Monday, March 14, 2011
For Saturday, my plan was to take Cricket out for a trail walk and work a little more on her preparation for harness and hitching. I convinced Kathy to come with me.
I had Cricket on two lines, though for a good part of the walk, I had the far side line up over her rump so as to carry both lines on one side. I also had my carrot stick. There were moments where both of us were a little wadded up but all in all it was good.
Down the first bit of dirt road I asked Cricket to yield across the road using a little direct rein and a little supporting/pushing rein. She totally balked at the feel on her legs and ended up going backwards. I did my level best to help her come out of it without really giving on the rope at her hocks.
I know she needed to feel release to go forward but I didn't want that release to come while she was backing. I'm not sure how we sorted it out but we did and with just soft feel, I had her moving from one side of the road to the other, back and forth, with a nice forward walk.
Later, we used another road to practice stopping and putting slack in the line. Cricket's first response was to back up to me. I tapped her on the butt and she went forward, swung sideways, etc. We just repeated it until she could respond to the feel by stopping and just shifting her weight back to find the slack.
Yesterday I spent nearly all day at the barn. I met Becky at about 9:30 and we spent about 2 hours playing and riding. I needed to retrieve the cookies from my truck so I asked Cricket to come out of her stall, pick me up at the picnic table and walk me the 50ft to the truck. She was so obliging! After a little grazing, a quick grooming and a brief warm-up, I saddled and got on. Cricket was so good. I haven't asked her for much in weeks and she gave me some great trotting and some relatively easy canter. We had some hiccups in our right lead and some severe wonky-ness in our left lead. But it was almost all physical. Little or no mental resistance at all.
After Becky left I ran home for lunch and then back to the barn to work on my saddle shimming for Bleu. I'm not happy with it. Either the shim pattern I'm using is wrong or it's the wrong shim pattern for my mare. It worked fine when Carol Coppinger put it together but it's not working too well for me. I had a brief ride and just felt the saddle was too low on her shoulder and too high in the back. I'm ordering a felt pad from Jeffers so I can make some shims and play with it some more. Bleu was so good. So very, very good. I don't think I've ridden her since Thanksgiving (when I first got my saddle!). I'm looking forward to spending more time riding her this Spring.
Lilly's owners came out to see how she's doing so I put Bleu away and brought Lilly out. My last session with Lilly was a serious event in which I started to address her pulling on the halter. While her circle game was not perfect, there was much less pulling and much more thinking about the connection. We played with sideways on the fence, backing over a pole and she even stood on the pedestal for the first time. There were other horses in the arena and I used the opportunity to help Lilly understand energy and when it's about her and when it's not.
I decided to play with some mounting friendly. When Lilly finally understood what I wanted, she was happy to comply by standing right with me at the pedestal. I jumped up and down and she was not at all bothered. I leaned over and scratched the opposite side and she was just fine. I jumped up and draped myself over her - the first time a human has ever been on her back - and she acted like it happens every day.
I was so proud of Lilly. So excited that her owners got to see that milestone. And really, just honored that Lilly trusted me enough to accept what I was doing. I laid over her a few times, swung my legs back and forth, hooked a knee over the opposite hip and even swung both legs up so I was laying down her spine.
So I can say I groomed all three horses, played with all three horses and got on all three horses.
Finished my day with iced coffee and Kahlua on the porch swing, followed up by homemade blackened shrimp Alfredo over whole wheat pasta and organic strawberries for dessert. Not too shabby!