Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Playtime!

Since auditing 2 days of Carol Coppinger's 3 day "L2/L3" camp last week at McPherson QH Arena in Bristol, I've been feeling especially empowered to progress with the horses. It is amazing how watching L3-4 students (as rated under the new system) for a few days creates a "new normal" for achievement. I kept thinking to myself, "I can do that.." Then I realized that although I have a good mental picture of what to do and how to do it, over the years I haven't really 'taken the time that it takes' actually playing with the horses to get competent (versus reading & watching PNH materials). That must be why I'm still lingering in L2 - but not for much longer!!

At Carol's clinic, I finally realized that we only need to submit audition videos in Online & Freestyle savvies to complete the new Level 2. I'd been telling myself that I'd never get through L2 with the horse that I had (Smokey) due to his issues with being ridden. However, during the clinic Carol asked me "don't you have a horse to ride?" and it got me thinking.. I went home and reviewed the L2 audition criteria and realized that I really could continue through L2 with Smokey. [Light bulb moment.]

Fortunately, I was able to reserve a spot in a group lesson coming up in early June at Broadview Ranch with clinician Kelly Sigler. I'm hoping to review L2 riding skills, and then to record my audition soon after. Sometime in mid-June, Darlene McPherson will be hosting a playdate in her indoor arena to try to record audition videos. I'm planning to take Smokey back down to Bristol for a visit. :-)

Lots of other things have been happening. Here is a synopsis:
- Guinness has accepted 4 different saddles without batting an eyelash.
- Guinness now has 3 tricks: retrieve something (see video of hat), smile (flehming response), and bow on one knee!
- Guinness, Cody & Smokey all stood at liberty for applications of fly spray and hoof goop, and also to be hosed off with water. This is a major improvement for C & S. I attribute it all to the click/reward method of reinforcing a passive (neutral) behavior!!
- About 6 weeks ago, Cody was outfitted with EDSS shoes/pads in an effort to correct his contracted heels in front and to ease his high ringbone (arthritis). Check out the video of how he is moving now!
- I took Cody for a training trail ride/walk yesterday at Pandapas Pond. He was pretty unflappable, despite the incredible number of cars & people in the parking lot. He spent a lot of time sniffing the trail and obviously enjoyed the trip in our "new" trailer (2 horse straight load bumper pull w. dressing room).

Having a plan is very important. This morning, I planned to clean house - so instead I went outside to play with the horses. Once outside, I planned to ride both Cody & Smokey bareback, and to lean over Guinness. Instead, Guinness said "pick me first" and we had a wonderful session in the roundpen. We started out online playing Porcupine Game (moving away from actual pressure) including backing in a circle. Then we transitioned to his first *real* Liberty session! Here are a couple of videos:

And finally, here is a video of Guinness pretending to be a cross country horse (notice how he intentionally jumps the logs multiple times). Nobody has informed him that gaited horses don't jump.

A couple more thoughts: At the clinic Carol said of playing with her new 4 year old QH, Legend, "nothing good comes from spending a lot of time in Zone 1 with a young one." Instead, she advocates spending lots of time in Zone 3 (rib area) where we hope to be when riding. She also pointed out that horses find comfort in your calm presence and don't need or sometimes even appreciate the touch of your hands. (After all, horses don't approach each other with their hands.) I'll try to keep this in mind more with Guinness. He has already learning to calmly stand a short distance away from me.

Also, I've signed up for Carol's L2/L3 clinic in Bristol next year and intend to take Guinness. I guess I'll have to be riding him Freestyle by next spring. :-)

1 comment:

Eden said...

ok, I just have to say it...
I AM OFFICIALLY IN LOVE WITH YOUR NEW PEN! it looks like your having fun in it too!