Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stick to the rail and trail

I've been playing stick to the rail with Cici. Good way for her to understand her responsibilities of maintaining gait, direction and on the rail. I find it is as much a training exercise for me as for her. Can easily ride with loose rein, but don't always remember to pick it up before making correction. And understand that is part of the conversation, the helloooooo, before the asking. Hmmm how interesting.

Today I went to the barn in the morning. Saw Cici and Casey were deep into eating their hay. By the time I had visited with Mary in the barn and picked up Cici's halter and headed out she was at the gate waiting for me! Oh how this makes my heart sing. Sigh. She is interested in me. She wants to be with me. Of course as I write this I also think well today she was.

I've been playing with her right side issues. Hindend disengagement as slow and thoughtful as opposed to fleeing away. Get a nice slow careful step and then lots of dwell time. I've noticed that her chewing is increasing in length. She used to chew a couple of times and then stop. But I never got the feeling that the chew was really over. Now she is chewing for longer and longer.

Mounting block still an issue. Taking the time to make sure she is totally still before I mount. So what if this takes a while ;-) I flap the stirrup leather, I flap the saddle flap, I raise and lower my knee under her belly. And she takes a slow step backwards. So I keep it up until she is quiet.

Sticking to the rail is making more and more sense to her. I can truly keep the reins on her neck. And she isn't grabbing for the weeds that grow inside the fence, isn't grabbing for the low hanging leaves on the branches and for the most part she is staying on the rail. Our left turns are nice and the right turns are coming along with less and less resistance to the bit. If I am light she is light. Hmmm how interesting.

We did then go out on the trails with Rebekah and Patrick. For the first time I was able to ride with loose reins. I told her (Cici) that as long as she stayed on the trail and kept her mouth still (no eating) I would not get in her way. Oh I did have to make corrections here and there. But I didn't get into arguments with her. We did a bit of switching off who was leading and who was following with Patrick. With both of us, me and Cici, getting more comfortable with each other, it was a relaxed ride. Her head is now in western pleasure position.

I did hop off at one point, and then needed to mount from a mound of dirt. She quietly backed up. Back to a bit of disengagement and circles and back to mound of dirt, stirrup leather flapping and she stood. I told her that I hop on and off a lot so that she is going to have to get used to my mounting her in the woods.

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