Archive for October, 2015
A round pen is a wonderful place. You can use the inside and you can use the outside.
Cisco’s liberty progress is so advanced, I wonder if I really am the “trainer”. Is anyone playing with Cisco at night just to make me think it is me who is bringing him along? Surely I can’t be this good. Or maybe Cisco is just a miracle awesome horse. I believe choice number 2 is the answer. Cisco is a miracle horse.
- I am standing behind Cisco. I lift my arms and becken him to back with my hands. We back clear around the round pen like that.
- I am standing behind Cisco. I lightly pull a few hairs on his tail and he backs up. Just to make certain this is really happening, we back about a fourth of the way around the round pen.
- I ask Cisco to sidepass away from me about halfway around the round pen and then asked him to sidepass towards me halfway around the round pen.
- I stand in the middle of the round pen with Cisco on the rail. I tap my carrot stick on the ground. Cisco backs up. I am astounded. I ask him to back again by tapping the carrot stick. By golly, he did it!
- I asked Cisco to go just barely fast enough to jump over the barrels rather than step over them. He jumped his front legs. I asked him to stop his forward momentum using the carrot stick. Wow!
- I ask Cisco to sidepass towards me. The barrels are between his front and back legs! He sidepass to me, over the barrels. Good Lordy!
Cisco and I left the round pen. I had him back through the gate. We visited the two barrels and jumped over them going in both directions. He just hops over them now which looks like something I can easily ride. Oh wait. One of the tasks in level 4 is to jump the front feet over the barrel and the sidepass to the human.
I mount Cisco and we practice going around the outside of the round pen. His job is to stay on the circle. My job is to tell him to follow the round pen by my razor focus and leg aide. My job is not to use the reins. My hands are not happy with this directive, but semi-willing to follow the directions.
Now this is fairly easy at a walk. My hands are happy to give up their job on the reins.
I decide it is time to do this at a speed faster than a walk. Cisco jumps into a speed faster than a walk as we are coming around to where Cisco chooses to abandon the round pen and makes his escape to the gate that allows him escape from the arena. My hand attempts to use the carrot stick to turn Cisco’s head back to the round pen. The carrot stick fails. The hands attempt to find the reins. Now we are heading toward the front end of the arena where the wooden bridge lives. OMG we run over the bridge.
Not to worry. Cisco’s speed was faster than a walk and slower than a fox trot. We were not a blur. We were not a streak.
Needless to say, our bridleless communication is not there yet.
We did finish up by jumping the smaller style of barrels. Yep, Cisco and I jumped barrels. He is a wonderful jumper. His rear end doesn’t flip up which flips off riders. Next is the blue barrels, hopefully this weekend at Jenny Vaught’s Horsemamship clinic!
Can you see how much fun this journey is? Having the tasks as goals in the Parelli levels program makes my life so much more fun. I think Cisco likes the journey too.
I love an audience. Cisco and I had an audience today during our riding time. Cisco and I showed off just a little bit and our audience offered me $75 cash for him. I told “the audience” that the bid was now up to $2000 cash. Bob did not pull $2500 out of his pocket and hold it under Cisco’s head. whew! Cisco might have ate the money and then where would we be. Caitlyn is still the high bidder!
Cisco and I did our ground work in a 40′ pen. Sadly when I started to ride him at speeds faster than a walk, Cisco started coughing. It’s this darn horrid dry weather and dust. I’ve started his allergy and sinus medicine again.
But the main thing is that we practiced on many things on our walking around the arena and the audience was very impressed. Hopefully “our audience” will be in attendance tomorrow.
Today was loading Cisco into a trailer at Liberty. I got the feed bucket ready, put the halter on Cisco and we went to the trailer. Of course Cisco was trying to eat grain out of the feed bucket while we were walking.
I managed to get into the trailer without Cisco. My goal is to get the feed bucket in the far corner of the trailer. I now have my two horse wide trailer. Cisco knows he wants in to eat the grain. He did managed to get two feet in the trailer before I got him stopped. I asked him to back out. We then walked about 20 feet back to the barn where I let him loose. We had not done any join-up, bonding or get-together exercise. That might have been a mistake.
Cisco forgot all about the grain in the trailer. He wanted to be with his friends in the barn. His friends were in the horse pasture side, not the front yard side. I asked Cisco to back out of the barn and then “join-up” with me. Cisco refused. He ran around for a few minutes, trying to get into the barn. I tried to get him to join-up with me. No, no no was his answer.
I shut the barn door to decrease Cisco’s opportunity to chose his horse friends rather than me. I asked him to join up with me. No, no no! He ran around the truck and trailer and yard for a while.
I wondered how long this would take.
Finally, Cisco joined-up with me. We walked side-by-side to the trailer, and he ran away again. I believe it was two tries after that when he finally truly got with me. We walked to the trailer. We experimented just a bit trying to figure out what I was asking.
He went into the trailer and ate a few bites of grain before turning and running out. I left him alone then to desensitize himself in the trailer.
Yep, we are well on the way to loading at a trot or canter into the trailer at Liberty!
On the ground I have two barrels and an upside down bucket placed around the round pen. There are treats on top of these buckets. Horse Treats. Motivational behavior treats.
I stand with Cisco facing me, about 15 feet away from the horse treat object. I raise my arm and point at the barrel. I make various arm movements with both arms to get Cisco to travel to the object. Eventually, he gets there through a combination of backing, going forward, moving his forequarters and hindquarters (not at the same time). Finally, he stands with his head over the barrel. The treat is right under his nose. He has no concept of touch the target game yet. I come over and rattle the treat on the barrel. Cisco lowers his head and discovers the treat. We stand and marvel over how a treat could appear on top of a barrel.
We played the game with the two barrels and bucket about five more times. He got the idea of following my arm directions. Arm directions could mean a reward!
Cisco and I ended the session with me trying to run – nope – my pulled muscle objected to that. We ended our session with Cisco running around and transitioning from trot to canter, trot, walk and stop. Yee Haw today.
I told Cisco he was my best horse friend. Lucky Star was waiting by the round pen gate. He got a treat just for being alive with his bright chipmunk eyes.
My plan today was to work on Cisco staying with me while I tried to loose him. But today, we did it online instead of at liberty. I used the 14′ rope. I have purchased a slightly used 45′ rope. I plan to get it out of the mailing box and try to start loving it. sigh….
I saddled up Cisco in the barn. He was loose, eating hay. I loaded up the saddle. Then I wondered if he would back out of the barn with me standing behind him and a little to the side. I raised up my arms and beckoned him backwards. I almost fainted when he understood and backed out of the barn. I rubbed him with every step backwards and we did enjoy several treats during this process. Now that was really really amazing!
I had noticed feedbags in the barn and thought, play object! When we got out of the barn, I placed the feed bag on the end of my carrot stick. We followed the feedbag with it making the crinkly noises. Cisco had not a care in the world about the feed bag. In the round pen, we played the “put a foot on the feed bag” game. He was not excited about that game, but didn’t make very much of an objection, plus he get treats when he planted his foot on the feed bag. We only played with the front feet on the feed bag. Next time we will see about the back foot feedbag game!
I sat on the barrel after the feedbag game and we did a lot of major petting. Then I decided to ask him to side pass halfway around me. We did wonderful going to the right and he ran away from me going to the left. Oh my! We had to work the kinks out of that! His job is not to leave me!
Another game we have trouble with is turn on the hindquarters. Crossing over in front is his job. He does this fine if I stand in the regular spot and move with him. He even does this perfect at liberty if I stand in the right spot and move with him. However, we are working on him turning 360 degrees without me moving. He gets insecure when his head is at the 180 mark. He wants badly to turn back around and face me. Picture this: Cisco is running free and lose around the round pen. I pick up a carrot stick and he immediately turns a 180 to reverse directions. I pick up the carrot stick again and he spins around and continues traveling the same direction. That is a revved up 360 degree spin. That is what we are working on!
Today is many days without rain in Missouri. Cisco coughed just a few times when we were playing on the ground. When I rode him, his coughing was severe enough that we had to exit the dusty pasture. We could only walk. When I urged him up to a slightly faster speed, he coughed. It’s the dust. We walked out of the yard into the turf farm and he got just a little bit excited and his breathe screamed in his throat. Oh my.
Cisco and I made it back to the barn. Cisco on one side and pasture horses in stalls on the other side. I took his saddle off and had just put it on the ground when someone snarled at Cisco. I don’t know who it was because suddenly, I was the target of death. Cisco jumped to the side…where I was standing. I managed to shove him enough so he didn’t land on me and I felt something in my leg rip. Oh great. I bet that was my hip and I’m going to need an artificial hip. That’s what us old people think when something goes bad. Body Part Replacement Time!
I managed to get the stalls open for the stalled horses. I managed to get Cisco inside the pasture, instead of outside. I was able to walk. I decided it was not a hip replacement injury. It has something to do with a muscle in my rear end going down to above my knee. I limped into the house and discovered this muscle is one of the first muscles that hit the toilet seat when you sit down. Then I discovered it was the muscle that lifted my leg up to get my boot up. On the next day, I discovered it was a muscle used when you swing that leg over to mount your horse and even pinged when I asked the horse I was riding to canter. It’s a muscle that we sit on when driving a truck or car. It’s darned inconvenient when this muscle gets pulled.
We might have done Level 4 stuff today. What we did do is have fun. Fun in the round pen. On the ground, we are trying to get me to change directions, run fast and have Cisco run to catch up with me. We are working on it. He stays locked with me going the same direction at all speeds. It is certainly good exercise for me. We rest with me sitting on a barrel pretending that this is part of the training time instead of letting me breathe again and be alive.
I love riding in the round pen. I get my confidence all boosted up. We did back up and transition into a canter today. Get that weight shifted back on his hind quarters and yowie!
We went out the gate via my right hand. You know he isn’t a left handed gate opening horse. But, I’ll get on that next. I have the visiting City Dog who follows me everywhere. So, today I decided to play the cow game with Cisco. We herded City Dog back to the barn. Everytime we left City Dog in the barn, he came right back to where we were playing point to point with two nice distanced manure piles! So, we got to herd City Dog quite a few times back to the barn. City Dog is perfect for this. He doesn’t run away fast. That was fun.
Lucky Star was laying down in his favorite stall recuperating from being turned loose in the entire pasture with all the horses. We went to his stall several times and I yelled at him with absolutely no response. snorezzzzzz
We cantered from point to point for a while. (Manure pile to Manure pile) It is certainly not up to any audition stage, yet. But we are out in the world!
Next I decided to tour the forest side of the pasture. We have a nice sloping hill path that is not forested which goes down to the fence. We walked around the pond to where that hill starts and cantered up the hill to the barn. Oh Glory Be! It was so much fun we did it several more times. I do remember asking for a lead and getting it. But mostly cantering outside in the beautiful fall colors and perfect weather was just extremely exciting wonderful nice,
I spend 100% of my time riding in an arena. To be riding outside with a horse that is calm about wind, trees and other things is wondrous. We took a last slow walk tour of the forest paths and quit. I took Cisco out to the yard, turned him loose, took off his saddle and put it away. I decided he needed to be rinsed off, so I put on his halter and washed the sweaty salt away..
Oh, I accidentally sprayed Lucky too and he got up. Lucky Star is recovering from a bad bad cut on one of his back legs. I was just slightly worried that he was going to lay there for too long. He sprang right up when the water hit him and limped to a water bucket. Whew. He drank water and started eating hay.
Life is good. Retirement is riding a horse, having coffee shop latte and now to go shopping for opera mother clothing. yee haw!
I’m ushering today at Kauffmam Center for the Performing Arts which pauses the horse journey. But I had thoughts.
Yesterday, I thought about the many many steps we take to keep ourselves safe with horses. Since I’m a polished veteran now and know everything, I’ve been neglecting some of these steps. The thought of making an audition for the Level 4 tasks has brought me back down to reality. We can not skip safety steps in a test, so let me just put full safety back into my warm-up.
When I halter Cisco, I bend his head towards me to put on the halter. We work at putting his head down when he shoots up his head. When a horse puts his head down, he gets relaxed and is able to think. A horse with his head held up high, might be going into right brain reactive behavior.
Cisco is not reactive at this stage of his trained life. Cisco is a worrier. But that is not the subject for this post. I’m done with the safety part of my reflections.
Yesterday when I was riding Cisco in the pasture, I focused on a straight line to a particular post. We call this focus on the target. I reflected that this is a major activity in dressage. Dressage is very particular about a straight line. I learned this recently in a Western Dressage clinic. When I was focusing on my straight line to the post, I thought about how dressage snuck into the Parelli tasks. The original level three finesse tasks were almost entirely dressage movements. I figured that out. Now, I just figured out how important the straight line is.
We have two games or patterns we play in our Parelli world. These two patterns are called Point to Point and Four Corners. Both are played with straight lines. Transitions can be a big part of both these games/patterns and straight lines are major.
Bridleless, carrot-stick, point-to-point games is what really taught Velvet to obey my leg and body cues. Now here is point-to-point being an important part of dressage. Amazing. I need to figure out some wonderful point to point objects in the pasture for Cisco and I. I look forward to riding in an arena so we can play the four corner game too.
Cisco is anchored to me. He runs along side of me. He is bonded to me. I thought today, Trailer loading at Liberty! Turns out, he is not anchored to me in the yard when it comes to trailer loading. Yes. He ran about 60 feet away from me.
I resorted to the halter and sent him into the trailer. No! I had moved the trailer and he had to step up higher to get in. So we had a trailer loading session. He didn’t explode when he got into the trailer, because he didn’t get in. It might have been all of a ten minute discussion and he loaded into the trailer, found the feed bucket and ate. I was able to get into the trailer with him and pet him. We practiced our backing out the back legs, load up and eat. We did this about four times. He is so much calmer backing out out of the trailer now.
The goal is 5% improvement every time. We are meeting our goal.
Riding was amazing, just amazing. I still have the bridle on, but I’m riding him using the neck rope and the carrot stick, We did walk to trot to canter transitions in the round pen. We rode around the forested pasture and checked the fence. Awesome day with the miracle that is Cisco!
Again I used the 22′ rope around his neck. We played the circling game with the concept of not pulling on the rope. These are simple things, but not easy. We have not yet accomplished circling at a trot with the rope loose in my hands. Until he can do this on the 22′ rope, perhaps doing it on the 45′ rope will either be easier or more difficult. Ha! This is what horsemanship is all about. Guessing, trying, breaking it down into pieces, trying, etc..
Next is trailer loading. He exploded out of the trailer maybe 10-15 times. Finally, his explosion slowed down enough to let me step into into the trailer and use my carrot stick to prevent him from turning. I stood next to his head and slightly quivering body. Finally he took a bit of the grain in the bucket. After a while, I had him back outmofmtheout trailer and unload just his back feet. He came in again and ate some grain. We unloaded his back legs about 4 times and finally his entire body. He was much more calm when we finished.