Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ear Pinning and riding a plan

Thursday night I caught up on some Julie Goodnight episodes and, as usual, found a few things I could bring to my horse work.

I also watched a rather disturbing episode - did anyone catch the one with the paint that would take off on it's owner? What was distrubing was not the action of the horse taking off but the attitude after the fix.

The formula with Julie Goodnight, for those of you who somehow fill your television hours with something other than horses, is this:

1. Person and Horse presented, problem described.
2. Problem demonstrated with Julie commenting.
3. Julie steps in either with guidance or by doing some hands on schooling with horse, then rider. Generally this involves a bit change (Myler bits is the sponsor, but you do see many horses fussing with the bit).
4. Person practices with horse with Julie's tutelage.
5. Person sent off to practice on their own for a day.
6. Person comes back with problem largely resolved.

In the episode the paint had learned to pull the lunge line away from the owner and take off. Julie showed how to keep the horse's nose into the center to not allow the horse to get any weight in the direction of leaving. While Julie corrected the horse it was alert, ears up and responding. When the owner did this under Julie's lead, it did the same.

But for the first time when the horse came back the second day I didn't like what I saw at all. I swear it looked like the horse was pinning its ears toward the owner. It definitely wasn't running off, but I looked at that paint's head and thought - that horse is going to lunge AT that woman.

But maybe I was reading it wrong. I was just glad it wasn't my horse. I was struck that Julie didn't comment on it, so maybe they weren't really pinned.

(but it darn well looked like it).

Anyway, in another episode Julie talked about the importance of having a plan. Mark talks about the same thing - you have to have a direction, speed, and destination in mind when you're working with a horse.

I had very little time this morning, so I decided I'd work with Lily only, and on three specific things - figure 8, arena cantering, and giving me her hind feet, something we are getting unstuck. Given that I was rushed, I had to stop myself from going into monkey brain (thinking a million things at once) and clear my mind of the clock anxiety. I set an alarm on my phone (on a song, no barking dogs this time) so I wouldn't keep checking the time and set to work.

Since I've ridden Lily in just the halter and just in the round pen and simple trails, it's been enough. But in the arena the steering needed more precision. But I wasn't going to bit her up - I didn't have the time to make sure it went well. Instead I decided to ride more with my legs. Lily is pretty responsive to leg cues, but I'm not as consistent as I need to be. Today I'd practice doing better.

At first I wasn't sure it would work. Moving into the arena brings out a little of what Julie called "barrel attitude" in Lily. She's raced barrels and she definitely gets a little hot in an arena setting, even one as low key as ours. But we know what to expect from one another. I can feel her trust in me growing. She seems to understand that I'm not going to ask her anything she can't do, although I think some of my cue - in particular the one for side passing - must be different from her previous life. Or she never really learned it well.

It's on our list.

More tomorrow, it got late on me. Hope you've ridden all over tar-nation this week.


Cheyenne said...

Seen a few of these JG films, looks pretty good, but we dont get the wole series over here, just the odd couple of episodes.

It sounds like your doing really well with Lily, good on ya!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Naughty horses are kind of like delinquent children...They don't always appreciate someone coming in and nipping their bad behavior. LOL.

Sounds like Lily is making good progress though.

Shirley said...

I don't get any of those television programs (pout). Sometimes what you see on a few minutes of video doesn't give you the whole picture; ears pinned could have many causes, such as a dog just outside the pen, or as you say irritation with it's handler. Hopefully the issue was resolved in a good way.
I always try to have a plan when I ride, although sometimes the plan doesn't actually form until I settle my butt in the saddle and can feel my horse.

Once Upon an Equine said...

I haven't seen any of the episodes but they sound really good. I'll have to look for her show if I get a chance to watch TV.

Having a plan is such a good way to work. I've been told to always have a plan even on a pleasurable trail ride.

Rising Rainbow said...

I don't have access to her here either. Who knows what the ear pinning was about. It would be interesting to know if it was developing into something of its own, wouldn't it.

I'm not sure if I have a plan or not. Mostly I guess I try and let the horse tell me what we need to do.

Jeni said...

Plans are good...

I will tolerate ear pinning, tail wringing as long as you are complying. My horses tend to act like teenagers - ok I'll do what you ask as you asked, but I'm not going to be happy about it. A few good girls and scratches and they get happy.

porkbellyacres said...

I have a young mare who does the ear-pinning thing. I finally decided to start ignoring it as long as she was complying and it wasn't paired with any aggressive behavior(kicking, biting, stamping, etc.) But I do still consider it aggressive if I get the feeling that she's doing it AT me, and I will get on her case right away. Kate's Pie (from A Year With Horses) also has a pretty expressive irritation face from the pictures I've seen of him.

It's funny--if I'm doing something to my older mare that she doesn't appreciate, she immediately ear-pins her displeasure at one of the younger mares standing around, who always look baffled because they have no idea what they've done wrong! Very rare for that mare to tell ME she doesn't like what I'm doing.(What's that old saying...if mama ain't happy, then nobody's happy...:)