Friday, December 26, 2008

January 30th, 2008

The next "Post from the Past"

Yesterday I outlined problems that I’d like to work on with Catlow. Today I’d like to outline approaches to deal with those problems. So, there are two ways of thinking that I have with dealing with Catlow. Sometimes I think that maybe I’m just not being firm enough with her (I know that’s a problem with Cody), and so she really doesn’t want to do what I ask and is really good at making me think I’m doing harm with her so I don’t push her as hard. The other times, I think that I am being too firm and that Catlow is too sensitive to work with the same way that I did Chico. When I ask too much of her, she shuts down, so that would make me think I need to make her more comfortable so that she wants to be with me. Too much for Catlow is often not very much. It might just consist of me asking her to do something…usually when I want her to move. Probably because she’s just reacting when I ask her to move instead of thinking…I need to work more to get her thinking instead of reacting. Maybe keeping her busier and changing directions and activities lots would help…but I have to remember to stick with an activity until she gets it. Maybe I’ve just not been consistent enough with her training. I think that with Catlow I need to start from the beginning. I’ve obviously skipped some steps in her training. I want to try to take both approaches…be more firm, and also pay more attention to when I’m overexposing her.

I think I’ll start with round penning to build the base. Because I’ve been having such an issue getting her to canter, my first instinct is to just ignore cantering right now, and work on getting her to respond to my cues in a relaxed manner. I know there’s controversy over using treats, but it worked so well with Chico that I want to try it again with Catlow. They seem to be great incentive. So, the initial round pen session will focus on getting Catlow to trot in consistent directions and turn to the inside consistently when asked. Eventually, when she relaxes with this, I will put her on a long line and do the same exercises and help her to respond to voice cues of walk, trot-trot, and whoa. I want her to be relaxed and obey immediately when I ask. I will start each round pen session with desensitizing exercises and I will finish each one with desensitizing exercises. These exercises will consist of tossing the rope all around her until she looks relaxed, tossing the string all around her until she looks relaxed, and then jumping all around her. I will also work on asking her to flex from side to side and work up to flexing and staying soft under pressure (i.e. I flap my elbows or arms or jump up and down).

So, in round penning sessions I will follow these lessons and work up to more difficult things as Catlow progresses: (in the first lesson, I will ask her to canter, just to check her attitude with it.
1). A) Desensitize to rubbing and touching all over on lead line
B) Desensitize to stick and string
C) Desensitize to rope, start on rump and legs (first session, just do legs, gradually work up to head and neck)
D) Remove lead line and ask her to move off at a trot with word cue and signal
E) Work on getting consistent relaxed trotting with turning to the inside.
F) Desensitize to rope at the end.
2). Do the same exercises as the first sessions, but add lead-line work and voice cues and also add in yielding hindquarters and forequarters and backing up.
3). I will teach her the sending exercises and navigating obstacles. Particularly, I like the jumps, backing through L’s, side-passing, and the cowboy curtain, although I’m not sure how I’ll do that one here.
4). I will then work up to cantering when she’s trusting me, and keep her cantering until she relaxes. For desensitizing I will slowly work up to doing everything with a saddle on and bit in mouth, and flexing to the bit. I will tie pop bottles to the saddle to simulate legs flopping.
5). I will eventually add the breeching and breast collar and maybe ask to use the pack saddle to desensitize her to the weight and shifty movement.
6). Through all this I will take Catlow for walks out into the countryside on weekends during the day when it is still light outside. On these walks I will keep her occupied instead of letting her get distracted.
7). I will also continue to pony Catlow off other horses, but I think I need to work on my other horses before I do that.

The farrier is coming this weekend to trim up everyone (all their feet are severely unbalanced in the front). After the trim, I will work Catlow in the round pen for the first time. I will continue on Sunday, then pick two days next week when I will come out to the farm and continue working…so I will spend most days on the weekend out there. If I can’t spend those two days working horses, then I will substitute one or two other days during the week. I need to spend 3-4 days a week working the horses. So, next week, my two days will be Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hope this works!!!!

No comments: