"Post from the Past"
February 27th 2008
Today I worked with Catlow. It was really cold out…well, it actually wasn’t that cold, but it was very humid and foggy, so the cold damp air really soaked under your clothing. I was actually cold by the time I finished working with Catlow.
First off, I went to catch her in the pasture and of course Chico comes up and crowds me, but I push him away and he’s waiting fine, but then one of the big fat mares behind him starts backing up to him and threatening to kick him, and he barged into me to get out of her way. And of course, I was about to put the halter on Catlow. I got mad and turned around and chased the big fat mare and threw my halter and lead rope at her. When I turned around, Catlow had skittered off away from me. She avoided me a bit then finally stood and let me halter her. Then in the round pen, I began working with the plastic bag, and today she really was not okay with it like she had been yesterday. Perhaps the whole affair with me chasing the others horse scared her so she was guarded with me. Every time I moved the bag toward her head, she kind of ducked and moved away. Basically she was pivoting away from me. I didn’t especially feel like pushing it. It was obvious neither of us was enjoying the bag today, so I threw it over the fence and went and got the lead rope. I practiced asking her to walk and trot around me, change directions, and come in to me. I definitely noticed that I am not being consistent with my cues, even though I was trying to be. I’ll have to work really hard on that. I was often just swinging the tail of the rope to get to her to go faster, rather than being sure to point first. So, I’m probably Catlow’s problem with the lunging and the rope swinging. She did very well, but sometimes, she repeatedly tried to come in to face me when I wanted her to keep going. I think she might be doing this when I stop walking in my small circle. I did notice that she would try to stop and come in as soon as I stopped. I need to be way more consistent. I will continue to work on this.
Before I began all this work, I tied two 20oz soda bottles to the circingle she was wearing. She was not okay with me swinging the bottles on the rope when I stood away from her (she’d pivot away), but she was fine with me tying them to her, and throughout her whole workout, she never gave them any notice (except for right away, she did flex around to get a good look at them). She also did not buck at all and I had the circingle pretty tight. I didn’t ask her to canter though, we did mostly close work on the lunge line. I need to get bigger bottles and put some water in them so they swing more.
At the end of the lesson, I bridled her and did some flexing and various aids. She really didn’t want to be bridled. I need to work with her for one lesson with just accepting the bridle in a calm manner. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. She threw her head up and tried to back away. I think she knew what was coming, and she didn’t want any part of it. I did end up getting a somewhat decent acceptance of it, but her head was up and she had that wrinkle under her eye. She flexed well to the bit. I think she remembered this a bit from last year. She also is kind of understanding that she needs to back when I put pressure on both reins, although she did get confused and wanted to flex to one side instead of back a few times. I tried applying rein pressure on the opposite side and asking her to yield her fores. She actually got it really well on one side, but the other side, she kept trying to flex toward me and swing her hinds out, instead of the fores. I don’t think she had connected at all (on either side) that the rein pressure was another part of that cue now. I’ll have to continue that.
Overall, I didn’t feel as confident today and Catlow wasn’t responding as well. Maybe they were feeding off one another. I feel like I do not really know some of the cues that I am asking of her, so I’m not being consistent with them, and so she’s having trouble understanding what I want (because I’m not sure what I’m asking). I think I need to just pick a way and be consistent (mostly I’m talking about adding the rein pressure in as I ask her to pivot). I think that if I can get her to make that connection on the ground, it will be infinitely easier in the saddle. I do think that it will probably be very easy to get her to side-pass because she seems to want to do that a lot. Whenever she is confused about what I want, she tries that. Catlow wasn’t bad today, but it was an off day for both of us.