Monday, December 29, 2008

The Best Training Aid for Cantering your STB and Fun with Tarps!

Time off is a great thing. I get to RIDE! I rode on Christmas Day of course (see previous post) and that was fun. Then I rode Dreamy on Friday for about 30 mins. and then again on Sunday for about the same. Saturday I wanted to ride but it was raining. Instead we had FUN WITH TARPS! Yay!

My two rides were productive....well as productive a ride in the snow on a semi-out-of-shape horse can be. We worked on connection and of course got a little bit of attitude from the Dream Girl, but nothing like she can be. Did some stretchy free walk and working walk transitions. Did some halts. I actually was able to canter on Friday, since the snow had not melted underneath that much. The footing was good, unlike Sunday where all the rain had settled on top of the ground and underneath the snow, so there was some ice and some slush. Only trotting on Sunday.

Anyway, I finally had my best training aid back for the canter! SNOW! YAY! The snow on Friday made her canter so BOUNCY and SLOW! :) Our left lead transitions were fabulous, mostly because she was not rushing and she had to really use her self to stay upright....lol....so her hind end was underneath herself and her back was up. The upwards to the right were a bit rough, as she still wants to throw herself into the gait, but the downwards were pretty nice. I did get one nice upwards, which was encouraging.

So we are certainly not setting the world on fire in our training, but at least I am on her and we have not lost any training it seems. And I have tried to schedule two lessons (just 30 mins. since she is not in shape enough to go for an hour) but of course one weekend was the big ice storm and the other was a big snow storm. I have no luck with lessons lately. Oh well. I am just going to sit tight for now, try not to freak out because I am DYING for a lesson, and just wait and see. What the hell....I can wait until March but I don't want to!

So Saturday was our fun with tarps day. Dreamy has impeccable ground manners, so when I say we do "groundwork" it is not like she is being taught how to lead or stand or whatever. Her ground manners have nothing to do with me and everything to do with the fact that she was well started as a baby out in NY. I give full credit to the STB breeding farm.

Anyway, Dreamy has a phobia of sorts about whips. I ride in spurs, because she gets really jumpy and spooky if I even hold a whip when I ride. (Now, I can hold a jumping bat, but not a dressage whip). And this past summer at one of the open shows we did for fun, we had to walk over a tarp in the trail class. Dreamy stopped, gave it a good look, and LEAPED over it. She only did it because she trusted me, of this I am 100% sure. She did NOT want ANYTHING to do with it, but I encouraged her with my voice (and gently with my seat/legs) and she did it. I was not planning to "force" her over it, since it was not something she had EVER seen before. I figured I would try it once and if she was really upset, I would go around. But she flicked those ears, gathered herself, and jumped it. Too funny. I think we still placed well (a second I am pretty sure) because she did everything else perfectly. But of course, it made me figure I would do "tarp work" with her this winter.

So we worked in the barn aisle, which is about 13 feet wide, after I groomed her. First we did our normal, walk/halt/back/lower head routine. She is fine of course. Then I brought out the whip and touched her all over with it. She does not budge...which did surprise me. I figured she would be touchy. But then I waved it all around, over her head, under her stomach. Yup, nothing besides some ear flicking and a few moments of the BIG EYES. She is really not that reactive of a horse, but she does like to widen her eyes to show the whites and will sometimes do the "flutter" nose noise. That is about the worst of her spooks.

Anyway, so the whip work was fine. Now I think I need to ride with it and not use it. Just hold it there and get her used to the idea of it being there.

Then I pulled out the exciting blue tarp! Again she did not budge but her eyes were as big as saucers. So cute. First I shook it and put it all over her body. She was not impressed with it on her head, but stood still. Then I folded it up to walk over it.....we did that no problem. Then I unfolded it so it was a longer walk over it. Again no problems. That mare will follow me anywhere. I was impressed she did not even try to skirt around it. She just walked over it straight. She has only done a tarp once at that show and while I was "training" her on Saturday she acted like we did it all the the time! Foolish mare. LOL!

Next time I will set it up draped over two standards and walk under it. Dear lord, I need an indoor so I can work on something normal like transitions and connection, rather than play with tarps! One thing is for sure, there is no way you'll ever catch me with a kaorobi fricking stick or whatever it is. Nah, I will stick with tarps and be my own horse whisperer.

Now I have to try both the whip and the tarp while riding. That might be a different story. Now that the driveway is free of ice (unlike the "ring" in the pasture....now I actually WANT half a foot of snow to cover it all!) I can ride in the driveway with my tarp. Good thing I do not have any close neighbors. :D

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