Sunday, March 20, 2011

Busy Day Playing With Ponies

I played with 3 of my 4 horses today and had a ball. Each one is so different and so interesting. I played with Li"Bert"y, a.k.a. Bert, first and he always really needs to move his feet first before the real learning can begin. He did about 8 laps to the left and 4 to the right before he settled down to business. Once he had done his laps, we worked on sideways along the fence and he figured it out pretty quickly; he had a little trouble sorting his feet out at first and we had to get our rhythm going but then he did a couple of really nice sideways steps so I quit. Saddled him up for the second time and he did very well, standing quietly, smelling the pads and saddle, etc. Once the saddle was on, I moved him around a bit out on a circle in case he decided to buck but he did great. I sent him off at a walk and he did 2 complete laps, nice and relaxed. It was time to quit and spend a bit of undemanding time while allowing Bert to wind down. He still is a bit emotional at times and it shows in his sweat patterns, but we're working on those emotions. He gets better each time we play; I stretch his emotional bubble just a little bit more each time then let him find his rhythm and relaxation.

America was next to volunteer to play; she was waiting at the gate when I brought Bert back to the pasture. We played with a few trot and canter circles and some changes of direction. America is getting better each time we play. I also saddled her up and sent her out on some circles. She did great for saddling, stood still, investigated pads and the saddle and had no problems with girthing her up. She has had a tendency to buck when first saddled to I sent her out and away from me but she didn’t buck at all this time. After warming her up and moving her around, I decided to lay over the saddle to see how she handled that and she did fantastic. She turned to look at me while I was rubbing her shoulder from both sides. She also turned to investigate my legs hanging on the other side. I’m wondering if her not bucking was because I saddled her with an English saddle today and not the usual western saddle? I may switch to the western saddle next time just to see if there’s a difference. After our play, we had some undemanding time and America stood close to me the whole time. She investigated me a bit as I lay on the ground then stood quietly while I took a “nap”. She also laid down to roll on her left side; she was about 4’ from me.

When I put America back in the pasture, Renegade nickered to me several times. When I invited him in he came at a trot. I greeted him, haltered him, and we went to the play pen. We played with some more trot and canter circles and a few changes of direction. I’m finding Renegade will maintain the canter and do more laps if I have some visible energy in my body so I’ve been sort of hopping up and down in the center of the circle. Interestingly, I also have his attention when I do this; rather than his usual looking outside the circle, he looks intently at me. I guess what I’m doing is exaggerating to teach right now and it’s working. I’m going to play with this some more to see if I can refine it so I can be in neutral and not have to jump up and down; well it’s not jumping really, just little hops. When we finished we just hung out together and Renegade was licking me all over; my hands, my hair, my arms, my shoes. Not sure what that means but as long as he doesn’t carry it too far, I’m going to allow it for now. During our undemanding time, Renegade laid down about 3’ from me to roll and he really was enjoying himself.

Well, now that they’ve all had time to cool off and rest for a bit, it’s time to go out and feed them. I enjoy feeding time and listening to the sounds of them gobbling up their feed; it’s one my favorite times of the day!

Back in from feeding and the ponies and they all greeted me with whinnies and nickers. They must be content because they were all very quiet and polite while waiting for their meals. I stand with the feed bowls at my feet then set them out in a circle around me. The horses have to wait outside my bubble (extends out the length of the cs and string) and wait for me to invite them in to their bowls. It makes feeding time so much more pleasant, orderly, and jostling for position or fighting over who gets which bowl. When they were finished they started munching their hay...they didn't play musical bowls tonight. Bliss!!!

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