"Post from the Past"
February 13th 2008
I worked with Catlow last Sunday (Feb. 10th), but I haven’t written about it yet, so that’s what I’ll do now.
Doni came out with me to help me work the horses, but she didn’t have much time, so we didn’t do many things. Primarily I worked Catlow and described her various vices and Doni watched and gave me input. She didn’t really suggest anything that I should do, but she did let me know what she thought about how I was approaching Catlow’s issues. She said that she thought Catlow was doing well, and definitely ready to ride. I think I could ride her right now if I felt pushed for time (I did ride her a bit last fall in the round pen, and up and down the driveway once, but the only reason it went okay was Catlow was in a comfortable place (the barn) and I wasn’t pushing her to do anything stressful, just walk and turn...and really, I was lucky it went okay given that she still didn’t really trust me at that time), but I think that there are still things that need to be second nature for her before I begin some things. I need to first get her to want to work with me…seems like she’s getting quite a bit better, then I need to start working her on the line doing some lunging things. She needs to be comfortable with that, so that I can do that with her out in the field in case I have any problems. I’d like her to also be comfortable cantering in the round pen, or on a lunge line before I do too much work with her under saddle…but maybe I shouldn’t push the cantering thing, and do progress to doing some of the exercises under saddle (yielding shoulders, hinds, sidepassing, flexing, backing) even before she’s good with cantering. I think she could do them now.
First thing we did was to bring both Catlow and Chico in. I wanted to demonstrate how willing Chico was. So I did just a bit of lunging with him, and he was definitely willing, but he was also out of practice and a bit flighty. He kinda panicked when I asked him to move his shoulders over, but I didn’t want to work on him, so I ignored it and let him go. I do need to start spending a bit less time with Catlow and try to spend more on both Cody and Chico too. It’s hard to do with 3 horses and a full time job.
Then I brought Catlow in, and basically ran her through her paces…everything that we’ve been working on. Of course, I tried to demonstrate the two different horses on the different sides thing, but she was pretty close to being the same on both sides today. She was a little better on the left than usual, and a bit worse on the right…but she’s evening out…I think that’s good. She was very good about not spooking. I’ve been thinking that I should maybe try something different with her lateral flexion. I think if I start using the bit, she might respond better, so maybe next time, I’ll put a bit in her mouth halfway through, and see how that goes.
I was reading Tom Dorrance’s book “True Unity”, and I had some thoughts about Catlow. At first I became concerned that I was causing her undue worry with some of the things I was asking of her (like the plastic bag), but then I realized that I’m not trying to annoy her there, I’m trying to show her how to deal with stress…and I do think that she is learning to tolerate annoyances, and to relax when presented with them. I repeatedly ask her to lower her head or flex in between annoyance exercises, and she definitely does relax as soon as I ask her to drop her head…then of course, she raises it back up as soon as I offer the stress again.
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