Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rides two and three - Dixie

Sunday we rode again, this time taking Dixie across 108 to Schooley Mill Park. Yes, we rode a green horse on her second ride across a hwy, down a road and in to a busy multi-purpose park...

Dixie did great. No hesitation at the traffic, the water crossings (her first!) the wooden bridge (her first) the tennis courts and kids playing (her..well, you get the idea).

We met dogs, other riders, a horse pulling a shiny new red endurance cart, went up and down hills, gaited a bit, did a brief canter, and through most of it Dixie led the way. We rode about 45 minutes, and Dixie came back with just as much bounce as she started with.

Tuesday night we rode again, but a shorter ride as it was very hot. We first took Dixie out alone, and found out she wasn't quite as brave when she was all alone. A riding lawnmower caused a jump, and she wasn't quite as forward. Then we rejoined the others and went on a brief ride, up the road and back through some twisty overgrown trails with muddy creek crossings. Again Dixie did very well. This time we put her in the center, instead of leading, and while she did crowd a bit, she accepted it fairly well.

She is continuing to stand well for mounting, and now for dismounting (the first one was exciting), is getting better about walking in a straight line and she looks for her after ride shower and cookie.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Ride! - Dixie

Dixie had been doing well with lunging, and work with the saddle, so we decided to step up on her and see how she did. We first followed her usual routine, grooming, saddling, lunging in the round pen.

I then brought my horse Shadow out so that if Dixie did well, I could pony her around with a rider on her back. We brought the mounting block into the round pen, and brought Dixie over to it. She was quite relaxed, we had done this many times. We stepped up on her, then off, and Dixie never moved. We then mounted her, and asked her to walk off.

And Dixie never moved.

This happens a lot with green horses, they don't understand we actually want them to walk while we are on them, LOL! So I led her while my friend rode, and we got her moving. While my friend rode, I stood in the center, so I could give her lunging cues that matched what her rider was asking her.

She did very well, so well my friend decided to skip the ponying, and just ride following Shadow. I mounted Shadow and off we went around the pasture. Dixie quickly made it plain she didn't feel she had to follow Shadow!

So we decided to ride out into the hay fields.

This was my view a lot of the time! Not only did Dixie not care where Shadow was, but she was quite willing to lead, investigate scary things by approaching and sniffing, and walk off on her own. We rode back to the barn, then passed it and went on down the road, doing a bit of slow gaiting.

Dixie did great! We are going to take her out tomorrow and have some more fun.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Tale of Two Fillies - Week two

The second week, I continued with the round pen work. I would tack Dixie up, lead her to the round pen, and we would work through the gaits and turns. I would free lunge first, then put a lunge line on her and request specific speeds. She was sort of getting the idea of whoa, still pretty clueless on what gait and canter were. Walk she was getting, but didn't always want to do it.

I was concerned about her attitude though. She endured what we did, but didn't look forward to working. I decided to take a break and show her learning was fun.

I pocketed a bunch of horse cookies, and approached her in the field. I called her to me, and when she came, I gave her a cookie. I then asked her to back up, when she did, I gave her a cookie. Now she was getting more interested in what we were doing. So sometimes she got a cookie, sometimes scratches.

I then tacked her up like usual, but instead of going to the round pen, I worked her around the barn, walking, stopping, tugging on the stirrups, etc. We stopped at the mounting block, and I stepped up making lots of noise. Nothing fazed her. She was completely relaxed with everything I was doing, and was very interested in what she had to do to earn cookies.

The next day we went back to the usual routine, but this time she looked forward to the work. She had figured out there was a reward, cookies, scratches, praise for learning what I wanted her to do.

Rohern was always enthused about doing things. She was interested in going where I led, in what we were doing. Where Dixie had been backed and worked with before, Roheryn had never had a saddle on. I saddled her up, and let her graze with the saddle on and get used to the feel of it.

She turned and chewed on it a few times.

But she was not really worried. One thing I did discover, was some jealousy. I had a helper a couple of days, so we took both fillies out to the round pen. I had set up a high tie in a tree so they could stand tied and learn a little patience which the other one was worked. I gave my helper Roheryn to lead out, since I considered her better behaved in hand. She was not happy with that at all! She pulled back, fretted, and generally was a pain the whole way out there. She also didn't want to pay attention when lunged. When it was her turn to be tied, she was fine, but then the walk back to the barn she fretted and fussed. It took 3 days before she was back to good manners.

Both have advanced nicely this week, and both remind me why I love TWH! So much easier to train and work with.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Touch Football!

I brought a horse ball in for our 'touch' game.

This is a game where I bring in something new, something potentially scary, and ask the horses to touch it. If they do, they get praises, scratches or a cookie, and the realization that it doesn't hurt them. I also use this as a way to teach them how to approach new scary objects, by making it a game.

Dixie eyeing the ball.

Roheryn walked right up and nudged it.

Symphony looked, and when I asked her to touch did come up and put her nose on it. She was not interested in playing with it.

Dixie finally touched it. (with Shadow as backup)

Then she found out it rolled!

She would nudge it around, but didn't chase it.

Interesting for a while, but hay is better.
I did get Roheryn and Dixie to both chase it later when I kicked it. They didn't show any interest in biting it and playing rough, like colts I have had in the past.