Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year And Lots Of Fun With Horses!!

It's a beautiful day here in Florida and I was up early since I went to bed early last night. Guess I must be getting old since I didn't even make it 'til midnight before I conked out lol!! I went outside to do some chores and intended to fix the fence where Li"Bert"y crunched it trying to get that "greener grass" on the other side and although I had good intentions, I actually only did some clean-up and noticed the horses watching me intently so I went to say hello. I guess with having a few days off with little attention from me they were ready for my company and all of them met me at the gate. I spent a little time greeting each one of them and giving some scratches in their favorite itchy places. Since they seemed so connected, I decided to play with them instead of fixing the fence; I didn't really want to fix the fence anyway!!

I played with America first and wow, it was soooo much fun and she was awesome!! I wanted to check our trailer loading so we went to the trailer and she went right in when I asked, no hesitation or fear, just confidently loaded herself and stayed in until I asked her out. Liberty play in the round pen was next and America was a superstar!! She was a bit impulsive at first but I expected that since she was so "fresh" but she settled in nicely to trot circles with an obstacle and relaxed very quickly into a nice rhythmic trot. When she started looking for me I asked her in and the first couple of times, she was a bit unsure but she figured out the pattern very quickly and started coming in confidently. Next up was saddling since I haven't saddled her for over a year and I wanted to see where we were. I saddled her at liberty and she stayed with me the whole time, didn't try to leave even one time; I'm so proud of her!! Once she was saddled and the cinches (both front and rear) were done up, I asked her to move off fully expecting her to buck a bit since she had a tendency to do that when first saddled when we left off last year but she suprised me by moving right off smoothly into a trot with NO bucking. She was calm and relaxed and I stuck to the familiar patterns we had just worked on to help her stay confident. I also wanted to see what she would do with a bit since it had been over a year since we'd played with that too and was amazed when I offered it to her she took it right into her mouth, no muss, no fuss, no head tossing when I did up the bridle either. I just let her carry the bit while I sent her back out for more trot and a couple of canter circles. She was lovely!! I'm so impressed with how she's retained everything we had worked on/played with over a year ago and how confident she was about everything. I have always liked America's personality since the moment I met her at the BLM Mustang adoption, was estatic when I was the high bidder and was able to bring her home, and awed at her confidence and ability to think things through when working/playing with her. After today, I've fallen in love all over again!! America is generally a LBI but can become quite extroverted if unconfident and she isn't afraid to express her opinion; I try hard to listen to her feedback so that we can communicate effectively. I can't wait to start riding her again; it's been over a year since we did any riding and it was only about 20 hours at walk/trot. Judging by how things went today, we should be able to pick up where we left off so long ago and make some great progress!!

Bert is the polar opposite of America!! He is RBE so the name of the game for us today was time and consistency to develop rhythm and relaxation. I decided to play with Bert at liberty today since he was also "fresh" from not having been played with for about a week over the holidays. Bert was VERY impulsive at first so I let him move his feet by sending him out on a circle. He kept looking to me to come in but he wasn't relaxed; his head and tail were high so when he looked in I had him change direction and sent him back out. We did this several times until he was maintaining gait and direction on the circle then I asked him in. He turned to face me but hesitated, not wanting to come in to me so I sent him back out on the circle. We repeated this dance several times and he began to relax; his tail went down and finally he lowered his head. As soon as he did this, I asked him in and he came about 1/2 way to me and stopped. I let him stay there until he licked and chewed then sent him back out and repeated the pattern; as soon as he relaxed, I asked him in. We had to repeat this 3 times and he finally came all the way in to me. Knowing my tendency to overdo things, I made the conscious decision to stop right then and there. Bert did ALOT of licking and chewing while we hung out for a while. I love my little RBE and really love it when I see him developing confidence and the ability to relax.

What can I say about Renegade except he's a LBE and LOVES to play so the strategy for us today was to really PLAY with him. I did this in the play pen and got pretty provocative with him while at liberty and we did some amazing things. First on the list was canter circles since we really need to get better at this. Renegade was stellar at the trot circles but I had to play the "don't make me tag you" game with him three or four times to convince him I really did want canter circles. I could tell it was like a game to him when he started "chuckling" to me when I went to tag him then he would scoot his butt out of the way and take off into a canter. After three or four times of this, I could ask him up into the canter with a point and cluck and he'd go right into cantering. I ended up getting several nice 1/4 circles at the canter. I was mindful to ask him in BEFORE he broke gait back to a trot and he was coming in to me with exhuberance and enthusiasm. It was a wonderful feeling and he was nickering as he was coming in!! Next up was the weave at walk and trot. Even though Renegade was a bit impulsive we had fun with the weave at the walk and I was about 15' away from him using drive and draw to weave him through the cones. I could tell he really understands the pattern because he started doing it before I even asked for it; it wasn't the most beautiful thing in the world but his try was awesome. I noticed that today Renegade did ALOT more licking and chewing than he normally does and he connected with me really quickly and stayed with me - no running off or trying to change the game today, and the softness in him was really noticible. After our play session, we hung out for a while and Renegade decided to roll and I was rubbing him while he was down. When he got up, I was sitting on the ground and he stayed with me so I started scratching him then rubbing him "with my heart in my hand" and the gentleness that was shared between us was amazing. I love that feeling, especially when he turns his head to see what I'm doing, softly smells my hand, and sighs. Years ago, when we first started this amazing journey, he didn't trust anyone and he would try to bite you if you touched him anywhere and I didn't trust him not to bite me (he actually connected one time and gave me a huge bruise). Everything leading up to this change in us (the sweat, tears, frustration, time, learning, and growth) has been worth every moment.

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