Sunday, February 27, 2011

Got stuck

Woke this morning to a couple of inches of new snow. Thought we were done with this stuff. Put on my jack and zipped up. Oh didn't get it right and got the zipper stuck. Really stuck. Stuck so bad I have to step out of the coat and put on another!

Roads are clear thankfully. But when I get to the barn the driveway has not yet been plowed. Car handles the snow fine. Meet M in parking area and she chides me about not waiting til 2 hours after the snow ends for her to plow. Suggests I pull car into outside ring. I do. I get stuck! Spinning wheels, going nowhere stuck!

Leave the car muttering I'll deal with it later. Go get Cici and play in indoor. But I can't stop thinking about stuck. I can't quiet my mind. When I am supposed to be quiet and waiting for Cici to lick and chew I realize I am not quiet of mind. That place I always go - quiet calm serene - is not there today. And Cici is picking up on this. When I ask her to trot on the circle she turns towards me, lifts her front end and manages to put a foot over the rope.

We are not in a good place. I let her back up and step over the rope. I thank her for bearing with me this morning, but I think it would be best if I bring her back to her paddock so she can finish her breakfast. And I go home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Second day Freestyle

Wow two days in a row! But then Julie came from across the street to work her hunter pony.

The working consistently is making a huge difference with Cici. Online took a lot less time. And her licking and chewing is coming faster. Also the extreme friendly is beginning to take hold of her mind. I actually got a lick and chew with head up immediately after a lively sideways.

And she is settling into the stick to the rail. A decided if she argued I'd back her. Had to do that a couple of times at different places and she licked and chewed immediately. We were riding for about 15 minutes when Julie came in. Just walking along the rail with cloverleaf for variety. Cici was settling into the walking. And listening.

With Julie in ring I stopped Cici in question box and let her just think. And I waited and waited and waited for the licking and chewing. Cici was aware of the pony cantering around the ring - in front of her, around the side and behind. Her ears where keeping tabs on pony. But she was standing calmly head pointing straight. Cocked first one hind leg then the other. I wanted her to really really relax, so I used the environmental distraction to my advantage. Oh Boy!!!!

After Julie left we went back out to stick to rail and cloverleaf. And when I stopped again got more licking and head shaking and finally yawning! Yippee!!! I love boring my horse!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Finally have the time and no one is around. Start with online. While yesterday she had to kick up her heels a bit today she was much with me. We have been working on the wait. How long after she does something that I have asked for and then friendly over her back for her to lick and chew. I've taken to counting songs on the radio! Oh she cocks a hind foot, she lowers her head, she blinks, half closes her eyes and I watch her lips and chin quiver.

I turn away, move away, lean on my carrot stick, cross a leg, even crouch down to remove any pressure she might be perceiving from me. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Today she licked quickly the first couple of times. Then we got into 1 and 2 song waits. But she seems to be softer today than yesterday. So run through sideways, figure 8s, circling and playing with laps, maintaining gait over a pole and softness. Did an extreme friendly and she came right in and licked immediately.

Tacked up and played some more. Noticing she is starting to avoid sideways along the wall. She will line herself up and then just walk parallel to the wall. This is now becoming a pattern. Hmm better do something about it.

Freestyle - yippee. Riding - staying at walk played with stick to rail and clover leaf. Stick to rail is slowly getting there. She consistently has a couple of places, different in each direction, where there are issues - issues like not staying on the track. When I try and mix things up she argues with me – "No, we are doing right hand turns!"

Working towards that place where she asks a question instead of tells me what we are doing. This is really very very provocative. And staying at the walk is also turning out to be very provocative. Hmm how interesting!

After riding for maybe 20 minutes I ask her to stop in the question box. Stand and wait. And wait. And wait. And then she starts licking and chewing. Then head shake. Then yawning. And yawing and yawing. She just can't seem to stop.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Taking the time

Today in our play time I start Cici off with a bit of hands on her, sweeping her bladder meridians. Then grooming. We are in the corner and there is stuff, other people's trash around and she is wandering over to check it out. Ever hopeful that there is a treat buried somewhere. I quickly get upset at her not standing. Hmmm how interesting.

Move over to sideways along the wall. Nice steps and then friendly and wait for lick and chew. I find it hard to wait. But the first sideways is well worth the wait as she licks and licks and licks and licks. This is going to her right. Change direction and get resistance on the line. Attitude. She does not want to go sideways to her left. Change direction and nice feel. Change direction and she doesn't want to change direction. She backs, she lines herself up along the wall and walks forward. Am I that far out of position?

Focus, reorganize and she goes sideways. Hindend lagging. We are both struggling. Finally get a couple of nice steps, stop, friendly and wait. She has her head against the wall. It is slowly lowering. Her eyes are closing. I think she is going to sleep!

Move on to sideways around the barrels. We have been playing with this and then I ask her to walk just her front legs over the barrels and do a couple of steps sideways. Remember to end with friendly and wait. And wait and wait and wait. She blinks her eyes. No licking.

I'm aware that I keep thinking about time. What time it is, how much time I have, what time I need to leave. Try to put the time issue aside. But find myself glancing at the clock.

M comes into the ring and wants to talk. I am playing with circling and transitions and thinking about laps and ask Cici in. As I stand and listen to M talk and talk and talk, Cici finally licks and licks and licks and licks. It has taken quite some time for her to release. I am thankful that M has come to talk with me. This has given Cici the time she needed, that I was not giving her. Hmmm how interesting.

M leaves and we continue with circling and figure 8s and tack up and even manage to mount up and play stick to the rail at the walk and clover leaf patterns. Just quiet, calm, walking. Relaxed. Trying to find my rhythm again.

End with Cici yawning. Stretching her neck and head out and really really yawning. Shaking her head and more yawning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Finding time

Just seems to be no time. Since my lesson a week ago there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day. Of course planning a birthday party for myself and going to my Aunt Norma's 90th party in the same weekend probably had a something to do with that.

Managed a little time to play but only online. More emotional fitness. I wanna wanna wanna be playing and riding, everyday!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lesson Day

Avery's coming today at 11:00 so I get to the barn at 9. Some energy work is needed for Cici and then grooming, cleaning and playing. She was very RBE yesterday and I want to take the time it takes to get her ready willing and able to ride.

But while today does not start off like yesterday, I play with Cici for over an hour and still don't feel she is ready to ride. She is slipping back and forth between RB and LB - leaning more and more toward the RB side. But I do feel she is beginning to pay attention and decided to take out the feather weight line and play with that.

Avery says that the feather weight is best used when Cici is in a learning from of mind. Ah ha! How does Avery always know that hole in my thinking?

Ask about increasing laps with Cici and how not to bore her with them. Learning state of mind. When Cici is in the learning state of mind that is when to work on increasing laps. When she is not, well that is what we worked on today.

When she will maintain the gait I ask and keep tension off the rope - great. As soon as I feel her pulling on the rope, change of direction until tension is kept off. Same goes for gait I ask. I ask for trot, she goes to canter and is pulling - change of direction. So we did lots and lots of changes of direction at trot and canter today.

Played with sideways along the wall. I learned to be able to tell the difference, lets see if I can get this down - important for me to remember. Zone 1 is leading, zone 4 is lagging. If I put a feel on the rope and she braces against me - we are in dominant behavior and change direction/sides. If I put feel on the rope and she yields I can ask zone 4 to move.

When I get her moving in a relaxed manner, stop, exhale, relax and then play friendly game with carrot stick savvy string over her saddle. Two times - up and back and then relax, take a step back to remove the pressure and wait for her to lick and chew.

At one point, I have Cici sideways down the wall toward the end/corner. I am not coordinated and when I get it together to swing the carrot stick she reacts (I took too much time), backs up, turns, she is now past the corner, looking out the back door. Avery had been sitting on one of the barrels that is parallel to the door, she gets out of the way as Cici jumps the barrel and books out the door up the path into the deep snow! Somehow I let the feather weight slide through my hands, but hold on to the end during all this. Amazing what 22' can do.

I need to play friendly this way with more things that I do with her. Need her to get to the oh that means relax.

Oh boy! Things to think about. Lick and chew on them.

Then Avery says Cici is ready to get on. I am not sure I would have assessed her in the same way - ready to get on - but I trust Avery. We play stick to the rail at the walk. Cici is has more impulsion than I am feeling comfortable with. Avery suggests adding a circle when she is impulsive. Circles in corners, or adding circles along the long side. Whenever I feel she is walking faster than I am comfortable with. And Cici slows down. A few steps in a relaxed walk and we stop and let her lick and chew and relax.

Change of direction and same things. Avery suggests I do this at the trot. Cici starts off impulsive immediately and I think this is not for me today. After all the time playing with Cici on line, I am just not together with her in confidence. Emotional fitness. But what is important is being able to say, "not today." So we continue at the walk.

Ask about clover leaf pattern. Can I introduce it as a way to keep Cici from getting bored? Learning frame of mind. If Cici is focused and doing stick to the rail well, then sure add clover leaf pattern. But if she becomes dominant go back to stick to the rail.

Told Avery I am thinking about taping my level 2 online assessment. "Sure go for it." She mentioned looking at level 3 circling games - spiraling. Offer Cici more or less rope for her to circle with. And for Cici to keep tension off the rope at whatever length I give her.

As always Avery is right on with the missing pieces. They are the small pieces that make everything go together. I use change of direction, but feel I've been using it in a gross manner. Avery is fine tuning my use. Same with what we worked on with sideways. Refinements, details, finesse.

Of course now I can't wait til the next time I get to play with Cici.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Falling snow

Notice when I get to the barn this morning that Cici is standing at the fence line with Cheeta. The girls are chatting. I check to see if she has been fed yet and M says that she was fed in her shed a while ago. But if she was fed why is she standing outside in the drizzling rain?

I gather all my stuff in the indoor, saddle, bridles, ropes, barrels and cones. And then I head to the paddock. Cici is still at fence but comes over to me, very interested in food. I walk into the shed and find three flakes of hay untouched!

The warmer weather and rain is causing today's earlier snow of more than an inch of wet snow slide. And there is snow falling off the roofs everywhere. Cici is not happy. Head up and big eyed. And I was thinking about riding today.

I show Cici the hay and then walk back into the shed and she follows. She grabs a bite and I go back outside to see if I can't shovel the path into the shed. Just the sound of striking the snow shovel into the snow causes Cici to book out of the shed. Thankfully she doesn't run me over, she avoids me and runs through the deep snow, almost falling in the process.

I bring the hay out of the shed and let her and Casey eat. This is breakfast! She needs her strength. After a while eating I halter her and she leads the way up the path to the indoor. Great chance to work on driving from Zone 5.

In the indoor she is really head up and whites of eyes showing. She is listening and watching for falling snow. I really bring up my energy to match hers and to have her listen to me. Lots of backing, sidesways with and without the wall, figure 8s and change of direction. Have the barrels out and she flies over them.

Circling game is a challenge and she wants to leave. And then she scares herself and runs into me and puts her head in my chest. Do lots of change of direction every few steps and she starts to see this as a pattern and change before I ask. Hmm how interesting.

Notice that backing matching her energy is effective. Lots of licking and chewing. On the circle when she spooks and takes off I ask her to keep moving her feet and she is circling and her tongue goes in and out. Finally ask her in and get a huge sigh from her, more licking and final lowering of her head.

I had planned on saddling her and riding, but realize there is more snow yet to fall. Call it a day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snacking lying down.

When I get to the paddock today I see Cici lying in the snow. And Casey also. I quietly open the gate and Casey gets up, shakes himself off and comes to greet me. Cici is still lying down. That large green mound in the photo is her. I don't know whether or not to be worried so I continue to quietly approach her. Then notice her jaws are moving. And then I see that she is eating the hay that is scattered around her! Just finishing up breakfast, in a very leisurely relaxed manner.

She allows me to approach before she gets up to say good morning. Halter her and using the tracks she has made in the paddock, that yesterday I tramped down with my snow shoes we walk to the gate. Now the gate opens a little bit less than the last storm, and the path wall are higher. I send Cici out and she walks up the channel and stops. I tell her just to wait for me to latch the gate, not to turn, and she obliges. And then its driving from zone 5 up and down the path to the indoor.

Lets see, its been two snow storms (2 days) and a shoveling day since the last time we made it into the indoor to play. And what a great session that was! She immediately makes for the pedestal once I get her blanket off, and up she goes. She likes just standing there. The step is so high that I am once again concerned about asking her to put her hind feet on it. Wait until Avery comes and see what she thinks.

I back Cici off the pedestal and I turn away, she goes back up. Laugh and let her stay there a while. I then walk behind her and pull gently on her tail and she moves sideways with her hind feet while keeping her front feet firmly planted on the pedestal. Hmmm how interesting.

A normal is in the ring with us today. She is going to be lunging her horse. This adds a level of distraction that I think will be interesting to see how Cici reacts. Before she gets started I do sideways with Cici, some backing, stick to me and then go play with circling.

By now the other person is lunging or trying to lunge. He is distracted by Cici, as she usually works him alone. And she uses voice commands. Trot, trot, trot, trot, terrr rot, and when he does something she likes there are all the good boys repeated over and over and over.

I've always wondered why Pat doesn't advocate voice commands. Today I could kiss him for that. So while she is walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, good boy, good boy, good boying I am slowly going crazy. Cici is also a bit distracted by all the terrrr rot as I am sure she was taught to terrr rot with voice commands. But she is listening to my asking for terr rot with a point of the finger and support with carrot stick if needed.

I try and block out the noise and wonder how much longer this will go on. Cici is not as focused and with me as she was on Monday. But then again I am not as focused and with her as I was on Monday. Hmmm, how interesting - another emotional fitness challenge! LOL.

I get out two cones to practice figure 8s and change of direction so change things up for both of us. Reestablish our connection and the other person leaves. Yippee. Sorry to be sooooooooooo well quiet I guess.

Now we get to play with circling and laps and quietness and responsiveness. Cici has a bit of attitude and I have her trot sideways along the wall. That changes her mind quickly.

Saddle her up, preflight check and get on. Again work on stick to rail and Cici has this idea down. No stops for grazing on the hay scraps on the ground by the stalls, just sticking to rail. At the walk. Trot is another matter. Here she has the tendency to want to cut corners, go on track two, and come quickly back to walk. But we are slowly making progress. A good thing as Avery is coming next Wednesday, provided no more snow storms. And I don't know if I will get to ride again before that.