses and rode around the arena for a bit to see how they were doing, then decided to go ahead and give it a try.  I was glad to have my new windproof polar fleece jacket!  Brego did fine in the arena after first doing some lateral flexion and backing up and standing still.  Stephanie was there with GB too, so Brego had other distractions, but I kept him focused on me as the leader pretty well, I think.  We took off down the street, into the wind, and I really wondered whether I wanted to go through with the ride, but knew it would be a good experience for both of us in a relatively safe environment.  We just had a lot of wind, an occasional car passing, a slick road, ditches with obstacles, cows, dogs & horses at neighboring homes,and flapping stop signs to deal with.  Did I say this was fun?  By the time we reached the dirt access road along the ditch, I was finally more relaxed.  Brego did very well under the circumstances, and took off just once--I think he tripped at the same time a gust of wind came up or something, which set him off.  At least he ran straight and not onto the slippery road, and I was able to stop him (not as quickly as I would have liked).  We survived, but I was sure glad when it was over!  I told everyone that the next time it's that windy and we wonder if we should go, my answer will be NO.  It just wasn't very fun.  At least I had the experience, and if I get caught in the wind another time, I'll be better prepared.


On Sunday I noticed a cut above Brego's lip, that was like a 3-corner tear.  I mentioned it to Tim, who didn't seem all that concerned.  Monday afternoon, we decided to call the vet, and we took him over.  We found out that to be stitched, the wound really needs to be under 12 hours old.  But, Dr. Lory went ahead and cleaned it up, then we decided to have him try stitching it because after scrubbing it raw he thought it just might take.  Hopefully it will heal well, certainly better after being cleaned out than it would have if we'd left it alone.  He got a tetanus and other meds to keep it from infection, so that should help, too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

1st Trail Ride

I got back last night after 5 days in California with the family. Today Tim had the day off, so we took Strider & Brego up to Eagle's Nest for a ride, the first one away from our home area. Brego hopped right into the trailer--no problem.  After we got him saddled and I got on, he was nutty and ready to go.  I tried a few lateral flexion exercises, backed up a few times, and practiced standing still to calm him down and we started off, but he was going fast and felt a bit out of control.  Tim had me work on stopping him with one rein, and we also had him walk back toward the trailer a couple of times to give him the idea that "go" doesn't mean GO FAST.  I need this repetitive training as much as Brego does--to get into the habit of one-rein slowing and stopping, and lifting the reins immediately to straighten him up and keep him from diving for grass.  At first I had to slow him down a few times as we were going downhill, but it didn't take too long until he was a nice, calm horse on the trail.  At one point he shied off to the right unexpectedly.  Tim noticed a log to my left which I hadn't even noticed, which probably caused some concern to Brego, so we walked over the the log to let him sniff it.  I have so much to learn about being aware of what's going on and knowing what to do!  It's good that I have my "coach" with me all the time. :)  On straight, flat parts of the trail we practiced one-rein stopping, and backing up.  I need to keep working on that.  At times Strider was in the lead, and at other times Brego, and he did just fine both ways.  On wider parts of the trail we were able to go side-by-side, and Brego kept up with Strider, which is nice.  We practiced gaiting on a couple of gradual uphill sections, and that's a lot of fun.  With practice, I'll get his gait nice and smooth and even--he's still a little uncoordinated.  As the trail turned I don't know if Brego was just following the trail or following my direction to turn, but I took advantage of reinforcing neck-reining and using my leg to turn him, so he gets the idea that they all mean "turn".  All in all we had a great day, and Brego will be an awesome trail horse for me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Frosty

Tim woke up to frost on the ground and on the kids, so he took these photos of my boy to show me how the frost sat on Brego's furry coat.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tim's Entry

While Laurie is in CA I wanted to work a bit with Brego and advance his training a bit. It's a tough call for me to know how much to do or not do with him since Laurie wants to experience the training part. A person learns more from doing it themselves more than having someone else doing it for them. So, I'm trying to find that right balance of what I should do.


The general guideline I've come up with is something like this. Laurie needs to know everything I know so she has to go thru some of the "pain" of learning the right things to do. However, I can work with Brego on some of the things that Laurie is working on to advance his part of the training faster. So, Laurie still has to know how to do it, but once she has experienced learning the techniques I can help Brego learn his part faster. There are also some things that are just very difficult for Laurie to do due to her being short. An example of that is teaching Brego to sidestep over to you when you're standing on something and want to mount. In the beginning you use a carrot stick to reach over his back and tap him on his opposite side. My long arms make this doable but Laurie just doesn't have the reach. So, I worked on that with Brego until he started to get the idea. Now Laurie can work on it more without needing the long reach that's required in the beginning of this training. 


I spent only a few minutes doing the basic warmup, groundwork stuff. The I saddled him up and worked on sidepasssing along the fence, then out in the open and then over a log. He did pretty well at that. I also started getting him used to jumping over a log about 12" off the ground. I did this from the ground, not on his back. I'll do it from the saddle later. We also worked more on lateral flexion under saddle using the spiral pattern (Laurie hasn't seen this one yet). I worked on his gait a bit more. It was a great session and I think Brego enjoyed the new challenges.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tim and I took Brego and Strider out for a ride.  It's funny.  In my mind I picture myself confidently getting on the horse and riding into the sunset with poise and grace, but I get on the horse and feel like a clutz.  I guess I'm still a rookie.  Like Tim says, there's about 78 things to remember all at once, sometimes it seems to me more like 79.  When we started out, Tim said we would take "the loop" down to 64, up 11 and back 66.  I was a little surprised and quickly thought about what kind of obstacles we would find, but decided it wouldn't be that big of a deal.  We had a great time, and Brego did great.  It was nice to be able to keep up with Tim & Strider easily or walk side-by-side.  (On Cody I always had to trot in spurts to catch up to them.) We gaited here and there, and in the middle of the road on 11 we gaited quite fast right up the middle of the road.  Brego kept veering off to the right, into Strider, but other than that, it was quite fun.  When we got back I decided to try cantering Brego, which I haven't done before, and it was a challenge!!  I couldn't get him to canter, so Tim finally got on him and even he had difficulty getting him to canter, but he finally did.  We'll have to work on that!


My dad passed away (he's all better now!) so I'll be going to California for a few days.  Tim will be home alone and work on a few things with Brego, like cantering, and getting him to sidepass towards us so we can get on from a mounting block.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

This morning I did the Parelli's suggested exercise of sitting for 30 minutes in the pen with Brego, not doing anything.  The rule is to sit still and don't touch the horse until he touches you first.  As I suspected, Brego spent almost the entire time hovering over me, breathing hot air into my face, mouthing my head, arms & knees, took off my hat (which in no time I put under the chair), and tried to chew my watch off.  Shortly after I took him to the round pen and let him loose he went and rolled.  Cody came over to see what was happening, and they sniffed each other a bit through the fence, then Cody went off.  Strider came to visit, too, and started to take Brego's lead rope from under the fence, until I got it back from him.  Occasionally Brego would wander off for a minute or two, but always came right back to see what I was doing.  After the 30 minutes, I got up and opened the gate, then sat down again.  He continued to hover over me for five minutes or so, then left.  I stayed there reading a bit, and I thought Strider was going to come in to join me at one point, but he just hovered over me with his head over the fence.  Needless to say, I removed my hat again knowing Strider would take it. :))


Later on, I went back out again to do the games with Brego.  They were all out front as I walked to the barn, but as I started to walk out back, they all began coming my way.  I met up with all three over at the side of the house and let them follow me to the round pen, and when we got there and I kept the other two away from the gate, Brego walked right in.  Good boy!  I'm really trying to do all the phases and get everything down good.  Today for the Yo-Yo Game I worked on shaking my finger first, then wrist, elbow & arm to get him to move backwards.  I don't think he's getting the finger or wrist yet, but he does move as soon as I shake the rope.  He stops unless I shake it pretty vigorously, then he backs up some more.    For the Driving Game I whacked at that rope with the stick and he just would not move.  After tapping the rope, the buckle, then waving the stick in front of his front legs he finally moved, but he sure didn't get the tapping thing.  I worked on getting him to move backward by putting my hand on his nose.  I kept it there until he moved and quickly released and rubbed him, but he was very resistant.  He puts his head way down to sniff the ground (or my toes) and I keep my hand there until he finally takes one step, then let go.  He did really well at the Squeeze Game, with more energy and better stops without coming in to me.  He still doesn't keep his speed up with the Circling Game and I have to keep pointing and kissing again and again.  At the beginning, he wasn't speeding up, but after a few warnings and whacks on the ground with the stick, closer & closer, all it took usually was a point and sometimes a kiss.  I also got him to circle (walking speed) around four times without me turning (transferring the rope to the other hand behind me) both directions.  We worked on the Sideways Game, but that's tough.  Putting pressure on like the Porcupine Game didn't work well, but he did a lot better with more of a driving action, sometimes tapping him repetitively.  He did much better on his left side than his right.  We also did more leading, and I walked faster and faster and eventually jogged a bit.  When I jogged I had to keep prodding him to keep up, and I had to keep bumping him forward, but he stopped real well, right when I stopped, and backed up great, even after going forward faster.  Little by little I guess we're getting there.  It's fun to work with him and see little progress here and there.  Hopefully I'll get out tomorrow and the stuff he did today will sink in overnight!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I watched the rest of the first Parelli DVD this evening, and read more of the booklet, Lessons 1 & 2.  I'm looking forward to continuing through this series and working with Brego, but I'm bummed that it's been so cold and windy.  It may be warmer tomorrow, and maybe I'll spend my  30 minutes alone with Brego in the round pen, doing nothing, and not touching him unless he touches me first.  Knowing Brego, I suspect he'll be mouthing me a great deal of the time!  It was also good to see the video of the student doing the Level 1 test, so I can see what these games should look like when I'm done with Level 1.  I look forward to getting to that point, then moving on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

After Tim was done working, he planned to go out and ride Cody, but when he got out to the paddock, he discovered that the drinking post had been broken, presumably by Brego.  The last time Tim saw Brego drink, he was still pushing the paddle with his lower teeth, with his upper teeth over the top of the bowl.  He probably chews on it.  Tim had to replace the paddle last week, but this time the paddle was in pieces, the rod misplaced and the sound of water running below.  It must be Brego chewing on the thing--this never happened with Cody & Strider.  Dang!  Tim managed to turn off the flow of water, but it will take some work to fix the post.  In the meantime, we'll have to keep the stock bucket out for the kids, and hopefully the electric heater will continue to work ok.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It was colder the past couple of days, so Tim and I went to the Thomson's to get two loads of hay each day.  I'm becoming quite the ranch helper.  (Well, just barely--Tim did almost all the work.)

Friday, January 2, 2009

We delivered Apache to the Miller's, and it was very fun to see Lauren's delight with her new horse.  They took lots of pictures, and emailed later to tell us they had a great first day with Apache.


Later at home I worked with Brego some more doing the games and walking side by side while Tim worked on the roof.  It's good for me to do these things alone some of the time.  It makes me figure it out for myself and remember things on my own without Tim's guidance.  Later, I can go back and ask Tim questions about what happened and what I might do better next time.  I like it both ways--sometimes with Tim watching and sometimes when he isn't around.  I think both ways are helpful.  It's great that we can each work with Brego and develop individual relationships with him.  I did better with the seven games (well, six of them, I didn't do squeezing).  I was trying to drive him with my hands in the air, and that will definitely take some more work, but he catches on to things pretty quickly and likes to please.  I did get him to back up with my hand on his nose, and with some work got him to go sideways by moving the stick back and forth with just a light touch.  He's walking alongside much better, and staying with me, stopping & backing up.


I began watching the Parelli Level One DVD series--the newer version, which I haven't seen before.  I will enjoy going through these, even though some of the information is review or the same things restated.  The written explanations of how to do things are much better than before, and the videos explaining how we learn and apply learning to horsemanship may be helpful, too.