Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back On Track

Both Guinness and Cody seem to be doing well following their grain eating adventure. I say "both" because sure enough there were whole wheat kernels in G.s poop this morning! The good thing about this is that means that one horse didn't consume the entire quantity all by himself..

This morning, I got up early enough to do an abbreviated workout at home (mini-tramp & balance ball) using my computer to play the DVDs. Thanks for the idea, Michelle!

Once outside, I practiced loaded Cody to see if he would poop - nope - but he did hope right up on the trailer when I sent him. I think that he has figured out that we aren't going anywhere. ;-)

Guinness and I headed to the stable at around 8:00 am. My plan for the morning included:
  • circles on the 22' rope
  • figure 8s on the 22' rope utilizing 1/2 barrels
  • point-to-point, Freestyle, with barrels in the corners of the arena w. treats
We mostly stuck to the plan, but with a few additions:

When we arrived at the indoor arena, we discovered that they had set up two small jumps (one X and one straight) with ground poles before the X. As soon as I released him into the arena, he made a bee-line for the X, crossing the ground poles! I joined up with him and we played with jumping at liberty and eventually, he took the series at a canter (for cookies)! He is definitely getting better with his hind feet.

They also had a line of weave poles set up. We played with these both online and at liberty.

Another bit of excitement was later in the session, again at liberty, when a large sprinkler started shooting out water near one of the doorways. He stopped, stared and then high-tailed it for the exit. He waited a minute and then reapproached it, and continued to use approach & retreat on his own until he could get as close as possible to it and stood staring at it. At first I was sad that he hadn't run to me, but I realized that I was standing in the closed-off (darker) area of the arena and he was looking to exit the building!

The point-to-point part of the session worked really well. I started with him at liberty, walking with me as I put the 1/2 barrels in the corners. When he located a barrel, I deposited a cookie into it (the barrel was open side up). After this, I jogged around the arena and he followed, finding a cookie in each barrel. Then I mounted up (bareback pad, halter & rope reins) and we rode once from barrel to barrel around the arena, and ended it on a successful note. Oh, and no "grouchy face" as I mounted - I think that is a first!

Some notes:

My cues to back up have really improved Thanks for the tips, Alyssa!
  • Phase 1: Hold both hands up at chest level, palms toward Guinness, and stare intently
  • Phase 2: I make a pressing motion toward him with my hands
  • Phase 3: I slowly move my hands up & down (as one hand goes up, the other goes down), holding the rope in one hand and the stick in the other.
  • Phase 4: flick my carrot stick w. string at his chest
  • One he is moving, I toss the slack of the rope out toward him to encourage him to keep moving backward.
Once his backup was fixed, it greatly improved his send. He cantered his first circle online at 22'.

I also clarified my cues for the weave from Zone 2, at about 3 feet from him:
  • I held my stick in my outside hand, dragging the ground. When I wanted him to yield sideways diagonally away from me, I lifted the handle end of the stick to his eye level but at a 45 degree angle from him to give him warning. Then I rotated my body and brought the handle closer to his head. If he didn't move away, he ran into the stick (this only happened once).
  • Once past the pole, I lowered the stick to the ground and then he moved sideways diagonally toward me as I moved away from him.
  • To go around the final pole, I rotated my body around the pole so that the string behind me threatened to catch up with his rear. Worked great! In general, he is responding to my wiggling the string behind me with speeding up. He is finally figuring this out. He used to balk and try to go backward whenever it wiggled.
He loaded onto the trailer both times this morning with me sending him while I stood near the bumper.

I can't get out to the stable tomorrow, but will aim for Friday morning.

PS - Per the new L3 Online DVD, I'm trying to pay better attention to how I coil the 22' rope and to carrying it as Pat instructs. It sure makes it easier to deal with.

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