Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Just" Groundwork

I was planning to do another solo ride today, but I'm fighting off a cold (I think I'm finally winning), and it was cold and a bit windy out, so I was already pretty sure I didn't want to go.  Then, while grooming Arya, I found a lump on her back (bug bite?  horse bite?  not sure...), right under the saddle.  So that clinched it, I was gonna skip the ride.

However, Shar was out of town, and I'd told her I do the evening feeding, and it was only noon-ish.  So I had a LOT of time to kill (or a lot of gas to waste, but I opted for the former).  So I tried the new saddle on Arya again.  Still not too sure about the fit--really need to sit in it and have Shar help feel how her shoulder moves under it.  And probably vice-versa so I can feel it myself as well.

Then I put the new boots on her front feet--I wanted to let her run around in the arena with them on, both to see how SHE reacted to them, and to see how well they stayed on.  I grabbed my new dressage whip and Arya, and headed to the arena.

So yeah, a boot came off.  But I put it back on and made sure to do the hoof strap tighter the next time, and it didn't come off the whole rest of the day, which included more galloping, cantering, trotting, and even stepping on it with her other foot.

She was FULL of beans (and piss and vinegar), and ran around for quite a while (with a bit of encouragement from the lunge whip, but seriously, I prompted her to move, but she chose the speed, and she chose FAST.  And has been living with and next to Arabs for too long, as her tail and her trot really evoked that breed more than the Mustang she is.

Then I put the two barrels up against the fence, and one against the other (both laying on their side), plus added one of the poles just to make the whole shebang a little wider.  I was curious whether she'd jump it.  Yeah, that'd be a big fat NO.  She either whirled around the other direction or ducked out every time.  Well, I did know she wasn't much of a jumper.  :-)

So then I moved them back apart from each other to make a gap she had to squeeze through.  I led her through to remind her how it works, then started lunging her, first away from the barrels.  I was really impressed with her "responsibility lunging."  Theoretically, she should go whatever gait and speed I tell her to go, until I tell her to change.  She's lazy, and normally trots slower and slower until slowing all the way to a walk.  But today, she was GREAT.  She trotted and trotted and trotted, with energy.  She made at least four full circles before I started veering her over toward the barrels.  What a good girl!!

So then I circled her BETWEEN the barrels.  After one false start, it clicked with her what I wanted her to do, and she trotted right through.  We did it a few times, both directions.  Then I upped the difficulty a bit by standing the barrels up and asking her to pass between them.  No problem.  Then I put both barrels next to each other and asked her to squeeze between them and the fence.  No problem.  Then I stretched the barrels farther apart from each other and put the pole between them to increase the length of the "squeeze."  No problem.  Once she was reminded of the game, she played it very well.

We moved on to the "bridge."  It's really just a bunch of short (a little too short, unfortunately) segments of large lumber placed on the ground next to each other.  She knows exactly how that game begins--she marched her front feet right up onto it.  But I wanted her to get her back feet up onto it, stay there, and then get off slowly, without rushing.  That took a LOT more work.  She kept squirting her hind feet out to one side or the other, and was NOT understanding me using the whip to ask her to move her hind end (she's getting better at moving her hind end with leg cues when I'm riding, though).  Finally, we did it.  I had her stand with her hind feet up on the bridge (but not her front feet--she doesn't fit!) for a little bit, then she stepped off carefully.  I tried to do it one more time, and she started stepping on her own front feet, tipping the boards over, and even tipping one up on end and over itself that direction.  Sheesh!  Finally, we nailed it a second time and called it quits on that particular obstacle.

Then, prompted by the difficulty in moving her haunches around "remotely," I decided to work on that for a bit.  I started with gentle taps on her thigh with the dressage whip, then whapped harder and harder.  She still didn't seem to get what I was asking for, so I also said "over," and used my hand approximately where my leg would go.  THAT did the trick.  So I petted her and praised her, then started over.  Gentle tap to harder whapping.  It took quite hard whapping, but I didn't have to use my hand, and she eventually stepped over.  Good girl!  Again, with slightly less whapping required.  Again, until eventually she moved over with just the first few taps.  GOOD girl!  We repeated it on the other side, then called it a day for that exercise.

By this point, she'd really "joined up" with me--she wanted to follow me wherever I went.  So I decided to play with that.  I unclipped her lead rope and we played "chase" for a little bit.  I got her to trot behind me, zig and zag, and of course, I paused every so often for some good head rubs (for her).

THEN, I decided to see how she'd do with dragging one of the poles around.  I looped the rope around her neck and around the log, and she succesfully pulled it from both sides, only bothered slightly when it bonked her on her bag feet, and otherwise not minding it in the slightest.

Then I paused for some pictures:

Tired pony!

Pretty girl!


Selfie with a kiss!  (She actually let me sit there and love on her for quite a while)

Okay, so show me how this works...

So, by then it was still only like 1:00.  So I took Arya to the grassy patch in the front yard to graze while I groomed her a little more thoroughly--I don't comb out her mane and tail very often, so I did that.  She had the weirdest crusties in her tail--I'm not sure whether it was dead skin that flaked off in a HUGE chunk, or whether she actually lost patches of live skin with the hair attached, but it was REALLY gross.  Ugh.

I let her continue grazing while I read the instructions for the heart rate monitor (but without a saddle to attach it to, I didn't actually use it yet).  I let her STILL continue grazing while I prepared a few weeks worth of feed baggies (her breakfast--a little pelleted feed with vitamins and salts).  Then, it was the funniest thing, as I came out to grab her and put her in her pasture, she actually headed to the gate ahead of me!  Smart girl!  I put her away just as it started getting even colder, so I finally gave up on killing time and headed into the house and watched TV for a while.

Shortly before dark, I fed all the critters (one dog, four cats, and five horses), and as I was finishing up, got rewarded with this view:

I hung out in the baby's pasture, scratching him (seriously, he blisses out SO hard, we really need to get a video of that!) and watching the sunset for a while.

Then I headed home.  Tomorrow, I believe we'll ride.  Woo!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful sunset photos. Great selfie too, your mare is such a cutie!