Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Nickel back

The best part of this picture - the ears. Listening to me.

We had a gentle mist falling in the hill country today, an old bride's veil draping across the hills with gentle determination.

That's how I'd describe our ride.

Adam is determined to make for of an effort to ride after I noted that I really didn't have anyone to ride with. I miss that about our old stables, I could often find someone to ride with, even if I couldn't plan what day I'd be out there.

Today we went out despite the cold, wet weather.

Lily was somewhat honery, and we noted she seemed pretty tender on the front hoof again. I'm upping her glucosimine and if there's not an improvement, then I'll contact the vet for another shot.

Cibolo was pretty compliant right from the start.

Now I'm drawing lines very clearly and consistently with both horses. Here are the lines (suggestions welcome).

  • No grazing once the halter is on. Period. No grabbing at Hay on the way out or in of stalls or the barn.
  • Stand still for your saddling.
  • You will be polite when I check your hoof. Any threat and I'm popping your behind.
  • Drop your head for both the halter and the bridle.
  • Stand where I put you.
  • Back up when I'm leading you if I back up. Do it with the same level of energy I do. Exactly the same.
  • No cookies until we're all done, and take a step back - then you get a cookie.
  • Attitude means we play "hide the butt" - extreme edition. You jump out of my sight. Period.
Corrections are very high energy right now because I'm driving home the point. By high I mean a swat with a rope or crop or hand and getting really big.

Yesterday I realized one important thing, though. The correction must happen and then be done. Completely. No grudge, no lingering irritation. Because always the next move is correct (so far) and it must be rewarded with positive attitude and energy. Reminds me of this quote from Cesar Millan (former illegal alien (he just became a citizen this year), now multi millionaire dog trainer) that is in the New York Times today:

“Humans are the only animals who will follow unstable pack leaders.”

Substitute herd for pack and it's dead on. I need to get over my nature to hold a grudge and be a little more stable (pun intended, as always).

God has a funny way of sending me teachers on these things.

That said, I moved in today and gave a bit more petting and rubbing with Cibolo this time. I didn't let him come into me, but I did come into him. His head was lower more consistently. And when we rode, his ears were on me in the saddle most of the time.

It was our best Post Conception ride so far. He always does better with Lily and I'm okay with that. We switched back and forth as leader, and we kept everything at a walk since Lily is limping a bit at the trot. She seemed no worse for wear.

We even rode down to an area I've never taken either horse, right through the trees in the trails that wind through cedar.

One spook in place (over I have no idea what).

A bit of improvement on head carriage, Cibolo tends to nose out, but that's more at the trot and canter. (any suggestions? I'm just riding with the reins in the same position and letting him give himself relief when he doesn't nose out. Also I think my black reins are considerably shorter than my brown ones, so I'm checking that next.)

The biggest advance was in my head. And heart. If our emotional connection was a dollar before Conception and down to a thin red cent after, I'd say we're up to a nickel.

Because this time riding wasn't as much of a chore. Part of it was because Adam was there and he had so much fun he was buzzing about it afterwards. Part of it was because although I still had to do a correction with Cibolo at the start, it was about 1/4 of what I did the day before.

And when I rubbed him afterwards and breathed in his smell...

it was nice.

Listening. But see my reins? I have to keep contact too much. I hope to improve this (um
well, if I keep this up. You know. I'm still in the probationary period).
All the boats in the background are some sort of collection of
uselessness. Quite common here at the lake.

Adam on Lily, the wonder horse (who tried to
talk him into going back to the barn 4 different times.
He didn't let her get way with it this time.)

Don't those reins look longer? I'm measuring tomorrow.

Parting shot - isn't this weird on Cibolo's hindquarter?
It looks like a waffle scabbing. Any guesses on what that could be from?


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm glad you found some of that old joy during your ride and that you're connection with Cibolo seems to be improving. The pics were great. You have a genuine looking smile, too.

What does Lilly do when she's trying to convince her rider to take her back to the barn?
Reason I ask is that Baby Doll leans towards being barn sour and always starts off a ride with a tiny buck/crow-hop thingie, followed by what I call her 'drubk-sailor' routine where she weaves and leans in the direction of the barn, even if that means going off the trails or road. It's annoying to have to keep pushing her back into a straight direction over and over.

Oh and she has also tried to run backwards on me to get back to the barn, too. That was fun....not.

It's great that you've got such a friendly looking buddy to ride with that knows how to handle Lilly.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh! I messed up. I'm tired. I meant to type in 'DRUNK'. Sorry!

I also meant to tell you that Baby Doll walked to me today and purposefully hung out with me, even though I had no treats. She even walked up beside me and put her head over my shoulder and allowed me to wrap my arms around her neck.

This was the first time she's done this since before she fractured my knee in July. It felt weird, but nice. And she didn't even 'make me' scratch her butt by sticking her butt in my face. She just hung out and walked with me.


Anonymous said...

Good progress! I expect you'll find that as you're consistent, you'll barely have to do anything to ask him to do what you want, and the boundary stuff will become automatic for both of you. Don't worry if you have to get big once in a while to get him to respond - it's much better than nag, nag, nag. Once routines and boundaries are established, you shouldn't have to do the get-big thing much if at all and can move on to other stuff. Your being consistent is the key.

lytha said...

i'm so relieved to read this!
so happy for you!


Unknown said...

Lisa - I swear, that mare of yours is a tough one. And that buddy is my hubby. :)

Lily just points herself back to the barn and will go there if you let her - but no bucking or crow hopping. She really is a much nicer horse. In fact one of my blogger dreams is to haul her to your house and have you ride her. The most she'll do is turn around and you just have to turn her back.

Kate - I do want to learn the head drop you've described. Today I had Cibolo test the bridling process. I'd like to work on head lowering. You actually get their head to the ground?

Lytha - I really doubted I'd be here. Hopefully I can at least keep this nickel in my pocket.

Trailrider said...

Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

If you stop by my blog, there's an award waiting for you there! :))