Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How do we solve a problem like Fiera? (dr. deb part 2)

Ok, everyone sing it now...to the tune from the Sound of Music...Got that song in your head? good...

Well, today I let Fiera out to observe her so I could figure out where she was going through the fence. She showed me, I caught her, put her on some nice grass and fixed the fence. Part of it wasn't hot...fixed that; part of it had a gap...fixed that; part of it was only 1 strand...fixed that. It took a couple hours, but it was a nice day and I was proud of my handy work. I turned Fiera out, she went back to her corner and ran through the newly hot, newly second strand added fence...sigh. So, I went out and caught her and put her in the round pen again. Poor thing. I hate lock her up . I fixed the fence again, better, stronger, faster (hotter) I will have to to wait till tomorrow to try it out again.

The horses grazed my trailer yard while I fixed fence. I caught them to put them away one at a time and worked on teaching the first steps of Spanish Walk, which Dr. Deb showed us this weekend. We were to tap, tickle, or otherwise irritate the horses into picking one front foot and then giving praise and/or treats. Fiera was first and was very slow to pick up her feet for treats. After awhile though, one little tap would get her to pick up her foot. I put her away and caught Liberty, who really just wanted to eat treats. I repeated the same tasks and he very quickly learned to pick up just one foot when I tapped on his foot. I put him away. Dixie was begging me to pay attention to her by this time. She loves treats and would do just about anything to get one. Plus, she had been watching me show the other two horse these instructions. One light tap and she picked up her foot high and got a treat. We repeated it many times and then I put her away...she still wanted to do more. Dr. Deb said to teach it about 3 minutes at a time, multiple times per day if you can. Start with one foot and get a consistent pick up and reward system going. Then you can start on the other foot. I'm honestly not sure when you are supposed to start wanting them to lift and hold either foot, but for now, I'm just happy that they are picking them up.

On the second day of the clinic we started doing trot work. Liberty trots way, way too fast and I have trouble finding my internal metronome to slow him down. I learned that all my trail work in the s hack bridle has been very bad for his neck. He has what Dr. Deb calls a broken neck, which means he bends at the third vertebrae instead of at the poll where he is supposed to bend. She says it's not terrible and we can fix it, but I have to never, ever, ever ride in the S hack again. Honestly, I don't know if I'm ready to hang it up completely, but I'm committed to using the snaffle for all training from now on. I may get really comfortable with the snaffle out in the open really fast, but time will tell. I now realize how much I have been pulling on his head. Whenever we picked up a trot in the area I could find no middle ground. we either trotted way too fast, or we stopped trotting altogether. I could spin him down with small circles into a smaller trot, but the minute I let him out of his bend to trot in a straight line he becomes very fast and chargey. I had none of these problems with my S hack, so I admit that I'm sad to have to give it up. However, by the end of the day, with me singing whatever songs I could in my head to keep my rhythm slower, we were trotting slower. It wasn't great, but it was better. So, now I have leg yield, turn on the fore and trot circles (and never forget head twirling) in my repertoire.

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