Saturday, April 23, 2011

Avery - April 20- Cones + Followup

(Posted on PC) Unexpected lesson with Avery (Wednesday). Schedule mix up. Played touch it from trot and canter. I love these seemingly simple tasks that take on so many issues. Its like Avery gives me a puzzle to work on each time we get together.

Asking Cici to maintain her trot around the circle, stop at the cone. Coordination for me on when to ask her to stop. Too soon? Too late? If Cici doesn’t stop at the cone or misses it then I need to keep her trotting. At first I don’t even think Cici is aware of the cone. Consistency and repetition. Slowly we get it together and Cici starts to ask questions. She stops at the cone. Yippee kiyah!!

It is really important that I give Cici all the time she needs to process this. We wait. And wait and wait for that licking and chewing and even get some nice blowing of nostrils. I can clearly see how she is doing, how hard she is thinking by her nostrils. As she processes new things they get a little pinched. When she blows out – and has thought about what she did, they relax.

Can we do it again? And then change direction and its like it is a whole new game. But it doesn’t take quite as long before she is asking me questions in this direction.

Avery commented that she (Cici) is now slowing herself down physically. How the first time I had a lesson with Avery Cici could not trot slow let alone canter. She only had FAST trot - head high - and gallop. Now she has three very nice gaits. And how she is also slowing down emotionally. At the end of this lesson Cici was not hyperventilating! A first!!!!! LOL.

We then tried it at the canter. Cici clearly tries to strike off on the correct lead going to the right. She now has the beginning of an understanding of the pattern and it only takes a few tries before she starts asking questions and stops when I ask at the cone! Yippee!!! My oh so clever little girl!

I learn about the importance of my intention. Cici reads me like a book, even if I am unaware. At the very end of the lesson Cici is standing quietly as I reach under her jaw to swap the 22 with the 12. My intention is to get this done and Cici just backs away…."I don’t think so"…until I exhale and bring my energy down.

On Friday (Thursday day of rest), walk into the arena with a plan. Focus on touch it – cones, barrels, saddle. Sideways. Backing. Then circling game with cone. Cici walks the circle, stops at the cone, licks and chews, looks at me "What now?" !!! Clearly she has spent her day off thinking about the lesson.

Even at the canter she is ready willing and able to stop. Well stop her front end at the cone and the hind end swings around. She is facing me, looking at me with her ears pinned on me. Wooohooo!!!!! Awesome pony.

I realize I watch her feet and Avery commented on how her ears were focusing on me. Her ears? She has ears? Feel like I’ve been on zoom focus on her feet and my new game is to see her WHOLE body – ears to hoofs! Because her ears sure are dancing now!

Now that I am "looking" I recognize her 1000 yard stare. She will stop and look at me with her eyes just closed a little, ears back and nostrils with a single wrinkle in them. She stares right through me. But NOW getting two soft eyes, relaxed nostrils - soft and open - and two ears. What a beautiful face.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Casey the impossible horse

I've been reading the book with that title to Casey. I sit on the rock and read to him. Cici continues to eat her hay. Its all about him after all. Casey just stands right in front of me. Quietly. No inching to nip. No biting. Just watching and listening. A perfect gentleman.

A few days later I notice that Casey seems a bit quiet. Not nudging me. And he is hanging out at the gate. I look him over, check his feet and go sit on another rock. The paddock has a variety of rock seating. He comes over and I start to tell him a story, I don't have the book with me, about a little boy named Casey and his adventures.

My little Casey just stands in front of me and listens. I reach out and stroke his face from forelock to nose. Gently time and again. I have NEVER, EVER been able to do this with him. He always tosses his head, tries to bite me, moves out of reach. But as I am telling him the story its like he has fallen under a spell.

And of course my thoughts are is there something medically wrong with him?

Today I once again take the time to sit and talk with Casey. He comes over and stands quietly. And allows me to stroke his face.

Is this the missing piece? He wants to hear me talk to him. Talk in that story telling voice. Oh I do talk to him, but it is usually Stop nipping! Back up out of my space! Back up! Put your ears forward. Ouch!!!!

Can the answer to our relationship be something so simple?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cones continued

Cici's fascination with cones continues. Four cones placed for a question box become four cones that have to be stepped on. One at a time. Quietly. Patiently. But definitively stepped on before we can proceed.

I place a cone in the middle of the ring to use as a focal point for freestyle circles. All is well as I keep the cone in my peripheral vision. Then I glance directly at the cone, Cici takes this "focus" and makes a beeline for the cone. Walking right up to it and stepping on it and stopping.

Friday, April 1, 2011


My friend/sister Kim Shannon mentioned, ha, challenged me to set up cones on a circle to inspire Cici to keep moving along. "Place cones at regular intervals on a circle. Start by playing Touch It with each cone swapping sides for fun and balance. When I then stood in the middle and asked for a circle Dove was drawn to each cone as she went around and voila a perfect circle (if I set the cone out right that is!) She would also put in great effort to stop at a cone vs our previous dribbly downward transitions on a circle game."

I have four cones and at first I don't want them too far and place all four in half the circle. Well they are kind of close but maybe that will be a good thing when Cici starts out. I quickly realize I need to spread them out more because Cici is just done with one before she on the next.

I send her to the first cone. Point and use the carrot stick to suggest she head on out to it. She stops and looks at me. Then lowers her head to the cone. I wait. She lowers her head down and just almost touches it. I suggest she move on. She touches it with her nose and then stands still. I wait. She loves just hanging out. I suggest she move on to the next cone. She now paws (hoofs) the cone and knocks it over. And paws it back up. Oh so proud of herself. Oh so proud of her!

Send her to the next cone. And she spies the pedestal that is just outside the circle. Off we go to pedestal. Hey touch it. Up she goes and stands up on the pedestal. I give her lots of dwelling time and then ask for her to go to the next cone.

Back to cone behavior. She touches it - nose or hoof - and then stands quietly. I put a little pressure on her and she checks it out some more. Rubs her nose up and down the cone and knocks it over. Now she is nibbling on the bottom edge. Takes the cone edge in her teeth and gently lifts it up and puts it down. I wait. Ask for on to next cone.

She starts to come in to me and I ask for sideways to the next cone. This is so exciting. Moving her feet with precision. She will nose, prod, lip, tooth, and lick (there is only one specific tasty cone that she licks each time) the various cones. Knocks them over and puts them back upright. The "puts them back upright" is with her nose, teeth, and feet! She likes to knock them over, but doesn't like to leave them that way. And if I ask her to move on to the next cone, well when she comes back to a downed cone she will right it!

Once she nosed over a cone - tried to get it back up first with nose again, then front hoof. Still unsuccessful. And all of this is done in a kind of underwater slowmo action ; -) I ask her to move on and as she steps over the offending cone she manages to step on it (or kick it) with her hind leg and upright it!!! Feel like I'm at a football game as I pump both arms straight up over my head - GOAL!!!!!

The longer Cici played with the cones the more curious she became. The progression went from just nosing the top or pawing at the cone to nosing up and down the length, lipping and toothing the top and edges, licking one delicious cone, and placing her foot on, over, around. She was exploring all the surfaces. And enjoying taking her time!