Monday, September 6, 2010

Obstacles, Challenges, Cantering

I don't know if it's because I'm now studying L3 that I'm starting to really disect the things that happen with my horse, but I've been doing LOTS of thinking about many things lately. The latest "thing" that has hold of my brain is the play day this past Saturday; it was in preparation for some obstacle challenges we're going to do this month and also in October and November.

I utilized the play day to keep Renegade interested by mixing things up quite a bit. Renegade is a LBE/LBI and requires me to keep his mind busy and interested to prevent him from starting his own games because once that happens he takes over and it's really difficult to get his mind back at that point. I did well managing to keep his attention for most of the day, had lots of fun with the obstacles, and did well at most of them. We will definitely need more practice on the water obstacle (man made from a tarp and some posts). After lots of approach and retreat and leaving the obstacle then coming back later, Renegade managed to put one foot in the water. I decided not to push my luck and left it at that!! Interestingly, riding into the lake and around a pole was not a problem!! The other obstacle that was a real challenge was two barrels that had a board across them and the object was to pick up one end of the board, make a 360 degree circle around the barrels, come back to the starting point and replace the board, all without the other end of the board leaving the other barrel. Rather than line up with his zone 3 against the barrel so I could pick up the board, Renegade wanted to face it with zone 1. Hummm...think we need more practice with putting zones in different places!! Also, have I somehow confused Renegade and he really thought I wanted him to face the barrel or was he making assumptions based on the touch it game?

We were successful with lots of other obstacles: a bridge with flapping things on both sides - having to stop for 7 seconds on problem, trot to the hanging pool noodles and stop with them touching our problem, walking and trotting the problem, the may pole and spiraling problem, riding up to touch the smiley faced balloons blowing in the problem, whirley gig problem, picking up the BIG whirley gig, riding a circle, putting the whirley gig problem, dragging a good sized log forward and problem, dragging a bag of cans forward and problem, forward through the Z and backing through the problem. I am so proud of Renegade and everything he tried for me. It was a lot of mental work for him and he was a champ!!

For a break from all the mental work of the obstacles, I also decided to practice a bit of freestyle cantering during a break from the obstacle practice/play. This was fun even though we had some oopsies and miscues. We ended up having a couple of good canters and one really nice canter depart. The canter depart was a first, I had never asked him for a canter from halt before because of the difficulty. I'm so proud of my little guy and his heart, desire, and try!!

We all took a break and ate lunch while the horses grazed and rested a bit then decided to go back out and do a bit of bareback riding: follow the leader, can you's, etc. Instead of using the Cradle Bridle, I had Renegade in a halter with finesse reins and he took full advantage of that fact. He started jerking the reins out of my hands, grazing at will, and trotting around with his nose on the ground. I can ride that but the stops can be tricky and he wasn't paying attention to me at all so I got off to re-establish my leadership on the ground. I really put him to work moving his feet, directing him everywhere, over obstacles, falling leaf, changes of direction, etc. and it didn't take long for him to decide it was o.k. for me to be leader again!! He also decided that grass wasn't so appealing after all!! Had I had my saddle on, I most likely wouldn't have had to get off to reestablish leadership but I'm not as secure with the bareback pad yet so I thought it more prudent to get off before I had an unplanned dismount!!

I can't help but wonder if I missed some signals from Renegade before he decided to take over and that maybe he was tired, both emotionally and physically and that's why he checked out? I wonder if I missed an opportunity to less sooner rather than more later to keep him connected to me? Did I overwhelm him by giving him soooo much to do and think about? I have much to think about and evaluate!!

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