So here we go again. Another 30 day program. This time, with both horses, my goal is 60 sessions in 30 days. I'll need to be creative to make up the days I'll be gone to Columbus for the Parelli event. But there's the goal.
I have goals with this program. With Cricket, I want to rediscover her play drive. I want to have fun with her again. I want her to have fun with me. No small feat with my LB alpha mare. For Bleu, I need to be more structured. We are going to concentrate on on-line and freestyle so I'll use the self-assessment sheets to guide our sessions and measure our progress. Underlying this is the goal to balance her on-line canter leading to better under-saddle canter.
Yesterday was day one. It was frickin' hot. Who's idea was it to settle this part of the country? We are actually under weather warnings for the heat and humidity - something we don't usually see until August. This does not bode well for a productive summer!
I started with Cricket. I'm setting a pretty strict time limit with her - a maximum of 15 minutes of activity. I need to get a timer to help me stick to my guns. If I want to play with her, then I need to use the best she has and be done with it. More than 15 minutes, at least at this stage, is going to get into drilling and drudgery.
I cannot remember exactly what we did. I just tried to feel of her and go with the flow. I tried to be mindful of my neutral and to just play. I used some backing and sideways from zone 1. I used a little bit of a deliberate falling leaf and then some stick to me with exuberant transitions. I tried to be intense without being stick & string slap happy. At the end, I felt her put more mental and physical energy into her response. I stopped, gave her a couple cookies, took the halter off and let her graze.
I went to get Bleu. Sunday she wouldn't come to me and we had to play a little catching game in the run. I prepared for that to be the extent of our session and headed in. She came most of the way and then just stopped. So I waited. She licked and chewed and just looked at me. I used a little approach and retreat and soon she willingly joined me in the stall to be caught. She seemed less anxious about leaving the barn and I took that as a good sign.
She gets a little up when we're out in the paddock so I decided not to push the issue of keeping her feet still. That will come. I decided to use the barrels to start a figure-8. We started just going around and coming back, trying to reinforce the draw more than the drive. She did really good and I managed one trip around both barrels before moving on.
Next was circle game with transitions. Bleu is so physically uncoordinated in her upward transitions. Using what Wendy and I worked on this past weekend, I did a traveling circle game, focusing on happy neutral and coming out of neutral. As soon as Bleu tried to canter, I disengaged her and let her dwell. We did this several time in both directions. It didn't take long for her to start getting more mentally connected and she offered an awesome try - more mental than just physical - and I called that a major win.
I decided to just lead her out the gate at the back of the paddock and open the runs from there. After we were through the gate, I removed her halter and gave her a cookie. We then played just a little "stick to me" with walk and halt transitions. This is our first liberty and I was tickled pink at her willingness to be with me. I turned all the horses loose and then went back to call Cricket from the paddock out to the pasture. She finally decided to come and offered a very animated trot towards me. I stopped her as she came through the gate - just with energy - and gave her some cookies before sending her the rest of the way out.
What a good start to my new program!