"Post from the Past"
March 17th 2008 (St. Patrick’s Day)
Yesterday I cleaned Chico’s wound out, rode Catlow in the round pen, then rode Cody out on the road. Chico’s wound really does not look good. It’s just so open, so I emailed pictures to the Lewiston Vet Clinic. Hopefully they’ll get back to me in the morning tomorrow so that I can take care of it later.
I worked with Catlow in the round pen with lunging quite a bit. She’s getting really good about responding to my requests to move out, speed up, and whoa without getting upset. She stays pretty relaxed. The only time she gets a little uptight is when I ask her to move out and go on the circle. She tends to want to stand there and stare at me, as though she really doesn’t understand what I’m asking, so I just have to continue to ask her to go out, and increase the pressure a little at a time until she finally figures it out and leaves. I think sometimes she is testing me to see if I’m really making her leave. At this point, she’d rather stand there with me and let me pet her, than have me pressure her around the circle. A couple of times she did get flustered at the reins flopping around her chin when she was out cantering on the big circle, and she kind of tried to strike at them. She is definitely a horse that needs to be exposed to everything. I think that she will often take new things as being threatening and scary, so I can’t assume that she’s going to accept something. This was really the first time the reins were flopping around because before they have been tied up through the halter or I was holding them. I can’t be upset that she was worried about them. Now she knows about them, and she’ll get used to them. All in all, she was a little bit jumpier today. She didn’t offer to buck or hop at all with the saddle on, like she did last time, but she was a little more worried than usual. I think that may be because it was kind of windy and the weather was weird. It snowed a couple of times while we were inside the barn.
I worked with her until she was calmly changing directions and starting to move and bend around me on the circle, rather than leaning out away from me. She was a bit winded by then, so I worked with her close up (flexing, yielding fores and hinds). Then I mounted. First we did walk around the pen, then trot. Twice while she was trotting after she passed the opening to the barn, she sped up then kind of bolted forward (spooked at the opening behind her). The first time she did it, it really shook me up because I wasn’t sure how she would react in that situation. I immediately bent her to the inside of the circle and asked her to stop and flex. She could have panicked and bucked me off, but she didn’t. She actually stopped! After that, my adrenaline was going, so I had to calm myself so that I didn’t affect her negatively (she’s really sensitive). But trotting around the circle again, she spooked in the same spot and we did the same thing, I stopped her by flexing and she actually stayed under somewhat control. Then I was determined not to let her do it again because I was concerned that she was using it as an excuse to quit trotting, since it does take quite a bit of motivation to keep her trotting. We trotted a bit more, then I decided to work on stopping, backing, and the ‘go’ cue. She gets the go forward cue (squeeze with both legs) confused with the backing cue (block forward movement with reins, give verbal cue “back”, and ask for motion by alternatingly squeezing the leg and rein cues). She even sometimes was trying to yield her fores or hinds and even sidepass instead of going forward. Probably because we’ve worked from the ground on those other things, so she understands those cues better. So, I worked exclusively on asking her to go forward, then stop on a verbal whoa, then back, then go forward, stop and back. Her first reaction to me squeezing with both legs is to go backward right now, rather than forward. I had to turn up the pressure a bit to get her to understand that was not the correct answer. What worked really well, was if she started to back up when I was squeezing my legs, I’d slap the reins back and forth over her withers or the saddle, just to get some motion behind her and make an unpleasant noise, and she’d start forward when I did that. I was very careful to release all pressure when she did what I wanted, so by the end, she really was picking up the difference between go forward and back up. I think it’s bizarre that she’d rather back up than go forward, but I guess I have always had an issue with getting good forward impulsion from her. But, she’d rather hustle and back across the whole round pen, than go forward…or so it would seem.
She did well, and I think that next time I ride her in the round pen, she’ll have remembered her last lessons and catch on even quicker. I think I need to get that good go forward cue instilled in her before I start asking her to trot. As is now, I feel like I am constantly kicking and urging her forward and she is not really understanding that I’m asking her to keep trotting. She also might be a little lazy.
I rode Cody after working with Catlow. By that time the sun had started peaking through the clouds. I put her new easy boot epics on and we went for a quick ride. We trotted and cantered and then slowed down to a walk. She was much more forward when going away from home today, so I let her walk and relax as long as she was walking at a good pace. We went down to the paved road on the circle, then came back and rode past the red barn on Dry Creek Rd, then turned back. When we got back to the barn, she wanted to duck right into the driveway and not listen to me, so we trotted back and forth and I actually got her to do some rollbacks by turning back toward the house and tapping her with the dressage whip to encourage her to pick up her shoulders.
The easy boots were awesome. They fit her well, and she didn’t gimp on rocks once!