Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We're getting there!

Things are going pretty well! Last night I was playing with Xena in the indoor arena. I was circling her while standing on a bucket, to get her used to communication from a person up higher than her. Kind of important while riding. We got almost two laps, and then she started having issues by the gate. I'm not entirely sure what they were, she wanted to stand by the gate, but she wasn't looking at it, it was weird. She'd stop out in the middle of the circle and just stand there. I'd suggest for her to keep going at phase 1, then release when she did that head bobbing thing that means she's thinking about it and working through it. That went on, her standing there, for probably ten minutes. Sometimes she did a tongue sucking thing that I was wondering might mean she was catatonic, she wasn't blinking. I let her work through it, and we stopped circling after another lap.

She felt like standing at the fence, so I said okay me too. I sat on top of the gate, scratching her back and neck. She wanted no business of me sitting on her, so to help both of our confidence, I put just one knee on her, took it off, lather rinse and repeat. Then I was getting super tired sitting up there, so I was leaning most of my weight on her. She had more of an issue with me on her left, really didn't care on the right. Interesting! I eventually got so tired of mainly holding myself up on the panel gate, I turned around and sat on her butt. She didn't care!!! She had totally flipped when I tried to throw something on the left side of her back, wouldn't let me fork a leg over, but yet she doesn't mind my butt sitting on hers. WOW! Okay so that means she definitely is afraid of being ridden and having something bad happen to her. Poor girl, I don't know what that last trainer did to her, but she didn't like it. So I sat there sitting kind of on her hip, scratching her withers and neck, for quite some time. I wonder how I'll be able to get her to trust that I won't hurt her when we ride? Oh well, it's not about the riding. It's about our relationship, which means before I do anything more than sit on her butt, she has to gain more trust in my leadership.

Tonight, I played with Mesa, and introducing the weave pattern. I'm not sure why the figure 8 is presented first... weave is so much easier!! After we got our forehand yeild better thanks to the weave, we weren't fighting about the figure 8 anymore! I'll admit sometimes it's difficult for me to understand that LBE, since I get along with my complicated RBIs so much easier. But, since having Xena around and learning leaps and bounds about horse behavior from her, things with Mesa have begun to make more sense. I have all the patterns up through level 3 down with Ghost, but she used to live in my back yard. Mesa was at an anti-Parelli boarding stable where our ground skills were level 1 most days. (We could do level 4 freestyle when nobody was watching, example that picture over on the right, but the rope halter was a bit of a no-no.) It's weird being able to play with the big horses on the ground like this. So much more horse to have to maneuver around the obstacles lol!

Then I got Xena out and was playing with improving our squeeze and figure 8. She was pretty left brain tonight, even pushy. She ran into the stick a few times, and then after minor objection, started putting effort into understanding. We got two very nice squeezes over some ground poles, and then finally she stopped and waited, and asked a question before coming in. Hmm, hadn't thought it was a respect issue, but I guess that worked! I have pretty much been letting her come in whenever she wanted, but tonight I thought "You're not worried about walking around in here all by yourself, you don't need me for moral support," and I was pretty insistant on her standing and waiting. Cool! All of our games are getting pretty good, even porcupining backwards from her face! I can drive her backwards from her chest as long as I'm standing in front of her. Off to the side she goes forward. Haven't yet decided if I think that's opposition reflex evading the pressure or positive reflex interpreting it as a circle cue. 50/50 chance, right? I'll play with it some more one of these days when I have more than 20 minutes to spend with her. Anyway we did a bit more playing with front end yields to fix our sloppy figure 8 turns. I think - for both horses - I need to place the barrels farther apart because they are both having trouble turning in time. It will also allow me to go slower in my phases, rather than "Come around the barrel and you better turn right now before this stick gets your zone 1!" lol. We'll have to work up to that precision. Right now it's just bothering my pushy LBE and timid RBI. Eventually Xena was trying to bend around the barrel, and asking before coming in. We quit there and headed back to the barn.

I backed her out of the door to the big barn. The small people door that's just big enough for a horse to fit through, that I've seen take people 15 minutes and a whip to go forwards into. Light phase 1, all it took. We have a very good concept of the back through a squeeze pattern. Now if only we could get the normal squeeze a bit better.

Another thing I think is noteworthy... I had her on the 22 foot line for just a few minutes while I was turning her out, before I played with Mesa, and she seemed to really enjoy the drift. I only have one big horse halter, and I mainly use the 22 with Mesa now, so to avoid going back to the tack room I just brought Xena out with it. So much for her needing my contact lol! I know she did in the beginning, and she still does on circles because that whole "resposibility" thing bothers her, but for the most part I think she's getting pretty confident. Which means.... perhaps it's time to try with her the big scary world of Level 2!!!

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