Sunday, November 29, 2009

Play session

Today I filled the outdoor ring with cones, yoga ball, hoola hoop, tarp, a chair - a veritable playground! We walked, stopped, woven between things, backed. Cici stood with her front legs inside the hoola hoop, she walked across the tarp, stop on the tarp, backed over the tarp. Touched the ball with her nose, smelled the hoola hoop, nosed the chair. All of this at liberty.

I picked up the hoola hoop and swung it around my arm at her side. She wasn't sure so I backed off and then started to walk away, like the other day. She followed and caught up with me in no time. I then twirled the hoop on both sides, over her butt, put it over her head. She stood, but was not completely relaxed. So I played some more. She finally lowered her head and blinked her eyes. No chewing.

When I was done with our play session, I looked over the ring and realized I needed to gather up everything. Thought about asking Cici to stay with me as I walked to the cones and picked them up - she followed. Put them by the gate. Got the ball, got the hoola hoop. Then I looked at the tarp and the rocks on the corners and lost my focus on Cici. She took this as an invitation to check out the edges of the ring for nibblies.

I tossed the rocks to the side of the ring, actually right where she was, not even a head lift. I struggled to fold up the tarp and survey the ring. Everything was now at the gate, so I walked back there to get the string to tie up the tarp. I looked up to see where Cici was and she was walking from the far side of the ring towards me. Okay you are done, lets go graze!

After I left the barn I heard from Vivian, a friend who has been helping me out by cleaning Cici's paddock. She told me today that she had one full muck bucket by the gate and was filling the second one. As she moved closer and closer to the gate, Cici looked over her shoulder and left her hay. She walked directly to Vivian, and stopped by the muck bucket. She then turned around and lifted her tail and pooped right in front of the bucket. Looked over her shoulder at Vivian and walked back to her hay.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today I played with Cici in the outdoor ring. I got my ball and cones and hoola hoop. Still nursing my left arm, so we walked around the ring letting Cici check things out and snort at them. Walked patterns around two cones, stopping at each one for her to touch with her nose, kicked the ball then I dropped the lead. She stayed with me as I walked, changed direction, wove in and out of objects. Kicked the ball in front of her and walked to it, kicked it and walked to it. She lowered her head and smelled the ball and then gave it a little push with her nose. Yippee!

I did some disengagement of hind end on her left side. Went to see how the right side was and she blocked me with her head. So back to left and tried right side again. After a bit of persistence she finally allowed me on her right, but when I asked for disengagement quickly repositioned me on her left. Hmmm how interesting.

Walked over to the hoola hoop lying on the ground. She immediately sniffed it and touched it with her nose. I asked her to walk forward and she place both front feet right in the circle. And stood quietly. Walked around more, back to hoola hoop. In and back out.

I picked it up. Whoa! Head up and she took a step back - looking at it now standing on edge. I backed up and then turned away from her and began walking away with hoop's edge dragging on the ground. She started to follow me about 3 board lengths (30 feet) away. And I walked and serpentined and changed direction and slowly she closed the distance. After just a few minutes I found that she was walking on my left - placing her right side toward the hoop. Hmmm how interesting! LOL.

When we were done I needed to put her turnout back on. With her offering her right side for the hoola hoop I was wondering if I could put the blanket on from that side. But no, she is quiet, but I watch her raise her head, watch her nostrils and that weight shift back - away. Lots of walking away, approach and retreat. All this still at liberty. What is interesting is that when she finally is willing to stand for the blanket it doesn't matter how long it takes me to sort out the blanket on her back - she just stands and waits.

Attention vs intention

Yesterday a friend came to visit with Casey (she just adores him) and Cici. She brought an apple for each. She was totally focused on Casey, oh fussed a bit over Cici, but it was Casey she wanted to see. And of course Casey was being himself and took the apple and really didn’t want to have anything else to do with her since no more food. He usually loves to have his arm pits scratched and my friend was really looking forward to accommodating him. But he would not let her near.

Thinking about this – I’ll go with too much intention! She was so focused on scratching him I think it was too much focused energy on his sides, and while he never went far he stayed just out of reach.

Cici, who now completely views me has hers and my time in the paddock all about "us" was like "hey what about me?!?!" I did scratch her, but quickly got distracted by my friend and Casey. No attention. Cici turned around and did a gentle body block on me with her hind end. And then she stood there with her butt facing me! Talk about intention! LOL

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I seem to be focused on Cici nostrils as an indicator of how she is. We played in the indoor - place of lots of flaring LOL. I set up two cones to use for yo-yo game, want to work on backing. I notice immediately that she is not flaring her nostrils but seems instead to be contracting them. Her nose has a wrinkle in it, her lower chin is tight. I ask her first walk between the cones, then back and give her time to just think about what she has done.

I stand facing her, looking at her nostrils. The right one is larger, longer top to bottom, than the left one. Not flared. I wonder if maybe I'm nuts in what I think I've been seeing. Maybe her nostrils are just different sizes. That is possible. And maybe I've just been imagining things.

As I am having these thoughts Cici looks directly at me and slowly lengthens her left nostril so that it is the same size as the right!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I am noticing that when Cici gets unconfident she will flare her nostrils and snort. Her breathes become very short, panicy. When playing the circling game, if I don't keep her attention she goes into automatic and quickly starts to breath as if she has run a 100 laps. She has her inside nostril flared more than the outside one! And it takes a long dwell time for her to release and relax.

Since I am able to move around more with my arm, I've started to halter her and bring her out of her paddock. I have to say she is very accommodating in that I ask her to lower her head so I can tie the halter - I still can't raise my left arm all that much. But just stepping out of the paddock is a bit of a nostril flaring event.

I had put cones out in the indoor to walk around and weave through and in no time she was taking short quick breaths. I realized my error - I asked too soon, so I just walked her around the arena to give her time to regain her confidence. We then just stood still and I slowly focused my attention on my breathing taking long slow deep breaths. I remembered Frederique saying he syncs his breaths with his horses so thought I'd try. In just a few minutes Cici was relaxing and breathing with me! Wow!

I then walked her around and wove through the cones and focused on keeping both our breaths calm and relaxed. As a right brain introvert her threshold is a very very fine line. This is a my challenge. Watching her nostrils is a great indicator of how she is doing!