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.