Friday, March 25, 2011

Fire breathing dragon

We've been playing in the outside ring the last couple of times. How interesting it is! I don't know whom I'm more surprised or Cici. She is running true to form - leaping and galloping. Now wait a moment...this is what blogging is about....thinking about what happens....processing what happens....and having ah ha moments.

I realize I have been putting special emphasis on her antics in the outside ring. Thinking that they are different than what happens in the indoor. But WAIT ONE MOMENT....they are not different. They are the same. She will let herself get distracted by something and then use that to start moving her feet and then go RB and unconfident. Or like yesterday LB and exuberant. So what I planned on writing about is not what I'm writing about. Oh Boy!

Today she does indeed turn into a fire breathing dragon complete with sound effects. Her head is soooo high, I swear her neck grows. And her face becomes longer. And her legs finer. And her tail turns into a vertical flag. She is prancing and dancing. Galloping. No leaping. She is breathing hard and fast. Her nostrils are long and narrow and billowing with each quick breath. I have a RBE on the end of my 22' line - FLYING.

And what is totally amazing is that I am calm. I can think. I can appreciate how beautifully she is moving. I just watch her move. Wow. Love seeing this while I'm standing on the ground. Don't want to experience this from her back. Ever. And recognize that this is very different than yesterday's explosion which was LBE. I think we will see where this goes as I am planning on a trail ride with V. Know that I have a choice of getting on her or not. But what is most incredible to me is that I can deal with this. Don't feel that just because she is a fire breathing dragon one moment that I don't have the savvy to bring her back from the edge.

I use extreme friendly to interrupt her. I have to bring my energy way up to even get her to notice me and then drop it quickly as she comes in. She is bug eyed, nostril flairing and high headed. Her breathing is quick and rapid. She stands staring first over my head than lowers her head a smidge and stares at me. I wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Outside I don't have music today LOL. No counting songs. I can see she is beginning to come into herself and a blink.

Wiggle my finger at her to back. She shakes her head. This is a great thing because it does indeed mean she is thinking, that she is back to being herself. So I wiggle it again and she shakes again and takes a step forward and puts her head on my chest. Ahhhh. Lowered head. Ask for back again and we go through the snorting on me, shaking of head, licking, chewing, more snorting and blowing as she comes off the adrenalin and back to earth.

All of this is before I even put a saddle on her. And when I tack her up and continue to play she is right there for me. A partner. Walk trot canter both directions soft and willing and correct leads in each direction.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Right Lead Canter continued

We've been working on Cici's right lead canter. I can see she really thinks about it. The left lead is right there, but when she starts to canter right lead there is a momentary hesitation - she even skips sometimes if she starts to strike off with the left front. Clearly it has become a mental issue more than physical. I've been posting daily on PC but want to collect my thoughts here.

And each day we've been playing with it it has become better. She still seems to exaggerate - over reaching with her right leg - but she is putting the pieces together. And I am getting better at setting her up for success by paying careful attention to my send and making sure she crosses over in front when going to the right and not falling forward. Proper preparation in the correct position - guess that goes for both of us.

Today we play in the outdoor ring. It is finally clear of snow, ice and trailers (parking lot for most of the winter). And the weather is in the 40s. I take it nice and easy as the outdoor ring is where Cici likes to blow off steam. She can quickly turn into a RBE and race around leaping in the air, snorting like a dragon.

Yo-yo for a while. Want to improve her backing. Her draw is fine. Its those feet of hers. Although when Avery was on the end of the line I noticed that Cici backed up very nicely. Hmmm. Well then send her out on the circle. She is a bit dragging so changes of direction to get her thinking about me. Then changes of direction as her head starts to get high and she starts to trot faster.

When I think she is ready I ask for right lead canter. I watch her collect, round her back, and go into a right lead gallop. A beautiful right lead it is indeed. Find myself just admiring her as she is galloping around, okay with a few leaps in the air thrown in for good measure. But her movement is fabulous. And she is keeping that right leg out front beautifully as she settles in. Also she is not pulling on the rope. Right lead gallop on the circle with slack in the line. Go figure.

I'm just admiring her as she goes around - no thoughts of RB or LB or if I should ask for change direction or bring her in or ask her to keep going. Just admiring my golden girl. She looks so different outside (as opposed to in the indoor under artificial light) in the soft defuse light (its going to start snowing soon).

When I reengage my thinking mind I ask for change of direction and as she listens to me finally bring her in. Her head is up but her nostrils are only slightly contracted. Hmmm means she is more LB than RB that this was more exuberance than unconfidence. Also she is not hyperventilating. As she does whenever Avery is around LOL.

I wait for a lick and chew. She lowers her head a bit but its not happening. I ask her to back. I just wiggle my finger and she shakes her head at me. I wiggle my finger and she blows her nose at me, shakes her head again, licks chews lowers her head and snorts several times.

Falling leaf and Ss patterns for a while. Sideways. More backing. Then back to the circle. Few changes of direction to keep her head down and when she is going to the right and trotting around softly I ask for the upward transition into a beautiful relaxed flowing right lead canter. No hesitation. No thought. It is right there.

I love this program. Thank you Pat and Linda. I love it when I can see what is going on, know what to do about it, do what needs to be done and Cici turns into my Princess.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fisher Cat Trail

Went out again with V for our second trail ride of the season and she said lets do the Fisher Cat Trail. So named for the two Fisher Cats we saw climbing big pine trees off the trail. Have the Sleeping Deer Trail, Red Tailed Hawk Trail, Precipice Trail, oh and the Cart Path.

The Fisher Cat Trail has this one steep hill that Georgie likes to tack across - zig zagging his way down, and Cici likes to skip down it. Today Georgie took it straight and Cici took her time. Its steep enough that while leaning back I grab hold of the cantle.

Lots of downed limbs and a few downed trees littering the trails. Some we just stomp through - that is Georgie's MO, and Cici is if he can do it so can I! - some we walked over and a couple we had to make adjustments to the trail.

Just before we get back there is a pool of water off the trail. I call it Violette's Pond for one of the other riders I first saw there hand walking her horse. When it gets dry during the summer this is a place of lush grass. Today the pool is still and V asks me "How's Cici with water?" as she starts to walk Georgie through it.

Cici stops at the edge and takes a sip. Then a longer drink, takes a couple of steps into the pool and then she starts to splash. V said, "Oh no, you know what that means?!?!?! She's going to roll!" I don't think she is but just to be safe, I don't want to go wading myself, I ask her to turn back to land and then circle her back into the water.

Georgie is standing quietly in the water near the other side. Cici needs a bit of encouragement as she really wants to do more splashing. And then we get to the deepest part and the water is over her knees. She plows through to the other side and keeps on quietly walking on.

Its strange to acknowledge that I am now much more comfortable riding on the trails than I am in the ring. I remember years ago my fears about trail riding and comfort with the ring. A balance would be nice. Comfort no matter where I'm riding.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Trail Ride 2011

Finally. Not snowing. Not raining. No ice. A delightful day, temps in upper 40s. Blue sky. NO bugs LOL. Went out with V and Georgie. First outing on the trails and Georgie hasn't been ridden all winter so taking it slow and easy.

Once out of the indoor and climbing the "stairs" up to the the upper paddocks and trails I found my seat! Found my balance point, alignment, confidence. Go figure! More comfortable and confident out on the trails than in the indoor. Cici was calm and happy to be out. Did manage a couple of scoots when she got a gust of wind up her butt. But then immediately back to pleasure horse head set.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Right Lead Canter

You know how sometimes the stars align. Your thoughts and actions become one. And your horse is right there for you.

For one moment this morning while playing with Cici we both got all the pieces to come together and online under saddle she lifted her shoulders and struck off for a beautiful right lead canter!!!!!

Thinking about what Avery had said and what she showed me about Cici falling to the right. I got very particular on the send. Paid more attention to her and did lots of change of directions as soon as she went high headed until she softened and was willing to trot with slack in the line and then asked and WOW!!!!!

It was really awesome to be able to see the difference, to see how she willingly rocked back to strike out with her inside front right.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Avery - March

I played with Cici for an hour before Avery was to arrive. Wanted her to be ready! Cici that is. Avery always is.

I started out again with the featherweight, but noticed Cici seemed to need more of a connection. I got out my 22' and realized what a difference it made. Like a firm hand instead of a gossamer wing. She seemed much happier. Very interesting.

Tacked the girl up and the fun began. I mentioned to Avery how Cici had gone from really wonderful before I tacked her up yesterday to leaping in the air. Well today was a repeat. As soon as I asked for trot she started to wind herself up. Trotting faster and faster around, head up, and when I asked for canter - right lead - she would struggle, counter canter, cross canter or just flat out gallop. Going to the left she was still getting high headed and going faster, but she would canter left lead.

Today's objective was a nice right lead canter. Oh and Avery wanted me to get very particular about how I send her - first zone 1, then zone 2, then zone 3. Get her nose turned first, then her forehand and then sideways to her hind end. Also that if when I was walking towards Cici and if she didn't move and I had to stop - she was being dominant. Oh and if she didn't move her nose, and popped out her shoulder to me - she was blocking me. Being dominant. So much to think about in the space of a nano second.....Oh Boy!

I sure got to practice a lot! And the next issue was to get her attention as she was flying around on the circle. Avery says, "Shut her down" and change direction. And each change of direction was a being very particular about the send. Well I was struggling with the shut her down, before I could struggle with change of direction. And all of this was with that RB extravert she has now turned into. So all the pieces were supposed to be happening fast fast fast.

We are now in the "I've never seen this take more than 2 days" LOL. Well Day 1 ended with a soaking wet horse - heavy winter coat, cold day. Spent about an hour hand walking and changing sheets to cool her out and dry her off.

Avery's observation - with Cici its all about moving her feet. Said she is most comfortable at the walk. Gee so am I LOL!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Windy Day

Temps start in the 50s this morning and drop into the 30s by afternoon with a strong cold, maybe that should read cold strong wind. Front moves in.

Cici and I go play in the indoor. Strange noises from the building. Creaking I understanding. Its the crashes that are a bit unnerving. Must be, hopefully is, the last of the snow. I hope I hope I hope.

Cici is concerned but now she is looking to me for leadership. OMG is this possible? Don't want to make too big a deal of it but this is huge. Okay not so huge. Just back to OMG.

I have the featherweight on and realize it is not giving her a feel of me. Hmmm how interesting. She is hesitant about leaving me and going out on the circle. Do some change of directions but she really just wants to come in. And when she does she comes right up to me and puts her head in my chest. Loves her ears rubbed.

Take her to the wall for sideways. She is much more confident here and will go out about 10 - 12 feet from me. Stop with my sigh. And then friendly over her back. And wait for lick and chew. That is hard. Well maybe not so hard. I lean my back against the wall. She leans her face against the wall. I relax and turn away. She relaxes and half closes her eyes.

I wait. Listen to a song on the radio. Think should I keep waiting? But she has not cocked a hind leg. So I wait. And think. And think about her thinking. And when I think I need to do something she licks and licks and licks.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

One more day

Again used the featherweight line. Cici sure likes it. Almost liberty and yet we are connected. Like gently holding hands.

Online she trotted the circle calmly for 5 laps. Didn't wind herself up into a faster and faster and faster trot where she would ultimately break into canter. Today it was a nice forward moving non frantic trot. This I can see riding. Both directions. Yippee.

Once on her we played with stick to the rail. I've probably already posted this, but here is again. I realized if she can't play stick to the rail at the walk how could I even consider trying it at the trot. Same with cloverleaf. She has stopped arguing with me. Well for now she has. She seems to be listening. Well until she doesn't LOL. Don't want to give the impression my little girl is perfect.

Right need more corrections than going to the left today. Hey progress. So after a nice around the ring going to the left I asked for trot. She was right there willing, and gave me a nice small trot. Working on both of our confidences. So I kept asking for more and more connected trot steps. We are slowly getting there.

There was even another snow slide off the roof. Cici just did an in spot spook. And I didn't even have a chance to lock up tight. More progress.

Oh did I mention she has begun The Shed? Time to end wearing fleece or I'll leave the barn looking like her, including the dapples!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A bit more trot

When I get to the paddock today Casey lifts his head out of the breakfast hay and trots over to greet me. Cici looks at me, looks at her hay - she got the good soft and green stuff today - and goes back to eating. I walk toward her, twirl the rope and she reconsiders and walks directly past me to the gate. Stands and waits.

She is not looking at me however. Never made contact again. And as I walk toward the her and the gate, she clearly decides she has waited long enough and walks back to her hay. Leaving me at the gate!

We finally get it all sorted out and off to the indoor we go. She is quiet today. Waiting for me to figure out what we are going to do. Some very nice sideways along the wall. And after friendly we wait a bit - not quite a song - for the lick and chew. I've been wondering whether or not she is getting more LB and that is why the lick and chew seems to take a while. Contemplating what other things she can do? or is she thinking about confidence - or her lack of it and getting over that? Have to talk with Avery about this.

I play a little more with sideways without a wall, just the littlest ask on my part. At first try she goes forward, again, but then she begins to really listen to me and crosses over front and rear. One step at a time.

Decide to get the featherweight line today. And it is a good decision. Cici clearly likes it better than the heavy old 22'. She is very responsive and I realize quickly that we are going to ride today! Check out both directions. Wait for lick and chew. Tack her up and check her out some more. Realize the importance of my calmly waiting for her to lick and chew. Find it hard today since she seems so willing to wait, but know I need to. I need that acknowledgement from her that she has processed what we just did. Ah - taking the time it takes!!!!!

I've been working on my confidence trotting. Decide to see how we are feeling first. Cici is really very soft today. She sticks to the rail going to the right with almost no corrections all the way around. Cloverleaf she is listening and not tell me what we are going to do. Switch direction and to the left stick to the rail has more corrections necessary. Cloverleaf again nice, listening and doing what I ask. When I stop in question box get very nice licking and chewing.

Back out to stick to rail and then trot. I am feeling like, oh yeah, I remember this. Feels great. Back to working on Cici maintaining gait. But I think, well a couple of weeks ago she couldn't stick to the rail, so we will just be passively persistent in the proper position for this task.

A patch of snow slides off the roof while we are trotting and all Cici does is throw her head up and stop. Yippee!!! Me? I'm tight and gripping. But quickly unclench LOL. Its her reaction that has me cheering. Because after a few moments she licks!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Talking about my emotional fitness. I know I have grown and strengthened it when I am on the ground playing with Cici. Things that used to completely unsettle me I now laugh at. And ask Cici to keep going. But under saddle. I am much more conservative.

Today it was super windy and apparently still snow on the indoor roof. I say apparently because there were strange sounds, sliding, crashing going on while I was playing with Cici on line. Now her emotional fitness is strengthening. At first she spooked at the noise, ran a few strides then turned and faced me and licked and chewed. The next time she just turned and faced and licked an chewed.

This is wonderful. However I kept having thoughts that she was not in the right frame of mind to ride. But it was I who was not in the right frame of mind to ride. I keep visualizing riding and trotting and cantering around the ring with a broad smile on my face. Feeling her move under me. And feeling confident and comfortable.

The visualizations feels wonderful. But then the wind picks up and the roof makes strange sounds and I say, no not today. Sigh.