Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lesson with Kelly Sigler

This weekend, Kelly Sigler is teaching a clinic at Broadview Ranch, so yesterday Sara & I hauled Guinness there to meet for a mini-group lesson with Kelly, followed by a training trail ride. (The header at the top of this blog is a photo taken at Broadview.)

Surprisingly, Guinness and I were ready bright and early (most of our stuff is still on the trailer from Carol Coppinger's clinic). We caught Sara off-guard and had to kill some time until meeting up with her, so Guinness waited quietly on the trailer at home, at a local gas station, and at our meeting point. Once we got on the road, we stopped along the way for a pit-stop and a milkshake at the Pink Cadillac diner. It was great for his patience and he eagerly looked out the window to see where we were at each stop.

We arrived at Broadview in time to get situated before our lesson. Our group was made up of Sara with Julie's Arab gelding, Sundance (a new partner for her), Tenley with her new young partner, Augie, and me with Guinness.

We started off with an hour playing on the ground, followed by an hour mounted. In the groundwork session, Kelly rotated her attention between each pair, giving us specific tasks and feedback. Honestly, I didn't get to observe much of what the others did since I was focused on Guinness! We played the most with advancing his circling game into a trot/canter and improving his Figure 8 (I need to drive his shoulder more and to spread the cones out further). Guinness had another opportunity to totter on top of a pedestal and this time managed to squeeze all four feet up there for a moment! After that, it was hard to keep him away from it.

We took a break for water, and then tacked up and rode over to the dressage arena. There we played with all of the basic L2 rein positions and tasks: direct rein, indirect rein, sideways, backing, and follow the rail. I believe that I have a good grasp of the theory, but Guinness and I sure need to practice. Part of the issue was the distraction of being in a new environment with unfamiliar horses. But also, it is so easy for me to go "direct line" in a lesson. I tend to start with phase 2-3 and not allow Guinness enough time to process what I'm asking. He naturally responds to this with resistance.

We made some progress despite ourselves. Guinness offered to trot several times and almost cantered! And he picked up a trot pretty reliably for me when I quietly asked. This was also his first real attempt at mounted sideways. (He did half-rear several times out of frustration, but I kept persisting while he sorted things out.)

Next, we returned to the barn to allow our friends to join us (Julie on Equinox and Jennifer on Trouble) and we headed out for a short ride on the trails. Guinness was SO happy to be out of an arena. We easily opened our 2nd gate ever while mounted. We meandered in a big loop around the facilities.

Along the way, we encountered several large cement watering troughs - the kind with continuously flowing water. At first, all of the horses were very skeptical, but Augie was the bravest and he convinced the others that it was ok. Eventually, Augie and Guinness were submerging their faces up to their eyeballs in water, and then curling their nostrils as the water ran up their noses. Guinness even acted as though he'd like to climb into trough for a swim.

Another very interesting sight was of a herd of young pastured pigs behind a low electric fence. Our group had mostly squeezed past their enclosure when the pigs spotted us and came running. Our horses turned and faced, then looked and looked, but no one ran. Several folks dismounted and approached closer. After a few minutes, Augie & Guinness were standing right next to the pigs, as Tenley & I scratched the pigs and then let the horses sniff our hands.

As we ambled back to the barn, unmounted, thunder started to roll and in the distance we could see lightening. This was pretty scary due to the vast expanse of pasture that we needed to cross. Guinness and I stopped off at our trailer, where I quickly sponged him off. I got to thinking that perhaps I should load him, so that he could be under shelter until the rain passed. He is pretty comfortable on the trailer and I didn't really have anywhere else to put him.

I tied him to another trailer while I packed up and turned our rig around, as the storm rapidly grew closer. As I put on his shipping boots, we were both getting jumpy! I lead him right up onto the trailer, and I was getting ready to close the doors, then lightening struck somewhere behind us and and he leaped off of the trailer. He had a halter on but no lead rope, and he took off toward the barn about 1/8 mile away!! I jumped into the truck and followed him.

When I arrived at the barn, my friends had already caught him. It started to POUR rain just as I got out of the truck. We all hung out in the barn while the storm raged. Guinness pacified himself in the aisle by gobbling Trouble's hay, but when the wind picked up it was too much for him and Carol graciously offered him a stall. He willingly entered it and spent the rest of the storm staring out the window and watching. (Apparently, he has no more stall phobia..)

The storm lasted for 45 minutes and dumped LOTS of water and even some hail! I was really glad that Guinness was safe in the barn during all of that. When it finally stopped, there was a small river between the barn and our truck. Once Carol had reconnoitered to be sure that the road was passable, we departed around 6:45 pm. The trip home was good - no more rain and we stopped at the Pink Cadillac again for a take-out dinner. Guinness was very happy to arrive back home to his pasture.

One note: As we sat in the truck eating dinner, Guinness hung his head out of the trailer window. A pre-teen boy stopped to look at him and to point him out to his family, not realizing that we were watching him. Then, the boy decided to jab his hands toward Guinness' head to try to get a response. I growled at him in my best "Mean Mom" voice and he scooted away. However, the incident made me realize how vulnerable a horse on a parked trailer really is. Given the nutcases in the world, I going to do my best not to leave any horse unattended (especially with the windows open) while traveling. :-(


Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Sounds like you had a great time...I am jealous! I want to go to clinics and have horse fun with Parelli seems these day. :( Keep posting and making! :)


Naturally Gaited said...

Hey - I'll be at your place very soon! We will have PNH immersion (and weight-loss boot camp)!! I can't wait. :-)