Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Monday, July 19, 2010

Teeter Totters and Tug of War

Yesterday I played with both horses.  I felt like I was back on my grade school playground.  Playing with Bleu is a teeter totter - balancing respect and rapport; love, language and leadership.  Anything with Cricket is a death match tug-of-war.

Bleu's circle game continues to improve.  At the trot, it's more and more a circle than an egg or amoeba.  Her upward transitions to the canter are getting less emotional and slightly more balanced.

We've been playing with one of my bridges to simulate trailer loading and she seems to be getting more confident each time.  We also started some traveling circle game and while she was confused at first, she quickly figured out her responsibility to keep the circle going.

I had the opportunity to work with a real trailer so I decided to see how she would handle it.  Being the super obedient RBI that she is, she jumped right in and just trembled.  I played with yo-yo game, me in the trailer and her stepping in (2 feet, then 4 feet) and backing out.  We played yo-yo out of the trailer, approach and retreat.  She was able to relax with her head mostly in the trailer and I called that a win.

Later in the day, I went back out to ride with my friend Allison.  I decided to ride Cricket.  The ride wasn't that bad considering I hadn't been on her (except goofing around bareback & bridless) in over2 months.

We opened the gate from inside the arena, exited, held the gate while Allison and Dillon came out and then closed the gate.  I would say it's her BEST gate session ever.

Out in the paddock area, she was okay.  Leaving the barn, not so much.  It wasn't that she was afraid or wanting to go back to the barn.  If I wanted left, she wanted right.  It felt like argument for the sake of argument.  We meandered our way out on to the neighbor's property.

The ride was very low key and I spent my focus on "permission to graze."  I tried to see things from Cricket's perspective - she's been cooped up on her dry lot all day and I hadn't done much with her in 2 months.  So I kept my expectations reasonable.

Cricket did well.  All things considered.  But everything was a discussion, everything a negotiation.  That mare sees little to no point in anything I ask from her.

After feeding everyone, Allison and I turned them out and I stood in the pasture and had an absolute love fest with Cricket.  I found an itchy spot on her shoulder that caused her to stretch her neck, twitch her nose and roll her tongue.

I think it's time to reevaluate my approach with Cricket and get back to a stronger focus on developing Bleu.  I have camp in a few months and I would like to have Bleu going a little better than we are now.

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