Sunday, July 26, 2009

Playing in New Ways

Yesterday evening, I had a chance to play with the horses for a little while and I thought that I'd like to try out some new tools.

All three horses were in my backyard "mowing" so I opened the gate and allowed Smokey to follow me out at Liberty. While I gathered my stuff (45' rope, halter, stick) he had wandered part of way down to the front field - out of eyesight of the other horses. I followed him down there and we played with the 45' for the second time.He circled around about 6 times total, but it was very erratic and included lots of halting, and gait and direction changes (mostly on his own, but a few at my direction). He used most of the 45' which was pretty different for him and when he reached the end of the line he was willing to give to the pressure. Since he is naturally a RBI, we ended pretty quickly on a positive note and then went back to something he is more comfortable with: driving back toward the other horses from Zone 5. That went great.

Next, we used the roundpen for support with the 45'. I stood in the center while he circled around the OUTSIDE of the roundpen. It worked very well and seemed to give him more confidence about staying farther from me. (I'm really glad to have made the top rail of the roundpen smooth so that the rope didn't get caught on it.) When wrapping up, I opened the rope gate and as he circled I asked him ever so slightly to enter the roundpen. He stayed cantering on the rail and sailed easily over a barrel jump. Wow! It was the best ever. I quickly gave him a treat and removed the halter. He then followed me in. :-)

Things I'm learning about the 45' line (lariat-type rope): I'd like to try wearing light gloves, since I'm apprehensive about getting rope burn when the line plays out. I'm also starting to get the hang of managing the coils that the rope curls into, and keeping my feet/body out of them. Also, this is not the tool to use until the horse disengages easily! It definitely simulates Liberty more than the 22' line does.

Next, I brought Guinness down to the roundpen, along with his homemade driving lines (a lighter weight version of yacht rope 22' long) and a close-fitting traditional nylon halter. We played a little bit and then I attached the driving lines to the side rings on the halter. He is very comfortable with me in Zone 5, and I've taught him to move forward when I pat the top of his rear, so I went back into position behind him.

First, he tried to turn to face me, so I pulled the opposite line to straighten him out. This was easy for him since he is good at following a feel from behind and around his rear - we've been practicing this! However, he was still somewhat confused that I wanted him to walk more than a few steps. I recruited my husband to help out and he walked with Guinness for support, but allowed me to cue him. This worked very well. We ended pretty quickly since it was getting dark, but I'm hoping to repeat this as soon as it stops raining.

I've somehow misplaced my camera, but I'm hoping to post more photos as soon as I find it..

1 comment:

Eden said...

That whole idea of circling on the outside of the pen is a really really neat one!! I had never heard or thought about doing that, but that sounds cool. Good job, sounds like everyone is doing great!