Thursday, 27 August 2009

It's a Beautiful day

I think I must either be boring the pants off you all with the constant stream of Bailarina is wonderful posts, or you'll think I'm some sort of horrible bragger :-(

Oh dear..... I hate to say it but we had yet another great session tonight... :-o

Just a quick go at box training went like this...

We walk up to ramp, Bally stops, has a sniff

I walk up the ramp and ask for forwards with a tweak of the line...Bally puts both front feet straight on and stops

I give another tweak, Bally walks front feet further up and stops

Another tweak, Bally puts back feet on and walks straight up the ramp

Me and B stand on the box together, she has some hay and then I give her some dinner

Minor panic moment from B as she moves and her bum touches the side of the box...for first time this doesn't make her tap dance then leap off- just a teensy wibble that I talk her out of, calm is restored

After nearly ten minutes chillin' on the box as she sniffs about and nibbles the hay I slowly ask B to back off down the ramp, which she does beautifully - so dainty and careful!

We go back to the field...I am ELATED *yahoo*

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Chuffed to bits

I think I'm still on a high and grinning, Bailarina surpassed herself today :-)

I thought I'd try going over to the busy dual carriageway again, we had only tried it the once a few weeks ago and although she was good, she still found quite nerve wracking and showed a bit of tension (no wonder really!!) so I wanted to have a no pressure wander over and back, with the plan of stopping, standing and turning round if she started finding it too much.
It was fairly wild and windy and drizzly, but never one to let a bit of weather get in the way I just spent a few minutes doing the calm standing / back / walk/ halt routine which seems to work brilliantly at getting her focussed when it's all a bit hairy

Well then off we went down the flitch path with Bally leading and me on the longline directing operations from behind, then on to the lane with her close inhand where we were passed by a couple of cars one each way and Bally paid them no heed whatsoever yay!
Onto the next bit of the flitch and over the scary horse eating cut through gate.....Bally once again stepped over it without a second thought (oh what a star!) and I let the line out again and asked her to lead on and have a trot..which she did.

Once we got to the bend in the path where we start getting close to the traffic whizzing by I halted her came back round in front and gave her loads of praise then calmly walked on.

Well blow me down Bally just calmly and totally happily walked with me - not minding the traffic at all, I mean literally ignoring the fact that not 20 ft away from her separated only by an open wire deer fence and a barrier is a major dual carriageway. Cars. lorries trucks...not a flicker of interest.

We walked all the way down past where she'd had a bit of little strop before, on through a narrow gateway and up the slope (so now above the traffic) to the start of the bridge itself. (WOOOHOOO!)
I didn't want to push my luck so she stood at the foot of the bridge and watched the world go by having lots of praise, scratches and rubs. Then we turned and walked all the way back the way we came...again steady as a rock, and even before we'd got to the sheltered quiet bit I'd asked her to take the lead and she did!

She did crack me up though - her one and only oops moment was as we were nearing the end of this path and passing a picnic area...when she caught sight of the big table and went OOOOH WHASSAT and did a little spook...funny, funny girl.

Back over horse eating cut through gate then we stopped near the exit to the lane as a big lorry went down, then a Golf GTI with the noisiest exhaust on the planet...all watched without any bother.

Down the lane again, onto the Flitch part two, no rushing because we're heading home, just a lovely walk in hand...ooh we come face to face with a sweaty man on a mountain bike who Bally does a giraffe statue impression at as he peddles furiously towards us ignoring my slow down signal...ah well no worry Bally just stood and looked and then walked on again back to the yard once he'd gone past (maybe I'll use a different hand signal next time lol!)

And well, that was it, a brilliant brilliant session today, I think it will have done wonders for her confidence and trust, it certainly did wonders for me!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Testing, Testing

Interesting lunging session yesterday!

I knew it would be fun as Tuesday (a slightly neurotic TB mare) was in the paddock next to school and she was greeting the entrance of any horses in there with squealing and neighing, charging up and down and round and round, then running up to the fence and windsucking on the posts…..just what you need when you’re training a highly bred youngster who still doesn’t fully appreciate the concept of concentrating on the job in!

Ah well I thought Bailarina will have to get used to stuff going on a shows and competitions - I want her to be able to focus on me with distractions so now is as good a time as any to start.
To start I just led her into the school and asked her to simply stand still – any movement from her was calmly corrected and she was put back into her spot again. Then I asked her to walk around the arena in hand with me between her & the fence. Poor Bally was quite tense and jumpy about this as Tuesday was being a proper P.i.t.A. charging along the side of the fence squealing and bucking.
Once again I just asked for forwards in walk nice and calmly and if that’s not what I was getting, requesting a halt & step back - just keeping my own energy level very low and calm.

Bally got the message really well and before we’d got half way round the school on the first lap I had her nice and attentive – still tense, but trying so hard to listen to me and not be put off by Tuesday. I then just kept it up adding halt transitions in once in a while, then a change of rein, a three loop serpentine and then on to a circle and by the end of this I think we’d both forgotten buggerlugs was next door lol!

At this point knowing I had a nice calm Bally I attached the side reins to her bit and lunging her off the cavesson sent her out onto a circle…..Ah…seems like we need to practise a bit more often as most of the super work I had last time seemed hard to grasp..oops!
Good points – Bally was happy to be sent right out on a large circle and stay there, When she halted she halted square and if she wasn’t she corrected herself (wow!)
She didn’t turn in once halted, Up transitions were good and she was easily directed with the lunge whip.
Bad points - Halt took forever to get, downward from trot to walk better but only just. She seemed very unsettled with the cavesson on her nose and she was not altogether steady in the speed / rhythm of her trot work.
Shame about not getting the halting on my cue as she’d been such a good girl about it before.
I just did five more minutes of walk / halt / walk in hand and let her have a nice stretch out to finish on a good note.
So plenty to keep working on, I’m not happy to move up a step to double reins or asking for a contact until we’ve got the basics solid

She's having a pedicure tonight, let's see if all that practise (and the bruises on my knees) have been worthwhile ;-)

Friday, 21 August 2009


I've had a bad couple of days - just hit full force with grief over Safi, not sure why now in particular, but just feel floored with it.

It's also knocked my confidence thinking about the why's and what could I have done differently, then the whole guilt thing starts about getting on so well with could I love having her so much yet still feel such heart wrenching pain over all makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

Little B bless her got copiously wept over on Wednesday. I just chucked her halter and long line on and we went out for a long walk where I rabbited away to her like some mad old woman....then justified the tag completely by getting to a spot where I always used to have a lovely canter with Saf and just bawled my eyes out with my arms slung around B's neck. She sure has to put up with a lot, poor pony!
Managed to pull myself together and we actually had a really lovely time in the end, even ventured along the lane for a bit, went up the steep track and let Bally take the lead when she was feeling brave.

We did a bit more box practice yesterday with mixed results and looking back although we ended on a good note I could have ended on an ok note a lot much for my good intentions about always pushing but not pushing too far.

I led her up to the box and she was up the ramp with only a little bit of gentle persuasion on my part, but she reached the top and backed straight off...ah, not what I intended.
So back up again, we stood and had a little chat about life in the box and then I slowly asked for her to start turning, step by step. Stopping if she tensed...down onto the ramp.....(all the while thinking OMG, OMG she's doing it!!!!!) but as soon as her back feet were on the ramp the wind rattled the roof of the box and in a panic at the noise she launched herself off.....Ooops

So back on again...Bally not particularly amused about it, but it only took about five minutes (considerably better than the hour it took before lol) We had some stroppy head tossing and mane waving and a lot of clattering and banging about it but up she went and taking me by surprise launched herself into the box taking the last bit to get on at speed this time...which of course caused the box to sway, which sent her into freaked orbit and accompanied by the thundering tap dancing Luso I left the box...again :-(

Took time out for five and just chatted to her her and stroked her till we had some mouthing and noticable relaxation...back again.

Once more Bailarina was generous enough to make her way up the ramp, and when I felt her shift her weight backwards to back off before she was on the box I took up the tension and she moved forwards again, which was brilliant ( I couldn't face much more up and down the blummin ramp myself!!) Once I got her on and she was able to stand calmly (tense yes, but not stressed) I gave her a few mouthfuls of feed and backed her off step by step, slowly and steadily.

I think I might forgo teaching her to turn and lead off forwards, she obviously isn't happy about it and as she can travel in whatever position she likes on the box depending on where I tie her or use the partition I'll stick with where she's happiest for the moment.
So next step is standing on for longer, then standing tied, then adding shutting the gates..then ramp...then starting the whole sequence again but with the engine on.
As I sort of semi joked to Pauline maybe by Christmas we might actually be able to drive somewhere! Ah well it'll take as long as it takes, I want her travelling happily and any amount of patience and effort is worth it.

PS I'm experiencing B being in season for the first time...goodness, what a mix of absolute tart and obnoxious stroppy teenage temper tantrum!! When I got to the field this morning she came over shaking her head at me, to which I sent her away using body language, so she promptly turned and chased Spud my dog across the field....then went over and screamed at Button- tail up & squirting (not what I want at 6am thank you very much!!) As she was being totally ignored she set off after poor Spud again, so got moved away again.
I got on with the pooh picking but could see her looking at me so I dropped my shoulder and hip and turned away to invite her in and she finally came over to say hello and have a cuddle.

She still had the raging hump though and after I left I watched her rag her hay around and then turn and gallop off through it!

Something I'll have to watch when she's ridden no doubt, some mares really do seem to suffer - sometimes I can totally sympathise!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Ding Ding: Round 2

Our second bout of "Boxing" this evening ;-)

Got a lovely hello whinny when I went to bring Bailarina in...always makes me feel like it's going to be good if she's pleased to see me

We wandered straight round to my box and kept everything exactly as before, rope headcollar and long line and I quite simply walked up the ramp leaving her standing at the bottom to see what she'd do.

Well she had a couple of tentative paws then popped both front feet on, took a few more steps up until her back feet were touching with me just giving her a stroke and praise with each forward movement, but she stopped short of lifting her back feet on and instead calmly walked herself backwards off the box.

I gave her a minute to have a think and then repeated the exercise, just asking for forwards, and if she got a bit stuck moving her weight to the side until B moved a foot, then praised and stroked her again...this time we got all four feet on and had a little stand, but again Bally didn't feel able to make the final push and actually get on the worries, we just calmly went back down again (which in itself is a good lesson each time ;-))

My blummin phone battery had died by this point so I don't have any more piccies..ggrrrr but onwards and upwards for try number three. I asked her to step up and she did, then after a good bit of snuffing and snorting she took a few more steps up...all four feet on the ramp again.

I asked her to move on gently and she stiffened, so I left well alone, Bally had another sniff around then just walked straight on up the last little bit of ramp into the box..whoohoo!

This time I just let her stand nice and quietly, but I moved across the box and back so there was a little movement that she could feel, but kept a constant stream of soothing chat and scratches going, I could see her chilling out so I offered her some feed, then put it down and left her to it.

We stood around for a good five minutes and then calm as you like I carefully backed her off down the ramp and Bailarina just gently made her way off step by step without a hint of tension

What a SUPERSTAR!!!!

Monday, 17 August 2009

You spin me round / patience

Take your pick from the song title, both eminently suitable for tonight!!

Back to school for a little more work on Bailarina's lunging today.

Started wonderfully as she gave a full on neigh as she saw me walking down the path...I always shout hello back lol! I caught her and led her in round the back way so we would be heading towards the lorry park...and walked her straight in there and up to my box with no fuss whatsoever...Bally is AMAZING! Her spirit and outlook on life and work is such a joy to experience...I'm a lucky girl!

I wasn't going to do any more than that tonight, that's saved for tomorrow ;-)

On the lunging front we were just going to work on voice commands and precision today, not actually *working* her on the lunge, so it was a simple rope halter and 1 line job.
Down the car park and towards the school making a point of walking over the drain covers and making as much noise about it as possible lol.......then as we got to the school gate she tensed, stuck her head in the air giraffe style and shot through the gate at speed...oh dear!

I stopped her, calmly walked up and soothed her, asked for a few steps backward and some head lowering, then walked straight back out the school, calm halt, step back, walk a few steps forward and back then towards the gate. I halted her right in the gateway and then asked a for slow steps in...and got them.

Bally was still quite tense and scooty though, every little noise had her jumping so every time she moved I just calmly placed her back and continued talking to her quietly. Didn't take long before she relaxed and gave me some licking and chewing so we could sensibly move on.

I revisited some work we last did a while ago, walking the perimeter of the school, changing the rein, working with her to the fence and me to the fence all the while keeping everything steady and relaxed. Once we'd got this we repeated in trot...she had one almighty lets forget our manners whoohoo moment and I just stopped her and went back to the backwards / forwards / standing still routine until I had her full attention and totally back on side.

Lunging time! Did some desensitisation with the lunge whip, wanting movement away from me touching her body (but not a scoot) and a lifting of each leg from a touch on the leg..all good, then just standing still whilst I ran it over her back - she did move off at this but I kept it on and repeated my slow and stop verbal commands until she did, then immediately lifted the whip and praised to let her know she'd done well.

Then I lunged her for five minutes each rein...with no fuss whatsoever, no running off, no napping towards the gate just nice steady walk, halt and trot work on my voice commands. Good relaxed head and neck, nice regular strides, able to increase or decrease the circle with the if she'd been doing it for years, what a superstar!!!!!

She halted on the button every time and not a hint of turning in...Bally is now lunging better than several other well established, much older and more experienced horses on the yard...a pat on the back for the pair of us I think *grin*

A couple more easy baby sessions then the same with her proper working gear on and I'll start to introduce the second rein to give her something new to think about (the all important outside rein contact...very grown up!!)

With her being so tense and jumpy when we started in the school today could have been a complete right off, but patience really won the day :-)

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Boxing Clever

Time to face little B's demons today and introduce my horse box into the training mix.

First off I must say that it's going to be a long old haul before she's ready to just pop on a box and go! Even going from the success of today I'm not daft enough to think this is going to be easy....
This is something that I'm not something prepared to rush / bully her about, at the end of the day I want her to want to load and travel and not see it as a stressful scary experience.

So...she'd already seen the ramp of Dawn's box and been a good girl about stepping towards and popping her front feet on, so I wanted to build on this today.

Ideally I wanted her to have all four feet on the ramp during today's session - see if she'd get on totally from there and if so stand and get off calmly, quite an enormous ask considering how stressful we all found the experience only a couple of months ago when she came down to me.

Well I'd already got the ramp down and the side wings up. The box was in the enclosed & secure box yard so even if it all went horribly wrong (God forbid) she couldn't go anywhere. This yard is next to a motor body shop which was fairly noisy, but I've never seen the point of doing box training in a sterile silent environment....horses have to learn to cope with loading at shows with a million other distractions so best to start as we mean to go on!

Initially I'd wanted to use the clicker for loading training but Bally seems to zone out from food as a reward when she's having a good think about things so this was going to be down to me, a rope halter and longline, patience and praise.......

Anyway I brought B straight round from the field into the box parking yard, no problems and she walked straight on up had a good sniff at the ramp and with barely any encouragement put both front feet on so got a lovely scratch and rub. Well it didn't too long with a bit of pressure and release work to get all four feet on at which point I gently backed her straight off and again let her know just what a good girl she'd been :-)

As she seemed pretty amenable I asked again and once we'd got all four feet on asked the next question - further up the ramp and into the box. Bailarina was super - wary yes, but willing and not scared so I knew I could ask.......and bingo we were on the box!!

I'm not sure if the next bit could have gone any better, but we went back a few steps at this point :-( let me explain......Once on and standing calmly I let her have a sort of half hearted nibble at her feed bowl (again noting this zoning out from food when her stress level is heightened) she wasn't overly happy about the movement of the box when she moved and of course her first reaction was to move herself out of the situation - causing the box to move more! I could see she was worried so immediately turned her and the strength of her unhappiness at the situation manifested itself as she clattered about on the spot and then with no regard for her or my safety she leapt off the box at top speed.

I thought something like this might happen, she really was not happy when we loaded her to bring her down here - this is exactly what she did before and the memory is still fairly fresh in her mind

I reassured her, gave her a wander around to chill out and made our way back over to the box...I now felt that I needed to finish on a good note and that most certainly wasn't it. Bally was generous enough to come straight up and put both front feet on, but at the slightest hint of a pull on the rope made her displeasure quite clear, went up vertical and span round...ah back to square one and not a good place to be :-(

So a bit more ear and face stroking once we had all four feet on the ground and standing calmly next to the ramp, I asked again and yes, both front feet on the ramp. I stopped asking and just let her be, after a minute or so she started sniffing the ramp, and pawed at it..I gave another ask and she tensed, but as I could she wasn't actually scared or stressed at this point (that floppy bottom lip was giving her away!) I asked she moved forward until both front feet were right up the ramp and her back feet were at the bottom of it. Again I stopped asking just walked up the ramp onto the box myself, stood at the back holding the longline and let her think about it...choice was now hers....

A couple more bangs and scrapes and about five minutes later (actually at this point it could have been an hour or all night, I'd have waited a week to get the result) she DID IT, walked on up the ramp all by herself!!!
Once she was right up the ramp and in the box I gave her loads of praise, but kept my body language to a minimum so she moved as little as possible. We both stood and chilled, Bally had a nibble of feed and then this time instead of asking her to turn and risk rocking the boat so to speak I asked her to move back step by step....slowly slowly and very calmly we moved back down the ramp till we were off and clear. I was absolutely elated and let her know in no uncertain terms just what a good girl she'd been. YAY!!!!!
I stood her well away from the box and popped back on, fetched the remain of her tea and an apple and let her eat it.

So now you can appreciate just what a task this is going to be - I've totally given up on the idea of getting out and about to any shows / clinics this year...Bally needs to be 100% happy about loading, travelling and going out before adding the stress of competition into the equation. I know we'll get there, but for the moment we have several mountains to climb this space.....

Friday, 14 August 2009

Wandering pt 2

I'm off to see U2 tonight (WHOOOHOOOOO!!!!!) so Bailarina had an early walk this afternoon

I wanted to have a nice non work-like wander, just a simple rope halter and longline all relaxed and fun...chuffed to say that's just what we had too!

Off down a part of the Flitch Way I hadn't shown her yet and she just pootled along with me, walking when I walked, trotting when I jogged (my new trail running shoes are coming in very useful). I took her down and back up a tiny narrow and very steep little trail off the main path....just to see if we could lol and she followed me like it was an everyday occurrence.

We even upped the pace and a really nice steady and calm canter in hand on a grassy bit, she stayed right with me, no yeehaa, no getting all full of herself, then back down to trot and walk from my voice command. She was so good!

And that was it really, back to the field for some apple stretches and a brush off / hoof picking session.

A not very eventful, but very meaningful good day's "work" :-)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A wee trip around the block

Brought a slightly damp and soggy Bailarina in, but the rain had already stopped and the sun was coming out so we were on for our long reining hack attempt this evening!

I gave her a nice brush and plaited her mane up to keep it out of the way of the reins - I'm not sure if she's had a full crest plait done before..(Pauline?) but she seemed quite amenable, even coping with me scraping my step box around. She had a couple of little fidgets, but stood still once I moved her back. I did have one problem - B's mane falls on the opposite side to Safi's and I had a right job - all fingers and thumbs at first, because I was on the wrong side to what I've been used to plaiting.

Popped all her gear on - pad, roller, cavesson (adjusted much better today) bridle and the long reins attached to the cavesson. I also attached her lead rope around her neck so I could lead from it in case she had a sticky moment. And off we went!!

I led her through the car park to be on the safe side and as soon as we got on to the path to the fields slipped back and let the rein out...and Bally happily marched forwards.

We negotiated a couple of turns Ok but had a bit of a blip in the big hay field as B went to trot off I moved myself to bring her round on a circle and then attempted to change rein flipping the reins over to the other side of her back as I moved over behind her...oops nope - WHHHEEEEEEE went B in a messy oval / circle sort of thing. Then I couldn't for the life of me get in the right position to get forwards and straight lol so rather than get the pair of us frazzled I brought everything to a stop and led her to the next corner ready to start again on a straight line.

Off we set off again and I used the length of this path to work on good transitions to my voice commands - walk on, halt and trot, with a bit of steady and heaps of whaddagoodgirl thrown in too. I was really pleased with her as she gave me some really good transitions.

I felt her start to tense up as we approached the spot where she had a little argh moment and turned tail last time we tried this long reining lark... twice she went to drop a shoulder and spin, but because I'm getting more in tune with her reactions and reading her better / quicker I could block with the rein and my body.
I really don't want this bit of path to become an issue though, so once I'd got her standing steady I hitched up the longlines, reattached the lead rope and nice and calmly led her the last bit. I really have no idea what is so scary there but she was quite stressed about it???
Anyway as soon as we reached the end and turned the corner she was totally fine, so back to long reining :-) And she happily took the lead along the back right up to the combine and past the big blue haylage bales - Yay!

Had one more OMG moment has we came up the path past the fields - my friend Di's big Friesian lad Prince came haring across his paddock at full pelt - he's like a war horse / charger when he's cantering, quite a sight to behold!! - Well Bailarina stuck her tail in the air like an Arab and launched into Power Trot mode with me doing that hilariously funny running / leaping thing trying to keep up and not waterski off the reins, all the while giving it "steady, steeeeeeeaaaady!!!!!!" I'm quite pleased and very relieved to say that she did after a couple more huge strides - I'm sure it must have looked quite amusing lol!!

Back down to walk and we got back to the yard fairly uneventfully - another couple of fairly half hearted attempts at turning back on me that were blocked and then she did her "actually I'm going to stop here for nooo good reason" as we reached the end of the path so I countered it with an "I'm going to flap these reins along your sides and be really annoying about it until you move your behind" which after about a minute of stand off worked a treat. She walked on for about ten more strides and I halted her, hitched up the reins, gave her loads of praise and scratches and then led her back into the yard.

All in all a good session - once again pushing her boundaries just a little further and asking for a bit more each time but taking a step back to reassure her when needed. I think that's so important - don't push too far, just far enough and never see taking the lead / responsibility as a failure which I know once upon a time, many moons ago I would have done - taking the lead is showing her she can trust me and look to me for guidance, not "giving in" That was a very important lesson for me a few years back!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Happy Birthday Bailarina!!!

3 today bless her and no party!!!

Cruel Aunty Larri even made her dress up in lots of gear and do circles before she got her pressie - some Stud Muffin treats lol!

It was quite a big day for her as she had boots, a lunge cavesson and even very very loose side reins on for the first time today as I was going to work on the lunging.

Any way she came in and had a lovely full groom then I got all the new gear out (new to her, some of it I've had for years ...and!) and let her have a good sniff at the boots ( overreach and brushing) before putting them on.

Bless her she did the big stepping baby oooh what's on my leg thing for a couple of steps but then pretty much forgot they were there.
Popped the cavesson on..not massively happy with the fit, but I'll have a play with all the straps and buckles and see if I can get it better next time - I didn't want to be fussing around her face too much. She's had this on once before for a walk, but I was actually going to attach the rein and side reins to it for the first time - nothing attached on the bit yet.

Pad & roller on and she doesn't bat an eye at this now, so it'll not be long before we have a go with my Phoenix saddle.

Off up into the school and then I let her go so she could get used to the feel of the boots and the cavesson...hmmmm it was an interestingly athletic response is all I'll say lol!!

Sadly I didn't manage to capture it on camera for posterity!!

Once she'd had her funny five minutes I free schooled her using voice and lunge whip and got this really lovely shot of her

Sorry it's a bit lopsided, but I only had my phone and it's a rubbish quality picture because I had the zoom on...superhubby will be called upon to take proper shots, hopefully at the weekend

Anyway as you can she trots so beautifully in balance with a lovely length of stride and she wasn't fazed by the boots or cavesson being on at all once we were in work mode.

So I popped the lunge line and the side reins on - very loosely attached to the side rings on the cavesson. She has a bit of a princess head tossing all made quite an interesting jangle which I think Little B found quite amusing!

We started on the right rein and tonight I sent her straight out onto the circle, she was a little nappy to the gate and it took a couple of circles before she clicked into concentrating as she gave me a bit more head tossing as got used to the feel of the cavesson and a rein on her nose. Once she settled she was super, very good to my voice with a good steady trot, down into a nice swinging walk and a lovely halt transition. She doesn't even attempt to come in or swing round once I ask her to stand, which is just amazing for a baby.

Heaps of praise and then I sent her out on the left rein for five minutes, much steadier this way, in fact I had to position myself behind her to push her forwards. I asked for a couple of walk trot transitions on this rein to sharpen her up a little which were just lovely, then another couple of circuits of trot, a bit of a long drawn out walk, but an on the button halt again.

What a clever girl!

We then stood and chatted to Roz one of the other liveries who'd been watching and she had an in my face moment then got silly about stepping back out of my space - cheeky little Moo. I growled and firmly walked into her space with a finger to her chest and praised as soon as she moved her weight, then asked again normally and she stepped back nicely....sometimes I think she's so chuffed at doing things right she just forgets herself in haze of I'm so clever smugness and needs a little reminder lol!!

Back to her stable for her Stud Muffin treats and a little feed, a brush off and back to her field.

Tonight she was untacked loose and didn't move once I'd placed her..she really is getting the idea of this standing still lark, bless her

She'll have tomorrow off then we'll be out and about on the long lines on Wednesday, can't wait!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Pushing the boundaries

Mine and Bailarina's!

We had a bit of a full on day today and Little B had quite a few firsts to contend with, I'm pleased to say pretty much all positively too thank goodness!

She was in quite a feisty mood and before we'd gone ten yards out of the gate to come in had been asked to back up twice as she was in full on head tossy wheee mode the little monkey! She got the "ahem, behave yourself !!" message after that and walked in nicely and attentively on a loose lead.

Gave her a good grooming and detangled her mane then tacked her up for a walk out in hand again.

This time we added proper long reins attached to the bit for the first time, then run through the low roller rings and tied up and attached to the top of the use if the opportunity presented itself, but more importantly to add the feel of a tiny bit of contact on her mouth with the weight of the rein. I was actually leading off her rope halter in case of any shenanigans

I decided to really ask her some questions tonight, but not any that I thought would be too difficult or totally blow her brain.

So we went off down the flitch way, we'd already gone down this part before, but I was planning on taking her to the end of that section, and if she was accepting and calm, on down the road past the banana depot and up onto the next section which runs alongside a busy dual carriageway and leads to a bridge across it.

She was nice and fowards but being a good girl, so I led her onto the road, she was a little tense because it was something totally new, but still happily following, over a big slow sign on the road, past some wheelie bins (which we all know contain horse eating monsters!) and onto to the next bit of bridleway where we could have a nice trot on in hand.

We pootled along over the gateway with the horse arch to step over with me leading until we got to the part where she could really see and hear the traffic through the fencing and I could feel her tensing up - she was a good girl though and stood and watched without getting too actual fact she started objecting to the boring standing still part and kept trying to walk off towards the bridge nearer to the traffic noise! All a bit rude for my liking so I brought her back to stand again and she had a little hissy fit...managing to land one on my poor foot (in trainers to aid the running as she trots...oooh ya OUCH!!!) 'fraid she got growled at for that misdemeanour!

As you can see she did settle and was happy to watch the world drive by.

Big trucks were still a bit scary as they whooshed past, but honest to goodness I wasn't expecting her to even want to get anything like this close, so I know we at least have a good foundation to work on (the best bridleways are all over this bridge so it's definitely going to figure in our future walk outs) She trusts me enough now to stay with me even when it was scary and she got a huge fuss, praise and scratches. This is the biggest question I've asked of her yet and although it was a big ask she managed it really well.

We turned around at this point and I let her take the lead back along the track back to the lane and then round to the yard.
Back in for a really nice groom and her dinner then off out for the night to chill out after the exertion! Tomorrow she'll just come in for a brush and feed.

Thought I'd add a few more piccies from the other night in the field with the inhand / baby lunging...just look at the articulation of those hocks!!

Monday, 3 August 2009

A feel good day

Must have been something in the air tonight, but I just had a feeling it would be a good one...and it was!

Little B whinnied and trotted up to the fence when I came to bring her in, led like a good girlie, popped into the stable block without any fuss and tied up like a lamb :-)

For the first time she was totally relaxed in the stable, not tense or fidgety (up till now she's been gradually better each day, but I could see that she'd still had vestiges of tension but not stressed as she had been the first few times coming in on her own)
She had her feet done without any moments of forgetting how to pick them up when asked (cheeky mare lol!) and just generally seemed really happy in herself. I gave her a good groom with lots of scritchy scratches and cuddles and tacked her up in her bridle, roller and rope halter so we could go for a good wander out in hand.

So off we went and I took her down the path between the fields, around the far perimeter, past the yappy dogs and round towards the big fertilizer mound...oooh potentially scary hazard...yeah as if lol! Bailarina has that real Luso courage - yes you can see she's alert for danger, but takes a cue from me being completely unconcerned and marches over to investigate.

Off we went again and I took her on the river bridleway for the first time, we had a couple of trots where I was looking for a good crisp transition up and down to my voice command and working on keeping a nice rhythm (whilst bemoaning my lack of running fitness hehehe) and she was super. I didn't want to do the whole circuit yet as it would take about an hour so picked a good spot to turn about and walk back.
Got to the little hill leading back to the hay field and asked her to trot out up it...such a good workout (for both of us) and she didn't disappoint giving me super powerful balanced lengthened strides (I'm so red and puffing by this stage I wanted to crawl lol!)

When we got back to the yard we stopped to have a chat to Ellie the yard groom so Bally had to stand still for ten minutes - she had a couple of bored baby fidgets but moved back to my click every time she moved her feet, several cars and vans drove straight past her and she paid no attention whatsoever. She was mildly tense when the bus depot started lowering the big shutter door, but stood and watched without being jumpy - luckily the chap shutting up shop has horses so he was watching out for her and doing it slowly to make sure she wasn't overly phased by it - a really great lesson for her!!

Off back to the stable and she stood stock still where I put her as I untacked (I'm a real stickler for this and she's picking it up nicely yay!) brushed her off then let her go in the stable whilst I went to get her dinner.
Again she was completely relaxed, she's really learning that it's Ok to be in the stable block by herself, it's something she has to get used to in the summer when she's coming in to be tacked up / groomed / washed off / etc whilst her field buddies are still outside so it's important that she sees it really is a nice place to be and certainly nothing to stress about. She'll be going out and about in the horsebox on her own so it's a good lesson in that respect too.

I gave her a small feed and left her to it for five minutes and she happily polished that off and stood & ate her hay totally happy and relaxed - I'm so chuffed!!

A really positive and useful day today, she was such a star!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Pole to pole

Only a quick session tonight as I had to get home to cook dinner for my 2 yr old granddaughter.....

Brought Bally in and did her feet as usual, noticed the start of a split on her left fore so into trimming mode to rasp it out.....Eleanor probably won't need to touch her feet next time she comes lol!

Gave her a brush and treated her mane to some Megatek (gotta keep that hair in perfect condition lol!!) then on our way back to the field I thought sod it let's have a play in the school.

I took her in and we had a walk round - oh dear B had one of her "princess" moments and went into I'm not listening lalalalala mode because one of the other liveries was walking her horse out.

I moved her feet back to gain some attention and then dealt with a whizz round by placing her right back where she started then as she froze and went into giraffe stance I used an old NH method of gaining attention (as taught to me by a Texan cowboy & horse trainer by the name of Lewis Blackburn)......very light, quick but short downward pulls on the rope , never increasing the's an annoyance, not a punishment and as soon as you get any response (in this case a lowering of the head which brings the horse out of an alert state) you stop and reward.....worked a treat :-) and so I now had a nice attentive Bailarina on a loose lead walking happily by my side yay!!

Now that we'd got that little hissy out of the way I let her loose while I got some trotting poles out. I love watching her at liberty, Little B gave me some super trot and that wonderful uphill floating canter - I cannot wait to experience that as a ridden partnership :-)

Anyway I put out a full line of poles for the first time (she's walked over the odd one before) - set them at walk distance and off we went - well sometimes I wonder if B has lived before, because she wasn't fazed in the slightest, we walked over each way a couple of times with her being absolutely foot perfect.

So I moved them out to trot distance and asked again.... yes!!!! Lovely elevated trot and she didn't touch a single one.

So we'll practise this in hand a few times interspersed with building on the great start to the lunge work and then eventually combine the two, there is nothing like pole work work to get the back swing and work the shoulders and quarters.

Such a great positive session - and the whole thing was less than 15 minutes of play time!!